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My Four Strokes
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781548047177, $9.95, PB, 94pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "My Four Strokes" by Leanne Overbeek is a raw, vividly honest account of the harrowing, life-threatening illness experienced by one too young and yet not young enough, woman.
Experiencing four strokes at age 27, fighting to gain control both physically and mentally only to wake up from brain surgery on her 28th birthday, Leanne pens her difficult experience for others to derive hope.
Though the storm did surge threatening to render her helpless, Leanne was miraculously spared from certain death and wants to share her true story of hope for others to gain new strength. Fighting may seem too much, too exhausting, too seemingly hopeless, and yet, all one can do to stay afloat.
But, there is always hope through God, our creator, who is able to grant us healing. If it is not His will to grant physical healing, He can and will grant our souls that cleansing, saving grace if, and only if, we turn to Him in honest, sincere repentance. Deuteronomy 31:6 - Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Critique: Candid, inspired, and inspiring, "My Four Strokes" is a truly memorable read from beginning to end, and a choice pick especially for anyone in the Christian community beset with their own serious health issues. Highly recommended.
Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond
193 Hillside Road, Brunswick, Maine 04011
9781947067028, $19.95, PB, 234pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond", David Zurick (winner of the 2006 National Outdoor Book Award) recounts an event in his life that seems exceedingly uncomplicated: he built a goldfish pond in his backyard.
Yet, there is more to a goldfish pond than meets the eye.
Zurick's compelling story travels the world, encompassing places of extraordinary beauty and rich cultural traditions, but the core of it is in Wolf Gap Holler, Kentucky, where he lives among hard-working and community-minded neighbors, cuts firewood to keep warm in the winter, and enjoys morning coffee by his goldfish pond -- often with his neighbor George.
"Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond" at first seems so simple that one barely notices its treatises on the sacred qualities of place, the contemplative virtues of nature, the dilemmas of sustainability, and the spiritual framework that undergirds life. Yet, this is what "Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond" is about: a sacred and seamless landscape that extends from the highest mountain plateaus in Tibet to the deepest hollers of Kentucky.
Critique: An inherently interesting and entertaining read from beginning to end, "Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond" is unique, extraordinary, and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Morning Coffee at the Goldfish Pond" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Gift from the Garden
PO Box 280, New York Mills, MN 56567
9781930650268, $12.95, PB, 84pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Bernie DuBois is a former college educator whose teaching and writing experience has given her a great feel for exploring the lives of women and phases of a woman's life. In the pages of "Gift from the Garden" she has deftly written a gentle book that compares various plants to stages in a woman's life, exploring issues of life and belonging. Women of all ages can relate to how we change and grow with our various roles, but adds a contemporary twist. DuBois' style combines deeply serious yet comic moments, and helps readers move to a new understanding of building their own lives.
Critique: With underlying messages and values that are both timely and timeless, "Gift from the Garden" is an extraordinary, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from cover to cover -- and one that is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists as well as community library collections.
A Spiritual Hypothesis
Daniel Punzak, P.E.
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524652388, $44.95, HC, 966pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Traditional Western religion explains that each human has a spiritual aspect called a soul. However, several passages in the Bible allude to humans having a soul and a spirit. In "A Spiritual Hypothesis: An Inquiry into Abnormal and Paranormal Behavior", Dan Punzak explores this idea and presents numerous modern psychological findings that support this notion. Shamanism and some Eastern religious concepts also support this idea. Diverse concepts such as creativity and mental illness can be explained by the idea that two spiritual forms are in each human.
Critique: A massive and detailed study, "A Spiritual Hypothesis: An Inquiry into Abnormal and Paranormal Behavior" is an extraordinary work that author Daniel Punzak spent more than four decades in researching near-death experiences, dissociative identity disorder, mystery experience and shamanism in preparation for. An absorbing and inherently fascinating read, "A Spiritual Hypothesis" is exceptionally well written, deftly organized and impressively comprehensive, making it an especially recommended addition to community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Spiritual Hypothesis" is also available in a paperback edition (9781524652371, $31.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Mammoth Letters
Jennifer K. Crittenden
Whistling Rabbit Press
PO Box 910756, San Diego, CA 92191
9780984736089, $17.95, PB, 260pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Questions arise when a big city family moves to a remote mountain town in the Eastern Sierra: Why is there a bear in the grocery store? What happened to the missing school teacher? Where do you buy soccer socks around here?
Skillfully blending anecdote, history, and description, "The Mammoth Letters: Running Away to a Mountain Town" is an amusing and sensitive portrayal by author Jennifer K. Crittenden of an eclectic town and its colorful inhabitants.
An inspired and inspiring read anyone who has wondered about making the leap from one world to another, "The Mammoth Letters" is deftly written with a wide emotional range that will engage the readers in a discovery of mystery, beauty, and tragedy, and how a majestic but unforgiving alpine wilderness affects those living at its edge.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and entertaining read from cover to cover, "The Mammoth Letters: Running Away to a Mountain Town" is an especially recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted that a one-dollar donation will be made to the Southern Mono Historical Society with the purchase of each new paperback edition of "The Mammoth Letters". Is should also be noted that "The Mammoth Letters" is available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The International Studies Shelf
9784990982218 $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Step inside the world of Japanese popular and traditional culture, where J-pop music producers, anime and video game creators, idols, fashion designers, tea and sake makers, sumo wrestlers, and businesspeople create the products and enjoyment that have made Japan a "cultural superpower" and become part of the daily lives of people around the world.
Cool Japan brings together twelve up-to-date "case studies" on Japanese pop music, male and female idols, video games, anime, fashion, Hello Kitty, samurai dramas, tourism, tea, sake, sumo, and the Japanese government's "Cool Japan" strategy. Readers not only learn about various genres and forms of Japanese culture - some familiar, some less so - they also follow Japan's creators as they wrestle with the cultural and business challenges that come with competing in a globalized and fast-changing world.
Extensively researched and rich in detail, Cool Japan is engaging and eye-opening reading for anyone with an interest in Japan. It is also ideal for use in school or university classrooms, in courses on Japan, popular culture, or business.
Critique: Cool Japan is an extraordinary history and chronicle of modern Japanese pop culture, including the corporations for whom pop entertainment is big business (think the Square-Enix merger that rocked the world of role-playing games) and notable creators. Extensive data, charts, and graphs complement the historical reconstruction peppered with anecdotes. Cool Japan is a "must-read" for connoisseurs of Japanese entertainment, highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Cool Japan is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
The Cookbook Shelf
Trap Kitchen: Bangin' Recipes From Compton
Malachi Jenkins, Roberto Smith, Marisa Mendez
Vodka & Milk
9780997146264, $24.95, PB, 120pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When two former members of Los Angeles' most nefarious rival gangs, Malachi Jenkins and Roberto Smith, decided to unite under one oven, they had no idea that they would be creating an empire. "Trap Kitchen: Bangin' Recipes From Compton" is more than just another cookbook. It is a glimpse into the meals that have now become famous in the LA streets thanks to the series of pop-up restaurants that continue to bloom throughout the area. Celebrities and residents alike flock to the locations for soulful meals, but it's more than that. Having lost friends and family to violence, the masterminds behind Trap Kitchen sought to change the paths they were on, using cooking as their driving force. While other cookbooks may boast a level of urban-skewed appeal in their realness, "Trap Kitchen" also delves into the stories of why they became involved in cooking in the first place. It's both a heartfelt and stomach-filling experience to learn how two men changed their stars by seeking out peace and good food for themselves and their community.
Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, the thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes range from Byrd Gang (Chicken Rice); The Chop Boyz with Turk (Turkey Chops); and Throw Dem Bowls (Pineapple Bowls); to Steak & Lobster Enchilada Pie); The Buss' Down (King Crab jambalaya Pasta); and All in My Grill Salmon (Grilled Salmon). Unique and highly recommended, "Trap Kitchen" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, and community library cookbook collections.
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
King in Chains
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781542770576, $17.95, PB, 692pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For two hundred years, vampires Alastair and Cassie lived without their Master Killian. But now Killian's return is cause for rejoicing and nights of unquenchable, burning passion. But Alastair still harbors the fear that his True Mate will abandon them once again.
Complicating matters, Killian still refuses to take his place as the rightful Vampire King, leaving it to Alastair to rule in his stead rather than serving as the Arm of Power.
As Alastair struggles with his doubts, a new threat appears in London. A new Master Vampire stalks the streets, launching brutal attacks on Alastair's warrior patrols. When this dark new presence makes a brutal attempt on the life of Alastair's son, war becomes a certainty.
With Cassie and Killian away on important business, Alastair must lead this war alone. He faces a dangerous foe: a necromantic Master Vampire of intense power and uncertain motivations - and intimate ties to Alastair's past.
"King in Chains" continues the sensual tale of Alastair and his lovers -- and threatens to rip their eternal passion to shreds.
Critique: Although the second installment of author Grey Francis's erotic 'Into the Dark Woods' series of vampire novels, "King in Chains" is a saga that can be read independently of the first volume "Bound to a Vampire" (9781502338006, $19.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 552pp). As a dark fantasy novelist, Grey Francis is a writer gifted with originality and a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling replete with unexpected twists and turns. An impressively crafted read from beginning to end, "King of Chains" is highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. For the personal reading lists of dedicated vampire novel enthusiasts, it should be noted that "King of Chains" is also available in digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Shroud of Peace
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781543413892, $29.99, HC, 196pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The year is 2585. The galaxy is only just beginning to recover from the most destructive war in history between the now-defunct Sanhaeli Empire and the human United Interstellar Alliance. In the power vacuum left by the fallen empire, a private security corporation known as Blackout has risen to fill the void and challenge the UIA.
At the center of this new cold war, a man awakes in a hospital on the edge of civilization. He has no memory of who he is or how he got there. Hunted by Blackout and a highly lethal but untested Alliance Special Forces team, he will uncover a conspiracy that threatens the balance of power and brew a rivalry that may well sow the seeds of war again.
Critique: A deftly written and truly riveting saga from first page to last, "The Shroud of Peace" by Nathaniel Szymkowicz is science fiction action/adventure at its best! While an especially recommended and certain to be enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, for the personal reading lists of dedicates SF fans it should be noted that "The Shroud of Peace" is also available in a paperback edition (9781543413908, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Last Rites of the Capacitance
Christopher Michael Carter
Supposed Crimes LLC
2626 Polo Club Blvd., Matthews, NC 28105
9781944591342, $17.99, PB, 257pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Dr. Angelique Puck headed into space for just another medical mission. She left her girlfriend and the controversy over Rabid Neural Stasis, the disease raging through Earth with no terrestrial cure, behind. She's focused only on science until horror overtakes the Capacitance, leaving her the only survivor.
Her brilliant mind and her bold space voyages have helped her cure some of the worst plagues on Earth, but now she's forced to learn new skills to save the ship, or slowly go mad trying.
Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Last Rites of the Capacitance" is novelist Christopher Michael Carter's debut as a science fiction writer. Blending drama, horror, and science into a truly riveting and original science fiction saga from first page to last, "Last Rites of the Capacitance" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated science fiction fans that "Last Rites of the Capacitance" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
The Parenting Shelf
Mary Kay DeGenova
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483470696, $12.95, PB, 132pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Mary Kay DeGenova was in a neurologist's waiting room when she saw a mother cradling a newborn in her arms. The mother was wiping away tears as she looked around at the other kids -- some of whom were running around while others were in wheelchairs with feeding tubes. The look on the new mom's face brought back all the emotions DeGenova felt when she first began her own journey as a parent of a child with developmental disabilities.
"Different Dreams: Reflections and Realities of Raising a Child With Developmental Disabilities" is an instructional guide for new parents in which DeGenova shares the challenges she's overcome and what other parents of a child with developmental disabilities can expect on their own respective journeys.
In "Different Dreams" DeGenova also provides comfort to other parents with a child with developmental disabilities by letting them know they are not alone, as well as highlighting the overwhelming beauty and joy that is inevitable on this parenting path. More importantly, she shares useful advice and strategies to help new parents navigate the complicated world of raising a child with a developmental disability.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Different Dreams: Reflections and Realities of Raising a Child With Developmental Disabilities" should be considered essential reading for any parent, grandparent, or caretaker having to deal with a developmental disabled child. Practical, informed and informative, ultimately inspiring, "Different Dreams" should be a part of every family clinic, community, and academic library Parenting collection in general, and Childhood Developmental Disabilities supplemental studies reading list in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of parents, medical studies, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Different Dreams" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
The Money/Finance Shelf
Getting Out of Debt Joyfully
Access Consciousness Publishing Company
9781634930956, $35.00, PB, 247pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Simone Milasas was $187,000 in debt when she realized she needed to make a big change. With the help of the tools featured in "Getting Out of Debt Joyfully", she was totally out of debt within two years. Here personal experience is what underscores Simone's point of view -- No one should have a money problem.
"Getting Out of Debt Joyfully" was written specifically for the reader who is ready to change their entire reality around money asking what point of view do you have around money that if you changed it, would create a different reality for you? What if you could have unlimited revenue streams? What if you can create money in ways no one else can?
"Getting Out of Debt Joyfully" will support the reader in creating massive amounts of change and invite him or her to create massive amounts of money and pay off their debts.
Critique: "Getting Out of Debt Joyfully" isn't for the reader looking for a quick fix to their debt situation. But it will prove to be 'real world' instructional guide and reference that is genuinely invaluable for those serious about elevating their lives from being debt ridden to debt free. Exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Getting Out of Debt Joyfully" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library Money Management collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Getting Out of Debt Joyfully" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Political Science Shelf
What Difference Does It Make?
Bella T. Altura
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781548119058, $14.00, PB, 100pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When President Barack Obama was replaced with Donald Trump, the liberals of America wept and the progressives panicked.
When looking back at the eight years of the Obama administration, it was a publicly disseminated as being a period of large-scale success after success. Americans were happy and content. There were no new wars. There was no successful terrorist attacks at home. There was no economic recession. There were jobs for everybody and borders for none.
Unfortunately that wasn't an accurate description of what really happened during those eight years accordingly to Bella T. Altura.
With "What Difference Does It Make?: What Happened to our Country" she offers an insightful comparison of Obama's eight years in office and Trump's first 114 days. Altura shows the growing discontent many Americans had with the former's policies.
Altura's intention is to get you thinking about the America you really want. As a scientist involved with medical research, Altura is constantly looking for ways to improve the health and future of others. She quickly realized that the vague, feel-good policies pushed by Obama and Hillary Clinton would lead to even more violence, brutality, and bloodshed. Altura, like many others, would not stand for this.
Her insight shows why the election of 2016 wasn't so much shocking as inevitable. Americans wanted a change, and now we finally have a chance at a safe and stable future.
Critique: Offering a candid and iconoclastic perspective, "What Difference Does It Make?: What Happened to our Country" is a valued contribution to our on-going national political dialogue that is currently suffering from extreme political polarization in the general populace and the fraction in-fighting currently tearing at the fabric of the Republican Party. Simply stated, "What Difference Does It Make?" is thoughtful and thought-provoking, making is highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
The Business Shelf
Kerry Alison Wekelo
c/o Peaceful Daily, LLC
9781937985783, $17.98 PB, 192pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Essentially, "Culture Infusion: 9 Principles for Creating and Maintaining a Thriving Organizational Culture" is a 'real world practical' guide for improving corporate culture and motivating employees to perform at their highest capacity.
"Culture Infusion" is for current leaders and aspiring leaders who want to build a legacy, shift perspectives, and lead by example so others are inspired and driven to be their best selves. Whether you are a top-level executive or lead a team, you will find valuable insights in "Culture Infusion" on how to create and maintain a sought-after workplace. The reader will learn how to infuse a culture of holistic wellness into all aspects of an organization, from people to programs, and how to thrive personally in order to lead others.
"Culture Infusion" provides nine easy, actionable principles to help the reader to develop a customized game plan to improve their corporate culture and catapult any corporate team to success. "Culture Infusion" offers a wealth of key tips and tricks such as the three A's (Accountability, Acumen, Aspiration) that will aid in goal setting and performance reviews, and the 3P Method (Pause to Pivot to a Positive) that will change how you view every challenge and lead you to communicate more effectively.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Culture Infusion: 9 Principles for Creating and Maintaining a Thriving Organizational Culture" is as informative and thought-provoking as it is 'user friendly' and inspiring. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Business Management collections and supplemental studies list, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of business students, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Culture Infusion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).
The Poetry Shelf
The Ghosts of Monticello: A Recitatif
4400 University Drive, #3E4, Fairfax, VA 22030
9781945233012, $17.00, PB, 104pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Carmen Gillespie's "The Ghosts of Monticello: A Recitatif " is a collection of deftly crafted verse that interrupts the everyday to bring us the spiritual visitations of Sally Hemings, her half-sister Martha Wayles Jefferson, and other famed and forgotten residents of the Monticello plantation. These poems reach into the distant past to unearth songs of pain and longing, weighty with the long history of American silence that continues to circumscribe our lives today. Equal parts dirge and seance, this otherworldly walk through confines designed by the third president of the United States is an overdue re-envisioning of slavery, race, love, sex, and power at the roots of an incomplete democracy.
Critique: "Recitatif" is the French form of recitative, a style of musical declamation that hovers between song and ordinary speech, particularly used for dialogic and narrative interludes during operas and oratories. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Ghosts of Monticello: A Recitatif" is a unique and remarkable anthology of truly memorable free verse is especially recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections. 'Betty's Lament': My only friend was a mango tree. // Remember to see / what grows from the earth / is all that can be. // My only friend was a mango tree.
Deborah Gordon Cooper
Clover Valley Press
6286 Homestead Road, Duluth, MN 55804
9780997364323, $14.95, PB, 164pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When she was granted a residency at the Cill Rialaig Artists Retreat in County Kerry, Ireland, poet Deborah Gordon Cooper looked out from the loft of a stone cottage through a blue-framed window as she crafted a number of the poems that would ultimately comprise "Blue Window", her sixth published volume of verse. Yet even as she sometimes describes the world through a lens of grief (Deborah began writing when she was a hospice chaplain), this collection includes many new works on the theme of light returning after a night of solitary wakefulness.
Critique: With an extraordinary flair for deftly crafted expression that evokes emotional involvement on the part of the reader, "Blue Window" impressively showcases the free verse poetry of a true master of the format. The poetry comprising "Blue Window" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Contemporary Poetry collections. 'At Last': At last / in increments / too gradual to measure // as if the sun / has had the slightest / shift of heart // the light slips back. // The songs / collected in our throats // press / for an opening.
Ode to Numbers
21 Goodrich Road, Simsbury, CT 06070
9781943826407, $19.00, PB, 112pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Comprised of poems written by Sarah Glaz over a quarter of a century and inspired by mathematics and her personal life as a mathematician, "Ode to Numbers" traces Sarah from her early childhood in Europe to her forty year long research and teaching career in mathematics in the United States.
Critique: This is a unique anthology of themed based free verse poetry of its very best -- an unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Poetry collections. 'My Mother Speaks': My mother speaks beyond the ridge / where she resides since she has passed away / words of wisdom heard so long ago I thought forever lost. / I think she is still her although invisible -- / she blends with the air and my thoughts. / She bends over my writing / as if trying to decipher a foreign word. "Look here," she says, smiling serenely, / "no more mathematics -- / you speak a language that is crystal clear."
The Self-Help Shelf
Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks
13395 Voyager Pkwy, Stuite 130, Colorado Springs,CO 80921
9781633571037, $14.95, PB, 170pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Any of use experiencing a financial blow, a divorce, a lost job or a ill health diagnosis will be of immense need for an emotional/psychological/spiritual 'come back' recovery from the experience. Rick McDaniel is the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, Virginia. The church is known for its contemporary style and innovative services and has a worldwide reach through www.highimpactchurch.tv. In writing "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks" Pastor McDaniel reveals that God has a comeback prepared for us. That our present situation is not the final word on your life. That no matter what the setback - we can have a comeback and continue to live a life worth living to the fullest!
Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks" is an extraordinary, life affirming, life enhancing, faith developing read from cover to cover. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book from Crosslink Publishing (Audible Audio, B076DNR9T5, $9.15, 4 hours 55 minutes).
Our Natural Potential
9780995983700, $20.00, PB, 190pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the last decade there has been an unprecedented growth in spiritual awakening. Why is this happening? How are we to understand the nature of enlightenment? Is it a normal part of human development we had forgotten how to culture? What is the underlying causal mechanism? What are the common differences in experiencing the unfolding? How can we support people making progress without a decent road map? Can we understand this profound natural potential?
In the pages of "Our Natural Potential: Beyond Personal Development, The Stages of Enlightenment", David Buckland reveals the underlying process and the main stages of enlightenment based on an 8,000-year-old Vedic text.
Each individual stage has it's own distinct reality, sense of self and the world. "Our Natural Potential" explores the two primary aspects required to support a full unfolding and detail the reality of each stage. Enlightenment is not a goal but rather a platform for living a fuller, richer life well beyond any description.
"Our Natural Potential" discusses how to culture further development and recognize common symptoms and issues. It will allow the reader to put spiritual teachings into a broader context. Readers should also be prepared to have some of their concepts and assumptions about the spiritual journey dramatically altered.
Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Our Natural Potential: Beyond Personal Development, The Stages of Enlightenment" is a life altering, life enhancing read. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help / Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Our Natural Potential" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Biography Shelf
Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir
She Writes Press
9781631522680, $16.95, PB, 280pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When Diane, a psychologist, fell in love with Charles, a charming and brilliant psychiatrist, there is laughter and flowers -- and also darkness. After moving through infertility treatments and the trials of the adoption process as a united front, the couple is ultimately successful in creating a family. As time goes on, however, Charles becomes increasingly critical and controlling, and Diane begins to feel barraged and battered.
When she is diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, Charles is initially there for her, but his attentiveness quickly vanishes and is replaced by withdrawal, anger, and unfathomable sadism. What Diane previously thought were just Charles' controlling ways are replaced by clear pathologic narcissism and emotional abuse that turns venomous at the very hour of her greatest need.
A compelling memoir and a psychological love story that is at times tender and at times horrifying, "Lost in the Reflecting Pool" is a chronicle of one woman's struggle to survive within (and ultimately break free of) a relationship with a man incapable of caring about anyone beyond himself.
Critique: A profoundly absorbing read from cover to cover, "Lost in the Reflecting Pool" is a starkly candid account that is impressively candid and in thematic accord with the suddenly raised public consciousness of how women everywhere must struggle with cultural misogyny and institutionalized male abuse within the home, within the workplace, and withing the community at large. A deftly written and deeply personal account, "Lost in the Reflecting Pool" is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lost in the Reflecting Pool" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).
He Could Make Words Sing
9780998018201, $17.95, PB, 202pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "He Could Make Words Sing: An Ordinary Man During Extraordinary Times", Green presents the biography of Harry Greissman. His life story recounts the issues so many Americans faced both in the turbulent years of the 20th Century as what is impacting well into the 21st century: Immigration; Economic deprivation; Lost Love; War; Discrimination at work; The transition from urban to suburban life; A working couple raising a family. Harry Greeissman life story will resonate with his fellow Americans who lived through those same times, and give insight to the new generation of what their parents and their grandparents experienced, lived through, and survived.
It is interesting to note that Harry Greissman's biographer David Greene was raised and went to public schools in the Bronx. After graduating from Fordham University, he went taught social studies and coached football for 38 years. After retiring he was an adjunct and field supervisor for Fordham University, was former treasurer of Save Our Schools, and a program consultant for WISE Services, a 501c3 devoted to helping high schools start and maintain experiential learning programs for their seniors. More recently he is still working in high schools via the Bigs Project and Walkabout, both extensions of his work with WISE.
Critique: Aptly subtitled 'An Ordinary man During Extraordinary Times', "He Could Make Words Sing" is an extraordinary and compelling biography that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American Biography & Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "He Could Make Words Sing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Dance Shelf
Dance Across The USA
9780692953709, $39.95, PB, 306pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Dance Across the USA" by Jonathan Givens (who has been actor/dancer/singer, then a technician, then a designer. a choreographer and a director) is a collection of dancers from all over America showcasing what is beautiful and inspiring in the field of dance this country. Covering 22,264 miles, 163 Dancers, 90 consecutive days, 56 locations, and 50 states, Givens uses beautifully crafted full color photographs to create a project to visually show what really makes up America with respect to dance -- a diversity that exists both in the physical landscape, and in the dancers who make America their home.
The photographs comprising "Dance Across The USA" do not involve any digital compositing, nor are there any trampolines or wires. Using only Canon cameras and flashes, Givens quite literally went to the ends of the nation, to work with dancers ranging from 5 to 61. Professionals and amateurs, students and teachers, boys and girls, cat lovers and dog lovers, everyone and anyone was welcome. Over 3000 dancers applied to be a part of the project, and those selected for the book reflect not only the range of what makes up dance in America, but they also showed a love for this country and its wonders.
"Dance Across the USA" is a fun, beautiful, and inspirational look at America, both its places and its people. It is our differences and our diversity that combine to make us all Americans. From the sandy Florida beaches to the rugged Washington coast, the glaciers of Alaska to Death Valley in California, diversity is the hallmark of what literally makes up America. That diversity is reflected in our citizens, and our dancers.
Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively well written, organized and presented contemporary study of American dance, dancing, and dancers, "Dance Across The USA" will prove to be a unique and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library History of Dance collections, and is a 'must' for the personal reading lists any and all dedicated fans of dance.
The Military Shelf
Memories of WWII
9780983576105, $12.95, PB, 158pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Memories of WWII" is the intensely personal story of Lyndon Shubert and his experience as a young fighter pilot operating a P-38 in the skies of Europe during World War II. A simply riveting read that includes such encounters as when he was attacked by four Messerschmitts, "Memories of WWII" underscores the reality that no matter how much you prepare, no matter how much you read, how much you train, no matter how much you think of yourself as a 'Hot Shot Pilot,' you are never truly ready for experiencing life and death aerial combat! Of special note is Lyndon Shubert's memories of how it felt to say a 'last goodbye' to his bride believing he would never see her again, as he left to ?ght WWII.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, "Memories of WWII: By a P-38 Fighter Pilot" will prove to be an valued and appreciated contribution to the growing library of World War II histories, memoirs and biographies. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library World War II Military History collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that 'Memories of WWII: By a P-38 Fighter Pilot" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.49).
A Seabee Journey
James E. Clarke, USNR Ret.
Dorrance Publishing Company
585 Alpha Drive, Suite 103, Pittsburgh, PA 15238
9781480944947, $25.00, PB, 108pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: James E. Clarke enlisted with the Seabees in 1954, and throughout his 32-year career he helped construct U.S. military buildings from Okinawa to Adak, Alaska.
In "A Seabee Journey" he introduces readers to the crucial and often overlooked contributions of the Naval Construction Battalions (known as the Seabees) in American military engagements.
With clear-eyed prose and a sharp sense of humor, James E. Clarke recounts the experiences of his service throughout the Cold War era, beginning with the initial period of construction of the vast American military base in Okinawa, Japan. His stories include fierce lions with toothaches, visits to famous teahouses, and other surprising incidents behind the curtains of war.
Critique: As informative as it is inherently interesting, "A Seabee Journey" is an exceptionally well written combination of memoir and history that is unreservedly recommended, especially for both community and academic library American Biography and Military History collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Seabee Journey" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). Incidently, In Clarke's civilian life, he was a long-tenured professor of construction technology and management at Orange Coast College. He is a pilot of single-engine aircraft, a sailor, and an experienced skier, as well as an artist, bowler, and world traveler. Currently he a member of the Freedom Committee of Orange County, California which is an organization composed of American military veterans of all services and theaters of operations.
The Christian Studies Shelf
50 Classic Bible Stories
Gary Martin & Kevin White, authors
Richert Kamaiopili, illustrator
Lighthouse Christian Publishing
9780979786389, $12.95, PB, 240pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "50 Classic Bible Stories" takes a simple approach that helps in both the learning and the application of biblically based Christian values. No longer does the Sunday School teacher need to entertain because the Bible does that by itself alone! Students of all ages will find that "50 Classic Bible Stories" will individually and collectively answer numerous questions from the text of the stories, confirming both learning and comprehension. The readers will enjoy fun, related discussions with each lesson. With "50 Classic Bible Stories" they will also increase their Bible vocabulary by over a hundred words -- they can even successfully memorize all of the books of the Bible -- along with 10 of the top verses.
Critique: Fun, informative, and exceptionally well organized and presented, "50 Classic Bible Stories" is very highly recommended for personal study as well as a Sunday School curriculum text. Simply stated, "50 Classic Bible Stories" is inspired and inspiring, making it unreservedly commended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliations.
Called Along the Way: A Spiritual Memoir
Stephen W. Hiemstra
T2Pneuma Publishers LLC
PO Box 230546, Centreville, VA 20120
9781942199250, $16.95, PB, 390pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Called Along the Way: A Spiritual Memoir" by Stephen W. Hiemstra deftly describes his own faith journey from unbeliever to believer, from cultural Christian to active disciple, from disciple to realization of call, and from seminary to early ministry. He wrote this intensely personal memoir to be of aid, comfort, instruction and solace for anyone is struggling with their Christian faith.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Called Along the Way: A Spiritual Memoir" is an extraordinary and inspiring read that is unreservedly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Called Along the Way: A Spiritual Memoir" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.95).
New Growth Press
9781945270833, $17.99, PB, 208pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: What would our common life be like if Christians were known not only for speaking truth, but also for demonstrating mercy? In "World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life", Marvin Olasky (Editor in Chief of 'World Magazine') describes this kind of salty Christianity in a far-ranging collection of columns from World.
As Dr. Olasky comments on world events and also shares his personal interactions, readers will be encouraged to bring both grace and truth to every encounter. While deeply committed to standing for biblical truth in the public square, Olasky is just as interested in Christians living out the biblical virtues of humility, kindness, and mercy in all of life. His call for biblical values to include both truth and grace, makes his voice stand out in a world that often falsely divides those goals and settles for a poor imitation of the robust Christianity he calls readers to.
Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "World View: Seeking Grace and Truth in Our Common Life" is an inherently engaging and rewarding read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of all members of the Christian community, it should be noted that "World View" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.97).
Follow the Master
Grace Acres Press
PO Box 22, Larkspur, CO 80118
9780578190204, $9.99, PB, 176pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Discipleship is fundamental to the Christian experience. Jesus called and trained his disciples and commissioned them to go and make disciples of others (Matthew 28:19-20). That command compels Christians today and is the primary task of the Church.
"Follow the Master: A Discipleship Course for Growing Christians" by Paul Barreca (Director of Fellowship International Mission in Allentown, PA) is course is designed to help members of the Christian community to fulfill Christ's call to "come and follow me" (Matthew 16:24).
"Follow the Master" is comprised of 34 lessons providing the foundational beliefs and behaviors of a mature disciple. Even though this course was created for new Christians, those who have not been intentionally discipled will grow through these lessons.
"Follow the Master" can be used as a foundation for own personal Bible study or better yet, study with another Christian or in a group of fellow believers to grow in your knowledge of the Bible and live as mature disciples of Jesus.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, biblically sound, inspired and inspiring, throughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Follow the Master: A Discipleship Course for Growing Christians" is very highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Follow the Master" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Through the Fire
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781490768403, $31.99, HC, 290pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Detective Daniel Hartman lives in a three-story condo in the Montrose section of Houston that he rents from his twin brother, Dr. David Hartman. When Daniel wakes up to discover a woman, Michael Braun, naked and recovering from a savage attack, his first instincts are those of a detective. The woman is not a stranger, however. His life will change as the woman becomes entwined not only with his life but also with his heart. Michael is scared, homeless, and unsure of what is happening. Detective Hartman is an intimately familiar stranger, who, without hesitation, wraps her in his protective arms and steals her heart. Can she be sure that this vicious attack was a random act when she remembers nothing of the episode itself? Has Michael's past, a past she struggled to escape from, found her? Can she keep herself and the man she loves safe without losing more than her soul? Will Detective Hartman become a pawn in a killer's twisted game of revenge? Will he become his lover's dagger, or will he go through the fire to save what he has found?
Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "Through the Fire" reveals author Raj Lowenstein's genuine flair for originality and a storytelling style replete with unexpected twists and turns. While very highly recommended for community library Romantic Thriller & Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Through the Fire" is also available in a paperback edition (9781490768380, $20.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Oconee Spirit Press
9780998474014, $14.95, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Deborah Knott was expected to be a conventional little girl and eventually a conventional woman, worshiped on a pedestal by a conventional husband. Instead, she became an attorney, infiltrating the old boy network that still rules the tobacco country of Colleton County, North Carolina. Some say her success is a sign of the New South, but no one knows better than she the power of the past--her family's long history in the area is a major asset in her campaign for district judge. Then again, there is the strong-willed daughter of Kezzie Knot (a notorious bootlegger, ex-con, and political string-puller) who is also one of her greatest problems.
But it's an episode from the more recent past that threatens to derail her campaign. As a teen, Deborah used to babysit little Gayle Whitehead for her mother, Janie. One rainy spring day eighteen years ago, both mother and daughter disappeared. When they were found three days later Gayle was dehydrated, dirty, and hungry...and Janie was dead. The unsolved murder became a local legend and an enigma that continues to haunt Gayle, who now begs Deborah to investigate.
With no real faith in her investigative skills, Deborah asks a variety of questions on her campaign tour of the county's rallies--and soon her attention is distracted from the hurly-burly of politics by troubling new evidence. Deborah now faces the realization that the disadvantages of being the single female candidate in a southern judgeship race, and even the disadvantages of being Kezzie Knott's daughter, are nothing in comparison to posing a threat to a successful murderer.
Critique: A master of the mystery/suspense genre as her Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards attest, once again Margaret Maron has penned an original masterpiece of a read with "Bootlegger's Daughter". Decidedly and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Bootlegger's Daughter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99) and in a complete and unabridged audio book format (Recorded Books, B0002178S4, $22.95, Audible Audio Edition, 9 Hours 43 Minutes).
The Burden of Persuasion
Anaphora Literary Press
9781681143248, $35.00, HC, 248pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The trauma of retiring early forces FBI Special Agent B. Clare Ryan to conduct an unsanctioned investigation into one of her first cases for the Bureau back in 1988.
After an unfavorable verdict that was the culmination of eight years of litigation over claims of sexual harassment of Ida Callaghan by the management at the Bedford Bank in Manhattan, her father, Bradley, shot the judge over the case, Vincente Brunetti, to death at his suburban residence before committing suicide.
The case is outrageous enough on its own, but Ryan is more interested in why her supervisor at the FBI forbade her from investigating it and destroyed the suicide note that Bradley left behind. This clue leads her to a diary that accuses many powerful men in New York of corruption.
Now in 2013, the trail might be cold, but Ryan digs up ancient records and does everything possible, including breaking into private vaults and morgues to get to the truth, which turns out to be more explosive than she predicted. Ryan reproduces original diaries, notes, letters, police reports and other documents that finally sufficiently prove the case that both Bradley and his daughter lost.
Ryan takes on the burden of persuasion and brings this case to the public at large, hiding under the veil of fiction what she cannot expose in the court of law.
What was the connection between this federal Judge and a major bank like Bedford? What drove Bradley to homicide instead of another appeal? Why were there five hundred sparkling-new, but unused, Bronx-made Vachengrais autos parked outside Bradley's precinct in 1969? What was Bradley's boyhood friend, Terry, who later became the Chief of NYPD, doing on a military base in East Germany in 1955 that sent everybody in this story on a violent collision course?
This mystery begins after the whodunit is long solved. Only hidden personal confessions can display what corruption has obstructed from the eyes of justice.
Critique: A original novel of inherently fascinating complexity by an author with a genuine flair for narrative driven suspense replete with unexpected twists and turns, "The Burden Of Persuasion" by Anna Faktorovich is one of those exquisitely fashioned literary works of mystery and intrigue that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "The Burden Of Persuasion" is also available in a paperback edition (9781681143231, $20.00).
9780692797792, $11.99, PB, 302pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: New York Detective Sidney Langston is rushed to the hospital with excruciating chest pains the same night a woman who bears a remarkable resemblance to her is murdered in San Diego. Tests reveal Sidney is perfectly healthy, yet the crippling pain persists until the dead woman reaches out from beyond the grave for Sidney's help to vindicate her wrongfully imprisoned husband and to find her murderer.
Desperate to remain pain free, Sidney embarks on a mission to exonerate an innocent man. With a ruthless killer at large, she soon discovers the crime is more than a simple whodunit when dangerous scenarios unfold. The dead woman's spirit relentlessly pushes Detective Langston to solve the crime and correct an injustice - or forever be tormented by an invisible bullet wound.
Critique: A unique blending of the supernatural with classic mystery/suspense, "Compelled" by Inge-Lise Goss is an inherently riveting read from cover to cover. Revealing the author's genuine flair as a novelist for narrative driven storytelling, "Compelled" is decidedly and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Compelled" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Education Shelf
I Want to Be a Teacher
Cathine Gilchrist Scott
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480826229, $29.99, HC, 114pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Everyone knows that educators should be competent and well qualified, but what about caring for the students? In life, when the boss cares about employees, they are more productive, and Cathine Gilchrist Scott knows that the same is true in the classroom.
In the pages of "I Want to Be a Teacher: An Auto-teachography in Three Parts: Student, Professor, and Administrator" she looks back at her career as an educator, from her first job to earning her doctorate of philosophy degree to sharing lessons learned from teaching students of all ages at home and abroad.
Throughout "I Want to Be a Teacher", the reader will learn how to: Encourage, motivate, and inspire students to be successful; Plan, implement, and evaluate lessons; Change attitudes to believe that all children can learn; Overcome the fear of teaching; Assess student learning in positive ways.
If teachers teach, but less than 50 percent of the students make passing grades, then the teachers have not taught at all. They think they have taught, but they have not done their jobs -- and "I Want to Be a Teacher" seeks to fix that problem. Filled with real-life anecdotes, revealing insights about great educators, and opinions, "I Want to Be a Teacher" is a vital resource that delivers a no-nonsense account on what it takes to truly succeed as an educator.
Critique: Impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "I Want to Be a Teacher: An Auto-teachography in Three Parts: Student, Professor, and Administrator" is an extraordinary and insightful read that is especially 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. While very highly and unreservedly recommended for school district, community, and academic library Teacher Education collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of student teachers, classroom instructors, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "I Want to Be a Teacher" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480826236, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Metaphysical Studies Shelf
Voyages Through Time and Space
9780984059386, $12.50, PB, 343pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The paranormal activities of a deeply religious and highly gifted Russian psychic known as Ulya are detailed in "Voyages Through Time and Space: The Life of a Russian Psychic".
Ulya considered her soul to be immortal and indestructible and she believed her soul had lived in numerous bodies over the eons of time. Ulya's near-death experience at three months of age triggered a wide variety of reported psychic abilities including visions that provided accurate knowledge of the future and the specific skills of healing, dream interpretation, making predictions, and casting spells.
She was a regular flyer to places in this, and other worlds. The barriers of time and space did not exist as she traveled in the past, the present and the future. She usually flew in a smaller version of her earthly body, however sometimes she flew out-of- body in remote viewing. Ulya saw herself in past lives and she flew into the future and saw herself as she will appear in future lives.
Ulya was raised in a loving, well-to-do family in the USSR. She was considered a successful career woman with a family and a teaching position. Ulya realized at a young age that her psychic abilities made her unique and she hid most of her skills from most people. It was only as a mature woman living in America that she came to completely embrace her gift.
She hoped that future civil rights activity will include society's acceptance of psychics. Fearful of retribution against herself and her children for the crime of witchcraft, Ulya allowed publication of her stories only after her death and using the nom de plume of Ulya.
Her diary, a house journal, various documents and a lifetime of conversations with her good friend, the author Lilia Sariecheva, provide the basis of "Voyages Through Time and Space".
Critique: Unique, original, inherently fascinating, impressively informative, exceptionally well written, this posthumously published biography/memoir will be of special and particular interest to Metaphysical Studies students. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Voyages Through Time and Space: The Life of a Russian Psychic" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
The Eagle's View
PO Box 5546, High Point, NC 27262
9780990670643, $14.95, PB, 271pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Her third book on Modern Mysticism, "The Eagle's View: Five Steps to Modern Mysticism" by Paddy Fievet guides the reader into discovering his or her own answers to the age old questions: Where am I? Who am I? What is my purpose? How will my purpose happen? What is Love?
"The Eagle's View" is a guide to a life enhanced by awareness, identity, purpose, spiritual artistry, and love as the reader travels the path to a heart-felt connection with God. The five steps offer a profound and life-changing self-discovery process for the reader to realize that all important inner divinity and intuitive power.
Dedicated students of metaphysical studies will discover new ways to grow in wisdom, embrace your innate spiritual truths, and live their lives as Modern Mystics.
Critique: An ideal instructional resource and reference for spirituality coaches, Lightworkers, Healers, and Spiritual Directors, as well as all Spirituality seekers, "The Eagle's View: Five Steps to Modern Mysticism" is decidedly and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Science/Spiritual Growth collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
The Judicial Studies Shelf
A Consumer Handbook on Choosing a Lawyer to Handle a Civil Matter
Carolyn E. O'Connor
9781532356339, $25.00 PB, 68pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "A Consumer Handbook on Choosing a Lawyer to Handle a Civil Matter" is as handbook by Carolyn E. O'Connor that specifically prepares the consumer with a broad overview on what to expect when engaging the legal profession to handle their civil issue. The handbook provides information on the different billing types lawyers use and how to protect your interests in the billing process. Padded billing and extraneous expenses are addressed and the problems with retainer fees are explained. Lawyer misrepresentation/correction is discussed as also the variables that affect your civil case. How to file a complaint against a lawyer is explained. Pointers are also provided on how to select the best prepaid legal plan to suit your purposes. All civil litigation examples are based on actual cases/scenarios.
Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, exceptionally accessible in organization and presentation, "A Consumer Handbook on Choosing a Lawyer to Handle a Civil Matter" is impressively informative and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Judicial Studies instructional reference collections. It should be noted for the non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Consumer Handbook on Choosing a Lawyer to Handle a Civil Matter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, 9781532356346, $25.00).
The Fiction Shelf
Legends of the Dragon Cowboys
Laura Givens and David Riley
PO Box 2194, Mesilla Park, NM 88047-2194
9781885093837 $12.95 pbk / $3.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Legends of the Dragon Cowboys brings you two weird western adventures by authors David B. Riley and Laura Givens. Their heroes ride boldly out of the Far East to find their way in a mythic land of danger, romance, and adventure.
In "The Venerable Travels of Ling Fung" by David B. Riley, a wandering businessman encounters a Mayan god, crooked enterprises and Yeti, the Abominable Snowman, when all he really wants is to open a gun store. Ling Fung is not any ordinary Chinese entrepreneur - he's highly skilled in Kung Fu and he can shoot good, too. While his heart is set on business, providence seems to have other plans for him.
In "Chin Song Ping and the Long, Long Night", Laura Givens brings wily acrobat Chin Song Ping to the Wild West in search of adventure and fortune. He finds little fortune, but plenty of adventure. Chin Song Ping is a scoundrel, a gambler and a trouble magnet. His heart of gold lands him in schemes to outwit would-be gods, cannibal ghosts, insane robots, Voodoo despots and the ultimate evil--bureaucrats. But he is a romantic, and the love of his life is the true treasure he seeks. The odds are always against him but if he survives he will become the Western legend he always was in his own mind. The Wild West just got a lot wilder!
Critique: These two Western novellas are seasoned a dash of exotic adventure, featuring cowboy protagonists who hail from the Far East and pursue their dreams in the tough-as-nails frontier. Riveting from first page to last, Legends of the Dragon Cowboys is enthusiastically recommended for public library collections and connoisseurs of the genre! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Legends of the Dragon Cowboys is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).
Only Tim Sent Flowers
Black Opal Books
PO Box 504, Parkdale, OR 97041
9781626947290, $13.99, PB, 280pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Mary Louise is a bookish, redheaded, freckle-faced, eighteen-year-old virgin who is unaware she has Asperger's Syndrome when she dispenses with Tim, her loving but far too serious and conventional high school boyfriend. Mary Louise then thrusts herself, groin first, into the 1960s sexual revolution, pioneering concepts such as friends with benefits and serial monogamy, while earning two college degrees in statistics. Nicknamed Tookie by her doting father, Mary Louise engages in often humorous escapades with innumerable unsuitable lovers, whom she seduces with her oral virtuosity. But through it all, the one thing she really wants escapes her -- a man who will truly love her, despite her faults, and give her a daughter.
Critique: An imaginative, entertaining, fascinating read from beginning to end, George Kaplan's "Only Tim Sent Flowers" is an extraordinary novel by a writer with a genuine flair for novelty and narrative driven storytelling complete with unexpected twists and turns. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Only Tim Send Flowers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
The Jubilee Problem
Anna Elliott & Charles Veley
9780999119129, $12.99, PB, 422pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The year is 1897. Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James, his lovely young American daughter, must finally unmask the traitor who has crossed swords with them in their three previous adventures. Their secret adversary is now masterminding a well-orchestrated conspiracy to destroy the most glamorous event of the Century -- Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Celebration.
Lucy's growing relationship with Detective Constable Jack Kelly will be seriously tested as she and Jack work with Sherlock and Watson to defeat their murderous enemy. If they fail, the Queen and thousands of innocent people will die, and the British Empire will fall into chaos.
Critique: Another deftly crafted and riveting read by the team of Anna Elliott and Charles Veley, "The Jubilee Problem" will prove to be a 'must' read for the legions of Sherlock Holmes fans and does full justice to the famous detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fifth and latest volume in the author's Sherlock Holmes & Lucy James series, for those readers to whom "The Jubilee Problem" is their first acquaintance with the mystery father and daughter mystery solving team, the previous four books include: The Last Moriarty; The Wilhelm Conspiracy; Remember, Remember; and The Crown Jewel Mystery. While very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Jubilee Problem" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Charles Veley, B076FFYN1D, $14.95, Audible Audio Edition, 9 Hours 37 Minutes).
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524675769, $26.99, HC, 384pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: At some point in our lives, we need to be unstoppable. That is the underlying message of Wil Tustin's "Unstoppable", a deftly crafted novel about Paul the Apostle, one of history's most influential and unstoppable individuals to ever walk this globe. "Unstoppable" looks at his passion and devotion and how it changed the world. We all have struggles that we encounter in life. Some seem to be beyond our ability to confront and overcome. Paul seemed to face these types of events every day of his life. There is so much insight to be learned from how Paul confronted and overcame these daily challenges. Although a work of fiction, "Unstoppable" is a kind of road map for dealing and getting through life.
Critique: A compelling and inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Unstoppable" is decidedly and unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Historical Fiction collections.
Critique: It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Unstoppable" is also available in a paperback edition (9781524675776, $20.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Flying Chestnut Press
9780692936627, $12.49, PB, 314pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the pages of "Ephemeral" by novelist Andie Andrews, readers will enter into New Jersey's legendary horse country, where wealthy women, six-figure performance horses, and elite show barns are part of the natural landscape.
It's into this white-gloved arena that Clarissa Stamos, a reclusive, midlife romance writer is thrust when she decides to write a country-western romance. The only problem is--she's never been on a horse.
Clarissa signs up for riding lessons and finds relief from her troubled marriage and her darkest secrets in the company of horses who offer an intoxicating sense of freedom and daring. Before long, she impulsively buys an ex-rodeo horse who spurs her to take charge of her own destiny -- or wind up in the dust.
Complicating matters is an intriguing, Argentinian dressage trainer with secrets of his own.
Critique: "Ephemeral" is part romance novel, part literary fiction, part love-affair-with-horses. This is a deftly crafted and thoroughly entertaining story told from the unique viewpoint of a quirky, old cow horse who not only invites the reader into his world, but also shares his sensible and soulful outlook on human hearts and the meaning of true horsemanship. While decidedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ephemeral" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Thomas & Mercer
9781477806012, $15.95, PB, 428pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: When the world's most notorious cartel bosses get arrested, they call Benn Bluestone. A drug lawyer sharp enough to exploit loopholes in the system, Bluestone loves the money, the women, the action that come with his career -- but working between the lines of justice and crime has taken its toll, and he desperately wants out. He's convinced himself that only an insanely rich client can guarantee him a lavish retirement.
When the New Year begins with three promising cases, Bluestone thinks he's hit pay dirt. But then the cases link dangerously together -- and to his own past. Does the mysterious drug kingpin Sombra hold the key to Bluestone's ambitions? Or does the key open a door that could bring the entire federal justice system to a screeching halt and net Bluestone a life in jail without parole?
Critique: It's clear that with his novel "The Extraditionist", author Todd Merer draws upon his thirty years as a criminal attorney, specializing in the defense of high-ranking cartel chiefs extradited to the United States, to add a special note of authenticity and judicial accuracy to his riveting work of fiction. A deftly crafted and decidedly entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Extraditionist" is an especially recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Extraditionist" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781536690200, $16.99, MP3 CD).
He's Not My Husband
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524578596, $19.99, PB, 220pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: For Betty it started like every other Friday morning in 1965 as she quickly finishing her weekly housework before her husband, Rob, would waltz in after a tiring week of selling corporate insurance. Suddenly, the door opened and a glaring light silhouetted a man she thought she knew stood in the doorway.
Up to this point, Betty's life was best described as dull and uneventful, until Ryan walked in looking almost exactly like her husband, Rob. Now she suddenly finds herself is thrown into the world of spies and deception and has to stifle her panic and frustration because foreign agents are watching her every move. Her whole world had been turned upside-down, yet she had to keep composure, and all this has to be kept secret from her family and nosy neighbors.
Critique: An original and deftly crafted novel by a writer of impressive storytelling talents, Susie Beam's "He's Not My Husband" is an engaging and entertaining read from cover to cover. While highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "He's Not My Husband" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Amah and the Silk-winged Pigeons
9781771334372, $22.95, PB, 260pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Prior to 1857 (the year it was engulfed by tragic historical conflict) the cosmopolitan city of Lucknow thrived on open-mindedness, great prosperity and pride, the city a magnet for musicians, poets, painters and chefs, drawing the finest cultural talent from other parts of India and the wider world. It proved too tempting a prize for the English East India Company not to attempt a takeover of the Kingdom of Awadh with its capital city, Lucknow. The devastation and disaster that came to be known as "the Red Year" was a turning point in the history of Indian colonialism. It gave birth to the self-conscious, anti-colonial nationalism that would define the next ninety years, eventually leading to Gandhi's nonviolent measures to oust the British from India once and for all. When the women decide to take on the English colonists who declare rule, what will be the ultimate price of the women's loyalty to the royal family and to the place they've grown to love?
Critique: A superbly crafted historical novel with impressive attention to a detailed accuracy of events, "Amah and the Silk-winged Pigeons" is an extraordinarily entertaining read from cover to cover, revealing novelist Jocelyn Cullity as having a genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling. A truly memorable read, "Amah and the Silk-winged Pigeons" is an especially recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Amah and the Silk-winged Pigeons" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.89).
His Just Desserts
John Raymond Williams
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491749081, $17.95, PB, 272pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: As the owner of a successful casino, Burt Donaldson makes a lot of money. It irks him that he has to give most of it to the Internal Revenue Service, so he comes up with a plan. He recruits a partner from overseas to set a complicated scheme in action.
Thanks to Burt's influence, his foreign partner is about to win at Burt's casino-and win big. The part that most people don't know is that this lucky winner has agreed to give 90 percent of his winnings back to Burt-secretly.
Greed isn't his only vice. Burt's wedding vows have never kept him loyal to his wife, and he occasionally "dines" with one of his female lawyers. This doesn't sit well with her boyfriend, who also happens to be one of Burt's vice presidents. Sure, the sex is hot, but is it all worth it in the end?
As Burt is about to find out, greed and ambition are unreliable factors in any scheme. Forced to travel abroad to reclaim his windfall when his partner betrays him, he ends up with more than he bargained for. Imprisoned in a foreign jail, fighting for his life on a murder charge, Burt turns to a higher power for salvation of both body and soul.
Burt's karma is about to bite him where it counts, and he's not exactly in control anymore. Will he get what's coming to him?
Critique: A deftly crafted, completely riveting and consistently entertaining novel from beginning to end, "His Just Deserts" by John Raymond Williams will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "His Just Deserts" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Compromise with Sin
Enchanted Indie Press
9781938749360, $14.99, PB, 414pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Louise Morrissey stops at nothing to maintain a veneer of Victorian respectability. But the consequences of infidelity prove far worse than mere exposure. After straying into the arms of Doc Foster and becoming pregnant, small-town civic leader Louise faces ruin if anyone (especially her husband) finds out. To safeguard her marriage and reputation, she weaves a web of deceit which unfortunately ensnares her husband and daughter with tragic consequences. Guilt-ridden and seeking redemption, Louise risks revelation of her secrets as she joins Helen Keller in a grassroots movement to end the blinding scourge known as "babies' sore eyes." In a confessional moment, Louise signs in Helen's hand: "When you wrote 'they enslave their children's children who make compromise with sin,' you were writing about me."
Critique: A fictional version of real events, "Compromise with Sin" by Leanna Englert pits Louise, Helen, and others against society's taboos as they champion what would become one of the greatest public health triumphs of the twentieth century. Very highly recommended, especially for community library Historical Fiction collections, "Compromise with Sin" is a deftly crafted novel of romantic love at its most complicated, tragic, and poignant. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Compromise with Sin" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Peter S. Rush
Prior Manor Press
355 Lexington Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9780999066508, $26.95, HC, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In the spring of 1970, Steve Logan, like thousands of other college students across America, takes to the streets to protest authority and the Vietnam War. Fueled by a strong sense of moral justice, he wants to make the world better -- a belief his girlfriend Roxy, a medical student, passionately shares.
The just weeks before his graduation, Steve's life is upended when National Guard troops kill four students at Kent State University.
Steve stays in Providence and joins the police department where his education makes him an outsider, and his honesty makes him a threat to the corrupt cops. And the job is taking a toll at home. His college friends think he's a traitor to the cause and even Roxy, the woman he loves, has begun to pull away.
Steve is compelled to devise a dangerous plan to radically shake up the system unless it takes him out first.
Critique: "Wild World" by Peter S. Rusch is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the protest era of the early 1970s. it is a gripping and deftly crafted novel of power, love, injustice, courage, and hope -- and one tenacious young man whose determination to change the system holds unexpected consequences for his own life.
A deftly crafted and inherently engaging read from cover to cover, "Wild World" is an extraordinary and impressively entertaining read from beginning to end -- and showcases author Peter S. Rush as having a genuine flair for originality and a narrative driven unpredictability. While strongly and unreservedly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Wild World" is also available in a paperback edition (9780999066515, $16.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
A J Smith
This Is Livin' Press
9780998281902, $27.00, HC, 242pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Bburke is sad. -- Well maybe "sad" isn't the right word. Discontent, perhaps. Or if he isn't, he should be.
He's recently divorced, overweight, aging, and the only thing he has to show for his five decades on Earth is a tremendous beer belly and a meager side-business--modest landscaping jobs and nightly lawn mowing throughout Central New Jersey.
The point is, he needs a change. Needs to shake things up.
The into his life enter two hipster-millennial employees; the works of Dostoyevsky, Stein, Camus, and others; a new and exciting romantic prospect; and more beer!
But there are, of course, consequences to his reformation. As Bburke begins to immerse himself in the world of literature, love, and libations, he begins to doubt his own perceptions of the world and his place in it.
Critique; Told in an impressive variety of narrative styles and with a clever weaving of literary, musical, and pop cultural allusions, "Growth" is a novel that questions the role of art in our lives and seeks to examine the way literature permeates our own views of reality -- and the inverse. An inherently fascinating and compelling read from cover to cover, "Growth" reveals and showcases author A J Smith's genuine flair for originality, clever narrative dialogue, and literary imagination. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to Contemporary General Fiction collections, "Growth" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic libraries.
Aspects of Love
Norma Jean Morris & Nola Morris Stam
948 New Hwy 7, Columbia, IN 38401
9780744323504, $9.98, PB, 179pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The collaborative literary project of Norma Jean Morris and Nola Morris Stam, "Aspects of Love" is an anthology comprising nine different stories, each one of which illustrates an aspect of love.
A space pirate learns to love herself and change her life. A cursed woman is released by "true love". A woman manufactured in a clone factory becomes truly human through selfless love. A newlywed couple finds love needs constant nurture. A hero-possessed car proves love is sweet. A disheartened dream caster learns love and faith need each other. A mother's love receives the ultimate challenge. The love of a friend can meet any challenge. And two broken hearts discover the mending power of the love of Christ.
Critique: Each short story is an exquisitely entertaining and deftly crafted gem with an underlying life-affirming, life-enhancing message. While highly and unreservedly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction Short Story collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Aspects of Love" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.88).
The Blind Pool
9780998732077, $17.95, PB, 342pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: A Russian crime ring scores entry to the USA by forging an alliance with a criminal gang that uses a West Texas private prison as their base. Felons are secretly released from that prison and sent out across the nation to work as hard-case enforcers.
An assault on a bridge in the Florida Keys tips off authorities to the alliance's grand plot to subvert, exploit, and terrorize the American public. But agents who start to investigate are betrayed by a high-placed FBI mole.
Stakes rise to life-or-death when the agents and their women are kidnaped by the cabal. To achieve escape, wreak vengeance and exact justice stretches the tradecraft and loyalties of these U.S. operators close to a breaking point -- and beyond.
Critique: In a deftly crafted and riveting novel that is based on an all too believable ((in these times) premise, "The Blind Pool" showcases author Paul McHugh's genuine flair for narrative driven storytelling of the first order. The stuff from which blockbuster movies are made, "The Blind Pool" is an extraordinary read, and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Blind Pool" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Camera's Eye
New Libri Press
9781614690634, $16.95, PB, 232pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Professional photographer, Veronica Lorimer, wakens to the sound of a rock crashing through the front window of the Puget Sound island retreat she shares with retired prosecuting attorney, Charlotte McAllister. As the attacks continue and worsen, the local police blame a local vagrant boy, but Veronica and Charlotte suspect the source may involve their own pasts and Veronica's estranged family. As they get closer to the truth, a sudden discovery pitches their search toward tragedy.
Critique: "The Camera's Eye" showcases author Judith Kirscht's genuine flair for originality, creativity, and mastery of the narrative driven novel. A deftly crafted and engaging read from beginning to end, "The Camera's Eye" will prove to be an enduringly popular, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Camera's Eye" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Prodigy Gold Books
9781939665201, $14.99, PB, 250pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In a street war, there's always a body to be discovered. Lamar Dunken is a dedicated monster who presents the perfect image of a street terrorist. He knows how to respond when a desperate crisis threatens his operation, and he exacts horrifying tactics to get things under control. FBI Special Agent Livingston is faced with the serious task of investigating Lamar's tactics while connecting killings start to terrorize Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs. Also, a violent criminal locked behind bars a year before Lamar was even born is back on the streets and looking for him. Lamar is forced to call on his deepest strength to face his accusers and ensure that the values that he holds most dear will survive. The nightmare has begun. Again. And, over again.
Critique: In the pages of "Project Terror", the fact that author Jamal Lewis has served time in a federal prison and was himself shot four times seems to add that certain touch of realism to his narrative descriptions as a novelist. The result is an inherently fascinating, almost mesmerizing read from cover to cover. While highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Project Terror" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Last Homecoming
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781548026011, $16.95, PB, 404pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Three troubled strangers gather on Christmas Eve to say farewell to a doomed old house, the secure shelter and refuge where each of them grew up over the course of 90 years. They all have warm, golden memories of youthful, magical Christmases here, and of the Rockwell-esque small town that nourished them as children. These old walls were witness to the stories of an elderly, feisty nun with life-searing experiences as a nurse in World War II, whose promiscuous youth still haunts her; a depressed former Major League baseball pitcher who is contemplating a horrific act; the hometown newspaper editor, still dealing with the tragic consequences of her long-ago teenage love affair. They are joined by their gracious host, the last owner of the house, whose own deep attachment has led her to stage this last homecoming for people who know it is not just a house, but a shrine of memories and echoes. But before it goes down to make way for a new bridge, this safe old sanctuary has surrendered some astonishing final secrets.
Critique: "The Last Homecoming" is an inherently fascinating and deftly crafted read that showcases author Dan Chabot's genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. A fully engaging and unfailingly entertaining saga of a novel, "The Last Homecoming" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Last Homecoming " is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
9781883285739, $24.95, HC, 275pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Brought up in a secularized Jewish household on Manhattan's upper Eastside, Nancy Green knows suspiciously little about her parents' past. She knows they were World War II Jewish refugees who were able to escape Germany with precious family heirlooms that are constant reminders of a lost life and world Nancy knows very little about.
The longing she has for some kind of spiritual connection first leads her into an encounter with an Hassidic Jewish man who, unable to find meaning in his own religion, has taken vows to becomes a monk; and then an involvement with a Catholic boy in Boston where she is studying for her masters degree in English literature.
Yvon, trying to escape the clutches of Catholicism and his overbearing mother, finds temporary refuge in Nancy and sees her as an escape from the insular enclave of Franco-Americans where he has spent most of his life. Their highly erotic, tempestuous relationship is frightening to both of them and a tragedy in Yvon's life eventually pulls them apart.
Devastated by the breakup, Nancy ends up marrying a Jewish man from London, hoping to find herself with a man of her own religion. However, this new relationship, pale in comparison to her relationship with Yvon, ends very sadly and regrettably, inspiring Nancy to go back to Boston to track down the man who, she realizes, is the great love of her life.
Critique: An impressively crafted, narrative driven novel of exceptional emotional complexity, "American Stranger" by David Plante is an inherently absorbing read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "American Stranger" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781538479896, $39.99, CD).
Shu Wei's Revenge
9780998803418, $12.95, PB, 292pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Shu Wei's Revenge: A Young Man's Journey Into the Depths of the Underworld " by Jackson Fahnestock is a story about strength of family and friendships, heartbreak, perseverance, and personal tragedy. The setting is 1898 in the sleepy village of Sanhou, China, where seventeen-year-old Shu Wei, in his role as Town Scribe, makes a disastrous mistake, raising the ire of some crooked town counselors.
His father's business is burned to the ground by one of the villainous counselors in retaliation. To make matters worse, a tribunal of these counselors is called that summarily banishes his family from the town, including his father and sister. Sensing their lives are at risk, they decide to emigrate to San Francisco's Chinatown.
On the trip over, Shu Wei encounters the counselor-arsonist on board the ship who threatens his life if he doesn't meet his demands to investigate his suspicions about his co-leader of a Tong in San Francisco. The intrigue, mystery, and tension that follow grow deeper as Shu Wei wrestles with a hostile world.
Meanwhile, various members of the community rally by Shu Wei's side, trying to stabilize the fragile remnants of his confidence and honor. A Chinese American newspaper offers him a job as a cub reporter where he collaborates with a woman colleague on the paper. She befriends him, tutoring him in the ways of reporting and photography -- a very suitable arrangement in his eyes.
But now, Shu Wei finds himself struggling to satisfy both the demands of the newspaper and the Tong -- effectively serving as a double agent. His reporting and fragile allegiance to the Tong require him to assimilate into the ranks of the underground. His life constantly in danger, Shu Wei uses his new skills as an investigative reporter and photographer to attempt to root out the web of evil in the Tong.
Meanwhile, his sister, Shu Lan-lan, is hired by a woman who runs the Occidental Home, a refuge for girls who have been abused by their captors. One of the rescued girls becomes a cause celebre after Shu Wei's story appears in the newspaper. This only rankles the Tong further and an all-out war is declared against the newspaper and the Occidental Home.
In a secondary plot, Shu Wei and his sister discover some valuable jewels and papers in the backyard of their host's store where they are staying. Through research at a local pawn shop, it appears they belong to a French woman who was slain several years ago. Shu Wei pursues an intricate path of potential leads in an attempt to uncover the murderer.
In this coming-of-age saga, Shu Wei builds on his roots as a Town Scribe and follows his dream of becoming a reporter. Using the implements of a free press, he finds that restoring honor to his family and gaining a renewed sense of self-confidence is a lot more difficult than he ever imagined. Even Jack London and Mark Twain lend their timely support. Where will his next adventures take him?
Critique: Complex, multilayered, narrative driven, "Shu Wei's Revenge: A Young Man's Journey Into the Depths of the Underworld " showcases author Jackson Fahnestock as a novelist with a genuine flair for originality and deftly crafted, memorable characters. A inherently absorbing and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Shu Wei's Revenge: A Young Man's Journey Into the Depths of the Underworld " is highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Shu Wei's Revenge: A Young Man's Journey Into the Depths of the Underworld " is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).
The Look of Things
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524684754, $13.99, PB, 118pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Author Jenna Albertsen has just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction but can't find the thing she wants most -- the love of a good man. She is also saddened that her stepfather, Ned Albertsen, who raised her and whom she adores, can't get his novel published. But she is also shocked to hear that her dear friend Maribeth has committed suicide because her husband has gotten someone pregnant and wants a divorce to marry the girl. Jenna flies home for the funeral and is comforted by her old friend, Brian Bradshaw, who has just been released from the Army, due to wounds suffered in Alghanistan. Can he be the answer to her longing desire?
Critique: A deftly crafted, consistently entertaining novella, "The Look of Things" wonderfully showcases author Mary Verdick's genuine flair for creating memorable characters and narrative driven storytelling. An original and engaging read from beginning to end, "The Look of Things" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Novella collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Look of Things" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).
Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights
Austin Macauley Publishers
9781786937889, $20.95, HC, 290pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Leonard Durso's deftly crafted novel "Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights" is a contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare's timeless tragedy, Romeo & Juliet, -- set in Istanbul. With a cast of characters drawn from across the globe, they struggle to find a way through the trials and tribulations of romantic involvement, hindered by their own unique cultural differences.
Critique: An impressively original take on a classic theme, "Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights" reveals the author's genuine flair for narrative driven fiction. An inherently fascinating and entertaining read from beginning to end, "Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights" is an especially recommended addition to community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Istanbul Days, Istanbul Nights" is also available in a paperback edition (9781786937872, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.51).
High Desert High
The Elevated Press
350 N. Glendale Avenue, Suite B-240, Glendale, CA 91206
9780966240801, 16.00, PB, 303pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Undercover cop Paul Santo chased drug dealers and junkies through the worst parts of New York City during the worst of times. He did his job well and was decorated for it. But times have changed and so has Santo.
After decades on the job he was fed up with the pressures from bosses and the street. He snapped one boozy night, retired the next day, and after a family tragedy, drove cross country with his estranged daughter to begin a new life in the mysterious California high desert.
Just as the Joshua trees reach up to the heavens, Paul's journey transcends earthly ambitions when strange sightings could mean a path to enlightenment, or madness.
Critique: An extraordinary and deftly crafted read from beginning to end, "High Desert High" reveals author Steven Schindler's impressive flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling replete with unexpected twists and turns. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "High Desert High" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and in a a complete and unabridged audio book edition (B077Y2T8T9, $17.46, 7 Hours 41 Minutes).
Once There Was Fire
9780692771334, $18.99, PB, 562pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The Hawaiian people lived in an isolated Garden of Eden and fought over it for centuries. Then one day, strangers came from beyond the horizon on floating islands. At first, the Hawaiians thought they were gods. Having no metal of their own, they marveled at the visitors' iron daggers, axes, muskets, and cannons.
One man, Kamehameha, was the first among the Hawaiians to understand that the strangers' arrival had transformed everything for his people. He would go on to use these new weapons to defeat his rivals, unite the Hawaiian Islands, and found a new kingdom at the crossroads of the Pacific Ocean.
"Once There Was Fire" brings a little-understood, historically remote era to life through the words and actions of its memorable characters: Kamehameha, his strong-willed and rebellious consort, Ka'ahumanu, his favorite brother, Keli'imaika'i, and Kamehameha's sons, nephews, comrades in arms, haole advisers, and bitter enemies.
The novel invites readers to see Hawaii of the mid-18th and early 19th centuries as the old Hawaiians themselves might have seen and experienced it on the cusp of their passage from splendid isolation to the wider world.
Critique: The debut novel of author Stephen Shender, "Once There Was Fire" is set in the Hawaii islands and details the lasting impact that the coming of the Europeans had upon the native people. Skillfully written and consistently entertaining, "Once There Was Fire" is an extraordinary work of literature, a compelling read from beginning to end, and unreservedly recommended, especially for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Once There Was Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
G. Anton Publishing
9780996679947, $32.00, HC, 454pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: General Hannibal, the fearsome champion of Carthage, has been marauding throughout Roman territory behind his trained war elephants for years. Scipio, a handsome young Roman general driven by a desire to avenge his father's death at Carthaginian hands, takes up the fight against Hannibal's brother, Hasdrubal, in Spain. He sweeps the Carthaginians from the field with dramatic new tactics.
When the Romans seize Hasdrubal's harem, Scipio takes the finest woman to his own quarters. The stunning Vibiana, however, turns out to be no mere harem girl - she is Hannibal's own niece! Scipio soon finds himself bewitched by Vibiana's charm and beauty, which could well be his undoing.
Scipio develops a plan to bring the war back to Carthage, despite plots brewing against him within his own Roman Senate. While Scipio makes treaties with African kings and executes innovative strategies on the battlefield, his love for Hannibal's niece will come to drive his decisions in ways that shock those closest to him and threaten to rock the foundations of Roman society.
Critique: A deftly crafted and narrative driven novel, "Hannibal's Niece" clearly reveals author Anthony 'Tony' Licata's genuine flair for engaging his readers full and rapt attention from cover to cover. This is the stuff of which block-buster movies are made. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Historical Fiction collections where it would prove to be enduringly popular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hannibal's Niece" is also available in a paperback edition (9780996679930, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
9780998656601, $23.88, 485pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: The decision was irreversible that Vivien Lee would become either the most remarkable female executive in the sports industry, or the biggest failure. Vivien has spent her entire consulting career helping CEOs look good, so when she finally has the chance to go after her dream of running a business, she grabs it.
A lifelong athlete, Vivien arrives at the Smart Sports campus in Portland, Oregon and is introduced as the first female president. It's one of the highest-profile jobs in an industry inhospitable to women. Principled but slightly naive, Vivien believes her male peers will give her a fair shot.
Stumbling early, Vivien makes a series of rookie mistakes. With guidance from the Ceiling Smashers, a secret society of successful professional women, Vivien learns to navigate the treacherous business terrain.
A tight-knit group of male sports executives is determined to show that an industry outsider cannot prevail.
The challenge is all too clear: will Vivien triumph in the sports industry against impossible odds?
Critique: An original and compelling novel about a woman who must compete in what has traditionally been a 'man's world', "The Closer" reveals author Shaz Kahng as an impressively skilled storyteller who is able to entertainingly engage her readers from cover to cover. While unreservedly recommended, especially for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Closer" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
The Third Woe
L. P. Hoffman
Hope Springs Media
9781935375067, $14.95, PB, 417pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Much has changed in the nearly six-and-one-half years since the Third Peril struck at the very heart of America. A new world view has the president taking the USA in a different direction. Imagine a surprising paradigm for a counter-culture movement. People are supporting nationalism over globalism, espousing freedom of religion instead of political correctness, advocating for truth and justice over victimhood. It's an upside down world. What was formerly the moral majority (those who value faith, liberty, and self-determination) is now in the minority and fighting for their rights. But a small cadre of people are beginning to rethink all the ''progress'' that has been foisted upon the populace since the war. But, which vision for America will prevail?
Critique: "The Third Woe" is the second volume of author L. P. Hoffman's outstanding 'Third Peril Trilogy' and offers another deftly crafted and riveting novel whose narrative driven storyline could be ripped from today's headlines and our currently polarized electorate. While very high recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Third Woe" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).
Back to Sovietsky
Danny D'Agostino & Michael D'Agostino
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781542660761, $9.99, PB, 222pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Vladimir Ruska is a Russian shiftless corner cutter who came to America to achieve success. But he couldn't even keep his janitor's job. In less than a year, he got kicked out of the U.S for violating his visa, and for piling up thousands of dollars in unpaid traffic tickets. But that is just the start of the saga of Vladimir Ruska.
Vladimir may be lazy, but he is not stupid. So, he returned to his small, impoverished town in rural Russia, and led his relatives on a journey to a brilliant, new enterprise. They started an unbelievably successful ripoff of McDonalds, called McRuskies. It worked. It allowed Vladimir the opportunity to move back to America, with an improved, new, positive attitude. Yes! He ultimately became a successful model Russian immigrant in the USA. And four years later, Vladimir and his entire family emigrated to the U.S.
Maybe they don't speak perfect English, but they have the determination to make it in America. They end up starting "Babushka's Chop House" in Brighton Beach, New York. "Back to Sovietsky" by Michael and Danny D'Agonstino features all the flavor and fun of ethnic Russians attempting to speak the English language.
Here is an example, when Vladimir returns home to Gorzichistan: VLADIMIR: "Oh yes, cameras everywhere in USA. You go to bank. They watch you. You go to store, they watch you. You buy gas for car, they watch you. You dump ol' paint in river, they watch you . . . and put you in jail!" BORIS: "Who watching you?" VLADIMIR: "The 'E' 'P' 'P' 'A'." YURI: "Oh yeah, we hear dat on news. You go to da outhouse and who is watching you?" STASIK: "The 'E' 'P' 'P' 'A'." BABUSHKA: "So we got KGB, FSB. And America got 'E' 'P' 'P' 'A'. Everyting same wherever you go. No different. Right Grandpa?" Grandpa, who worked in the Russian coal mines all his life, takes a deep breath and heaves up a resounding, gurgling persistent cough." GRANDPA: "Eeeh! Ahhhh! Ehhhgheghhheeee! BABUSHKA: ". . . See? . . . He say yes!"
Critique: An extraordinary, unique, and consistently entertaining read from cover to cover, "Back to Sovietsky" is one of those deftly crafted novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Back to Sovietsky" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).
All We Knew
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781542049030, $12.95, PB, 336pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: Hunter Cabot deeply loves two things: the international tea company he's helped his father build, and his wife, Sara. From the moment he first saw her wide smile on their college campus years ago, Hunter fell hard. Yet now, with other family members pushing to sell the thriving business and Sara grieving their failure to start a family, he's suddenly facing the crushing loss of both.
The relentless ambition that Sara once admired in Hunter is now driving them apart. Each missed doctor's appointment, neglected dinner date, and family squabble accentuates their differing priorities. Still, Sara struggles to create the home life they'd envisioned, until unsettling developments (both personal and professional) push them to the breaking point.
When love is put to the ultimate test, can Hunter and Sara stop fighting each other long enough to fight for their marriage?
Critique: A romance novel by a true master of the genre, "All We Knew" by Jamie Beck is an impressively crafted and deftly entertaining read from first page to last. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "All We Knew" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781543630428, $12.99, MP3).
The Travel Shelf
New Zealand: A Personal Discovery
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781524679736 $18.24 pbk / $4.99 Kindle amazon.com
Synopsis: Two hundred and twenty years after Captain Cook's first tour of New Zealand, Dick Parsons takes us on a more comfortable voyage of discovery round the north and south islands. He gives us a fascinating insight into the life - human, animal and botanical - of this green and majestic land on the other side of the world.
From ninety-mile beach in the far north to Dunedin via the Southern Alps, forests, inlets, glaciers, lakes, and islands - even the elusive Mt. Cook - are recorded in fine detail. Birds, beasts, and marine life, plus the impact of man - whether Maori, Scots, or English - are described and commented on with fairness and good humor.
There is much to be admired about the Kiwis, not only their all-conquering "All Blacks", but their great spirit of enterprise, for when Britain breaking its commercial ties with the Commonwealth, joined the European Common Market, the resourceful Kiwis rose to the challenge and forged strong economic links with Pacific Rim countries. Britain now initiating BREXIT, can learn much from our enterprising Kiwi friends.
Critique: New Zealand: A Personal Discovery is an eye-opening travelogue of New Zealand's natural beauty, extensive history, and warm-hearted people. Author Dick Parson's stories are the next best thing to personally experiencing a vacation to the "Land of the Long White Cloud". Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that New Zealand: A Personal Discovery is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).
Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees
C. L. Hoang
Willow Stream Publishing
9780989975605, $12.95, PB, 133pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: "Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees: A Travelogue of Vietnam" was written by C. L. Hoang for the benefit of anyone who had ever wondered what Vietnam is like some forty years after the Viet Nam War ended? It is a record of what C. L. Hoang found when he returned to visit his ancestral homeland for the first time after a decades-long absence.
Readers will retrace his steps with him around his former hometown of Saigon in the south, and then follow him along on an itinerary of discovery to other unique destinations throughout the country: Hoi-An, the best-preserved medieval seaport in Southeast Asia; Hue, the ancient capital of imperial Vietnam, on the central coast; Halong Bay, a world-renowned natural wonder; and Hanoi, the country's thousand-year-old capital, in the north.
Critique: Filled from cover to cover with historical and cultural tidbits and personal reminiscences (and illustrated with over forty photographs), "Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees" offers an insightful and fascinating glimpse of a tropical Southeast Asian country that is now fading from the awareness of the American public. Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, and an inherently fascinating read, "Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Travel & Travelogue collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rain Falling on Tamarind Trees" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Poutine On the Orient Express
9780995950108, $16.95, PB, 210pp, www.amazon.com
Synopsis: In "Poutine On the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look At Travel", Marcel Strigberger (a native of Montreal who is a humorist trapped inside the body of a former litigation lawyer) takes an irreverent look at the many aspects of travel and touring including why people travel, sightseeing and touring including different types of tours, guides and sights, airplane, train and cruise travel, guidebooks, baggage issues, what constitutes a city, crowds (and no crowds), dangers, tipping, toilets, travel insurance, dubious reward points, lodging options, weird and non existent places, borders and customs, restaurants, travel music, touring in ancient times, and a few special places such as England, Paris and Las Vegas and more.
Critique: Informative, funny, candid, insightful, and a thoroughly engaging read from cover to cover, "Poutine On the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look At Travel" will prove to be a very much appreciated and valued addition to personal and community library Travel Guide & Travelogue collections. Especially ideal for the armchair traveler, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Poutine On the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look At Travel" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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