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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 4 April 2023 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf Diane Donovan's Bookshelf Gary Roen's Bookshelf
Helen Dumont's Bookshelf John Taylor's Bookshelf Mary Cowper's Bookshelf
Micah Andrew's Bookshelf Michael Dunford's Bookshelf Paul Vogel's Bookshelf
S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf    

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf

Case Studies in Applied Behavior Analysis for Individuals with Disabilities
Keith Storey, author
Linda Haymes, author
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398094003, $59.95, PB, 372pp

Synopsis: With the publication of this newly updated and revised second edition of "Case Studies in Applied Behavior Analysis for Individuals with Disabilities" co-authors Keith Storey and Linda Haymes respond to a critical need for highly qualified personnel who will become exemplary professionals because of their advanced knowledge, skills, and experiences in working with students and adults that have varying disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Since Board Certification for behavior analysts was introduced, there has been an expansion of training programs in Applied Behavior Analysis to meet the demands from school districts, health insurers, and families. In spite of these developments, a case studies book has not been available that uses the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Task List, Fifth Edition (BACB) guidelines for educating individuals receiving their BCBA, or for those in the field such as teachers, and service providers.

The goal of this comprehensive instruction manual is to fill that need. In this newly revised second edition, eighteen case studies are provided -- case studies with complete analysis, case studies with partial analysis, and case studies without analysis. The first six cases present a complete analysis, which allows the reader to analyze and develop a comprehensive Positive Behavior Support Plan containing detailed answers and supporting data systems. The second six case studies include the areas from the BACB Task List, and the items are most relevant for analysis, but the analysis is not complete. This enables the reader to complete the analysis themselves which will promote skill building. The final six case studies do not contain an analysis or guideline. This allows the reader to further develop their skills by creating their own guidelines for analysis and implementing their plan.

The use of this text will improve the comprehensive analysis and coverage of the developing supports for individuals with disabilities, provide direct applicability to applied settings, and the ability to use the case studies for assignments and/or exams. The format, readability, and detailed description of instructional methodology makes this text a valued resource for instructors and behavior analysts responsible for improving the skills of people with disabilities.

Critique: An invaluable contribution to the education and training of those who work with counseling patients and students having disabilities, "Case Studies in Applied Behavior Analysis for Individuals with Disabilities: 2nd Edition" is an ideal textbook for personal, professional, college, and university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Keith Storey was a Clinical Director at Juvo Autism and Behavioral Health Services in Oakland, California. He is also a Professor Emeritus at Touro University in Vallejo, California. In addition to the books listed here he co-edited the book "Walking Isn't Everything: An Account of the Life of Jean Denecke." He has published over 100 articles in professional journals.

Editorial Note #2: Linda Haymes is an Associate Professor and Chair of Special Education in the Graduate School of Education at Touro University with more than 25 years' experience in special education and autism. She has published research in over a dozen journals and books as well as serving as a reviewer for many professional journals in the field of applied behavior analysis. (

Living River: The Promise of the Mighty Colorado
Dave Showalter
Braided River
c/o Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781680516326, $39.95, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: With its powerful visual storytelling, "Living River: The Promise of the Mighty Colorado" by award-winning photographer Dave Showalter illustrates how we can create a resilient watershed if we change our relationship with water. Exploring the endangered Colorado River from source to sea, Showalter provides a deeper understanding of how countless numbers of creatures and 40 million humans depend upon its water and how the futures of all are inextricably linked to the health of the river.

Starting at the headwaters in the Continental Divide, Showalter covers the wide range of issues facing the river and highlights places that demonstrate the land's resilience, offering hope for the future. Throughout, he weaves in the stories of riverkeepers like Cynthia Wilson, who works to ensure universal access to clean water for her Dine community; Holly Richter, a conservation leader on the San Pedro River; and Tom Koerner, manager of the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge.

"Living River: The Promise of the Mighty Colorado" can help to form the foundation for a robust impact campaign that will inform and influence stakeholders in the development of a new river compact, one that embraces new technology, conserves and restores our western rivers for wildlife and recreation, and recalibrates water consumption within the Colorado River system.

Critique, A timely, informative, and inspiring contribution to our on-going national conversation about the management issues and controversies concerning the preservation and utilization of the Colorado River, this beautifully illustrated (150 color photos, 7 maps), coffee-table style volume is unhesitatingly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary American Photography, Nature Conservation and Earth Science collections in general, and supplemental curriculum Water Conservation/Colorado River studies lists in particular.

Editorial Note: Dave Showalter ( is a conservation photographer and author who is focused on the American West. Dave works throughout the ecosystems of the Intermountain West and has published two books prior to Living River: Sage Spirit: The American West at a Crossroads (Braided River), and Prairie Thunder: The Nature of Colorado's Great Plains (Skyline Press). Dave is also a Senior Fellow in the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a long-time contributor and partner of Platte Basin Time-lapse. Dave works in partnership with numerous conservation groups, including: Audubon Rockies, The Nature Conservancy, and Trout Unlimited Headwaters chapter on the Living River project. With Living River,

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

She's a Lot Like You
Jim Christ
Joseph and Associates
9798386120573, $15.00 Paper/$4.99 Kindle

She's a Lot Like You is a suspense-filled crime drama - a sequel to Jim Christ's 2018 mystery novel, Ways To Be Wicked, but the author's latest work stands nicely on its own, and it is steeped in moral ambiguity and societal inspection as much as it is in intrigue. Christ not only takes his readers on a tense, action-packed ride; he also leads them to an understanding of the lasting impacts of debt and sacrifice as he probes the cost of one man's pursuit of justice.

Fraught with feelings of indebtedness and responsibility, high school principal Enrique Tavish wrestles with the decision to attempt the rescue of a girl named Rosa from a life of hopelessness and bondage. Rosa is not only one of his students but more importantly the young woman who saved his ten-year-old daughter from sex traffickers only to wind up herself in their clutches.

Having exposed his family to danger in the past, Tavish wonders if he even has the right to undertake the rescue, but the debt he owes to Rosa is too deep to ignore, and he forges ahead despite the moral and practical sea of troubles he must face. He hopes to avoid scrutiny regarding his motives from his wife and a too-inquisitive public, and he sets up an elaborate plan to establish a phantom presence in northern Arizona as an alibi while he covertly pursues Rosa and her captors into Mexico under an assumed identity. Besides, he thinks, there is little hope of actually finding the girl, and his investigation will be only long and thorough enough to quiet his conscience and buy him some inner peace. He believes the whole operation will take only one or two nights away from home, and no one will be the wiser.

But Tavish has underestimated the terrifying forces he is unleashing upon his home life, his school and his community when he opens Rosa's deadly Pandora's Box. His entanglement in lies and half-truths, along with the psychological triggers of past trauma, pull him into a world of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and, ultimately, murder.

His journey takes him not just to Rosa but to new understandings of the ways in which she's changed: "Rosa thinks of herself as all grown up then. It makes me realize she's been forced prematurely into a woman's roles, assuming responsibility for other people, for one thing." Still, he begins to wonder if he was a fool for seeking Rosa and freeing her from her captors because he can only watch as she seeks a heinously ruthless brand of revenge.

In She's a Lot Like You, Christ confronts readers with the cruelty and social injustice that are the inseparable realities of kidnapping and human trafficking; perhaps more basic, as his protagonist seeks redemption, Christ has his readers reckoning the costs for the pursuit of duty and a quiet mind.

Moral and ethical dilemmas carry this novel to a thoughtful place that most crime/suspense dramas do not even approach. An engrossing story rendered with passion and truth.

The Narrator
Babak Hodjat
Dastaan Publishing
9781735486000, $10.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

The Narrator is a challenging title to neatly peg - and this is one of its strengths.

One might deem it sci-fi, with its futuristic story of AI intelligence. It opens with the narrator's consideration of a futuristic app that will allow users to create whatever stories they want, integrating these within the boundaries of their real-world lives to create transformative experiences of excitement.

The second chapter reveals this possibility come to life with the creation of the Narration System, which Molly's team has fostered to fruition and fame.

As discussions morph into corporate visions of success, romance, user dreams and realities, and a dating game which stems from dreams to become reality, readers come to realize that sci-fi suspense and psychological progression are just a few of the undercurrents affecting the stream of lives in The Narrator.

Babak Hodjat's craft lies in introducing a science fictional possibility, then following its unlikely evolution in daily life where nothing can be predicted or controlled:

"I didn't break any ethics codes. The narration is literally writing itself and the coauthor is the user," Rob said, firmly. "If anything, I'm giving the user a role in the stories rather than making them a sheer consumer."

"Well, we can't risk that." Molly looked at Jurgen.

"Risk what? Why is this even scary?"

"Because, we have no control," Molly said with a hint of frustration.

The issues stem not just from new technological possibilities, but their applications to lives that are changed by it in manners its originators could never have envisioned. The new narrative form changes the world. This story will also challenge and change any preconceived notion that sci-fi or romance need run in well-worn ruts of plot.

Babak Hodjat's familiarity with California's high-tech Silicon Valley business environment gives the novel a realistic note; while his exploration of freedom, disconnection, and technological influences on reality and relationships keeps readers thinking and wondering.

This is why The Narrator is particularly recommended not just to libraries seeking accounts of AI possible futures and familiar backdrops of life gone awry, but to book clubs looking for discussion points that revolve around re-inventing the world's narrative system, memories, and the nature of consciousness and connections.

The Narrator's special blend of suspense, high-tech intrigue, and psychological dilemmas keeps readers thoroughly engaged in a world that holds the familiar feel of modern times, but with a strange futuristic flavor that lingers in the mind long after the story's conclusion.

The Rebirth
V.P. Evans
Independently Published
B0BWX78LV5, $3.99 ebook

The Rebirth is a novel that differs from most stories of parental trauma over a child's death in several important ways.

The protagonist is a father who is angry with himself for not fulfilling his role as his son's protector. Damned by his own fury and never-ending grief, Mark's self-loathing threatens to consume the rest of his life.

Jason Roneros is also a fallen man - but in a different way. Beaten down by illness and the specter of the murdering Imperatores who stalk him and force him into the life of a recluse, Jason is at once dying and seeking redemption.

Mark and Jason are connected in more than one way; and yet are so distant from one another that it seems their disparate and broken lives will force them apart while mirroring one another in unusual ways.

Fate brings them together in their final attempt to achieve liberation and salvation. The murder of Dermot Walsh which opens this story is the tipping point for altering their trajectory away from one another with an encounter that portends a mystical and psychological experience neither was prepared for.

Mother Anna, too, is suffering: "A monster had stolen the life from it, and the boyish giggles had given place to creases on the fabric. And just like that, there was a constant wound in the mom's heart, and her smile had turned into hot tears, a wail that would never stop." Perhaps her mandate to find courage is the greatest challenge of all, but it plays into the new roles the two men find themselves both fielding and embracing as they pursue secrets, signs of truth, and self-revelations.

V.P. Evans creates a multifaceted story that attracts on different levels. Spiritual readers will appreciate the component of discovery and mystical interludes that cement this unusual journey, while those who look for mystery and intrigue will find The Rebirth embraces both as the characters move from their comfort zones to new possibilities and realizations. Readers who look for psychological depth in their novels will find growth and opportunities for reconsidering what makes heroes and monsters different.

Another plus is that Evans takes the time to delve into the purposes and perceptions of aforementioned monsters - especially hit man Victor Taylor, who is tasked with both ending lives and uncovering their secrets.

Libraries and readers will find that The Rebirth touches its audience on different levels. Its special blend of mysticism, psychological discovery, interpersonal interactions, and close inspections of monsters and men makes it a highly recommended read for a broad audience.

Eliza and the Alchemist
Carlos Lacamara
Fixed Mark Productions, Inc.
9798986742700, $16.95

Eliza and the Alchemist blends fantasy and humor in a story that traverses different worlds, from a twenty-three-year-old urban gang banger still living at home (but facing the possibility of change) to circumstances that introduce him and Eliza to new worlds they've never navigated before.

Jaime is once again staring into the barrel of a gun as the story's prologue opens. Eliza appears in the first chapter in a very different situation as she navigates a relationship and contemplates an intimacy she can't accept. She is a young woman on the cusp of great things, entering new adulthood with many possibilities and much strength in hand.

As disparate characters and worlds intersect, readers are treated to a story that moves through fantasy and reality with equal dexterity.

Eliza finds many of her blossoming abilities thwarted by her latest pursuit ("Her failure as a detective was only surpassed by her failure as a woman."), while Jaime faces his own repetitive patterns of failure ("Jaime covers his face and waits for the next punch, just like he's done all his life. Just like he'll keep doing for forever and ever.").

When she falls out of her world and into a mystery and adventure upon entering Professor Crowley's office, Eliza finds herself on an express train through hell, riding into a reality that exists just beneath her own perceptions. Is she psychotic or insane, or is she seeing ghosts? And what is Oliver Crowley doing in her dream, if so?

As reality and fantasy entwine, Eliza and Jaime's disparate lives come together in a James Bond-style series of scenarios involving assassins, demons, and evil.

Carlos Lacamara's infusion of adventure, self-discovery, and magical realism creates a story replete in mystery and explorations of different situations that ultimately challenge each character to not just survive, but evolve.

Libraries looking for urban fantasies that flavor their reality-busting stories with wry humor and nonstop action will find Eliza and the Alchemist a riveting tale that's impossible to predict and hard to put down.

The Borderlands of Forever
Jeff B Willey
Outcosm Creations
9781738660209, $22.22 Hardcover / $14.03 Paper / $3.33 ebook

Speculative fiction readers well know that the pickings in this genre are relatively slim, compared to traditional sci-fi and fantasy. The Borderlands of Forever blends elements of cyberpunk, dystopian fiction, AI challenges, and urban fantasy in its speculative tale of shifting realities, and will delight those who look for complex, thought-provoking scenarios embracing humanity's evolutionary process.

A timeline of events opens the story in 2043, when humanity first encountered the Voing. The tale then moves through time to the 2200s, when humans and machines are integrated and facing new potentials together, and finally to the inevitable clash of the Paroxysm in 2888.

It should be noted that the account starts in 2106 and jumps back and forth through time until the end of everything in 3113. This non-linear progression may stymie those who anticipate the usual set series of advancements of a traditional plot, but will delight readers seeking more intellectual and thought-provoking flows from the characters and planet-changing circumstances that develop.

Treks and revolutionaries, revised wild worlds and super-intelligences which traverse its boundaries, and questionable trails that lead to unexpected answers mark a vivid saga that takes the time to inject environmental inspection and a sense of place into its ethereal setting:

"We found the gelatinous mass of a slime-mold resting on a tree stump, its cellular body in a slow-motion ooze, bending light through itself. Transparent butterflies. Monkey trip-lines.

Quetzals called to each other unseen, a song of three repeating elements. Smudges of vibrating colour were all we could perceive of hummingbirds, who like hyperkinetic electron clouds never localized in one place."

The characters play with atomic fire, choose battles (sometimes carefully and others carelessly), and fight for control of the minds of people, facing perceived malevolent forces that would employ high technology in newly dangerous ways.

As humanity moves from Earth to the stars and reinvents itself both physically and psychically, so changing prophets and belief systems confront strange attitudes, new worlds, and possibilities that both blossom and contract to redefine mankind's endeavors and countenance.

From starships to cloud forests, these adventures push the definition and experience of humanity in a manner that will lend to thought-provoking book club discussions and sci-fi reader contemplation.

However you define it, The Borderlands of Forever is an adventure in evolution that contrasts the revised intentions of men with the machines and drives that bring them into alien territory, both within themselves and in the outside world.

Libraries looking for engrossing speculative works must include The Borderlands of Forever in their collections as a literary example of the power in blending philosophical, technological, and social inspection within a speculative sci-fi overlay.

Pinups Portraits and Posters
The Randall Family
Independently Published
9798355030551, $84.95

Pinups Portraits and Posters: The Life and Art of Bill Randall captures the life and works of one of the most popular pinup artists of the 1940s-60s, illustrating that his art extended far beyond the pinup domain. Readers who already know his pinups will find that he produced art in all kinds of mediums, from landscape sketches and charcoal to watercolors and oils.

His memorable productions ranged from his classic and well-known pinup portraits to lesser-known (but equally widespread) advertising art which captured and promoted products.

The full-page color displays that power this survey of his art include sketches, ads, early works promoting book covers, magazine illustrations, and iconic branding.

Accompanying these vivid color reproductions are comments that help readers understand the artist's special techniques and unique expressions, such as the presence of a gold earring in the familiar portrait of Mr. Clean, which suggests a cleaning genie; or the whimsical approach he adopted to "Mr. Buck and Mrs. Doe," animal characters used to explain a company's profit-sharing plan.

These comments, which include allusions to family sway and presence in some of the works, provide invaluable keys to understanding how Bill Randall's life, influences, and experiences translated to and affected his artistic eye.

Randall's four children and grandchild collaborated on this showcase of his art. Their participation and celebration makes for a powerful display that should be considered a foundation "must' for any arts library strong in pinup history in general or the wide-ranging art of Bill Randall in particular - especially since many of these works have never before been published.

Delaware Before the Railroads
Dave Tabler
Independently Published
9798987000601, $42.00 Hardcover/$30.00 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Delaware Before the Railroads: A Diamond Among the States tackles the myth and mystique of emerging statehood with a focus on a Delaware that many readers won't see coming - even those few already well-versed in the state's history.

Dave Tabler's special brand of history captures events with a powerful knack for drama that brings to life the state's unique background: "How did Delaware get its name? It began with a storm at Cape Henlopen and a Virginia navigator who had lost his way."

Color photos of artifacts, examples of early homes and slave quarters, ship models, maps, and more help drive this story, using visual images supplemented by sidebars of history to make it not just accessible, but thoroughly engrossing.

Backed by these visual displays, readers of all ages will find Delaware's evolution anything but dry, and will appreciate the attention given to details that represent social history. Housing structure examinations, for example, capture slavery housing and church endeavors, taverns, waterway development and steamboat services, and more.

Each piece lends to a more intimate understanding of Delaware's roots than the typical linear history captures. Each is a colorful visual key to understanding the state's events, politics, society, and evolution. All these facets make Delaware Before the Railroads: A Diamond Among the States a captivating story that will attract even non-history readers with its blend of unusual historical relics and contemporary photos.

Libraries interested in Delaware's roots and an approach that uses historical objects to cover and reinforce the state's progression and evolution will find Delaware Before the Railroads: A Diamond Among the States accessible to a wide age range, from young adults (who will appreciate the unusual inclusion of pirates and fighting Quakers) to adults who will find the Delaware history both enlightening and thoroughly engrossing.

The Fisher Man
Ron Gambrell
Rough River Publishing
9780990856276, $18.00 Paper/$9.99 Kindle

The Fisher Man spins an intriguing blend of thriller, social and political inspection, and climate change issues into a novel about Elijah Haycraft, who survives a youth of abuse and torment by adapting his killing instinct to the world around him.

His early actions mark him as a dangerous fighter in his youth, causing community members to avoid him and his rage. It's an attitude which could attract the wrong forces, even in government circles - but it's one which portends to get dirty deeds done if Elijah can be convinced that his actions are key to saving the world.

The US government's plans to control climate change blends nicely with the decisions to redirect and utilize Elijah's underlying rage and strengths in unusual ways.

Environmental issues weave into political special interests and social struggles as the thriller elements interweave with Elijah's psychological development and the forces that place him in the center of a perfect storm during a time of environmental crisis.

As issues of how sociopaths are born blend with larger concerns about how special interests can tap their psychological traits, readers looking for thriller components augmented by astute characters that absorb trauma and reflect its impact into the world in different ways will find The Fisher Man thoroughly absorbing.

Replete with strong individuals who closely examine the truths and courses of their lives, The Fisher Man may be billed as a thriller, but is equally powerful in its psychological probes of lives and worlds off balance, that intersect in unusual ways.

Libraries and readers seeking potent first-person stories of evolving friendships and conundrums will find The Fisher Man hard to put down.

The Healing Book
Dustin Grinnell
Finishing Line Press
ISBN: TBA, $24.99

The Healing Book: A Collection of Short Stories gathers writings that reflect psychological and spiritual transformation, profiling a disparate range of fictional characters that each encounter and challenge their own notions of healing, health, and growth.

The collection is particularly strong in its representations of the rituals of rebellion, the facets of existential crises that move each character to make uncommon moves to arrive at unexpected life-changing moments, and its juxtaposition of themes that delve into the disparate foundations of change.

Before moving to the stories themselves, it should be noted that the preface introducing this collection is far more than a few paragraphs of notes. Indeed, it almost represents autobiography in itself as Dustin Grinnell synthesizes his life experiences and influences, illustrating how they ultimately led to creating this collection.

The opening story, "Beyond Medicine" introduces the milieu of Peru, where a young female neurosurgeon is on a personal quest to cure her ongoing depression through participation in a shamanistic ritual powered by an ayahuasca brew.

The intersection of Allie's inherent scientific skepticism about such rituals and spiritual revelations as she considers the proven healing methods of a leader and technique which succeed where Western medicine failed makes for intriguing reading as Allie participates in an endeavor committed to "ego death" and transformation.

The connection between physical and spiritual healing forces is nicely presented as the story evolves in some unexpected, thought-provoking ways.

In contrast is "Cured," about the intersections of faith and medical miracles which revolve around a doctoral student's pursuit of an elusive cure for a devastating disease. The process of discovery and recovery profiles Peter Spaulding's own barriers to success and achievement as he is forced to set aside both training and preconceived notions about life and health.

Peter admits from the start that "I don't have a single adventure muscle in my body." He's about to develop these muscles in an unusual way as he creates experiments to test the outer limits of medicine and belief.

Beset by failures that make him even more determined to achieve the impossible, Peter finds he must first adjust his own Western traditions and perceptions to take a leap of faith and attitude before he can enter a realm that holds a cure not only for humanity, but his own psyche.

Each story represents a delicate unwinding of tradition and a reformation of beliefs, attitudes, and convictions that leads into realms of healing that the characters (and their readers) never anticipated.

The diversity of these approaches, themes, and discussions will especially attract libraries interested in disparate roads to not just health and healing, but self-empowerment and transformation. The elements of visionary fiction, combined with the sense of discovery and adventure cultivated in each different situation, make The Healing Book a thought-provoking, highly recommended journey not just for fiction readers, but for book club and discussion groups interested in the intersection of health, self-growth, spiritual insight, and healing processes.

Make Bold Things Happen
Steve Rosenberg
GSD Press
9798987364000, $14.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle

Make Bold Things Happen: Inspirational Stories From Sports, Business and Life comes from a "serial networker" who likes to create and foster relationships and connections to make things happen. His goal and contribution to society are the hallmarks of a blend of memoir and how-to guide that covers the basics of meeting and working with a wide variety of people.

Make Bold Things Happen adopts a non-traditional path in comparison to most self-help inspirational stories, following the process of going boldly into various kinds of relationships with the specific purpose of making new connections, then using them to foster positive growth on many different levels.

The process begins with mindful choice and adopting an enthusiastic attitude towards the unknown. Steve Rosenberg follows the path of building his own successful connections, using them as a blueprint to help his readers understand the opportunities that lie in adversity and the key traits that led not only him, but others portrayed in his book, to make powerful decisions.

The diversity in his examples of others' lives adds to the uplifting representation of different methods of making good things happen: "Lead by example and help people understand the complicated situation taking place daily...she brings incredible perspective and knowledge mixed with passion and intelligence and kindness."

Perhaps the examples of kindness are the most valuable consideration of this process; for without kindness, efforts to achieve can come at a considerable cost for others.

As Rosenberg probes political campaigns, mentors, self-branding, and planting seeds of promotion and opportunity, readers come to realize, by example, all kinds of related approaches to networking and relationship-building opportunities that can propel them onto a bolder path of discovery, growth, and achievement.

Libraries and readers seeking self-help titles that operate on both entrepreneurial and personal levels will find Make Bold Things Happen's collection of inspirational examples to be diverse and encouraging. Ideally this book won't just repose on a library shelf, but will be chosen for book club discussion for those interested in entrepreneurial creativity and personal development alike.

Seeking: 74 Key Findings to Raise Your Energy, Sidestep Your Self-Doubts, and Align with Your Life's Work
JJ DiGeronimo
Together We Seek Publishing
9798985689761, $22.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$8.99 Kindle/$TBA Audio

It's somewhat rare to see a new age book cross over into genres of women's self-help and career and business, but Seeking: 74 Key Findings to Raise Your Energy, Sidestep Your Self-Doubts, and Align with Your Life's Work is the item of choice for libraries seeking books that can reach a wider audience than most self-help or new-age literature can.

Perhaps this is because the treatise comes from businesswoman JJ DiGeronimo's own experiences searching for life meaning in her career pursuits. The five years she spent researching, discovering, and applying her findings to her endeavors results in a series of tips that can help other women traveling the road to business and personal success.

While DiGeronimo began her journey with professional and corporate strategies, her latest book adds the psychological, spiritual, and philosophical growth elements that are key to bringing these seemingly-disparate pursuits in sync with one another.

Business readers may not be used to references to higher purposes, Soul wisdom, and directing personal energy and pursuits towards greater realizations and end results, but creating a dialogue that redefines success on a broader scale is just one of the surprises that these readers will encounter in Seeking.

DiGeronimo opens the discussion with an invitation to consider transformative opportunities that lie in questioning the end result of business success: "If you are tired of chasing standards imposed upon you by others; if you are drowning in to-do lists that deplete your energy and maybe even your impact; if you are swimming in negative thoughts and self-talk; or if you are simply seeking more are not alone!" For, what is success if it is unconnected to greater purpose?

Seeking is just the ticket for those who may have success in hand, but feel like there should be more to life than financial or business-building strategies. It serves as a lightning rod for the intersection between the personal drive to achieve and that which questions the methodology of success. Even more importantly, Seeking defines the entrepreneurial and personal events in life that deserve re-examination, redefinition, and reconsideration.

The blend of journal writing opportunities, questions for self-analysis, and encouragement for business readers to utilize this book in more than a linear fashion lends to its use more for personal acquisition than the rigors of library lending. Its message ideally will be embraced not just individually, but in discussion groups of fellow seekers.

The "Soul lessons" it considers and promotes will prove especially accessible and thought-provoking to women considering incorporating mindfulness into a life that has previously been directed by the pursuit of satisfaction sans the opportunity for self-analysis or inner alignment.

Monologues for Young Adults
Mike Kimmel
Ben Rose Creative Arts
9781953057112, $9.99 ebook

Monologues for Young Adults: 60 Original Monologues to Stand Out, Inspire, and Shine offers mature teens to those in their 20s and 30s a gender-neutral, ethnically inclusive set of monologues that require no props or costumes. Mike Kimmel excels in creating short pieces that not only teach budding actors about delivery and acting choices, but translate philosophical and social inspection onto the stage.

Mike Kimmel's monologues join other books in the Professional Actors series, providing the opportunity to not only absorb acting basics, but consider the special opportunities the monologue represents, in general, through these original social inspections.

Real-world topics combine with ethical considerations and conflicts, creating monologues that are in sync with and appropriate for thinking young adults.

Aspiring actors need a wide range of materials to utilize in the practice and evolution of their craft. These selections lend equally strongly to individual practice, classroom, and stage pursuit.

An introduction of basics, including how to get into character and "tame your voice," leads to such works as the first piece, "No Competition," which opens: "Call me a rebel, but I like to see people happy and successful. Life should be a beautiful journey, not a no-holds-barred fight to the finish." The monologue goes on to explore the process of "becoming the best possible version of ourselves" - an effort which really involves no competition.

These monologues are so short that one might wonder at their potential for powerful diversity and lessons. Wonder not, because each piece packs a punch into a minimum of words, requiring actors to create the accompanying power of delivery that often proves elusive on stage.

Any library collection strong in acting books in general and monologues in particular should have Monologues for Young Adults. Its strength lies not just in lessons about diversity, delivery, and acting choices; but in its range of appropriate subjects that test the boundaries of the young actor's talents and his or her belief systems and social and ethical choices in life.

Trying to Make It
R.V. Gundur
Cornell University Press
512 East State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
9781501764479, $37.95

Trying to Make It: The Enterprises, Gangs, and People of the American Drug Trade offers an in-depth analysis of the American drug trade's processes, influencers, and history, and is highly recommended for any social issues library strong in topics that embrace these concerns.

In his preface, R.V. Gundur explains the personal approach employed to explore this topic: "The story is the result of my observations, court documents, and interviews with 129 people. These people included law enforcement, professionals who worked with marginalized communities, residents of those communities, and current and former participants in the drug trade."

With the goal to minimize bias and present perspectives and materials on the topic that are largely missing from other exposes of the drug trade in America, Gundur embarks on an inspection that initially surprised even him: "I did not expect many of the stories within and what I learned often challenged the perspectives I held before conducting my study."

From respect, power struggles, and how underground economies function to gang and drug activity on the streets, behind prison walls, and in all walks of society, Gundur enters unfamiliar territory in considering not just the social and historical aspects of his subject, but underlying business practices that dictate the drug trade's ebbs and flows.

By drawing on the interview process to gain answers and insights, Gundur offers personalized stories that explore all facts of drug operations and the personalities of the people involved. These are stories that, elsewhere, would either never see the light of day, or would be set in a scholarly tone that fails to convey the humanity of its subjects. One surprise is that the dynamics of the illicit drug industry are not all that far from licit business operations, such as its wholesaling strategies.

Gundur's probe of systems of underground money and those who participate in them lends many eye-opening realizations to the story that will engross law enforcement readers, social issues students interested in gang, criminal, and drug operations, and history readers. Basically, any who look for social inspections that delve deeper into the subject than simply documenting circumstances and facts will find this book attractive.

Trying to Make It is highly recommended for college-level collections strong in criminal justice, social issues, and the business and community links of the drug trade in America. Its revelations and conclusions ideally will also be used as fodder for book club discussions, and for groups study law enforcement and psychology who are interested in exploring connections between business, community, and drug trade interests and activities.

Madame Curie's Piano Tuner
Steven Barron
Atmosphere Press
9781639887125, $26.99

Madame Curie's Piano Tuner blends historical fact with literary fancy and license, using a wry, wicked sense of ironic humor as it examines the life of newly licensed piano tuner Raymond Dover. His visit to the berg of Bucksnort, to provide his services to a veteran's retirement home, results in unexpected amnesia, recovery, and a revised purpose in life.

Readers who embark on Raymond's life journey will first note the appealingly creative chapter titles which portend a different kind of read than a staid progression of events. Titles such as "Patriotism and a Bad Migraine (tough times for pigs and chickens)" and "The Mick, the Moose, and Whitey" appear alongside "Read 'em and Weep" and "Shrunken Heads and Chloroform Dreams," creating inviting headers that shroud their contents in intrigue and invitation.

It should be mentioned that Madame Curie's Piano Tuner is no light-hearted romp. Almost 800 pages of literary, social, and psychological inspection create a story that is challenging (in that it appears less than linear, from protagonist Ray's recollections and jumbled experiences), but well worth the extra effort. For, hidden in the complex series of sometimes-lengthy descriptions and ponderings, this rich collection of thought-provoking nomadic journeys injects its descriptors with reflective metaphors and scintillating symphonies of revelation:

"During their existence, all keyboard-equipped devices, at one time or another, lose direction, some more frequently than others and through no fault of their own. Short shifts in the wilderness are no big deal unless the drift extends, and loss veers chronic. When this occurs, propriety becomes secondary. Units grow agitated, dream of purposeful daggers shoved up the spines of absentee owners and puissant land-lords. Others, wearied of revenge or judicial recourse, pull on Protestant pants, medicate with surface protectants and dancehall gin, often threatening physical harm to themselves. Wood and chords darken, keys and foot pedals check depth charts, review rosters, fumble for coats, grow despondent over tardy maintenance measures and long expired warranty agreements. Once pristine and perfect, notes drift and pitch heads for the ditch. Who but the tuner is there to halt the downward spiral?"

As the metaphor and reality of the piano tuner become a progressive melody for tackling life and its ironic twists, turns, and representations, literary readers receive a work that is so compelling in its displays, so unexpected in its twists, and so satisfying in its meditative ramblings through the life of Raymond and the society he moves through that it proves surprisingly hard to put down.

Surprising, because 800-page novels typically are easy to set aside and daunting to absorb - but such descriptors may only be applied to audiences who somehow choose this book expecting a light-hearted romp. Its length should forewarn that the reading effort will be more than casual, but the real pleasure of Madame Curie's Piano Tuner lies in its ability to inject a sense of shock and awe contrast between Raymond's rambling observations and those social forces which swirl around him with unpredictable airs and flavors.

This literary dance is especially recommended for libraries looking for solid examples of experimental and literary works and for college-level literature teachers using contemporary literary writings as illustrations of creative prowess. Dancing revelations spill from the tip of the writer's pen from the focal point of heartfelt perceptions.

It's easier to get into something than exit from it. Madame Curie's Piano Tuner will prove surprisingly compelling for its length and complexity, and will delight readers seeking fresh voices, original works, and a jumble of thought-provoking life perspectives.

Find Me in Time: Meeting Columbus
L.T. Caton
Find Me In Time IP Holdings, LLC
9798987396100, $16.99 Hardcover/$8.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

Historical fiction chapter books are not as common as one would think; much less those that inject a time-travel component into the mix to bring that history to life in an unexpected way. L.T. Caton is a teacher who seeks to inject a sense of place and discovery into the fiction format, and succeeds admirably with the first book in a projected series, Find Me in Time: Meeting Columbus.

The first thing to note about this book is its ability to draw young readers into the intriguing world of five friends whose efforts to play hide-and-seek result in an experience that tests their confidence in reality itself: "Have you ever been somewhere you thought you knew, down to the tiniest detail, only to discover that things are not at all as they seem?"

The first-person game turns into a journey none of the kids expected in a story peppered with color drawings that bring the chapters to life.

When the children find an extraordinary tree house that is not what it first seems, they come to understand the opportunity before them - to experience history in a hands-on manner that written description could never touch. What they don't expect is that the process will involve making new connections with the past that affect their perceptions of not just history, but modern-day life.

Caton does an especially good job in bringing these kids and their wonder to life, answering many questions about time travel and encounters with other cultures which are typically mercurial in time-travel tales: "Somehow, he realized, he'd found himself in the middle of a tribe of Taino people from hundreds of years ago. They seemed to see him as an important visitor. He looked like them, he could understand their language, and they could understand him too."

The magic lies in the newfound connections they make between past and present, which also changes their closeness to one another and their perceptions of cultural heritage.

The result is more than a leisure story about a time travel adventure, but a solid inspection of Columbus's times that brings history to life, inviting young readers to understand how these events translate to insights that affect modern approaches to life and knowledge.

Elementary-level libraries and readers looking for fictional works that embrace stories of people of color, culture clashes, and events seen from other than the usual staid vision of Columbus and his journey will find plenty of food for thought and classroom discussion here, all couched in a lively read that will attract even those usually reluctant to analyze history's lessons and concepts.

The Sherangivan
Jacqueline Fellows
Mathias Key Fantasy
9798987205709, $16.00 Paper/$4.99 ebook

The Sherangivan: A Tale of Esseduin depicts a world changed by an attack, murder, and the rupture of a kingdom. It follows the entry of strangers into a world that Caleb thought he knew well - the villages outside of the capital city of Esseduin. In fact, it evolves to become a land he barely knows and can hardly survive as he faces Bured warriors and navigates both the reality of his life and the dangerous dreams that draw him into another realm of possibilities. These experiences revise his role in life and challenge the confidence he once held in its logical progression.

Jacqueline Fellows crafts an evocative fantasy that attracts in different ways, from the confusing romantic choices Caleb experiences with two very different young women to his changing role in his family and community and his ability to tackle warriors or riots despite the efforts of his best friend Val to save him.

The sherang that can live in souls and take over leads Caleb to wonder if what lies inside him is murdering people. As the differences between dreams, memories, and murderous maladies are exposed, Caleb is forced to confront what lives in his soul and manifests itself in an already-conflicted world.

Those who are Sherangivars move differently in their worlds. Jacqueline Fellows weaves a compelling story of a young man who struggles with alien forces both within and outside of himself, drawing readers into a moving tale replete with demons and discoveries.

The story ends with an open invitation for more, but concludes Caleb's adventure in a satisfying manner that is not quite a cliffhanger.

Libraries and readers looking for evocative blends of murder mystery, fantasy, and shifting interpersonal relationships under siege will find that The Sherangivan portrays a vivid world, filling it with characters that prove believable and courageous in satisfyingly different ways.

Dark Sonnet
Tom McCarthy and Bill Dohar
De Profundis Books, LLC
9798986395210, $14.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle

In Dark Sonnet, a Jesuit priest unearths a 19th century manuscript containing a puzzle that points the way to a medieval treasure, the Cuxham Chalice. Then the gentleman vanishes. Can two friends (a librarian and an Oxford scholar) follow in his footsteps without becoming victims themselves?

Dark Sonnet unfolds a bittersweet song of promise and deadly danger. Its dual tune holds a compelling force combining action with psychological cat-and-mouse games as these characters draw ever closer to a truth that will rock the world.

As Myles and Eva tackle matters of decoding both the ancient document and their own hearts, the world around them descends into chaos, pitting them against police on one side and Vatican special interests on the other.

Compromised by their concern over their friend's life, which adds a personal dilemma into their quest that draws them into different levels of complexity, Myles and Eva discover that their journey is even more dangerous than they'd anticipated.

How does an ordinary Jesuit vanish into thin air? Nothing in his bio would suggest covert activity, and yet something strange is going on.

All the characters find their special interests both dovetailing and driving the violence they seek to prevent, giving readers an absolutely riveting story that holds the satisfying nonstop action and inquiry of a thriller combined with a set of spiritual and historical revelations on par with The DaVinci Code.

The intrigue settles its cloak well over each character's psyche and special approach to problem-solving, creating a story that fluctuates between the microcosm of personal interactions, friendships, and more to the macrocosm of threats to world order.

Librarians and readers looking for historical suspense fiction that dazzles with puzzle and psychology will find Dark Sonnet a thrilling mystery that grabs from the beginning and follows through to a satisfyingly unpredictable conclusion.

Godly Riddims
Dianne Lindsay
Atmosphere Press
9781639887415, $17.99 Paper/$26.99 Hardcover

Godly Riddims represents spiritual reflection at its best, and will be thoroughly enjoyed by Christian readers interested in a reflective work that closely considers the presence, actions, and promise of God in daily life.

Dianne Lindsay cultivates a literary hand in crafting verse that both celebrates and considers God's mystery and promise. Her writings, presented in short passages that explore "the love of God moving upon one's heart like sweet melodies," embrace the concepts of encouragement and enlightenment that represent the promise of perceiving and inspecting God. 'Riddims' ("the rhythmic movement or beat of a song") are chosen as a literary choice that allows this engagement to be accessed by a wider audience than prose alone could have achieved.

Lindsay's special form of encouragement and celebration provides spiritual thinkers with reflections that can serve as daily reading in a book that lends to non-linear pursuit. Open any page to discover a new passage of wisdom, as in 'Breastplace of Righteousness': "We walk in righteousness/We Live in your position/We have the mind of Christ/As we stand to fight..."

The succinct nature of these works translates to the most punch in the least amount of words. Readers already immersed in the task of spiritual reflection will find these thought-provoking riddims to be inviting and deceptively deep in contemplative opportunity despite their seemingly short, simple countenances.

Libraries and readers looking for spiritually reflective works that can join other examples of accessible literary forms, paired with a celebration and inspection of God, will find Godly Riddims an attraction.

Hugh the Hippo Camps Out In My Head
Beverley Reichman
Independently Published
9781667868578, $14.99 Paper/$8.99 Kindle

Hugh the Hippo Camps Out In My Head explores the hippocampus (the part of the brain where learning and memory live) for young picture book readers through a whimsical story in which young Oliver meets his resident "hippo" Hugh. Oliver embarks on a journey that shares their evolving relationship using the succinct action words and cartoon images (albeit much larger, for younger eyes) of a graphic novel.

Oliver's acknowledgement of his side-kick and super-powered internal "hippo" accompanies tips on how to reinforce memories and strengthen brain function as Hugh and Oliver embark on a series of adventures, from winning a video game to encountering 'dragons' during a walk in the woods.

The chapter book appearance of this story is inviting. Mark Jackson's graphics are vivid, colorful, and illustrate unexpected encounters and adventures, while the underlying messages about memory and brain function are educational, yet action-packed.

Hugh the Hippo Camps Out In My Head stands out from any other chapter book as a fun story that nicely entwines action with education, cementing all within a vivid graphic novel overlay that will prove not just familiar and accessible, but compelling.

The Tickling Tale of Smoo
Louiza Kallona
Independently published
9798370066535, $8.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle

The Tickling Tale of Smoo is a rollicking ride through Scotland that presents a fantasy adventure replete with fun and the dilemma of something missing from its characters' lives - laughter.

Fiddle Wood's residents usually fill their homes with laughter, but one day brother and sister Lucy and Ben McClafferty realize that laughter has vanished from their lives. Not just their home has been affected, however: nobody in the world laughs anymore, either.

Prompted by a wise, quirky grandmother to embark on a journey to locate Gabel Lylhu, one of the ticklers of the world who hides in Smoo Cave, the children find their quest filled with adventure and questions about why laughter has vanished. They discover how their efforts can make a difference not only in their lives, but in the world.

The first thing to note is the lilting, lyrical, descriptive voice of Louiza Kallona as she presents this story:

"It was a crunchy cold afternoon somewhere up a sheep-lined, tractor-chugging, coal-tit-twittering track in Fiddle Wood, in the Scottish Borders. The McClaffertys were huddled around a crackling fire in Middletoun Farmhouse's kitchen when something hairy howled outside..."

Descriptive action crackles throughout the tale with thought-provoking, delightfully original scenes as Lucy, Ben, and Uncle Patrick face an array of unexpected creatures and encounters, from a grinning cat with a message to baboons that sing sea shanties.

As they travel through Smoo to learn that Gabel is not the end result of their search, the adventurers find keys to understanding not only what happened to laughter, but what force changed other cultures, from India to Britain.

Kids who choose The Tickling Tale of Smoo for its promise of fantasy delights thus receive much more, from insights on joy to cultural revelations, all couched in fun wordplays and descriptions.

Libraries that add The Tickling Tale of Smoo to their elementary-level collections will find it a standout not just for its sense of fun, but for its especially evocative language and blend of fantasy delights with cultural inspections.

Fini, the Beauty of a Broken Shell
Melitta Santos
Independently Published
9798370729935, $11.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook

Fini, the Beauty of a Broken Shell will especially appeal to collections strong in folktales from other countries. It presents a Paraguayan folk story to picture book readers, exploring the dilemma faced by young turtle Fini, who breaks her shell in a fall and feels she's now flawed and ugly.

The kind Fini enlists her forest friends to help heal her, but the solutions many offer to restore her shell and beauty don't work, until a wise spider offers a solution that reveals the broken shell isn't as important as Fini once thought.

Melitta Santos accomplishes two goals with her story: it's a lesson on kindness and inner beauty, as well as a representation of Paraguayan culture and folklore.

El Creativo provides bright illustrations that bring to life not only the forest and its creatures, but their underlying goodwill in helping others.

Each animal Fini encounters in her search for help exhibits traits (such as shyness) that she can help change. In turn, each creature tries to positively influence Fini's life.

Parents who choose Fini, the Beauty of a Broken Shell for read-aloud have the rare opportunity to discuss acts of kindness in action. They will relish the adventure Fini experiences as she discovers that her outer and inner beauty are a matter of perception and attitude as much as fact.

Traveling Tootsie
Karen and Kathy Honaker
Mascot Kids
c/o Mascot Books
620 Herndon Parkway, #320, Herndon, VA 20170
9781645435884, $18.95 Hardcover/$6.99 ebook

Traveling Tootsie is a picture book about young Katie and Steven, who have to stay home when their parents travel for work.

Why do they always have to stay home? Why can't they join their parents on a journey? The siblings decide to embark on their own travels, right in their own bedroom, when a talking teddy bear proposes an exciting alternative.

Traveling Tootsie offers many unexpected, fun moments as the kids send teddy Tootsie on an exciting journey filled with wonders.

This is the perfect book to choose for read-aloud for kids whose parents travel, and is also a fine opportunity for instilling in children the wonders of travel and encountering the unexpected.

Powered by Chiara Civati's engaging illustrations, the colorful and quirky journey through history and other lands represents the fun and adventure of travel while capturing the wonders of Washington, D.C.

Libraries and read-aloud parents seeking picture books pairing whimsical fun with travel insights will find Traveling Tootsie lively, delightful, and just the ticket for instilling a sense of wanderlust and discovery in young children.

Larissa N. N. Davila
Stone Raven Press
9798985126044, $23.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Avelune continues the Sky Seekers epic fantasy series with a third book that expands the stark world of rival clans begun in the debut novel Shorn.

Here, Jhared Denaban, a young Shorn man, clashes with his own kind and with those who have long sought to enslave him.

Larissa N. N. Davila paints a compelling portrait of a world and an individual teetering on the edge of chaos. She is especially adept at encouraging her readers to consider the impact of Jhared's conflicting missions on his own goals: "...what if your Teachers are hunting for you on the Paths? Don't you risk drawing their attention each time you travel? Aren't you more vulnerable when you exhaust yourself?"

As Jhared travels among friends and foes, and toes a dangerous line between revelation and destruction, he comes to realize that the hurt he's suffered defies healing - but may be the driving force marking his ability to change his world.

The epic clashes presented in Avelune are as much psychological as they are physical as Jhared, driven in directions he never thought he would travel, accepts his destiny and rejects his dreams: "More than anything Jhared wanted what Moravel offered, but he could not be healed. He was Shorn. The skies would never be his."

If the devil offers to fill an impossible dream, does he become a savior, or a force ending everything?

Throughout the course of the story, Jhared searches for an elusive truth and gains the wings to fly with it. Jhared's journey is a compelling search for discovery and redemption that leads readers on another breathtaking flight of fantasy.

Libraries seeing enthusiasm for Shorn and Cael's Shadow will find this third volume in the Sky Seekers series to be just as action-packed as its predecessors. Prior fans who have the grounding in this world to appreciate its ongoing battles will relish the unexpected directions undertaken by Jhared in Avelune, which introduces readers to unexpected love and a strange source of freedom.

Apple Bottom Blooms
Morgan Rayne
Independently Published
9798367492477, $4.99 Paper/$1.99 Kindle

Apple Bottom Blooms is a novella about returning home to face second chances at romance and possible snafus in the process of coming full circle.

Kinsley Wentworth finds refuge in her childhood tree house and life in small town of Grafton Hills. She cultivates places to hide from life, because "...a place to hide was exactly what she needed thanks to her ex, Tristen, and the band of brainless baboons he called his friends. Even now, in the solitude of her childhood hang out, she could hear the merry band of idiots hooting and hollering, laughing it up - - mostly at her expense - - by the bonfire that was positioned only a couple hundred yards due north of her current location."

But, hiding out from love's potential only goes so far when potential romantic perp Chase Thorn returns to town and picks up where he left off, attempting something that was already doomed long ago by circumstances beyond his control.

Replete with an embarrassing incident involving novelty panties and a history of the bad nickname "Apple Bottom," Kinsley avoids not just Tristen, but anyone associated with him. And that, by proxy, includes Chase.

The short novella format is the perfect choice for developing a succinct romantic comedy that achieves the most in the least amount of words. Every word counts in such an endeavor. Morgan Rayne makes the most of humor, irony, and strong characters that will especially appeal to readers looking for powerful stories and examples of literary devices that create the most in the shortest amount of time.

This is why Apple Bottom Blooms ideally will not only be chosen by libraries and readers interested in the novella format, but for feature in creative writing and reader discussion groups seeking contemporary examples of successful novella devices.

Apple Bottom Blooms is alternately funny, thought-provoking, and sassy. Readers who absorb Kinsley's character and interactions with Chase's special interests will find the story a compelling example of small town atmosphere, changing self-perception, and the emergence of a kind of romance neither character saw coming.

The Green Path
Steven Clark
Independently Published
9798422072750, $5.95 kindle/$11.99 paperback

The Green Path's historical fiction is rooted in revolution in Guatemala and the issues that drove college student Concepcion to America in the 1980s to study her passion for the piano away from the guerilla war which is consuming her nation and everything she loves. Despite the passion she holds for her art and her successful flight away from oppression, Concepcion comes to realize that the past is never far behind her as nightmares haunt her sleep.

Those around her recognize her struggle; from Vietnamese immigrant Ngo, who also continues to struggle with the loss of his own country and roots to war and conflict, to a teacher who is personally familiar with the oppression Concepcion fled from in Guatemala.

This circle of disparate friends and mentors surround Concepcion with not only support, but gentle reminders that she is in a different milieu despite her ties to the past. The challenge lies in the conflict between her craft and the secrets she holds in her heart.

She is making a new life, but the past is never far behind. It follows her in the form of sponsors and romances, in the Quetzels that represent beauty sacrificed in the name of economics, and in the choices she has made to either ignore and repress or accept matters she cannot change.

The culture and social impact of her moves both in Guatemala and in her new home in central Missouri are woven into the story in a delicate manner that builds upon small realizations to create a crescendo of thought-provoking movements:

"When she was a child, Hernando told her of the Quetzal's sacred status among her people, but she'd never seen one until she came to Steiner's modest preserve.

'The people need food,' she shrugged.

'Yes, Conchita. It is sad. To lose beauty for food.'"

These moments of revelation are unfolded slowly in gifts of reality and new possibilities as Concepcion searches for her true Green Path amidst personal, social, and political currents of conflict at home and abroad.

Steven Clark's ability to bring Guatemala's milieu to life through various characters' eyes and changing perspectives is one hallmark of achievement that makes The Green Path an exceptional read:

"If the countryside rippled with mountains, Guatemala City had manmade foothills of smoldering refuse. Eduardo went there for pictures. Bodies dumped by death squads, beggars grubbing for scraps from a flotsam of consumer culture, a dog trotting off with a human hand in its mouth. Foreign papers paid well for such graphicness."

The power of this story lies not just in Concepcion's revelations and secret, but in the immersion of others in the reality of Guatemala's struggles and the impact of atrocities on the hearts and minds of all involved, whether they be participants or observers.

Well-developed tension permeates a story that places readers firmly on the soil of two very different nations, leading to inspections that test heart and mind. This offers book clubs and social issues reading groups much food for discussion in the process of the story.

Libraries and readers seeking evocative, powerful literary works of historical fiction and psychological depth will find The Green Path especially compelling not just for its story of an individual immigrant seeking refuge and growth, but for a nation seeking the same opportunities.

The Saint Louisans
Steven Clark
Independently Published
9798835135103, $5.95 kindle/$11.99 paperback

In The Saint Louisans, hospice nurse Lee Bridger sees a lot of death. She also finds herself unexpectedly in the middle of a family fray involving an inheritance, the future of a historical mansion, and the opposing interests of a family matriarch and the children who would tear down her legacy to profit from modernization efforts.

Hell hath no fury like a heritage scorned, but Margot's fiery method of making sure her children don't achieve their goals after she is gone places Lee in a uniquely conflicted position where her actions and choices are scrutinized by the public eye like never before.

As Steven Clark weaves a story about inheritance, fury, and families behaving badly at the end of life, readers will find an unusual blend of historical issues and humor drives a plot filled with antagonistic, confrontational hardheads that are affected by Lee's services and unique approach relationships:

"At that moment, I thought I'd had enough of him. Of this. So did Philip. If he dies, I thought, I don't care. That's a cold thing to live with. I don't have Terri's sensuality and spending, nor Pierre's Gesshoji and spiritualism. I do have my faith in God, and his love, but I also have that last night. The last words my son said as he stormed out." Her eyes hardened. "The last time I saw him alive."

...My pause was brief. "I want you to make up with your children."

She shook her head. "They're so ugly, now. They want money. They want to destroy."

As Lee "does battle for the cause" and finds her life turning in a different direction than her hospice charge, readers move with her through a milieu in which one powerful family's special interests are shaken not by death, but by end-of-life decisions about how a legacy will affect and change the future.

"Every family has its own karma." Lee's own is no different, but the pursuits and reactions she has crafted in the course of her work will change that karma and her own perception of her place in the world.

While humor is replete in these encounters, readers should by no means anticipate a funny ride into ironic experiences alone. The Saint Louisans is a serious inspection of family relationships and objectives that utilizes humor to contrast the brutal nature of emotional clashes and special interests against the wider impact of changes and family legacies.

Those expecting a linear story will also be happily delighted by the time Clark takes to create powerfully evocative metaphors and descriptions that sing:

"Your body shuts down organ by organ. The heart and brain the last ones to keep the light on. Memories are refractions of time. They're blips on the screen of her heartbeat, going to 2/4 time. She becomes a theory: space and mass are relative, and no mass leaves only time. You focus, but there's too much going on in each picture. All buzz and minuteness. You want an essence. One last, good memory. The funeral. Hello, Tom. Aunt Mary. A picnic. Delivering your first baby: super nurse. No. Something better. Light. Music. Midsummer."

It is in passages such as these that the true essence and power of The Saint Louisans comes to the forefront.

Libraries and readers looking for literary works that capture the beating heart of transformation on many different levels, tinged with an unexpected icing of humor that emerges at different moments in the process, will find The Saint Louisans an excellent read.

Naples Secrets in the Sun
Alan Bianco
Meaning of Life Press, Inc.
9798987314708, $15.95 Paper/$7.99 Kindle

Naples Secrets in the Sun: As Uncovered by an Inquisitive Uber Driver takes a ride into a retired Florida lawyer's decision to become an Uber driver - in the midst of the COVID pandemic, when the nation was shut down and sheltering in place. The clients he experienced and the vivid stories he gathered from this experience make for an exploration of Florida like no other.

From byways and the culture of the rich and retired to the unique stories of and encounters with passengers who navigated the city of Naples and Collier County, Florida, Alan Bianco crafts the kind of vivid tale that is anything but staid and familiar when one thinks of their impressions of that state.

'Counterculture' and 'Florida' would seem disparate connections, but both entwine in a satisfyingly colorful, lively collection of Uber-driven experiences that are accompanied by snippets of wisdom on "the meaning of life."

These notes aren't just spiritual in nature. They offer cultural, historical, and social references that prove keys to understanding the meaning of life in Florida rather than the generalities of life in an existential milieu.

From local hangouts (Naples being "the land of the thousand restaurants") and the city's popularity among the elite (thanks in part to Uber, maintains Bianco) to the riots that rocked the nation during 2020 and how national trends were bucked in the more polite Naples society ("...the "riots" that occurred in Naples were kept to a minimum and were non-hostile. One day, about 180 "defund the police" protestors "politely" marched on Tamiami Trail for a few hours. There was also a two-day protest on Immokalee Road, where about ninety protestors displayed homemade signs and politely chanted anti-Trump slogans for an hour or so before going home."), Florida's culture in general and Naples' responses, byways, and personalities in particular come to life.

The result combines a cultural and social inspection with a lively travelogue that weaves connections between history and personal observation.

Libraries and readers looking for inviting stories that capture the times of the COVID lockdown in a state that harbors a very different atmosphere from that presented in the typical news report of the times will find Naples Secrets in the Sun a rollicking blend of cultural and social inspection that Florida typically does not receive.

The Healer's Miraculous Discovery
Stephen Robbins
Independently Published
9781667865614, $18.27 Paper/$6.49 Kindle

What does it mean to discover a power that mandates one not only utilize it for the greater good, but capitalize on its presence and meaning?

The Healer's Miraculous Discovery is a novel of fantasy and life possibilities that revolves around young Stevie Katz's discovery of an object in his parents' store that gives him extraordinary healing abilities. The unexpected power he exhibits leads others to herald him a kind of savior - an illusion that he begins to embrace himself as he moves away from the idea that his abilities come from other than his newfound inherent divinity.

At first Steve protests the charge that he represents some kind of miracle: "I can't explain it," Steve said as his face reddened. "There must be an explanation, but I don't have it, and as I said, if you want me to tell you I'm some messenger from God to save you all... that would be dishonest, and I can't do that to you."

The process by which he comes to convince himself that he harbors just such a blessing pairs with a growing conviction that, in actuality, his life purpose is to save a self-destructing society from itself. And so he embarks on a televangenlical pursuit as an adult which warps an odd chance discovery into an opportunity to change the turbulent milieu of the 1960s.

Stephen Robbins presents a likeable character as flawed by his own miracle as he is by his perception of his role and influence. As he tackles conventions, tries to save the world, and finds himself in over his head, Steve's questioning of self and social purpose translates to a second chance in life not only for others touched by his unique miracle, but for himself.

The social, spiritual, and philosophical ramifications of Steve's life make for a sci-fi read that incorporates bigger-picture thinking into its plot. Readers who look for tales that begin with individual experience but blossom into broader quests for truth and life meaning will find the questions raised in The Healer's Miraculous Discovery to be thought-provoking. Book clubs looking for many discussion points relating to miracles and transformations will find many options for group debate.

The Healer's Miraculous Discovery is highly recommended for libraries looking for crossovers between sci-fi and fictional representations of personal and social change. Its plausible possibilities create many insights and reflections that readers won't see coming:

"Steve tried his best to provide a warm thanks for her hospitality, but inside he was offended by what he perceived as false, opportunistic, insincere, and predatory. He was also feeling something new - jealousy. For the first time, he saw things that made him realize that while he was struggling with building his own group, worried that he might offend someone, feeling that he had much more to offer, he had failed to see the opportunity for personal gain that others had exploited; he failed to capitalize on it."

Delilah Recovered
Amelia Estelle Dellos
Atmosphere Press
9781639885145, $16.99 Paper/$6.99 Kindle

Delilah Recovered blends fantasy with occult themes and explores the dilemma faced by Dee, an unemployed accountant facing financial ruin. When she discovers she's also a witch (after a pair of witch hunters attack her), this adds to her anxiety and angst as she is forced to accept her unusual heritage and its accompanying mandate to travel through time on a quest.

Dee's entire world turns upside down as she steps into the past and her own heritage, discovering new ways of viewing the world and her place in it.

The blend of historical inspection, fantasy, and even romance adds a full-bodied flavor to the plot that keeps readers guessing not only about outcomes and growth processes, but the actual genre of a story that deftly winds through disparate scenarios.

Ultimately, Dee walks into a world in which she is not a loser, but holds the powerful potential of protecting and saving the world ... if she is not too lost in her own confusion and identity crisis to grasp the power that was within her all along.

Amelia Estelle Dellos crafts a compelling story of a woman who encounters a series of obstacles to what she perceives as her role and objectives in life. These serve to revise her perceptions of reality itself as she faces a lynch mob, summons witch powers, and strives to save herself from her destiny and the power she has unleashed.

With handsome social worker Jonathan Berwick at her side, adding insights that spark growth and new realizations, Dee probes her own motivations and strengths:

"When something like this happens to a person, it can forever alter their lives. They can't get over it, or they work to get their life back to normal like it was before, or..." Jonathan paused.

"Or what?" Dee asked, unable to push down the rising anxiety building up in her tightening chest.

"Or it changes them, makes them stronger and braver than they ever were before," Jonathan said, leaning back in his chair.

"So, my options are my life is ruined forever, I can go back to the status quo, or I can become a hero?"

"Pretty much," he replied with a casual shrug.

Delilah Recovered proves a gripping blend of fantasy, romance, and coming-of-age story that follows an initially powerless woman into a position of strength and newfound responsibilities.

Libraries and readers looking for lively adventure reads that cross genres to incorporate elements from fantasy, history, and romance will welcome the intrigue and sense of discovery that's well developed in Delilah Recovered.

Fields Apart
J.N. Kelly
Rowe Publishing
9781644460184, $14.95

Middle grade readers looking for stories about baseball that blend elements of history and women's issues into the mix will find Fields Apart a fine study in sports and social concerns. It brings to life the milieu of Millie Bauer, whose family has just received notice that her brother is missing in the war.

In 1941, enlisting in the Army seemed to be a good move in many ways. But for Millie's family, already suffering from the loss of their father in an accident, it's another challenge that could add to the increasing losses the family has experienced over the years.

Millie is an avid baseball fan whose own pursuit of the sport gives her a respite from the trials of the world around her. Will it be enough to give her strength, with her brother's status so uncertain?

J.N. Kelly takes baseball interests to a different level in Fields Apart, injecting the themes of a girl interested in sports with the vivid social and political currents of the 1940s.

From Millie's challenges in entering a male-dominated sport at a time when girls did not play baseball to threats to the distraction that was able to move her mind away from her brother George and his fate, middle grade readers receive a vivid portrait of the 1940s as seen through Millie's perceptions of the changing times.

Kelly's injection of just the right degree of social and political inspection as it influences a young girl's life and coming of age makes for an especially vivid coverage of the issues and challenges of this era.

Libraries and young readers seeking a memorable story rooted in baseball, war, and a girl's coming of age in different ways will find Fields Apart an exciting contrast between times then and now, as well as an inspiring portrait of courage that plays out on many different levels and fields of realization.

Destiny's Daughter
Frances Altman
Apprentice House Press
9781627204231, $17.99 Paper/$6.49 ebook

Destiny's Daughter: Highlighting the life of Mary Edwards Walker, Maverick Suffragist, Doctor, and Medal of Honor Recipient: An Advocate for Women from Then to Now is the powerful biography of a woman who made a name for herself as a Civil War doctor and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor. It represents some fifty years of research into her life and writings, but Frances Altman weaves these facts into a riveting story that should be part of any women's history or biography collection.

From the very beginning, where Altman introduces Mary Edwards Walker and traces the roots of her fascination with Mary's life, readers receive lively connections between achievement and life philosophies that juxtapose the practicalities of being an advocate with intellectual observations:

"I acknowledge she practiced many of the principles I borrowed and used. Perhaps young women today may be in need of similar advice. For instance, she urged us to wear sturdy shoes if we are going to rally, march, or stand in a line. That sometimes it might be better to hold your tongue or listen."

Altman recreates Walker's life with the descriptive draw of fiction, giving her chronicle an animated feel from the very start:

"Mary Edwards Walker was a feisty, petite girl who loved to jump, run like a deer, and kick at rocks in the dirt as she walked along the Bunker Hill Road near her home. When no one was watching she was likely to pull up a handful of dandelions, blow their puffy tops away, and then nibble at the leaves, providing they were tender. She loved being out in the open air, playing pretend, or following her father around to watch him tinker with farm machinery."

This method of exploring Walker's life, world, and philosophy brings to life all the facets of coming of age as a young woman during these times, following Walker's early experiences, influences, and the unique perspectives on life she would adopt to not just survive, but thrive.

Walker's feisty, spirited countenance led her to be admired by men and women as she forged new roads in her life, administering to military personnel and civilians alike and cementing her reputation as a capable physician in a man's world.

While she operated as a military doctor, Walker was in effect a free agent - a civilian contact surgeon whose work resulted in less pay than the nurses under her. As she advocated for women's rights and health, rebutting suffragist leaders even as she promoted women's independence, readers will especially appreciate the dichotomy Walker represented both during her times and to modern young women.

Her resilience, ability to charm both sexes, and her spunky determination to right wrongs makes for a story that is inspirational, revealing, historically accurate, and emotionally compelling for modern women who would understand not just Walker's influence, but her times.

From the clothing she sewed and wore to her navigation of the confusing and conflicting social and political worlds of men and women, Destiny's Daughter provides a powerful examination of a woman's life, determination, and influences.

Ideally, Destiny's Daughter will be included in women's history and issues libraries, but will also be chosen for highlight and debate by book clubs interested in women's issues and biographies of early pioneers of women's rights who often refuted not just the status quo, but the methods and approaches of others who advocated for women.

It's especially timely, considering events of modern times, and gives all ages of reader guideposts for reconsidering their own approaches to advocacy and women's rights.

The Possibility of Everywhere
Beth Harkins
Atmosphere Press
9781639887026, $18.99

The Possibility Of Everywhere: Casablanca to Oklahoma City, Kathmandu to Timbuktu is a novel following the life of Cindy Hollingsworth, who receives a hard lesson early on, from her own father, that females are inconsequential in life.

It's a lesson she thoroughly refutes in her adult years as Cindy learns about other cultures, powerful figures (such as Isis, the Indian Kali, and Saint Teresa of Avila), and begins an examination of personal and gender empowerment that changes her ideas of self, her place in the world.

From the start, Beth Harkins adopts a tone of revelation and discovery, starting in 1953 Morocco, when Cindy first receives the message that her life and position are of little value. The story then moves into a milieu in which Cindy learns that, in fact, women can cultivate a unique brand of feminine power that holds the ability to heal and connect disparate individuals no matter their genders.

Also present from the start is a cosmopolitan perspective which has Cindy operating in different cultures, setting the stage for a transformative process that encourages her to accept her abilities and reflect them into the world.

Her acknowledgement of the impact of this transformation on those she loves, who may not understand, is particularly well presented:

"I thought about the email I'd received from Charlie at home in Oklahoma. Reading between the lines, I sensed how much he was entrenched in his familiar way of life. That's when I worried that both he and Abby, the two people I loved most in the world, might not grasp the ways our Western lifestyles strangle us and strangle the Divine Feminine. Pushing men and women to assume distorted masculine ways in the workplace and even at home. Often making us depressed or sick, unable to imagine another future. By living life entrenched in Western society and its demands, despite its benefits, Charlie and Abby might not be open to what was opening in me. The thought terrified me."

This example is only one strength to a story that explores not just one young woman's growth, but her choices and impact on society at large.

As she "sends shock waves to people she loves," Cindy juxtaposes connecting to inner wisdom and courage with navigating the changes to her family and relationships that these new ventures introduce. The complexity revolving around her newfound understandings and the decisions stemming from her travels and experiences makes for an engrossing read.

Libraries seeking novels about transformative growth, travel adventures, and new possibilities that stem from change will find The Possibility Of Everywhere intriguing. It's a solid recommendation for book clubs interested in women's literary explorations of growth, independence, and the impact of life stories on the greater world.

You Unique Little Thing!
Priya Ram
Independently Published
9798985818352, $12.99

You Unique Little Thing! offers picture book readers an uplifting lesson in kindness and self-confidence, and is highly recommended for read-aloud as well as for libraries interested in acquiring books that promote emotional and behavioral growth in the very young.

Simple, child-friendly illustrations accompany a story about routes to happiness and satisfaction, outlining the experiences of children who exhibit traits of trying their best, whether at fencing or cooking. Examples of achievement include a female weightlifter, a boy who loves to dance and works hard at improving his moves, and a female chef who makes mistakes, but uses them to forge ahead.

Each illustration of perseverance and success provides a lesson not only in self-confidence, but in pursuing one's unique love of life regardless of gender, expectations, and the influences of others.

The result is an inspirational collection of children realizing their aspirations and talents. Parents and adults who choose You Unique Little Thing! for read-aloud and discussion will find it a winning lesson in positive thinking.

Why Hearts Keep Secrets
Mara Purl
Bellekeep Books, LLC
9781936878239, $18.95 softcover/$9.99 ebook

Why Hearts Keep Secrets is the third novel of the Milford-Haven series, which also includes novellas that extend the saga. It will be best enjoyed by prior readers of the story, as the characters and plots built in previous books are continued and further expanded in this novel.

The 'Milford-Haven' name may sound familiar to even those who have not seen the previous books. That's because the radio drama which first aired in the U.S. in 1987 reached overseas to pique the interest of the BBC, which aired it in the 1990s under the name 'Milford-Haven, USA'. The soap opera took off, capturing the feelings, experiences, and milieu of small-town America. This latest addition to the series will delight listeners and readers who harbor their own special affection for this environment, the dramas that evolve behind closed doors, and the particular seduction that comes from entwining lives and relationship dilemmas.

While the books may be read out of sequence, the special delight of this series lies in its special form of unraveling the complexities of a myriad of secrets kept by various residents. This story opens with Senior Deputy Delmar Johnson's date with a ghost. That's right - it's a visage from the past that haunts him through recurring nightmares and the unresolved mystery of the disappearance of broadcast journalist Christine Christian, whose body has never been recovered, but who almost certainly is dead.

Recent facts seem to refute this notion, but Delmar persists in his certainty that Chris is not alive. As his investigation proceeds, a host of other Milford-Haven characters emerge with their own special dramas, from newly successful artist Miranda Jones's increasing discomfort over her love relationship (which seems to rest on a foundation of uncertain secrets) to Samantha Hugo's own close-held secret that threatens to be exposed.

Indeed, secrets threatened and unfolding are one theme of a small-town story in which each of the characters navigates uncertainty and oddities that shake their public personas and inner convictions: "Everyone in the story had rights; but no one seemed to have achieved a happy ending."

Mara Purl's multifaceted probe into these disparate lives and the community connections which keep threatening to reveal their most intimate underpinnings makes for a thoroughly engrossing story.

Newcomers do receive both an introduction to the environment and a list of characters at book's end, which will help them move smoothly into the small town's people and history. However, Why Hearts Keep Secrets will likely prompt new readers to turn to the previous books to gain a fuller sense of the milieu and drama underlying this community.

Libraries seeking books strong in emotional twists, community relationships, and small town politics and people will find no better acquisition than Why Hearts Keep Secrets, which cements all with a soap opera's ability to highlight private lives and public consequences with equal strength.

The mysteries underlying these experiences will keep readers engrossed and often guessing about possible outcomes as characters drawn into disparate dramas lose track of their goals and find their lives careening into unexpected territory.

Catch IT in the Moment
Lauren Meehan
Creative Book Writers
9781959532118, $19.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle

"If you have a pet and a garden, you already have everything you need to be happy."

Catch IT in the Moment is a celebration of pets that captures the intersection between pet photography and written word. It comes from a pet enthusiast who reveals both the source of her passion for pets and the influence they have had on her life.

Pet lovers won't expect the extent of revelations incorporated into this celebration as it moves from bios of memorable pets to bigger-picture thinking:

" thing that helps keep one on the move is a healthy inflow of inspiration. Find it, and if you can't, be a source of it. Keep a new inspiration horizon and find little things that give you happiness, and you will be surprised by how lively the days become ... I can't describe the warmth I feel while talking about these lessons I learned while pursuing my passion. And a glance at the past makes me even more excited about the future. It makes me ponder about what's to come and the lessons to be learned from them. Each morning I have blinds of positive thoughts that circle me and pump blood to every corner of my conscience. And that what, I guess, passion does to you - makes you feel alive."

From unconventional dreams to the special challenges of capturing pets who like to be always on the move, this blend of life philosophy and pet photography will prove surprisingly accessible to a wider audience than either photography or pet books typically reach.

Readers and libraries interested in thoughts about life's meaning, the efforts of capturing animals in action, and the emotional connections animals represent (which often translate to poses that influence the photographer's eye) will find Catch IT in the Moment a captivating exploration not just of the mechanics and choices of pet photography, but the driving force of love on career and life choices:

"I worked at a doggy daycare, signed up for a cleaning company, and continued to do it to assure a steady income. But, even with all these hurdles, leaving photography at any cost is analogous to the worst of my nightmares. Because, you know, some actions don't really have logic; they rely solely on magic."

Catch IT in the Moment is simply exquisite, both in its color pet images and the equally powerful written reflections of pet enthusiast Lauren Meehan.

The Church of the Lighted Window Volume I: Denial
Anthony Faggioli
Atticus Creative, Inc.
9781733101868, $3.99 ebook

The Church of the Lighted Window Volume I: Denial is Christian fiction at its best and follows Kyle Getty, who was a successful man until his brutal assault on a bully. Assigned to undertake therapy at the Fallbrooke Mental Institution, he finds his fellow clients are those who have lost their minds in different ways, from Alzheimers to schizophrenia. Each holds their own beliefs and pursuits, and each finds at Fallbrooke an environment in which they can hopefully face their fears and forge a way past them.

It's no different for Kyle, who takes the opportunity and the decidedly odd environment as a reason to more closely examine not just his innate pain and responses to life, but his entire belief system.

As it surveys the meaning of life, Kyle's journey is hard-hitting from the start:

"At some point, everyone arrives at the same wasted opinion. Life is life. You live it, and then you die. My problem was that one day I woke up and thought that this must be all wrong. Not in any deep way, but in a gritty, cold sort of way. I imagined what it would be like to taste the air of your last breath on this earth and what a horror it would be to do so while you knew it was happening. What now? How did it come to this? A cool bed. Arms at your side. Alone or with family all around, but alone either way because you were the one dying. And then I thought of all the people who pass away, each day, and it occurred to me that most of them are aware. They are. And those arrows of regret, dismay, and disbelief at what is finally happening to them are piercing them at all angles."

The tone cultivated in The Church of the Lighted Window ranges from that of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (as far as the variety of inmates and their mixed ailments and perceptions of the world) to a spiritual reflective piece about awareness, life purpose, and the different methods of pursuing freedom and truth: "I realized that perhaps this was why; because music opened the rusty gates in me and freed me, always, either from the silence of my own skull or the endless sound of my ricocheting thoughts. And it was a freedom that I did not want. Yet."

The philosophical and emotional undercurrents that carry Kyle through this new world of self-inspection are presented with a thought-provoking sense of revelation: "One word. One syllable. Words are the most incredible of things. We can ascribe to them any measure of heaven or hell by the realities they carry to us. My children were not here. I was lost. All in one word."

From definitions of heaven and hell to the clarion call of change, Kyle finds his experience transformative, inducing a form of growth and forcing him into self-inspections he'd never made before.

The result is a powerful foray into illness, redemption, and belief that introduces God's influence in unexpected ways and unfamiliar milieus.

Christian readers and libraries catering to them will find The Church of the Lighted Window Volume I: Denial lends not only to individual reading and reflection, but to group discussion; especially for Christian literature readers interested in stories that are spiritually and psychologically thought-provoking.

The Call of Jeremiah McGill
Joseph Moore
Gatekeeper Press
9781662919350, $9.99 Paper/$4/99 ebook

The Call of Jeremiah McGill is a novel set in 1970s Missouri in the small town of Cape Creek, where the eleven-year-old black son of a pastor stands on the cusp of many changes.

Between the turbulence in society, his father's idea of what his future should be, and his own growing confusion over his faith and destiny, Jeremiah McGill finds too many questions and opportunities in store for his future.

The opening feel of the story is akin to the care that Harper Lee took in building the atmosphere of To Kill A Mockingbird. The same close attention to small-town details, a preteen's evolving eye for the adult world and his place in it, and the surprising changes that come from friendships suddenly changed makes for a study in shifting perspectives that is every bit as astute and compelling as Lee's classic.

In this case, the intersection of black and white communities assumes a special air of discovery as events bring them together in unexpected ways:

"I have never seen so many saints looking at our visitors. Most of us hadn't been to a white church before, nor had we seen how white people behaved in such settings. Judging by what we'd seen on them Catholic shows, they were more reserved when it came to praising the Lord, but not Mr. Helderman. He gave more hallelujahs and amens than some of the saints who had been there for years."

The history which brings church and community in sync with a young boy's life stemmed from Joseph Moore's own experiences. Perhaps this is why the story feels particularly realistic and rich in its observations and representations of a young boy who at first resists, then steps into his role as he becomes a force to be reckoned with, both socially and spiritually.

Libraries and readers interested in coming-of-age works that hold the compelling story of finding one's place in a faith-based family during a hectic time of social change will find The Call of Jeremiah McGill a powerful tale that captures a 'Preacher Kid' and his world in a compelling manner that brings his times, choices, and perspective to life.

Molly Shipton, Secret Actress
Sheri Graubert
Clear Fork Publishing
9781950169825, $16.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

Molly Shipton, Secret Actress will attract teen readers interested in historical fiction, drama, and stories about feisty sisters. Molly and her younger sister Juliet lose everything in a plague that hits England in 1598. They leave their plague-threatened home in Bitford-Upon-Avon to eventually make their way to London, disguised as boys to avoid capture by Mr. John Barnes, who wants to use them for free labor. His reputation for abuse is widely known, and so the girls are motivated to undertake a dangerous journey in a bid for freedom and new lives.

From the start, Sheri Graubert is adept at portraying a world transformed by plague, and its personal impact on Molly and Juliet's young lives: "They sold every valuable thing in the house for food, apart from Molly's lute and the silver locket. They burned every wooden thing for heat: the stools, the plates, even the table."

When Molly becomes an actor in one of Shakespeare's plays, she unwittingly becomes a star. The deep secret of her gender must be preserved at all odds, because in this era, women and girls are forbidden from professional pursuits.

As her acting abilities catch the eye of the young bard and writer Shakespeare, Molly becomes an unwitting muse which may inspire some of his works. Because she not only looks like a boy, but falls into her role, her world changes again, transformed by new connections that build not just a different family around her, but which is changed by her secret and newfound abilities.

Sheri Graubert crafts a compelling, inspirational story based on history that covers the social and political tides of the times. Her attention to building atmosphere and influences upon young girls lends to a thoroughly engrossing story that is vividly presented and hard to put down.

The attention to fulfilling aspirations against all odds is particularly inviting and uplifting, creating a history which stands out for teen readers. Libraries looking for strong works of historical fiction for this age group will find Molly Shipton, Secret Actress an excellent acquisition.

Rebels in Pisa
Ken Tentarelli
Independently Published
9798985662443, $26.00 Hardcover/$4.99 Kindle

Rebels in Pisa is a historical mystery that presents the fifth book in the Nico Argenti series, combining intrigue with the political atmosphere of Renaissance Italy in 1465. Nico and his fellow Florentine Security Commissioners conceal their identities to work undercover with the Pisan loyalists, trying to identify their rebel leader before he fosters an insurrection.

Many clues are presented as Nico races against time to not only identify the leader, but stop the tide of events that threaten the security and safety of Florence and its leaders.

As Nico becomes privy to the thoughts and perceptions of ordinary men, readers learn about the economic, social, and political undercurrents of Pisa during these times:

"You asked about Pisans with animosity toward Florence. Yes, there are men who say Pisa should reclaim its independence. You have only to listen to the business owners and the men who cannot find work to hear their resentment. They don't hide their beliefs. They voice their complaints openly."

The dialogues, political and social observations, and trials and accusations that emerge immerse Nico and his readers in a series of conflicts that portray the simmering siege and tidal changes of Pisa, Florence, and the Renaissance era.

Ken Tentarelli brings these conflicts to life, staying true to both history and mystery as Nico delves deeper into a quagmire of opposing beliefs about Pisa's place in the world.

His dual attention to building atmosphere and presenting historical facts makes for an especially compelling work that needs no prior introduction to Nico's life and position from previous books in order to prove completely accessible to newcomers.

As Nico experiences courtroom victories that are accompanied by disturbing revelations and ongoing puzzles, readers will find his story engrossing and packed with unexpected twists and turns.

Libraries and readers seeking exceptional attention to the development of both historical foundations and an underlying mystery that shakes the political and social structure of Renaissance Italy will welcome the fast pace and insights that Rebels in Pisa employs to involve readers in the times through Nico's investigative savvy and eyes.

Karen DeBonis
Loyola University Maryland / Apprentice House Press
9781627204354, $19.99 Paper/$6.49 Kindle

Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived is a memoir about parenting, health challenges, and the process of fighting for a child's life.

When her son Matthew was eight, he developed an odd tic which evolved into other symptoms that mother Karen DeBonis found alarming. Her efforts to alert her husband and Matthew's pediatrician that something was wrong fell on deaf ears, as neither wanted to accept that Matthew could be facing a dangerous health condition at such a young age.

Years passed before a frightening diagnosis was obtained; but even then, DeBonis found herself constantly in the position of advocating for her son's treatment and recovery.

DeBonis is especially adept at charting the changes to relationships that Matthew's trials introduced: "I'd rarely seen my father cowed and apologetic. He looked vulnerable, and I wanted to yell at him again. In a flash of anger, our relationship experienced a subtle shift. I had become less his little girl and more Matthew's mom."

DeBonis is candid in both her self-assessment of her abilities and how far she will go to pursue options for Matthew:

"Some moms travel the globe in search of treatment or a cure for their sick child ... I was not that mom. I wasn't a world traveler, and my sense of direction was so bad, I didn't trust myself to navigate a big city. What good would I be to Matthew if we both got lost? Plus, I wouldn't intentionally abandon Stephen to move away with his older brother, even temporarily. Maybe if Matthew needed to relearn how to speak and walk and eat, I'd have hopped on the nearest bus to Timbuktu. But he didn't, so I wouldn't. We had to make this work on our own turf."

Any mother who has faced a child's illness and is called upon to be proactive in ways she never has before, in environments she is both familiar and unfamiliar with, will find in Growth a powerful set of examples on how motherhood can be tested. A mother can experience growth from all kinds of events, even from one's own child.

The eye-opening revelations of disparate sources of growth that come from within, one's children, and life itself makes for a story that embraces the wellsprings of strength, revised perceptions, and choices in taking different courses of action not just for a child's sake, but for the family as a whole.

More than a memoir about living with a tumor and handling medical challenges, it's a saga of personal transformation and resilience that will resonate with any parent charged with acting in their child's best interests, against all odds.

Libraries and readers seeking thought-provoking additions to parenting collections will find Growth not only suitable for personal enlightenment, but a fine recommendation to book clubs looking for memoirs about parenting, health advocacy, and growth.

B. D'Amato
Atmosphere Press
9781639887705, $17.99

Triskele is a novel of psychological growth that covers the journey undertaken by ten-year-old Paul, whose flight from his dysfunctional family leads him to abandon his younger sister Bethany in an effort to save himself.

Decades later, the separated siblings reunite under the care of a psychotherapist dedicating to rebuilding their relationship with each other and their estranged father. It's a momentous effort that holds growth implications and threats to the psyches of all three clients.

The story opens in 1963 in White Plains, where Paul and his younger sister Bethany enjoy a supportive relationship. Bethany admires her older brother ("Paulie doesn't have imagination, but he has everything else that makes him my best big brother in the whole world."), but his decisions drive them apart in ways neither could have anticipated or changed.

Decades later, Beth has blocked off much of her childhood memories of abuse. Even therapist Lillian, whose goal is to encourage her clients to talk to a non-judgmental listener, finds that Beth's deep-rooted traumas are difficult, challenging her own professional distance and ability to serve as an uninvolved therapist.

D'Amato is especially skilled at illustrating these therapy sessions and their choices and revelations:

"Beth had said a great deal. Any new material was usually presented as factual, with very little feeling. With subsequent retellings, more and more feelings arose. It made sense. Ultimately, Beth would be able to connect the feeling with the memories. The precise time when she would integrate her words with the right feelings would be under Beth's control. There was no prodding. Again, Lillian understood. Why would anyone want to know or remember how terrible it felt to be a powerless young girl living with inescapable abuse?"

As the story and relationships progress, the healing process receives central focus in a memoir of acceptance, love, confrontation, and healing.

Libraries and readers seeking powerful psychological inspections of family relationships gone awry and the process of confronting and saving them will find Triskele the compelling story of a therapist caught in the middle between her own beliefs about what is true and the disparate experiences and perceptions of her clients.

As much as it will prove a compelling psychological revelation to individual readers, Triskele holds much food for thought and discussion for not only book club circles, but in psychological groups where clients, therapists, and approaches to family treatment are of interest.

Jana's Brightly Coloured Socks
Sally Fetouh
Independently Published
978064542190-3, $11.99 (Paperback)/ $19.99 (Hardback)

Jana's Brightly Coloured Socks follows the life of young Jana, who has just learned how to put on her socks herself. To celebrate her achievement, her parents have bought her a drawer of colorful socks. Now the challenge becomes: which one to choose each day?

Jana enjoys a wide circle of friends because she is special in more than one way, and they both understand her abilities and celebrate her victories.

Sally Fetouh's story of friendship, support, inclusiveness builds from Jana's connections to her giving nature and the widespread, unexpected results of her generosity.

Like ripples in a pond, Jana affects the world around her by not just her connections, but how she invites her friends and peers to participate in her celebration of life's colors and opportunities.

This very different story of a child with Down syndrome paints a loving, positive portrait of a girl whose attitude shines into the world around her, changing it for the better.

More than a story of colorful socks or achievement, it's a lesson in generosity and giving that ideally will be profiled by adults who want to go beyond lessons on acceptance, diversity, or differences to illustrate the benefits and approaches of being a giving person to one's peers.

Sally Fetouh's picture book enjoys colorful illustrations by Alexis Schnitger which bring to life a child's decision to share her delight with the world. The ripples of kindness this picture book supports will ideally be reinforced in various ways: by library acquisition, parental read-aloud, and young reader discussions.

Key Number 17
George P. Tymitz
Atmosphere Press
9781639887569, $18.99

Key Number 17: A Ukrainian Grandfather's Odyssey of Courage is a novel that brings to life the history and culture of the Ukrainian people. It deserves special attention during these modern times of the Ukrainian war and struggles as it brings to life the pre-Revolutionary Ukraine of 1905.

78-year-old Olek Creshenko's visit to his grandson in the hospital after teen Bobby is brutally beaten prompts Olek to teach his grandson about courage and resistance.

But, in order to do so, he needs to go back in time to confront his own demons and the forces that altered his life, forcing many impossible decisions that haunt him in his present-day life.

As Olek moves between the worlds of Chicago in the 1950s and 60s to events that changed and formulated his life in his homeland of Ukraine in the early 1900s, readers receive an engrossing contrast in social, political, and cultural conditions. These set the stage for a greater understanding of present-day events.

The relationship between the now-in-his-eighties grandfather and his grandson (who is now in his twenties) forms and is featured in a story that examines relationships between those of not only different generations, but different cultural experiences and influences.

It's ironic that Olek's own seven children don't help him in the way that Bobby does. But Olek has helped Bobby find his own special connections to courage and his heritage, even as Bobby now helps him navigate old age and increasing uncertainty about the world.

Readers anticipating that this novel will be about Ukraine history and experience alone might be surprised at the dovetailing of Ukraine's history with the equally powerful focus on how different generations connect, learn from one another, and receive support from past struggles that impart lessons to modern-day dilemmas.

George P. Tymitz draws important correlations between these life lessons and decisions and how they are perceived by different generations, adding elements of understanding to solidify and profile these disparate perceptions and experiences from the start:

"Olek had helped him understand the many ways in which he could find courage, in which he could have the confidence to defend himself in challenging interactions with others, in which he could finally have good feelings about himself. Likewise, Bobby had helped Olek understand the meanings of sad events which had occurred so many years ago and which had left the old man an emotional cripple and a hopeless alcoholic."

The journey Tymitz creates to more closely examine the wellsprings of these bonds, as well as the disconnects between Olek and his children, contribute to a powerful tale that is as much about learning to forge a life with courage, conviction, and honor as it is about events in Ukraine or their resonating impact on future generations in other countries.

It's rare that someone hands you the key to understanding courage. It's also rare to see an immigrant's story so strongly rooted in the progression and results of experiences and lessons that translate between generations, sometimes skipping a generation in the process.

Libraries seeking stories whose roots lie in Old Country Ukraine will find Key Number 17 is so much more than the usual immigrant's tale. Its compelling story of different generations that share a route to courage is hard to put down and worthy not just of individual reading, but book club profile:

"Robert," he said. "We help each other. Keep key with you always. Use it when you need reminder of who you are - a brave man, a good man. I am very proud of you. But remember, you must use key for good, never evil. I forget this on cold night in Kiev long ago, and all my life I suffer for my mistake."

Beyond the Shadows
DeAnn Daley Holcomb
Atmosphere Press
9781639887217, $14.99

Readers of crime thrillers will find Beyond the Shadows the study of a serial killer's impact on a Texas community that delves into a woman's personal connections to a dangerous murderer.

Dallas TV newscaster Claire is Dallas Police Homicide Detective Lance Harris's former girlfriend. She also holds special knowledge of a growing threat to the community as eight women are killed and the murder spree seems unstoppable.

The story opens with Jenny's impulsive move towards Jeremy, a stranger she meets in a bar. It's a choice that will cost her her life, adding to the string of victims that are marked by a Smiley Face sticker left by their shared attacker.

Detective Lance knows the media is stirred up into a frenzy, which translates to pressures to locate and lock up the perp before more victims emerge. When he discovers that his ex has some special knowledge of the situation, he also finds that this has placed her in the crosshairs of danger. Can he employ his investigative skills to solve the mystery and save her life?

Of course he will, thinks the reader. But, before this can happen, a series of unexpected events emerges to test Lance, Claire, and the reader's perception of crime, redemption, and problem-solving processes.

DeAnn Daley Holcomb cultivates a special attention to psychological entanglements on all sides. in which the crime serves as a backdrop to relationship changes and an impetus for change in more than one way.

Her story embraces Claire's family's special form of courtroom hell from the past, which impacts their relationships and lives in different ways: "No one ever knew what the truth was or what really happened. At family gatherings and on holidays, everyone tried to act like it was a happy time, but it wasn't."

Perhaps this is unwittingly the reason why she now is the pivot point in a maelstrom of struggle between two very different forces which affect the lives and psyche of Dallas and the women who are threatened by a serial killer's progression and elusive predatory ways. In this milieu, Claire becomes the focus of evil.

The realistic account feels all the more powerful because Holcomb is herself a television news journalist reporter who closely followed two serial killer murder trials.

Her background encounter with true evil and observations about crime, justice, and faith contribute to a story which evolves new revelations in all three areas, supplementing its mystery component with a close inspection of hope, love, and the motivations of perps and detectives whose lives intersect in unpredictable ways.

Libraries seeking murder mysteries steeped in interpersonal growth and revelations will find Beyond the Shadows a compelling journey.

Unconditional Power
Steven Gaffney
Rivertowns Books
9781953943088, $29.95 Hardcover/$6.99 Kindle

Unconditional Power: A Method for Thriving in Any Situation, No Matter How Frustrating, Complex, or Unpredictable offers an opportunity and a concept embedded in the idea of harnessing the power of mood. It is highly recommended for self-help readers and psychology group discussions.

Steven Gaffney links power to mood in a manner few other books have attempted, fostering the notion of 'unconditional power' as a personal energy source that holds unlimited potential, driven by mood swings. The core message here is that "your mood determines the amount of power you have."

If readers receive only one takeaway from this book, it's a powerful concept that, like nuclear fuel, promises an energy source that's renewable and unlimited - providing it can be understood and harnessed in an effective, enlightened manner.

Chapters evolve the concept, building a foundation of methodology that invites proactive readers interested in growth and change to consider the inner tools that are governed by moods and take charge of them.

The second biggest contention in this book, which drives its self-help strength, is that "...people don't usually realize how dramatically our mood impacts our power. When we are in a good mood, we make better decisions. We invest our energy in creative thinking rather than worrying or complaining. We see innovative solutions that others might miss. We take smart, calculated risks, knowing that big payoffs are possible. As a result, good things start to happen. All of this makes mood the most important key to achieving and exercising power."

It's not enough to create a theory, however. Unconditional Power first posits the power of change and adaptation, then follows through with case history examples and exercises that illustrate and cement the process of "calling up your past experiences of feeling and being Powerful, and using those to shape the images of your immediate future."

From work dynamics to interpersonal interactions, Gaffney's focus on the practical applications of a seemingly idealistic approach to life applies the method of tapping moods to the reality of adapting them in an upward-bound momentum. The examples, exercises, and contentions work together to build a lesson in positivity and empowerment that should be on the reading lists of anyone actively working to improve their lives.

Libraries and readers looking for self-help books which are powerful and accessible should consider Unconditional Power a 'must read' acquisition. Its promotion of personal power during a period of time in which individuals often feel disempowered by their reactions to life is nothing short of essential.

I Dream of Demigods
Alexa Sullivan
Wild Rose Press
9781509245833, $17.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook

The first book in a paranormal Law of Love romance series, I Dream of Demigods, introduces a steamy romance scene featuring handsome boss Alex from the first few sentences. Part of the attraction is physical and part is an unexpected emotional draw that adds icing to the cake of coworker love: "Listening and caring is just being decent. It shouldn't be shocking."

Readers thus are immersed in a scenario that smacks of sex but reeks of emotional connections, as well, as the story captures romance readers with the dual pull of physical and emotional strength.

As the story unfolds, the paranormal element also catches fire as readers learn that Ro Baird's passion awakens within her latent powers that allow her to access her magical potential with the help of a new familiar.

But, this isn't just a tale of love or magical growth, because Alex is actually a soul-stealing demigod from beyond. To such a being, emotional manipulation is more than a fine art - it's a way of life. Can Ro trust a being who is better versed in subterfuge than she will ever be?

Alexa Sullivan unfolds a dilemma that operates in many unexpected realms, going beyond either traditional romance or paranormal story evolution as Ro and Alex develop a special conjoined form of magic in an effort to thwart the underlying motives of Hades itself.

The undercurrent of ironic humor is reinforced by first-person explorations that introduce both intrigue and new possibilities. Each evolve in different directions than the seasoned romance or paranormal reader would anticipate:

"Just because Alex trusted Melanie didn't mean she was trustworthy. But I had power now, a way to suss out her true intentions. If only I could get closer to her. 'Can you give Elizabeth some kind of magical emergency that keeps her from being in that meeting at eleven? Food poisoning, maybe? Getting stuck in an elevator?'"

Technically, it's against company policy for Ro and Alex to entertain a romance. And it's also against the kinds of powers that govern each of their lives. But true love holds no barriers, and so Ro and Alex pursue each other and their individual passions through changed lives and milieus which are challenged by their relationship and underlying motives.

Sullivan's ability to embed the story with all kinds of personal revelations, twists, and romantic and psychic transformations makes for a vivid read that is cemented by Ro's first-person descriptions and the characters she interacts with.

Libraries and readers seeking a blend of paranormal and romance elements that each reach beyond the usual premises and psychological developments to produce something outside the norm will relish I Dream of Demigods for its ability to fly in the face of convention in a passionate, supercharged manner that evolves a rollicking good read.

UNDERGROUND: A Memoir of Hope, Faith and the American Dream
'Deji Ayoade
Independently Published
9798986587615, $23.95 Hardcover/$16.99 Paperback/$6.99 Kindle

If one book were to be chosen to illustrate the power of perseverance against all odds and the immigrant experience in America, it should be UNDERGROUND: A Memoir of Hope, Faith and the American Dream. While many immigrant memoirs hold these same themes, what sets 'Deji Ayoade's book apart from (and above) many others is his candid acknowledgement that this Nigerian "Logically, should never have arrived here."

By "arrived here," Ayoade refers not only to America and to a position of success, but to his powerful rise in the military to command a fleet of nuclear-armed missiles in the Air Force, and his leadership of the new United States Space Force.

These achievements are especially significant given Ayoade's family history, in which "seventy percent of men in my family never lived past forty years. Ninety percent never attended college, and ninety-five percent never left Nigeria."

Bucking the statistics on all sides is a man who attributes much of his success to his faith. But the meat of the story lies in how this all evolved, making UNDERGROUND a rich read as Ayoade traces the roots and enactment of his foundation belief that "every moment of our lives is connected to our future in one way or another."

Readers who follow Ayoade on his journey will find his faith-based experiences enlightening, inspirational, and thoroughly engrossing.

From his childhood and reconnection with his father to his hard work integrating into American principles and life, Ayoade pulls no punches as he candidly reveals the obstacles to success and the drive that promoted him upwards into achievement.

From confronting the darkness, anger, and bitterness that surrounded his family's reactions to his father's decisions to that father's insistence that a faith in God is never misplaced, Ayoade touches upon the wellsprings of not just perseverance, but a perspective that translates to leadership and achievement qualities in confronting life's obstacles.

Poetic reflections peppered throughout his story provide interludes and understanding as Ayoade navigates illness, alienation, family reconciliation, and his own faith.

Libraries and readers seeking stories not just of immigrant experiences in America and success, but of family ties and influences from afar, that continue as he forms his own family, will find UNDERGROUND: A Memoir of Hope, Faith and the American Dream a powerful memoir of not just achieving and living the American dream, but integrating it into a different culture and revised connections both on American soil and back in "the old country" of origin.

UNDERGROUND: A Memoir of Hope, Faith and the American Dream is especially recommended for African-American readers seeking reading group discussion points in powerful stories of self-inspection and hope.

Indigo Field
Marjorie Hudson
Regal House Publishing, LLC
9781646033256, $22.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Indigo Field is set in the rural South and follows what happens when two very different worlds unexpectedly collide - the worlds of retired white Colonel Randolph Jefferson Lee and an elderly Black woman grieving the murder of her niece by a white man.

An abandoned, ancient field that lies between them, "...tucked between the Cedar River and the monstrous pines of the Gooley Ridge," serves as an unexpected impetus for change and a meeting point for uncovering secrets of the past as these two disparate lives are thrown together by the circumstance of an auto accident.

The rich lilt of Southern dialogue, the intersection of Black and White communities, and the prejudices and assumptions that follow historical patterns of division are injected into a story as tumultuous in its characters' quiet realizations about hidden truths as it is about the interactions between these disparate worlds that coexist alongside one another:

"An old man stood before him, red-haired and freckled. Blue eyes searing. Face red as a boiled tomato.

'Pa died,' Rand said. If they hated Pa so much, that would surely make them happy.

'Drunk hisself to death, I reckon.'

'No, sir. No, sir. It was the Bartley Mine.' He stood up straighter. A mountain killed his pa. Not drink."

The characters that interact both within and outside their families and communities are powerfully depicted. Part of Marjorie Hudson's special ability includes an attention to detail that successfully winds history and precedent into present-day perceptions and lives:

" was 1954 when I come home from Baltimore. Supreme Court just ruled white schools are for colored too. I read it in the paper. I am on my new path, and it seems like the rest of the world is too. But sad old Poolesville is hardly there anymore. All our fine young Black men have moved North."

As each character confronts the secrets that shatter their carefully construed realities, readers are injected into the heart of Southern experience and perception in a manner that makes this novel sparkle with a powerful sense of place and heritage. This also makes the characters' disparate lives and hard decisions more understandable, as impossible situations test possible changes.

Indigo Field is set in the rural South, but that doesn't mean its people and dilemmas aren't accessible by Northerners. All who imbibe will find the rich loam of the Southern world to be a compelling draw that makes this story hard to put down and impossible to predict.

Libraries and readers seeking literary explorations of Southern heritage spiced with a touch of intrigue and mystery will find the communities and people portrayed in Indigo Field to be more than realistic. They nearly walk off the page to sit beside the reader with a fan and a glass of sweet tea in hand.

Love Like This
Cynthia Newberry Martin
Vine Leaves Press
9780645436570, $17.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook

Love Like This follows lives reinvented after they become child-free, considering what happens to one couple when they have finished their childrearing job and find themselves once again facing choices.

In an unexpected twist, each makes a decision to continue their lives not shared, but in different directions. Will quits his job in anticipation of staying home with Angelina. In turn, she quits her at-home position in favor of returning to work as a nurse.

After twenty-two years of set roles, each finds their new position both transformative and alienating as they encounter different people who threaten to revise their ideas of what retired life together will be.

Few novels follow post-childrearing dilemmas in long-term marriage as realistically and astutely as Love Like This. As each character considers safety, growth, and different perceptions of the world, whether they be together or grown apart, readers follow an evolutionary process which evolves from the small acts, decisions, and reactions of daily living: "This part, at least, seemed normal. Him outside by himself cooking on the grill. Angelina in the kitchen. Water that he made safe being put on the table. But he didn't make the water safe anymore."

The distance, revisions, and love that they feel for each other come to light as powerfully as the forces that threaten to drive them apart. After 22 years of connection, these come as almost a surprise. After 22 years of commitment, new revelations revise the bigger picture of these long-held connections: "She was the love of his life. But she wanted an empty house and he wanted to be in the house with her - with her wanting to be here with him. And he couldn't make her want that."

More than a predictable story of distancing, Cynthia Newberry Martin's odyssey is also a journey of coming together in revised ways. The small moments of giving and intimacy which forge innovative paths are delicately traced, creating moving moments which continually revise outcomes readers may anticipate, but which pause on the brink of unfolding.

The characters that are introduced to supplement the main characters in unusual ways are equally intriguing as they dance around and reinforce the couple's changes. The disparate viewpoints of the two are especially well contrasted.

Readers seeking a love story of a long-term marriage that faces internal and external forces of change will find Love Like This as rare as a ruby, as brilliant as a diamond, and as subtle as a series of small surprise gifts. Each unwraps into a different possibility, and each comes steeped in love explorations that carry characters and reader on unexpected journeys.

The fresh revelations about marriage will provide especially intriguing discussion points for both book clubs and groups discussing long-term marriage and growth.

O'Brien's Law
John McNellis
Hubbard House
9781736352519, $14.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook

Romance and thriller genre readers are in for a treat with O'Brien's Law, which deftly weaves elements of both into a story set in 1979 San Francisco, where Michael O'Brien works at the notable law firm Drummond, Upton and Ishwood. His latest case, a big-ticket suit over an inheritance, involves him in a crime that both profiles and tests his investigative skills as much as his legal prowess.

John McNellis provides a gripping story as Michael evolves from a brash new lawyer whose position in the firm and in his career is uncertain, to an investigator charged with locating missing estate money.

Always conflicted about not placing his career first, Michael is forced to set aside some of his boredom and personal flamboyance to embark on a serious matter that reaches out to test both his life and his romantic objectives.

In the course of discovering truths about the "loser" case he's been handed, Michael unexpectedly encounters truths about his own psyche and life pursuits which force him to grow in unexpected ways.

McNellis is adept at portraying increasing threats that test the psyches of not only Michael, but Marybeth Elliott and others who may not have intended the results they achieve in protecting their special interests, hearts, and lives. Swift action combines with intrigue and romance as Michael faces threats to Marybeth and his own career, suddenly coming to realize that both matter more than he'd thought.

Shaken from his boredom and flighty ways, Michael finds his passion both romantically and in his job as he pursues truths that threaten to both elude and crush him.

From the evolution of "difficult man" Knox to the possibilities of murder, an accidental death, and Marybeth's increasing involvement in Michael's life, McNellis presents a novel of growth, intrigue, and special interests which blends legal and thriller elements in an unexpected manner.

Readers interested in stories that embrace elements of love and adversity alike will find O'Brien's Law a gripping study in revised life approaches and a young man's real coming-of-age test of not just maturity, but ethics and love.

Peace & Health
Charles Barber
Community Health Center & OctoberWorks
9781959262008, $19.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Peace & Health: How a Group of Small-Town Activists and College Students Set Out to Change Healthcare adopts a "yes we can" attitude over the elephant in American society - a lumbering healthcare system that most admit is broken, but few feel can be repaired.

The premise behind one community's actions is basic: health care is not a privilege, but a right that should be equally affordable by all. The story of how various ordinary individuals in one community joined forces to enact this vision on their own turf makes for not just inspirational reading, but a set of blueprints on how a series of disparate people and diverse actions reinforce this principle in one community's healthcare system.

From a 22-year-old Middletown, Connecticut man who has no money or connections, but literally walks into a vacant downtown storefront to create his dream of a clinic, to the problems faced by those who have no healthcare or management background, this story follows the construction of an impossible dream.

From the start, Charles Barber acknowledges the daunting reality of enacting this vision: "In many ways, Mark Masselli's vision was a terrible idea. Building a free clinic for the poor in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1972 was an impractical, even absurd, goal for a number of reasons."

The real joy to this story is how practicality is set aside in the pursuit of an "impossible" dream, and how it comes to fruition through the advocacy and actions of ordinary individuals.

As the case histories unfold, various residents face many social changes and obstacles to their dream. They also face daunting challenges on how to address changing health concerns that range from the crack epidemic to AIDS.

Barber's ability to juxtapose the financial and physical challenges of building a clinic to its social challenges in remaining viable and responsive to changing community needs is the special strength of a story packed with biographical insights and social inspection. These not only provide practical assessments of community makeup and response, but chart the typical obstacles healthcare faces in remaining both relevant and affordable to all.

Packed with black and white articles and photos that reinforce community history and issues, the visuals nicely compliment the heart of this exploration.

Libraries and readers interested not just in healthcare advocacy, but the process of reinventing a system from the microcosm of building a clinic and pathways to using it will find Peace & Health not just idealistic and inspiring, but practical in charting routes to achieving community goals.

Ideally, Peace & Health will be enjoyed by a wide audience, from those interested in grassroots social change to participants in the existing American healthcare system who have a vision for creating something greater than it is now.

Oliver Stone's Flim-Flam
Fred Litwin
NothernBlues Books
9780994863065, $18.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle

Oliver Stone's Film-Flam: The Demagogue of Dealey Plaza adds to the growing literature about the JFK assassination, debunking the contentions of Oliver Stone's 2021 documentary series on the subject, JFK: Destiny Betrayed.

The constant back-and-forth dialogues over what really happened may feel redundant all these years later, but as Fred Litwin points out, they actually are as important as uncovering the truth behind what happened, because the drive to reinvent history is motivated by social belief and systems that change over time.

This analysis reconsiders the contentions posed by Oliver Stone, taking a step-by-step re-look at the processes, findings, and the evidence surrounding the JFK examination.

From photos of evidence to excerpts of testimony, Fred Litwin points out where and how Stone's conclusions were completely off-track, cementing these contentions with evidence from the house select committee on assassinations (HSCA) and the ARRB studies and the case itself.

From how bad Stone's documentary film really was to evidence it ignored in the process of making its case, Litwin provides not just another JFK study, but a consideration of how facts, legal processes, and social observation can work against the truth when it conveniently ignores pieces of evidence that don't fit the bigger picture being constructed.

Why should modern readers care about yet another survey of the JFK experience? Because, ultimately, Stone's works shake the foundations of American democracy, painting a picture of forces at work behind the scenes which Litwin points out as fictional, setting a dangerous precedent for undermining the system as a whole: "According to Stone and DiEugenio, the United States since the assassination has been on a militaristic trajectory that can only be rectified by revealing the truth about the JFK conspiracy and its cover-up."

As he probes the historical, social, and political significance of Stone's contentions, Litwin creates a study of film influence and media involvement that also adds important themes of how reality is represented, reinvented, dramatized, or twisted.

These elements make Oliver Stone's Film-Flam recommendable beyond the usual books devoted to the truth of JFK's murder, reaching into media studies and film history programs and students. This audience is encouraged to consider how media translates facts and theories into stories that draw audiences, change hearts and minds, and impact social and political landscapes in modern times.

These elements make Oliver Stone's Film-Flam highly recommended reading for media studies and social issues students, who will find within it much fodder for thought and group debate and discussion.

The Horoscope Writer
Ash Bishop
CamCat Books
9780744309300, $25.99 Hardcover/$20.99 Paper

The Horoscope Writer is amateur sleuth and writer Bobby Frindley, a former athlete forced to rise above his talents (and pay grade) when he receives a series of horoscopes that task him with taking actions to choose whether either only one or all of their dark portents will come true.

In this way, Bobby becomes both perp and investigator as he seeks to uncover the identity of the horoscope writer, navigating the uncertain waters of making decisions that will dovetail with and direct their deadly outcomes.

Ash Bishop immerses the story with grisly detective investigations and their powerful outcomes from the start. The first chapter holds the future outcome, but the second reveals how Bobby becomes part of this dangerous legacy, following his forays into worlds of romance, employment, and danger - none of which he is especially adept at navigating.

Horoscopes often give clues to Libra Bobby's life and future. In this case, the directions they point in, whether they are his evolving relationship with Star or the nuances of a dead-end job that holds some surprising keys to predicting his future, are ones that many readers won't see coming. His mercurial involvement with married friend Sarah assumes the same cloak of uncertainty as his career and life.

Bobby isn't intrinsically a savvy person, whether in love or career. His flaws lend to both a realistic story and questions of how he will incorporate the demands of a murder investigation into the life he is building for himself.

The juxtaposition of questions on whether predictions really are coming true or if Bobby has any influence over his own actions and choices lends a particularly intriguing component to the usual investigative puzzle, giving The Horoscope Writer a touch of philosophical and psychological power not often seen in whodunit plots.

Libraries and fans of amateur sleuth stories containing characters that are driven and motivated by their own life progression and the heavy hand of fate to investigate murderous situations beyond their ken or control will find The Horoscope Writer filled with realistic scenarios and satisfying twists.

Vivienne in Paris
Maria Castellucci Moore
Mascot Kids!
c/o Mascot Books
620 Herndon Parkway, #320, Herndon, VA 20170
9781637551431, $19.95 Hardcover

The picture book story Vivienne in Paris follows the daily life of a young Parisian girl who experiences the delights of the famous city, bringing young readers along for a vicarious journey.

Emanuela Mannello illustrates Maria Castellucci Moore's story with an eye to translating Vivienne's observations in a way that all young readers can enjoy, whether or not they have any prior knowledge of or interest in Paris.

Vivienne's first-person story introduces a surprise: she has undertaken a journey through her familiar city home and discovered new aspects of it that she wants to share with her young audience.

One of these surprises lies in how Vivienne not only observes those around her, but interacts with them. An early example is the time she takes to visit with her grand-pere as he sits on a park bench reading his newspaper. His query to her invites readers to also partake of an emotional self-assessment and trip down memory lane: "Vivienne," my grandfather asked, "do you remember a time when you felt most alive, full of spirit, zestful, and sparkling with enthusiasm?"

Papy invites her to "...ride through Paris, go to your usual favorite places, but this time, take notice of what your heart and body tell you."

As this idea takes root and is reflected in especially rich experiences that connect emotions with environment, read-aloud adults receive the perfect opportunity to interact with the young to invite readers to consider their own connections to the world in different ways.

As Vivienne encounters shopkeepers and assembles gifts to bring back from her discoveries, readers also receive lessons in sharing, generosity, and living in the moment in more mindful ways.

The result is more than a travelogue about Paris. It explores a young girl's place in the world and how she can interact with and share it. Vivienne in Paris represents the perfect opening lines to an approach to life that adults will want to discuss and reinforce with kids ages 4-8.

Yasuko and the Dream Eater
A. Kidd
Quiet Storm Publishing, LLC
9781733899246, Hardcover $19.99/Paperback $12.99/eBook $3.99

Marcia Misawa illustrates A. Kidd's picture book story, which is inspired by a Japanese legend about a dream eater. Misawa's delicate art brings to life Yasuko, her grandmother, and the hungry dream eater that has its eyes on her most precious dreams. Yasuko taps the dream eater for help in consuming her nightmares.

There's only one problem: the dream eater doesn't discriminate about which dreams it will consume. In Yasuko and the Dream Eater, the creature is not satisfied by consuming just what Yasuko wants it to eat. When its appetite remains unsatisfied, it threatens to continue consuming everything she likes to dream about, too. But the tale is more than one of a young girl who finds a way to combat bad dreams and preserve good ones.

The contrast between Yasuko's life visiting her grandmother in Japan and her home in America, her discovery that "different" is not necessarily bad, and her redefinitions of bad and good as a whole provide underlying themes that will appeal to adults seeking picture book stories that reinforce multicultural experiences and the process of adopting new life perspectives and skills.

From origami to the different loving rituals a Japanese grandmother has for her granddaughter, Yasuko and the Dream Eater explores problem-solving at its best, in which a young girl must identify the real problem and the best way to resolve it to preserve all her dreams.

Another powerful note to this story: Marcia Misawa makes her dream eater interesting, not frightening. This attention to detail allows access by the very young and parents who seek to educate kids, not scare them.

Libraries and adults looking for multicultural stories that explore being part of two different cultures will find that Yasuko and the Dream Eater gives rise to many discussion points and insights.

Kep Westguard Rebel Spy
Eileen Schnabel
Wonder Jumps Press
9781733868129, $7.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle

Kep Westguard Rebel Spy is a historical time-travel piece that follows thirteen-year-old Kep Westguard's unexpected involvement in the Battle of Saratoga.

He arrives in 1777 just days before the battle takes place, infiltrates the British camp, and discovers that his grandfather is part of a scheme to assure that the battle win goes to the British.

Prior readers of Kep Wesguard's time-travel history encounters in 1775 (One If By Land, Two If By Submarine) will find the same attention to bringing American history to life is present here, as Kep comes to realize his involvement in a mystery will prove the pivot point of a battle to preserve American democracy ... if he can escape being discovered and hung for spying.

Eileen Schnabel utilizes a vivid storyteller's eye to flavor her story with adventure and action, bringing history to life and adding a delightful specter of a timeline gone awry as Kep tries his best and considers the impact of failure:

"He'd entered Burgoyne's tent planning to confirm nothing had changed, confident he had been right to come alone, confident that history was on track and Fox had done nothing to change the time-stream. Instead, as he left the tent, he was sure something big had changed. But he was clueless what that something was. Or the best way to figure that key information out. It was like a test question and Kep had gotten a fat, red checkmark: wrong answer."

At stake is his future and American liberty itself.

Readers will absorb historical facts about this key battle and its times without even realizing their education, because the key components of the action lie in the unfolding choices all characters make that will determine the state and future of America. This adds an educational component to the tale that is effortlessly inviting as kids move through the story of a boy on a mission and an outcome gone awry. From mission notes and mysteries to clashes between loyalists and rebels, history comes to life as Kep struggles to keep his future world intact.

Adults seeking time-travel stories that lure the young leisure reader, yet educate them with real historical facts flavored with intrigue and action, will find Kep Westguard Rebel Spy strong in characterization, plot, and facts.

Kep Westguard's choices and impact will bring not only the Battle of Saratoga to life, but give rise to classroom and book club discussions about the relevance of American history to modern life.

Wisdom and Wit
Shanti Rose
Turquoise River Publications
9781959965015, $12.95

Wisdom and Wit: 301 Gems to Grow and Grin is loaded with messages of hope and fun to light up life, juxtaposing themes of observation and insight with delightful light airs designed to both appeal and intrigue.

From the start, the wisdom and wit are on full display in as succinct number of words as is possible: "Life is an amazing journey. Sometimes we exclaim WOW, only to be followed by YIKES in the next scene."

From clues to surviving life's slings and arrows ("Refuse to let the hurtful words of others cause you to subscribe to the erroneous belief that you are small and insignificant.") to reflections on how best to not only absorb but transmit positivity into the world ("Locate negative patterns of thought.

Pull them out like weeds. Plant positive thoughts and beautiful flowers will grow."), these may be described as jewels of wisdom and reflection, daily inspirational reading, or collections of life learning which help readers better understand how to weather hard times and share good ones.

Shanti Rose employs language which is simple to understand, yet hard-hitting in its succinct roundups of wisdom.

Wisdom and Wit thus cements its appeal with a tone that is both inspiring and advisory, offering much food for thought in an accessible form that lends to both browsing and discussion.

Libraries and readers seeking daily devotionals and short, inspiring words will find this collection inviting.

Nad of Nadide
Wagih Abu-Rish
Kirland Publishing House
9798985915211, $29.99 Hardcover/$13.99 Paper/$.99 ebook

Nad of Nadide is a multicultural romance thriller that opens in 1981 London, where Fareed and his mother Fiona are discussing women and observing strangers. It's a curious situation because Fareed already has a beautiful girlfriend (albeit one his mother dislikes because of her attitude and abusive ways).

A storm of a different nature evolves when Palestinian Fareed meets Turkish Nadide, evoking a love between them that challenges their cultural backgrounds, perceptions, and the politics which hold them in thrall.

Wagih Abu-Rish's contrast between not just Turkish and Palestinian history and politics but the Western milieu which also influences the couple creates a series of thought-provoking encounters. Fareed and especially Nadide find themselves at odds with their heritage and upbringing as their love grows.

From juntas to groups of girlfriends and the involvements and influences of spies and the entanglements of politics in families and daily lives, Abu-Rish presents a story that requires no prior background in any of the cultures discussed to understand the influences upon and disparate cultural histories of the characters.

As Fareed is endangered and Fiona struggles to help him, readers become involved not just in a romance, but political power struggles that reach out from the Middle East to overtake and often confuse individual desires.

The typical scenario of disapproving families translates, in this bigger picture, to national special interests which coalesce into surprising influences on Fareed and Nadide's choices and lives.

Under Abu-Rish's hand, 1980s Turkey comes to life through the eyes of a diverse cast of characters whose observations, ideals, and participation in political rebellion and change come to roost at home, affecting their loves and lives.

Nad of Nadide holds the political enlightenment of a contemporary historical novel; the emotional draw of lovers fated to struggle not just with each other, but their disparate cultural influences; and the action and tense twists of a thriller.

Combining all these elements in a readable story that doesn't demand prior knowledge of the times or the countries featured is no mean feat, but Abu-Rish achieves the difficult goal of making his novel accessible to all kinds of readers; from those who enjoy political intrigue to others seeking the story of fated individuals who buck the odds and their own backgrounds in the name of love.

Libraries and readers looking for novels steeped in social and political conundrums, rich with emotional draws and strong character development, and packed with action that moves from political to social circles will find Nad of Nadide a winner.

Guidance to Death
Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
BQB Publishing
9798886330021, $18.95 Paper/$8.99 ebook

It's the perfect crime. Nobody can suspect a murderer when the cause of death was clearly accidental. Were it not for the conviction of the victim's surviving wife that something went awry, the truth in Guidance to Death would not have even surfaced. It's that clever a crime: disable a plane's guidance system and let natural flight circumstances take over.

In this case, what takes over isn't just death, but the perseverance of a grieving widow and independent aviation accident investigator Frank Adams, who join forces to find the few clues pointing to foul play.

Another death reinforces the likelihood that something more than plane instrumentation went awry, and so the story unfolds with plenty of tense moments, investigative puzzles, and an attempt to silence Frank before he can piece together the few clues that point the way to a perp and a dangerous scheme.

Daniel V. Meier, Jr. crafts a story that illustrates technical aviation insights, the special approaches of an aviation investigator, and the conundrum faced by a detective who must call upon several people from his past in order to solve the present-day crime. In doing so, Frank unwittingly places his friends in as much risk as he is taking.

From political power plays and important bids for economic growth, Frank delves into the politics and secrets of individuals willing to kill for what they want. Payoffs, fictional sell-offs, and a family-owned company's involvement in a plot that is tainted with goals of revenge brings Frank to the outer limits of his investigative abilities, testing his perceptions and his suspicions.

Satisfying twists and turns of plot keep even the most seasoned murder mystery reader guessing, while the aviation industry's processes and insights will delight those who enjoy tales of blackmail and threat that take place in the unsafe skies and on the ground.

Evidence and bodies mount as Frank finds his suspicions correct - but in a way he'd never anticipated.

Murder mystery readers and libraries catering to them will find Guidance to Death an outstanding blend of action-packed thriller and whodunit. It is powered by the expertise of an author who is a retired FAA Aviation Safety

Inspector able to inject all the real-world processes of the aviation industry into a compelling, can't-put-it-down inquiry that reaches its crescendo of surprise in the unfriendly skies.

Pandemonium: Live to All Devices
Bill Harvey
The Human Effectiveness Institute
9780918538154, $19.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Pandemonium: Live to All Devices is set twenty years in the future, when an American president seizes control of the country, hides in a nuclear bunker, and installs a robot version of himself in the Oval Office to handle everyday affairs.

In this future, robots are virtually indistinguishable from humans, and psychic spies are an active and recognized part of the paramilitary forces. These two facts dovetail in a powerful scenario that taps into and unfolds just about every thriller device that has attracted genre readers in the past, from aliens, robots, and power plays to AI takeovers and bids for control.

If all this sounds like a thriller rooted in action (which it is), it should also be mentioned that Pandemonium's real attraction and unique quality lies in its approach to societal interactions and differences as the characters reflect this futuristic setting in disparate ways.

Take the opening lines, for one example:

"Theta Force methods were bizarre, by the Army standards Templegard knew. Tim had explained the method they were now practicing as his own interpretation of something Williams had said about the advantages of psychic nakedness ... Templegard found it easy to maintain his erotic concentration shield while naked in a hot tub with three naked female Theta officers as they attempted remote sensing - seeing things as if being there - of the Kremlin. It was Templegard's first attempt. He got nowhere. His mind wandered."

This experience sets the stage for both understanding the vastly revised milieu of this futuristic society, where forces compete on different psychic levels, and for reader immersion in a surreal blend of detective investigation and contrasts between dreams, realities, and psychological foundations shaken by both.

A wry sense of irony often emerges from the interactions between disparate leaders and powerful guiding forces affecting the organization and control of this world:

"Our purpose," Snike continued, "is to have a measured ethical response to any country that persistently will not recognize that it is trespassing on the rights of other countries. We are not forming just for the situation in the South China Sea but for all situations that could threaten world peace in the future."

"What we mean by a measured ethical response," said the Prime Minister of Israel, "is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. We will not overrespond, that would be unethical and cause escalation. Our purpose is to thwart escalation."

The depth of psychological examination of individuals, organizations, country leaders, and worldviews makes for an outstanding enhancement of the usual sci-fi attention to action and confrontation. This gives Pandemonium a transformative feel and quality that makes it as much an intellectual pursuit as an action-packed adventure.

From how a "new, nicer Hitler" is envisioned and groomed, to the looming specter of World War Three, Bill Harvey leads readers on a satisfyingly unpredictable romp through a future world in which special interests have humanity's future in thrall.

Because this world is so easy to slip into and understand, powered by references which make it simple to enter and hard to set aside, it's surprising to note that this is actually Episodes 12 and 13 of a series that carries forward the spiritual, philosophical, and intellectual concepts of its predecessors. It should be noted that the Agents series is being published out of sequential order (a la Star Wars), so that only Episodes 2, 11, and 12-13 have so far been published. It stands so nicely on its own that newcomers won't be lost.

Controlling outcomes and confronting evil has never felt so multifaceted and thoroughly engrossing as in Pandemonium: Live to All Devices. The story builds a futuristic series of dilemmas, exploring high-tech heroes whose allies in crime and predicaments over love and world domination prove to be part of a greater media struggle involving augmented reality and revised tools for survival.

Libraries and readers seeking higher-level thinking than an action-packed sci-fi adventure alone will find all these requirements met in a story which juxtaposes individual interests with higher-level questions such as "Whatever became of that great nation we once were?"

The answer explored here maintains that it's constantly under siege, revision, and transformation from various forces both technical and psychological in nature.

Book clubs interested in novels that develop intriguing debates about futuristic encounters, thinking, and purposes will find plenty of fodder for discussion in Pandemonium: Live to All Devices.

The Message
Bill Harvey
The Human Effectiveness Institute
9780918538178, $14.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

Bill Harvey's The Message presents Episode 11 of the Agents of Cosmic Intelligence series, providing a prequel and introduction to Pandemonium. It presents a future world changed by a psychic message that everyone receives.

Vying political forces struggle to locate the source of a message so powerful that it's likely whoever discovers this wellspring will change the world.

As a world-hopping quest evolves, Harvey presents an exploration of social, military, and political circles that is heavily steeped in both psychological revelations and intrigue.

A wide cast of characters interact with not only transformative possibilities, but the changing nature of their own objectives and perceptions of their place in humanity and the universe as they are forced to confront new possibilities in leadership and alien influences.

Should the Leaders be trusted? Can control be maintained in a situation which is rapidly spiraling out of everyone's hands?

From high-tech combat situations to encounters of the fourth kind, Harvey's survey represents not just a bid for power and control, but an effort to redirect the course of humanity itself.

The psychic investigation that is the central theme of the story experiences many influences and forces as characters explore new perceptions of the universe and their place in it. The buffet of revised spiritual, psychological, cognitive and sensory perceptions add an extra dimension of human ability and growth to the story that gives it a distinctly intellectual flavor.

If there's one thing to be said about this series, it's that it defies pat categorization. Those who would peg it as military sci-fi, hard sci-fi, or thriller would all be correct - but these labels represent only a fraction of the attraction and strength of the series as a whole and The Message in particular.

Whether The Message is chosen for its futuristic social experiments in transformation, its riveting action-packed world, or the changes characters experience in the redefinition of their perceptions and purposes, one thing remains true - the story is complex, inviting, and hard to put down.

Libraries and readers seeking a different brand of sci-fi adventure steeped with thought-provoking intersections between media, society, and individual lives will find The Message and its kin to be a special, unique brand of higher-level political and social examination. They ideally will spark debates among book club circles and groups discussing future societies, values, and life purposes.

The Islands Call
Sandy Frykholm
Parenti Publishing
9781735037622, $14.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

The Islands Call: A Time Travel Adventure blends history and romance into a time-travel quest. The plot centers on Seattle astrology columnist and part-time fortune teller Gino Calabrese and his chance encounter with fraud investigator Sara Shore at a party.

Her pragmatic determination to expose the truth masks her own unusual clairvoyant abilities, which has destroyed one than one relationship in her past. This is why she keeps her talent and emotions hidden, even though Gino wants them to become more than friends.

Readers experienced with either time travel or romance stories may think they'll know where this is all going - but they'd be wrong. Gino becomes lost in time, and though Sara knows he's gone missing and is in trouble, even she can't locate him to help him.

Under Sandy Frykholm's pen, the story becomes steeped in historical details of the 1300s. The Black Death threatens Gino as much as the close attentions of a precocious teenager and Gino's assignment to become the personal astrologer to Signore Ottavio, a dangerous man who condemns charlatans to death.

Gino is heavily tested to recall not only general history of the times, but the politics and power of the church and the popes that resided in Avignon before Christopher Columbus. Ironically, a tattoo forces him to state that he can "read the stars" and gives him both a false status and a charge to live up to the illusion he is forced to weave about his astrological prowess in a time when religion and the supernatural co-exist too close together.

Perhaps there is no way out. But in this case, Gino's life depends on Sara, who is literally worlds away. Her clairvoyant abilities may be the only thing that can save them both.

More so than most time-travel adventures, Frykholm weaves detailed historical events so seamlessly into her story that readers who choose The Islands Call for either its promise of romance or its timeslip action will find the times and their challenges especially realistic and inviting.

Powered by the strong developments of characters Gino and Sara and the logic behind their actions and reactions, The Islands Call is riveting whether events unfold from Gino's unexpected foray into the past or Sara's growing sense that something is wrong that only she can mend.

The journey through Italy and matters of the heart unfolds with a compelling series of twists that bring history to life and inject it directly into the hearts and minds of two characters who find their fates inexplicably and inevitably entwined.

The result is a powerhouse of a story that captures with introductory character connections, and then reinforces these different personalities and their quests with a blend of historical fact and psychological growth that keeps them challenged by both their environment, their tangled knots of possibility, and their unusual connections to each other and the psychic forces that lie behind their choices.

The Islands Call's ability to blend these disparate, complex influences into a compelling adventure makes it highly recommended not just for the usual timeslip reader, but for romance and history buffs and libraries looking for a read that's edgy and engrossing. The Islands Call is unpredictably attractive in its contrast of modern times and events of hundreds of years past that portend there will be no easy closure or recovery for either character.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

A Safe House
Stuart Woods
c/o Penguin Random House
9780593331750, $28.00 HC / $14.99 Kindle

Stone Barrington is asked to assist a friend who asks Stone to transport a person to several residences of his to keep the individual safe. But others are on their trail as Stone moves from place to place to accomplish his task. The Barrington novels are always fun reads and "A Safe House' is another captivating tale of great story telling.

Weird World War IV
Edited by Sean Patrick Hazlett
9781982125967, $16.00 PB / $8.99 Kindle

As we are seeing with the unfolding events in Ukraine, war is something that continues to be a part of the human race. "Weird World War IV" is filled with many great stories by modern masters of the science fiction genre who present war in many different aspects in possible worlds of the future. Some of the names to look for are T. C. McCarthy, D.J. Butler, Steven Barnes, Jonathan Maberry and Laird Barron to name a few. "Weird World War IV" is a great collection that is for the many readers of military science fiction

Thieves' Dozen
Donald E. Westlake
The Mysterious Press
c/o Open Road Integrated Media
9781504068116, $21.99 PB / $8.99 Kindle

Westlake is in rare form with "Thieves Dozen" that are a whole slew of Dortmunder capers under one cover. The series of novels have always been some of the best side-splitting humor in the mystery field. This collection of shorter pieces has the same laugh out loud writing but a larger number to enjoy. Imagine Dortmunder being hired to consult on a crime, Kelp and Dortmunder tunneling into a bank vault, Dortmunder discussing health issues are several of the comic madness that abounds "Thieves Dozen"

Her Perfect Life
Hank Phillippi Ryan
c/o Tor
9781250258878, $17.99 PB / $11.99 Kindle

"Her Perfect Life" once again shows why Hank Phillippi Ryan is at the top of her game with page turning excitement. Normally I am not a fan of titles that have a different character name for each chapter because usually each is told in the 1st person that can be very confusing. I am glad to say that is not the case here as its easy to tell who is who because there is only one in the 1st person narrative. Ryan also exposes what she knows once again of the world of tv journalism with her well fleshed out characters. Lilly Atwood is a prize-winning newscaster who has a secret that dates back to her childhood. Through a series of twists and turns her life changes as she and her producer work to find the truth of what happened to her sister so many years before. "Her Perfect Life" unfolds on so many levels with a solid story that is perfect reading for anyone who loves a good suspenseful yarn.

Robert B. Parker's Revenge Tour: A Sunny Randall Novel
Mike Lupica
c/o Penguin Random House
9780593419762, $28.00 HC/ $14.99 Kindle

"Revenge Tour" the newest installment of Sunny Randall capers, is one of the best of the long running series. Sunny's client is a bestselling author who is being accused of plagiarism while those around the novelist, are being killed one by one. Sunny has to also assist her dad in a situation he has. "Revenge Tour" is also a behind the scenes look at the publishing world as, Sunny delves into the accuser's accusations. Another aspect that adds to the mix is the appearance of many characters from other Parker series assisting Sunny. "Revenge Tour" is a wonderful addition to the cycle of Randall novels no fan can afford to miss.

The Island
Adrian McKinty
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
9780316531283, $28.00 HC / $14.99 Kindle

"The Island" is another fast-paced thrill ride of suspense. A car accident with a female bicyclist changes the lives of an American family on a trip in Australia. From then on they are in a cat and mouse game with the victims loved ones. A bit slower that the authors previous work "The Chain," "The Island" does hold interest to the very end.

Freehold Defiance
Michael Z. Williamson
9781982126124, $8.99 PB / $6.99 Kindle

Defiance has always been a hallmark standard of science fiction and the stories in "Freehold Defiance" are perfect additions to that legacy. Some of the finest are by Kevin J. Anderson, William McCaskey, Jason Cordova are just a few of the ones who take readers on and whirlwind tour. "Freehold Defiance" is another collection of masterful tales of science fiction.

Time Troopers
Edited by Hank Davis and Christopher Ruocchio
9781982126032, $16.00 PB / No Kindle

Time travel, a theme in science fiction, books, movies and TV remains popular as evidenced in Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and "Time Troopers" Unlike most of the collections of today many of the stories are by older more well-known authors that include Robert A Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Fritz Leiber, A.E Vogt and Poul Anderson. Some may find the writing dated but even so the works are still relevant for their underlying themes that resonate with readers Hank Davis once again has impeccable taste for picking the proper tales to highlight in "Time Troopers"

Robosoldiers Thank You For Your Servos
Edited by Stephen Lawson
9781982191900, $16.00 PB / No Kindle

"Robosoldiers Thank You For Your Servos" is filled with great futuristic military fiction by some of the best authors of science fiction. The collection of short tales reveals a possible future where wars are fought by robots. Some of the masters are David Drake, Doug Beason and Philip Kramer. "Robosoldiers Thank You For Your Servos" is another gathering of tales of warfare of the future that is enlightening of how the world may be in later on.

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From John Wayne: Duke's Solutions to Life's Challenges
From The Editors of The Official John Wayne Magazine
Media Lab Books
9781948174091, $16.99 HC No Kindle

"Everything I Need To Know I Learned From John Wayne" is a trip through his movies with many statements made by The Duke that are also words to live our lives by. It's fun to see page after page stills from so many of his great films that are better than ever with all the techno ways to view them. Wayne pictures live on and "Everything I need To Know I learned From John Wayne" is a beautiful way to celebrate John Wayne, especially after viewing the newest blu ray or 4K disc versions of "The Quiet Man" or "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

Phasers On Stun! How the Making and Remaking of Star Trek Changed the World
Ryan Britt
c/o Penguin Random House Inc
9780593185698, $28.00 HC $15.99 Kindle

The original Star Trek was a failure with the NBC network. That said it has proven to be one of the longest running franchises in television history. "Phasers On Stun How the Making and Remaking of Star Trek Changed the World" is a new look into all that is Trek from the very beginning with a lot of new information never before revealed. Coming from a fan of the Star Trek universe author Ryan Britt deals with all of the current aspects as well as other older things. From the series to movies to novels he takes fans on another journey through the many worlds that continue to thrill. He even deals with 3 of the most popular ones of Discovery, Picard, and Strange New Worlds as well new information on the Paramount Plus Network. "Phasers On Stun" is a welcome addition to the many books about Star Trek.

Truth, Lies & Alzheimer's: Its Secret Faces
Lisa Skinner and Douglas W. Collins
Foreword by Dr. Anand Srivastava
WordCrafts Press
9781957344140, $13.99 PB / $5.99 Kindle

The numbers of cases keeps growing of people who are in first stages of dementia or Alzheimer's. "Truth, Lies & Alzheimer's: Its Secret Faces" is a groundbreaking title that is very comforting work for any family dealing with a member with dementia or Alzheimer's Every day the news is filled with stories of men and women who in their dementia or Alzheimer's state stray away from where they live for whatever reason, as well as staggering numbers of who has either of the diseases. There seems to be little progress to help these and others. Another aspect is that shows like The Young and the Restless, This is Us and other popular series and movies are focusing attention on both aspects more and more. Lisa Skinner and Douglas W. Collins tell stories of ways to treat patients as well as revealing new tactics as well as information during Covid19. "Truth, Lies & Alzheimer's: Its Secret Faces" is also in a hardcover edition as well as there is a workbook to accompany a course to be taught by Lisa Skinner. "Truth, Lies & Alzheimer's: Its Secret Faces" offers hope for the future of dementia and Alzheimer's patients.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within
Jocelyn N. Jones
Goodspeed Press
9781544528304, $29.99, HC, 286pp

Synopsis: Jocelyn Jones has been an acting teacher for over thirty years. From A-list movie stars to hand-picked beginners, she is known for offering insights and techniques that enhance her clients' confidence; provide consistent, inspirational results; and guide them to their own unique perspectives. Her award-winning memoir is a blueprint for awakening and connecting to the spirit within -- the Artist, capable of manifesting anything.

Jocelyn Jones is also known for the critically acclaimed documentary series In Class with Jocelyn Jones, A Celebration of Actors & Acting, featuring sixteen studio members as they demonstrate the range of work taught in her Master Class.

A legendary acting teacher, coach, and artistic advisor to the stars, she has served as a confidential Creative Consultant on some of the highest-grossing pictures of all time. Now, with the publication of "Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within" she shares her personal journey (and the secrets behind her unique methodology).

How do you tap into the power of creation? A great teacher doesn't just tell you; they show you! With forthright vulnerability, Jones shares the memories and lessons that shaped her, both spiritually and as a world-class teacher -- proving beyond question that the same creative process she offers actors can help you discover and manifest a life in coherence with your own heart.

Whether you're an actor looking to elevate your craft or a fellow human traveler pursuing your dreams, Artist shows you step by step how to awaken to your higher self and move confidently into the life you were born to live.

Critique: Of special appeal to readers with an interest in acting, auditioning, spiritual self-help, and personal self-esteem development, "Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within" by Jocelyn Jones is unreservedly recommended for community library Biography/Memoir and Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within" is also available in a paperback edition (9781544528298, $19.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Jocelyn N. Jones ( has been awared many honors including: 2023 Feathered Quill Book Awards Finalist; 2022 Royal Dragonfly Awards Winner x3; 2022 Best Book Award Winner; 2022 Shelf Unbound - Notable 100 Book; 2022 IAN Book of the Year Finalist; 2022 NYC Big Book Distinguished Award Winner; 2022 Literary Titan Gold Award Winner; 2022 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winner; 2022 Hollywood Book Festival Award Winner; 2022 Living Now Book Awards Bronze Medalist; #1 Amazon Best Seller; 2022 Book Excellence Award Winner; 2020 Storyteller Foundation Award Winner

All Things Move
Jeannie Marshall
9781771965330, $25.95, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: What do we hope to get out of seeing a famous piece of art? Jeannie Marshall asked that question of herself when she started visiting the Sistine Chapel frescoes. She wanted to understand their meaning and context -- but in the process, she also found what she didn't know she was looking for.

With the publication of "All Things Move: Learning to Look in the Sistine Chapel", Jeannie Marshall tells the story of her relationship with one of our most cherished religious artworks. Interwoven with the history of its making and the Rome of today. This is a unique exploration of the past in the present, the street in the museum, and the way a work of art can both terrify and alchemize the soul.

An impassioned defence of the role of art in a fractured age, "All Things Move" is a quietly sublime meditation on how our lives can be changed by art, if only we learn to look.

Critique: Informative, insightful, perceptive, thought-provoking, and exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "All Things Move: Learning to Look in the Sistine Chapel" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Religious Art collections and supplemental curriculum Art Appreciation studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "All Things Move" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Jeannie Marshall is a writer who has been living in Italy with her family since 2002. A nonfiction author, journalist, and former staff features writer at the National Post in Toronto, Jeannie has contributed articles to Maclean's and the Walrus and has published literary nonfiction in The Common, the Literary Review of Canada, Brick, and elsewhere. (

Decolonizing the Body
Kelsey Blackwell
New Harbinger Press
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
9781648480614, $19.95, PB, 184pp

Synopsis: Women of color are more likely to experience oppression, discrimination, and physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In addition, their family may have experienced generational trauma and systemic racism going back for centuries. This old and new trauma can manifest in both the mind and body. However, there are ways women of color can free themselves from this trauma, build confidence in themselves and in their abilities, as well as restore a powerful sense of self in themselves.

With the publication of "Decolonizing the Body: Healing, Body-Centered Practices for Women of Color to Reclaim Confidence, Dignity, and Self-Worth" by Kelsey Blackwell (herself a woman of color) offers proven-effective somatic, body-centered practices to help the reader to heal from systemic oppression, trust the profound wisdom of their own body, and reconnect with their true self.

Kelsey argues that it is by slowing down, cultivating a daily ritual, and setting strong boundaries, that women of color can reclaim their inherent dignity and worth -- as well as those aspects of themselves that they may have cast aside in an effort to survive.

"Decolonizing the Body" is and empowering guide, and covers: How bodies are colonized through systems of oppression; Why slowing down is essential for healing; How to listen to what your body needs; How to create a space for ritual in your daily life; How to strengthen feelings of capability; How to cultivate community -- starting with yourself

Critique: Informatively insightful, inspirationally motivating, 'real world' practical, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Decolonizing the Body: Healing, Body-Centered Practices for Women of Color to Reclaim Confidence, Dignity, and Self-Worth" is a life-changing, life-enhancing, instructional guide and 'how to' manual that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Personal Transformation, Self-Help/Self-Improvement, Discrimination/Racism, and Popular Social Psychology collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Decolonizing the Body" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Kelsey Blackwell ( is a cultural somatics practitioner and writer dedicated to supporting women of color to trust and follow the guidance of the body so we may powerfully radiate our worth, dignity, and wisdom in a world which sorely needs this brilliance. As a facilitator, coach, and guest speaker, she has brought abolitionist-embodied practices to such diverse groups as riders on Bay Area Rapid Transit trains to students at Stanford University. She works one-on-one with clients, as well as leads the eight-week group program, Decolonizing the Body. Kelsey is author of the viral article, Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People, published by The Arrow Journal. She is certified InterPlay Leader, Strozzi Somatic Coach, and holds a master's degree in publishing from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

Black Space: The Nazi Superweapons That Launched Humanity Into Orbit
David Axe
Pen & Sword Books
c/o Casemate (US distribution)
9781399014236, $34.95, HC, 216pp

Synopsis: Orbital fortresses poised to fry entire cities with no warning using giant mirrors. Bombers that take off from Earth, punch through the thin border between the atmosphere and vacuum and take advantage of that lofty altitude to speed across the globe on missions of mass destruction. These and other exotic orbital weapons were under consideration, or even active development, in the early decades of humanity's push into space.

And no wonder. The era of frantic, dueling, American and Soviet space-exploration efforts (which stretched from the end of World War II to the United States' successful Moon landing in July 1969) had its roots in Nazi Germany, a country that pinned its hope for global conquest on equally ambitious superweapons.

In the decades following World War II, the top scientists in the U.S. and Soviet space programs were ex-Nazis -- most notably rocket-designer Wernher von Braun, who sided with the Americans. The basic technologies of the space race derived from Nazi superweapons, in particular von Braun's V-2 rocket.

But orbital war never broke out in those heady decades of intense space competition. It's possible to triangulate the moment the seemingly inevitable became evitable. July 29, 1958. The day U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower reluctantly signed the law creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Starting that day, the U.S. military gradually ceded to NASA, a civilian agency, leadership of American efforts in space. Even von Braun, once a leading advocate of orbital warfare, went along. Space-based superweapons and their architects, and the high-stakes politics that reined them in, are the subject of "Black Space: The Nazi Superweapons That Launched Humanity Into Orbit" by David Axe.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a four page listing of Sources and a nine page Index, "Black Space: The Nazi Superweapons That Launched Humanity Into Orbit" is an impressively informed and seminal work of meticulous research resulting in a significant and appreciated addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Space Age Military Aviation and Weapons Technology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Black Space" will also prove to be a valued contribution to the Modern History of Warfare and is readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.99) for the personal reading lists of students, academia, military historians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

Editorial Note: David Axe ( is a military correspondent living in Columbia, South Carolina. Since 2005 he has reported from the U.K., Iraq, Lebanon, Japan, East Timor, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chad, Nicaragua, Kenya, Gabon, Congo and other countries. He is a regular contributor to Voice of America, AOL, Wired and many others. David is the author of the graphic novels War Fix and Ware is Boring.

Mixed Signals: How Incentives Really Work
Uri Gneezy
Yale University Press
PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040
9780300255539, $28.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Incentives send powerful signals that aim to influence human behavior. But often there is a conflict between what we say and what we do in response to these incentives. The result: mixed signals.

Consider the CEO who urges teamwork but designs incentives for individual success, who invites innovation but punishes failure, who emphasizes quality but pays for quantity. Employing real-world scenarios just like this to illustrate this everyday phenomenon, with the publication of "Mixed Signals: How Incentives Really Work", behavioral economist Uri Gneezy explains why incentives often fail and demonstrates how the right incentives can change behavior by aligning with signals for better results.

Drawing on behavioral economics, game theory, psychology, and fieldwork, Professor Gneezy outlines how to be incentive smart, designing rewards that are simple and effective. He highlights how the right combination of economic and psychological incentives can encourage people to drive more fuel-efficient cars, be more innovative at work, and even get to the gym. "Incentives send a signal," Professor Gneezy writes, "and your objective is to make sure this signal is aligned with your goals."

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a two page listing of Acknowledgments, twenty-two pages of Notes, and a ten page Index, "Mixed Signals: How Incentives Really Work" is of special value to readers with an interest in Social Psychology, Decision Making Procedures/Methods, and Medical/Psychological Problem Solving Processes. A seminal study of meticulous scholarship throughout, "Mixed Signals: How Incentives Really Work" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Mixed Signals: How Incentives Really Work" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99).

Editorial Note: Uri Gneezy ( is the Epstein/Atkinson Endowed Chair in Behavioral Economics and professor of economics and strategic management at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego. He is the co-author of "The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life".

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

Justice Is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG
Leslie Karst
She Writes Press
9781647424589, $17.95, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: When Leslie Karst learned that her offer to cook dinner for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her renowned tax law professor husband, Marty, had been accepted, she was thrilled -- and terrified. A small-town lawyer who hated her job and had taken up cooking as a way to add a bit of spice to the daily grind of pumping out billable hours, Karst had never before thrown such a high-stakes dinner party. Could she really pull this off?

"Justice Is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG" is Karst's light-hearted yet earnest account of the journey this unexpected challenge launched her on -- starting with a trip to Paris for culinary inspiration, and ending with the dinner itself. Along the way, she imparts details of Ginsburg's transformation from a young Jewish girl from Flatbush, Brooklyn, to one of the most celebrated Supreme Court justices in our nation's history, and shares recipes for the mouthwatering dishes she came up with as she prepared for the big night.

But this memoir isn't simply a tale of prepping for and cooking dinner for the famous RBG; it's also about how this event, and all the planning and preparation that went into it, created a new sort of connection between Karst, her partner, and her parents, and also inspired Karst to make life changes that would reverberate far beyond one dinner party.

A heartfelt story of simultaneously searching for delicious recipes and purpose in life, "Justice Is Served" is an inspiring reminder that it's never too late to discover (and follow!) your deepest passion.

Critique: A fascinating and fun read from first page to last, "Justice Is Served: A Tale of Scallops, the Law, and Cooking for RBG" by Leslie Karst is an extraordinary combination of memoir and inspirational self-help guide. While highly recommended for community library American Biography/Memoir collections, and a 'must' for all Ruth Bader Ginsburg fans, "Justice Is Served" is also available in a digital book format ($8.99).

Editorial Note: Leslie Karst ( waited tables and sang in a new wave rock band before deciding she was ready for "real" job and ending up at Stanford Law School. It was during her career as a research and appellate attorney in Santa Cruz, California, that she rediscovered her youthful passion for food and cooking, at which point she once again returned to school -- this time to earn a degree in culinary arts. Now retired from the law, Leslie spends her days penning the Sally Solari culinary mystery series, as well as cooking, gardening, cycling, and singing alto in her local community chorus.

Daddy's Girl: A Father, His Daughter, and the Deadly Battle She Won
Michael Schnabel
Armin Lear Pres
9781956450361, $19.99, PB, 314pp

Synopsis: How does a young mother overcome an 8 percent chance of living to raise her newborn son? She becomes a warrior and provides hope for others. "Daddy's Girl: A Father, His Daughter, and the Deadly Battle She Won" by Michael Schnabel is the story of a father, his daughter, and the deadly battle she won.

In each person's life there are events that forever change their course. Twenty-seven year old Stephanie experienced two of these events in fourteen days; the birth of her only child and discovery that she has an 8 percent chance of living. She is haunted by the thought that this baby will only know her through pictures, until she makes that thought her motivation to survive.

"Daddy's Girl" is a story of one family facing the most daunting of circumstances, at once celebration and devastation. Michael Schnabel, Stephanie's father tells the story of survival and how three generations of a family respond to crisis. Stephanie's courage is fueled by her son's deep brown eyes and unconditional love. Her faith comes from the belief that something greater than us provides what we need, when we need it. "Daddy's Girl" illuminates a range of emotions, and delivers them with humor, love -- and some miracles.

Critique: Michael Schnabel's memoir about the challenges and struggles of parenting through a medical crisis is a compelling read from first page to last. Of special interest to anyone struggling to deal with any similar medical crisis in their families or friends, "Daddy's Girl: A Father, His Daughter, and the Deadly Battle She Won" is a fascinating, inspiring, and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Parenting and American Biography/Memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Daddy's Girl" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Michael Schnabel ( is a graduate of Northern State University who developed his passion for writing and storytelling during his thirty-year career at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

An End to Arguing: 101 Valuable Lessons for All Relationships
Linda & Charlie Bloom
Koehler Books
3705 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23455
9781646638109, $28.95, HC, 306pp

Synopsis: Given the dreadful impact that the Covid-19 Pandemic has had on marriages and friendships, now more than ever, couples need guidance for navigating conflict wisely and skillfully.

With the publications of "An End to Arguing: 101 Valuable Lessons for All Relationships" drawing on insights from their work with couples since 1975, co-authors Linda and Charlie Blooms offer practical tools and strategies that apply to all relationships. "An End to Arguing" convincingly shows how destructive conflicts can be avoided, and provides stimulus for individual and interpersonal growth. The authors use compelling examples from their clinical work and their own fifty-year marriage, which has had its share of challenges.

"An End to Arguing" doesn't just provide a way of preventing differences from turning into painful conflict; it gives the reader an insight into what qualities are inherent in argument-free relationships. The way of getting there may be simpler than you think!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "An End to Arguing: 101 Valuable Lessons for All Relationships" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. Of special appeal to readers with an interest in Family Conflict Resolution, Marriage Counseling, and Communication & Social Skills Development, it should be noted that "An End to Arguing" is also available in a paperback edition (9781646638086, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $1.99).

Editorial Note: Married for fifty years, Linda and Charlie have served as psychotherapists, seminar leaders, and marriage counselors since 1975. They both have master's degrees in clinical social work and have lectured, led seminars, and provided consultation at universities and learning institutes throughout the United States as well as internationally. Their organization, Bloomwork, is dedicated to promoting healthy, fulfilling, and successful relationships for individuals, couples, and organizations. They have written and published four books, Happily Ever After... and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Stories from Real Couples about Lasting Love, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger in the Broken Places, and 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last.

Rama Speaks: The Teachings of Rama-Dr. Frederick Lenz
Lawrence Borok
Independently Published
9798985284720, $39.99, HC, 237pp

Synopsis: Dr. Frederick Lenz (1950-1998), known to his students as Rama, taught several hundred Americans an unusual blend of spiritual practices for 20 years. It was a combination of insights and techniques shared by Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, Hindu Vedanta and Yoga, and Native American mysticism. These were implemented through a unique approach to living in the modern world, and built upon a foundation of meditation and mindfulness. It was all directed towards enlightenment.

Enlightenment means the dissolution of the finite self into the infinite mind, but how is that actually done? It is quite a long and complex process. Rama explained to us, in detail, how the process works, with its many interdependencies and stages.

With the publication of "Rama Speaks: The Teachings of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz", Lawrence Borok consolidates the material contained in 120 audio tapes he recorded into a single book. In these talks Rama teaches this pathway to enlightenment, carefully breaking down the steps and how to do them in our modern world. While many of the things he taught can be found in spiritual books, many cannot, and none all in the same place.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking throughout, "Rama Speaks: The Teachings of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz" is an extraordinary Spiritual Self-Help volume that will be an enduringly appreciated addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies & Karmic Buddhism collections. It should be noted that "Rama Speaks: The Teachings of Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798985284713, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Lawrence Borok was a student of Rama-Dr. Frederick Lenz from 1982 to 1998. During the 1990's he led Rama's medical software company, which successfully developed two healthcare systems and brought them to market. He continued with the business until retiring in 2015. From 2000-2015 he taught meditation through adult education programs at high schools and community colleges. He has been a Buddhist practitioner for over 50 years.Lawrence Borok has a BA in Individual Field Studies from UCLA, an MA in Architecture from UCLA, and a Certificate in Business Data Processing from UC Berkeley. Other notable experiences include serving as a workshop leader for Buckminster Fuller's World Game, as the director of the UCLA Experimental College, and as a Thought Leader for Predictive Modeling News.

Let Your Heart Be Broken: Life and Music from a Classical Composer
Tina Davidson
Boyle & Dalton Publishing
9781633376977, $22.99, HC, 324pp

Synopsis: Tina Davidson was three-and-a-half when she was adopted from her foster home in Sweden by a visiting American professor. Soon she is the oldest of five children, living with her mother and stepfather in Turkey, Germany, and Israel. She studies music and becomes a prolific pianist and composer. But something about her birth remains unnamed and hidden. When she returns to Sweden, she contacts the Swedish adoption agency. "Come," says the voice on the phone, "I have information for you."

With the publications of her memoir, "Let Your Heart Be Broken: Life and Music from a Classical Composer", autobiographer Tina Davidson juxtaposes memories, journal entries, and insight into the life of an artist-and a mother-at work. Along the way, Davidson meets Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg, survives an attack by nomads in Turkey, and learns her birth father is a world-famous scientist. And throughout, there is the thread of music, an ebb and a crescendo of a journey out of the past and into the present, through darkness and into the light.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and deftly chronicled read from first page to last, "Let Your Heart Be Broken: Life and Music from a Classical Composer" is an extraordinary memoir and one that is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Biography/Memoir collections. Of special appeal to readers who enjoy classical music and the life stories of exceptional women living in exceptional times, it should also be noted for personal reading lists that "Let Your Heart Be Broken" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781633376960, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Tina Davidson ( is a highly regarded American composer who creates original music that stands out for its emotional depth and lyrical dignity. Lauded for her authentic voice, The New York Times has praised her "vivid ear for harmony and colors".

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

Hate and Reconciliation
Guido Cuyvers
Vita Histria
c/o Histria Books
9781592111817, $29.99, HC, 248pp

Synopsis: Hatred is human and current. It is an intrinsic part of what can happen between people, communities, and nations.

Personal experiences can lead people to hate someone. In society and even on a global level, hatred is again and again the motor of misunderstanding and often also of violence between people. Sometimes hate smoulders almost unconsciously; at other times he is furious and serves as a flag for serious violence. Hatred has many faces and seems omnipresent, that much is clear.

The term "Erida complex," after the Greek goddess of hate, symbolizes the common and deeply rooted nature of hatred. After examining the nature of hate, "Hate and Reconciliation: Approaches to Fostering Relationships between People and Peace" focuses a wide-angle lens on its many faces, in individuals and groups as well as peoples. Facing the negativity of hatred, this book presents constructive approaches to fostering relationships between people and peace.

Critique: Of special import and relevance to readers with an interest in societal violence, social psychology, and conflicting human interactions, Hate and Reconciliation: Approaches to Fostering Relationships between People and Peace" by Guido Cuyvers is an extraordinary study that is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a twenty-six page Bibliography and a three page Index. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Psychology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, mediators, counselors, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Hate and Reconciliation: Approaches to Fostering Relationships between People and Peace" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: During his professional life Guido Cuyvers was affiliated with a university college (Thomas More), department of social work, as a lecturer, researcher, and head of department. He studied criminology, sexology, and philosophy. He holds a doctorate in criminology with a study on the victims of crime. He is currently engaged in civil society, elderly policy, and research on the social participation of elderly people in society. As an author, he has published extensively on all kinds of social themes.

Campfire Stories Volume II: Tales from America's National Parks and Trails
Dave & Ilyssa Kyu, editors
Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781680515503, $24.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: "Campfire Stories: Volume II" features stories from Grand Canyon, Everglades, Olympic, Glacier, and Joshua Tree National Parks and the Appalachian and Pacific Crest National Scenic Trails. Included are a diverse range of writers each of whom was inspired by America's beloved national parks,

"Campfire Stories Volume II" is also a compendium of modern prose, poetry, folklore, and more, featuring commissioned, new, and existing works from a diverse group of writers who share a deep appreciation of the natural world.

While "Campfire Stories: Volume I" captured many historic tales reflecting the first 100 years of the National Park Service, "Campfire Stories: Volume II" is a completely new collection that is focused on five different parks (plus two long-distance trails), depicting the parks as we know and experience them today.

The contributors to "Campfire Stories: Volum II" represent a range of rich and diverse voices, including from the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Also featured are award winners such as Lauret Savoy, Rae DelBianco, and Terry Tempest Williams; newer voices including Derick Lugo, Rosette Royale, and Ed Bok Lee; and even a poet laureate, Rena Priest -- all of whom share their unique perspectives on our national parks and trails. These new campfire stories revel in each park's distinct landscape and imaginatively transport the reader to the warm edge of a campfire ring.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Dave & Ilyssa Kyu, "Campfire Stories: Volume II" is certain to have an immense appeal for readers with an interest in travel writing and outdoor adventures. A fun and informative read from cover to cover, "Campfire Stories: Volume II" is an extraordinary anthology and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted that "Campfire Stories: Volume II" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.70).

Editorial Note #1: Dave Kyu ( is a socially-engaged artist, writer, and project manager. Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in the United States, he explores the creative tensions of identity, community, and public space in his work. He has managed public arts projects for the Mural Arts Program, Asian Arts Initiative, and the City of Philadelphia. His own creative projects have found him commissioning skywriting planes to write messages 10,000 feet over Philadelphia, and doing everything Facebook told him to do for a month. His writing has been published in Generocity, the Artblog, and the Philadelphia Citizen.

Editorial Note #2: Ilyssa Kyu ( is a design researcher at Frog, a global creative consultancy, and is the founder of Amble, a sabbatical program for creative professionals to take time away with purpose in support of nature conservancies. She has a degree in Industrial Design and previously worked as a designer at the Mayor's Office of Sustainability at the City of Philadelphia, and as a UX designer and design researcher at creative studios in and around Philadelphia. As a facilitator, convener, researcher, and strategist, she applies design-thinking to find clarity in the chaos and unconventional, creative ways of solving problems.

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing
Ben Jealous
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
9780062961747, $27.99, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing" Professor Ben Jealous illuminates for each of us how the path to healing America's broken heart starts with each of us having the courage to heal our own.

The son of parents who had to leave Maryland because their cross-racial marriage was illegal, Professor Jealous' lively, courageous and empathetic storytelling calls on every American to look past deeply-cut divisions and recognize we are all in the same boat now.

Along the way Jealous grapples with hidden American mysteries, including: Why do white men die from suicide more often than black men die from murder?; How did racial profiling kill an American president?; What happens when a Ku Klux Klansman wrestles with what Jesus actually said?; How did Dave Chappelle know the DC Snipers were Black?; Why shouldn't the civil rights movement give up on rednecks?; When is what we have collectively forgotten about race more important than what we actually know?; What do the most indecipherable things our elders say tell us about ourselves?

Told as a series of parables, "Never Forget Our People Were Always Free" features intimate glimpses of political, and faith leaders as different as Jack Kemp, Stacey Abrams, and the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu and heroes as unlikely as a retired constable, a female pirate from Madagascar, a long lost Irishman, a death row inmate, and a man with a confederate flag over his heart.

Simply stated, "Never Forget Our People Were Always Free" offers readers hope America's oldest wounds can heal and her oldest divisions be overcome.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively organized, and throughly 'reader friendly' in presentation, "Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing" is an extraordinary, informative, thought-provoking read and a critically important, timely, and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library African-American History, and African-American Biography/Memoir collections, as well as supplemental curriculum African-American studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Never Forget Our People Were Always Free: A Parable of American Healing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Ben Jealous is President of People For the American Way, Professor of the Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, and the New York Times bestselling author of Reach: 40 Black Men Speak on Living, Leading, and Succeeding. He is also a successful tech investor who has helped grow more than two dozen startups built to have a positive social impact. In 2013, the Baltimore Sun named Professor Jealous to be the Marylander of the Year for his work helping lead efforts that passed marriage equality, abolished the death penalty and passed the DREAM Act in that state in a single year. He is a graduate of Columbia University and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Surrealists in New York
Charles Darwent
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500094266, $34.95, HC, 264pp

Synopsis: In 1957 the American artist Robert Motherwell made an unexpected claim: "I have only known two painting milieus well... the Parisian Surrealists, with whom I began painting seriously in New York in 1940, and the native movement that has come to be known as 'abstract expressionism,' but which genetically would have been more properly called 'abstract surrealism.'"

Motherwell's bold assertion, that abstract expressionism was neither new nor local, but born of a brief liaison between America and France, verged on the controversial. Surrealists in New York tells the story of this "liaison" and the European exiles who bought Surrealism with them - an artistic exchange between the Old World and the New -- centering on taciturn printmaker Stanley William Hayter and the legendary Atelier 17 print studio he founded. Here artists' experiments literally pushed the boundaries of modern art. It was in Hayter's studio that Jackson Pollock found the balance of freedom and control that would culminate in his distinctive drip paintings.

The impact of Max Ernst, Andre Masson, Louise Bourgeois and other noted emigres on the work of Motherwell, Pollock, Mark Rothko, and the American avant-garde has for too long been quietly written out of art history. Drawing on first-hand documents, interviews, and archive materials, Charles Darwent brings to life the events and personalities from this crucial encounter, revealing a fascinating new perspective on the history of the art of the twentieth century.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of 93 illustrations (52 in color), twenty-five pages of Notes, a one page bibliography of Further Reading, and a six page Index, "Surrealists in New York: Atelier 17 and the Birth of Abstract Expressionism" by Charles Darwent is an extraordinary history of the surrealist movement and personalities that is an exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Art History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Charles Darwent is a writer and regular contributor to The Guardian, the Art Newspaper, Apollo, and the Times Literary Supplement and was the Independent on Sunday's chief art critic from 1999 to 2013. His also the author of "Josef Albers: Life and Work".

Michael Dunford

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

Family Handyman Handy Hints: Volume 2
Family Handyman, editor
Trusted Media Brand
9781621459224, $17.99, PB, 224pp n-Handy-Hints/9781621459224

Synopsis: Drawing from the reader-favorite section in Family Handyman magazine, with the publication of "Family Handyman Handy Hints: Volume 2", the Family Handyman editors have selected more than 200 reader-submitted tips save you time and money and solutions to problems around the house and garden ranging from hidden pipes, to sagging shelves, to stinky gym bags, and more!.

This newly published second volume of "Family Handyman Handy Hints" includes: Chapters of hints devoted to cleaning, maintenance, organization, safety and security, DIY tools and techniques, and everyday solutions to minor inconveniences around the home; Projects to replace broken tile and build a storage lift for the garage; Easy-to-understand instructions for each hint and accompanying photos.

Critique: A profusely and informatively illustrated compendium of tips, tricks and techniques for a wide ranging variety of 'how-to' maintenance, repair, and improvement instructions, "Family Handyman Handy Hints" is exceptionally well organized and 'user friendly' in presentation, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library DIY home maintenance collections.

Editorial Note: Family Handyman is the DIY enthusiasts trusted source for helpful, how-to projects, tips and expert advice for homeowners looking to improve their homes, yards and vehicles. Family Handyman magazine is the oldest and largest publication for DIY fans and has a circulation of 1 million. Family Handyman also has a streaming channel, "At Home with Family Handyman".

Cecil Kuhne
Knox Press
c/o Permuted Press
c/o Simon & Schuster (distribution)
9781637585924, $30.00, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: Rudolf Ivanovich Abel ran KGB operations in the United States for nine years during the Cold War era of the 1950s, until one day his true identity was revealed by a lazy, hard-drinking, womanizing colleague who decided to defect to the United States before he was sent back to Russia (and presumably his death) for incompetence in the field.

As the authorities hunted down Abel, the FBI had in hand his tools of trade, including hollowed-out bolts and coins used to send tiny coded messages and photographs back and forth to the Soviet Union, but little else in the way of hard leads. After Abel was located, his modest hotel in Manhattan was staked out by the FBI for over a month before he was eventually arrested and tried for espionage.

After his conviction, Abel appealed his case to the Second Court of Appeals, where he argued that the search and seizure of his hotel room was unconstitutional because they were made without a warrant. His conviction was affirmed, and the case proceeded to the Supreme Court, which was sharply divided.

The cliffhanger facing Abel for the next several years was whether he would face the electric chair, remain in prison for the rest of his life, or be exchanged for an American spy held by the Russians. His fate remained in the balance.

Critique: With the publication of "KGB Man: The Cold War's Most Notorious Soviet Agent and the First to be Exchanged at the Bridge of Spies", Cecil Kuhne reveals the true story of one the inherently fascinating spy hunts of the Cold War era -- including the judicial system experiences and ultimate consequences once that spy was caught. Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a Brief Timeline Of Events, "KGB Man" is an informative and riveting read. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Cold War military history and biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "KGB Man" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Cecil Kuhne ( is a litigator with one of the world's largest law firms and has published twenty books with the American Bar Association, including Business Bribes: Corporate Corruption and the Courts, dealing with the seamy world of corporate payoffs in this country and abroad. He has also written and edited eighteen other books, dealing primarily with adventure travel.

Paul T. Vogel

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

Trans Galactic Insurance: Adventures of a Jump Space Accountant
Andrew Moriarty
Independently published
B072JNXNCM, $0.99 ebook, 279 pages

Adventures of a Jump Space Accountant is an unusual SF story. It does do the seemingly impossible; create a space opera out of accounting.

Jake Stewart is a poor scholarship student from the Outer Belt. Needing money he takes a paper shuffling job at a shipping insurance company. He stumbles across a fraud at his company and is then framed for the theft. He goes on the run across the fringes of the Outer Belt and is chased by nearly everyone he knows. How can he survive and clear his name with a large bounty on his head and others wanting to find out about the fraud he has uncovered?

Adventures of a Jump Space Accountant is a recommendation for those looking for a different slant on the space opera genre. It doesn't break new ground in the genre and even drops back to a few original tropes. It is worth reading for aficionados in the genre but dabblers in opera style SF might find better tales to invest their time in.

The World Beneath (Joe Tesla Series Book 1)
Rebecca Cantrell
Independently published
B00GWNT3UW, $6.99 ebook, 315 pages

The World Beneath is a good thriller with an accurate but misleading hook. The lead character hook; Joe's relationship with Tesla is irrelevant to the story. After reading the tale, there might be a sudden wish for a stronger link into history.

Joe Tesla is a self-made multi-millionaire software engineer who has severe agoraphobia. He has two friends who have inherited a Victorian mansion underneath Grand Central Station. The mansion was built for the original designer of the New York subway system. The friends let Joe stay in their underground home. The home includes a set of keys for most of the doors to the side tunnels in the subway. Joe has a life better than most agoraphobics with the miles of tunnels and underground entrances to buildings across New York.

On one of his long walks through the tunnels with his emotional support service dog, Edison, he comes across a strange man breaking through a bricked up wall to an old rail siding. The man is later murdered and Joe is framed for his death. The killer and even agencies of the government search for Joe. Agoraphobic Joe is forced to solve the mystery of the bricked up siding and the murder while running from the murderer and police.

The World Beneath is a good action/thriller with the twist of the protagonist being limited to only traveling while within buildings or in the underground of New York. This limitation adds a fun layer to the story and has the added benefit of limiting the logistics of the thriller to relatable distances. It is a great break from the many contemporary action/thrillers where the protagonists seem to travel across the world in a matter of hours or days. Any thriller aficionado will enjoy this tale.

S.A. Gorden
Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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