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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 13, Number 3 March 2014 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Humor Shelf Cookbook Shelf
Biography Shelf Health/Medicine Shelf Fiction Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Psychology Shelf Education Shelf
Christian Studies Shelf Photography Shelf Memoir Shelf
American History Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Was I a Stranger in My Homeland?
Malavi Sivakanesan
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781483682143, $37.32, 108pp,

Synopsis: In the author's own words: Throughout my book I share my thoughts and feelings of growing up in a complex multicultural society as well as my response to cultural and ethnic diversity. Even though I am not a philosopher and have not yet experienced much compared to some I have always pictured my life as a long bumpy drive. We choose our destination and more importantly the path we take. We might encounter misfortunes along the way but our mission should be to get back on our feet and work towards the target we have set for ourselves.

Critique: Malavi Sivakanesan was born in 1995 at Tromso, Norway, the daughter of ethnic Tamil parents. "Was I a Stranger in My Homeland?: Has One Two Lives?" is her personal 'coming of age' story, a perceptive commentary on the places and the peoples she knew and experienced, and a compendium of observations that are as informed and informative as they are thoughtful and thought-provoking. Enhanced with color photos, "Was I a Stranger in My Homeland?: Has One Two Lives?" is an extraordinary and highly recommended read -- and could well serve as a template for others to create similar memoirs of their lives, experiences, and observations.

Famous Ski Hills In Wisconsin
Scott Jacobs
Dead Tree Press
c/o Subtle Communications
2326 West Medill, Chicago, IL 60647
9781879652040, $27.95, 182pp,

Synopsis: It's a short list----the famous ski hills of Wisconsin--that teaches one of life's great lessons: things aren't always what they are cracked up to be. In this collection of humorous essays, Scott Jacobs explores a boyhood of idyllic pastimes and the questions it led to later in life. Why is Budweiser beechwood aged? Is Black Friday a scam? And where have all the waysides gone? Here is proof positive that Wisconsin isn't a state, it's a state of mind; and gentle good humor is the coin of the realm.

Critique: Scott Jacobs is a master of wit, a little wisdom, and a lot of talent, and able to engage his reader's total and enthusiastic attention from first page to last in "Famous Ski Hills In Wisconsin", an impressive and always entertaining collection of observations and commentaries ranging from 'The Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland)'; 'Jesus Has a Bad Day'; 'A Telemarketer's Lament'; 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow', and twenty-six more little gems. Very highly recommended reading, it should also be noted that "Famous Ski Hills In Wisconsin" is also available in both a paperback edition (9781879652187, $14.95) as well as a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Humor Shelf

Big Fat Beautiful Head
Stu Heinecke
CartoonLink Publishing
9780615942698 $9.99 pbk. / $7.99 Kindle

Big Fat Beautiful Head is an anthology of black-and-white, single-panel cartoons by Wall Street Journal cartoonist Stu Heinecke. Each humorous humorous image is paired with a brief commentary by Heinecke himself, explaining the inspiration and context of the gag. For example, a cartoon of a mother chastising her misbehaving son with "Roland! You're acting like a member of Congress!" is paired with the contextual commentary, "When I first wrote this gag, I thought my little friend Roland was acting like a Democrat. But then my Democrat friends thought it made a whole lot more sense if he was cast as a Republican, and I couldn't quite disagree. Then Congress collapsed into a hot, steaming mess. And that's when I knew we could all agree that Roland was indeed acting like a member of Congress. At last, a rare point of agreement in politics." Most of the cartoons aren't quite so political, but all of them poke fun at the vagaries, conflicts, and absurdities of everyday life. Big Fat Beautiful Head is an insightful source of mirth, and makes an excellent gift for friends with a sense of humor!

The Cookbook Shelf

Shop Like a Chef
Chef Clara Moore & Matt Sorrell
Everything Goes Media
c/o Lake Claremont Press
PO Box 1524, Milwaukee, WI 53201
9781893121959, $15.95, 249pp,

Synopsis: "Shop Like a Chef: A Food Lover's Guide to St. Louis Neighborhoods" by Chef Clara Moore and St. Louis food and beverage writer Matt Sorrell will enable the reader to locate the exact ingredient needed with its index of over 1,000 items; learn new foods, recipes, and skills; eat better; save money; support a range of local businesses and farmers; fell comfortable in St. Louis's gourmet outlets, specialty shops, and ethnic grocery stores; and simply expand personal culinary horizons in all directions.

Critique: Although the shopping information is oriented towards St. Louis, the basic information is universal. Plus the recipes are simply terrific and guaranteed 'kitchen cook friendly'. Highly recommended, especial for St. Louis residents, "Shop Like a Chef: A Food Lover's Guide to St. Louis Neighborhoods" has a great deal to commend it to the attention of non-St. Louis residents and would aptly serve as a template for similar works set in other American cities.

The Biography Shelf

Magic Words
Lance Parkin
Aurum Press
c/o Quayside Publishing Group
400 First Avenue North, Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1721
9781781310779 $29.95

British author and sci-fi enthusiast (well-known for his detailed reference guides to television series such as "Doctor Who") Lance Parkin presents Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore, a thorough biography of the eccentric, brilliant, and often dark-minded creator of such popular comic book works as "V for Vendetta", "Watchmen" (well known as the definitive deconstruction of the superhero genre, and recently adapted into a major theatrical release), and "From Hell". Yet at the pinnacle of his career, Moore left the mainstream entertainment industry to pursue performance art, writing erotica, and a personal interest in the occult. Keenly researched and smoothly presented, Magic Words is a "must-read" for fans of Moore's classic works, as well as anyone interested in learning more about a pivotal turn-of-the-century media creator. Highly recommended.

Virtue Is its Own Punishment
Richard Menzies
New University Press LLC
9402 West Lake Mead Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89134
9780982921937, $11.99, 208pp,

Synopsis: Virtue Is Its Own Punishment is the story of a boy's journey of growth and discovery from childhood through college at Brigham Young University. It is not about religion so much as it is a story of growing up in the culture of small town, Utah, Mormon society. The author is a wry social commentator whose humorous depiction of coming of age will appeal to Mormons, ex-Mormons, and other participants in restrictive cultures. Highlights include full-immersion baptism, beliefs about Heaven, avoiding missionary work, and learning about girls and technical virginity. Ever wondered what it's like to grow up Mormon? This entertaining memoir is a look inside Mormonism in the 1950s when the most pressing concern of boys everywhere is who would get to be Roy Rogers and who would be Gene Autry in schoolyard games. Later, going on a mission is the pre-ordained destiny of 18-year-old boys regardless of their inclination toward missionary work. The author's tumultuous years at Brigham Young leads to a poignant end to the first part of his life, and a shaky new start to the second. This is a story of innocence preserved and paradise lost-written by one of America's funniest writers. Encouraged as a boy to be perfect, the narrator finds the path to perfection to be a bumpy road. Which isn't to say he doesn't give it a shot, foreswearing alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and even cola drinks in order to curry favor with his elders, friends and neighbors in the LDS community, and especially with girls. Alas, in college the road only becomes bumpier as romantic fantasies remain just fantasies and the chastity belt begins to feel more like a straitjacket. Without really wishing for it to happen, Richard eventually finds himself on the outside of the institution looking in, a reluctant heretic. But not all suffering is for naught. In fact, when it comes to raw material for an inventive, insightful and irreverent memoir, Mormonism is a treasure trove of raw material.

Critique: Candid and especially well written, "Virtue Is Its Own Punishment: A Memoir of Growing up Mormon" offers a unique perspective on coming of age within the context of a distinctly Mormon culture. A fascinating personal story, "Virtue Is Its Own Punishment: A Memoir of Growing up Mormon" is very highly recommended reading that is as informed and informative as it is engaging and entertaining.

The Health/Medicine Shelf

Toxic Staple
Anne Sarkisian
Max Health Press
c/o Gulotta Communications
341 Lexington Street, Newton, MA 02466
978098939219, $17.95, 330pp,

Gluten gives elasticity to dough helping it to rise and to keep its shape. It is found in many staple foods in the Western diet. It occurs in wheat and other grains, including barley and rye, and in foods or drinks derived from them, but not in corn, rice, or oats. Gluten is a protein composite consisting of a gliadin fraction (alcohol soluble) and a glutenin fraction (only soluble in dilute acids or alkali). Gluten sensitivity (also gluten intolerance) is a spectrum of disorders including celiac disease in which gluten has an adverse effect on the body. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhea, muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain. "Toxic Staple, How Gluten May Be Wrecking Your Health - And What You Can Do about It!" by health advocate Anne Sarkisian is written specifically for the non-specialist general readers needing to recognize how gluten could be affecting their health, becoming informed on the substantial health benefits from a gluten-free life, knowledgeable about the current state of gluten sensitivity related research and testing; and more. Enhanced with a number of appendices, extensive end notes, a substantial bibliography, and a comprehensive index, "Toxic Staple, How Gluten May Be Wrecking Your Health - And What You Can Do about It!" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Health & Medicine reference collections. It should be noted that "Toxic Staple" is also available in a hard cover edition (9780989239202, $28.95) and a Kindle edition ($8.99).

The Fiction Shelf

War Without End, Amen
Tim Coder
Sterling Publications USA
PO Box 1037, Corrales, NM 87048
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481885027, $18.99, 518 pp,

Synopsis: Whether it was the war you'd loved or the war you loved to hate, the Nam wasn't over when it was over. Lt. Adrian Pokorny and Sgt. Paul Murphy learned that lesson over 40 years of silent struggle back in The World after serving in the mountains of I Corps with the 101st Airborne Division. They were the only survivors in a separated element of Pokorny's platoon in the summer of 1970 after a firefight in a no-name village. What they craved was a shot at redemption.

Critique: In "War Without End, Amen: A Vietnam Story, Tim Coder clearly draws upon his experiences as an NCO squad leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam from 1967-1970 to provide a true 'feel' for what it was like to live and fight in Vietnam. His skills as a journalist also seem to be applied judging from his ability as a novelist to engage his reader's full attention from beginning to end in this major saga. An exceptionally debut for an obviously talented author, "War Without End, Amen: A Vietnam Story" is a terrific read and highly recommended for community library fiction collections. It should be noted that "War Without End, Amen: A Vietnam Story" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Saved...For Now
Robert Kmiecik
BlueJay House
c/o Concierge Marketing
13518 'L' Street, Omaha, NE 68137
9780991368914, $15.95, 227pp,

Synopsis: In a small town in Georgia, newly appointed Pastor Jak is working miracles. He is keeping people on the right and narrow path and saving those who have all but given up. His congregation is growing in numbers and is stronger than it has ever been. It is this high success rate that gains the attention of the one force that Jak is trying to keep his followers away from: Natas. From minute daily decisions to larger ones, like committing a crime, Natas and his Sin Council are behind them all, with the sole purpose of tempting Christians away from their path to salvation. When Natas is alerted to the work Jak is doing, it becomes his mission to take down the miracle worker who has the potential to unravel all of the Sin Council's success. Jak must now protect his family, his congregation, and himself from Natas, who is hell-bent on pushing them off the road to salvation.

Critique: Author Robert Kmiecik demonstrates the narrative skills of a master novelist as he populates his complex and engaging story with memorable characters. A thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Saved...For Now" is highly recommended and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library fiction collections. It should be noted that "Saved...For Now" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

America's Deceit
John A. Gaetano
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781493715732, $26.00, 678pp,

Synopsis: "America's Deceit: A journey of a man in search of the truth about himself... and about his country" is an epic novel about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. This historic story is based upon the true account of our government's decades long cover-up. Seen from the fictional characters' point of view, you will learn how our government shielded their part in the murder of our thirty-fifth President, and how they continue to hide its secrets behind the cloak of national security. Although there are plenty of nonfiction books depicting the many conspiracy theories of the Kennedy assassination, what the author has done is to expose these suppositions and test them through a fictional investigation of the truth.

Critique: Still highly controversial more than a half century later, the assassination of an American president comes roaring back to life in this fictional but fact-laced account. Iconoclastic, engaging, and a fascinating read, "America's Deceit" is especially recommended reading for anyone with an interest in one of 20th Century America's most traumatic political events.

Vengeance Follows
Scott Lax
Gray & Company Publishers
1588 East 40th Street, Cleveland, OH 44103
9781938441417, $19.95, 247pp,

Synopsis: Sam and Sophie's idyllic life of Parisian cafes, fine wine, and romantic passion is torn apart when Sophie is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Then Sophie reveals something that happened years before they met - a horrific event that changed her life and left her wounded in ways no one knew. She's found peace in the years since, she swears to Sam. But then she's gone, and Sam finds only pain. Bereft and alone, he leaves the City of Light and seeks solace in a small French village where no one knows him or his past. Troubled in heart and mind, he knows one man is responsible for Sophie's death. Sam cannot live without confronting him and holding him accountable for his past crimes. And so Sam travels to America, to a charming little Ohio town where lights twinkle on the snow in winter and fairs shimmer in the summer heat. Here, Sam will seek his revenge - and find retribution for his lost love in a way he could never imagine

Critique: A novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, a writer for film and television shows, and a writing teacher, author Scott Lax is a master wordsmith of the first order and once again demonstrates his talent and expertise with "Vengeance Follows". A minor masterpiece of suspense and human nature, "Vengeance Follows" is a terrifically entertaining read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections, it should be noted that "Vengeance Follows" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Terri-Lynne Smiles
PlotForge Ltd.
1650 Lake Shore Drive, Suite 225
Columbus, OH 43204
9781937979096, $15.00, 436pp,

Synopsis: The Rothston Institute has fallen to those who are after the key to controlling humanity - a secret held deep within Kinzie Nicolosi's own body. Scared and on the run, Kinzie's life becomes entangled with a collection of loners, adding the wrath of their own foes to the dangers she faces. Outmanned and outgunned on all sides, none of them can protect Kinzie or the world from the true evil behind the threats - something far more terrifying than anything they have encountered. And it is waiting The saga of Kinzie Nicolosi continues in Choices, the second book in the Rothston series. Author Terri-Lynne Smiles once again convincingly explains world events, particularly unfathomable political ones, through the interference of adepts who are able to control the decisions and actions of others.

Critique: "Choices" is the sequel to Terri-Lynne Smiles' "Foreseen" (9781937979058, $14.95) and the second volume in her 'Rothston' series. Again Ms. Smiles demonstrates a native talent for imaginative storytelling that her readers will find unfailingly enjoyable and engaging from beginning to end. Highly recommended reading, it should be noted that both volumes "Choices" ($4.99) and "Foreseen" ($3.03) are available in Kindle editions as well.

The Psychology Shelf

The Ethics Of Touch
Ben E. Benjamin & Cherie Sohnen-Moe
Sohnen-Moe Associates
6020 West Peregrine Way, Tucson, AZ 85745
9781882908424, $32.95, 416pp,

Synopsis: "The Ethics of Touch: The Hands-on Practitioner's Guide to Creating a Professional, Safe and Enduring Practice" is a groundbreaking work on ethics addresses the difficult, confusing, and seldom-discussed but often-troubling dilemmas confronting touch therapy practitioners. By honestly describing the issues, identifying clear principles, naming specific resources, and using stories straight from the treatment room, the authors have written a book to guide, support, and inspire both students and seasoned practitioners. This book belongs in the office of every bodywork practitioner and in the classrooms of every professional training school. Features include useful and thought-provoking activities and exercises and real-life scenarios to intrigue students.

Critique: Now in a fully updated and significantly expanded second edition, "The Ethics of Touch" would well serve as a college or university level Psychology Department counseling curriculum supplement. Student counselors would learn how to improve their communication skills with clients; clarify counseling therapy policies and procedures; resolve ethical dilemmas; decrease their susceptibility to lawsuits; establish and maintain appropriate boundaries; increase the quality of their relations with clients; work well with colleagues; heighten their awareness and sensitivity; develop effective support systems; and enhance their ability to work safely and effectively with trauma survivors. Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, "The Ethics of Touch" is strongly recommended reading for the novice counselor and has a great deal to commend it to the attention of even the more experienced therapist.

The Emotional Life Interview
Henry Dupont
Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Ltd.
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398087562, $29.95,

Synopsis: "The Emotional Life Interview" by Henry Dupon offers an effective and time-sensitive therapy approach to those with mental health problems, meeting today s pressures to provide essential care at less cost. The Emotional Life Interview (ELI) involves asking each client seven questions about five negative feelings and emotions (fear, anger, shame, guilt, and sadness) and six questions about two positive feelings and emotions (pride and happiness). The process takes the practitioner into the emotional life of a client as no other procedure does. Major sections of the book discuss feelings, emotions, and psychotherapy; meaning, arousal, and the construction of emotions; and the use of the ELI in psychosocial treatment. In addition, nine complete chapters are devoted to case histories which illustrate how important feelings, emotions, and relationships are in mental health problems. These case study interviews become conversations in which the clients reveal the character of their consciousness with respect to their emotional lives. The ELI questions presented in the case studies require clients to represent their thoughts and actions in words and to tell their emotional life stories in a manner that is itself therapeutic. The life stories show in bold relief where changes are needed. The Emotional Life Interview provides a framework for emotional life education. The interview puts diagnosis and psychotherapy on the same continuum and makes therapy and emotional life education a viable healthcare option. The book represents a valuable new tool for all clinical and counseling psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatrists, and primary care providers. It will also serve as a resource in the helping professions, welfare work, and human services.

Critique: Based upon a sound and practical psychological foundation, and enhanced with 'real world' template worthy instructional examples, "The Emotional Life Interview" is informed, informative, and exceptionally well organized and presented, making it very highly recommended, especially for academic library Psychology Studies reference collections and psychology student supplemental reading lists. It should be noted that "The Emotional Life Interview" is also available in a ebook edition (9780398087579, $29.95).

The Education Shelf

Energize Education through Open Source
Christopher Whittum
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483404448, $21.95, 144pp,

Synopsis: For many schools in today's economy, money is tight, and costs must be closely monitored. With this in mind, there is one area where educators can save: free, open source software. "Energize Education through Open Source: Using Open Source Software to Enhance Learning", explains the ins and outs of a huge repository of educational and productivity software that is available and open source. Filled with practical examples, this guide shares how this software and hardware can be obtained, provides suggestions for integrating it, and shows how schools can find the options that work best for their students and teachers. Whittum, who has worked with computers for more than thirty years, addresses and explains the Linux operating system, discusses how the open source products can be integrated into existing curricula, and provides suggestions for applications that could serve as aids to learning. "Energize Education Through Open Source" provides a feasible technology solution for schools facing financial barriers.

Critique: In production and development, open source as a development model promotes universal access via free license to a product's design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone. Before the phrase open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of terms for the concept; open source gained hold with the rise of the Internet, and the attendant need for massive retooling of the computing source code. Opening the source code enabled a self-enhancing diversity of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities. The open-source software movement arose to clarify the environment that the new copyright, licensing, domain, and consumer issues created. Generally, open source refers to a computer program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design. Open-source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations. Now computer expert Christopher Whittum applies open source resources to the school setting and will prove to be especially noteworthy for small to medium school districts and urban schools where educational funding is being severely limited and financial resources must be expended in the most economical way to support student educational goals and community values. "Energize Education through Open Source" is especially recommended reading for classroom teachers, school administrators, and school board of education policy makers.

The Christian Studies Shelf

The Tree Of Healing
Diana Gonzalez Tabbaa
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781475101119, $15.50, 106pp,

Synopsis: Rose spends much of her time dwelling on her troubles. She lives in a state of worry and loneliness as her mother has been harsh and distant since the death of her father when she was an infant. One golden summer, as she leaves her childhood years, her grandmother and a heaven-sent friend teach her to bring everything in her life to God in prayer and to bring His Life into her own. She comes to know and trust Him deeply, especially when she discovers a carving made by her father in a great tree that forms the crucifix of a Rosary Garden. Hidden in its depths and unfolding in layers of mystery and beauty, signs of God's Love are continuously revealed to her. A Mary's Garden that she plants reflects her own growth in a living faith that brings a garden of souls with her to God, including her mother.

Critique: Enhanced throughout with full color illustrations, poems, and scriptural quotations, "The Tree Of Healing" is as inspired and inspiring and it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Very highly recommended reading for Christians of all denominational affiliations and backgrounds, it should be noted that "The Tree Of Healing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

The Photography Shelf

Timeless: Photography of Rowland Scherman
Michael E. Jones and Christine Jones, editors
Peter E. Randall Publisher
5 Greenleaf Woods Drive, Suite 102
P.O. Box 4726
Portsmouth New Hampshire 03801
9781931807234 $29.95

Timeless: Photography of Rowland Scherman is a softcover compilation of memorable black-and-white photography award-winning photographer Rowland Scherman, whose free-lance work has included covers and photojournalism for LIFE, Time, Newsweek, Paris Match, Playboy, and National Geographic. Images capture milestone moments ranging from the Beatles' first U.S. tour to the March on Washington, as well as portraits of powerful politicians like LBJ and celebrities such as Barbara Walters. Occasional sidebars offer minutiae, anecdotes, or historical tidbits about various photographs, but most pages of Timeless are dedicated entirely to the images themselves. Highly recommended, especially for photography connoisseurs and collections.

Best Foot Forward
Eric LaPrice
Booker Press
c/o To Press & Beyond
825 East Pedregosa Street, Suite 2
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
9780615742489, $29.95, 120pp,

The title is play on the English idiom "Put your best foot forward." This impressive compendium of full color photographs showcases a wealth of visual examples on how women decorate their feet with jewelry, footwear, and tattoos. Comprised of a section on high heels, as well as a section on flats, section on sandals, a section on pedicures, a section on tattoos, a section on toe rings, and a section on other foot jewelry, "Best Foot Forward" is a fascinating browse and a unique volume of photographic documentation on body art focused exclusively on women's feet. Unique and engaging, enhanced with an informative text and photograph captions, "Best Food Forward" is highly recommended and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library collections.

The Memoir Shelf

Go Deep 7 Take Plenty Of Root
Erik Fraser Storlie
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
Ascot Media (publicity)
9781482695984, $12.99, 304pp,

Synopsis: In "Go Deep and Take Plenty of Root: A Prairie-Norwegian Father, Rebellion in Minneapolis, Basement Zen, Growing Up, Growing Tender", Erik Storlie explores his conflicted prairie-Norwegian roots, a sixties Beat scene in Minneapolis that inspired the early Bob Dylan, friendship with the poets James Wright and Robert Bly, and his almost fifty years of Zen meditation. "Go Deep and Take Plenty of Root" illuminates a tectonic shift in American life, Erik Storlie's embrace of the contemplative arts, and the real-world challenge of bringing an idealistic meditative practice into marriage, divorce, raising children, and the deaths of parents.

Critique: An especially well written and deftly crafted 'coming of age' memoir, "Go Deep and Take Plenty of Root" is both an entertaining read and a thoughtful one. Highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library 20th Century American Biography collections, it should be noted that "Go Deep and Take Plenty of Root" is available in a Kindle edition ($2.99) as well. Also very highly recommended is Erik Storlie's previous autobiographical work "Nothing on My Mind: Berkeley, LSD, Two Zen Masters, and a Life on the Dharma Trail" (Shambhala Publications, 9781570621833, $21.95, 240 pp).

Nothing Is as It Appears, It's All Smoken Mirrors
Jim Allen
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469188454, $29.99, 188pp,

Presented in an autobiographical format, "Nothing Is as It Appears, It's All Smoken Mirrors: A Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Chronicle of Coverup and Conspiracy" presents author Jim Allen's iconoclastic perspective on a series of controversies ranging from governmental conspiracies, to UFOs, to the assassination of President Kennedy, to the deceptive economic underpinnings of American finances, and a great deal more. Deftly written in a conversational tone, and thoroughly engaging from first page to last, "Nothing Is as It Appears, It's All Smoken Mirrors: A Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Chronicle of Coverup and Conspiracy" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, making it highly recommended reading and insuring it as an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted that "Nothing Is as It Appears, It's All Smoken Mirrors: A Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Chronicle of Coverup and Conspiracy" is also available in a paperback edition (9781469188447, $19.99) and a Kindle edition (9781469188461, $9.99).

The American History Shelf

Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary
Douglas A. Wissing, et al.
Indiana Historical Society
450 W Ohio St, Indianapolis, IN 46202
9780871953018, $39.95, 380pp,

Synopsis: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, Crown Hill Cemetery has been a vital part of the Indianapolis community dating back to its first interment, Lucy Ann Seaton, on June 2, 1864. Since then, Crown Hill has grown from a rural cemetery into the third largest private cemetery in the nation and is a community treasure that serves a broad range of needs and stands as a monument to the memories of hundreds of famous Hoosiers and the thousands more who selected Crown Hill as their final resting place. Today, the cemetery occupies a 555-acre plot of land in northwest Indianapolis. More than 200,000 individuals are buried there, including many notable native and adopted Hoosiers. Some the famous, and sometimes infamous.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, "Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary" is informed, informative, exceptionally well presented, and could well serve as a template for books outlining the histories of notable cemeteries elsewhere in the country. Unique and highly recommended, "Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary" is an ideal Memorial Gift acquisition selection for both community and academic Indiana library collections.

The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Mike Brogan
Lighthouse Publishing
648 Woodland, Birmingham, MI 48009
9780984617302, $6.93,

The people who attend the annual G8 summit meetings are prime targets for assassination. That's why Donovan Rourke is heading up security in Brussels -- despite that his wife was murdered there and he feels he was at fault for not saving her. A professional assassin by the name of Katill was the man who slew his wife and now Katill is stalking G8 leaders despite the billion dollar wall of security meant to keep them safe. Can Donovan finally avenge his wife? Can he stop the deft slaughter of the men and women he is responsible for protecting? "G8" is a rip roaring action/adventure suspense thriller of a novel from beginning to end. Mike Brogan is a master storyteller and a gifted novelist. Simply stated, "G8" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal reading lists and community library fiction collections. This is the kind of novel that block-buster movies are made from!

Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Einstein's Daughter
Tim Symonds
MX Publishing
9781780925721, $14.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: The Dean of a Swiss university persuades Sherlock Holmes to investigate the background of a would-be lecturer. To Dr. Watson it seems a very humdrum commission - but who is the mysterious 'Lieserl'? How does her existence threaten the ambitions of the technical assistant level III in Room 86 at the Federal Patents Office in Berne by the name of Albert Einstein? The assignment plunges Holmes and Watson into unfathomable Serbia to solve one of the intractable mysteries of the 20th Century. In Tim Symonds' previous detective novels, Sherlock Holmes and the Dead Boer At Scotney Castle and Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex the author based pivotal historic facts and a principal character on real life. So too in this new mystery.

Critique: Once again author Tim Symonds does full and complete justice to the literary legacy that is Sherlock Holmes. Highly recommended for mystery fans in general, and Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts in particular, it should be noted that "Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Einstein's Daughter" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.79).

Down Dog Diary
Sherry Roberts
Osmyrrah Publishing
9780963888075, $12.95, 266pp,

Synopsis: In yoga, the Downward Facing Dog Pose turns your world upside down, and that is exactly what the Down Dog Diary does to yoga teacher Maya Skye. First, her mentor, a former Hell's Angel turned shaman, is killed for the book of secrets. Now Maya has it, and trouble is stalking her. When the mystical journal is stolen, Maya learns just how elusive inner peace can be at the point of a gun. "Down Dog Diary" is set in small Gabriel's Garden, Minnesota, not far from the Twin Cities. It's a mystery told with humor and drama, but it is also an exploration of the battle for inner peace that rages inside all of us. We may try to follow the path, but life isn't all Minnesota nice.

Critique: In "Down Dog Diary", author Sherry Roberts reveals herself to be a master of the mystery genre with a dual talent for creating memorable characters and embedding them within a complex but riveting storyline. A terrific read from beginning to end, "Down Dog Diary" is highly recommended both for community library Mystery/Suspense collections and personal reading lists.

The Farm series
Charles C. Anderson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432788605, $15.95, 336pp, "The Farm"
9781478722076, $15.95, 336pp, "Nuclear Farm"
9781478722083, $15.95, 336pp, "Blue Farm"

"The Farm" Synopsis: What should a Navy SEAL do when faced with evidence that representatives of the U.S. Government are secretly buying old Soviet tactical nuclear weapons for purposes other than disarmament? In this thriller, Andy Carlson responds by throwing a monkey wrench into the deal and by resigning from the Navy. Hoping to settle down on his family's Virginia farm and resume his career as an emergency physician, Andy instead finds himself and those he loves the targets of his own government and a Russian arms dealer. Although a capable warrior and field surgeon, Andy is disillusioned with his country and unprepared for the female operative sent to ensnare him. He's a binge drinker, never comfortable around women when he's sober and scarred by personal losses. Andy's antebellum plantation is a major player in the action, with its network of limestone caves, family treasures, historical surprises, and natural defenses. Andy enlists three unlikely allies in his defense--a pregnant CIA agent, a male descendant of a former slave on the Carlson plantation who shares a common ancestor with Andy, and a teenage Saudi girl. Some of the secrets of the plantation have never been discussed in polite company. Some have heretofore been unspeakable. There were good reasons why the Indians, the British, and the Yankees had lost on this same ground in previous battles. But the Carlsons knew who their enemies were in those fights. And tactical nuclear weapons had never been in Farmville before.

"Nuclear Farm" Synopsis: After seeing thousands of dead children in the streets of war-torn Middle East, ex-navy SEAL Andy Carlson uses his 4,000 acre antebellum plantation to train precocious ten year old twins, Jack and Ava, to be warriors, not casualties. The U.S. President and the Prime Minister of Britain receive a startling warning. If they come to the aid of Israel in the coming Islamic Jihad against the Jewish state, martyrs hidden in their countries will destroy entire cities with nuclear warheads already in place. Any doubts the U.S. president has about nuclear weapons being in the hands of Islamic Fundamentalists are shattered with a mushroom cloud over the remains of Ras Tanura, a key Saudi oil export terminal near the Strait of Hormuz. One man and his wife have unique skills to address this nightmare. Their brainiac kids join them to track down one nail-biting threat after another. NUCLEAR FARM is the second novel in THE FARM series by award-winning author Charles C. Anderson.

"Blue Farm" Synopsis: Dive into the continuing saga of the Carlsons-the uniquely talented family who makes preparedness a way of life-in the third installment of The Farm series. Those who are visiting the Carlson's 4,000-acre plantation for the first time will quickly be drawn to their anything but routine lifestyle. On a pre-enrollment visit to the University of Virginia, twin teenage prodigies Ava and Jack Carlson are devastated when their physically handicapped five-year-old brother Peewee is kidnapped in the Rotunda in Charlottesville. Days later, after paying a ransom, the family finds Peewee's body buried on their own farm. Adding to the family's grief and anger, the murderers leave a message indicating that Peewee is only the first of the Carlson clan to be targeted. The twins' parents, emergency physician and former Navy SEAL Andy Carlson, and his wife, former CIA operative Lindsey Carlson, join forces with their precocious twins to bring the murderers to justice. As the family fights to defend their lives Jack and Ava stumble into their first loves, their first broken hearts...and the horror of who killed Peewee.

Series Critique: The 'Farm' series by Charles C. Anderson is top tier entertainment and documents his extraordinary skills as a novelist. It should be noted that all three of these outstanding and highly recommended novels are also available on in a Kindle edition: "The Farm" ($4.99); "The Nuclear Farm" ($4.99); and "Blue Farm" ($4.99). Appreciative readers will look eagerly toward author Charles C. Anderson's fourth entry into his 'Farm' series -- "Desperate Farm", which will continue the adventurous saga of Carlson family.

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937

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