Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
|Home / Wisconsin Bookwatch
Table of Contents
12 Ways to Save Democracy in Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin Press
728 State Street, Suite 443, Madison, WI 53706-1418
9780299334949, $21.95, PB, 168pp
Synopsis: Wisconsin, once a progressive stronghold led by Robert La Follette and others, inaugurated far-reaching reforms that broadened public involvement in civic affairs. A wave of innovative social programs aimed at making the state more egalitarian followed. In recent decades, however, the Badger State has become a laboratory for anti-democratic maneuvers that have increased the political influence of the super-rich and corporations while decreasing the power of voters.
From tightening campaign finance laws and banning gerrymandering to rooting out structural racism and moving toward economic equality, each individual chapter comprising "12 Ways To Save Democracy In Wisconsin" focuses on one of the dozen reforms that are required to heal democracy within the state. Rothschild provides an in-depth rationale for each, dismantling the counterarguments against them and exploring the complexities involved in implementing them. He offers concrete proposals and action items for grassroots organizers and concerned community advocates to restore constituent control of state politics.
This pocket-sized handbook is essential for politically aware citizens as well as journalists and watchdogs who see Wisconsin as a crucial battleground state and political bellwether for the nation.
Critique: It is not an hyperbolic statement to assert that if Donald Trump and his currently constituted Republican party once again size control of the Federal Government, and continue to hold political control in over 27 states (including Wisconsin), and if their current efforts to make free elections over-turnable by replacing non-partisan election officials with partisan Trump 'true believers', and state legislation majorities able to determine which votes will or will not be counted, then the kind of American democracy described by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address as being a "government of the people, by the people, for the people" will be done with and a thing of the past as we slide into an autocratic, anti-democratic nightmare -- and take the rest of the world's democracies with us into a new Dark Age.
The only and final thing that stands in defense of democracy are the clarion calls of alarm and what we can do to respond to the current assault on democracy. These remedies comprise Matthew Rothschild's "12 Ways To Save Democracy". Which should be mandatory reading by every citizen of voting age as a kind of political DIY survival guide for democracy.
Simply stated, "12 Ways To Save Democracy" should be a part of every highschool civics class curriculum and every college, university, and community library Contemporary Political Science collection throughout the state of Wisconsin - and beyond! It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in supporting and defending the U. S. Constitution that "12 Ways to Save Democracy in Wisconsin" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.95).
Editorial Note: Matthew Rothschild is the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and a former editor and publisher of The Progressive magazine. He is the author of You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression and the editor of Democracy in Print: The Best of The Progressive Magazine, 1909 - 2009.
I Saw a Beautiful Woodpecker
Michal Skibinski, author
Ala Bankroft, artist
Synopsis: It is the summer of 1939 in Warsaw, Poland and Michal is an eight- year-old boy just finishing his school year. In order to improve his handwriting, Michal's teacher gives him a simple assignment: keep a journal, writing one sentence a day. Eighty years later, Michal's diary has been gorgeously illustrated with beautifully atmospheric paintings. Eloquent in its simplicity, the journal is a remarkable artifact that captures the innocence of childhood and the trauma of war.
The journal starts out with a typical boy's observations: "July 15: I went to a stream with my brother and teacher." "July 23: I found a caterpillar." However over the course of weeks, menacing details emerge. "July 27: A plane was circling over Anin." "September 1: The war has begun." "September 3: I hid from planes." "September 14: Warsaw is bravely defending itself." These haunting entries are interspersed with visits from relatives, a soccer game, a trip to a park, an ice cream cone. Photographs of pages from Michal's diary enhance the poignancy of this simple record - an ordinary holiday interrupted by war; a life changed forever by an extraordinary moment in history.
Critique: I Saw a Beautiful Woodpecker is a unique artbook in that it was originally the diary of a young Polish boy assigned to write one sentence a day over the summer of 1939. School did not resume when summer ended; instead, World War II broke out. The simple journal transforms from reflections on everyday moments to stark descriptions of war. Pages of the original journal's handwriting are included, but the highlight of I Saw a Beautiful Woodpecker is the vivid, lush paintings of natural greenery, later turning dark, ominous images of terror and uncertainty. Each artwork is paired with a sentence from the diary, skillfully translated into English. I Saw a Beautiful Woodpecker is an unforgettable artbook, in a convenient size that will easily fit on any bookshelf, and highly recommended for both personal and public library collections.
Editorial Note: Michal Skibinski was 8 years old and a schoolboy at Warsaw Primary school when he wrote this diary in the summer 1939. Today he lives in a retirement house for elderly priests. Ala Bankroft is a painter, photographer and film animator.
The Education Shelf
Sing & Sign for Young Children
Anne Meeker Watson
Brookes Publishing Company
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
9781681254975, $34.95, PB, 192pp
Synopsis: Research shows that teaching sign language to all young children has a wide range of benefits, from enhancing social emotional and preliteracy skills to supporting positive parent child relationships. With "Sing & Sign for Young Children", early childhood professionals will have a fun, easy, and highly effective way to teach and practice key ASL sign vocabulary through music and play during everyday classroom routines.
Packed with engaging sign language activities and original, kid friendly songs, this innovative program was created by a music therapist and early childhood specialist with years of experience working and playing with young children. With the publication of "Sing & Sign for Young Children", Dr. Anne Meeker Watson, shows how to transform your daily activities (including arrival, mealtime, shared book reading, free play, and departure) into joyful learning opportunities infused with music, play, and warm adult child connections.
"Sing & Sign for Young Children" shows how to: Strengthen skills essential for academic and social success: communication, social emotional, self regulation, and literacy skills; Combine signing with music (a powerful, motivating, and neurologically rich experience for young children); Help children build positive, meaningful relationships with each other and with their educators and caregivers; Infuse the school day with joy and fun, creating an environment that's conducive to sustained attention and engagement; Give children many chances to practice and demonstrate new skills across daily routines.
Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, ideal as a DIY instruction manual and guide, perfect as a college level curriculum textbook, "Sing & Sign for Young Children" is especially and unreservedly recommended for daycare and preschool staff, school district, college, and university library Early Education collections in general, and Sign Language Teaching in-service training and education curriculums in particular.
The Technological University Reimagined
G. Wayne Clough
Mercer University Press
9780881468120, $29.00 hc / $21.99 Kindle
Synopsis: In 1994 Georgia Tech was a good regional technological university, but the outgoing president left under a cloud of problems with financial systems, federal audits, deferred maintenance, threats to accreditation, and the looming commitment to serve as the Olympic Village for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. As the first alumnus of Georgia Tech to serve as president, G. Wayne Clough was determined to find the means to solve these problems and save the reputation of the university. Believing Georgia Tech had enormous untapped potential, Clough set out to use his experience at four comprehensive universities to change the course of the university for the future. It would come down to a set of key decisions, gaining support for them, and executing with persistence.
First, focus on the students, particularly the undergraduates, and their wellness and success. Second, take a campus not known for esthetics or sustainability, and surrounded by dilapidated neighborhoods, and make it into one to be admired. Third, embark on an ambitious building effort to provide facilities to compete with the best in emerging cross-disciplinary research areas. Fourth, expand Georgia Tech's global reach through research partnerships and study abroad programs for students. Fifth, energize the business school and the sciences and humanities programs by lifting them from service roles to equal status with the engineering programs. Sixth, build a state, regional, and national policy presence. Lastly, support programs allowing financially disadvantaged students to attend Georgia Tech and earn their degrees without incurrence of debt.
When it was all said and done, Georgia Tech would be ranked among the top ten public universities in the country and among the top thirty in the world.
Critique: The Technological University Reimagined: Georgia Institute of Technology, 1994-2008 presents the memoir of author and University President G. Wayne Clough, who guided the Georgia Institute of Technology for years and championed major policy changes to combat a host of problems, including but not limited to deferred maintenance and threats to accreditation. Clough's efforts provided facilities that would support cross-disciplinary research, elevated the business, science and humanities programs to match what was expected of the engineering programs, supported financially disadvantaged students, and much more. A handful of inset color photographs this fascinating true-life story of dedication to educational principles and improvements, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Technological University Reimagined is also available in a Kindle edition ($21.99).
Editorial Note: Growing up in rural South Georgia, G. Wayne Clough was among the first in his family to attend college. Graduating from Georgia Tech he pursued an academic career, eventually becoming the first alumnus of Tech to be named its president. During his tenure Tech served as the 1996 Olympic Village and became recognized as one of the nation's top ten public universities.
The American History Shelf
John Benedict Buescher
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476684659, $49.95, PB, 432pp
Synopsis: When radio broadcasting began in the early 1920s, it popularity became nation wide. this new communication technology would effect dramatic changes and influences in every segment of society.
Some thought it would dissolve the distance between time and place, others that human minds would become transparent, one tuned to another. Performers claiming psychic powers turned radio broadcasting into a fabulous money machine. These "mentalists," born from vaudeville, circuses, sideshows, and the Spiritualist and New Thought movements of the mid-late 19th century, used the language of wireless technology to explain their ability to see the past, present, and future.
Casting their mystical knowledge as a scientifically honed craft, these mentalists persuaded millions to pay for dubious advice until governmental and public pressures forced them off the air.
"Radio Psychics: Mind Reading and Fortune Telling in American Broadcasting, 1920-1940" is a history of over 25 performers who practiced their art behind studio microphones during the early years of radio broadcasting, from about 1920 to 1940. Here, laid out for the first time, is the tale of how they made cash rain from the heavens and harnessed the sensation of the radio in search of wealth, health, love, and success.
Critique: Nicely illustrated with black and white images, "Radio Psychics: Mind Reading and Fortune Telling in American Broadcasting, 1920-1940" by John Benedict Buescher is an exceptionally informative and unique contribution to 20th Centry American History in general, and the history of radio in particular. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Radio Psychics: Mind Reading and Fortune Telling in American Broadcasting, 1920-1940" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.49).
Editorial Note: John Benedict Buescher is the former chief of the Tibetan Broadcast Service of the Voice of America. He has authored articles on radio broadcasting to Tibet and books on the history of Buddhism and on the history of 19-century American Spiritualism. He is also a co-director of the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals.
The Cookbook Shelf
Smith Street Books
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9781922417183, $35.00, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: Istria is the heart-shaped promontory at the northern crux of the Adriatic Sea, where rows of vines and olives grow in fields of red earth. Here, the cuisine records a history of changing borders - a blend of the countries (Italy, the Republic of Venice, Austria, and Hungary) that have shared Istria's hills and coasts and valleys.
Ably compiled by Paola Bacchia, "Istria: Recipes and stories from the hidden heart of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia" is a record of traditions, of these cultures, and of Paola's family -- includng recipes from her childhood, the region's past, and her family and friends who still live beside the Adriatic coast. Among recipes for semolina dumplings, beef and pork goulash, and apricot strudel are memories of the region and the stories of the recipes' authors: the Italian-Istrians who remained in the region after the 1940s, and those who left for new countries.
"Istria: Recipes and stories from the hidden heart of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia" showcases recipes inspired by home kitchens and memories of what grew in the owner's gardens: hearty grain soups and seafood, crepes piled high, and biscuits flavored with cinnamon. Istrian cuisine is a rich blend of Venice and Vienna, Hungary, and the Balkans - food doesn't have borders, and certainly not in this culinary compendium of authentic and 'kitchen cook friendly' recipes.
Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Istria: Recipes and stories from the hidden heart of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia" is a culinary masterpiece of authentic and elegant dishes for any and all fine dining and family dining occasions that will materially enhance personal, professional, and community library Italian cookbook collections.
Editorial Note: Paola Bacchia was born to Italian migrant parents and into their food culture. Her award-winning blog, Italy On My Mind, explores the connection between family memories and food through stories, photos and recipes. She returns to Italy every year to expand her knowledge of Italian food and traditions. Previously, she published :Italian Street Food" and "Adriatico" with Smith Street Books.
Bayrut: The Cookbook
Smith Street Books
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9781925811698, $35.00, HC, 224pp
Synopsis: Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, is an exhilarating, chaotic city with a tumultuous past yet a thriving, vibrant foodie reputation. Perfectly poised between the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Lebanese cuisine is hugely popular -- justifiably famed for its varied and flavourful regional dishes that emphasize whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood.
Beirut's ever-changing, often turbulent, heritage means that its food has evolved an exciting character of its own. In "Bayrut: The Cookbook: Recipes from the heart of a Lebanese city kitchen", Lebanese chef Hisham Assaad shows you the best the city has to offer, with accessible, delicious recipes, ranging from the classics to more modern fare. He tells the story of a city with energy and diversity, of multiple cultures and traditions, with ever-popular street food, a thriving restaurant and cafe scene, and traditional family favourites handed down through generations. Learn to create lavish breakfast spreads, traditional Sunday feasts, fresh and vibrant salads, easy and nutritious suppers, or even a delectable afternoon tea with tempting perfumed sweets and delicacies.
Critique: Enhanced with stunning food and travel photography, and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Ethnic, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cookbook collections, "Bayrut: The Cookbook: Recipes from the heart of a Lebanese city kitchen" is an ideal menu planning resource for authentic, palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, and truly memorable Lebanese cuisine.
Editorial Note: Currently residing in Dbayeh on the outskirts of Beirut, Hisham Assaad is a Lebanese chef and photographer who regularly shares recipes and stories on his blog, cookin5m2. Raised in a food-loving family that came to Lebanon from Palestine in the 1940s, his work has featured in print and online magazines. He works as a guide on boutique food tours of Beirut and the surrounding countryside and is a frequent guest chef at local restaurants and festivals.
Cook It, Spill It, Throw It
Stuart O'Keeffe, author
Amy Phillips, author
Dey Street Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063039995, $24.99, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: Inspired by the Real Housewife series and its stars, the dishes and drinks comprising "Cook It, Spill It, Throw It: The Not-So-Real Housewives Parody Cookbook" will evoke familiar moments of chaos from the franchise. Whether you're looking to make Ponytail Pulled Pork, or you want to comfort a friend in the Caicos with Eggs a Lu'Francais, there's a meal for you -- and there are definitely plenty of drinks (including Henny-thing Can Happen and the classic Singer Stinger Sipper).
Critique: Featuring gorgeous original photography accompanying the equally palate pleasing and appetite satisfying recipes, "Cook It, Spill It, Throw It: The Not-So-Real Housewives Parody Cookbook" is the must-have cookbook for the legions of Real Wife fans. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Cook It, Spill It, Throw It: The Not-So-Real Housewives Parody Cookbook" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal and community library cookbook collections.
The Business Shelf
Gaurav Bhatnagar, author
Mark Minukas, author
McGraw Hill Professional
1221 Avenue of the Americas, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10020
9781264268160, $28.00, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: Fear and uncertainty have been undermining performance and well-being in the workplace for as long as we have had workplaces. Here's a little-known fact of business: mismanaged fear is responsible for almost all of the dysfunction that most organizations experience. While fear can drive short-term results, it does so at the cost of high employee burnout and turnover. It also undermines long-term business performance. But we cannot eradicate it entirely because fear is inherent to the human condition. Winning organizations aren't fear-free; but they know how to reframe fear into opportunities for learning and growth. They create resilient cultures of unfear.
"Unfear: Transform Your Organization to Create Breakthrough Performance and Employee Well-Being" is timely and essential guide for corporate executives and business managers by, McKinsey alumni Gaurav Bhatnagar and Mark Minukas that covers: The impact of fear, its biological underpinnings, and the archetypes through which it is expressed as patterns of behavior in organizations; The strategies, techniques, and actions to bring about an unfear transformation; The process begins with yourself (how to become an unfear individual); Transformation doesn't start with systems and structures but with mindsets and behavior (how to build unfear teams); Employee well-being leads to high performance for your business (how to build unfear organizations).
This proven approach to workplace anxiety reduces stress, boosts engagement, and overcomes obstacles that get in the way of success. It leads to personal rewards greater profits, and sustainable growth. This is only possible with a culture of unfear.
Critique: An invaluable and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and manual to improving workplace morale and productivity, "Unfear: Transform Your Organization to Create Breakthrough Performance and Employee Well-Being" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to corporate, community, college, and university library Business Management collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA studies, business professionals and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Unfear: Transform Your Organization to Create Breakthrough Performance and Employee Well-Being" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666523492, $22.99, CD).
Rasmus Hougaard, author
Jacqueline Crter, author
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781647820732, $30.00, HC, 224pp
Synopsis: A global pandemic, economic volatility, natural disasters, civil and political unrest. From New York to Barcelona to Hong Kong, it can feel as if the world as we know it is coming apart. Through it all, our human spirit is being tested. Now more than ever, it's imperative for corporate leaders and business managers to demonstrate compassion.
But in hard times like these, leaders need to make hard decisions -- deliver negative feedback, make difficult choices that disappoint people, and in some cases lay people off. How do you do the hard things that come with the responsibility of leadership while remaining a good human being and bringing out the best in others? Most people think we have to make a binary choice between being a good human being and being a tough, effective leader. But this is a false dichotomy. Being human and doing what needs to be done are not mutually exclusive. In truth, doing hard things and making difficult decisions is often the most compassionate thing to do.
Withe the publication of "Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way", Rasmus Hougaard (founder and CEO of Potential Project) and his longtime coauthor, Jacqueline Carter, show of you must always balance caring for your people with leadership wisdom and effectiveness. Using data from thousands of leaders, employees, and companies in nearly a hundred countries, "Compassionate Leadership reveals that when leaders bring the right balance of compassion and wisdom to the job, they foster much higher levels of employee engagement, performance, loyalty, and well-being in their people.
With rich examples from Netflix, IKEA, Unilever, and many other global companies, as well as practical tools and advice for leaders and managers at any level, "Compassionate Leadership" is an indispensable instructional guide and manual to doing the hard work of leadership in a human way.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way" is an extraordinarily timely, practical, informed and informative study that is especially and unreservedly recommended for corporate, community, college, and university library Business Management, Ethics, and Decision Making collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of MBA students, academia, corporate executives, business managers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Compassionate Leadership: How to Do Hard Things in a Human Way" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note #1: Rasmus Hougaard is the founder and CEO of leadership development and consulting firm Potential Project. In 2019 he was short listed for the Thinkers50 Leadership Award, recognizing "thinkers who shed powerful and original new light onto this perennial and still vital subject." He writes for Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Business Insider and is the coauthor, with Jacqueline Carter, of "The Mind of the Leader: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organization for Extraordinary Results".
Editorial Note #2: Jacqueline Carter is a partner and North American Director for Potential Project. She has over twenty years of experience helping leaders and organizations manage change and achieve results. She is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Leader to Leader.
Elevating the Human Experience
c/o Wiley Professional Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781119791348, $30.00, HC, 240pp
Synopsis: When Amelia Dunlop first heard the phrase "elevating the human experience" in a leadership team meeting with her boss, she thought, "He is crazy if he thinks we will ever say those words out loud to each other -- much less to a potential client."
We have been conditioned to separate our personal and professional selves, but work is fundamental to our human experience. Love and worth have a place in work because our humanity and authentic identities make our work better. The acknowledgement of our intrinsic worth as human beings and the nurturing of our own or another's growth through love ultimately contribute to higher performance and organizational growth.
Now with the publication of "Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work", as the Chief Experience Officer at Deloitte Digital, a leading Experience Consultancy, Amelia Dunlop demonstrates that we, as business managers and corporate exectives, must embrace elevating the human experience for the advancement and success of ourselves and our organizations.
"Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work" fully integrates the findings of a quantitative study to better understand feelings of love and worth in the workplace and introduces three paths that allow individuals to create the professional experience they desire for themselves, their teams, and their clients.
Drawing on her own personal journey to find love and worth at work in her twenty-year career as a management consultant, in the pages of "Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work", Amelia also weaves together insights from philosophers, theologians, and sociologists with the stories of people from diverse backgrounds gathered during her research.
Critique: Impressively informative, thought-provoking, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work" is especially recommended reading for anyone who has felt the struggle to feel worthy at work, as well as for those who have no idea what it may feel like to struggle every day just to feel loved and worthy, but love people and lead people who do. Offering a practical, effective, and life-changing approach to elevating the human experience that will lead to important conversations about values and purpose, and ultimately, meaningful change, "Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work" is an especially recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Workplace Culture, Business Management, and Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Elevating the Human Experience: Three Paths to Love and Worth at Work" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.00).
Editorial Note: Amelia Dunop is the Chief Experience Officer at Deloitte Digital, as well as U.S. Customer Strategy and Applied Design Leader. She helps organizations develop winning strategies that combine design, creativity, and strategy. She is a regular writer and speaker on the topic of elevating the human experience.
From Impressed to Obsessed
McGraw Hill Professional
1221 Avenue of the Americas, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10020
9781264258789, $28.00, HC, 288pp
Synopsis: The fundamental premise of "From Impressed to Obsessed: 12 Principles for Turning Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans" by Jon Picoult is that if you are only aspiring to satisfy your customers, then you are aspiring to mediocrity.
A customer experience expert, Picoult draws upon his years of experience and expertise to explain why building customer loyalty requires leaving indelible positive impressions on everyone you work with -- not just shaping their experiences, but also shaping their memories.
Picoult also explores the cognitive science behind great customer experiences, pinpointing the breakthrough, psychology-based strategies that both industry leaders (like Apple, Disney, and Southwest Airlines) as well as fast-growing startups (like BILT and Framebridge) use to shape people's perceptions and sculpt unforgettable impressions - thereby turning more sales prospects into customers, and more customers into obsessed brand ambassadors.
Packed from cover to cover with intriguing and illustrative case studies, engaging stories, and eye-opening research, "From Impressed to Obsessed: 12 Principles for Turning Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans" details these proven principles and illustrates how they can be applied to almost any type of business or customer.
Examples include cases that show how to:
Create Peaks & Avoid Valleys - leverage the science of memory to etch positive impressions in people's minds, by creating greater experiential peaks and fewer experiential valleys.
Give the Perception of Control - the almost magical power of giving customers a sense of agency, via choice and expectation-setting, causing them to feel better about the experience a business is already delivering.
Make It Effortless - make interactions easy for customers, not just from a physical perspective, but also a cognitive one, to satisfy today's demand for simplicity and convenience.
Stir Emotion - harness the power of emotion as a memory cue, by infusing customer experiences with emotional resonance, highlighting positive feelings while stemming negative ones.
No matter what kind of constituency you serve (customers or colleagues, individuals or institutions, employees or employment candidates) "From Impressed to Obsessed: 12 Principles for Turning Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans" will help you do it with distinction. Picoult's message is particularly relevant for managers, as he shows the parallels between how great companies cultivate engagement with customers, and how great leaders accomplish the same with their workforce.
Critique: Expertly and accessible written, organized and presented, "From Impressed to Obsessed: 12 Principles for Turning Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans" will prove an invaluable, informative, insightful, thought-provoking, and motivating read that is particular recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Customer Relations, Marketing, and Workplace Culture collections. It should be noted that "From Impressed to Obsessed: 12 Principles for Turning Customers and Employees into Lifelong Fans" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.35).
Editorial Note: Jon Picoult helps organizations impress their customers and inspire their employees, creating "raving fans" that drive business growth. He is the founder of Watermark Consulting and a noted authority on customer and employee experience. A sought-after business advisor and accomplished public speaker, Jon's insights have been featured by dozens of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, and Forbes. He has also worked with the CEOs and executive teams at some of the world's foremost brands, helping those companies build powerful loyalty in both the marketplace and the workplace.
The Money/Finance Shelf
Baby Steps Millionaires
9781942121596, $26.99, HC, 224pp
Synopsis: Dave Ramsey made his first million in his twenties (the wrong way) and then went bankrupt. That's when he set out to learn God's ways of managing money and developed the Ramsey Baby Steps. Following these steps, Dave became a millionaire again -- and this time the right way. After three decades of guiding millions of others through that same plan, the evidence is undeniable: if you follow the Baby Steps outlined in "Baby Steps Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth -- and How You Can Too", you too can become a millionaire and get to live and give like no one else.
"Baby Steps Millionaires" isn't a book that tells the secrets of the rich. It doesn't teach complicated financial concepts reserved only for the elite. As a matter of fact, this information is straightforward, practical, and maybe even a little boring. But the life you'll lead if you follow the outlined Baby Steps is anything but boring! You don't need a large inheritance or the winning lottery number to become a millionaire. Anyone can do it -- even today's troubled economy.
Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Baby Steps Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth--and How You Can Too" is a thoroughly 'user friendly' combination of instructional guide and DIY how-to manual for improving personal and professional finances. Practical, effective, comprehensive, "Baby Steps Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth--and How You Can Too" is an ideal and highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Money/Finance collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Baby Steps Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth--and How You Can Too" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note: Dave Ramsey is an author, a personal finance expert, and the host of The Ramsey Show, which is heard by more than 18 million listeners each week. He's authored seven books including: The Total Money Makeover, EntreLeadership, and Smart Money Smart Kids. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, Today, Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and many more. Since 1992, Dave has helped people regain control of their money, build wealth, and enhance their lives. He also serves as CEO for the company, Ramsey Solutions.
The Pets/Wildlife Shelf
Laboratory Dogs Rescued
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476685014, $29.95, PB, 247pp
Synopsis: Animal testing for the benefit of humans is a controversy that has raged for hundreds of years. Some people view experiments on dogs as necessary for human medical progress, while others argue that the practice is barbaric.
When the Ellie Hansen adopted Marty (a beagle rescued from a research laboratory) she found herself rehabilitating a terrified dog with a traumatic past. She soon discovered the well-kept secret of painful and often fatal testing on dogs. With the publication of "Laboratory Dogs Rescued: From Test Subjects to Beloved Companions" details what Ellie has learned about the past and present of laboratory testing on dogs, life after laboratories and the hope for a future without animal testing.
Interviews with rescue organizers and adoptive families reveal the struggles of removing dogs from laboratories and acclimating them to daily life. Scientists discuss the ethics of dog research and advocate for new biomedical technologies. Fundamental change is brewing, with the public, scientists and governments urging the use of new technologies that can replace testing on animals and yield better results.
Critique: What must be considered essential reading for humane animal care advocates, "Laboratory Dogs Rescued: From Test Subjects to Beloved Companions" by dog owner and author Ellie Hansen is an impressively engaging and informative read from first page to last. While especially recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of everyone who has a canine companion of their own (or who is contemplating acquiring one), that "Laboratory Dogs Rescued: From Test Subjects to Beloved Companions" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.49).
Editorial Note: Ellie Hansen is the founder and CEO of Lovable Pets, Inc., a holistic pet supply company located in Billings, Montana. She is also the Animal Research Outreach Coordinator with the Center for a Humane Economy, and a Humane Policy Volunteer for the Humane Society of the United States. Her published works include two books and several magazine articles focusing on profound human relationships with dogs.
Enlightened Dog Training
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781644113707, $14.99, PB, 176pp
Synopsis: A complete guide to raising and relating to your pet in a mindful way that leads to calm, intuitively-obedient dogs, "Enlightened Dog Training: Become the Peaceful Alpha Your Dog Needs and Respects" by Jesse Sternberg reveals the principles of the secret language of the animal kingdom to help you communicate with your pet and read their signals. It also offers cutting-edge, unique solutions to everyday canine problems by looking at behavioral issues through the lens of your pet's emotions. As well as providing training exercises and powerful meditative practices to do with your pet as well as on your own to help soothe anxiety, overcome aggression issues, and transform tension into harmony
Helping you cultivate empathy, awareness, and confidence to become the peaceful alpha your dog craves, "Enlightened Dog Training: Become the Peaceful Alpha Your Dog Needs and Respects" is a DIY guide that shows you how to strengthen your human-animal bond, communicate with actions, and command with respect and love.
Critique: Ideal for anyone who has a canine companion, "Enlightened Dog Training: Become the Peaceful Alpha Your Dog Needs and Respects" is exceptionally 'user friendly' how-to manual that is as practical and effective as it is inspirational and motivational. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Enlightened Dog Training: Become the Peaceful Alpha Your Dog Needs and Respects" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, and community library Pets/Wildlife collections.
Editorial Note: Jesse Sternberg is a mindfulness teacher, meditation instructor, and master dog trainer. The founder of the Peaceful Alpha Project, he has been working with animals for more than 30 years.
Starve Cancer - Feed Your Dog!
Jo Cowden, PhD., and Connie McMillan, DVM, authors
403 S. Mission St., Wenatchee, Washington 98801
9781617813108, $19.95 PB, $19.95 Kindle, 114pp
"Starve Cancer - Feed Your Dog! A Nutrition Regimen for the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in Dogs" is a pet care book with the mission of educating dog owners who find themselves caring for loved pets with a diagnosis of cancer.
A special nutrition regimen is described and recommended which helps maintain the dog's weight while not contributing to the growth of the cancer.
The book's purpose is described as follows:
1. To present a Nutrition Regimen as a systematic plan including processes, steps, diets and menus which, when combined establish, a Standard of Nutritional Intervention for use by dog owners and veterinarians treating cancer in dogs.
2. To provide detailed information on the necessary ingredients for healthy intervention.
3. To provide the detailed structure of the nutritional regimen that we recommend."
The information provided in this densely packed tome includes an overview of cancer in dogs, a nutrition regimen definition, metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and other vitamins and minerals, and tips on diet choices, presentation, and other aspects of home care for dogs.
At the end of the book is a list of cited works, which are also reference material for concerned dog owners, and a glossary. Finally, there is a brief but helpful appendix of dog food recipe books, including "Dog Food Homemade, The Best Nutrition for Your Four Legged Friend (by C. McGraw, 2017)."
"Starve Cancer - Feed Your Dog!" is an excellent, practical, compassionate resource for owners of canines wanting to prevent or slow the growth of cancer. Nutritional Intervention is a valuable tool in effective treatment of this common diagnosis in dogs. "Stave Cancer - Feed Your Dog!" helps establish the practices which will become watchwords in cancer treatment and prevention for dogs.
The Nautical Shelf
Adlard Coles Nautical
c/o Bloomsbury Press
9781472977076, $20.00, PB, 224pp
Synopsis: When you learn how to skipper a yacht the practical courses cover a whole range of activities, from passage planning to pilotage and berthing. The way you learn about these elements on a course is usually like this:
1. The briefing, where the instructor prepares you for the exercise. He should explain what we're trying to achieve, how it's going to work, and what the skipper and crew need to do
2. The practical activity - you all have a go
3. The debriefing afterwards, where you discuss what happened and how it went, and take notes of what to remember.
At the end of the course, you will have had a go at all the important stuff you have to do in the course of sailing the yacht, but you'll probably struggle to remember all the essential bits: the all-important briefing, and the sequence of things you have to remember.
Containing all the author's own briefing notes and concise explanations, "Practical Skipper: Essential notes and checklists for day and coastal skippers" by Bill Johnson covers every activity a skipper will need to carry out. Using bullet points, handy checklists and simple diagrams, "Practical Skipper" is a unique resource for all skippers but most especially, a source of reassurance for new skippers that they haven't forgotten something vital, as well as a useful reminder for the more experienced.
Simply stated, "Practical Skiller" is comprised of all the notes you wish you'd written when you attended your sailing course, and had to hand when revising for your exam or refreshing your knowledge later.
Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated in full color throughout, "Practical Skipper: Essential notes and checklists for day and coastal skippers" must be considered on onboard instructional resource and guide for anyone at the helm of a yacht or any other kind of wind driven sail boat. Highly recommended for community, college, and university library Nautical collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Practical Skipper" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).
Editorial Note: A Cambridge-educated engineer, Bill Johnson swapped his career for long distance sailing. He stopped logging miles sailed somewhere around 50,000. He was also a sailing instructor for ten years, focusing on the RYA courses from beginner to Yachtmaster level.
The Biography Shelf
The Shaytan Bride
9781459747678, $19.99 pbk / $10.99 Kindle
Synopsis: Sumaiya Matin was never sure if the story of the Shaytan Bride was truth or myth. When she moved at age six from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Thunder Bay, Ontario, recollections of this devilish bride followed her. At first, the Shaytan Bride seemed to be the monster of fairy tales, a woman possessed or seduced by a jinni. But everything changes during a family trip to Bangladesh, and in the weeks leading to Sumaiya's own forced wedding, she discovers that the story - and the bride herself - are much closer than they seem.
The Shaytan Bride is the true coming-of-age story of a girl navigating desire and faith. Through her journey into adulthood, she battles herself and her circumstances to differentiate between destiny and free will. Sumaiya Matin's life in love and violence is a testament to one woman's strength as she faces the complicated fallout of her decisions.
Critique: A true-life memoir written with the craft and natural flow of a work of literature, The Shaytan Bride: A Bangladeshi Canadian Memoir of Desire and Faith tells of Bangladeshi-Canadian author Sumaiya Martin's coming of age, her escape from a forced marriage, and the complex consequences of the choice to seek agency in her own life. Emotional, candid, and profound, The Shaytan Bride is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Shaytan Bride is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Editorial Note: Sumaiya Matin is a writer, part-time social worker/psychotherapist, and strategic advisor for the Ontario government, working on a wide range of public policy files, including anti-racism.
Like Boy Scouts with Guns
Roger S. Durham
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476684727, $35.00, PB, 301pp
Synopsis: Facing the possibility of being drafted and sent to Vietnam, Roger Durham secured a deferment when he enrolled in college. Devoting more time to anti-war protests than to studies, he became immersed in the late 1960s counterculture, flunked out and was drafted anyway.
Deployed to Vietnam with the U.S. Army's 18th Engineer Brigade Headquarters, he was assigned to a helicopter base "behind the wire," far from the action. But the action came to him as the base drew mortar, rocket and sapper attacks. Durham's clear-eyed and intensely personal story, "Like Boy Scouts with Guns: Memoir of a Counterculture Warrior in Vietnam" relates an often untold experience of the Vietnam War -- that of the counterculture soldier whose opposition to war did not end when he was inducted.
Adjusting to life 'in-country', he finds a thriving drug culture and a brotherhood of like-minded warriors, who resist both the enemy and the culture of zealous militarism that prosecutes what they see as an immoral war, against American national interests. Durham undergoes changes in perspective, extending his tour of duty when the thought of going home fills him with anxiety and anticipation.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and informative personal account offering a unique perspective on the Vietnam War, "Like Boy Scouts with Guns: Memoir of a Counterculture Warrior in Vietnam" by Roger Durham is occasionally illustrated with black-and-white photos. Very highly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library Vietnam War history and memoir collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Like Boy Scouts with Guns: Memoir of a Counterculture Warrior in Vietnam" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.49).
Editorial Note: Roger S. Durham has worked for over 35 years as an historian for several state and federal agencies and has authored numerous books and magazine articles on military history.
John B. Denton
University of North Texas Press
1155 Union Circle #311336, Denton, TX 76203-5017
9781574418408, $29.95, HC, 256pp
Synopsis: Denton County and the City of Denton are named for pioneer preacher, lawyer, and Indian fighter John B. Denton, but little has been known about him. With the publication of "John B. Denton: The Bigger-Than-Life Story of the Fighting Parson and Texas Ranger", author and biographer Mike Cochran provides an impressively extensive, in-depth look into the life and death of Denton, and in doing so, has made use of new materials not available to previous biographers to help bring the story to life.
John B. Denton (July 28, 1806 - May 22, 1841) was an orphan in frontier Arkansas who became a circuit-riding Methodist preacher and an important member of a movement of early settlers bringing civilization to North Texas. He was a participant in the first missionary effort to bring Methodism to Texas, answering a call from William B. Travis to bring Methodists to the new republic. Denton then became a ranger on the frontier, ultimately being killed in the Tarrant Expedition, a Texas Ranger raid on a series of villages inhabited by various Caddoan and other tribes near Village Creek on May 24, 1841. He was leading a small raiding party that had separated from the larger group led by General Edward Tarrant when he was shot by native defenders.
Denton's true story has been lost or obscured by the persistent mythologizing by publicists for Texas, especially by pulp western writer Alfred W. Arrington, and by the self-aggrandizing stories told by members of the Tarrant raiding party. His death came at a time when entrepreneurs were trying to attract Anglo settlers to the Republic of Texas and were especially apt to glorify the early settlers. Denton was further made a martyr of the church by Methodist historians.
Critique: An impressively well researched, organized and presented study, "John B. Denton: The Bigger-Than-Life Story of the Fighting Parson and Texas Ranger" rescues from an undeserved obscurity the life story and achievements of an extraordinary man who lived in extraordinary times. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of two Appendices, thirty-four pages of Notes, a ten page Bibliography, and a fourteen page Index, "John B. Denton: The Bigger-Than-Life Story of the Fighting Parson and Texas Ranger" is especially recommended for community, college, and university library 19th Century American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of student, academia, and western history enthusiasts that "John B. Denton: The Bigger-Than-Life Story of the Fighting Parson and Texas Ranger" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).
Editorial Note: Currently residing in Denton, Texas, Mike Cochran is a former Denton city council member, served as chair of Denton's Historic Landmark Commission and president of the Historical Society of Denton County, and continues to maintain the website www.dentonhistory.net. Cochran has also written a catalog of O'Neil Ford's Denton works.
Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior
Armand S. La Potin
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806175744, $36.95, HC, 290pp
Synopsis: As a newly minted second lieutenant fresh from West Point, Hugh Lenox Scott arrived on the northern Great Plains in the wake of the Little Bighorn debacle. The Seventh Cavalry was seeking to subdue the Plains tribes and confine them to reservations, and Scott adopted the role of negotiator and advocate for the Indian "adversaries." He thus embarked on a career unique in the history of the U.S. military and the western frontier. "Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior" by historian and academician Armand S. La Potin tells the full story of this unlikely, self-avowed "soldier of peace," whose career, stretching from Little Bighorn until after World War I, reflected profound historical changes.
The taste for adventure that drew Scott to the military also piqued his interest in the tenacity of Native cultures in an environment rife with danger and uncertainty. Armand S. La Potin describes how Scott embraced the lifeways of the Northern Plains peoples, making a study of their cultures, their symbols, and most notably, their use of an intertribal sign language to facilitate trade. Negotiating with dissident bands of Indians whose lands were threatened by Anglo settlers and commercial interests, he increasingly found himself advocating federal responsibility for tribal welfare and assuming the role of "Indian reformer."
"Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior" makes clear that "reform" was understood within the context of Scott's own culture, which restricted the concept of "civilization" to the so-called Anglo race. Accordingly, Scott promoted the "civilization" of Native Americans through assimilation into Anglo-American society -- an approach he continued in his later interactions with the Moro Muslims of the southern Philippines, where he served as a military governor.
Although he eventually rose to the rank of army chief of staff, over time Scott the peacemaker and Indian reformer saw his career stall as Native tribes ceased to be seen as a military threat and military merit was increasingly defined by battlefield experience. With the publication of "Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior", a picture emerges of an uncommon figure in American military history, at once at odds with and defined by his times.
Critique: An inherently fascinating and detailed biography, "Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior" is a work of meticulous scholarship and exhaustive research. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior" rescues from obscurity a unique and extraordinarily interested individual. Enhanced with forty-two pages of Notes, a twelve page Bibliography, and an eleven page Index, "Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior" is a very special and recommended addition to community, college, and university library American Biography and Native American Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, American western history buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Hugh Lenox Scott, 1853 - 1934: Reluctant Warrior" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $29.95).
Editorial Note: Armand S. La Potin is Professor Emeritus of History at the State University of New York College at Oneonta and the author of Native American Voluntary Organizations.
The Early Life of Walt Disney
Andrew Stanley Kiste
c/o Pen & Sword Books
c/o Casemate (US distribution)
9781526780805, $34.95, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: Most biographies of Walt Disney portray him as a creative genius who revolutionized the entertainment industry during the first half of the twentieth century. While he did transform the medium of animation, quickly becoming a household name during his late thirties, many biographies tell the story of Walt Disney's development in a historical vacuum, separate from the historical events happening around him. However, while Walt Disney was certainly a history-influencer, historical events happening in America and the world also shaped the entertainment pioneer he would become.
As the twentieth century began, a new form of entertainment called "motion pictures" would emerge, capturing the imagination of a young boy from Missouri. Over the next several years, Walt Disney would begin to hone his art skills, overcoming a number of hurdles including numerous relocations, a brutal paper route, a deployment to Europe in the days after World War One, numerous bankruptcies, and even homelessness. It was these adversities, along with the historical events that surrounded him, that would influence the man he would become.
For the first time ever, "The Early Life of Walt Disney" by Disney historian and biographer Andrew Stanley Kiste tells some important stories that help to flesh out the Disney history. How instrumental was Elias Disney's career as a carpenter in Chicago? Why did the Disneys really leave Chicago to move to Marceline, Missouri? What types of jobs did Walt perform in France in the days following World War One? How was Walt influenced by the budding industry of animation in America? In addition to answering these questions, "The Early Life of Walt Disney" also includes a tour of the newly restored Walt Disney Birthplace, a new museum located in the childhood home of Walt Disney in Chicago, Illinois!
Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a five page Bibliography and a three page Index, "The Early Life of Walt Disney" by Andrew Stanley Kiste is a 'must read' biography for the legions of Walt Disney fans. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library 20th Century American Biography collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers that "The Early Life of Walt Disney" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).
Editorial Note: Andrew Kiste is an historian and high school teacher who has written about the fascinating stories of the Walt Disney Company. He is the author of the popular book series, A Historical Tour of Walt Disney World and Walt Disney and the 1964-1965 New York Worlds Fair.
The General Fiction Shelf
The Wilderness Between Us
9781646634149, $18.95 pbk / $7.49 Kindle
Synopsis: Faye Mackenzie and her friends' anorexic daughter, Clare, are thrown together when a flood separates them from their hiking group in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. With Clare critically injured, Faye is compelled to overcome her self-doubt and fear of the wild to take care of the younger woman, who opens her heart to Faye.
As their new friendship takes the women on an unexpected journey of discovery, the rest of the group wrestles with the harrowing aftermath of their own near tragedy. When the hiking party is reunited, their number is reduced by one.
Juxtaposing physical and psychological suspense, The Wilderness Between Us is a tale of two fragile women who unexpectedly find clarity, independence, and renewed purpose as they fight to survive. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship, adventure, and the healing power of nature and compassion.
Critique: The debut novel of journalist Penny Haw, The Wilderness Between Us is the story of a hiking group separated by a flood, while trekking through a remote, mountainous region of South Africa. Two women are stranded on their own; the older Faye Mackenzie must fight back her doubts and fears to look after Clare, who is anorexic and has suffered an injury. Friendship develops between the two, yet tragedy and danger loom large. A character-driven work that blends elements of psychological suspense, wilderness adventure, and heartfelt bonds, The Wilderness Between Us is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Wilderness Between Us is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.49).
Editorial Note: Longtime journalist, columnist, and latter-day author Penny Haw has written for many leading South African newspapers and magazines for more than three decades. Her children's book, Nicko; The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm, was published in 2017 and is now included in school curricula. The Wilderness Between Us is her debut novel for adults, again expounding her love for animals and the outdoors.
A Day Like This
Lake Union Publishing
9781542030441, $14.95, PB, 287pp
Synopsis: A beautiful house, a loving husband, and an adorable daughter, Annie Beyers has everything. It's a day like any other when she takes Hannah to the pediatrician -- until she wakes hours later from a car accident. When she asks for her daughter, confused doctors tell Annie that Hannah never existed. In fact, nothing after waking from the crash is the same as Annie remembers. Five happy years of her life apparently never happened.
Annie's marriage is coming to an end. Now a successful artist living in Manhattan, she's no longer home in their beloved upstate farmhouse. Her long-estranged sister is more like a best friend, and her recently deceased dog is alive and well. With each passing day, Annie's remembered past and unfamiliar present begin to blur. Haunted by visions of Hannah, and with knowledge of things she can't explain, Annie wonders if everyone is lying to her?
The search for answers leads Annie down an illuminating path far from home, to reconcile the memories with reality and to discover the truth about the life she's living.
Critique: A literary masterpiece of magical realism, "A Day Like This" is a riveting read and showcases author Kelley McNeil's impressive flair for original and narrative driven storytelling. While highly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Day Like This" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713621065, $14.99, MP3-CD).
Fire & Flood
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
9781631954740, $18.99, PB, 340pp
Synopsis: "Fire and Flood" by Dawn Morris is a novel about two young women, one who is near the beginning of history (at the time of Noahic flood) and the other one who is at the end of Earth's history at the time of the tribulation of Revelation.
Both women come dramatically to faith in God through the incredible events they encounter. Throughout "Fire and Flood", readers will marvel at the remarkable similarity between these women's journeys and their own time in history. As the times women are living in today are equally perilous, with "Fire and Flood" they will be encouraged by the faithfulness of God to His people.
Critique: A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a compelling distinctive style of storytelling, "Fire & Flood" by novelist Dawn Morris will have particular appeal to readers who enjoy biblical fiction combines with Christian oriented mystery and romance. While very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fire & Flood" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).
Editorial Note: Dawn Morris is an author and speaker who has done extensive research on biblical prophecy for over 30 years and led many studies on what the Bible has to say about the Last Days. She has a Bachelor's of Science in Education from the University of Houston and has written numerous articles, Bible studies, and devotionals. Dawn is the author of two other novels, One Will Be Taken and One Will Be Left.
The Literary Fiction Shelf
The Easy Life in Kamusari
Shion Miura, author
Juliet Winters Carpenter, translator
9781542027151, $19.95, HC, 206pp
Synopsis: Yuki Hirano is just out of high school when his parents enroll him, against his will, in a forestry training program in the remote mountain village of Kamusari. No phone, no internet, no shopping. Just a small, inviting community where the most common expression is "take it easy."
At first, Yuki is exhausted, fumbles with the tools, asks silly questions, and feels like an outcast. Kamusari is the last place a city boy from Yokohama wants to spend a year of his life. But as resistant as he might be, the scent of the cedars and the staggering beauty of the region have a pull.
Yuki learns to fell trees and plant saplings. He begins to embrace local festivals, he's mesmerized by legends of the mountain, and he might be falling in love. In learning to respect the forest on Mt. Kamusari for its majestic qualities and its inexplicable secrets, Yuki starts to appreciate Kamusari's harmony with nature and its ancient traditions.
"The Easy Life in Kamusari" is warm and lively coming-of-age story in which author/storyteller Shion Miura transports us from the trappings of city life to the trials, mysteries, and delights of a mythical mountain forest.
Critique: An inherently entertaining and deftly written coming-of-age novel in the context of the culture of Japan, "The Easy Life in Kamusari" by Shion Miura and ably translated into English for an American readership by Juliet Winters Carpenter is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Easy Life in Kamusari" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781542027168, $12.95), in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781713612209, $24.99, MP3-CD).
Editorial Note #1: Shion Miura made her fiction debut in 2000 with Kakuto suru mono ni maru (A Passing Grade for Those Who Fight). In 2006, she won the Naoki Prize for her story collection Mahoro ekimae Tada Benriken (The Handymen in Mahoro Town). Her other novels include Kaze ga tsuyoku fuiteiru (The Wind Blows Hard), Kogure-so monogatari (The Kogure Apartments), and Ano ie ni kurasu yonin no onna (The Four Women Living in That House). Fune o amu (The Great Passage, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter) received the Booksellers' Award in Japan in 2012 and an Earphones Award and was made into an award-winning motion picture. Miura has also published more than fifteen collections of essays and is a manga aficionado.
Editorial Note #2: Juliet Winters Carpenter is a professor emerita of Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts and a veteran translator. Her first translated novel, Secret Rendezvous by Kobo Abe, received the 1980 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature. In 2014, her translation of A True Novel by Minae Mizumura received the same award, as well as the American Translators Association's Lewis Galantiere Award. Besides Shion Miura's bestselling novel The Great Passage, her recent translations include An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura, At the End of the Matinee by Keiichiro Hirano, and Pax Tokugawana: The Cultural Flowering of Japan, 1603 - 1853 by Toru Haga.
The Romantic Fiction Shelf
Battle Royal: A Novel
9780063040069, $15.99 pbk / $10.99 Kindle
Synopsis: Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere. When Sylvie's unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has used her fame to fulfill her dream of opening a bakery. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers... and a princess.
Dominic is His Majesty the King's favorite baker and a veritable British institution. He's brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can't stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.
When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they fight to come out on top.
The bride adores Sylvie's quirky style. The palace wants Dominic's classic perfection. In this royal battle, can there be room for two?
Critique: Award-winning romance author Lucy Parker presents Battle Royal: A Novel, about two bakers with widely disparate personalities who clash in a contest for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for a royal wedding. Sylvie Fairchild is a former baking-contest-show contestant who recently fulfilled her dream of opening a bakery; Dominic is a stern and dour baker in service to British royalty. Their respective passions for culinary art seem to put them at defiant odds - yet could their be room for creative collaboration? Battle Royal is delightfully delicious from cover to cover, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Battle Royal is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Editorial Note: Lucy Parker is an award-winning romance author who lives in New Zealand. A romance reader from a young age, she loves to write about people pursuing their dreams and falling hopelessly in love along the way - often with the last person they would expect! Her previous titles have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, and Oprah Magazine, and were included in NPR's Book Concierge for three consecutive years.
Since You've Been Gone
9780800736491, $15.99 pbk / $10.99 Kindle
Synopsis: Leah Williams is back in the quaint town of Heritage, Michigan, and ready to try again to make her business a success. But blank slates are hard to come by, and a piece of her past is waiting for her there. Heir to the Heritage Fruits company, Jonathan Kensington is the guy who not only made Leah's past difficult, he also seems determined to complicate her present as well.
Jon is trying to prove to the Heritage Fruits board that he, not his manipulative uncle, should be running the business. The board insists Jon find a new owner for the building that will house Leah's business. To avoid forcing a buyout of Leah's part of the building, Jon strikes a compromise with Leah, and the two go into business together. With her vision and his know-how, it might work. And Leah might realize he's loved her since high school. If only he didn't keep on shooting himself in the foot by boxing her out of important decisions.
Sparks fly in this romantic story of two people who must learn to trust both each other and the one who called them to this journey.
Critique: Part of the "Restoring Heritage" series of heartwarming Christian novels set in the fictional town of Heritage, Michigan, Since You've Been Gone is a romance about second chances as a gift from God. Leah Williams and Jonathan Kensington are former sweethearts with a falling out; both return to Heritage in hope of earning success in business. They're forced to work with one another as a compromise, when the board of the business Jonathan aspires to run insists on finding a new owner for the building Leah wants to make the site of her new business. Attraction flickers between the two, but so does pride. Hurt feelings, and complicated baggage from the past make any sort of reconciliation, let alone teamwork or something more, very difficult. Since You've Been Gone is an emotionally satisfying romance with thoughtful subtext about the importance of improving one's skills at listening and communication, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Since You've Been Gone is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).
Editorial Notice: Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me and Until I Met You. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for learnhowtowriteanovel.com, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years. Learn more at TariFaris.com.
At best, Lincoln's record is mixed. He served in the Black Hawk War against tribes who were combating white encroachment. Later he supported policies that exacerbated the situation. Finally, he led the United States in a war that culminated in expanding white settlement. Although as president, Lincoln paid less attention to Native Americans than he did to African Americans and the Civil War, the Indigenous population received considerably more attention from him than previous historians have revealed.
In addition to focusing on Lincoln's personal and familial experiences, such as the death of his paternal grandfather at the hands of Indians, Green enhances our understanding of federal policies toward Native Americans before and during the Civil War and how Lincoln's decisions affected what came after the war. His patronage appointments shaped Indian affairs, and his plans for the West would also have vast consequences. Green weighs Lincoln's impact on the lives of Native Americans and imagines what might have happened if Lincoln had lived past the war's end. More than any many other historians, Green delves into Lincoln's racial views about people of color who were not African American.
Undercurrent of Secrets
Rachel Scott McDaniel
9781643529943, $12.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle
Synopsis: As wedding coordinator for the 100-year-old steamboat The Belle of Louisville, Devyn Asbury takes pride in seeing others' dreams come true, even though her engagement had sunk like a diamond ring to the bottom of the Ohio River. When the Belle becomes a finalist in the Timeless Wedding Venue contest, Devyn endeavors to secure the prestigious title with hopes to reclaim some of her professional dreams. What she hadn't planned on was Chase Jones showing up with a mysterious photo from the 1920s.
A century earlier, Hattie Louis is as untamable as the rivers that raised her. As the adopted daughter of a steamboat captain, her duties range from the entertainment to cook. When strange incidents occur aboard the boat, Hattie's determined to discover the truth. Even if that means getting under First Mate Jack Marshall's handsome skin.
Critique: The fourth novel in the Doors to the Past historical romance series, Undercurrent of Secrets tells the parallel stories of a modern-day wedding coordinator and the adopted daughter of a 1920's steamboat captain. Written with the passion and attention to detail that characterizes the Doors to the Past series, Undercurrent of Secrets sweeps the reader into both an unfolding shipboard intrigue, and a vibrant love story. Highly recommended, especially for connoisseurs of the genre! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Undercurrent of Secrets is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Editorial Note: Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. She currently enjoys life in Ohio with her husband and two kids. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms.
Girls Before Earls
St. Martin's Press
9781250793911, $8.99, PB, 320pp
Synopsis: To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things: a tough exterior and a love of books. Now, she's realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She's hoping the wealthy families who summer at the shore will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy -- and help pay for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation. It's a foolproof plan -- until a handsome earl strides into her office!
Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenaged niece became his ward. She's already been expelled from two London schools, but Blade is determined to enroll her at Bellehaven Academy, where she'll be out of his hair. If only he can convince the buttoned-up (and unexpectedly intriguing) headmistress to take a risk.
Blade makes an offer that's impossible for Hazel to refuse, but she has one condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there's more to Hazel than meticulous lessons. Their sparring leads to flirtation and eventually something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them poses a threat to Hazel's school and Blade's battered heart. They say a good thing can't last forever, but true love? Well, it just might!
Critique: Extraordinarily gifted author and storyteller, Anna Bennett's newest novel "Girls Before Earls" is an original, compelling and impressive crafted romance that will be of particular interest to dedicated Regency Romance fan. While especially recommended for community library Historical Romance collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Girls Before Earls" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
A Heart Adrift
Fleming H. Revell Company
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780800741020, $29.99, HC, 416pp
Synopsis: Set in 1775, "A Heart Adrift" by Laura Frantz is the story of a colonial lady and a privateering sea captain who collide once more after a failed love affair a decade before. Will a war and a cache of regrets keep them apart? Or will a new shared vision reunite them?
Critique: Author Laura Frantz is a master of the historical romance genre and "A Heart Adrift" continues to showcase her originality and storytelling talents. Memorable characters, unexpected plot twists, and impressive attention to historical detail, "A Heart Adrift" is unreservedly recommended for community library Historical Romance collections. It should be noted for the legion of Laura Frantz fans and those readers with a special interest in Christian Historical Fiction, that "A Heart Adrift" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780800734978, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
The Western Fiction Shelf
Law of the Land: Stories of the Old West
c/o Tor/Forge Books
9781250768995, $27.99, HC, 320pp
Synopsis: An action-packed collection of sixteen short stories of the old West by Elmer Kelton, this edition of "Law of the Land: Stories of the Old West" from Forge Books includes the never-before-published "Biscuits for a Bandit." These are classic western action/adventure tales where good meets bad, and everything in between, from the legendary author of the west, "The Law of the Land" chronicles some of Kelton's most exciting and dangerous tales of the old west, collected for a new generation of western fans together for the first time.
Critique: While also readily available for personal reading lists in a trade paperback edition (9781250769015, $17.99), and a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "Law of the Land: Stories of the Old West" has the highest possible recommended for personal and community library Western Fiction collections.
Editorial Note: The late Elmer Kelton (April 29, 1926 - August 22, 2009) was the award-winning author of more than forty novels, including The Time It Never Rained, Other Men's Horses, Texas Standoff and Hard Trail to Follow. He grew up on a ranch near Crane, Texas, and earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas. His first novel, Hot Iron, was published in 1956. Among his awards were seven Spurs from Western Writers of America and four Western Heritage awards from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. His novel The Good Old Boys was made into a television film starring Tommy Lee Jones.
The Mystery/Suspense Shelf
The Last Mrs. Summers
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Random House
9780451492883, $16.00 pbk /$11.99 Kindle
Synopsis: I am a bit at loose ends at the moment. My cook, Queenie, is making my new role as mistress of Eynsleigh something akin to constant torture as Darcy is off on another one of his top secret jaunts. And Grandad is busy helping wayward youths avoid lives of crime. So when my dearest friend, Belinda, inherits an old cottage in Cornwall and begs me to go with her to inspect the property, I jump at the chance.
After a heart-stopping journey in Belinda's beast of a motorcar, we arrive at the creaky old cottage called White Sails and quickly realize that it is completely uninhabitable. Just when I'm starting to wonder if I would have been better off trying to get Queenie to cook a roast that hasn't been burnt beyond all recognition, we meet Rose Summers, a woman Belinda knew as a child when she spent time in Cornwall. Rose invites us to stay at Trewoma Hall, the lovely estate now owned by her husband, Tony.
Belinda confesses that she never liked Rose and had a fling with Tony years ago, so staying with them is far from ideal but beggars can't be choosers as they say. Trewoma is not the idyllic house Belinda remembers. There's something claustrophobic and foreboding about the place. Matters aren't helped by the oppressively efficient housekeeper Mrs. Mannering or by the fact that Tony seems to want to rekindle whatever he and Belinda once had right under his wife's nose.
Our increasingly awkward visit soon turns deadly when a member of the household is found murdered and all clues point to Belinda as the prime suspect. I soon learn that some long buried secrets have come back to haunt those in residence at Trewoma Hall and I'll need to sift through the ruins of their past so Belinda doesn't lose her chance at freedom in the present. . . .
Critique: A stand-alone novel in the Royal Spyness series set in 1930's Cornwall, England, The Last Mrs. Summers is a tantalizing historical mystery in which amateur sleuth Georgie Rannoch visits a Cornish mansion. When a member of the household is murdered, Georgie's friend Belinda is the primary suspect, and Georgie must unravel a complex weave of intrigue, scandals, and cross-purposes to prove her innocence! The Last Mrs. Summers is a treat for connoisseurs of historical murder mysteries, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Last Mrs. Summers is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).
Editorial Note: Rhys Bowen, a New York Times bestselling author, has been nominated for every major award in mystery writing, including the Edgar, and has won many, including both the Agatha and Anthony awards. She is the author of the Royal Spyness Mysteries, set in 1930s London, the Molly Murphy Mysteries, set in turn-of-the-century New York, and the Constable Evans Mysteries, set in Wales.
Stabbed in the Tart
Carol E. Ayer
c/o Epicenter Press
9781942078203, $15.95 / $5.99 Kindle
Synopsis: Home bakery owner and Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) Kayla Jeffries has been hired for the Gourmet and Stay Valentine's Weekend at the historic Countryside Inn in Los Robles, CA. When one of her fellow cooks is murdered during dinner service, she becomes a person of interest - and a possible suspect.
Critique: Stabbed in the Tart is a cozy mystery featuring Kayla Jeffries, a sleuth who is a home baker and Highly Sensitive Person (a person whose sensitive nervous system is easily overloaded). When a fellow cook is stabbed during a dinner service, Kayla becomes a person of interest and potential suspect! Customers shy away from her business, and she resolves to uncover the killer before she loses her livelihood and possibly her freedom. Delicious twists and turns of plot make Stabbed in the Tart a delectable choice for mystery connoisseurs! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Stabbed in the Tart is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643858340, $26.99, HC, 320pp
Synopsis: Thirty-something veterinarian Ally Winter has found a new "leash" on life since she moved back to her hometown of Willow Bluff, Wisconsin. But when she takes Domino, the black standard poodle she's boarding for the weekend, for a sunny September stroll along the shore of Lake Michigan, the diminutive dog dashes off, only to return with a single, polka-dotted, high-heeled shoe. Retracing Domino's paw prints back to a weeping willow tree, they find the other shoe. It's still on the foot of 20-year-old Pricilla Green -- lying dead beneath the willow, with a silk scarf knotted tightly around her neck.
Willow Bluff's finest (and handsomest) detective, Noah Jorgenson, is soon on the tail of the killer. But he has another worry on his mind when Ally's grandfather, a lifelong true-crime buff, starts to suspect that the recent burglary of a local big-box store may have some connection to Pricilla's murder. Noah cautions Ally to keep Gramps well away from the homicide investigation, but the old dog is drawn to danger like a puppy is to a squeaky ball.
The fur flies as Ally, Noah, Gramps, and Domino race the clock to fetch the felon. It will take all of their canine canniness to comb out the twists and curls in this wild and woolly case. And if they fail, they won't live to go walkies again!
Critique: A superbly crafted murder mystery by an author with a genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative storytelling so thoroughly enjoyed by dedicated mystery buffs, "Tailing Trouble" by Laura Scott is the sequel to "Dogged by Death", as part of her 'Furry Friends Mystery' series and will have a special appeal to both dog lovers and cozy mystery fans. While very highly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tailing Trouble" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
Crimes and Covers
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643855967, $26.99, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: Christmas is coming to the Western New York village of Cascade Springs, and so is the long-awaited wedding of Charming Books proprietor Violet Waverly and police chief David Rainwater. Grandma Daisy and Violet's best friend, Sadie, go all out to make the nuptials the event of the season -- whether Violet likes it or not. But the reception becomes memorable for all the wrong reasons when a woman's dead body floats by on the frigid Niagara River.
Violet is shocked to recognize the deceased as a mysterious woman who visited Charming Books two days before the wedding, toting a rare first edition of Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Well aware that a mint condition copy could be worth more than $14,000, Violet told the woman she would have to have the book appraised before she could consider buying it. Most displeased, the woman tucked the precious tome under her arm and stormed out of the shop. Now she's dead, and an enigmatic message scrawled in pen upon her palm reads, "They stole my book."
It's a confounding case, indeed. But fortunately, Violet can draw on the resources of her bookshop's magical consciousness, which communicates clues to Violet via quotes from Walden. With Emerson the tuxedo cat and Faulkner the crow at her side, Violet sets out to recover the priceless book by solving a murder most transcendental.
Critique: Deftly blending 'magical realism' with the 'cosy mystery' whodunnit style, "Crimes and Covers: A Magical Bookshop Mystery" by Amanda Flower is wonderfully original and thoroughly entertaining from first page to last -- making it an enduringly welcome and popular addition to any and all community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the growing legions of Amanda Flower fans that "Crimes and Covers: A Magical Bookshop Mystery" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
A Three Book Problem
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643857985, $26.99, HC, 320pp
Synopsis: It's a crisp, early October weekend, and business is slowing down as fall descends at the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop and Emporium and the adjacent Mrs. Hudson's Tea Room. Wealthy philanthropist and prominent Sherlockian David Masterson has rented Suffolk Gardens House, where he plans to entertain his friends in a traditional English country house weekend.
As the chosen caterers, Jayne Wilson and Gemma Doyle get to work preparing lavish meals and setting up Sherlockian books and props for entertainment. Meanwhile, police detective Ryan Ashburton has taken time away from his duties to assist in the kitchen. It quickly becomes apparent that David's guests don't like each other -- or their host. Plus, some of them aren't even acquainted with the adventures of the Great Detective.
Before Gemma can ponder their relationships a poisoned dart sails through the window of the library, presenting Gemma Doyle with a three-book problem.
Critique: A 'Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mystery' by that master of the 'cozy mystery' genre Vicki Delany, "A Three Book Problem" is an extraordinarily fun read from cover to cover for dedicated mystery buffs in general, and Sherlock Holmes style 'whodunnits' in particular. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666531435, $19.99, CD), "A Three Book Problem" is an especially recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections.
The Mystery of Albert E. Finch
Crooked Lane Books
2 Park Avenue, 10th floor, New York, NY 10016
9781643858029, $26.99, HC, 336pp
Synopsis: Bath, England, 1892. Celebrated mystery author Lady Amy Lovell is set to tie the knot with Lord William Wethington, a fellow member of the Mystery Book Club of Bath. Amy's great-aunt, Lady Priscilla Granville, has offered to host their wedding at her stately Derby Manor House. But on the eve of the ceremony, the festive air in the drawing room is marred by Mrs. Alice Finch's argument with her husband, Albert, in another room. The next morning at the wedding breakfast, Alice falls face-first into her breakfast -- dead.
When Amy and William's favorite detectives are summoned to the house, they see two champagne glasses in front of Mrs. Finch and none in front of her husband. Did Albert give his wife a poisoned drink? Always looking for the easiest solution, the detectives charge Albert with the murder.
But Lady Amy is not convinced that Albert is guilty. There are too many things that don't add up. In the hopes of being able to leave Bath and begin their honeymoon, Amy and William once again take things into their own hands. Suspects begin to pop up, but nothing takes them more by surprise than the discovery of a second body.
Stuck in Bath until the whole poisonous predicament is solved, Amy and William are anxious to collar the perfidious poisoner and be on their way to their honeymoon. If they can't catch the killer, not only is their newlywed bliss under threat, but they may not live to see happily-ever-after at all!
Critique: A clever, absorbing, and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover, "The Mystery of Albert E. Finch" by author Callie Hutton is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all dedicated 'cozy mystery' fans that "The Mystery of Albert E. Finch" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666531312, $22.99, CD).
1620 Main Street, Suite 11, Sarasota, FL 34236
9781608094622, $26.95, HC, 304pp
Synopsis: Washington, D.C. homicide detective Marko Zorn is investigating the murder of an actress (and an old love) when he is assigned to protect the visiting prime minister of Montenegro, the beautiful Nina Voychek.
Political enemies are planning her assassination -- but now it's apparent that he, too, is a target. As he foils the initial attempts on his life, he pulls out all stops and deploying his sometimes nefarious resources in order to hunt whoever is targeting him and prevent an international tragedy on American soil.
Decoded messages, Supermax prisoner interviews, mafia lawyers, and an ancient Black Mountain curse swirl among the icons of D.C. Marko and his young partner, Lucy, face down what may be multiple assassins with diverging agendas. Or are they facing one assassin -- the deadliest and most elusive on the international stage?
Critique: Another deftly crafted and simply riveting Marko Zorn suspense thriller of a mystery novel by Otho Eskin, "Head Shot" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for all dedicated espionage thriller fans and police procedural buffs that "Head Shot" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.49).
Little Creek Press
9781736337318, $24.95, HC, 262pp
Synopsis: A missing federal agent, suitcases full of cash, a secluded cabin in the woods. Spider Lake is no longer the peaceful retreat John Cabrelli needs to recover from his gunshot wounds and start a new life. Knowing Cabrelli is a former law enforcement officer, the new chief of police recruits him to help untangle a string of strange events in the little town of Musky Falls.
Critique: The second novel in author Jeff Nania's 'A Northern Lake Mystery' seriesf, "Spider Lake" once again features John Cabrelli and a colorful team of local residents land in the center of a fast-paced, deftly crafted, action driven, suspense thriller of a read with a unforeseen surprise ending. Very highly recommended as an addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections, Jeff Nania's multiple award-winning novel, "Spider Lake", is also available in a paperback edition (9781942586678, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).
Little Creek Press
9781942586999, $17.95, PB, 304pp
Synopsis: When grouse hunters stumble upon a body in the backwoods, Sheriff John Cabrelli works to untangle the complex case, while stressed relationships, public outcries for justice, and pressure from the media compound the situation. As the body count rises in the expansive landscape, he soon finds his greatest resource is the community itself.
Critique: "Bough Cutter", the third book in the author Jeff Nania's award winning series 'A Northern Lakes Mystery' series and like its predecessors is a deftly written suspense thriller of a read with many an unexpected plot twist and turn. "Bough Cutter" once again showcases author Jeff Nania's genuine flair for originality and the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that keeps the reader riveted from first page to last. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bough Cutter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).
Little Creek Press
9781736337301, $24.95, HC, 246pp
Synopsis: Every night John Cabrelli relives the tragic events that ended his career. While struggling to find himself again, John inherits his uncle's cabin and returns to the lake where he spent much of his youth. Little does John know that danger waits for him when he uncovers suspicious circumstances of his uncle's death. Few people will talk about it as John unravels a mystery that could forever change the landscape.
Critique: "Figure Eight" is the first of author Jeff Nania's 'A Northern Lakes Mystery' series and features a shattered career, a crooked lawyer, an unsolved murder, and a Northwoods setting that is fraught with danger, but also a story of redemption and second chances. While also readily available for the personal reading lists of all dedicated mystery buffs in a paperback edition (9781942586555, $17.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99), "Figure Eight" is an especially recommended addition to community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections.
Everything We Didn't Say
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781982115081, $17.00, PB, 368pp
Synopsis: Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June's world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa.
Until now. Officially, she's back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she's returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who's been raised by Juniper's mother and stepfather since birth -- and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that's haunted her for nearly fifteen years.
As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it's her daughter's life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time?
Critique: A talented and imaginative novelist, with the publication of "Everything We Didn't Say" author Nicole Baart has once again has deftly combined mystery and family drama. While especially recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Everything We Didn't Say" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781797133041, $39.99, CD). Librarians should note that there is also a large print, Library Binding edition of "Everything We Didn't Say" (Center Point Publishing, 9781638081678, $19.99, 500pp).
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780063112193, $28.99, HC, 416pp
Synopsis: Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia as the chief medical examiner, the state where she launched her storied career. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she's inherited not only an overbearing secretary, but also a legacy of neglect and potential corruption.
She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she's headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that's been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she's called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman's body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.
At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top-secret laboratory in outer space, endangering at least two scientists aboard. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House and tasked with finding out exactly what happened. But even as she works the first potential crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again very close to home.
Critique: Simply stated, author and storyteller Patricia Cornwell is a master of the medical thriller genre. This is again demonstrated with the publication of her new novel, "Autopsy". An inherently riveting read with a roller coaster ride of deftly plotted twists and turns, "Autopsy" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of Patricia Cornwell fans that "Autopsy" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf
The Spacetime War
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781982125653, $16.00, PB, 352pp
Synopsis: Humanity has finally made it to the stars. Colony worlds thrive and there is general peace among the settled systems. Until now. Matte black ships of an advanced design appear in colonial systems. Their drives and weapons are not extremely advanced beyond their Terran counterparts -- just superior enough to be utterly devastating. Colonies and their populations are obliterated. Once settled worlds are rendered radioactive wastelands. Earth herself lies defenseless before the marauding enemy.
Standing against the invasion are two of humanity's finest starship captains, Winslow Price of the British Space Navy and Anika Ahuja of the Indian Space Forces. Compatriots. Fierce competitors. Former lovers. Now they are on a quest that will plumb the scientific wells of existence itself, where the primordial knot of spacetime may be unraveling. Price and Ahuja are sworn to do whatever it takes to defend Earth and humanity from ultimate obliteration by an enemy that will not even speak its name. Even if it pushes each to the brink of life and death in battle. Even if it leads each beyond space and time -- and to the edge of ultimate possibility!
Critique: A simply riveting read from beginning to end, "The Spacetime War" will have a special interest for science fiction fans who enjoy stories of heroic resistence to overwhelming odds. A master of the military science fiction genre, Les Johnson deftly blends intrigue, suspense, and science fiction into a memorable entertaining action/adventure novel with many an unexpected twist and turn. While highly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Spacetime War" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).
Editorial Note: Les Johnson is a physicist and author. He is the coauthore with Travis S. Taylor of "Saving Proxima "; and co-editor of the science/science fiction anthologies "Going Interstellar" and "Stellaris: People of the Stars". He was technical consultant for the movies Europa Report and Lost in Space and has appeared in numerous documentaries on the Discovery and Science channels. Les was also the featured "Interstellar Explorer" in National Geographic Magazine and interviewed for Science Friday. By day, he serves as solar sail principal investigator of NASA's first interplanetary solar sail missions and leads research on various other advanced space propulsion technologies at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
In Fury Born
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781982125738, $16.00, PB, 832pp
Synopsis: Zhikotse. Shallingsport. Louvain. These are sacred fields of battle on far-flung worlds where warriors of the Imperial Cadre spent blood and lives defending human civilization. Alicia DeVries was there; she led the charge. Her reward? Betrayal by a deceitful empire. Retirement to obscurity.
Now Alicia is the only survivor of a brutal attack on her frontier-world family. Not since the mighty Achilles has the ancient spirit of the Fury Tisiphone taken up residence inside a human being. But not since Achilles has a warrior so skilled, so implacable, and possessing so much battle sense sprung up among the mass of humankind. Hero of the Empire. Holder of the Banner of Terra. -- There is a blood price to be paid. The Fury has awakened.
Critique: Original published in a hardcover edition in April, 2006 and as a mass market paperback in July, 2007, and now available in a trade paperback edition, "The Fury" by the now legendary science fiction author David Webber will prove to be a welcome addition to the personal reading lists of the legion of David Webber fans, as well as an enduringly appreciated and welcome part of community library Science Fiction collections. It should be noted that "The Fury" is also now available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99) as well.
Editorial Note: David Mark Weber (born October 24, 1952) is an American science fiction and fantasy author. He has written several science-fiction and fantasy books series, the best known of which is the Honor Harrington science-fiction series. His first novel, which he worked on with Steve White, sold in 1989 to Baen Books. Baen remains Weber's major publisher. (Wikipedia)
The Genealogy Shelf
New-England Runaways, 1769-1773
Joseph Lee Boyle, compiler
c/o Genealogical Publishing Company
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211
9780806359267, $45.00, PB, 338pp
Synopsis: Compiled by genealogist Joseph Lee Boyle, "New-England Runaways, 1769-1773" is the third volume of colonial New England runaways, as identified in contemporary newspaper ads. The majority of individuals are runaway servants and slaves, but a number are runaway apprentices, both men and women, military deserters, and criminals.
This compilation lists all individuals mentioned in the ads. If an individual is listed with more than one name, all the names appear in the index. While many of the African Americans and some Indians are listed as slaves, many are not, so they may have been paid servants.
In compiling this work, Boyle examined 28 newspapers from New England to Maryland, including The Boston News-Letter, The Boston Post-Boy, The Boston Gazette, The Connecticut Courant, The Massachusetts Spy, The New Hampshire Gazette, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The New York Gazette, and The Maryland Gazette. Each ad gives a number of details about the runaway and his/her master, including names and aliases, physical description, personality quirks if any, location in New England (including the future states of Vermont and Maine), and where to contact the advertiser.
Critique: Unreservedly recommended as a unique and invaluable contribution to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Genealogy reference collections, "New-England Runaways, 1769-1773" will have particular relevance for genealogists working and/or researching in the American colonial period.
Editorial Note: Joseph Lee Boyle worked for the National Park Service for thirty-two years, retiring as Historian at Valley Forge. His first book was From Redcoat to Rebel: The Thomas Sullivan Journal, and he has published versions of the Ephraim Blaine papers, Elias Boudinot letterbook and the Samuel Hodgdon papers. He has also published a two volume compilation of deserters during the American Revolution, taken from newspaper accounts. His eighth volume of documents written from Valley Forge is scheduled to be published by Heritage Books.
The Self-Help Shelf
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757323966, $15.95, PB, 256pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Thriving Life: How to Live Your Best Life No Matter the Cards You're Dealt" by Laura Berg anyone can now learn how to take charge of their life and transform the way they view themselves, their relationships, and their experiences.
Each chapter comprising "Thriving Life" discusses a specific issue that many people struggle with such as defining one's own happiness, dealing with rejection, and setting limits in relationships. With practical tips and a step-by-step approach to help find what makes the reader happy, they will learn to stop selling themselves short and how to rise above anything that life throws at them.
The underlying message of "Thriving Life" is that everyone has their own share of struggles, but with the right tools and attitude, it is possible to overcome them and flourish despite them.
Critique: In the pages of "Thriving Life", professor, author, entrepreneur, trained therapist, and parenting expert Laura Berg deftly draws upon her years of experience and expertise to create an ideal DIY instructional guide that is as practical and effective as it is inspired and inspiring. Of particular relevance for anyone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, pervasive depression, or who simply want to get the most the good things out of what life has to offer, "Thriving Life: How to Live Your Best Life No Matter the Cards You're Dealt" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Thriving Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).
The Automotive Shelf
Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781642832402, $27.00, HC, 320pp
Synopsis: In "Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving", technology historian and academician Peter Norton argues that driverless cars cannot be the safe, sustainable, and inclusive "mobility solutions" that the tech companies and automakers are currently promising us. The salesmanship behind the driverless future is distracting us from investing in better ways to get around that we can implement now. Unlike autonomous vehicles, these alternatives are inexpensive, safe, sustainable, and inclusive.
Professor Norton takes the reader on an engaging ride ranging from the GM Futurama exhibit to "smart" highways and vehicles in order to show how we are once again being sold car dependency in the guise of mobility. He argues that we cannot see what tech companies are selling us except in the light of history. With driverless cars, we're promised that new technology will solve the problems that car dependency gave us -- zero crashes! zero emissions! zero congestion! But these are the same promises that have kept us on a treadmill of car dependency for 80 years.
"Autonorama" is hopeful, advocating for wise, proven, humane mobility that we can invest in now, without waiting for technology that is forever just out of reach. Before intelligent systems, data, and technology can serve us, Professor Norton suggests, we need wisdom. Rachel Carson, the author of "Silent Spring", warned us that when we seek technological solutions instead of ecological balance, we can make our problems worse. With this wisdom, Professor Norton contends, we can meet our mobility needs with what we have right now.
Critique: Offering iconoclastic arguments that are well worth our attention, "Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving" by Professor Peter Norton is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Automotive History and Contemporary Social Issues collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists, environmentalists, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Autonorama: The Illusory Promise of High-Tech Driving" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
Editorial Note: Peter Norton is an associate professor of history in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia. He has authored many articles, book chapters, and the book "Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City".
1966 Pontiac GTO: In Detail
838 Lake Street South, Forest Lake, MN 55025
9781613256923, $24.95, PB, 96pp
Synopsis: The Pontiac GTO is often credited as being the first muscle car. As model year 1966 ended, an astounding 96,946 GTOs traversed Pontiac assembly lines, which set a high-water mark that would cement the GOAT as the most salable muscle car that was produced during the golden age of performance.
With the publication of "1966 Pontiac GTO: In Detail", automotive historian David Bonaskiewich examines this model year in precise detail, taking into account every cosmetic change and optional hardware that warranted this sales boom. The Coke-bottle styling for the remodeled GTO certainly tipped the scales for some consumers. However, as they say, "The devil is in the details."
"1966 Pontiac GTO: In Detail" delves into those details, showcasing the vast array of optional equipment across its three bodystyles (hardtop, sports coupe, and convertible). Thorough examinations of the drivetrain, interior, suspension, brakes, and wheels and tires are exhaustive, which unveils exactly why the 1966 GTO was the most successful muscle car ever assembled.
Critique: Profusely illustrated and exceptional in organization and presentation, "1966 Pontiac GTO: In Detail" will have a particular interest for GTO owners and admirers, making it an ideal and recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library 20th Century American Automotive History collections.
Editorial Note: Dave Bonaskiewich has had an unbridled enthusiasm for cars. His father was a mechanic who was fond of Fords, but was supportive when Dave developed a strong interest in Pontiacs during his teenage years. Together, they rebuilt his first car, a 1970 LeMans, which Dave continues to drive every chance he gets. Dave has contributed many feature articles for High Performance Pontiac, Smoke Signals, Timeless Muscle, and Poncho Perfection magazines.
The Theatre/Cinema Shelf
The Three Lords and Three Ladies of London
William Shakespeare, author
William Percy, author
Anna Faktorovich, author
Anaphora Literary Press
9798750095049, $25.00, HC, 166pp
Synopsis: The play is an exercise by a young dramatist who is grappling with understanding philosophical and legal concepts by simplifying these into personifications.
Three Lords of London (called Pleasure, Pomp and Policy) declare their superiority with puffing emblems and insist that they have an innate right to marry the three Ladies of London (Love, Lucre and Conscience). The Ladies have been imprisoned in the first part of this series (Three Ladies of London) for their sins, and Nemo has decided that he would only release them if precisely three suitors bid for all of their hands in marriage simultaneously. The Ladies are told to remain silent and to obey whoever is willing to marry them, or they would have to return to prison to be tortured by Sorrow. Thus, instead of the standard comedic objections from female characters to potential matches, the only obstacles to this pre-determined resolution are that the three Lords of Spain and the three Lords of Lincoln appear to also bid for the Ladies.
The defeat of the Spaniards is presented in an exchange of insults about emblems and epithets during a meeting that alludes to the Spanish Armada attack. And the Lords of Lincoln are briskly defeated when they are told they merely deserve the symbolic stones the Ladies have been sitting on. The introductory remarks explain how Lords should be part of the main canon because it might be one of only three pre-"Shakespearean" British comedies. And a section presents an alternative explanation for the mystery of how the seven copies of Lords' print-run ended up with strange combinations of varying typos.
The annotations explain how the detail of Usury's parents being Jewish has been misinterpreted by previous critics as anti-Semitic, when this passage actually summarizes the ethnic backgrounds of the actual members of the Ghostwriting Workshop, as the merchant-lender among them Sylvester was Jewish, and Percy was from a region near-Scotland and had been educated in France. And evidence is presented why the series that includes Lords and Ladies should be re-attributed away from "Robert Wilson" and to Percy.
Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a 6 page listing of Acronyms, a 1 page Summary, a 23 page Exordium, 21 pages of Plot and Stagng, a 104 page Text, and and 5 pages of Terms, References, Questions, and Exercises, "The Three Lords and Three Ladies of London" is Volume 10 of that Anaphora Literary Press 'British Renaissance Re-Attribution and Modernization' series. A unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Shakespeare, British, and Irish drama collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Three Lords and Three Ladies of London" is also available in a paperback edition (9798750094424, $20.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Editorial Note #1: William Percy (1567?-1648) is the dominant tragedian behind the "William Shakespeare" pseudonym according to the computational-linguistic study in The Re-Attribution of the British Renaissance Corpus. Percy was a younger son of the assassinated 8th Earl of Northumberland and the brother of the imprisoned in the Tower 9th Earl.
Editorial Note #2: Anna Faktorovich is the Director and Founder of the Anaphora Literary Press. She has published two academic books with McFarland: Rebellion as Genre in the Novels of Scott, Dickens and Stevenson (2013) and The Formulas of Popular Fiction: Elements of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Religious and Mystery Novels (2014). She has also published two fantasy novellas with Grim's Labyrinth Publishing: The Great Love of Queen Margaret, the Vampire (2014) and The Campaigns against the Olden: Kingdoms of Laruta (2014). She has been editing and writing for the independent, tri-annual Pennsylvania Literary Journal since 2009, and started the second Anaphora periodical, Cinematic Codes Review in 2016. She has presented her research at the MLA, SAMLA, EAPSU, SWWC, BWWC and many other conferences. She has won the MLA Bibliography, Kentucky Historical Society and Brown University Military Collection fellowships.
The Wine/Beer/Spirits Shelf
The Thinking Drinkers Almanac
Ben McFarland, author
Tom Sandham, author
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9780857839565, $12.99, HC, 272pp
Synopsis: No matter what day of the year it is and regardless of the occasion, there is always a very good reason to enjoy a drink. Responsibly of course.
Aimed at discerning drinkers keen to broaden their booze horizons and those looking to become more adventurous in their elbow-bending, "The Thinking Drinkers Almanac: Drinks For Every Day Of The Year" by the team of Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham is an enlightening and alternative almanac that celebrates every day of the year with an appropriate alcoholic drink - featuring everything from Absinthe and Zinfandel to Martinis and Monastic beers.
"The Thinking Drinkers Almanac is a cocktail of cultural history, eccentric events, unlikely anniversaries, recipes and recommendations infused with all manner of 'interestingness", several dashes of drinking did-you-knows, fascinating facts, famous folk, unsung heroes, lesser-known legends from all walks of life and major weird, wonderful and well-known moments from our past.
As entertaining as it is informative, "The Thinking Drinkers Almanac: Drinks For Every Day Of The Year" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Wine & Alcoholic Spirits collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Thinking Drinkers Almanac: Drinks For Every Day Of The Year" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).
Editorial Note: Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham are award-winning alcohol experts and performers. Ben has been named Beer Writer of the Year on three occasions and has authored several award-winning books on beer including World's Best Beers (reissued in 2017 and published in 5 languages). Tom is the author of World's Best Cocktails and was named Spirits Communicator of the Year by the IWSC (International Wine and Spirits Competition). They also host podcasts including the recent 'Pour de France'. They can be followed on Instagram @thinkingdrinkers 11.5k, and on Twitter @thinkingdrinks 8.4k followers.
The Audiobook Shelf
Steven Tingle, author
Matt Godfrey, narrator
9781666506143, $22.99, CD
Synopsis: Davis Reed is plagued by the three A's: anger, alcohol, and anxiety. A former Charleston police officer turned private detective, Davis hopes to gain some respect, self and otherwise, by writing a book. His subject? The true story of a B-25 bomber that crashed on Cold Mountain in western North Carolina just after the end of World War II.
From the comfort of a mountain cabin in Cruso, North Carolina, Davis spends his days popping anti-anxiety pills, drinking copious amounts of home-brewed beer, and not writing. But when he discovers a set of keys on a mountain trail, he becomes curious and then obsessed with finding the rightful owner. With the help of his friend Dale Johnson, a 275 pound local deputy who is full-time ornery and part-time clever, and Dale's cousin Floppy, a motor-mouthed mechanic with a penchant for conspiracy theories and kleptomania, Davis works to uncover the mystery of the keys while navigating a world of small-town secrets, shady characters, 80s heavy metal, and murder.
But Davis has his own secrets, and even though he's escaped to the mountains, some bad business in Charleston is beginning to catch up with him. For an anxiety-riddled man looking for peace and quiet, he somehow stumbles into more chaos and crossfire than any amount of beer and pills can alleviate.
Critique: With Matt Godrey's impressive narration of Steven Tingle's original suspense thriller of a mystery novel, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of "Graveyard Fields" provides the listener with a true 'theatre of the mind' experience in a 9 Hour 9 Minute production. A truly compelling, deftly crafted, and expertly presented audio book from Dreamscape Media, "Graveyard Fields" is especially recommended for personal and community library audio book mystery collections.
9781713614876, $14.99, MP3-CD
Synopsis: An unquestionably charming and sometimes maddeningly naive, cloth mage Paul Gallagher is desperately trying to make a name for himself in a reimagined postwar London. But in a world where magic is commonplace, sewing enchanted clothes is seen as little more than a frivolous distraction. Paul is hiding a secret, however: he possesses a powerful (and illegal) innate magic that could help him achieve his wildest dreams.
Unfortunately, Paul confides in the wrong person, Captain Hector Hollister, and, along with his brother/best friend Tom, is drawn into a sinister plot that risks reigniting the machinery of war. To make matters worse, the pretty American gossip reporter Paul just met reveals her personal quest to expose a government cover-up may be related to Hollister's magical goals. When Hollister threatens the life of Tom, Paul realizes that his poor judgement has put not only his family and friends in danger, but also the whole world!
The only way to set things right may be for Paul to undergo the dangerous and potentially lethal ritual to become Court Magician -- the most powerful magician in the country. But is becoming part of the institution the best way to enact change in a terribly unjust society?
Critique: All the more impressive when considering that "Innate Magic" is author Shannon Fay's debut as a fantasy novelist, this unique approach to a society in which the use of magic is routine and commonplace will prove a delightful experience for all dedicated fantasy fans. Superbly narrated by Peter Kenny, this complete and unabridged audio book edition of "Innate Magic" is a welcome and recommended addition to personal and community library Science Fiction & Fantasy audio book collections.
The Music CD Shelf
Greg Amirault with Steve Amirault, Adrian Vedady, and Jim Doxas
$TBA CD / $8.91 MP3
News Blues is a jazz album by Montreal guitarist Greg Amirault, pianist Steve Amirault, bassist Adrian Vedady, and drummer Jim Doxas. Seven of the songs are Greg's original compositions; two are classic works of jazz (If You Could See Me Now by Carl Sigmund & Tadd Dameron, and Embraceable You by George Gershwin) with solo guitar arrangements. A smooth, unforgettable listening experience, News Blues is highly recommended especially for jazz connoisseurs. The tracks are News Blues, Tribute Tune, Sweet Way, Song for Nova Scotia, Uninvited, Meeting the Master, If You Could See Me Now, Reissued, and Embraceable You.
Not this Room
Roddy Ellias Free Spirit Ensemble
Featuring Kellylee Evans
$15.00 CD / $7.00 digital
Not this Room is a jazz album that bends toward heartrending beauty. Award-winning music artist Roddy Ellias and the Free Spirit Ensemble bring a medley of captivating original compositions with smoothly performed lyrics. Not this Room is a treasure for connoisseurs, highly recommended. The tracks are Not this Room, The Street, Draw Me a Circle, Closer, Blood and Bone, Suddenly, What You Needed, Hold On, and Prayer.
The DVD Shelf
Hinterland Complete Collection
Starring Richard Harrington
c/o RLJ Entertainment
Hinterland Complete Collection is a DVD collection of all three seasons of the gripping "Welsh noir" drama Hinterland, about a former London policeman Tom Mathias, who comes to a remote coastal town burdened with grief and guilt from his difficult past. Yet darkness hides in the hearts of people who live among the close-knit mountain village, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Enhanced with behind-the-scenes featurettes for all three seasons, Hinterland Complete Collection is a treasure for connoisseurs of intricate intrigue, highly recommended. 21 hours plus 50 minutes of bonus material, SDH subtitles.
The Journalism Shelf
Four Wars, Five Presidents
Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781538160619, $32.00, HC, 236pp
Synopsis: Currently residing in Anapolis, Maryland, Terence Smith is an award-winning journalist who has been a political reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and television analyst over the course of an almost five-decade career that included The New York Times, CBS News, and the Newshour on PBS. In 2013 Smith was inducted into the Professional Journalists Hall of Fame. He resides in Annapolis, Maryland.
In his memoir, "Four Wars, Five Presidents: A Reporter's Journey from Jerusalem to Saigon to the White House", Terence recounts his extraordinary journalistic career with The New York Times, CBS News and PBS, where in the course of his career he covered everything from the inner workings of the White House, to fours wars and stories drawn from the daily lives of people in 44 countries.
Of special note is that in "Four Wars, Five Presidents: A Reporter's Journey from Jerusalem to Saigon to the White House" he also provides a first-hand account of the evolution of journalism from print to digital.
Critique: Exceptionally informative, impressively organized and presented, "Four Wars, Five Presidents: A Reporter's Journey from Jerusalem to Saigon to the White House" provides an 'insider' view to the life and work of a professional journalist. A combination of personal memoir and the history of journalism over the past few decades, "Four Wars, Five Presidents: A Reporter's Journey from Jerusalem to Saigon to the White House" is highly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Journalism and Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of journalism students, academicians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Four Wars, Five Presidents: A Reporter's Journey from Jerusalem to Saigon to the White House" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $30.00).
The Art Shelf
c/o The GMC Group
9781784946173, $14.99, PB, 96pp
Synopsis: "Still Life" is a DIY instruction course specifically developed by still life artist Susie Johns for complete beginners wanting to learn how to draw and paint contemporary still-life subjects.
Following a concise guide to the tools, materials and basic techniques that every beginner needs to know (including line, tone, colour, composition and perspective), there are ten tutorials showing how to draw and paint a variety of still life subjects using beginner-friendly materials, including pencil, charcoal, coloured pencils, pen and ink, watercolour paints and watercolour pencils.
Each tutorial has a list of the materials and tools required, step-by-step photographs of the work, informative text and tips and strategies for getting the best results. By working through the tutorials, the aspiring still life artist will gradually develop skills and build confidence until feeling equipped to attempt any still life. In addition to the tutorials there are three 'focus on' feature spreads. These pages offer more in-depth/advanced techniques appropriate to the projects.
Critique: An ideal 'how to' instruction manual and guide, "Still Life: Techniques and Tutorials for the Complete Beginner" is profusely and effectively illustrated in support of the instructive and descriptive commentaries -- making "Still Life: Techniques and Tutorials for the Complete Beginner" highly recommended for personal and community library Art Instruction collections, and as a school art class curriculum textbook.
Editorial Note: Susie Johns is an artist and designer. She has written dozens of instructional books on a range of different topics. She studied Fine Art at Ravensbourne College, went on complete an MA at the prestigious Slade School in London, and later gained a post-graduate teaching qualification (PGCE) at the University of Greenwich. As well as teaching drawing and painting at a local community college, Susie has years of experience running life-drawing classes and leading workshops focusing on pen and ink, mixed media, artists' sketchbooks, drawing for health and well-being, and family art. She also teaches classes online on various platforms including YouTube.
Oil Painting Every Day
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781631599941, $24.99, PB, 128pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Oil Painting Every Day: A Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide to Painting the World Around You - Develop a Successful Daily Creative Habit", artist Robin Sealark shows you how to translate what you see into captivating paintings. Begin with a solid understanding of oil paint and essential supplies, then try easy exercises that will train your eye to see the world like an artist. From there, you'll learn how to capture beautiful details in landscapes and still lifes and create shadows and depth to make your work come alive. Refine those details to paint waves, clouds, and floral scenes, and get all the tips, tricks, and techniques you need for a doable portrait to get you started in figurative work.
Offering great ideas for creating engaging compositions while capturing the world around you, and discover how a variety of simple brushstrokes add energy and life to a piece, "Oil Painting Every Day" covers: How drawings and underpaintings can give your paintings a boost; How to care for your tools and materials; Tips and techniques for working in sketchbooks and on canvas; The benefits of maintaining a consistent art practice; How to paint from life and photographs; Ways to build cohesive compositions that tell a story.
Critique: Beautifully and effectively illustrated throughout, "Oil Painting Every Day: A Step-by-Step Beginner's Guide to Painting the World Around You - Develop a Successful Daily Creative Habit" is the ideal DIY instructional guide and manual for the novice or beginning artist wanting to work with oil paints. Comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Oil Painting Every Day" is especially recommended for personal, professional, and community library 'how to' art and oil painting collections.
Editorial Note: Robin Sealark spent her undergraduate years at Brigham Young University specializing in oil painting and hyper-realistic portraiture, but shifted her focus to landscapes, seascapes, and skies over time. Robin frequently posts her work, process videos, tips, tutorials, relatable sketches, and advice for creatives on Instagram and YouTube. Through her personal work and teaching, she seeks to emphasize the idyllic beauty found in all subject matter through deepened observation and a discerning artist's eye. She maintains an informative website at www.robinsealark.com
The Interior Design Shelf
Universal Principles of Interior Design
Kelly Harris Smith, author
Chris Grimley, author
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9780760372128, $40.00, HC, 216pp
Synopsis: Richly and profusely illustrated throughout and impressively easy to navigate, "Universal Principles of Interior Design: 100 Ways to Develop Innovative Ideas, Enhance Usability, and Design Effective Solutions" is a comprehensive reference that deftly pairs clear explanations of every topic with visual examples of it applied in practice. By considering these concepts and examples, non-professional readers with an interest in interior design can learn to make more informed and ultimately better design decisions.
"Universal Principles of Interior Design: 100 Ways to Develop Innovative Ideas, Enhance Usability, and Design Effective Solutions" is organized alphabetically so that principles can be easily and quickly referenced. For those interested in addressing a specific challenge or application problem, the principles are also indexed by questions commonly confronting designers.
Each principle is presented in a two-page format: The left-hand page contains a succinct definition, a full description of the principle, and examples of and guidelines for its use. Side notes, which appear to the right of the text, provide elaborations and references. The right-hand page contains visual examples and related graphics to support a deeper understanding of the principle.
"Universal Principles of Interior Design: 100 Ways to Develop Innovative Ideas, Enhance Usability, and Design Effective Solutions" is a truly landmark reference and sets the standard for interior design students, practitioners, and educators, and others who seek to broaden and improve their understanding of and expertise in interior design.
Critique: Comprehensive, inspiring, thought-provoking, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Universal Principles of Interior Design: 100 Ways to Develop Innovative Ideas, Enhance Usability, and Design Effective Solutions" is an essential and core addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Interior Design collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note #1: Chris Grimley has organized, designed, and implemented experiential environments, interiors, master plans, and branding initiatives for clients ranging from small offices to large institutions. He has broad experience in architecture, graphic design, and interior design. He is the co-author and designer of several books, including The Interior Design Reference & Specification Book (2018), Imagining the Modern: Architecture and Urbanism of the Pittsburgh Renaissance (2019), and Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston (2015).
Editorial Note #2: Kelly Harris Smith is a designer, creative director, and entrepreneur specializing in natural and sustainable materials for commercial and residential interior design. A co-founder of FilzFelt (acquired by Knoll, Inc. in 2011), Kelly's award-winning designs are distinctive for their pattern, color, and innovative functionality. Kelly is also the founder of Minni, a community creative space in Boston offering art and design education to young children. She was awarded Product Designer Award at Interior Design's HiP 2020 and Emerging Product Designer Award at NYCxDesign in 2018.
The Needlecraft Shelf
Weekend Makes: Macrame
c/o The GMC Group
9781784946197, $22.99, PB, 144pp
Synopsis: A form of textile produced using knotting (rather than weaving or knitting) techniques, macrame is one of the most popular craft trends on Instagram right now. With over 5 million posts using #macrame, this versatile textile art is seeing a huge resurgence and it's time to get on board with this craft revival!
Macrame can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be, making it ideal for crafters of all abilities. It's incredibly simple to get started as there are no specialist tools required and very few materials. Easy to learn and quick to create, you'll see your macrame design emerging in no time.
A collaboration between established macrame artists, "Weekend Makes: Macrame: 25 Quick and Easy Projects to Make" by macrame expert Steph Booth deftly guides you on each individual project from start to finish, with the help of clear step-by-step instructions and photography, and providing expert tips and ideas along the way.
Start by learning the basic knots and you'll soon unlock a world of macrame designs, from classic 70s plant hangers to modern home furnishings and beautiful braided accessories. Once you've mastered the foundation techniques, you'll gradually expand your repertoire of knots, experiment with different colours and types of cord, and learn how to add embellishments, such as wooden beads and feathers.
The showcased projects comprising "Weekend Makes: Macrame: 25 Quick and Easy Projects to Make" includes: wall hanging, plant hanger, feather lampshade, living wall, bunting, cushion, necklace, cuff bracelet, table runner, wreath, and placemat and coaster set.
Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, thoroughly 'user friendly' instructions clearly laid out, "Weekend Makes: Macrame: 25 Quick and Easy Projects to Make" is the ideal DIY how-to manual that will transform even the most novice of beginners into expert macrame needlecrafters. While highly recommended for school and community library Needlecraft collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Weekend Makes: Macrame: 25 Quick and Easy Projects to Make" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
The Fashion Shelf
Silk: Fiber, Fabric, Fashion
Lesley Ellis Miller, Ana Cabrera Lafuente, Claire Allen-Johnstone
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500480656, $95.00, HC, 504pp
Synopsis: The collaborative work of Lesley Ellis Miller, Ana Cabrera Lafuente, and Claire Allen-Johnstone, "Silk: Fiber, Fabric, Fashion" is a detailed and beautifully presented history that reveals a breathtaking selection of fabric and fiber dating from antiquity down to the early twenty-first century. Structured by technique, this outstanding new survey draws on the exceptional collections of London's Victoria and Albert Museum and shows the nest aesthetic and technical achievements of artisans, designers, and manufacturers.
From dyeing to weaving and crochet to embroidery, "Silk: Fiber, Fabric, Fashion" is a magnificent visual exploration of methods used over the centuries. From historic treasures in China and South America to nineteenth-century European International Exhibitions of art and industry, and more recently, designers' catwalk collections from the fashion capitals of America, Asia, and Europe, including pieces by Dior, Balenciaga, and McQueen, here is the ultimate compendium of silk, presented in a luxurious real-cloth binding.
"Silk: Fiber, Fabric, Fashion" is the authoritative reference and sourcebook, exploring methods and traditions across the history and geography of silk production, and celebrating the ingenuity and skill of designers and makers.
Critique: Enhanced with 620 full color illustrations, "Silk: Fiber, Fabric, Fashion" is a coffee-style volume (9.4 in x 11.4 in x 2 in) that is superbly organized, impressively informative, and a choice acquisition for personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections.
Editorial Note: Lesley Ellis Miller is Senior Curator of Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Dress and Textile History at the University of Glasgow.
Ana Cabrera Lafuente is Curator of Fashion at the Museo del Traje, Madrid, and Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Claire Allen-Johnstone is Assistant Curator of Furniture, Textiles, and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Christian Studies Shelf
The Euchologion Unveiled: An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice II
Synopsis: The Euchologion Unveiled describes and explains the sacramental services of the Orthodox Church. The Euchologion is the liturgical book that priests use to serve all the mysteries, or sacraments, of the Church. Archbishop Job "unveils" the history, meaning, and structure of these services, and the Orthodox understanding of the sacraments, through which believers receive grace and become partakers of the divine life.
Though most people have heard of "the seven sacraments" - baptism, chrismation, the Eucharist, confession, marriage, ordination, and unction - this is a later western schema, and the Orthodox Church performs several other sacramental rites, which are also explained here: monastic tonsure, the funeral, the sanctification of chrism, the consecration of a church, and the blessing of water.
This is a companion volume to The Typikon Decoded, and the second volume of An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice.
Critique: The fourth book of the Orthodox Liturgy Series, The Euchologion Unveiled: An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice II is an in-depth explanation of the history, meaning, and ritual of Catholic liturgy. Chapters focus on liturgies for ordinations, confession, marriage, monastic tonsure, funerals, and more. As a companion volume to "The Typikon Decoded" (which is a practical and accessible analysis of the classic Byzantine liturgical manual), The Euchologion Unveiled is highly recommended especially for church and public library collections.
The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care
Eliza Huie & Esther Smith
New Growth Press
9781645071358, $17.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle
Synopsis: Long distance runners know that they have to find a pace that they can keep for the long haul. Have you found that pace in your own life? Or does busyness, overwork, and stress threaten you with burnout? Counselors Eliza Huie and Esther Smith know firsthand how important it is to attend to our whole life - the spiritual, emotional and physical facets God created in each of us. They give Christians a biblical framework, encouragement, and practical ways to pace yourself for a lifetime of service and love.
In this practical guide, readers will explore the idea of biblical stewardship as it applies to all areas of life, with the understanding that we can only offer others what we have first received from our own growing relationship with Christ. Exhaustion, spiritual apathy, and burnout are not signs of how important and significant our life is, as our culture might lead us to believe. Instead they are warning signs that we need to turn to God for daily help in how to steward our lives and our days.
The Whole Life describes a balanced life that honors God and enables good works, offering practical guidance for renewing body and soul so that readers will be energized to engage life with renewed enthusiasm and vigor for service to God. Six key focal areas include health, preparation, faith, work, play, and rest, offering helpful strategies for each so that Christians can experience transformation in how they care for themselves and others.
Critique: The Whole Life: 52 Weeks of Biblical Self-Care is a week-by-week treasury of biblical wisdom for taking care of oneself, finding balance in one's life, and honoring God. Biblical counselors Eliza Huie and Esther Smith provide practical, Christ-centered guidance. Weekly devotional principles offered include "You Can Have Jesus and a Counselor Too", "Attend to Your Body", "Seek Righteous Desires", "Unified Relationships", "You Are Not Your Job Title", "Self-Care Is Not a Savior" and much more. "I don't regret taking time to care for myself in those seasons when self-care felt futile... But those self-care efforts were secondary to what I needed most. God revealed what was most important. It was my relationship with Christ - a relationship that was sufficient in moments when self-care was not." The Whole Life is a profound work of faith, designed to be used year after year, and highly recommended for Christian reading lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Whole Life is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).
Editorial Note: Eliza Huie, MA, LCPC, is the Director of Counseling at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA and the Dean of Biblical Counseling at Metro Baltimore Seminary. She is the author of Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World and Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World and is the coauthor of The Whole Life.
Esther Smith, MA, is a biblical counselor and licensed clinical professional counselor in the state of Maryland. She is the author of Chronic Illness: Walking by Faith, coauthor of The Whole Life, and has been published in the Journal of Biblical Counseling.
Sweet Jesus, Is It June Yet?
Amy J. Cattapan
Ave Maria Press
9781646800377, $15.95 pbk / $11.99 Kindle
Synopsis: You work hard to motivate your students every day, but where can you find the inspiration you need when teaching gets tough or your passion for the classroom starts to wane?
Veteran teacher Amy J. Cattapan invites you to look to the greatest teacher of all time - Jesus. With humor and stories from the trenches, Cattapan draws valuable insight and tools from the Gospels and shares ten life-changing principles every teacher can learn from Jesus. In Sweet Jesus, Is It June Yet?, she'll help you hang onto your sanity and fulfill your calling even when you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and on the verge of burnout.
Classroom burnout is real. About 44 percent of new teachers in New York leave the profession by their fourth year and 40 percent of new teachers leave Chicago schools within five years. All over the country, managing online instruction has only added to the pressures teachers face.
In order to combat frustration and burnout, Cattapan will help you:
remember where your calling began;
rediscover who this is all about;
know when to lean on others for help;
learn how Jesus dealt with challenges; and
understand that God's grace really is enough.
Whether you're a brand new teacher, a veteran educator, or a homeschooling parent, you'll find wisdom - and more than a few laughs - in Cattapan's reflections on the Great Teacher and in classroom stories straight from the front lines.
Critique: Teaching is a profession with a high burnout and churn rate. Sweet Jesus, Is It June Yet? 10 Ways the Gospels Can Help You Combat Teacher Burnout and Rediscover Your Passion for Teaching is a Christian resource written especially for teachers and homeschooling parents, offering inspirations and practical advice drawn from the Gospels to resist stress and burnout from teaching. For example, the story of St. Peter shows that despite his failings, including denying Jesus three times (as Jesus himself predicted), "Peter went on to lead the disciples after Jesus's death. He became the first bishop of Rome and bravely faced crucifixion upside down. What does this tell us? It tells us that even when we fail as teachers, we can still find God's grace, pick ourselves up, and try again. We can still do great things even if we stumble sometimes." Sweet Jesus, Is It June Yet? is highly recommended especially for Catholic church library collections and the personal reading lists of teachers and tutors. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Sweet Jesus, Is It June Yet? is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).
Editorial Note: Amy J. Cattapan is a middle school English teacher, speaker, and author who has written or contributed to several books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul: From Lemons to Lemonade and the award-winning novels Angelhood and Seven Riddles to Nowhere. She is a regular contributor to the Homeschooling Saints podcast and hosts Cath-Lit Live! for the Catholic Writers Guild.
The Judaic Studies Shelf
The Social Justice Torah Commentary
Rabbi Barry H. Block, editor
Central Conference of American Rabbis
978088123383, $23.95, PB, 400pp
Synopsis: One of the pressing questions for all members of the Jewish community today is what does the Torah have to say about social justice? As the contributors to The Social Justice Torah Commentary demonstrate, a great deal. Compiled and edited by Rabbi Barry H. Block, a diverse array of authors delve deeply into each week's parashah, drawing lessons to inspire tikkun olam. Individual chapters deftly address key contemporary issues such as racism, climate change, mass incarceration, immigration, disability, women's rights, voting rights, and many more. The result is an indispensable resource for weekly Torah study and for anyone committed to repairing the world.
Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Social Justice Torah Commentary" is an ideal curriculum resource for personal or small group Judaic Studies curriculums -- making it an especially and unreservedly recommended for community, synagogue, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of rabbinical students, rabbis, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Social Justice Torah Commentary" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).
Cain v. Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama
Rabbi Dan Ornstein
Jewish Publication Society
2100 Arch Street, 2nd floor, Philadelphia PA 19103-1399
9780827614673, $23.95, HC, 232pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Cain v. Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama" by Rabbi Dan Ornstein, the reader will enter the packed courtroom and take their seat as a juror on the Cain v. Abel trial. Soon, the prosecution and defense attorneys (angels from Jewish legend) will call Cain, Abel, Sin, Adam, Eve, and God to the witness stand to present their perspectives on the world's first murder. Great Jewish commentators throughout the ages will also offer contradictory testimony on Cain's emotional, societal, and spiritual influences. As jurors, when we mete out Cain's punishment, must we factor in his family history, psychological makeup, and the human impulse to sin?
"Cain v. Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama" is a highly eclectic and gripping compilation of insights by Jewish commentators on the Cain and Abel story, courtroom scenes are juxtaposed with Rabbi Ornstein's own commentary, advancing novel insights and introspection. As each of us grapples with Cain's actions, we confront our own darkest traits. If Cain is a symbol for all humanity, what can we do to avoid becoming like him? Furthering this conversation, Rabbi Ornstein includes a discussion and activity guide to promote open dialogue about human brokenness and healing, personal impulses, and societal responsibility.
Critique: Original, exceptional, informative, thought-provoking, and an inherently fascinating read, "Cain v. Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama" is an especially and unreservedly recommended for community, synagogue, college, and university library Judaic Studies collections in general, and Religious & Liturgical Dramas & Plays supplemental curriculum reading lists in particular. It should be noted for rabbinical students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Religious Ethics that "Cain v. Abel: A Jewish Courtroom Drama" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).
Editorial Note: Rabbi Dan Ornstein leads Congregation Ohav Shalom in Albany, New York. He blogs at the Times of Israel and Jewish Values Online, contributes essays at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, and wrote for the Mesorah Matrix book series on Judaism.
The Buddhist Studies Shelf
9781611808728, $16.95 pbk / $13.99 Kindle
Synopsis: Our natural awakening - or buddha-nature - is inherent within all of us and waiting to be realized. Buddha-nature has the qualities of both silence and illumination, and by working with silent illumination meditation you can find your own awakening. Distinguished Chan Buddhist teacher Guo Gu introduces you to the significance and methods of this practice through in-depth explanations and guided instructions. To help establish a foundation for realizing silent illumination, he has translated twenty-five teachings from the influential master Hongzhi Zhengjue into English, accompanied by his personal commentary. This book will be an indispensable resource for meditators interested in beginning or deepening their silent illumination practice.
Critique: Silent Illumination: A Chan Buddhist Path to Natural Awakening is the English translation of twenty-five teachings from the Buddhist master Hongzhi Zhengjue, enhanced with excellent commentary from author and Buddhist teacher Guo Gu. Silent Illumination is in-depth, yet strives to make complex philosophical precepts accessible to both scholars and practitioners. Silent Illumination is a welcome contribution to personal and public library Buddhist Studies collections, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Silent Illumination is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).
Editorial Note: Guo Gu is a Chan teacher and founder of the Tallahassee Chan Center. Professor of Buddhist studies at the Florida State University and author of The Essence of Chan, Passing through the Gateless Barrier, and many articles, he is one of the most distinguished Chan teachers of our time. Guo Gu is one of Master Sheng Yen's senior disciples and assisted the master in leading activities at the Chan Meditation Center, Dharma Drum Retreat Center, and Dharma Drum Mountain in Taiwan, and other locations in Europe and Asia.
The Music Shelf
The Legendary Toad's Place: Stories from New Haven's Famed Music Venue
Brian Phelps author
Randall Beach, author
c/o Rowman & Littlefield
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781493058600, $24.95 PB, $20.89 Kindle, 236 pages
Written by an early partner and cofounder and a renowned rock music critic for the New Haven Register from 1978-1984), "The Legendary Toad's Place" covers a fabulous history of rock bands performing in the New Haven venue in the 70's, 80's and 90's, up to the present. Filled with informal personal stories and color photographs of performers of multiple bands and groups, "The Legendary Toad's Place" presents a plethora of historic and exciting musical experiences form the rock music of 3 + decades.
Toad's Place is praised for being a welcoming performance arena for aspiring artists and musicians, with a capacity of 750 attendees and a stage which allowed for intimacy and communication between audience and performers. Still active, Toad's Place promises to continue its reputation for encouraging promising rock artists and musicians.
Those who have fond memories of its history will love perusing "The Legendary Toad's Place," with its many stories of famous artists in their early days and afterwards. In addition to multiple chapters about different artists and groups, and the evolution of this inviting, unique artistic venue, there is a 30 page long alphabetical list of groups who have performed at Toad's, with asterisks marking those bands or individuals who are members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The list is not complete, but its contents are arresting.
Lovers of the last 50 years of rock band evolutionary history will want to include "The Legendary Toad's Place" in their libraries for its nostalgia and bringing out of obscurity an unforgotten rock history.
The Jobs/Careers Shelf
HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633699854, $44.00, HC, 240pp
Synopsis: In the grip of an economic disrupting pandemic, we are living through a crisis of purpose in a time that economists have called The Great Resignation. Surveys indicate that people are feeling less connected to the meaning of their work, asking, "How do I find my purpose?"
That's the wrong question. You don't find your purpose -- you build it. That is the underlying message of "HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose" in which author Ginger Zee (the chief meterologist for ABC News) debunks three common myths about purpose: that purpose is found, that you have only one, and that it stays the same over time. Packed with stories, tips, and activities, "HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose" teaches you how to cultivate more meaning in your life and work and endow everything you do with purpose.
"HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose" reveals how to: Find the reason behind your work; Identify what makes you feel happy and fulfilled; Use job crafting to transform your role; Build positive, fulfilling relationships; Connect your work to service.
Packed with how-to essentials from leading experts, "HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose" provides smart answers to your most pressing work challenges.
Critique: Timely, informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose" is the ideal DIY instruction guide and manual for anyone wanting to have employment that is more personally and professionally fulfilling than they have now. Especially recommended for anyone going into employment for the first time, or who are rejoining the labor force after an extended absence, "HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose" is an essential and core addition to community, college, and university library Jobs/Careers & Business Management collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781633699830, $21.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).
Editorial Note: John Coleman is a senior executive in financial services. He is the coauthor of two books, including Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders. He is a regular online contributor to Forbes Leadership Channel and Harvard Business Review, where he focuses on personal development and leadership issues. His writing has been published in dozens of other outlets. He maintains an informative website at www.johnwilliamcoleman.com
The Metaphysical Studies Shelf
360 Degrees of Your Star Destiny: A Zodiac Oracle
c/o Inner Traditions
9781644112823, $24.99 pbk / $16.99 Kindle
Synopsis: In this extraordinary synthesis of 50 years in star work, astrologer Ellias Lonsdale explains how each of the 12 signs of the zodiac has 30 degrees, and each degree, like every star, is the center of a whole system of meanings. Inspired by the Chandra Symbols--evocative images for each degree channeled by John Sandbach nearly 40 years ago--as well as his studies with master astrologers Dane Rudhyar and Marc Edmund Jones, Lonsdale explores the deeper story, or Star Spark, of each of the 360 degrees of the zodiac, providing detailed write-ups for each degree.
The author explains how to use the degree of your Sun sign and other planets from your birth chart for personal chart interpretation. Offering a way to tune in to your future star cycles as well as analyze a past event, he discusses how you can learn about personal cycles from studying the degree of a transiting or progressed planet at a specific time, such as Mercury Retrograde, or by following the degree meanings for successive New Moons or Solar Returns, revealing collective as well as personal timings. He also details how to use the 360 Star Sparks as an astrological oracle to consult when you need guidance or support for your awakening process as well as how they can be used as a source for daily contemplation by following the Sun through each degree day by day throughout the year.
Providing an astrological tool to help you see deeply inside your life, your shadow, what you are questioning, and where you are being guided, this key to the symbolic power of the 360 degrees of the zodiac shows that by embracing our star cycles, we can discover our unique life path and light up the stars within.
Critique: Astrologer Ellias Longsdale presents 360 Degrees of Your Star Destiny: A Zodiac Oracle, an astrology book for readers interested in deepening their understanding of the twelve signs of the zodiac. The first section is all about degree symbiology; subsequent chapters focus on each of the twelve signs of the zodiac, and what each of the 30 degrees implies for every sign. 360 Degrees of Your Star Destiny is an excellent contribution to astrology and metaphysical studies collections, highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that 360 Degrees of Your Star Destiny is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).
Editorial Note: Ellias Longsdale is a Star Master and New Earth Visionary. He developed a distinctive system of living astrology in the 1970s and 1980s under masters Dane Rudhyar and Marc Edmund Jones as well as through involvement with the Rudolf Steiner movement. He offers teleclasses and star readings and is the author of several books, including The Book of Theanna.
Rock Point Editors - author
Lulu Mayo - illustrator
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
100 Cummings Center, Suite 265D, Beverly, MA 01915
9781631068287, $24.99, Tarot Deck & Guide Book, 64pp
Synopsis: With the tarot deck and guide that comprise "Kawaii Tarot: Understanding Tarot with the Kawaii Universe", the aspiring tarot reader will how learn to use intuition to interpret the cards' messages, manifest your intentions, and connect with one's inner self while being surrounded by the cuteness of kawaii! Now even the most novice of tarot readers can find insights on where they are and figure out their next move with the help of original kawaii characters like Lucky Cat, Princess Poodle, and Fancy Unicorn.
A thoroughly modern set, "Kawaii Tarot: Understanding Tarot with the Kawaii Universe" introduces the art of tarot readings with: 78 charmingly illustrated cards; A comprehensive 64-page guidebook to the tarot; and strengthens the spiritual practice with a very special tarot kit that is ideal for spiritual beginners and lovers of all things kawaii!
Critique: Unique, fun, effective, "Kawaii Tarot: Understanding Tarot with the Kawaii Universe" will be a welcome and enduringly appreciated addition to the personal and professional collections of all dedicated tarot enthusiasts and practitioners.
Editorial Note: Kawaii is the culture of cuteness in Japan. It can refer to items, humans and non-humans that are charming, vulnerable, shy and childlike. Examples include cute handwriting, certain genres of manga, and characters including Hello Kitty and Pikachu. The cuteness culture, or kawaii aesthetic, has become a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture, entertainment, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, mannerisms -- and now, Tarot Cards.
Magickal Tarot Guidebook and Deck
Fair Winds Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9780760374207, $29.99, Tarot Deck & Book, 160pp
Synopsis: Tarot is an ancient and powerful tool for divination. Its magick, however, goes far beyond fortune-telling and prediction. Tarot cards represent situations we experience as we progress through the journey of life, with each card holding specific messages of perspective and guidance. Each individual tarot card holds rich symbolism that is imbued with energy and vibration. That energy can be applied to nearly all forms of manifestation, thus making your tarot deck a powerful magickal tool you can use to invoke specific outcomes in spells and ritual work.
With "Magickal Tarot Guidebook and Deck: Spreads, Spellwork, and Ritual for Creating Your Life" by Robyn Valentine, the novice practioner will learn the specific manifestation focus of each Major Arcana card as well as spells and rituals that align with each card.
Specifically, the "Magickal Tarot Guidebook and Deck: Spreads, Spellwork, and Ritual for Creating Your Life" will enable the tarot reader to: Use the Magician for confidence and glamour magick; Use the High Priestess to assist in dreamwork and divination; Use the Empress to support fertility and grounding of your creative projects; Use the Emperor to aid in receiving a promotion or professional success.
After learning more about each Major Arcana card, the novice tarot practitioner will be able to utilize the full tarot deck included in this kit as their own magickal tool!
Critique: Offering a thoroughly 'user friendly' and comprehensive DIY course of instruction that is very highly recommended, especially for the beginning tarot reader, "Magickal Tarot Guidebook and Deck: Spreads, Spellwork, and Ritual for Creating Your Life" will be of special interest to students of Wiccan practices and magic studies.
Editorial Note: Robyn Valentine is a witch, professional tarot card reader, and blogger. She is the creator of @atiredwitch, an Instagram handle, blog, and online shop for new and baby witches.
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Diane C. Donovan, Editor
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
Site design by Williams Writing, Editing &