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Small Press Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 9 September 2017 Home | SPBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Photography Shelf Biography Shelf
Autism Shelf Fiction Shelf Mystery/Suspense Shelf
Fantasy/SciFi Shelf Self-Help Shelf Islamic Studies Shelf
Criminology Shelf    


Reviewer's Choice

Re-Volt!: Our Impending Energy Revolution
Jeremy Gorman
Eloquent Books
9781609767426, $15.00, PB, 170pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Energy comes in many forms and is fundamental to anything happening. Human beings tend to simply ignore most sources of energy and abuse what they do recognize. Two critical types require our attention: Internal Energy which is the stuff that gets us up in the morning and lets us accomplish things; and Commercial Energy which is the stuff that we buy to do virtually everything ranging from lighting our homes, to powering our cars, to operating our computers.

"Re-Volt!: Our Impending Energy Revolution" by Jeremy Gorman (a professional chemist involved with alternate energy for thirty years, and retired Research & Development Vice President of an NYSE company), carefully details both of these energy types and invites his readers to use them to make their personal and professional worlds better. It shows you new and underutilized sources of energy that are waiting for enterprising people like you to put to use. Much of "Re-Volt!" is a compelling invitation to get involved and make a difference in the world we and our children and our grandchildren must live in.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Re-Volt!: Our Impending Energy Revolution" is an inspiring and 'real world practical' guide to saving energy, saving money -- and having a bit of fun doing it. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Re-Volt!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Galena Nuclear Project
Marvin L. Yoder
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.xlibris.com
9781499020311, $24.99, HC, 66pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The Galena Nuclear Project: Pursuing Low Cost Energy in Bush Alaska" by Marvin L. Yoder is the story of how in 2003, a small village in interior Alaska was dealing with escalating energy costs. The city of Galena owned and operated a diesel-generating plant. The community was off-road and off the electrical grid.

A chance meeting apprised the community about an innovative solution to their energy needs-the Toshiba 4S Nuclear Reactor. This proposal elicited both curiosity and concern. The city council tasked Marvin Yoder, the city manager, to explore the potential for this source of energy and to determine if this technology was appropriate for an isolated community. He was to gather information and report to the council.

To accomplish this, Marvin presented the Galena story and received feedback from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the US Department of Energy, and the American Nuclear Society. There were also meetings with state of Alaska officials and others involved in rural energy.

"The Galena Nuclear Project" chronicles the journey to determine if this reactor was compatible with the community needs and capabilities.

Critique: Marvin Yoder spent more than twenty-five years working for various municipalities in Alaska, from southeast to the interior. "The Galena Nuclear Project: Pursuing Low Cost Energy in Bush Alaska" is an extraordinary insider's account that is impressively informative and exceptionally well written, organized and presented. While recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Galena Nuclear Project: Pursuing Low Cost Energy in Bush Alaska" is also available in a paperback edition (9781499020342, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Fierce, Funny, and Female
Marti MacGibbon
Stay Strong Publishing
9780986006739 $15.95 pbk / $4.99 Kindle amazon.com

Synopsis: Fierce, Funny, and Female is winner of the 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in the Women's Health category, and a finalist in the Humor category. This book is the prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self.

As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour - in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.

Critique: Fierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Author and standup comic Marti MacGibbon shares her life experience with wit, wisdom, grace, and laugh-out-loud humor. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Fierce, Funny, and Female is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Courage, 30,000 BC: The Boqueirao Refuge at Pedra Furada
Bonnye Matthews
www.booksbybonnye.com
Publication Consultants
9781594336874 $9.95

Synopsis: It's 30,000 BC. Hiding in a giant mimosa tree, Maru watches her father meet with the leader of a treacherous Andean tribe. Her father, furious that she's followed him, tells her that if he is killed - something he fully expects - she must warn their people to flee. The people are prepared; Maru at age seven is not. Her father places heavy responsibility on her because she followed him.

Critique: Part of an exemplary series of novels set during human prehistory, Courage, 30,000 BC: The Boqueirao Refuge at Pedra Furada brings alive a wild, bygone era. Drawing heavily upon archaeological research and discoveries, Courage, 30,000 BC is at once both a striking period piece and a dramatic, character-driven story where life and death hang in the balance. Highly recommended!


The Photography Shelf

Skies/Himmel
Gabriele Golissa
Tian Books
9780998943206, $36.00, HC, 84pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In the pages of "Skies/Himmel", German-born and now Montana-based fine art photographer Gabriele Golissa takes her readers on an impressive visual journey through her skies. Comprised from cover to cover of wonderful photographs of skies in almost every color, "Skies/Himmel" reveals where the colors of the skies come from. Of special note is how "Skies/Himmel" will inspire interior design ideas for the home or apartment.

Critique: An ideal book for art lovers, fans of photography, and nature enthusiasts alike, the captions for the photographic images in "Skies/Himmel" are fully bilingual (English/German). A unique and original volume of inherently fascinating visuals, "Skies/Himmeld" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Photography collections.


The Biography Shelf

Innocent
Kevin McLaughlin, author
Opwonya Innocent, author
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
www.archwaypublishing.com
9781480839106, $16.99, PB, 234pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Opwonya Innocent was born three years after unrest started in northern Uganda and three years before the formation of the anti-government Lord's Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. Death came to his village when he was only seven, and soon his parents required him to sleep miles away from home for safety. At ten he was abducted by Kony's army and taken to a training camp for child soldiers, where brutality and violence became his new reality. After a narrow escape he was taken by government soldiers to a counseling center before returning to his family, now without the guidance of a father.

Since that time, Innocent has exhibited extraordinary resilience, pushing through these and many other challenges, ultimately securing a position which has allowed him to come to the aid of countless children in Uganda facing much of the same hardship. "Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience" reveals, in his own words, Innocent's struggle to heal from the trauma he experienced, a growing awareness of a desire to help others and his tireless effort to realize meaningful, positive change. Innocent's inspiring story embodies the triumph of hope and determination over pain, trauma and fear.

Critique: A deeply personal biography that reads with all the dramatic narrative of a novel, "Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience" is a compelling, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Innocent: A Spirit of Resilience" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).


The Autism Shelf

Autism: The Fight In Side
A. Bower
Privately Published
9781521710548, $9.95 PB / $4.00 Kindle, 409pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A young man named Austin suffers from autism and is led astray by a crowd of negativity, and wickedness. Another young man named Hawkboy befriends Austin into thinking he is his only hope for friendship. But Hawkboy from the beginning only has selfish goals intended for Austin -- goals that could end with incarceration or worse.

Although a work of fiction, "Autism: The Fight In Side" is based on real events and was written and self-published by Austin Bower for the specific purpose of encouraging young men who suffer from autism to stay away from gangs and associates that would involve them in lives of wickedness, and corruption.

It should be noted that 1 in every 42 boys are born with Autism each day, and 1 in every 189 girls are born with Autism each day. That is a total of 1 in 68 children are born with Autism every day. This book educates young adults of what inside mental hospitals, and correctional centers are like. "Autism: The Fight In Side" deftly incorporates personal accounts, and eye witness testimony of one persons experience in the Nebraska State System.

It is the realistic expectation that if autistic young men is being led astray, reading "Autism: The Fight In Side" will open they're eyes to reality. "Autism: The Fight In Side" also reflects the realities that prison systems of our generation are the new mental health centers of our wake.

Of special note is how Austin deftly places research data, and factual findings at the start of some of his chapters. A great many scholarly studies have proven that more mentally ill, and or mentally disabled people are ending up in prisons instead of psychiatric hospitals.

Critique: "Autism: The Fight In Side" is a novel written to educate young men and women both about autism, and about the dangers that stem from gangs. Original, compelling, and an inherently engaging read from beginning to end, "Autism: The Fight In Side" is critically important and highly recommended for both for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Autism: The Fight In Side" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.00).


The Fiction Shelf

The Mapmaker's Daughter
Katherine Nouri Hughes
Delphinium Books
http://www.delphiniumbooks.com
9781883285708, $18.00, PB, 300pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Narrating the spectacular story of her rise to the pinnacle of imperial power, Queen Mother Nurbanu, on her sickbed, is determined to understand how her bond with the greatest of all Ottoman sultans, Suleiman the Magnificent, shaped her destiny - not only as the wife of his successor but as the appointed enforcer of one of the Empire's most crucial and shocking laws.

Nurbanu spares nothing as she dissects the desires and motives that have propelled and harmed her; as she considers her role as devoted and manipulative mother; as she reckons her relations with the women of the Harem; and as she details the fate of the most sophisticated observatory in the world. Nurbanu sets out to "see" the causes and effects of her loves and choices, and she succeeds by means of unflinching candor - right up to the last shattering revelation.

Critique: The confession of Nurbanu, born Cecilia Baffo Veniero - the mesmerizing, illegitimate Venetian who became the most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, "The Mapmaker's Daughter" is a deftly crafted historical novel set in the 16th century. An impressively engaging and consistently entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Mapmaker's Daughter" reveals author Katherine Nouri Hughes's genuine storytelling gifts. While unreservedly recommended as an enduringly popular addition to community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Mapmaker's Daughter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Outposts
Sean Akerman
Threekookaburras
https://threekookaburras.com
9780995369221, $24.95, PB, 236pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Outposts" by Sean Akerman is literary novel in the form of an existential mystery about a young academic commissioned to author the biography of a famous, reclusive writer named Nestor Dunn. His assignment takes him beyond the academy into a netherworld of treachery, madness, and art.

"Outposts" is told from the aftermath of the failed biography. Barely surviving on unemployment, clutching a graduate degree that seems useless, the narrator had hoped that the Nestor Dunn project would be his big break. However, in the course of his tracking, a series of misadventures unfold. His search for the shape of Nestor Dunn's life spans academic conferences, strip clubs, cemeteries, the city of New York, and the mountains of western Maine. All the while, he becomes infatuated with Nestor's estranged, mysterious daughter, Emma.

As the project progresses, the gulf between the narrator's realities and fictions.

Critique: Sean Akerman is a writer of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. "Outposts" clearly demonstrates his genuine flair as a novelist for originality and an impressive ability to engage his readers attention from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Outposts" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

People of the Sea
Jack Dempsey
https://jackdempseywriter.wordpress.com
Digital Scanning Inc.
http://ancientlights.org
9781582188836, $19.95, PB, 416pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ancient Minoan families flee the devastation and conquest of Crete, and migrate via Cyprus to multicultural Palestine, among wild but advanced Sea Peoples. Defeated in war and put to work by Pharaoh, these new "Philistines" have a real-world promised land: to keep their new homes, they must rebuild Canaan and keep order on roads of trade from Egypt to Babylon --- and if they fail, Pharaoh will return in wrath.

So, how do the Philistines' families build new lives from farms to cities and far-flung trade, and how do their new children meet the Canaanites and Hebrews? More, they are meeting the inland mountains' rising Israelites, whose promise from their own god lays claim on all these lands. What social ways promise early peace, and what aggressions lead to open war? If Philistines cannot find a way to marry in (in their ancient customs) with the "separatist"

Israelites and keep trade flowing, Pharaoh will return again to devastate them all. The lives of the Philistines' island-born women, men and children take shape in a turbulent new land, built from their powers of memory --- from their pride in the advanced but lost world of their Minoan ancestors, from their sufferings in horrifying wanderings and wars, and from their Earth-religion's unconquerable will and joy to live again. They will survive this new thing "history" and "keep their honey."

Critique: A deftly crafted work of fiction, "People of the Sea" by Jack Demspey is impressively based in new archaeology and multicultural myth that take the reader beyond the one-sided Old Testament accounts (think David & Goliath), whose ethnocentrism has limited and damaged understanding; and into a new understanding of a biblically maligned people -- the Philistines. A truly riveting and extraordinarily entertaining read from cover to cover, "People of the Sea" reveals author Jack Dempsey as a novelist with a genuine flair for dramatic storytelling and the deft incorporation of historical details into an remarkable narrative. Simply stated, "People of the Sea" is unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, as well as the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in the peoples and cultures of the Old Testament in general, and the Philistines in particular.

Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated
Tom Starita
Privately Published
9781520705811, $9.99, PB, 279pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: For a charismatic man like Lucas James, life is a breeze because everyone else provides the wind. This man-child front man for a mediocre cover band has been mooching off of his fiancee Jackie for years until she finally decides she's had enough. Faced with the reality of having no income to support his carefree lifestyle, Lucas James abandons his principles and gets a job working in the stockroom at, "That Store".

How does he cope with this new found sense of responsibility? He casually steals... In a life spent bucking authority how will Lucas James deal with his manager, 'Victor the Dictator'? How long can he survive Ralph, a starry-eyed coworker who desires nothing more than to be best friends? Will Lori, a twenty-something cashier, be like everyone else and fall for his charms? Will he ever find a place to live? And is "growing up" just another way of saying "selling out?" With this hilarious and engaging novel, author Tom Starita perfectly captures a character we have all met and perhaps some of us know all too well.

Critique: "Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated" is a classic coming-of-age story by Tom Starita that takes a unique and comic look at what we all fear -- having to grow up and abandon our dreams. Written with a genuine flair for insight and humor, "Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated" is an impressively compelling and entertaining read from cover to cover. A deftly crafted novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated" is especially recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Growth and Change Are Highly Overrated" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

The Timekeeper's Son
Sara Baker
Deeds Publishing
https://www.deedspublishing.com
9781944193560, $17.95, PB, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: One night aspiring teenage filmmaker Josh Lovejoy gets high hits a jogger who turns out to be David Masters, a popular local activist in the small town of Milledge, Georgia. The accident puts Masters in the hospital in a coma, and shatters the fragile equilibrium of the Lovejoy family.

Josh's father, Hal, a clockmaker who keeps timepieces running with a passion he fails to bring to his marriage, retreats to his clock shop. Helen Lovejoy, a dedicated mother and amateur painter, falls into a depression. A shocked Josh reluctantly takes up his court-ordered community service work with disabled children. Meanwhile, comatose David is visited by the ghost of singer Peggy Lee, while his childless wife, Meg, an elementary school teacher, tries to imagine her life without him. In her grief, Meg becomes obsessed with the Lovejoy family.

As the adults around him try to find their footing, Josh indulges in dreams of his future as a famous filmmaker. In love with an unstable girl and estranged from his parents, Josh follows her to New York City, where, overwhelmed, he makes a fateful decision that puts him beyond the help of those who love him.

Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights era and the New South, "The Timekeeper's Son" weaves the lives of these five characters together exposing hidden learning disabilities, broken dreams, complicated relationships, and communication difficulties.

Critique: Author Sara Baker deftly explores themes of grief and forgiveness, isolation and connection, masks and disguises, all while depicting its characters' lives with tender intimacy. A superbly crafted novel that blends elements of a thriller with magical realism, "The Timekeeper's Son" is a unique and memorably entertaining read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Timekeeper's Son" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

The Fairness of Beasts
Gar LaSalle
Solipsis Publishing
https://solipsispublishing.com
9780997843613, $17.95, PB, 357pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In 1862, two years into the American Civil War, a massive Union army is the process of invading the verdant peninsula of Virginia to take Richmond and end the conflict that has torn the nation apart. In the rumble of this conflict, a young woman's wounded lover stands in harm's way. To rescue him, she must risk everything she holds dear and cross enemy lines. The fate of her young family hangs in the balance, as does that of the entire nation. The risk she takes turns out to test her heart beyond anything she could have imagined.

Critique: "The Fairness of Beasts" is the third book in the acclaimed Widow Walk saga and once again demonstrates author Gar LaSalle's mastery of the historical novel format and genuine flair for dramatically engaging his readers from cover to cover. A wonderfully and consistently entertaining read, "The Fairness of Beasts" is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for both personal reading lists and community library Historical Fiction collection.

The Spear of Longinus
Reynold J. Levocz
Manuscriptus-De-Aestimare
9780989446303, $14.90, 428pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: An enthralling tale set against the pageantry and decadence of first-century Rome, "The Spear of Longinus" by Reynold J. Levocz chronicles youthful tragedy, the quest for revenge, hard-fought military campaigns, and burgeoning love, as well as the mysterious prophecies that haunt Tiberius Longinus who is noted in Christian legendry as the Roman centurion who speared Jesus of Nazareth on his cross of sorrows. Unfolding throughout the far-flung reaches of the Roman Empire, this sweeping epic ranges from the imperial reign of Augustus to that of Vespasian and is a riveting saga of the adventures of Longinus and his pursuit of the love of Helena Rufinus who was his beguiling childhood sweetheart and the heroine of Rome.

Critique: Ancient civilization comes alive in The Spear of Longinus. A deftly crafted, impressively written, and absolutely riveting novel from beginning to end, "The Spear of Longinus" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists as well as community and academic library Historical Fiction collections.

A Royal Affair
Christina George
www.aroyalromance.com
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781546478027, $15.95, PB, 436pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: What if the love of your life lived 200 years ago? Emma was born with a gift to see past lives, but has no interest in reliving her own. Until it comes back to haunt her.

When Emma meets Peter he seems like an average guy, albeit crushingly handsome, not to mention wealthy. Then he reveals he's so much more, he's the crowned Prince of Belgium, and Emma can't shake the feeling they've met before. And when starts falling for him she suddenly realizes they'll never be together in this life because of what happened in the past.

Two-hundred years ago Fitz and Anna-Maria ruled Belgium as King and Queen, but their heart-stopping love story ended in one of the greatest royal tragedies history has ever known. Recalling the past is one thing, rewriting history is another. Is Emma skilled enough for the task?

Battling unfinished business, navigating 19th century society, and evading enemies that are able to travel through time just to keep them apart makes Emma fear the worst, despite what her heart tells her.

Critique: Set in New York, Belgium, and 200 years ago, the Royal Romance Trilogy is a sweeping paranormal time travel saga about a love that will live forever, often just out of grasp, and the forces that are trying to destroy it that now complete in a single volume. A unique, deftly crafted, and entertaining read from cover to cover, "A Royal Affair" by Christina George will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Royal Affair" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Chameleons: An Untold World War II Story
Marcus A. Nannini
Black Rose Writing
PO Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
http://www.blackrosewriting.com
9781612968896, $17.95, PB, 266pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Chameleons: An Untold World War II Story" by Marcus A. Nannini begins in1941 with the Japanese midget submarine I-16-tou lurking unseen in the depths of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. When the shock waves of the commencing Japanese aerial attack on December 7, 1941 wake its crew, they rouse the machine from its silent slumber and begin an attack that will take down a U.S. battleship.

More than one American sailor swore revenge for his comrades that day. But the submarine crew of the I-16-tou, however, was never found.

Then in present-day Hawaii U.S. Navy investigators Lieutenant Commander Christopher Pastwa and Lieutenant Karen Yamura puzzle over a mysterious skeleton unearthed in Kailua. When it is confirmed to be one of the submarine's lost crew, Pastwa and Yamura begin to unravel a dark secret lurking at the heart of their beautiful island. This member of the crew might be confirmed dead, but what happened to his shipmate?

He may be a chameleon, hiding in plain sight.

Critique: An original and inherently engaging novel from beginning to end, "Chameleons: An Untold World War II Story" is a truly extraordinary and deftly written entertainment that reveals author Marcus A. Nannini's genuine flair for taken an actual historical incident and crafting it into a detailed and compelling narrative. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Chameleons: An Untold World War II Story" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Jester's Dance
Leslie Hachtel
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781545056875, $8.99, 182pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: The Lady Margaret, widowed and lonely, seeks adventure and goes to court disguised as a jester. She falls in love with a handsome Scotsman, Seth, who enlists her help to rescue his family. Together they must face danger, intrigue, and enemies determined to pull them apart. Can their love survive? Can they?

Critique: The third volume of author Leslie Hachtel's 'The Dance' series, "Jester's Dance" is an impressively entertaining and well crafted novel that is an exceptionally engaging and satisfying read from beginning to end. While highly recommended, especially for community library Historical Romance Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Jester's Dance" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Up Jumps the Devil
Margaret Maron
Maron & Company
c/o Oconee Spirit Press
www.oconeespirit.com
9780692780558, $30.00, HC, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: When truck driver and childhood neighbor Dallas Stancil is shot and killed in his own backyard, Deborah figures she owes his memory at least the respectful ritual of taking his widow one of her Aunt Zell's best chicken casseroles. Mistake Number One.

Dallas wasn't rich, but with development eating up the farms and forests of North Carolina, his land is suddenly worth a fortune. His trashy, chain-smoking third wife and grown stepchildren are all too aware of its value. Opportunists (including one of Deborah's own brothers) are coming out of the woodwork. And big money makes people do bad things.

The Stancils have lived side-by-side with Deborah's family for several generations. When another tragedy strikes, a long-hidden mistake jumps out of her past. She can run him out of town, but ignoring him would be Mistake Number Two.

All around the changing South, Deborah sees hunting dogs, rowdy funerals, backwoods moonshine stills, and long-bed pickups clashing with BMW-driving professionals and housing tracts. With one foot in the rural past and the other in today's high-tech present, she knows her personal world is changing, too. This bootlegger's daughter sits on the judicial bench and sees both sides of the law. But she also feels the tug of her roots, along with the pull of her heart.

Critique: An impressively well crafted and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover, "Up Jumps the Devil" is another extraordinary and original novel by author Margaret Maron. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Up Jumps the Devil" is also available in a paperback edition (9780997457551, $13.50) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

In the Mouth of the Lion
J. Guenther
Privately Published
9780997450309, $14.99, PB, 260pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: It's June, 1942 and the German blitzkrieg in Russia is stalling and Hitler's behavior is becoming increasingly eccentric. The German High Command (OKW) suspects Hitler has become insane and approaches Carl Jung to request an evaluation of "The Fuehrer's" mental state. Neither the OKW nor Carl Jung know that his close associate, Mary Bancroft, works for American spymaster Allen Dulles. Bancroft and Dulles urge Jung to enter Nazi-occupied Austria and extract Hitler's darkest secrets.

Critique: An impressively original, exceptionally well written, and inherently fascinating novel, "In the Mouth of the Lion" is an extraordinarily entertaining read from cover to cover. While certain to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "In the Mouth of the Lion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Tree
Melina Sempill Watts
Change the World Books
9780997692112, $18.00, PB, 246pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Tree" by Melina Sempill Watts is a novel about a tree written from a unique point of view: the chief narrator is a tree.

"Tree" uses magical realism as a key to access the interrelated emotional realities of the many species that share one pristine valley in Topanga, California. Grass, birds, other trees and animals come to life on the pages, while one 19th century Mexican woman and one 20th century school boy, hearts opened by grief and loneliness, come to know one California live oak whose 229 years span the evolution of four human civilizations, Chumash, Spanish/Mexican, Yankee and new money Hollywood, which each leave their mark upon the landscape and upon Tree.

Author Melina Watts''s impressive botanical, scientific and historical research give substance to a world that is rarely experienced by most people in today's urban culture. Indeed, "Tree" will forever alter how the reader will perceive nature!

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Tree" reveals author Melina Sempill Watts' genuine flair for authentic and archetypal storytelling. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tree" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Hidden Camera
Zoran Zivkovic, author
Alice Coppe-Tosic, translator
Cadmus Press
http://cadmusmedia.org
9784908793370, $26.00, HC, 198pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: A quiet, somewhat neurotic undertaker spends his days caring for his exotic fish, and of course his silent bodies as they arrive. One day, quite out of the ordinary, he receives a ticket to the movies. The movie, however, turns out to be of him, apparently filmed without his knowledge! Convinced that he is being targeted by a TV reality show, he plays along, only to be dragged from one adventure to the next, in a fantastic journey that evolves into a story of love, of death, and of ultimate creativity. And through his travails we discover new perspectives on our own roles in an increasingly insensitive and scripted world.

Critique: Zivkovic is one of the most translated and award-winning contemporary Serbian writers. By the end of 2016 there were 86 foreign editions of his books of fiction, published in 23 countries, in 20 languages. "Hidden Camera" has been deftly translated into English for an American readership by Alice Coppe-Tosic. An inherently compelling, exceptionally thought-provoking, and consistently entertaining read from beginning to end, "Hidden Camera" is one of Zivkovic's best literary works to date and is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

A Northern Rebel
John J. Schaffer
www.johnjschaffer.com
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
www.tatepublishing.com
9781543056976, $10.95, PB, 286pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Jameson Hartford and his wife, Abigail, return to their home in South Carolina to claim his inheritance, the Serenity Plantation, where he is determined to free all his workers and put an end to the evils of enslavement. He encounters hostility and hatred from family, friends, an entire town, and even his wife, as he steadfastly holds to his beliefs. Through the ordeal, he meets and falls in love with Delilah, one of his female workers, which further complicates the situation. Outnumbered and alone, he must sacrifice everything, as he attempts to liberate Delilah and her people, facing confrontations, treachery, and betrayal; culminating in a final showdown between freedom and prejudice.

Critique: "A Northern Rebel" is a romantic adventure that touches on human emotions and forbidden love amidst the rich backdrop of the old South at the onset of the Civil War. Now in a second edition, "A Northern Rebel" is a compelling and entertaining novel that demonstrates author John Schaffer's genuine and extraordinary talent as a storyteller. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted that "A Northern Rebel" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).


The Mystery/Suspense Shelf

Sweet Dreams, Sweet Death
P. K. Norton
www.pknorton.com
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781540501318, $12.95, PB, 278pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Everybody loves Chef Garcia's key lime coconut petit fours. Some even say they're to die for. When four guests die at a wedding at the Beaux RÍves Hotel, the famous petit fours are blamed.

Insurance investigator Amy Lynch flies from Boston to Key West to prepare for a wrongful death suit, her first trip to the island since her fiance died there three years ago.

Amy's investigation is beset with problems from the get-go. The hotel management is pushing for a quick settlement regardless of fault. The local police are calling the event a tragic accident. Most potential witnesses are missing, deceased or unhelpful. The ghost of Amy's fiance haunts her as she fends off pressures from all sides and copes with uncertainties concerning her new relationship.

She encounters death at every turn. The health inspector who monitored the hotel kitchen dies in an auto accident; the reporter who covered the incident for the local paper turns up drowned; even a homeless woman Amy befriends is found dead. And deceased wildlife crosses her path more than once.

As she forges on in the face of these obstacles, Amy wonders if Key West is the tropical paradise of the travel brochures or a petri dish of death.

Critique: An impressive crafted and unfailingly entertaining novel by a master of the genre, "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Death" by P. K. Norton is the first volume of what promises to be a simply outstanding new series starring Amy Lynch, female investigator. While "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Death" is very strongly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Death" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.95).

Breathe
Mike Brogan
Lighthouse Publishing
http://www.lighthouseebooks.com
9780998005676, $14.95, PB, 352pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Scientist Nell Northam is abducted by terrorists who force her to help them launch a weapon so horrific that thousands of American men, women and children will die in minutes. The president asks his security advisor, Donovan Rourke, to help. But when Donovan is ready to stop the attack, he realizes something -- he's been completely misled. It well may be too late to save thousands of innocent people.

Critique: An all too plausible suspense thriller, "Breathe" is a riveting read by a master of the genre. This is the stuff from which blockbuster movies are made. Deftly crafted, consistently engaging, and unfailingly entertaining from cover to cover, "Breathe" is an especially recommended addition for community library collections and personal reading lists.

Rembrandt's Angel
Steven M. Moore
Penmore Press LLC
9781946409027, $19.50, PB, 335pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Esther Brookstone's life is at a crossroads. A Scotland Yard inspector who specializes in stolen art, she's reluctantly considering retirement. A three-time widow, she can't quite decide whether paramour and colleague Interpol Agent Bastiann van Coevorden should be husband number four. Decisions are put on hold while she and Bastiann set out to thwart a neo-Nazi conspiracy financed in part by artworks stolen during World War II. Among the stolen art is the masterpiece "An Angel with Titus' Features," a work Esther obsesses about recovering. The case sends the intrepid pair on an international hunt spanning several European countries and the Amazon jungle. Evading capture and thwarting death, Esther and Bastiann prove time and again that adrenaline-spiked adventures aren't just for the young.

Critique: A deftly crafted and consistently riveting read from beginning to end, "Rembrandt's Angel" showcases author Steven Moore's genuine flair for originality and his impressive mastery of, the Mystery/Suspense genre. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "Rembrandt's Angel" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.50).


The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

The Final Book: Gods
S W Hammond
www.swhammond.com
Surf Star Media
http://www.surfstarmedia.com
9780996285476, $19.99, PB, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Multi-cultural, multi-historical, and spanning man's faith across time, "The Final Book: Gods" by S. W. Hammond is a controversial and blasphemous last chapter of humanity. In the beginning there was love.

The Goddess of Life in an elated romance with a beloved mortal. Her sister killed him. Their combined actions ripping a hole in destiny and plagued mankind with an age of unprecedented corruption, vicious holy wars, and religious absolution.

Though long forgotten by the mortals they serve, Zeus and his Pantheon continue to foster and protect mankind which is tearing itself apart-but even God isn't infallible. After failed diplomacy, the King of the Gods is left with no choice but to take the persona of a modern man-the famed genetic scientist Dr. Hork.

In an effort to preserve the future by reshaping the past, Dr. Hork uses Project Genesis-the transfer of consciousness-to send subjects back in time. However, not without devastating failures. Subjects of the experiment wreak havoc upon humanity until a familiar character is reborn to correct the course.

Reincarnated and ready to fulfill his true destiny, Joshua Bach is the catalyst the Gods have been waiting for -- and Dr. Hork's final beacon of salvation. Ferociously idealistic, the free-spirited young man struggles to come-of-age in a time and society ruled by money and corruption. Under the wing of the Gods, Josh rediscovers his purpose, along with a love that can only be considered timeless.

Set in three periods-modern day, the 1960s, and ancient Mesopotamia-this epic blends human history, ruthless mythology, science fiction, and the supernatural to tell a love story of the future.

Critique: An original and deftly crafted novel that is multi-cultural, multi-historical, and spanning man's faith across time, "The Final Book: Gods" by S. W. Hammond is an impressively engaging and consistently compelling read from cover to cover. A truly epic and skillfully written saga that incorporates human history, mythology, science fiction and the supernatural, "The Final Book: Gods" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind, memory and imagination long after the book is finished as set back upon the shelf. Simply stated, "The Final Book: Gods" is unreservedly recommended and will prove to be a unique and enduringly popular addition to community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, as well as the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans.

The Crowns of Croswald
D. E. Night
http://denight.com
Stories Untold Press
9780996948654, $10.99, PB, 314pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: For sixteen years Ivy Lovely has been hidden behind an enchanted boundary that separates the mundane from the magical. When Ivy crosses the border, her powers awaken. Curiosity leads her crashing through a series of adventures at the Halls of Ivy, a school where students learn to master their magical blood and the power of Croswald's mysterious gems. When Ivy's magic and her life is threatened by the Dark Queen, she scrambles to unearth her history and save Croswald before the truth is swept away forever.

Critique: A deftly crafted read by a master of the genre, D. E. Night's "The Crowns of Croswald" is an impressively entertaining and engaging novel that will prove to be an enduringly popular and prized addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "The Crowns of Croswald" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Recreance
H. G. Chambers
http://hgchambers.com
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781546496588, $11.99, PB, 406pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Huddled in the last bastion of civilization, the battered remnants of humanity rebuild after centuries of conflict known as the Aeternum Wars. What is left of humankind now live out their lives in New Arcadia, under the ever watchful eye of the Ministry.

When his parents are murdered by Ministry Breakers, seventeen- year-old Oren is forced to flee into the deadly Miralaja desert, leaving behind his best friend Clementine, and the life he once knew. As clues of his past fall into place, so too are the dark designs of the Ministry laid bare.

With Oren gone, Clementine is driven to the streets where she is faced with a choice--steal, or starve. Not one to give up, Clem adapts and thrives, using her mastery of geo-tech to earn a small fortune, and a large reputation. Everything was going brilliantly until she took a job infiltrating a Ministry Defense building. Now she too must flee New Arcadia, with a dark secret she dares not ignore.

On an epic journey to unravel ancient mysteries, Oren and Clementine find themselves fighting not only for their own survival, but for that of all citizens of New Arcadia.

Critique: A deftly written and impressively engaging read from cover to cover, "Recreance" is the first volume of a new series called 'The Aeternum Chronicles' and clearly reveals author H. G. Chambers as a gifted novelist with a genuine flair for originality. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated SciFi fans that "Recreance" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format ($0.99).


The Self-Help Shelf

Believe Achieve Soar!
Teresa Mills
BalboaPressAU
9781504304672, $20.00, PB, 40pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "Believe Achieve Soar!" is a step by step guide that will show readers how to live the life of their dreams; be happy on the inside as well as the outside; and live each day ias precious and to be lived to its fullest. Filled with simple, practical and easy to implement techniques "Believe Achieve Soar!" by Teresa Mills will take readers on a journey of self discovery that will lead to their creating a new dream life. Her readers will stand empowered, confident and excited as they embrace these changes and be inspired by the possibilities that this brings.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Believe Achieve Soar!" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, making it very highly recommended for personal self-help, self-improvement reading lists. It should be noted that "Believe Achieve Soar!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The True Heart of a Man
Hanalei Vierra
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
www.balboapress.com
9781504346535, $37.95, HC, 288pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: "The True Heart of a Man: How Healthy Masculinity Will Transform Your Life, Your Relationships, and the World" by marriage and family therapist Hanalei Vierra is an invaluable resource and instructional reference for men needing to learn how to strengthen their emotional connection with a woman in a way that can make sense to both of both himself and his female companion.

"The True Heart of a Man" takes men on an adventure into healthy masculinity that will rewire their knowledge of their emotional world, shattering cultural myths about what feels "manly", and cultivating a deeper appreciation of their self-worth and personal integrity.

Drawing upon his more than 27 years of clinical experience and expertise working with men, Vierra's down-to-earth approach to 21st century masculine identity also offers unique insight about the emotional honesty necessary to create a healthy intimate relationship, and how a True Heart connection with a woman is truly not possible if a man compromises his authenticity and self-respect.

"The True Heart of a Man" will enable the reader to: Identify personal belief systems about what masculinity means and evaluate all the ways it has shaped identity both positively and negatively; Explore how the survival instinct shuts down our ability to create emotional intimacy with others; Learn the importance of self-care (which is different than being self-centered) and all the ways men have been trained to take care of everyone but themselves; Learn how to think and act more like a "we" than a "me"; Uncover the courage necessary to live a life of authenticity, personal integrity, and self-respect.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The True Heart of a Man: How Healthy Masculinity Will Transform Your Life, Your Relationships, and the World" is an extraordinary and 'real world practice' instructional guide that will prove to be an immensely appreciated and valued addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The True Heart of a Man" is also available in a paperback edition (9781504346511, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

The Mirror Said You're Be-You-Tiful
Austiage
www.austiage.com
CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
www.createspace.com
9781547014590, $25.99, PB, 212pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Austiage is a former national-level champion fencer who was born in Washington, DC. She speaks seven languages, attended American University, and is the founder of the Star Individuality Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports youths in developing their unique individuality.

In "The Mirror Said You're Be-You-Tiful" her primary message to her readers is: You've Got What It Takes to Be Beautiful - Inside and Out.

"The Mirror Said You're Be-You-Tiful" is a different type of beauty book. It's not some unattainable method or detailed research-based plan. It's personal, sisterly wisdom gathered through meeting new people, traveling, dealing with rejection, gaining successes, and learning to let go. The answer to being truly beautiful is not the latest beauty trend. The answer to how to be beautiful already resides within you.

"The Mirror Said You're Be-You-Tiful" shows how to have a positive perspective, build healthy relationships, eat right, use makeup well, get rid of stereotypes, finding your personal interests, basically everything it takes to look and feel beautiful.

Critique: A life-changing, life-affirming, life-celebrating read from cover to cover, "The Mirror Said You're Be-You-Tiful" is unreservedly recommended and certain to be an enduringly practical, insightful, and popular addition to both personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted that "The Mirror Said You're Be-You-Tiful" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).


The Islamic Studies Shelf

What Would a Muslim Say
Ahmed Lotfy Rashed
Rashed Lights Press
www.WhatWouldAMuslimSay.net
9781943740161, $9.99, PB, 156pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: Ahmed Lotfy Rashed was born in Egypt and raised in Maryland. He studied physics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. While there, he was on the Speakers Bureau for the Muslim Students' Association.

In "What Would a Muslim Say", Ahmed documents his experiences as an interfaith volunteer who facilitated dialogue with many different people, answering questions about Islam and addressing misconceptions. The conversations published in the pages of "What Would a Muslim Say" are genuine. Some are curious, some are concerned, some are hostile, some are academic, and some are soul-searching.

"What Would a Muslim Say" covers such topics as: The Qur'an and How it Informs a Muslim's Faith; Faith, Sex, and Marriage in Islam; Jihad and Freedom in the Modern World; Islamic Worship, Prayer, Charity, and Pilgrimage; Salvation and Tolerance in Islam -- and so much more!

Critique: Presenting transcripts of direct conversations, both in person and via email, What Would A Muslim Say? Conversations, Questions, and Answers about Islam is a candid presentation of Islamic beliefs in a format that is thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "What Would a Muslim Say" is impressively informed and informative, making it a critically important addition to both community and academic library collections. Deserving of the widest readership possible given today's national dialogue concerning Americans of the Muslim faith, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "What Would a Muslim Say" is also available in Kindle format.


The Criminology Shelf

That Punk Jimmy Hoffa!
Marilyn June Coffey
www.MarilynCoffey.net
Omega Cottonwood Press
9780998901817, $19.95, PB, 260pp, www.amazon.com

Synopsis: In "That Punk Jimmy Hoffa! Coffey's Transfer at War with the Teamsters", Marilyn Coffey recounts her family's intricate dance with the Teamsters, beginning with her dad's tiny trucking company spawned on a front porch in 1929, in a David-and-Goliath encounter that spanned decades.

In 1956, Tom Coffey knuckled under Jimmy Hoffa's six-month-long Teamsters strike. He sold his twenty-seven-year-old truckline, Coffey's Transfer Company, rather than sign Hoffa's contract.

But the story didn't end there -- and Jimmy Hoffa didn't win after all. In 1958, the Coffey family gathered in Washington, DC, to see Tom testify against Jimmy Hoffa before then-Senator John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, the Rackets Committee's counsel who had sworn to put Hoffa behind bars.

Critique: An impressively candid, informatively detailed, inherently fascinating insider account, "That Punk Jimmy Hoffa! Coffey's Transfer at War with the Teamsters" is a unique and extraordinary historical footnote to the history of the national teamster's union and the corruption that was to eventually take it down. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "That Punk Jimmy Hoffa! Coffey's Transfer at War with the Teamsters" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.49).


James A. Cox
Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
phone: 1-608-835-7937
e-mail: mbr@execpc.com
e-mail: mwbookrevw@aol.com
http://www.midwestbookreview.com


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