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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 8 August 2017 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf
Micah's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  

Cowper's Bookshelf

Some Useful Wild Plants, revised edition
Dan Jason, author
Robert Inwood, illustrator
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781550177916 $16.95 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: With over forty years since its original printing, and over 30,000 copies sold, this bestselling guide still remains a trusted and much-consulted reference for those interested in identifying, foraging and growing wild plants for food and medicine. Now Some Useful Wild Plants is back in print for a new generation of foragers and herbalists.

Some Useful Wild Plants contains sections on useful herbs, trees, berries and seaweeds, as well as commentary on avoiding poisonous species. Pick the young tender leaves of orach, salsify and miner's lettuce for a delicious and vitamin-rich spring salad or stir-fry. Concoct a cherry bark and licorice fern syrup to soothe a sore throat. Repel insects naturally using sage oil or vanilla leaf. From alder to yarrow, each featured plant has useful descriptors for identification and details on how to harvest, as well as how the plant is traditionally used for medicine by First Nations, pioneers and contemporary herbalists. Clear line drawings are provided to assist foragers in accurate identification. Directions are included for the preparation of ointments, salves, poultices, compresses and tinctures.

Dan Jason also addresses sustainability when foraging to ensure that harvesting supports the continuous growth of the plant and the natural environment.

Critique: Occasional black-and-white illustrations enhance this venerable and practical guide sustainable foraging. From edible wild plants, to natural remedies for common ailments, to poisonous plants that should be meticulously avoided, Some Useful Wild Plants is reader-friendly, practical-minded, and highly recommended. "There is very little to be done in case of ingestion of the following [poisonous] plants except to repeatedly induce vomiting while diluting the poison with as much water as possible. And of course, get to a doctor!"

Reclaiming Your Body
Suzanne Scurlock-Durana
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608684687, $16.95, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: All too many of us have learned to ignore, deny, or even mistrust the wise messages our bodies give us. The result is that when trauma strikes, a time when we need every aspect of our beings to master the challenge, we may find ourselves disconnected from our greatest strengths. In "Reclaiming Your Body: Healing from Trauma and Awakening to Your Body's Wisdom" Suzanne Scurlock-Durana draws upon thirty years of studying the gifts of the body and teaching thousands how to reclaim them (including when she herself experienced a life-threatening trauma) to walks her readers through different areas of the body, revealing the wisdom they hold and how to reconnect with that wisdom. Her primary message throughout is that the natural healing abilities of the human body are always available. It just a question of how to best reconnect with them.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Reclaiming Your Body" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Health/Medicine collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of medical students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Reclaiming Your Body" is also available in a digital book format ($9.99).

Living with Cancer
Vicki A. Jackson, David P. Ryan, Michelle D. Seaton
The Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363
9781421422329, $55.00, HC, 368pp,

Synopsis: The prospect of entering treatment is overwhelming for anyone facing a diagnosis of cancer. While patients have access to a vast amount of medical information online, this advice is often unreliable or confusing. In "Living with Cancer: A Step-by-Step Guide for Coping Medically and Emotionally with a Serious Diagnosis", medical doctors and cancer treatment specialists Vicki A. Jackson (Chief of Palliative Care at Massachusetts General Hospital) and David P. Ryan (Chief of Hematology/Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital), working with the assistance of Michelle D. Seaton, have crafted the first step-by-step guide aimed at helping people with this life-defining disease grasp what's happening to them while coping physically and emotionally with cancer treatment.

An empathetic resource full of relatable patient stories, this book teaches patients and caregivers how to ask the right questions to get the best possible care -- beginning at the moment of diagnosis. Dr Jackson and Dr. Ryan explain how to work with a team of doctors and nurse practitioners to minimize symptoms and side effects while living as fully as possible in the face of cancer. They relay important information about understanding prognosis, and they translate what doctors mean when they describe tests, treatments, and medical procedures. Finally, they discuss hospice care and answer questions about continuing treatment and managing the final phase of life.

Based on new research and a groundbreaking program in which patients are treated with palliative care (along with the best cancer care) during the course of their illness, this honest and caring instructional guide and reference provides the right advice to use at the right time throughout a journey with cancer. "Living with Cancer" allows a person with cancer to concentrate on living the best life possible, despite an uncertain future.

Critique: Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, patients at every stage (and their families) will find "Living with Cancer: A Step-by-Step Guide for Coping Medically and Emotionally with a Serious Diagnosis" a practical, accessible, medically sound resource for navigating the illness and its treatment. An absolutely essential and core addition to medical center, community, and academic library Health/Medicine instructional reference collections in general, and Cancer Treatment supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Living with Cancer" is also available in a paperback edition (9781421422336, $22.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

The Architecture of Loss
Z. P. Dala
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781681774435, $25.95, HC, 384pp,

Synopsis: Estranged at the age of six from her mother, who sent her away from her hometown of Brighton in rural Zululand, brilliant architect Afroze Bhana has carved out an impressive life for herself in Cape Town. But when she receives word that her aging mother is desperately ill, she finds herself compelled to return to her place of birth to find answers about her painful childhood.

Afroze arrives in Brighton to find that her mother, Sylvie (who was a doctor and a fierce activist during the dark days of the anti-apartheid struggle) is a shadow of her formidable self, but Sylvie has still retained her sarcasm and anger toward the daughter that she sent away. Somehow, Sylvie cannot draw her daughter close, even facing the looming threat of her own mortality. She remains in the cottage of Afroze's childhood, frozen in a world where she surrounds herself with luxury and garish indulgences, cared for by the fiercely protective Halaima, a Malawian refugee. Especially painful for Afroze is the love and affection that Sylvie showers on Bibi, Halaima's pampered and precocious daughter -- a love which she could never give her own daughter.

"The Architecture of Loss" is a moving novel by Z. P. Dala about the complexities of family ties, and beautifully explores the ways in which the anti-apartheid struggle (a struggle in which the roles of women have been largely overlooked) irrevocably damaged many of its unsung heroes.

Critique: A wonderfully entertaining and emotionally engaging novel from beginning to end, "The Architecture of Loss" will prove to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary General Fiction collections. A deftly crafted novel that clearly showcases author Z. P. Dala as an impressively skilled author, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Architecture of Loss" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.38).

Angela Saini
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807071700, $25.95, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: For hundreds of years it was common sense: women were the inferior sex. Their bodies were weaker, their minds feebler, their role subservient. No less a scientist than Charles Darwin asserted that women were at a lower stage of evolution, and for decades, scientists (most of them male, of course) claimed to find evidence to support this.

Whether looking at intelligence or emotion, cognition or behavior, science has continued to tell us that men and women are fundamentally different. Biologists claim that women are better suited to raising families or are, more gently, uniquely empathetic. Men, on the other hand, continue to be described as excelling at tasks that require logic, spatial reasoning, and motor skills. But a huge wave of research is now revealing an alternative version of what we thought we knew. The new woman revealed by this scientific data is as strong, strategic, and smart as anyone else.

Angela Saini is an award-winning science journalist whose print and broadcast work has appeared on the BBC and in the Guardian, New Scientist, Wired, the Economist, and Science. A former Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT, she won the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Kavli Science Journalism gold award in 2015. Saini has a master's in engineering from Oxford University, and she is the author of Geek Nation: How Indian Science Is Taking Over the World.

In "Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story", Angela Saini weaves together a fascinating (and long overdue) perspective of women through uncovering science's systemic failure to understand women. Why we are still living with the legacy of an establishment that's just beginning to recover from centuries of entrenched exclusion and prejudice. Sexist assumptions are stubbornly persistent: even in recent years, researchers have insisted that women are choosy and monogamous while men are naturally promiscuous, or that the way men's and women's brains are wired confirms long-discredited gender stereotypes.

As Saini reveals, however, groundbreaking research is finally rediscovering women's bodies and minds. "Inferior" investigates the gender wars in biology, psychology, and anthropology, and delves into cutting-edge scientific studies to uncover a fascinating new portrait of women's brains, bodies, and role in human evolution.

Critique: Once of the most unique, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and groundbreaking gender biased studies available today, "Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong-and the New Research That's Rewriting the Story" is a work of truly substantial scholarship that is of immense value to scholarship, while fully accessible for the non-specialist general reader in tone, commentary, organization and presentation. An essential, cored addition for both community and academic library Women's Issues, Women's History, and Gender Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Inferior" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

How Do I Explain This to My Kids?
Sarah Swong & Diane Wachtell, editors
The New Press
120 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005
9781620973561, $15.95, PB, 144pp,

Synopsis: The day after the 2016 presidential election, filmmaker Carlos Sandoval found Ku Klux Klan fliers on the seats of the Long Island Railroad and recounts how his Cuban American niece Lexi's world was "shattered" by the election -- she is one of thousands of children wondering if they will be deported or denied benefits under the Trump administration. Other children are taunted on the playground, have their head scarves ripped off, or are left to wonder, "Does Donald Trump not like brown boys like me?" And girls everywhere are devastated that a crass and bigoted bully was elected over the woman poised to become America's first female president.

In the wake of the election, even the most thoughtful and progressive parents across the country found themselves at a loss for words. Borrowing its title from the memorable election night question posed by Van Jones, "How Do I Explain This to My Kids?" brings together moving first-person accounts by parents including novelist Mira Jacob, Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, scholar Robin D.G. Kelley, New York Times blogger Nicole Chung, and others, who recount their best efforts to parent effectively in the current climate.

The second half of "How Do I Explain This to My Kids?" features advice from leading child psychologist Ava Siegler, whose bestselling book "What Should I Tell the Kids?" established her as an authority on talking to children about difficult topics. From racism and homophobia to anti-Semitism, lying, sexism, and bullying, Dr. Siegler provides concrete advice for parents of kids of all ages including grade schoolers, preteens, adolescents, and young adults, for helping their children navigate a complicated, difficult time.

Critique: Simply stated, "How Do I Explain This to My Kids?" is a 'must' for every parent of a child who must explain how so many of the religious community could vote for a man who boasted of being a sexual predator, a man who as president has a seeming inability to refrain from even the most blatant and obvious of lies on what appears to be a daily basis; who denigrates members of a religion that he does not approve of; who colludes with a foreign governments that are hostile to America and our values with respect to free speech, a free press, and honest elections; a man with a history of dishonest double-dealing with respect to his businesses (especially Trump University). Exceptionally well organized and presented from beginning to end, "How Do I Explain This to My Kids?" should be on the shelves of every public library in the country. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "How Do I Explain This to My Kids?" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.06).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Lotus Saga
Nimai Agarwal
Street to Street Epic Publications
Paper ISBN: 9781938609374, $11.95
Ebook ISBN: 9781938609268, $9.95

Rook is a young scribe who leads a quiet life in a small village until he's charged by his mentor with leaving the comfort of familiar surroundings to journey to another teacher, there to learn swordsmanship and survival skills. Chafing at a task that would change his world and place in him unfamiliar territory, Rook resists the task. He now lives a good life as a scribe and student, compared to his old one as a starving beggar on the streets; and he doesn't wish to change anything.

When Rook encounters the magical Lotus Sword, he begins to understand the powers he could wield even as his old mentor comes to realize that this orphan boy may hold the key to the Order's future by fulfilling a prophecy that will keep alive not just the Order, but the world.

It should be evident by this point that in some ways Lotus Sword is a magical Sword in the Stone re-enactment; but with several differences. Even though the Sword has apparently chosen Rook, there are other forces at play in his life and world. These include some truths about the legends surrounding swords and heroes, mystic elements that influence choices and experiences, the idea that such mystic powers can't be taught but should be discovered through experience, and a mental link between boy and Sword that goes beyond mysticism and becomes an intrinsic part of growth and discovery.

As an Indiana Jones-type plot evolves, replete with confrontations between forces of good and evil, young adult to adult readers receive a fantasy that includes many satisfying philosophical moments: "Every candle is a life. Throughout its existence, the candle burns away - some slowly, and some in a flash. And then the cycle starts anew, and a fresh candle is born from the melted wax of its predecessor." A startling thought struck Rook. Somewhere in the midst of those millions of candles, was his candle. And Len's. And the Twins'. Everyone Rook knew, was but one insignificant candle, and could be easily snuffed out. The whole order could be snuffed out in a moment."

What beings are monsters, and which are beneficial? Will the missing puzzle pieces reveal new truths that place all of Rook's beliefs in a new light? And should Rook resist the visions that could guide him?

Strong characterization leads readers to care about Rook's world and his place in it while strong action contributes to an adventure story that weaves Rook into familiar and unfamiliar worlds. As the truth about a horrible plot emerges, Rook finds that everything he's known is called into question, injecting a satisfying evolution of moral and ethical conflicts into the story line.

Multi-faceted and wonderfully crafted, it's amazing to note that Lotus Sword was written by a young homeschooled author who has been working on it since the age of 12. Now 18, Nimai Agarwal's work has come to fruition to provide fantasy readers in grades 9 and older with a strongly-written saga that deserves its place alongside the genre's classic works.

Egyptian Pyramids Revisited, third edition
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446815, $10.25 PB, $8.50 Kindle

The expanded third edition Egyptian Pyramids Revisited (of the second edition, entitled Pyramid Handbook; which was an update of the first edition, Pyramid Illusions: A Journey to the Truth) adds to a set of books discussing ancient Egyptian peoples and places, and is especially recommended for Egyptologists, researchers, architectural historians, and any with a specific interest in how the pyramids fit into Egyptian belief systems.

As with other books in the series, this book's intention is to unravel common misconceptions and fallacies, and uses source material to indicate the true nature and circumstances of early Egypt in general and the pyramids in particular.

Chapters represent a vast expansion of previous editions and photos have been added to enhance the survey's visual perspective.

One delight here is the focus on specific pyramids and their architecture. Where other books would lump the pyramids into one general discussion, Moustafa Gadalla takes the time to consider individual pyramids and their construction (as in the unique stepped "Pyramid" of Zoser) and considers the form variations of the Egyptian masonry pyramids. From cosmic energies and spiritual meaning to physical construction, chapters pursue directions which will be new to most casual readers and many serious researchers alike.

The focus on the early Egyptians' intentions on building these pyramids and how these goals were achieved in the Fourth Dynasty, leaving some potential builders and buildings out of the picture, makes for a thought-provoking analysis that presents many technical references to sources in archaeological evidence which scholars will find delightfully specific: "Records about the source of the arsenic minerals that were used to manufacture the stone are found in Sinai, such as at Wadi Maghara."

Because a focus on detailed construction is offered, pairing Egyptian history with in-depth architectural specifics, Egyptian Pyramids Revisited is especially recommended for readers who harbor intense, prior interest in the subject; and who are already well versed in traditional Egyptian and architectural studies. This audience will relish a revisit which is at once enlightening and thought-provoking for rethinking the origins, manufacture, and meaning of the pyramids in early Egyptians' lives.

The Ancient Egyptian Metaphysical Architecture
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446617, $14.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle

The expanded edition of The Ancient Egyptian Metaphysical Architecture revises the original book published in 2000 and 2003, Egyptian Harmony: The Visual Music, and further focuses on the general role of ancient Egyptian architecture and its connections to spiritual concerns in Egyptian society.

While some of this was explored (albeit in a different manner) in Egyptian Pyramids Revisited, this wider-ranging discussion isn't about pyramids alone, but about architectural choices that show how spirituality in early Egyptian lives was reflected though their structures and construction choices.

By connecting Ancient Egyptian architecture to Egyptian perceptions about their environment and the relationship of spiritual forces they perceived in that environment, Moustafa Gadalla succeeds in creating a powerful and unusual link between metaphysics and construction. This theme carries through this entire book, from building design choices and geometry to the specifics of roofing forms and Egyptian approaches to construction and placement: "The Ancient Egyptian framework was usually a square, representing the manifested world (squaring of the circle)."

While some of the earlier books in this series set the foundation for a discussion quite accessible to lay audiences, the mathematical and builder's approach of this spiritual and architectural examination makes The Ancient Egyptian Metaphysical Architecture of special and particular interest and recommendation to architectural historians and students of early Egyptian cosmology alike.

The Egyptian Hieroglyph Metaphysical Language
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446976, $8.95 PB, $6.25 Kindle

No discussion of ancient Egyptian history would be complete without a survey of its hieroglyphs, so after laying the foundation for a more complete inspection of early Egyptians with books geared to lay and scholarly audiences alike, Moustafa Gadalla narrows his focus to the metaphysical links between hieroglyphs and language and broader Egyptian perceptions of the universe.

An interest in linguistics history and early Egypt is required for the appreciation of the depths to which Moustafa Gadalla has gone to present non-experts with a thorough coverage of the language issues involved in deciphering early Egyptian hieroglyphs.

It also represents a big departure from traditional methods of viewing these writings, because Egyptian hieroglyphics have commonly been approached as primitive form of writing with individual sound values. However, Gadalla points out that: "The Egyptian Hieroglyphics are ideograms which are different and has nothing to do with the Egyptian alphabetical system."

As chapters begin to connect the dots by linking Egyptian imagery with metaphysical concepts, readers gain a more complete understanding of not just the linguistics challenges and misconceptions involved in deciphering the hieroglyphics, but the underlying metaphysical significance of these presentations and why Egyptian depiction choices were deliberately skewed to support their spiritual view of the universe.

Hieroglyphs weren't the drawings of a primitive people; but an advanced method of portraying and reflecting their belief in the divine and its various manifestations.

The analysis goes beyond images alone and delves into how the forms are positioned and the symbolic meaning of their interactions.

Scholars with an interest in early Egyptian history in general and hieroglyphics in particular will find this more than another 'dictionary' of interpretations, but a specific, close examination of why analysis often fails: "The primary function of these Egyptian Ideograms is to represent thoughts. This means that one must be searching for both the Figurative (an object stands for one of its qualities) and the Allegorical (an object is linked through enigmatic conceptual processes)."

The result will especially appeal to and is highly recommended for thinking scholars who want a probe of underlying meaning more than a casual interpretation of imagery alone.

The Enduring Ancient Egyptian Musical System Theory and Practice
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446716, $16.25 PB, $8.50 Kindle

It's unusual to see a title that will appeal into the dual circles of musical scholars as well as Egyptologists, but Enduring Ancient Egyptian Musical System Theory and Practice holds many specifics of interest to music history researchers and should be considered by both these audiences, even though these are disciplines which rarely intersect.

This incarnation is a revised second edition of the originally published book Egyptian Rhythm: The Heavenly Melodies: as such, it offers a depth and expanded information that makes it a worthy replacement of any older copies of its predecessor.

Chapters are filled with technical music scholarship, definitions, and explorations as they consider both the cosmological meaning of ancient Egypt's musical heritage and the measuring units, tonal systems, lyrics and themes, and performance of music in Egyptian society.

Perhaps the most notable feature of this coverage is its attention to exploring the facets of early Egyptian musical heritage which continue to influence Egyptian society to this day: "Ancient Egyptian texts show that Egyptians spoke and sang in musical patterns on all occasions and for all purposes - from the most sacred to the most mundane. Present-day Egyptians are like their ancestors - they love to sing about anything and everything. There is nothing that is too insignificant or too large to sing a song to (or about)."

However, readers should expect many specific details about early instruments, how playing is depicted in various tomb drawings, and how different rhythms and playing methods were incorporated into Egyptian music: "The Egyptian clapping with hands and stamping with feet has turned at an early time into a finely graded, dynamic and varied means of expression, and thus acquired an additional significance in Egypt where it turned into a high art in their culture of music."

As with others in this series, the real heart of discussions lie in precise identifications of where traditional Egyptian scholarship goes awry, when scientific findings are influenced by Western prejudices that ultimately obscure truths about these peoples: "In order to ignore the role of Ancient Egypt in the history of music, Western academia tells us that out of thin air the Arabized people possessed a musical system of rhythm and mensural values, as early as the 7 th century CE. This system did not come out of thin air, but it was an actual existing system. The content and style of such musical treatises leads us to one source - Ancient Egypt."

The discussions in every book vastly expand perceptions of early Egyptians and their connections to modern times; and by focusing on music development and techniques, Enduring Ancient Egyptian Musical System adds to a blossoming and powerful collection that continues to examine and refute popular fallacies.

It's highly recommended not just for prior readers of this series, but especially for any collection or reader strong in ancient musical history.

Egyptian Musical Instruments
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446747, $8.25 PB, $5.99 Kindle

While discussion of Egyptian musical instruments was included in Egyptian Rhythm: The Heavenly Melodies, readers interested in further details about Egypt's musical history will find Egyptian Musical Instruments offers a narrower focus that examines the range of early Egyption musical instruments and their playing techniques.

Where the prior book closely examined the cosmology that forms a foundation for Egyptian music, this book is especially appropriate for music history readers interested in instrument development and technique, offering a closer inspection of the process of early Egyptian musical developments.

Chapters use archaeological evidence and visual depictions from relics to consider not only the makeup of these early instruments, but how they were played and how performances were crafted. They discuss various musical instruments recovered from Egyptian tombs and residing in museum holdings around the world, reviewing the distinctive rules of the Egyptian musical profession.

Black and white and color photos throughout provide visuals of early illustrations and musical instrument relics as discussions consider the specifics of how they were played and integrated into society: "Ancient Egyptian tombs and temples yield several series of choreographic, rhythmic and melodic hand signs that correspond to certain signs of chironomids. The tones are presented by different positions of the arms and fingers (forefinger against the thumb, the stretched out hand, etc.), resulting in an absolute correspondence between tonal steps of the Ancient Egyptian musical system and hand signals."

Egyptian Musical Instruments is a 'must' for any serious collection on world musical heritage in general and Egyptian ancient history in particular, providing a specific focus that answers many questions and provides readers with a powerful grasp of not just early Egyptian musical history, but reasons why that heritage has not been fully explored before.

The Musical Aspects of the Ancient Egyptian Vocalic Language
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446853, $7.49 PB, $5.50 Kindle

The Musical Aspects of the Ancient Egyptian Vocalic Language considers the philosophy, aesthetics, and science of ancient Egyptian language and its connections to music, and is a revealing and scholarly examination recommended for linguistics history holdings as well as collections strong in ancient Egyptian history.

Written for specialists and lay readers alike, The Musical Aspects of the Ancient Egyptian Vocalic Language lays the foundation for understanding the connections between music and language in early Egypt, considering the principles shared between " and the Egyptian alphabetical vocalic language. It will show that the fundamentals, structure, formations, grammar, and syntax are exactly the same in music and in the Egyptian alphabetical vocalic language."

From historical examinations of early Egyptian linguistics and how the Egyptian alphabet was derived from tonal sounds to sound sequencing in syllables, verbs, and overall language development, this study contrasts theory with history in musical and linguistic studies and provides a clear set of insights into the functions and forms guiding early Egyptian language.

The result is recommended for three specific audiences: linguistics studies, musical scholars, and readers of either the past books in this series or Egyptology works in general. These audiences will all relish the specifics and the connections Moustafa Gadalla makes, which go beyond singular genres to delve into the foundations of how the early Egyptians communicated.

Egyptian Romany The Essence of Hispania
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446945, $15.95 PB, $6.25 Kindle

Egyptian Romany The Essence of Hispania considers the Egyptian origin of the Romany peoples and draws important connections between Iberian history and Egypt, making it a recommended read for both Egyptologists and those interested in either Romany or Spanish roots.

This edition revises, expands, and adds much new information to the original 2004 publication Egyptian Romany: The Essence of Hispania as it differentiates the Egyptian Romany from other nomadic peoples and draws close connections between spiritual concepts of Egyptian and Spanish peoples.

The typical histories of Iberia virtually eliminate any reference to Egyptian roots, especially some of their early settlements in Asia and Europe and the migration process that led Egyptian culture to permeate European and Asian societies; so this coverage may also be seen as an essential reinterpretation of the interactions and influences of early Egyptians in the European and Asian arenas.

One might expect this kind of radical revisioning to come from conjecture or speculative roots; but archaeological evidence correlates activities in Iberia with Ancient Egypt, and Moustafa Gadalla offers a close attention to detail as he incorporates archaeological evidence into a new view of the supremacy and influence of ancient Egypt.

From the mass migrations of ancient Egyptians and influences on their travels and choices to the many fallacies surrounding the history of the Moors/Moslems/Arabs in the region, this wide-ranging survey is packed with historical references, supported by research, and is a solid work of scholarship highly recommended for any serious European history collection.

The Ancient Egyptian Universal Writing Modes
Moustafa Gadalla
Tehuti Research Foundation
Print ISBN: 9781931446938, $16.50 PB, $8.50 Kindle

The Ancient Egyptian Universal Writing Modes will appeal to English and linguistics collections as well as early Egyptian history readers as it surveys a surprising subject: the subjugation of thousands of early Egyptian alphabetical writings in favor of Arabic and a Western-fabricated approach to Egyptian writings.

While this may initially sound like an unverified conspiracy theory, Moustafa Gadalla provides careful, reasoned research to back his contentions and provides a close inspection of the development of the early Egyptian alphabet and its organization and writing styles. His inspection thus comes from scholarly foundations designed to illustrate the profession and evolution of Egyptian writings and scribes, discussing it in relationship to the development of European languages as a whole.

As chapters make the case for the fact that the Egyptian Alphabetical language is indeed the root of all language in the world, they refute many popular and long-standing ideas such as the notion that alphabetical letter-forms were derived from pictures, considering language diffusion patterns to Asia, Africa and Europe, the pre-existence of the proclaimed "Greek" alphabetical letter-forms in the Ancient Egyptian system, how Egyptian scripts came to be identified as "Greek", and more.

Linguistics students should expect to find their world history of language turned upside down by the ideas in this book, which are strongly supported by scholarship and archaeological evidence throughout. While it's accessible to lay readers, the subject and attention to detail makes The Ancient Egyptian Universal Writing Modes a particularly strong recommendation for students of world history and language.

Rasputin's Legacy
Lee A. Jackson
Stonewall Publishers, LLC
9780989802505, $16.95 PB, $4.97 Kindle

Atcho is a covert spy operating at the highest levels on the planet, privy to the trust of both the President of the U.S. and the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party. Decades earlier, the influence and subsequent murder of the mystic Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin in 1916 set into motion events destined to transfer a Russian nightmare to a global arena; one which will embroil Atcho in some of the deadliest encounters in his career.

The current situation and its roots in the past is summed up in a classified White House memo that opens the story: a succinct and fine approach which does an outstanding job of setting the stage past and present for events to come.

From a worsening situation in Cuba in the 1960s to a man (code named 'Atcho') who emerges as a resistance leader and is both a KGB and CIA recruit, readers are quickly brought up to date and swept into a tide of events that returns him from the dead and from prison into a much-changed world twenty years later, in the 1980s.

Changed circumstances have him pursuing a deadly lunatic who is on track to receive Soviet nuclear launch codes unless Atcho can stop him. With few resources to back him up, his job feels like a suicide mission.

Thriller readers who enjoy stories of espionage, subterfuge, and a charismatic, resourceful investigator and spy whose past alliances provide little support in a much-changed world with new purposes will find high-octane action throughout Rasputin's Legacy, with the special note that its exceptionally swift pace does not translate to an iota of confusion, and its conclusion is absolutely stunning.

It takes a deft hand and clear mind to weave past and present events together in such a manner that several possible future paths become crystal clear, but the main strength of Rasputin's Legacy lies in its ability to introduce a cast of characters that swirl around Presidential politics and dangers without becoming confusing or overly complicated.

From church involvements and Moscow politics to military subterfuge and families held hostage by deadly threats, these personal and political arenas contain characters that move deftly between them, playing elusive cat-and-mouse games that will keep readers guessing and on edge.

Fans of tense thrillers about madmen with trigger-happy fingers on the ultimate button will find Rasputin's Legacy a completely engrossing thriller from start to finish.

Eat Real Vietnamese Food
Lien Nguyen
Golden Lotus Publishing
ISBN print: 9780986252037, $32.95
ISBN eBook: 9780986252044, $15.99

There are already many cookbooks about Vietnamese food on the market today; so why the need for yet another introduction to the subject? It will quickly be evident that Eat Real Vietnamese Food is different, with an unusual approach presented in a project that began as an effort to gather family recipes before they were lost, and turned into a wider mission to 'immortalize' the vanishing cuisine of a nation by capturing a piece of it in this book.

Vietnam's history of its migrating peoples are an essential part of understanding this process, and as Lien Nguyen details the differences between traditional and 'new' culinary adaptations, the book's introduction clarifies the need for a book such as this.

Each recipe receives a historical overview and cultural notes which places it in perspective of Vietnam's peoples and culture, offering notes on which dishes were consumed as popular street food or changed from region to region in the country (such as Banh Xeo - Sizzling Crepes - which holds a similar version in Central Vietnam, and an adaptation for those who can't afford the crepes and choose to eat them with herbs, instead).

The vibrant color photos throughout leave nothing to wonder for those new to Vietnamese cuisine: step-by-step small but excellent quality images are often accompanied by vintage photos of Vietnam's peoples and images of countryside and city alike.

The illustrative embellishments alone far exceed what most typical Vietnamese cookbooks offer, while the cultural and historic notes for each dish provide the necessary background for understanding how classic, traditional dishes are produced. The book's layout is particularly notable, juxtaposing boxed, at-a-glance recipes with preparation tips that are photographed in full throughout, leaving nothing to wonder either about the process or the finished dish's appearance (which is always featured at the top, above the recipe).

It's almost a shame to call the result a 'cookbook,' because the inclusion of historical detail elevates it far beyond the usual recipe collection and lends it a magnificent depth that explores the country's flavors, textures, preparation techniques and cultural influences for newcomers and prior enthusiasts of Vietnamese cuisine alike.

Very, very highly recommended. If only one authoritative Vietnamese cookbook were to be considered for a collection, it should be Eat Real Vietnamese Food.

The Trial of Prisoner 043
Terry Jastrow
Four Springs Press
501 South Beverly Drive, 3rd Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
9781946241153, $12.95,

The Trial of Prisoner 043 is a political novel based on real events and opens with former President Bush's kidnapping in Scotland, where he confronts a court of international law in an indictment over his illegal war with Iraq.

As court proceedings involve a savvy prosecutor, a talented Iraqi attorney, and a president forced to defend the notion that his actions after 9/11 were not intended to support a personal vendetta, readers are treated to a cast of characters who range from real political figures such as Condoleezza Rice to fictional political and legal figures who raise many questions, from the legal authority of an American president to wage a war that violates international law to its presence and pressures upon political systems in other countries.

By now, it should be clear that The Trial of Prisoner 043 is no ordinary political thriller. The kinds of questions it raises, its careful ability to toe the line between real facts and higher-level thinking and questions, and its mix of intrigue with court proceedings place it on the level of John Grisham, but with a deeper attention to political detail and broader ethical and moral considerations that make it especially intriguing for political-minded readers.

As bloggers, regulators, political personalities and special interests coalesce in the courtroom, readers are treated to a tense exploration of American choices, rights, and challenges in a story which is hard to put down.

Readers of both political and legal thrillers are in for a real treat with such a mix and its close attention to fictional and nonfiction detail and the kinds of ethical questions raised by high-level political decisions.

The Little Lilly
Dimitris Lamproulis
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B071P2MDZV, $2.99,

The Little Lilly presents kids ages 6-12 with a gentle story of a pretty little ladybug who is too young to fly. She has many attributes besides her beauty: she's strong, sociable, cheerful, and talented in many ways, and she looks forward to the day when she grows enough to be everything she desires.

Nothing really bothers her in her life, and she seems flexible and able to enjoy almost everything until her mothers falls ill with a rare disease that only strikes ladybugs. There's only one doctor who can help - and it's up to Lilly to do something she's never done before.

As she journeys far beyond happy experience and her beloved bug village, Lilly finds there's more to life than taking the easy path and leading an unchallenged life, and kids will experience with Lilly the magic of parades, Goofy's play home and laboratory, and more.

At times the words and paragraphs feel stilted ("Lilly would often dream herself to visit nice and exotic places." and "Lilly's father was missing to one of those business trip that Mr. John used to do..."): light editing would help the language flow better for native English readers.

Ethical values and educational insights abound in a story that sounds like it should be embellished with picture book illustrations, but reads with an easy depth and detail that 6-12-year-olds will appreciate, and makes for a light-hearted story that leaves readers with a warm, positive feeling.

The Golden Rule
Jessica Marie Baumgartner
Eleventh Hour Literary Press
18831 SE 74th Avenue, Inglis, Fl 34449
9781943755196, $16.99,

The Golden Rule is a lovely picture book story about faith, prejudice, and differences in belief systems, and offers an important lesson in tolerance and understanding from the first-person viewpoint of a child whose family celebrates different holidays.

The narrator's family is Pagan, which is the first major difference between the message of this book and other picture book stories about tolerance and belief systems. What rules do pagans live by? As the young narrator explores the concept of The Golden Rule and its guiding light, readers are treated to the idea that those holding different beliefs are "...more alike than we think. Even though we don't have the same faiths, they say a lot of the same things."

Adults seeking a read-aloud that forms a solid introduction for discussion on tolerance, understanding, and the similarities guiding societies will relish the wide-ranging approach of a book that comes from a different perspective, contrasting Hindu, Confucian, Taoism and other belief systems as it examines the difference between philosophy and belief.

This may seem heady reading for the younger picture book fan; but with appropriate parental assistance, The Golden Rule opens the door for meaningful discussions and goes where few other books about faith can lead as a young narrator considers the various rules to live by and how they apply to a child's view of the world.

The Golden Rule is very highly recommended as a starting point for assimilating beliefs into a more accepting worldview.

Living on Earth
Roser Segarra
Alba Dase Publishing
9780998700427, $4.99,

Living on Earth: A Guide to Help You Achieve Health, Happiness, and Success is a spiritual assessment of life purpose and experiences for new age or self-help readers, and discusses reincarnation, the spiritual laws of the universe's influence on finding one's life's purpose on Earth, and physical and mental self-healing tools.

Within these discussions are references to a wide range of topics, from understanding spiritual universal laws (primarily laws of creation, karma, and attraction) which can be tapped to create a better life to employing the powers of gratitude and forgiveness to add depth to one's life perspective, and using healing tools to resolve issues.

Living on Earth contains numerous tools to help the reader achieve success and heal body and soul, however, this process won't be for everyone: it takes an inquiring, open mind to undertake the kinds of exercises, recommendations, self-inspection and spiritual and philosophical analysis provided in Living on Earth.

Readers already on the path to this journey of living a better, more meaningful life will find Living on Earth is packed with directions on how to tap into the unconscious power of the mind, how to understand one's higher self and soul as it relates to both physical body and the world at large, and how to employ techniques to encourage mindfulness, action, and alternative paths to healing and health.

The discussion is an excellent recommendation for alternative health, self-help, new age, and spiritual thinkers alike.

Diptych/Diptico: Bilingual Poems/ Poemas Bilingues
Gilbert Luis R. Centina III
CentiRamo Publishing
9781544951737, $12.99
Ordering Link:
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Gilbert Luis R. Centina III's bilingual poetry collection includes an excellent Spanish translation throughout which makes his poems about a person's struggle with daily life a deeply philosophical and psychological inspection that can be readily accessed and appreciated by English and Spanish speakers alike.

The verses are meant to reflect both universal truths and religious reflections in the course of examining life, offering nuggets of succinct, thought-provoking inspections that poetry readers will find both spiritually rich and deeply evocative.

Some poems narrow their focus to the daily rigors of little encounters in life: "Morning is a glass of liquid truths/- viscous, circumstantial, unrehearsed ?/When dream rolls back like condensed milk/And the weather settles down like seminiferous maze./So this is also sainthood..." while others offer broader inspection as the "everyman" narrator makes his way through a maze of life encounters: "I have to walk all seasons alone,/Knowing that friends can be fickle like/Cigarette butts; knowing that this sojourn/Is a constant wrestling with time./I have seen so many pawns aspiring to be queens,/I have known so many kinships that end in death./I court loneliness..."

Perhaps the singularly most powerful feature of these reflections lies in their ability to draw connections between personal experience and higher-level thinking. Poets should be warned that there are no light stanzas, here: each poem represents a world within itself, existing as both a nugget of individual detail and as a contribution to a bigger spiritual picture which embraces and represents the evolution of Diptych/Diptico.

Spicing the Spanish translation on each facing page is original black and white artwork by Basque multimedia artist Vicente Jauregui Presa and by the poet's sister, Louella Centina Garnado. These supporting images enhance and broaden Gilbert Luis R. Centina III's words, and the end result is a beautiful synthesis of poetry, philosophy, spirituality and psychological inspection that is well illustrated especially recommended for poetry readers who seek a journey from individual inspection to universal spiritual truth: "To love God I must suspend our covenant/While I seek him among those falsely accused./Weasels bend the truth and misuse/Their cushy seat of power, relishing/The perks of evanescent authority./They keep justice at bay, move the light away/And conceal cold facts under the apron of spineless casuistry."

Investigating the Alt Right: Richard Spencer in America
Marcus Verhaegh
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
ASIN: B071F62TM4, $8.00,

Investigating the Alt Right: Richard Spencer in America examines not just a new buzzword for a nationalist movement, but the myriad of figureheads representing it; most notably Richard Spencer, who is not just a major figure but holds close ties to the White House.

Under another hand it would have been all too easy to reiterate press reports about the movement and build its history from third-party analysis; but Marcus Verhaegh goes a step further in questioning the underlying objectivity of news reports and in drawing connections between alt right philosophies and their activities. In doing so, he provides not just an investigation of a movement or group, but a thought-provoking and intense consideration of media reporting and how reality itself is shaped, and the role of ideology and philosophy in the political arena.

This unusual approach stems from the author's background: as a doctorate candidate in philosophy whose dissertation incorporated political thinking into its focus on Kant, he questioned the perceptions of "right wing" equaling political conservatism. Years later, he became aware of the "alt right" movement and was personally attracted to some of its concepts: "I looked forward to the development of new politics and political philosophies outside the strict libertarian orbit... whatever their placement on the so-called 'political spectrum.'"

Readers receive a good degree of scholarly references in the form of footnotes which support the history and research of this movement: "So, originally a 'neoconservative' was something like a recent, moderate convert to 'conservatism' - i.e., to the thinking of pro-free market types, of Burke, of Russell Kirk, etc. - but by the end of the 1980's the term meant: a proponent of mass immigration from the developing world and a staunch ally of Israel, who nonetheless did not feel at home in the Democrat Party."

As chapters unwind, not just the history but the underlying values and evolution of the alt-right movement in general and Richard Spencer in particular receive close, studious, and lively attention unexpected in a book that blends politics and philosophy. One also doesn't expect the degree of psychological and social insight that are woven into this survey, which consider religious, cultural and social system evolutionary processes alike: "Perhaps Spencer attempts with discussion of political issues, a therapy for the psyches of Modern human beings. There may be a non-white psychology that finds threats, in what is simply young whites puzzling, why their situation is so greatly deteriorating. In general, our young white male just want to be alone with a younger white female - 'separatism.' "

While some minor grammatical flaws are peppered throughout, these do not significantly detract from the overall strength and message of the book, which provides a satisfyingly unique and powerful examination no reader of politics, sociology, or American history should ignore. This wide-ranging investigative piece is a top recommendation for any contemporary social studies reader who would completely understand not just the concepts of the alt-right and how they relate to historical precedent, but the movement's evolution and underlying philosophy and attractions.

The Surgeon's Wife
William H. Coles
Story in Literary Fiction (IngramSpark)
ISBN: 9780997672947 (softcover), $10.95
ISBN: 9780997672954 (hardcover), $24.00
ISBN: 9780997672961 (ebook), $ 2.99

Set against the backdrop of New Orleans society and its medical community, The Surgeon's Wife is the story of two physicians: one an aging aristocrat and surgeon, Clayton Otherson, who begins to injure patients as his skills and mental abilities decline; the other younger partner Mike Boudreaux, who is placed in the bad position of having to point out these errors and discipline his own mentor.

One doesn't expect romance to further complicate a professional relationship already standing on shaky ground; but when Mike falls in love with Clayton's young, beautiful wife, the trouble between them threatens to spill over into the personal and professional lives of everyone involved.

It's difficult to imagine that a short novella could capture so many facets: New Orleans culture and society, the dilemmas faced by a compassionate younger doctor and his increasingly impaired mentor, and the underlying desire for love that creates ethical and moral conflicts; but The Surgeon's Wife deftly weaves these disparate threads of interest into a story line that is as thought-provoking as it is entertaining.

Readers with a special affection for romances which spring from unusual circumstances will relish the attention to detail exploring how a colleague's wife becomes tempting: "She climbed up the stage stairs gracefully, with the controlled steps of an athlete, and walked to the podium. For the first time ever, he found her striking. She knew her worth as a woman. He'd not been around her enough over the years, when her role had been always as a hostess or as Clayton's devoted companion, to see it before. But here, on this stage, presenting to this group of arrogant cynics, her confidence was obvious and appealing."

William H. Coles takes the time to explore and develop this process, and this care shows well in a production that moves beyond professional boundaries and how they are overstepped into the lives of two compassionate individuals who find in each other an unexpected connection.

As events give rise to some unexpected scenarios, readers are in for a treat because what is anticipated to be a set course of love evolves into something quite different.

While the story's unexpected conclusion would seem to belay the evolutionary direction of the rest of the novella, the result is a satisfying turn of events that will keep readers guessing right up to the end in a story recommended for romance readers who want the added attraction of professional and ethical conundrums added to the mix.

The Guardian of Deceit
William H. Coles
Story in Literary Fiction
ISBN: 9780996190305 (softcover), $11.95
ISBN: 9780996190312 (hardcover), $22.95
ISBN: 9780996190329 (ebook), $ 1.99

Mature teen to new adult fiction readers will find in The Guardian of Deceit a compelling story exploring seventeen-year-old Darwin's journey as he leaves his dying aunt and guardian to go live with an unknown cousin; a new custodian who is both rich and a famous sports figure. Luther harbors some serious personality defects, however, which make him anything but the perfect guardian, and through Darwin solidifies his desire to become a doctor and pursues his dream, Luther seems determined to thwart this goal.

As obstacles mount - not the least of which are involvements in drugs, money, and lures to a lifestyle that seem to counteract any dreams for something bigger - Darwin finds himself in a downward spiral where his dream seems ever more elusive.

From Sweeney Pale's relationship to Luther and Darwin and the messy circumstances which arise from attraction to the choices and conflicts faced by young adults on the cusp of adulthood with the possibilities and pitfalls starkly laid out before them in a maze of challenging uncertainties, The Guardian of Deceit weaves a story that is complicated at times by characters who not only come and go from Darwin's world, but who bring with them their own challenges and angst. Readers looking for simpler, more linear productions may feel confused or challenged by the wealth of characters and directions proffered by a mercurial story line, but the result is actually more reflective of the vast changes young adulthood often introduces to those in this age group.

In true form for those on the cusp of adulthood, Darwin makes both good and bad decisions for some of the right and wrong reasons, and readers are swept into a whirlwind of circumstances often out of his control.

New adult and mature young adult readers will find The Guardian of Deceit an involving story of sex, family interactions, social circumstances, and personal ambition that follows a young man's evolution as he conversely rockets towards success and encounters many failures and conundrums along the way.

The Spirit of Want
William H. Coles
Story in Literary Fiction
ISBN: 9780997672978 (softcover), $12.95
ISBN: 9780997672985 (hardcover), $22.16
ISBN: 9780997672992 (ebook), $ 1.99

The Spirit of Want provides the story of a lovely lawyer who falls in love with an unlikely prospect: a client accused of rape. As Lucy's involvement with this "bad boy" causes her to lose her license, her family, and her mind, she follows him on his flight from justice to Africa; there to learn that sometimes one can go home again - only in a different way.

The first thing to note is a similar comment to some other stories of William H. Coles: it should be forewarned that this is not a linear, staid story, but keeps its readers challenged through a host of characters and situations that keep the tale fast-paced and moving. It'll be easy to become lost if attention is not paid to the details Coles crafts in both introducing and connecting his characters; but those who appreciate changing perspectives and subplots will relish the depth that these facets bring to the overall bigger picture in The Spirit of Want.

Another thing to realize is that this story of a savvy professional woman's downfall is not an impossible fiction, but a hard-hitting story based on what too often happens to otherwise-smart females who find themselves falling for an obvious bad influence.

As Coles crafts the kinds of rationales and experiences that follow Lucy from success to failure and everything in between, readers are treated to a chronicle that leads in some unforeseen directions. While this process may seem multi-faceted and even confusing at first, ultimately it succeeds in portraying a woman who falls in love with a man who is either a fraud or a savior, depending on perspective. As Lucy comes to question her lover's self-perceptions of his worth ("She sensed the pulse of anger in him. "I helped more than I didn't."), she begins to locate the path towards her own realizations and the truths about her choices - and so does a man who circles in her orbit, Luke, who is involved with Lucy's sister Elizabeth.

As the story becomes more about Luke than Lucy's choices, it takes some completely unexpected turns with a story line that will especially satisfy fiction readers looking for something refreshingly different.

The Devil's Dragon
Jason F Boggs
Mill City Press
9781635054811 Paperback:, $13.88; ebook:, $6.14,

Nelson is a military cadet who falls under the leadership of a fascist dictator in a world changed by alien invasion, and though he enters his duties with enthusiasm, the political realities of the new world he lives in quickly become apparent and pull him in a different direction in this futuristic sci-fi story of a young man newly at odds with his mission in life.

The Devil's Dragon uses various methods to explore Nelson's dilemmas as he faces the impact of his choices and the dictator who uses the invasion as an excuse to launch his own battles and foster his own special interests. One of these is a host of characters who interact with Nelson and provide him with different viewpoints of his world.

Another is the addition of political powers and perspectives which surveys the impact of rhetoric and methods of drawing peoples together for a unified greater purpose at odds with their own special interests even as alien perspectives are introduced which follow their plans for Planet Earth: "I fully intend that the humans see our arrival, they will know that we haven't given up on the system and for the moment at least they'll be outgunned, from there I shall await your orders to launch the attack"."

At the heart of the story is Nelson's own evolutionary process as he considers why he enlisted and how it affects his goals when he discovers that the political milieu is not what he'd (idealistically) expected: "...the only reason he still wore the uniform proudly wasn't for Freeman anymore, wasn't for Jessie or even to save the world, it was for his own reasons, he wanted desperately to avenge his father's death and to kill those who caused this unholy chaos from the outset, the Aesini."

Better editing would have made for a smoother read: grammatical errors peppered throughout ("...he recalled long ago hiding in all kinds of cupboards and boxes whilst his dad's looked for him...) hamper the progress of the story, while the passion of his observations and impressions are stymied by run-on sentences that would have delivered better impact through more appropriate sentence structure: "Somehow, he does remember how freedom felt though and it felt good, stronger than youth, more liberating than the last day of school, more enlightening than a piercing epiphany, a feeling that he longed for, he knew that when he felt it, he was in his element, like the conductor of an orchestra in flawless harmony, no, it was more primal than that, like a thirst that could only be quenched by...what?"

These mentions aside, it should be noted that the basic power and passion in The Devil's Dragon lies in Nelson's growth as he confronts personal and social change and is forced to more closely inspect his own ideals, passions, and purposes in this strange new future; and in the close inspection of human and alien purposes as they barrel towards an inevitable clash.

Fans of alien invasion stories who appreciate a military perspective will find this a powerful tale indeed.

Diabetes: The Real Cause and The Right Cure
Dr. John Poothullil
New Insights Press
Print: 9780998485003, $11.95
eBook: 9780998485010, $ 7.95

Diabetes: The Real Cause and The Right Cure: 8 Steps to Reverse Your Diabetes in 8 Weeks states its main case right on the cover, clarifying the approach Dr. Poothullil takes in a book that maintains that diabetes is a curable condition: "Type 2 diabetes is not due to insulin resistance; it's your diet. See how you can stop taking medication or injecting insulin."

This perspective is especially intriguing for Type 2 diabetics because it focuses on a very different medical explanation for the cause and reversal of high blood sugar and diabetes than other diabetes books offer. It also places more control over the condition in the hands of readers who could change their lifestyle choices in order to eliminate the disease. The book is not for Type 1 diabetics, where the pancreas is actually damaged; but Type 2s will find it packed with specifics that contrast old theories about diabetes with the author's new perspective on its causes and why certain medicines only appear to work if insulin resistance isn't really the cause of the Type 2 diabetic's problem. The chapters make a strong case for eliminating grains from one's diet and taking better control of one's eating choices. The 8 steps offer a relatively easy-to-implement program most will find easy to follow.

Aware that such a simple program promoting a 'cure' could be seriously questioned, Dr. Poothullil addresses initial concerns right from the beginning ("If you think that diabetes is your destiny because one or both of your parents had it, you will learn that what you have inherited is only a potential. If you think Type 2 diabetes cannot be "cured," this book will show a completely different picture."), advocating a self-help program that requires only a willingness to self-assess in order to prove successful: "To avoid Type 2 diabetes, your goal must be to take back control of your body and rediscover or reconnect with your authentic weight. You know when your weight is right for you because your brain knows when your fat cells are not full and your blood is not full of fatty acids and glucose."

The book is a no-brainer must-read for any Type 2 diabetic who truly wants to change, and who is open to consider a new scientific equation for understanding their diabetes along with different approaches to not just control it, but eliminate it from one's life. All that's required is a willingness to change lifestyle choices.

A.G. Russo
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B071ZQN2JQ, $0.99,

Offenbunker is a Cold War novel with a difference: it tells of the moral and ethical conundrums faced by a young nurse and decorated general's daughter who finds herself in a tumultuous relationship with a man who has a special mission in mind for her.

As subterfuge, espionage, and special interests form the foundations of a powerful story that revolves around the bunker, Russian influences, secrecy, and a romance turned into a nightmare, readers are treated to a changing series of events that considers a timid daughter's dangerous position as a pawn in a deadly game.

Offenbunker is a satisfying blend of intrigue, political subterfuge, and quasi-romance set against the realistic backdrop of Cold War atmosphere. Readers receive a chilling story of how a secret bunker is designed to save selected Americans and how forces at work against the U.S. try to gain information that will lead to its downfall.

From KGB operatives to the Wall's horror for the German peoples divided by its presence in Berlin, A.G. Russo excels in capturing not just events of the times, but social and political perceptions of those caught up in a whirlwind of Cold War cat-and-mouse games.

The result is a satisfyingly engrossing story that provides a truly unexpected, satisfying conclusion that leaves readers thinking.

Devil's Pets
Alex Siegel
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B072JJ7P96, $2.99,

Alex Siegel specializes in fast-paced series titles, and prior fans of his style have much to anticipate in his newest, Devil's Pets, which opens Book 1 in the Paranormal Enforcement Administration and describes yet another agency devoted to battling supernatural forces that threaten human lives.

As in some others in Siegel's series titles, this involves an elite team led by a charismatic, effective individual with a special ability (to turn his skin into stone), who oversees a mission to destroy evil in the world.

In this story, the perp is a Satanist and serial killer who kidnaps and tortures children, and who has several evil assistants-in-training in his bloodbath against innocence; one of which, Stony is convinced, can be turned away from her deadly occupation.

One thing to note about this story is that it's not for the queasy. Gruesome descriptions of the murdered children are not overdone and are an intrinsic part of the story line, but are quite graphically portrayed.

Another facet to mention is the story's satisfying blend of supernatural intrigue and character abilities paired with a detective-style investigation that leads readers to enjoy a vivid blend of action and descriptions of extraordinary powers on the part of different team members who share a common passion for justice.

As deadly dogs, shapechangers who can slip into animal form and vanish, and the special powers of a cat woman enter into the fray, readers are treated to an exquisitely crafted blend of action and reaction that describe a range of supernatural encounters while considering psychological baggage, physical confrontations, and psychic attacks on many different levels.

The result is especially recommended for readers of Siegel's prior investigative adventures and for fans of urban fantasy and supernatural detective works who will find the fast-paced blend of action, animal connections, and a brave, talented panther woman's conversion process to be engrossing and filled with unexpected twists.

20 Women Changemakers Taking Action Around the World
Pamela Burke and Patricia Caso, Editors
The Women's Eye
9780997705454, $16.00

20 Women Changemakers Taking Action Around the World gathers the biographies and achievements of selected women who have contributed major effort to seeing positive change in societies around the world, reporting on how these women work for good to make a difference in individual lives.

This is more than a profile of powerful women, however, but serves as an activist's handbook, illustrating how each woman undertook her project, why she choose it, and the ideals supported through each effort.

Another notable feature is the global emphasis and scale of this collection, which profiles projects ranging from how a photographer and chef decided to bring soup to Syrian refugees to Gulalai Ismail's struggles for girls' rights in Pakistan.

Why profile these particular women, from a global arena? Patty Chang Anker discusses the roots of her huge project and goal: a commitment to helping people face their fears. For Patty, the project evolved into a passion for revealing the good forces at work in the world, fostered by women who decided to make a difference in more than their own immediate lives. Burke says: "I felt a real need to pursue stories with a female voice as they were not getting the attention and the exposure that I thought they deserved. With that premise, The Women's Eye emerged. Now, all these years later, we have been able to do interviews with and cover hundreds of stories about outstanding women whose accomplishments are making the world a global community of sharing and positive purpose."

These particular women's work (often conducted under seemingly impossible circumstances of poverty and prejudice) came to the book editors' attention in various ways: through global nonprofits such as Echoing Green, which awards seed funds to social entrepreneurs working on bold ideas for social change, to a retired Southern school teacher who knew that technology needed to get into underserved neighborhoods, and who created a 'Brilliant Bus' as a literal vehicle for change.

Interviews with each woman successfully reveal their inspirations, the sources of their ideas, and the challenges they faced in seeing their ideals for improvement come to fruition.

The result is a powerful, in-depth survey of exactly how complex projects emerged, development issues were tackled, and lives changed by women determined to make a difference.

This inspirational anthology should be a 'must' acquisition for any collection strong in women's issues, social change, and social justice. There's simply nothing like it on the market: 20 Women Changemakers moves far beyond biography and into the nuts and bolts of how ordinary individuals can make a difference.

Price of Eden
Brian Burt
Double Dragon eBooks
ASIN: B072M662S2, $5.99,

Price of Eden represents the final book in the Aquarius Rising trilogy; and because it's the culmination of events and tensions raised in prior volumes, it's recommended for prior followers of Brian Burt's series who will appreciate the smooth continuation of a story that revolves around a civil war that erupts in an underground kingdom after a series of carefully crafted plagues are let loose.

Ocypode, an Aquarian Atavism, has successfully foiled a deadly plot; but he's ultimately charged with bringing together two very different factions in a race against time and political alliances, and his perceived destiny as a mythic peacemaker may be an impossible role for him to accept.

Familiarity with the prior books in the series will lend to an appreciation of Ocypode's agony and conflicts as he strives to achieve the impossible in an underwater realm which may be the last enclave of a much-changed world.

From restless spirits with psychic harpoons to terrorism's barbaric but effective choices, high-stakes encounters between Humans and Aquarians, Guardian friends who watch over Ocypode and prevent him from making stupid mistakes, and the slaughter of innocent humans through competing bioweapons, Price of Eden provides a fast-paced romp through a world that holds different, competing options for survival, considering both the sacrifices of war and the impossible circumstances of continued existence.

As moral and ethical questions about friendships and associations permeate a larger story of this war's impact on all involved, Price of Eden evolves beyond bloodlust and outrage to walk a delicate line between a survival piece and a political sci-fi thriller. Descriptions of advanced technology used for warfare (nanomechs and viral mutagens) and the price to be paid for choices that result in dubious 'win' situations for only some contribute to a story line charged not just with action, but with thought-provoking dilemmas.

Fans of his prior books will appreciate the unexpected directions Brian Burt takes as he ultimately considers the real nature and definition of 'Eden' and the price all will pay to forge new paths towards peace.

A Few Minor Adjustments
Cherie Kephart
Bazi Publishing
9781947127012 (Paperback), $15.95
Epub ISBN: 9781947127029, $ 4.99
MOBI ISBN: 9781947127036

A Few Minor Adjustments is a memoir about healing and transformations, and tells how the young adventure traveler author was struck down in the prime of her life with a mysterious illness, forever changing the direction of her life.

Cherie Kephart's thirty-third birthday introduced the major challenge of chronic illness into her world, beginning with the unexpected sharp twinge in her neck that led to a crushing pain.

As a hospital waiting room triage moves into a survey of her very active world travels, readers are treated to a sharp contrast between the events that would limit her world and her carefree, adventurous soul, gaining all the background needed to understand the course of her life and why her chronic ailments were such an unexpected diversion from everything Cherie experienced.

One striking aspect of her story is how the medical system consistently failed to address her chronic issues; from an emergency room triage situation set up for heart attacks and accidents but not for unexplained attacks of intense, chronic pain to puzzled doctors who range from incompetent to helpless. Insights into myths about the medical system's effectiveness permeate her story ("I had believed the one place a person who felt scared and who was in extreme distress could go to for help was the emergency room. Of that, I was no longer certain."), offering much food for thought.

As psychological and physical changes evolve, Kephart moves into "becoming more herself" and brings readers into a process that traverses chronic, undiagnosed illness, encounters with medical systems and personnel, and a struggle to understand the source and true nature of her illness.

Readers who have struggled with the challenges of diagnosis and medical conditions will powerfully relate to Kephart's circumstances and will be inspired by not just her quest to diagnose and resolve her physical challenges, but by the accompanying psychological changes that bring her to new realizations.

This memoir isn't just a survivor's story: it recounts a transformative process which begins with extreme, life-challenging adversity and moves neatly into the realm of a very different kind of adventure as she faces and acknowledges that both life and death are ever-present.

Her epiphany - "I realized there wasn't one thing in particular that helped me begin to heal; it was a hundred." - is inspiring reading for any on their own paths to recovery and enlightenment, making A Few Minor Adjustments a 'must have' chronicle of perseverance highly recommended for anyone!

Holy Crap! The World is Ending!
Anna-Marie Abell
Alien Abduction Press
Paperback: 9781947119017, $15.99
Hardback: 9781947119024, $28.99
Epub ISBN: 9781947119031, $ 4.99
Mobi ISBN: 9781947119048

It should be evident by the title alone (Holy Crap! The World is Ending! How a Trip to the Bookstore Led to Sex with an Alien and the Destruction of Earth) that readers are in for a real treat; for this isn't your usual story of alien abduction, but a funny fictional survey of the end of the world which is loaded with humor and fun, and wry observation alike: "... at the age of seven, I had convinced myself that those things wouldn't happen to me, and that it was instead my destiny to one day rescue the planet. I am talking about a Will Smith in Independence Day style rescue (except I imagined myself with a breadstick in my mouth instead of a cigar). In one childhood fantasy, I used only a butter knife and my badass Barbie Mobile to defend the residents of my neighborhood from a rampaging, genetically mutated, alien-giraffe hybrid that had escaped from a secret government lab. (Kids, if you ever want your mom to get fired as the president of the PTA so she doesn't embarrass you in front of your class, simply run down the street with a butter knife screaming about man-eating giraffes in the rich suburb of Irvine, California. Trust me, it works like a charm.)"

There's much to be said about an unexpected story that promises to be one of the most creative fictional discoveries of the year; not the least of which is that it embraces many genres without neatly fitting into any singular box. From apocalyptic adventure and romance story to sci-fi, Holy Crap! embarks on a comedic romp through mankind's possibly final moments and sweeps readers into a tale that is packed with hilarious twists and turns.

Because its introduction concludes with a sassy comment about dreaming too big, readers are compelled to continue the read to uncover just what the protagonist meant: "But it is one thing to dream it, and an entirely different thing to live it. Had I been smart and heeded the advice of the Pussycat Dolls when they warned us to "Be careful what you wish for, 'cause you just might get it," then maybe things would have played out differently. I wished it. I got it. And now I'm about to die." And, be forewarned: it's a rollicking good yarn, indeed.

There are, of course, aliens. There is also a paranormal romance with a sexy alien, a mission to save Planet Earth, refreshingly unique dialogue supercharged with action ("I kinda have no choice," I said. "Because of this whole prophecy thing, will I need to get approval from your leader or whatever?" Inanna leaned against the wall next to me. "No one will oppose your using the communication device. If you are the catalyst, this is one way to find out. And frankly, it saves us the hassle of neutralizing you."), and a fun approach to the entire save-the-Earth-from-alien-invasion scenario which successfully turns traditional approaches upside down.

One prerequisite for the successful enjoyment of this story is a prior appreciation of irony. This is a thread that permeates every aspect of the story, from human/alien encounters to chapter headings which are anything but staid ("Horrible Accents, Even Worse Accents, Superpower-Wielding Soulmates For Sale At Target, And More Terrible Accents").

If it's a refreshingly unique voice, a feisty heroine grappling with love and life, and an alternate, funny view of an alien invasion's impact and purpose that is of interest, it should be noted that Holy Crap! is not just recommended reading - it's a 'must read' for anyone who wants a delightful frolic through future events.

Looking for Humboldt
Erika Schelby
Lava Gate Press
9780989121606, $12.99

Looking for Humboldt & Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond is a powerful blend of memoir, travelogue, and New Mexico genealogical exploration covering the author's quest to find her roots. In the process of forging new paths to historical understanding and making a new home, Erika Schelby creates a history that blends New Mexico's heritage with her own: "To make a home along the Rio Grande, I had to look, listen, pull back the layers of history, put things in a frame of reference, and fill in some of the empty spaces. This book is a record of doing this."

The first notable aspect of Looking for Humbolt is its wide-ranging blend of geopolitics, geography, history, and personal exploration. One simply doesn't expect maps, biographies of early explorers, and historical references in a personal, selective discussion of events that tie into one life. This satisfying approach, however, personalizes the broader notion of 'history' and brings with it a flavor of early German immigrant experiences and a sense of juxtaposing the familiar with the unexpected, expressed in a delightful quote that served as the author's own source of inspiration for viewing new concepts and processing them based on her own perceptions: "The real problem of a critique of our own cultural models is to ask, when we see a unicorn, if by any chance it is not a rhinoceros" (Eco, 1988)"

In adopting this approach to personal history, geography, and New Mexican culture in general and the figure of Humboldt in particular, Schelby's coverage documents movements, the turbulence of social and political events in the state, early experiences of Germans in the New Mexico Territory, and the evolution of social, political and legal processes affecting German immigrants in America: "The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the verdict 4:2, stating that the harmful effects of letting immigrants educate their children in their mother tongue was hostile to our own safety. Well, the one-room schoolteacher was a fighter, and so was his attorney, Arthur Mullen. The case went up all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Meyer won. In his decision, Justice McReynolds explained to the Nebraska courts, "Mere knowledge of the German language cannot reasonably be regarded as harmful" (Meyer v. Nebraska, 1923)."

Given the 46 million present yet invisible Americans of German descent in this country, and the effects of Brexit, this documentary should be of special interest to more than a few.

She neatly traverses the line between personal experience and historical reference, including healthy doses of each to the point that a reader looking for a more linear production that is either history or memoir alone might find themselves immersed in more than they'd bargained for on either end. By that point (not too far into Schelby's journey), it should be more than evident that this book is not a singular production.

The personal travelogues, references, and insights are just as powerful as the historical background and provide many thought-provoking moments: "Summers in southern New Mexico are very hot, but winters are usually mild, often more like early spring. When passing near the Trinity test site where the first atom bomb was exploded, I have the eerie notion that here is an axis of our contemporary world."

The result is neither fish nor fowl, but a satisfying mixture of cultural experience and heritage and New Mexican history that will attract readers of both history and autobiography, especially recommended as a powerful 'must have' acquisition for any collection strong in New Mexican literature or German immigrant experiences in America.

Profane Fire at the Altar of the Lord
Dennis Maley
9780986115844, $15.95 paper;, $5.95 Kindle

Profane Fire at the Altar of the Lord is a historical novel about dwarf David, a self-proclaimed prince of a lost tribe of Israel who might even be the Messiah. He's a somewhat unlikely candidate in many ways (stature notwithstanding) because he also trades in deceit and indulgences - his suggestion of being the Messiah being just one of the roles which gives him lucrative pleasures and payback.

The atmosphere of his Roman world, the approaching clash between Muslim and Christian forces, and a warlord in France who has lost his family fortune and whose actions land him in the unlikely role of joining forces with his sworn enemy in Rome makes for a series of encounters between disparate individuals and circumstances that together weave a powerful tapestry of Roman history, religion, social challenges, and the influences of lies upon belief systems.

David is at the heart of a changing political and social milieu that will forge new alliances and break apart long-held convictions even as it weaves together new treaties and forces.

A prior knowledge of European history is not required, but will enhance reading of a story which adds insights into encounters between Muslims, Christians as it crafts historical precedence for character actions: "These filthy Turks are menacing Venice, and the threat grows worse each year. For five hundred years, we have fought them. Beaten them back time after time with Crusades. Christian kings have driven them out of Spain. Out of Italy. But the tide us turning against us."

Having an engaging (if not immoral) character at the center of this maelstrom of change is one of the powerful features that bring the history to life in Profane Fire at the Altar of the Lord.

Readers may not agree with or completely appreciate the protagonist, David, and his perspectives on life and achievement; but one thing is certain: his actions, reactions, and wily way of coming out on top against all social and political obstacles adds an intriguing tone and perspective to a story that brings history to life in an unexpected manner.

Kings, infantrymen, Imperial armies that storm the world, powerful Afghanis who own young boys, and more bring the Crusades and their meaning and impact to life in a way few others achieve. The result is a powerful historical novel that weaves fiction and fact in such a way that any reader seeking to understand the roots of Muslim and Christian strife would do well to attend to this story.

It's an especially recommended read for those who look for a liberal dose of historical background to their fictional reads.

Impulse Spy
Carrie Ann Knox
Xotolithic Press
9780999003206, $11.99,

Impulse Spy is part of a 'Sonic Sleuths' series, but just because it's about sleuthing doesn't mean that anything about it is ordinary. Take the protagonist, for example. Quinn is not a professional sleuth but is an audiology student and a curious young woman whose special form of escape is detective novels. When she meets a dazzling female investigator and a man who leaves a mysterious note for her after hinting at surveillance, her life begins to change.

Her amateur sleuthing skills fire up as she smells a real-life mystery and becomes involved in a puzzling trail of clues that stretch before her like bread crumbs, enticing her to a diner, a bookstore, and beyond. The girl from the bookstore and a series of events lead Quinn far from her studious objectives and into a world she'd only experienced vicariously in her mystery novels. Impulse Spy neatly sums up the dilemma of an aspiring student who finds something in the real world to lure her away from her goals and dreams, and Quinn becomes involved in surveillance, undercover operations, challenging subterfuge, facing dark warnings that Sloan's operations may ultimately prove deadly.

Impulse Spy is all about situations which arise to lure Quinn from her carefully planned path in life. As Sloan's cases increasingly pull her away from her academic career, Quinn finds in them an alternative that shakes up her life, challenges her deductive skills, and involves her in a mentor who has little to do with Quinn's prior objectives in life.

The lively interactions both between the characters and in their investigative encounters makes for a dynamic survey that introduces new scenarios and puzzles into a satisfying mix that keeps events fast-paced. And while the action is ever-changing, it's not so much that readers lose track or engagement as the plot thickens with the addition of setups, special company deals, family backstabbing, and mysterious messages. Because Impulse Spy excels at building tension with a myriad of subplots while staying nicely on track with intrigue and character development, readers are treated to an exceptionally involving, unpredictable story involving two feisty females who face a host of possibilities and dangers.

Impulse Spy especially excels at portraying how Quinn's sideline of mystery investigation eventually changes her own goals in life ("My future awaited, and it was no longer going to include worrying about my hypercritical coworker or trying to blend in with the background."), making for a winning recommendation for any enthusiast of detective stories which also profile personal growth and change.

The Price of Survival
Lance Conrad
Dawnstar Press
9780991023080, $13.99,

The Price of Survival: from the Historian Tales blends an account of an invasion force with sci-fi and social commentary in a saga captured by an ageless immortal protagonist whose purpose is to witness events and write great stories about them.

In this case the tale revolves around many different characters, from Kip, an emotionally damaged ex-soldier and victim of an all-embracing conflict ("It was one of those game-changing wars, the kind optimists and fools call a war to end all wars.") to the Historian, who gathers facts, picks up and puts together pieces, and documents world-changing events as they occur through time. The social observations peppered throughout add depth and interest (" is usually the case, the dead are the lucky ones. It's the survivors that must struggle on with broken bodies and minds in a world that doesn't need them anymore.") as it traverses alien and slum worlds alike, surveying magic, refugees, hope, and the pressure points and motivations of civilizations in conflict.

As men at war with aliens face world-altering forces and terrible defeats, military confrontations and strategies power a plot that races towards the inevitability of destruction as the Historian observer struggles to document events without changing them.

Stories are sacred to the Historian's kind. But sometimes outcomes beg to be altered. As readers become immersed in the Historian's dilemmas, a wide-ranging tale is crafted that successfully immerses its readers in a gripping, original view of power's responsibilities: "I couldn't interfere in the story to such an incredible degree. Even my most intense effort could only make minor shifts. There was no way I could outright eliminate a character of such importance."

Readers who seek more than action stories from their alien invasion scenarios will relish the different approach posed by a history observer charged with documenting an event he's forced to participate in himself, with unexpected repercussions for all, in a tale that is vividly fast-paced and packed with unexpected moments and thought-provoking dilemmas.

The Price of Survival is highly recommended for the sci-fi fan who wants a different take on clashes with alien invaders.

For the Love of Thomas Amore
Charles H. Roberts III
NFB Publishing
119 Dorchester, Buffalo, NY 14213
9780997831702, $14.95 PB, $6.99 Kindle,

For the Love of Thomas Amore opens with a bang: homeless Vietnam vet Thomas Amore struggles to survive in a shelter, faces the loss of a box of precious mementos, and decides to take his chances on the cold streets during winter. He owns little other than this box and his memories, and his future is devoid of plans or hope. Even though he has a history of facing adversity head-on, it's all come to this.

Enter Dr. Peterson, who feels like his own life is incomplete despite the work he's done and the contributions he's made to society. Even a Nobel Peace Prize doesn't yield the inner satisfaction he longs for. He's become complacent - until homeless stranger Thomas enters his life and challenges his core values.

Tom is the "most honest person" he has ever met. And Tom holds the key to his own reinvention even as he lives close to the edge and cultivates a candid honesty and approach to life that the good doctor hasn't experienced before.

The juxtaposition of these two personalities and their passions and survival tactics create a novella replete with powerful moments and psychological inspection. It's a story that documents how new lives are built and how unexpected encounters between disparate individuals can change both.

For the Love of Thomas Amore follows the degeneration and re-emergence of two very different men who move from the hopes and dreams of their youth to reinvented lives in later years. Its story of struggle, hope, and transformation is especially recommended for novella readers looking for powerful stories of redemption, change, and the long road to self-acceptance and fulfillment brought about by coming to grips with past, present, and future dreams.

Prophecy of the Awakening
Daniel A. Willis
Bygone Era Books
9781941072486 (paperback)
$17.95 paperback, $6.99 ebook
Order link:

Prophecy of the Awakening is recommended for readers of urban fantasy who enjoy stories of struggle, gods, and prophecies affecting modern society and revolves around Greek gods who return to Earth despite the beliefs of the Vatican and a modern Christian world.

Prophecy in this book predicts this event; but many are unaware of these possibilities, leading lives that have little to do with celestial matters. These lives are nicely depicted and juxtaposed with the concerns of fortune tellers and Christian leaders alike.

What does this have to do with Amber's blossoming new relationship, a kidnapping, and the Church's incongruous efforts to destroy a child? As the story evolves, readers are treated to a satisfying blend of Vatican politics, a mystery and an investigation, and a prediction about an antichrist that challenges belief systems and science alike.

By keeping his story firmly rooted in contemporary society with its twists and turns, Daniel A. Willis creates an involving, engrossing story that eschews any predictable focus on Greek mythology in favor of modern characters and dilemmas that focus on both their choices and the impact of an impossible forecast. When Greek gods begin to appear and intervene in the world, it's this thorough grounding in a realistic society and its concerns that keeps Prophecy of the Awakening a powerful, revealing tale with believable protagonists whose lives intertwine nicely with the fantasy elements crafted to fruition, as the chapters evolve.

The result is thoroughly engrossing and highly recommended for readers who enjoy fantasies about prophecy and belief which have their foundations firmly rooted in powerful protagonists and their lives, relationships, and motivations.

Sweet, Sweet Stories, Some Sweeter Than Others
Daniel Curzon
l'Aleph Sweden/Wisehouse
9789176373491, $11.70

Sweet, Sweet Stories, Some Sweeter Than Others is a collection of short tales that aren't always 'sweet' in the sense of light pleasure, but which always hold messages and food for thought in a collection especially recommended for short story readers who like their vignettes sharp and intriguing.

One doesn't anticipate that suspense, drama, metaphysical topics and powerful psychological works will fall into the category of 'sweet,' but all these themes meld in a form of autobiography and reflection that succeeds in crafting powerful tales of angst, healing, relationships and life's chance interactions.

Take, for example, 'O, Ye of Little Faith'. Here, a nursing home sojourn among the barely-living turns into new revelations about life and death as an isolated, lonely man who wants to die confronts the reality of imminent demise in those around him.

Or consider 'Asylum?' in which a woman who processes immigrants who are seeking asylum finds a way to reconsider her own role in decisions about who lives or possibly dies in the country they're fleeing from.

The overall strong impact of these satisfyingly diverse pieces cannot be denied and are recommended for short story readers who seek contemplative, involving vignettes about life encounters and moments of transformation.

Raven's Rise
Elizabeth Cole
SkySpark Books
9781942316213 (ePub)
9781942316220 (Print)
$4.99 (ebook), $14.95 (paperback)

Raven's Rise is the third book in the 'Swordcross Knights' series set in 1144 England, and continues a historical romance saga. Because it flushes out scenes, characters, and settings so deftly, it's especially recommended for prior fans of the series who will appreciate this new expansion of events.

Lady Angelet has been dutiful and obedient all her life; but it appears that her reward is to be sent to a nunnery, after she becomes a widow. Escorted to her banishment by a handsome and attentive knight who invites her to be his consort, Angelet finds herself with an unexpected new lover and defender even as she's on her way to the culmination of a chaste, obedient life.

Changed by their relationship and the forces that work against them, Angelet and Sir Rafe find themselves fighting for freedom, their lives, and each other as a seemingly straightforward journey and assignment turns into a series of deadly encounters.

Medieval Britain's world comes alive under Elizabeth Cole's hand, and readers should expect scenes of passion and purpose mixed in with the blossoming story of a romance fueled by immediacy and danger. There are subplots and intriguing additions to the tale, from Angelet's struggles with epilepsy to political and religious influences and the price of romance in a world fraught with deception and change.

The result is a powerful journey through more than the woods in an encounter that keeps its characters and their relationships at the center of an evolving maelstrom of personal and political transformation.

Fans of historical romances that neatly juxtapose passion with a flavor of the times, and especially those who have followed the previous Swordcross Knights series additions, will relish this new title, which documents how hearts are won and champions influenced.

The Webster Nexus
Jay D. Gregory
Delta G Press
c/o Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Inc.
Paperback ISBN: 9781942545903, $14.95
eBook ISBN: 9781942545927

Mick has lost his beloved grandfather in the opening of The Webster Nexus: an especially traumatic situation because Mick is a little different, and his grandfather understood and encouraged him. Mick 'sleepdances' - a spastic condition that follows him from childhood to adulthood and preoccupies his nocturnal hours - and it's a condition that only lends to his odd differences as the world evolves and comes to need him.

As connections evolve between weather events and human behavior, conspiracy theories and power grids, and Kevin's search through Midwestern experiences to uncover the nexus of events that surround Mick, readers are treated to a winding story that links the evolving 'Webster Nexus' to the life of one Michael Eldritch.

Is Mick an evil genius or an ordinary man caught up in scientific phenomenon impossible to define? And can an experiment to improve Mick's inherent skills as a 'dancer' bring forth the true extent of his latent powers? As Mick experiences inter-dimensional cycling and a revised vision of his place in the world, everything changes.

The Webster Nexus offers a satisfying blend of science and a visionary prescription for healing as it presents a slowly-evolving story that is both methodical in its clear descriptions and increasingly compelling in its twists and turns. While readers seeking high-octane thrillers replete with swift action and charged confrontations may find its pace less dramatic than some, the purpose of The Webster Nexus isn't to imbibe characters and scenes with artificial haste, but to create a powerful story through precise interactions between science and everyday lives.

A visionary, metaphysical tone enters the discussion to make for a read that goes in unexpected directions, involving its readers in what turns out to be a compellingly unexpected experiment on the human race.

Fans of climate sci-fi, visionary fiction, and hard science stories alike will find this a powerful tale that begins with a somewhat extraordinary boy and follows him to a manhood that holds anything but an ordinary life, adding dashes of insights about faith and enlightenment for good measure.

When God-Fearing Women Put On Boots: The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly, Volume Four
Kalan Chapman Lloyd
Rebelle Press
9781543033588, $14.99 print, $7.99 ebook, $24.95 audio

Fans of the feisty character of Miss Lilly, whose exploits were introduced and followed in three previous books, will be delighted to see the arrival of the fourth in her adventures, When God-Fearing Women Put On Boots. To summarize the recipe of Kalan Chapman Lloyd's success: readers should anticipate a liberal dash of Southern sassy humor, a tablespoon of charm, and a story line replete with mishaps, sex, and ironic observation that opens with a bang (so to speak) and proceeds to deftly trace the spicy life and heritage of a Southern belle gone awry.

But don't expect to find a familiar setting, because Miss Lilly has gone to Vegas, where her antics and those of her friends are just as ribald and sassy in Sin City as they were elsewhere. The girlfriend 'posse' faces a long road to Vegas fraught by many disasters along the way and enhanced by Miss Lilly's quirky 'can do' attitude ("I'd poo-pooed this trip all the way to takeoff, but it was part of my personality to try to right the ship once adrift.")

Lilly observes that Vegas is "weird," and her astute first impression is solidified by further events that teach her she has much to learn about the town and her place in it, her relationship with men and friends, and how she can find a companion who will look past her zany persona and friendships to uncover the deeper aspects of her psyche: "I think it takes a strong man to be genuinely attracted to the crazy that Tally and I can create. Someone solid who both finds us entertaining and recognizes that there's more beneath the surface. I think that's why it could never come to real fruition with Cash, and ultimately failed with Van; they liked the package, and were entertained by me, but neither one of them could understand that although I was tough and driven and bright and shiny, deep down, I was deep and feeling."

As in the previous books, readers should anticipate a healthy dose of wry insights and observations not only about Lilly's world, but about her personality and past: "While my legal briefs, in their submitted glory, are well-researched and a step away from color-coding, they never start out that way. My natural personality is to make messes into masterpieces, in my humble opinion. I've been praying for God to do just that with me, so it's aptly suited."

These insights juxtapose nicely with a story line that, for Lilly, pits romantic potentials against a potentially boring life. The result is an iconic mix of fun, madcap escapades, serious life reflections, and an assessment of the risks of romance which come alive in a satisfyingly vivid continuation of Lilly's adventures.

When God-Fearing Women Put On Boots is very highly recommended for both prior fans and newcomers who look for sassy, vivid personalities fueling fun stories of road trips and revelations.

Finding My Badass Self
Sherry Stanfa-Stanley
She Writes Press
Print ISBN: 9781631522901, $14.95
E-ISBN: 9781631522918, $ 9.95

Finding My Badass Self: A Year of Truth and Dares documents a year of 'The 52/52 Project' in which Sherry Stanfa-Stanley participated in one new experience a week. But if readers think these involve extreme sports or high-octane adventure, be advised that these challenges lay more in the psychological realm and deeply probe beliefs, reactions and responses, and life connections.

Most people, for example, wouldn't go on a road trip with an ex-husband (much less his girlfriend), or would be a mime in front of strangers, to name a few scenarios. Why undertake such adventures? Because in challenging preset notions, boundaries, and abilities, Sherry Stanfa-Stanley uncovered new abilities, passions, and purposes to her life from experiences that lay well outside her comfort zone: "I then realized this wasn't just about taking on a weird lark of an experience; it was about succeeding at being funny and crazy and clever. If there was one thing I'd learned in the past several months, these new life experiences didn't mean much if I didn't give them my all."

From the results of changing her appearance in public to something less staid (" others reacted to my appearance still bothered me more than I cared to admit. In most situations over the past months, I'd learned to handle humiliation and to brush off others' opinions. Yet when it came to my appearance in more everyday circumstances like these, it seemed I still wanted to appear physically attractive or at least normal. Whether it was due to an engrained sense of vanity or a bit of insecurity, it made me wonder: As I grew older, would I grow more - or less - self-conscious about my appearance?") to confronting patrons while taking up bartending during St. Patrick's celebrations, the variety of ways in which Stanfa-Stanley confronts her self and her world make for an inspirational read filled with exciting possibilities for readers thinking about breaking their own molds and more fully acknowledging unrealized potentials.

While all this sounds like serious stuff, it should be advised there's a distinct and marked sense of humor and wry observation that runs through the entire work. This key component takes a potentially dry, serious topic and adds a lightness that makes it not just readable, but amusing and involving.

The result is an uplifting, fun, quirky, and most of all, thought-provokingly powerful memoir highly recommended for any woman who would gain new perspective about her life and its direction and choices.

Valley of the Purple Hearts
Rick DeStefanis
The Word Hunter
9780996534239, Kindle Edition, $3.99, Paperback Edition, $15.95

Vietnam veterans are often noticeably different from other American veterans of war, a facet that has observed by friends, family, and acquaintances alike. Why? Rick deStefanis' novel helps explain and explore this in a manner few other Vietnam fiction stories can equal.

Valley of the Purple Hearts is a novel which closely examines the Vietnam experience from different perspectives that go beyond the usual approach; not the least of which is from a (secondary) female protagonist's viewpoint, and is recommended reading for any who appreciate military stories in general and Vietnam novels in particular.

The first thing to note about this story is that it's filled with life-changing encounters between different age groups and people, with the backdrop of war just one of the facets affecting their changing perceptions, development, and lives.

Buck Marino is only eighteen when he enters the war, meets Sergeant Rolley Zwyrkowski, and an army nurse who may prove the love of his life. Under another hand, events might have focused on conflict and confrontation in the field, but Rick DeStefanis sets out to show how these experiences intrinsically change psyches and perspectives, and so his story winds through battle scenes and death to consider how personalities are challenged and changed by the trauma of combat.

As the Second Squad moves through the steamy jungles of Vietnam, the characters each evolve their own coping methods and revise their ideas that change from a notion of adventure to one of survival and gritty determination against all odds.

It should be cautioned that this is no light read. Real-world military terminology is used, and a glossary of terms is provided which non-military readers are advised to review first, to make their reading smoother. DeStefanis takes time to explore the differences between imagining a foreign environment and the realities of culture shock, which are often surreal and alien in nature, and he pulls no punches, whether exploring constant encounters with death or deadly decisions that provoke sudden reflections on the past: "Less than a foot away was enough explosive to send him into eternity as a fine mist. Removing his helmet, he set his sixteen aside and pulled the C-4 from his pocket, but the craziest thing kept running through his mind - a memory from high school."

Another notable aspect to the story is its visceral descriptions, which place the reader directly in the Vietnam jungle as they follow Buck and his company on impossible missions: "Buck sucked in the dank jungle air through his nostrils. Sometimes you could smell them before you saw them - an odor of wood-smoke, defecation, or even the rotted fish sauce they called Nuoc Mam. For now, there was nothing but the odor of the rotting vegetation on the jungle floor."

'Nam's aftermath brings nightmares to its survivors - but most of all, it changes them intrinsically, forever. Valley of the Purple Hearts documents this process, standing out from many other military novels about Vietnam to probe at the foundations of purpose, courage, survival, and the consequences of military engagements, and is highly recommended reading for any who would understand the Vietnam experience from the eyes of an idealistic young soldier who finds his world irrevocably changed as a result.

Ocean of Self
Mark N. Spencer
Mark Spencer, Publisher
9780995413801, $6.60 (ebook)

"Some memories pull you back again and again. It's like being drawn to certain pictures on a wall, down a corridor that represents life's journey." Similarly, some books hold the same draw with an ability to bring evocative memory to life and pair it with an enthusiasm and appreciation for real-world experience. In the case of Ocean of Self: An Ocean Diver Explores the Nature of Consciousness, this life passion is the ocean, which the author plumbs as a dedicated scuba diver.

As readers surf through the diving career, friendships, and expanding skills of Mark N. Spencer, they are treated to vivid stories of ocean encounters that range from freshwater cave diving to wreck-diving and underwater photography, all carefully balanced with a dental career and educational process.

The author's photos pepper a story which is about adopting and employing life skills whether they involve career, spiritual growth, or learning about shifting consciousness and exploration.

Ocean of Self isn't just autobiography; nor is it a story of deep-sea diving experiences alone. Readers quickly come to understand it's also an exploration of the nature of consciousness and how spiritual forces underlay reality, offering ties to the sea that quickly expand into a surprising blend of history, science, and the lessons learned from the author's various dives and encounters with sea creatures and self alike.

What does the sea have to do with metaphysical reflection? Plenty: within exploration there is fear of the unknown, discovery, efforts to understand choices and how the world operates, and some of the sea's best-kept myths, such as the legends surrounding mermaids and their basis in dugongs and manatees.

As literary references, lovely color photos of sea life, and discussions of sea lore and psychology evolve, readers are treated to a thought-provoking series of links between physical and spiritual worlds: "To dive into this "ocean of consciousness", we don't have to don heavy breathing equipment. All we need is an effective and proven technique of quietening the mind - meditation. The results - like diving into the watery ocean - are far from fear-provoking. The opposite, in fact, awaits - the discovery of a realm of our own nature that is peaceful, silent, alert, encompassing, integrating, beyond any notion of time, and promising of all possibilities. We don't fear what we learn through direct experience, as opposed to what we learn second hand or what we conjecture."

Like Proust, Spencer takes the time to fully describe the intricacies and beautiful moments of both worlds. Readers who come along for the ride, whether they are from scientific or spiritual backgrounds, won't be disappointed in the blend of diving experience, science, and metaphysical reflection that links seemingly disparate worlds and unifies them.

Ocean of Self is highly recommended for scientists who like their science mixed with higher purpose and new age readers who appreciate their spiritual reflection well grounded in a form of science that celebrates facts, beauty, and stories about consciousness and depth in man and beast alike.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

So You Think You Know Rock and Roll?
Peter E. Meltzer
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510717664 $17.99 pbk / $11.57 Kindle

Synopsis: Rolling Stone magazine recently released its list of the 100 greatest albums in rock music history, a period spanning more than fifty years. Nearly 60 percent of those albums were released in the decade from 1965 to 1975 - the golden age of classic rock. This book is a wide-ranging portrait of that transformative and remarkable time, from the dawn of the singer-songwriter era to days before disco.

This book is presented in a question-and-answer format, but it is hardly a "trivia" book. It covers such diverse topics as censorship, chart phenomena, album covers, rock groupies, manufactured bands, one-hit wonders, rock festivals, supergroups, novelty songs, and the Beatles.

All of the major figures of the '60s and '70s are here: Cream, CCR, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Neil Young, the Eagles, the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Linda Ronstadt, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, Marvin Gaye, David Bowie, James Taylor, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed, Carly Simon, Laura Nyro, and many others.

Exhaustively researched, So You Think You Know Rock and Roll? is filled with "I never knew that!" moments on every page.

Critique: The question-and-answer format makes So You Think You Know Rock and Roll? accessible to readers of all backgrounds, including both casual and hardcore rock enthusiasts. From stories behind the most popular rock songs of 1965-1975, to moments when politicians honored rock, to surprising incidents of censorship and swear words and much more, So You Think You Know Rock and Roll? is filled with amazing yet little-known facts from cover to cover. A choice pick for rock 'n' roll fans! It should be noted for personal reading lists that So You Think You Know Rock and Roll? is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.57).

Being a Proactive Grandfather
Richard Eyre
1254 Commerce Way, Sanger, CA 93657
9781945547270 $14.99

Synopsis: Statistics tell us that male Baby Boomers probably have another twenty to thirty good years ahead of us, and most have grandchildren. But how much time and mental energy will we expend on these living legacies? How much will we prioritize them, and how proactive and deliberate will we be as granddads?

New York Times #1 bestselling author, Richard Eyre encourages grandfathers to ask themselves a very important question: what kind of grandfather will you be? Will you be a disengaged grandfather, who downsizes to an adults-only condo in Sun City by a golf course and rarely sees his grandkids? Will you be a limited grandfather, a supportive grandfather, or best of all will you be a proactive grandfather?

Only when we choose to be proactive does grandfathering become effective, consequential, and truly fun. At this level, you deliberately ponder the needs you can uniquely fulfill, and you set goals and plans to enhance your grandchildren's lives (in concert and in teamwork with the goals and stewardship of their parents). This approach will stretch and test you, but it will also reward you with levels of fulfillment, well-being, love, and peace otherwise unobtainable.

Critique: Being a Proactive Grandfather is a guide to maintaining a rich relationship with one's family, and especially one's grandchildren. Chapters address how to pass on values, how to guide grandchildren away from dangerous "entitlement" attitudes, and lesser-known "grandfather's secrets" such as "Joy is the purpose of life and a choice you make." Being a Proactive Grandfather is wise, down-to-earth practical, and highly recommended.

Creating an Ecological Society
Fred Magdoff & Christ Williams
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583676295, $25.00, PB, 384pp,

Synopsis: Sickened by the contamination of their water, their air, of the Earth itself, more and more people are coming to realize that it is capitalism that is, quite literally, killing them. It is now clearer than ever that capitalism is also degrading the Earth's ability to support other forms of life.

Capitalism's imperative is to make profit at all costs and expand without end. This attitude and goal is destabilizing Earth's climate, while increasing human misery and inequality on a planetary scale. Already, hundreds of millions of people are facing poverty in the midst of untold wealth, perpetual war, growing racism, and gender oppression. The need to organize for social and environmental reforms has never been greater. But crucial as reforms are, they cannot solve our intertwined ecological and social crises. Creating an Ecological Society reveals an overwhelmingly simple truth: Fighting for reforms is vital, but revolution is essential.

Because it aims squarely at replacing capitalism with an ecologically sound and socially just society, "Creating an Ecological Society: Toward a Revolutionary Transformation" is filled with revolutionary hope. Fred Magdoff and Chris Williams, who have devoted their lives to activism, Marxist analysis, and ecological science, provide informed, fascinating accounts of how a new world can be created from the ashes of the old. "Creating an Ecological Society" shows that it is possible to envision and create a society that is genuinely democratic, equitable, and ecologically sustainable. And possible (not one moment too soon) for society to change fundamentally and be brought into harmony with nature.

Critique: Fred Magdoff taught at the University of Vermont in Burlington, is a director of the Monthly Review Foundation, and has written on political economy for many years. Chris Williams is an environmental activist, teacher. Together they have produced a comprehensive, documented, informative, thought-provoking study that is impressively 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. A work that will have immense value and appeal for professionals and non-specialist general readers alike, "Creating an Ecological Society" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Economics collections in general, and Environmental Studies supplemental reading lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Creating an Ecological Society" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.75).

Dan Eatherley
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781628725117, $24.99, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Raymond Ditmars (1876 - 1942), was the first curator of reptiles at New York's famous Bronx Zoo. He brought cold-blooded animals to public attention as never before. Through wildly successful books and movies, Ditmars inspired a generation of zoologists with his fascination for snakes, insects, and other misunderstood creatures.

Ditmars' reptile-collecting trips for the zoo spawned newspaper headlines across the world. Although a serpent lover, he was all too aware of the devastating effects of snakebites and was instrumental in the development of antivenom. His films and writings brought him fame, but he remained a devoted zoo employee, doing what he loved most: caring for animals.

"Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World's Largest Viper" by British writer, filmmaker, and environmental consultant Dan Eatherley tells the story of this remarkable man and what became an obsession with the mysterious bushmaster of the South American rainforest. Measuring up to thirteen feet in length, this is the world's largest viper, and its scientific name, Lachesis muta, translates as "silent fate." Despite numerous expeditions to jungles from Honduras to Brazil, Ditmars could never capture a bushmaster for himself.

"Bushmaster" is also the story of Dan Eatherley attempts to follow in Ditmars's footsteps, revisiting his early haunts in the United States and South America. Eatherley sought to do what Ditmars himself failed to achieve: to find a bushmaster in the wild. But eighty years later, will Dan have any more luck? Through the author's own quest, Bushmaster reveals the life of a pioneer herpetologist, wildlife filmmaker, and zoo curator.

Critique: A non-fictional biography and nature study that reads as smoothly and engagingly as a deftly crafted novel, "Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World's Largest Viper" is an informative and compelling read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bushmaster" is also available in a paperback edition (9781628727661, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.29).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

G.W. Pomichter
Create Space
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston SC 29406
9781497486805, $9.99 PB, $1.99 Kindle, 186pp,

It's hard sometimes to find a good mystery to cuddle up with because there now are so many from different publishers that are so formulized. "Lucky" is a true find because it's not from a big publisher and it harkens back to the era of the detective novels of the 1940's. Will Marks who served in the European theatre of WWII was nicknamed "Lucky" because during combat he escaped death several times. Now the war over, he returns to LA to begin being a cop. He interrupted his employment by volunteering for service after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Because of his attitude that he wants to take the fight to criminals his superior officer is hesitant to put Marks on the street. Marks has a desk job but thirsts for more. During an interlude at a night club he encounters private detective Jack Parker and his assistant Trixie who enlist his aid in acquiring some information at the department for a case they are working. As Marks gets more involved with them he finds out more about his friends that could just get him killed. Many authors try to recreate the "Detective Noir" genre but often fail. G. W. Pomichter does a great job of recreating the feel with the conversations, descriptive passages and the mood that moves the story along very quickly to the end. "Lucky" is told in the same style of detective fiction of Phillip Marlow and Sam Spade that takes the reader on a wild ride of page turning excitement. "Lucky" is sure to please fans of this genre who are looking for something new to enjoy.

Master of Alaska
Roger Seiler
True North Publishing
c/o Motivational Press
9781628653298, $21.95 PB, $0.99 Kindle,

Besides Sara Palin former governor of the state of Alaska who ran for Vice President a number of years ago what do most Americans know about Alaska? To be honest, not much. "Master of Alaska" takes place long before it became a territory and later a state of the United States that shows how things were under Russian ownership. The author brings to life the first Russian governor Aleksandr Baranov and shows the many problems he faced governing the people of this large state. Some of the things he dealt with were other countries, the weather, the elements, the residents before Russian rule and the day to day difficulties of running a government. Seiler used writings of Baranov and other resources to create a depiction of the man who faced so many situations during his term. "Master of Alaska" is a fast-paced novel that readers of historical fiction should enjoy.

The Toilet Papers A Collection of Short Stories Places To Go, While You Go
Jaimie Engle
JME Books
c/o A Writer For Life
P.O. Box 411242, Melbourne, FL 32941
9780997170986, $14.95, PB,

Through the years there have been several books like "The Bathroom Reader" that were for when you have to use the bathroom to keep your mind occupied. "The Toilet Papers" is a bit different because it's a collection of fiction stories unlike the others that are non-fiction. Author Engle has filled the book with many wonderful stories that are guaranteed to please anyone looking for a good read. Two of my favorites are "Cereal Killer: The Leprechaun Murder" where a detective must solve the quirky case of a leprechaun's murder and "White Water" where a man will do anything he can to get a drink of water. This one is bound to generate controversy as it should, of a social issue long ago that hopefully we never see again. It also has an underlying premise of how much can one person put up with before reacting to an injustice. The Toilet Papers" by Jaimie Engle is an entertaining collection to be read and savored for the many witty yarns she has concocted.

In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation
Rick Bava
Motivational Press
9781628652017, $19.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 278pp,

For many of us in the generation known as the baby boomers, author Rick Bava in "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation" shows where we've been and where we are going. Along the way he reveals things like TV shows that we watched, historical events of the nation, education issues and a lot more. He then tells what's important to this generation as we get older and how we can cope with things happening in the world. Bava has an easy style to read and enjoy the many facets he delves into. "In Search of the Baby Boomer Generation" discloses many things often forgotten about one of the most turbulent generations to ever come down the pike.

Power of a Hug
Janice Howard
Legacy Book Publishing
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park Fl 32789
9781937952044, $14.95, PB, 78pp,

Hugs are often taken for granted of how important they are. Author Janice Howard in "Power of Hug" reveals the significance of why people should hug more often. Through the use of biblical verse and common sense she shows many different occasions people should be hugging each other. She points out to relieve stress, to give comfort in bad times, to enlighten, are just of the times she exposes. "Power of a Hug" is a very important book that many of us should read and follow to a happier life.

Theodore Boone The Activist
John Grisham
Puffin Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780142426135, $8.99 PB, $8.99 Kindle, 271 pp,

"Theodore Boone the Activist" is the fourth novel of the series that began with "Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer" The writing here is a bit different from Grisham's adult novels that are so much more complicated in their plots. Theodore Boone finds himself in the middle of a controversial situation of a land purchase that involves the entire town. During the controversy, several men wound Boone's dog Judge that later becomes a complicated legal matter. Grisham makes the story interesting to the very end where the town decides what to do with the land. "Theodore Boone The Activist" is for Grisham fans and anyone who wants a fast-paced legal thriller.

Joshua Robert Jr. Mad Scientist The Gelatin Incident
Story by Jason Wahler
Cover art & Illustrations by Siok Baganha
Talking Dog Publishing
9781633188549, $9.99, PB, 76pp,

Joshua Robert Jr. has a hidden lab at his house where he plays with different things to invent things. In "The Gelatin Incident" the first novel in the series he creates a way to turn things into gelatin including his younger brother Justin. Now he is faced with a massive problem how to turn his brother from gelatin back into Justin without their parents ever knowing what he's done. "Joshua Robert JR, Mad Scientist The Gelatin Incident" is fun reading for readers of all ages as they find out if Joshua is able to succeed in his task to fix the problem he created with his brother.

Joshua Robert Jr. Mad Scientist And The Bioluminescent Bacteria
Story by Jason Wahler
Cover art & Illustrations by Siok Baganha
Talking Dog Publishing
9781682731710, $9.99, PB, 78pp,

Joshua Robert Jr is back in a second installment with another problem to solve. This time he has a helper in his best friend Samantha. Something has gone very wrong with the new swimming pool at the school they attend. People who swam recently in the facility begin to glow a funny green color and for some they become fish like creatures. It is up to Joshua and Sam to find a solution to this whole matter. They work in his secret lab at home taking samples from the water and other sources as they have a limited time to set things right. "Joshua Robert Jr. Mad Scientist And The Bioluminescent Bacteria" takes the reader further into the world of Joshua Robert Jr. in a very fast paced enjoyable story all the way to the end.

When Your Elephant Has The Sniffles
Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481495042, $7.99 Board Book, $6.99 Kindle, 26pp,

"When Your Elephant Has The Sniffles" delves into the big problem a person has when their pet Elephant has the sniffles. Author Susanna Leonard Hill tackles the issue in a very funny kids book that poses so many ways to help eliminate this problem before it is passed on to someone else. Like many other kid's books there is a lot of symbolism that many readers will pick up on. I am not one of them though I did find other underlying messages that were a lot of fun. "When Your Elephant Has The Sniffles" is a short laugh out loud excursion into the world of an elephant's problem that is fun reading for all ages.

When Your Lion Needs A Bath
Susanna Leonard Hill
Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481495028, $7.99 Board Book, $6.99 Kindle, 26pp,

The author of "When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles" now focuses her attention on what to do with a pet lion who stinks in "When Your Lion Needs A Bath." This time the author points out that the pet lion is very smelly and his owner needs to do something about it. The lion resists while the owner tries to figure out a way to give his pet a bath to make him smell better. Once again the author has many underlying messages to kids why it's so important to maintain good bathing habits. "When Your Lion Needs A Bath" is another witty way to teach children good habits to maintain the rest of their lives in a fun story that is excellent reading for everyone no matter what age.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Marcus Sakey
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Publishing
276 Fifth Ave., NY, MY 10001
9781477848470, $24.95, Hardcover, 304 pp.
9781477848401, $15.95, Paperback,

From the publisher: "The last thing FBI Agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion - - a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shockwave. He wakes without a scratch. The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No plans cross the sky. He's relieved to spot other people - - until he sees they're carrying machetes. Welcome to the afterlife.

". . . a mind-bending new thriller about life, death . . . and what happens after. A terrorist has paralyzed Chicago, targeting civilians with brutal swiftness and precision. FBI agent Will Brody would do anything to catch him - - but this time he's the hunted, not the hunter. Lured into a trap, Brody is caught in a furious explosion that claims his life. But in "Afterlife," death is only the beginning. Brody finds himself wandering a different Chicago. A city real in every detail, but seemingly empty. It turns out the afterlife is a dangerous place. This echo of Chicago is populated only by those who died abruptly, violently, with an abundance of life force remaining. For some, it's a new life in death. For others, it's a war. Now Brody must fight to survive the afterlife and protect other innocents - - all while desperate to reunite with the woman he loves and left behind. That woman is his boss, fellow FBI agent Claire McCoy. Their love affair was illicit, breathtaking, and brief, cut short by the bomb blast. For Claire, finding Brody's killer is personal. And when she confronts him head-on, she does so knowing that her own life is on the line - - but not what waits on the other side."

This novel is an unexpected combination of love story, a thriller, and a sci-fi tale, all memorably written and engaging - who could ask for anything more? I should add it is all unexpected, and, to be candid, something not usually within my reading preferences. What sets this one apart is, primarily, the abovementioned quality of the writing. I already knew what a wonderful this author is, but this was an entirely new and unexpected experience.

Brody, 37 years old, is not entirely unprepared for what ultimately is expected of him in the afterlife: He was a Marine, having enlisted right after 9/11. Brody's new world is what is referred to by its residents as an echo of the world he had known, literally, "an overlap" of that world.

"Afterlife" is a novel unlike any I, personally, have ever read. Like the characters in the book, I was totally unprepared for what lays within its pages. And I must admit that it stayed with me long after the last page was turned. And, clearly, it is recommended.

The Devil's Triangle
Howard Owen
The Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor NY 11963
9781579624996, $28.00, Hardcover, $9.99 Kindle, 240 pp,

The eponymous area of Richmond, Virginia had had an unsavory reputation, although not so much in recent years. The opening lines of the book are quite attention-getting: "In the flaming hell that used to be one of my watering holes, last call came about eight hours early. You don't really expect a twin-engine Beechcraft to crash through the plate-glass window during happy hour."

The author doesn't really lose that initial grab of the reader's attention through the remainder of the book, with tight plotting and wonderful writing, complete with sympathetic main characters, especially the protagonist, one Willie Black, a newspaperman of mixed race in a dying profession, one of many in a "dystopian march to obsolescence marked by layoffs, furloughs, and shortened hours." We are told that more "staples of twenty-first century print journalism are on the way." We meet Mal "Wheelie" Wheelwright, the editor, and the "print journalists" of which Willie is one. Willie says they "have to be like sharks. Keep moving or die. Either take a promotion or move to a bigger paper. . . At fifty-six, you want to be the SOB, not the person who works for SOBs. You aren't likely to fire yourself." Especially so for those in the "Fatal Fifties - - too young to retire, too old to outwork or underbid the damn millennials and their younger siblings."

There is initially the suspicion that the "tragic air disaster in Richmond" was the work of foreign terrorists. The reporters on The Triangle go to the scene of the crime, where Willie finds Larry Doby Jones, the chief of police, standing "half a block from the carnage." Of course, TV reporters were there en masse, as were print journalists from every paper from the Washington Post on down. We soon meet Willie's family: His mother Peggy, 74, whose significant other is referred to simply as "Awesome Dude;" his daughter Andi, and grandson, William, typically, it would seem, a young boy born out of wedlock, as is Willie himself. Willie is renting a place from his third ex-wife, Kate, and lives there with his current romantic attachment, Cindy.

From the publisher: The obvious answers, though, just don't pan out. All the shoot-from-the-hip purveyors of vigilante justice have to stand down when it becomes clear that the pilot of the suicide plane was a disaffected former Richmonder, David Biggio, with no known links to any terrorist organizations, foreign or domestic. For Willie Black, the daily newspaper's hard-charging, hard-drinking night cops reporter, the question still remains: Why?

The story soon seems apparent: "Crazy guy gets crazier when his wife leaves him and takes his only child. He steals a plane and makes some kind of cataclysmic statement a few blocks from where his former family lives." The number of dead reaches 25. The tale follows Willie's investigation and its culmination, where every loose end is neatly tied up.

This is the author's fifteenth novel, and the sixth in the Willie Black series. It is really a page-turner, and I can't wait for the next in the series. Highly recommended.

Cast the First Stone
James W. Ziskin
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633882812, $15.95/17.00 CA$, Paperback, 303 pp.

From the publisher: February 1962. Tony Eberle has just scored his first role in a Hollywood movie, and the publisher of his hometown newspaper in upstate New York wants a profile of the local boy who's made good. Reporter Ellie Stone is dispatched to Los Angeles for the story. But when she arrives on set to meet her subject, Tony has vanished. The director is apoplectic, his agent is stumped, and the producer is dead. Ellie is on the story, diving headfirst into a treacherous demimonde of Hollywood wannabes, beautiful young men, desperately ambitious ingenues, panderers, and pornography hobbyists. Then there are some real movie stores with reputations to protect. To find the killer, Ellie must separate the lies from the truth, unearthing secrets no one wants revealed along the way. But before she can solve producer Bertram Wallis' murder, she must locate Tony Eberle.

This is the fifth in the Ellie Stone Mystery series, and a welcome addition it is. The tale takes place in just over two weeks' time, in February of 1962. Eleonora (Ellie) is a reporter with the New Holland Republic, a small afternoon daily newspaper serving its small-town community in upstate New York, and Ellie gets the plum assignment; but as the cliche goes, be careful what you wish for. It takes her a while to adjust to the fact that other newspapermen [nearly always men] just "look past a girl reporter. Even when they're leering at her."

There are numerous instances of political correctness, attributable more than anything to the time in which they occur, indicative of and true to the era depicted. (On a more positive note, I must admit that I loved the Yiddishisms thrown in by the author via the mouth of Irving Greenberg, Tony's Jewish agent, originally from Brooklyn [being from that borough myself.])

But the writing, and the plot, are very well-done, and the supporting characters just terrific. Ellie of course is a known quantity - always great to read a new Ellie Stone book. It is very enjoyable, and it is recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

Collecting the Constellations
Emily J. Steers
Amazon Digital Services LLC
9781532860539, B01IKVFR7G, $0.99, Kindle, 242 pages,

Collecting the Constellations is a light action adventure with a touch of archeology. It is an average story in this genre. The plotline has some jumps and the e-text is a conversion from a paper print formatting that brings a few formatting and editing errors into the e-text. Overall it is a solid addition to the genre but it doesn't stand out.

Charlotte Daly is a researcher working at a major museum. She finds a blue sapphire dagger in the basement of the house she inherited from her world traveling aunt. She traces the dagger to Nepal and travels to Kathmandu to find out more information. Her research has unwittingly triggered the attentions of an international crime ring trafficking in ancient artifacts. Can she stay alive long enough to solve the mystery of her aunt's sapphire dagger?

Collecting the Constellations is an average action adventure. There is nothing wrong with the story but there is nothing unique about it either. What makes it a recommendation is its very low price. It is a good choice for anyone first exploring the genre, because of its cost, or for a fan of action adventures needing a fix and being short of cash. This is an entry book so future stories by Emily J. Steers could be much better.

Station at Diablo
Roger Raffee
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01MQNKP93, $.99, Kindle, 366 pages,

Station at Diablo is a mix of a Texas tall tale and a horse opera that is written by a novice writer. The story is more of a collection of shorts than a true novel. There is a lot of historical information dumped into the story in blocks that is used to fill the gaps between the fairly well written individual vignettes that make up the bulk of the novel. Unfortunately the unhelpful and stilted historical tidbits distract more from the storyline than they add to it. The story would read better if it was written as a collection of short stories and novelettes that are linked together as a collection. Western purists will also question travel times between locations in the story that fit better with contemporary automobile travel than horseback.

Aaron Kovac grows up around a Texas Ranger post in San Antonio, wanting to be a Ranger. His father is the doctor for the Rangers. He matures into manhood during the post-Civil War reconstruction period and with the unrest of a land that just lost a war and is filled with bandits and social strife. While still in his teens he is sworn in as a new Ranger. He is filled with the idealism of his family and the law and order ethic of the Rangers he grew up around. The real question is will his idealism survive the lawlessness of the dangerous Texas border country.

Station at Diablo is a novice's attempt to blend the highly accurate Western storytelling of Louis L'Amour with the more fanciful tall tale styles from the dime novel era. Raffee, the author, is skilled at writing a short scene but has problems pulling everything together. At 99 cents, Station at Diablo is a recommendation to horse opera fans in need of a fix but for first time readers in the genre finding a used Louis L'Amour or Max Brand novel would be a better choice.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Anti-Gravity Files
David Hatcher Childress, editor
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
9781939149756, $22.00, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: David Hatcher Childress is the popular author of more than 20 science and archeology books. In the tradition of "The Anti-Gravity Handbook" (9781931882170, $18.95) and the "Time-Travel Handbook" (9780932813688, $18.95) comes his newest study, "The Anti-Gravity Files", an all-new compilation of material on anti-gravity, free energy, flying saucers and Tesla technology. With plenty of technical drawings and explanations, this suppressed technology will change the world in ways we can only dream of. Comprised of chapters on anti-gravity mercury gyros, the motionless electromagnet generator patent, the Tesla pyramid engine, anti-gravity patents, rare photos of the machines in flight, and tons more, "The Anti-Gravity Files" finally reveals suppressed technology and anti-gravity!

Critique: Could anti-gravity make the leap from science fiction to reality? Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, heavily illustrated (including an 8-page color section), "The Anti-Gravity Files" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library collections.

The Online Writer's Companion
P. J. Aitken
Allworth Press
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781621535287, $19.99, PB, 344pp,

Synopsis: Every year, millions of writers struggle to find work, and most make little more than spare change from the assignments they land. With the expansion of the online freelance marketplace, anyone with the right skills can learn to thrive and build a full-time career as a freelance writer. A successful novelist and freelance writer, P. J. Aitken now shares with aspiring writers those skillsets and knowledge base that have earned him high levels of success on Upwork and other online freelance platforms.

His specific tips include: Creating the perfect profile; Writing winning proposals when bidding on writing jobs; Garnering the rating system that will bring recognition and new clients; Establishing long-term clients; Outsourcing for the most efficient results; Blogging for pay; Navigating the best sites and avoiding pitfalls many writers fall into.

"The Online Writer's Companion: A Complete Guide to Earning Your Living as a Freelancer" is an unprecedented, invaluable, indispensable guide for aspiring writers and authors of various materials and backgrounds, from bloggers to professional writers, students to retirees. It can even touch freelancers in other trades who want to hone their skills. By learning to make the most of a myriad of websites for freelance writers, readers will finally have the knowledge to succeed!

Critique: A comprehensive and 'real world' practical instruction guide and manual, "The Online Writer's Companion: A Complete Guide to Earning Your Living as a Freelancer" should be considered as a mandatory textbook on how to make a living as a writer in this age of the internet and social media. It should be noted for that "The Online Writer's Companion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Priest of Nature
Rob Iliffe
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780199995356, $34.95, HC, 536pp,

Synopsis: An interdisciplinary enthusiast and intellectual giant in a number of disciplines, Issac Newton published revolutionary, field-defining works that reached across the scientific spectrum, including the Principia Mathematica and Opticks. His renown opened doors for him throughout his career, ushering him into prestigious positions at Cambridge, the Royal Mint, and the Royal Society. And yet, alongside his public success, Newton harbored religious beliefs that set him at odds with law and society, and, if revealed, threatened not just his livelihood but his life.

His private papers, never made available to the public, were filled with biblical speculation and time lines along with passages that excoriated the early Church fathers. Indeed, his radical theological leanings rendered him a heretic, according to the doctrines of the Anglican Church. Newton believed that the central concept of the Trinity was a diabolical fraud and loathed the idolatry, cruelty, and persecution that had come to define religion in his time. Instead, he proposed a "simple Christianity" -- a faith that would center on a few core beliefs and celebrate diversity in religious thinking and practice. An utterly original but obsessively private religious thinker, Newton composed several of the most daring works of any writer of the early modern period, works which he and his inheritors suppressed and which have been largely inaccessible for centuries.

In "Priest of Nature: The Religious Worlds of Isaac Newton", Rob Iliffe (Professor of History at the University of Oxford and the General Editor of the online Newton Project) introduces readers to the religious Newton, deepening our understanding of the relationship between faith and science at a formative moment in history and thought. Professor Iliffe shows how wide-ranging Newton's religious observations and interests were, spanning the entirety of Christian history from Creation to the Apocalypse. Professor Iliffe allows his readers to fully engage in the theological discussion that dominated Newton's age.

Critique: A seminal work of original and comprehensive scholarship, "Priest of Nature" is an impressively informed and informative biography that is a unique and invaluable contribution to an accurate understanding of the life and work of one of the true trailblazers of science in general, and how we now perceive the physics of the universe in particular. While unreservedly and emphatically recommended as a core addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Priest of Nature" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.39).

The Invention of Celebrity
Antoine Lilti
c/o Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781509508730, $74.95, HC, 320pp,

Frequently perceived as a characteristic of modern culture, the phenomenon of celebrity has much older roots. Written by Antoine Lilti (Professor of History at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris) and aptly translated from French into English for an American readership by Lynn Jeffress, "The Invention of Celebrity" shows that the mechanisms of celebrity were developed in Europe during the Enlightenment, well before films, yellow journalism, and television, and then flourished during the Romantic period on both sides of the Atlantic.

Figures from across the arts like Voltaire, Garrick, and Liszt were all veritable celebrities in their time, arousing curiosity and passionate loyalty from their "fans." The rise of the press, new advertising techniques, and the marketing of leisure brought a profound transformation in the visibility of celebrities: private lives were now very much on public show.

Nor was politics spared this cultural upheaval: Marie-Antoinette, George Washington, and Napoleon all experienced a political world transformed by the new demands of celebrity. And when the people suddenly appeared on the revolutionary scene, it was no longer enough to be legitimate; it was crucial to be popular too.

Professor Lilti retraces the profound social upheaval precipitated by the rise of celebrity and explores the ambivalence felt toward this new phenomenon. Both sought after and denounced, celebrity evolved as the modern form of personal prestige, assuming the role that glory played in the aristocratic world in a new age of democracy and evolving forms of media. While uncovering the birth of celebrity in the eighteenth century, Professor Lilti's perceptive history at the same time shines light on the continuing importance of this phenomenon in today's world.

Critique: An original and seminal work of outstanding scholarship that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Invention of Celebrity" is an impressively informative and insightful work that is enhanced with the inclusion of a section of full color illustrations, fifty-six pages of Notes, and a thirteen page Index. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Invention of Celebrity" is also available in a paperback edition ( 9781509508747, $28.95) and in a digital book format ($18.99).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Faith, Power, Joy
Sheryl A. Stradling
Dharma Press LLC
9781627470377, $14.95, PB, 186pp,

Synopsis: "Faith, Power, Joy: Spiritual Guidance from 5 Generations of Remarkable Women" by Sheryl A. Stradling tells the multi-generational saga of a family of women who followed their intuition, demonstrated their faith, and transformed the challenges in their lives into opportunities for service and joy.

The women's stories begin in 1890, when the author's then sixteen year old great grandmother challenged a family friend in a bet and went on to overcome unexpected tragedy, grief and loss. She learned to share her faith through love and helping others heal.

The family chronicle traverses time through the next generation when Sheryl's grandmother had a stellar career as an educator in the public schools, which she achieved by her determination and challenging the social norms of her times. Her daughter, Sheryl's mother, confronted lifetime illness and personal loss with courage and determination.

Each woman lived by her principles of love, faith, courage and determination. They each found their path in life by learning to trust themselves and follow their guidance. Their stories are both joyful and heartbreaking as each reveals her methods for overcoming adversity and transforming obstacles into opportunities. Each woman learned to embrace life with enthusiasm and share what she learned to help others.

These remarkable women built on the spiritual growth of their fore mothers. In "Faith, Power, Joy", author Sheryl Stradling now shares her family's secrets for creating the lives they wanted through spiritual principles that apply today: faith, gratitude, giving, love, courage. They inspire us and provide guidance to harness our inner power, live by our faith, and share our joy with others.

Critique: A wonderfully inspired and inspiring read from beginning to end, "Faith, Power, Joy: Spiritual Guidance from 5 Generations of Remarkable Women" is a truly extraordinary account that will prove to be a simply riveting experience. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Women's Studies and Women's Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Faith, Power, Joy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Manufacturing Urgency
Corinne L. Mason
University of Regina Press
University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4S 0A2
9780889774711, $29.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Manufacturing Urgency: The Development Industry and Violence Against Women" by Corinne Mason (Associate Professor in Gender & Women's Studies and Sociology at Brandon University) investigates anti-violence policies in international development, demonstrating that strategies intended to end violence against women are constructed to serve ends other than the needs of women.

Through careful consideration of anti-violence initiatives (such as "The Hillary Doctrine," the World Bank's The Cost of Violence and the United Nation's UNiTE To End Violence Against Women) Professor Mason shows how these projects are technocratic, depoliticized, and executed in a manner that serves the interest of neoliberal economic growth and security concerns, at the expense of a more holistic, effective, and accountable approach.

Critique: An exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented work of substantial and original scholarship, "Manufacturing Urgency: The Development Industry and Violence Against Women" includes a twenty-page listing of References and a twelve page Index. Impressively informed and informative, "Manufacturing Urgency" is an unreservedly recommended addition to college and university library Women's Issues collections in general, and Violence Against Women supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop
Veronica Henry
Pamela Dorman Book / Viking Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780735223493, $25.00, HC, 352pp,

Synopsis: A dream come true for dedicated book lovers, a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals, Nightingale Books is a small but elegant bookstore that is nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father's death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia's loyal customers have become like family, and she can't imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.

There's Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there's a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage -- she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.

Critique: Readers will enter the familiar world of Nightingale Books, and enjoy a serving of romance, the revelation of long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future in "How to Find Love in a Bookshop" by novelist Veronica Henry and her delightful, original, engaging, entertaining story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish. While unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended for community library Contemporary Romantic Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Find Love in a Bookshop" is also available in a digital book format ($12.99).

Nature Speaks: Art & Poetry for the Earth
Deborah Kennedy
White Cloud Press
9781940468464, $19.99, PB, 112pp,

Synopsis: In "Nature Speaks: Art & Poetry for the Earth", Deborah Kennedy's captivating poetry and illustrations bring to life the profound bond between ourselves and the larger natural world. Kennedy focuses on the ecological themes of our time, infusing art and science with insight and passion. Her powerful poetry and earth-toned ink illustrations feature the elegance of birds and strength of redwood trees, appealing to the eye, the mind, and the heart. "Nature Speaks" invites us as we move toward pathways for healing ourselves and the earth to listen to the earth -- to appreciate nature's grace, complexity, and vigor.

Critique: A visual and intellectual pleasure to browse through one page at a time, "Nature Speaks: Art & Poetry for the Earth" is a unique compendium of images created by art and by word. Very highly recommended as a unique and compelling addition to personal, community, and academic library collections. "Nature Speaks" will be of particular interest and appeal for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in a poetic and artistic approach to themes of nature & ecology.

Visualizing the Text
Lauren Beck & Christina Ionescu
University of Delaware Press
200A Morris Library, 181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
9781611496451, $110.00, HC, 382pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Christina Ionescu (Associate Professor of French studies at Mount Allison University) and Lauren Beck (Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies at Mount Allison University), "Visualizing the Text: From Manuscript Culture to the Age of Caricature" presents in-depth and contextualized analyses of a wealth of visual materials. These documents provide viewers with a mesmerizing and informative glimpse into how the early modern world was interpreted by image-makers and presented to viewers during a period that spans from manuscript culture to the age of caricature.

The premise of this collection responds to a fundamental question: how are early modern texts, objects, and systems of knowledge imaged and consumed through bimodal, hybrid, or intermedial products that rely on both words and pictures to convey meaning? The twelve contributors to this collection go beyond traditional lines of inquiry into word-and-image interaction to deconstruct visual dynamics and politics - to show how images were shaped, manipulated, displayed, and distributed to represent the material world, to propagate official and commercial messages, to support religious practice and ideology, or to embody relations of power.

The chapters comprising "Visualizing the Text" are anchored in various theoretical and disciplinary points of departure, such as the history of collections and collecting, literary theory and criticism, the histories of science, art history and visual culture, word-and-image studies, as well as print culture and book illustration.

The contributors draw upon a wide range of visual material hitherto insufficiently explored and placed in context, in some cases hidden in museums and archives, or previously assessed only from a disciplinary standpoint that favored either the image or the text but not both in relation to each other. They include manuscript illuminations representing compilers and collections, frontispieces and other accompanying plates published in catalogues and museographies, astronomical diagrams, mixed pictographic-alphabetic accounting documents, Spanish baroque paintings, illustrative frontispieces or series inspired by or designed for single novels or anthologies, anatomical drawings featured in encyclopedic publications, visual patterns of volcanic formations, engravings representing the New World that accompany non-fictional travelogues, commonplace books that interlace text and images, and graphic satire.

Geographically, this collection covers imperial centers (Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Spain), as well as their colonial periphery (New France; Mexico; Central America; South America, in particular Brazil; parts of Africa; and the island of Ceylon). Emblematic and thought-provoking, these images are only fragments of the multifaceted and comprehensive visual mosaic created during the early modern period, but their consideration has far reaching implications.

Critique: An impressive body of seminal scholarship, "Visualizing the Text: From Manuscript Culture to the Age of Caricature" is a truly exceptional collection of twelve insightfully informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking articles, and features illustrations, an informative introduction by Christina Ionescu, and a ten page index. "Visualizing the Text" is an unreservedly recommended and critically analytic contribution to college and university library Contemporary Literary Studies collections in general, and Visual Culture supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Peace Weavers
Candace Wellman
Washington State University Press
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164-5910
9780874223460, $27.95, PB, 280pp,

Synopsis: Throughout the mid-1800s, Coast and Interior Salish families arranged strategic cross-cultural marriages, and these alliances played a crucial role in regional settlement and spared Puget Sound's upper corner from the tragic conflicts other regions experienced. Although accounts of the men exist in a variety of records, the contributions of their native wives remain unacknowledged.

In "Peace Weavers: Uniting the Salish Coast Through Cross-Cultural Marriage", Candace Wellman (an expert in research methods, sociology, history, and genealogy) hopes to shatter stereotypes surrounding these relationships.

The four women profiled -- Caroline Davis Kavanaugh (Samish-Swinomish), Mary Fitzhugh Lear Phillips (S'Klallam), Clara Tennant Selhameten (Lummi-Duwamish), and Nellie Carr Lane (Sto:lo) -- exhibited exceptional endurance, strength, and adaptability. Remembered as loving mothers and good neighbors, they ran successful farms, nursed and supported family members, served as midwives, and operated profitable businesses. They visited relatives and attended ancestral gatherings, often with their children. Each woman's story is uniquely her own, but together they and other intermarried women left lasting legacies.

They were peace weavers.

Critique: A unique, informative, exceptionally well researched, impressively written, organized and presented study, "Peace Weavers: Uniting the Salish Coast Through Cross-Cultural Marriage" is an original and seminal work of outstanding scholarship. Featuring maps, illustrations, two appendices, thirty-six pages of Notes, a twelve page Bibliography, and a five page Index, "Peace Weavers" is unreservedly and enthusiastically recommended addition to college and university library collections in general, and Contemporary Canadian Anthropology supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Helen Dumont

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The New Irish Table: Recipes From Ireland's Top Chefs
Leslie Conron Carola, editor
Carsten Krieger, Chris Hill, et. al., photographers
Foreword by Tourism Ireland
Imagine Publishing
c/o Charlesbridge
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781623545246, $24.99, HC, 240pp,

"The New Irish Table" is a luxuriant color photographic tour through the provinces and famous regions of Ireland, with celebratory side visits to Irish celebrity chefs' kitchens in Dublin, Wicklow, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Derry, Fermanagh, and Cavan. Some of the chefs featured include Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio, Kevin Dundon, Darina Allen, Martin Bealin, Ultan Cooke, Tim O'Sullivan, Ian Orr, Noel McMeel, and Neven Maguire. If you were able to visit some of the finest cookery schools, fine dining establishments, and chefs to be found in Ireland, you would perhaps taste a few of these sumptuous recipes which feature the best of local resources. Fantastically beautiful photographs of Irish scenes help to frame and place each set of treasured recipes. measurements are given in standard form, with metric weights and volumes added.

Some of the featured dishes include Seared Lamb and Beetroot Salad, Smoked Salmon with Cucumber Pickle, Cod, octopus, Purple Broccoli, Broccoli Puree, and Horseradish Mayonnaise, Crispy Duck Breast with Glazed Butternut Squash and Star Anise Jus, Braised Lamb with pearl Barley Risotto (West Kerry Lamb), Whipped Goat cheese with Beet Slaw and Apple Syrup, and more. For desserts, there are recipes for Sheep Yogurt Mousse with Marinated Strawberries and Mint, Vanilla Panna Cotta with Honeycomb, Raspberry Cheesecake, Victoria Sponge with Strawberries, and a personal favorite, Guinness Chocolate cupcakes, also Lemon Curd with Meringue and Raspberries. For classic tea accompaniments, there are Ballyknocken Tea Scones and Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread.

Some recipes call for uniquely Irish ingredients, but they are included to tempt the reader to further culinary and geographic explorations. All are freshly presented and imagined, such as Carpaccio of Scallops with Chili, Lemon, and Wood Sorrel, or Wood pigeon, Gooseberry, and Spinach/ A delight such as Renvyle House Berry Trifle is delicately introduced embellished with amaretti biscuits. Hearty traditional Irish fare is not neglected, including such recipes as Traditional Fish and Chips, and Smoked Irish Salmon, Cream Cheese, and Traditional Boxty. Each recipe is presented on one page opposite a beautiful photo portrait of the finished dish. Instructions are clear and easy to follow.

For a beautiful cook book that is at least half stunning scenic Irish photo portraits, treat yourself to "The New Irish Table." It is surely the next best thing to a journey to that great green, sea- encircled land.

Work-Life Balance for Music Educators: Real Stories, Real Strategies, Real Solutions
Paul Kimpton and Ann Kimpton, authors
GIA Publications Inc.
7404 South Mason Avenue, Chicago, IL 60638
9781622772025, $24.95, Spiral Bound, 162 pages,

"Work-Life Balance for Music Educators" is a deeply relevant, practical personal growth manual especially written for a wide audience of music educators and related professionals over the span of their life careers. Music education is known to be a demanding, time-intensive career choice that affects and is affected by both the personal and professional lives of the music educator. Finding a crucial life balance between the job and family or personal vs professional areas is described as "the secret to having a fulfilling professional and personal life (p. 126)."

Mr. Kimpton begins and ends his workbook with a moving poetic tribute for consideration, The Viking Prayer. "Lo, there do I see my father./ Lo, there do I see my mother, and my sisters and my brothers. Lo, there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning! Lo, they do call to me. They bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla! Where the brave may live forever!" With only a few word substitutions, this poem becomes a lodestone for the striving or retiring music educator, seeking to live a life of both valor, significance, and personal fulfillment.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Kimpton offer real life examples, stories of musical professional/personal struggles and solutions that have formed their lives. Many helpful strategies are offered to help deal with common problems, including reflective learning, the idea of accepting and using a sense of restlessness, enhancing communication skills to problem solve in both personal and professional arenas, a challenge to expand one's knowledge beyond the area of expertise, and discovering ways to both maintain and revitalize life at home and at work while engaged in a time-intensive career. A common practice that is encouraged is writing out problems and ideas for solutions, also just exploring personal/professional goal areas. A helpful technique for problem solving called single and double -loop reflection is described.

Humor and realism pervades the writing, as well as a very human combination of ambition, vast overview, and humility. The spouse's viewpoint is smoothly incorporated throughout, and especially in chapter 14 which comes under the heading of partner balance, or who to deal with a partner who is in a time-intensive profession. Another refreshing addition is the idea of becoming a student again, and expanding your knowledge base. Finally the author encourages full development of your human portfolio, including developing a balanced list.

Arriving at the penultimate chapter, Your Footprint, Kimpton suggests "It's OK to Say My Job Is My Life." An intriguing Finale chapter invites re-examination of the introductory poem, the Viking Prayer, and reaches an inspiring conclusion: "Your journey into finding balance will not be just your journey, it is everyone's journey with whom you are connected. By reading, sharing, discussing, and opening yourself up to new ideas and experiences, you will see the potential for creating the life you want....Methods such as reflection, single-loop, double-loop learning, and spiral reflection provide the steps to becoming proactive instead of reactive. You can decide when you want to step on the podium and when you will step off as you take control of your life (p. 1320."

Containing many helpful appended forms and diagrams and a list of resources and references, "Work-Life Balance for Music Educators" is an excellent resource for both music educators and others deeply involved in time-intensive vocations.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood
Anthony Kaldellis
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780190253226, $39.95, HC, 440pp,

Synopsis: In the second half of the tenth century, Byzantium embarked on a series of spectacular conquests: first in the southeast against the Arabs, then in Bulgaria, and finally in the Georgian and Armenian lands. By the early eleventh century, the empire was the most powerful state in the Mediterranean. It was also expanding economically, demographically, and, in time, intellectually as well. Yet this imperial project came to a crashing collapse fifty years later, when political disunity, fiscal mismanagement, and defeat at the hands of the Seljuks in the east and the Normans in the west brought an end to Byzantine hegemony. By 1081, not only was its dominance of southern Italy, the Balkans, Caucasus, and northern Mesopotamia over but Byzantium's very existence was threatened.

How did this dramatic transformation happen? Based on a close examination of the relevant sources, "Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade" by Anthony Kaldellis (Professor of Greek and Latin at The Ohio State University) is the first history of the Byzantine empire in over a century and offers a new reconstruction of the key events and crucial reigns as well as a different model for understanding imperial politics and wars, both civil and foreign. In addition to providing a badly needed narrative of this critical period of Byzantine history.

Offering new interpretations of key topics relevant to the medieval ear, "Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood" is presented in three parts: Part 1 covers the years 955-1025, a period of imperial conquest and consolidation of authority under the great emperor Basil "the Bulgar-Slayer"; Part 2 (1025-1059) examines the dispersal of centralized authority in Constantinople as well as the emergence of new foreign enemies (Pechenegs, Seljuks, and Normans); Part 3 chronicles the spectacular collapse of the empire during the second half of the eleventh century, concluding with a look at the First Crusade and its consequences for Byzantine relations with the powers of Western Europe. This briskly paced and thoroughly investigated narrative vividly brings to life one of the most exciting and transformative eras of medieval history.

Critique: An extraordinary and comprehensive work of truly impressive historical scholarship, "Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood: The Rise and Fall of Byzantium, 955 A.D. to the First Crusade" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation. The most definitive one-volume history of the Byzantine empire to date, "Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Ancient History collections in general, and Byzantine Empire supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Streams of Gold, Rivers of Blood" is also available in a digital book format ($14.54).

Medieval Jerusalem
Jacob Lassner
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
9780472130368, $75.00, HC, 268pp,

Synopsis: "Medieval Jerusalem: Forging an Islamic City in Spaces Sacred to Christians and Jews" by Jacob Lassner ( Phillip M. and Ethel Klutznick Professor Emeritus of Jewish Civilization in the departments of History and Religion at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois) examines an old question that has recently surfaced and given rise to spirited discussion among Islamic historians and archeologists: what role did a city revered for its holiness play in the unfolding politics of the early Islamic period? Was there an historic moment when the city, holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, may have been considered as the administrative center of a vast Islamic world, as some scholars on early Islam have recently claimed?

"Medieval Jerusalem" also emphasizes the city's evolution as a revered Islamic religious site comparable to the holy cities Mecca and Medina.

Examining Muslim historiography and religious lore in light of Jewish traditions about the city, Professor Lassner points out how these reworked Jewish traditions and the imposing monumental Islamic architecture of the city were meant to demonstrate that Islam had superseded Judaism and Christianity as the religion for all monotheists. He interrogates the literary sources of medieval Islamic historiography and their modern interpreters as if they were witnesses in a court of law, and applies the same method for the arguments about the monuments of the city's material culture, including the great archaeological discoveries along the south wall of the ancient Temple Mount.

Critique: An impressively informed and informative work of outstanding scholarship, "Medieval Jerusalem: Forging an Islamic City in Spaces Sacred to Christians and Jews" is a timely analytical and historical study that will be of immense interest and relevance to a broad range of readers given the significance of the city in the current politics of the Near East. In part serving as a corrective to narratives of Jerusalem's past that are currently popular for scholarly and political reasons, "Medieval Jerusalem" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Medieval Jerusalem" is also available in a digital book format ($59.95).

Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances
Alexander V. Kutchin, Lyudmila N. Shishkina, Larissa I. Weisfeld, editors
Apple Academic Press
9 Spinnaker Way, Waretown, New Jersey 08758
c/o CRC Press (distributor)
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781771885607, $149.95, HC, 388pp,

Synopsis: "Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances: Chemical and Biochemical Aspects" is comprised of fifteen major articles from knowledgeable contributors that collectively demonstrates the progress and promise of developing new chemical substances from renewable sources of chemical raw materials. "Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances" brings together new achievements in the field of research and processing of plant raw materials and the synthesis of natural compounds for the production of biologically active substances and drugs. The contributors look closely at the rational use of renewable raw materials, which is the source of new compounds and intermediates for the chemical industry. "Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances" covers a wide range of problems associated with the use of the components of plants to produce new substances with a wide variety of purposes.

"Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances" is knowledgeably compiled and co-edited by Alexander V. Kutchin (Professor of Organic Chemistry and Director of the Institute of Chemistry of Komi Scientific Center, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences); Lyudmila N. Shishkina (Profesor of Biophysics and head of the Department of Physiochemical Problems in Radiobiology and Ecology at the Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences; she is also a member of the Scientific Counsel of the Russian Academy of Sciences on Radiobiology); and Larissa I. Weisfeld (Senior Researcher, Chief Specialist of Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics, she is the author of three cultivars of wheat and also a member of Vavilov Society of Genetics and Breeders).

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a twelve page Glossary, an eight page Index, and a six page listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a seven page listing of Abbreviations, the individual articles comprising "Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances" are organized into two major sections: Components of Plant Origins: Synthesis, Modifications, and Properties; Biological Activity of Plan Substances, "Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances: Chemical and Biochemical Aspects" is represents a body of impressively informative and erudite scholarship, and unreservedly recommended for corporate, college, and university library Contemporary Chemistry Science collections in general, and Biochemistry supplemental studies reading lists in particular, as well as being of immense and enduring value for students, faculty members, researchers, and scientists in the fields of organic chemistry and chemical engineering. "Chemistry and Technology of Plant Substances: Chemical and Biochemical Aspects" was created on the initiative of Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Chemistry of Komi Scientific Center of Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Set Your Family Free - Breaking Satan's Assignments Against your Household
Dr. Bob and Laura Larson
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
97807684122746, $16.99, 186 pages

Identifying Potential Family Crisis - Moving from Recognition to Resolution and Release, and From Spiritual Bondage to Freedom

Bob and Laura Larson have collaborated in the writing of "Set Your Family Free." This guide book is designed to provide biblically based counseling, founded on scriptural principles, and sound psychological practice, combined with spiritual and emotional Inner Healing.

"Set Your Family Free" is uniquely different from Bob Larson's other books. In this book the reader is provided with a proactive plan for using biblical knowledge to raise spiritually equipped children with an understanding that will enable them to avoid falling into demonic strongholds by using an offensive approach when facing spiritual warfare.

Using a case study as an example Laura describes a plan for purposeful parenting that resulted in repentance, restoration, and healing. An important step in this instance was the necessity to help these parents recognize the dangers of the previous generation's predispositions, before they could resolve the negative spiritual impact these negative behaviors on their son.

Dozens of similar stories tell of ways that Satan attacks families, and tries to destroy marriages. Therapeutic interaction, and deliverance prayers may be needed to restore these families to a biblical model.

The logical progression and organization of the material in "Set Your Family Free" heightens reader understanding, assimilation of the principles, and for taking the action steps necessary to make application of these principles to real life issues. Hundreds of other keys and suggestions are presented with positive suggestions to produce spiritual growth, and victory over the powers of darkness.

"Set Your Family Free" is an important redemptive tool for families in crisis, for Christian deliverance, inner healing, marriage counselors, and pastors.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Simplicity of Healing - A Practical Guide to Releasing the Miracle Power of God's Word
Dr. Sandra G. Kennedy
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768415193, $14.99, 160 pages

Learn to Activate God's Word to Build Your Faith and Find Healing and Wholeness

Dr. Sandra Kennedy's book "The Simplicity of Healing" provides the reader with keys and principles to release and activate the miracle power of God's Word to build faith, to receive healing, and wholeness. Readers will learn the important principles of the power of agreement, confession, and declaration.

God spoke to Sandra as a child, "One day I will use you in the healing ministry." Dr. Kennedy tells the story of her personal miraculous healing. The book is filled with testimonies and stories that tell of the fulfillment of God's calling on Sandra's life through her role as founder and pastor of Whole Life Ministry, and the healing ministry of The Healing Center. Dr. Kennedy has been teaching the principles of healing for over 30 years.

Two important features add to the value of the book as a resource tool for ministry: A summary statement of healing principles including things you need to know, things to do, and a complete list of healing scriptures. Although "The Simplicity of Healing" is concise, easy to read, and understand, the book is a complete manual of walking in faith and a practical guide to healing.

A unique feature of the book is the emphasis Dr. Kennedy places on the individual believer applying these principles personally for "Releasing of the Miracle of Power of God's Word" for healing and wholeness. A forceful principle.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Preparations for a Move of God ... in your life
Dr. Sandra G. Kennedy
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768418293, $9.99, 72 pages

Foundational Principals for Renewal, Overcoming Obstacles, and a Living a Victorious Life

Dr. Sandra Kennedy's book, "Preparations for a move of God ... in your life" offers the reader clear, concise, instructions on how to position our Christian life for spiritual growth through a faith expectancy on God, so that He can intervene, change our perspective on our situations, circumstances and problems; increase our faith, and transform our life.

Dr. Kennedy introduces fundamental foundational truths and principles which allow God to infiltrate and change every facet of our lives, as we diligently seek his presence, and make a volitional surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Kennedy shows how the power of true faith produces action. She describes how revelation produces heart knowledge in the process and how renewing our minds and confessing the word can turn our stumbling blocks in to stepping stones.

"Preparations for a Move of God" clearly proclaims promises from the uncompromised Word of God with solid step by step teaching on faith that results in healing, and victory. Dr. Kennedy has a calling and passion for the Church to have a worldwide impact with a far reaching message of the splendor and glory of God.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Jewish Jesus - Reconnecting with the Truth about Jesus, Israel, & the Church
David Hoffbrand
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768411041, $15.99, 224 pages

Getting a Clearer Perspective of Jesus, in Light of His Manhood, His Teaching, and the Purpose and Restoration of Israel

David Hoffbrand in "The Jewish Jesus" helps the reader reconnect with Jesus, who he is; as a man, as a Jew, his ministry with his early disciples, and how the church lost its Jewish roots. He introduces the reader to the truth about Israel, why God chose them as a people, his love for Israel, his covenant with Israel, his plan for Israel, and the restoration of Israel.

Hoffbrand challenges the reader to get a clearer understanding of the New Testament, to carefully read it within the context in which the Jews were living at the time Jesus walked on earth. He goes on to ask the reader to consider a profound question: "How much are Gentiles supposed to live as Jews, and how much are Jews supposed to live like Gentiles?" He concludes the book with five principles from Paul's letter to the Romans for application to our lives and in the church today as Jewish and Gentile believers.

David's writing has "a richness of detail" that encourages Christians to follow Jesus more correctly as individuals and as a church. This also enables more Jewish people to "discover and reexamine Jesus' claim to be their Messiah."

David Hoffbrand grew up in a Jewish family in England. He is an associate pastor of the City Coast Church. David is passionate about his desire help the church today get a better understand the Bible by reconnecting with Jesus within the framework of his Jewish background. David

"The Jewish Jesus" is timely, important, and relevant, enabling the reader to get a new perspective on Jesus, his Jewish roots, and God's plan for Israel and the Church today. David writes with clarity, conviction, and certainty. This is "must reading" for Christians today, Gentile and Jewish alike. Highly Recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions express are my own.

Baptized in the Spirit - God's Presence Resting Upon You with Power
Randy Clark
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978067412345, $15.99, 254 pages

Celebrating Diversity - Embracing Empowerment - Without Compromise

In his book "Baptized in the Spirit - God's Presence Resting Upon You with Power" Randy Clark, presents a definitive study on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The book is the culmination of years of study, application, and personal experience in areas operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, prophecies, the gift of tongues, and the gift of impartation. Dr. Clark understands the depth of diversity and opinions prevalent today in Apostolic teaching and Pneumatology.

The book is divided into four parts:

Part One describes and defines the Scriptural, historical, and theological, perspectives of six different positions taken on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Part Two provides an introduction to the subject of experiencing the baptism of the Spirit, receiving the baptism, and evidences of the baptism. Clark shares his own story as well as the personal testimonies of a broad spectrum of Christian leaders from different eras and backgrounds to illustrate how individual experiences vary. These stories attest that baptisms have occurred at the time of salvation, deliverance, or surrender.

In Part Three, Dr. Jon Ruthven, a mentor of Clark, presents "A New Biblical Understanding of the Sprit." Ruthven compares Theological traditions on the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the central mission and message of Jesus on the Holy Spirit as found in the four Gospels.

Part Four covers issues of holiness, equipping, revival, and more testimonies of Holy Spirit Baptism.

Clark delivers a masterful, Biblically based, historically accurate, and theologically sound resource that crosses denominational positions. "Baptized in the Spirit - God's Presence Resting Upon You with Power" is destined to become required reading in seminaries, leadership workshops, and seminars.. Theological Professors, Pulpit Ministers, and Bible Teachers, professional and lay, will appreciate Clark's thorough research, documentation, detailed chapter end-notes, and extensive bibliography.

Randy Clark founder of Global Awakening earned a DMin from United Theological Seminary and is highly recognized by his peers for his credibility and integrity. He is in demand as an speaker, in Bible conferences, international missions, and as a leader in the Apostolic movement.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Renew - Breaking Free from Negative Thinking, Anxiety, and Depression
Julie Winter
Destiny Image Publisher, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768412222. $16.99, 254 pages

"Renew Breaking Free from Negative Thinking, Anxiety, and Depression" is important reading for anyone seeking freedom and deliverance from anxiety and depression. Readers will find powerful keys for replacing these strongholds through the joy by recognizing their true identity in Jesus.

Author, Julie Winter, has a burning passion to help people exchange toxic thinking for joy, receive healing by releasing forgiveness, and breaking free from the bondage of shame and guilt. She provides the reader with Biblical solutions for renewing the mind, maintaining a healthy thought life, and achieving victory while overcoming oppression.

Winter writes to help the reader understand what happens in the body, mind, and spirit when a person is anxious or depressed and to provide some practical strategies and tools for prevention and treatment for healing and recovery. She defines the physical, psychological, and spiritual impact of depression on Christians, who often deal with a sense of guilt because of a misunderstanding of the causes of anxiety. Actual case studies and stories illustrate the application of the principles and other material presented throughout the context of the book.

Powerful Action Points provide suggestions for meditation, prayer suggestions, and practical pointers that will enable the reader to put into action the lessons being learned through real life application. Winter's work is thoroughly researched with documentation and chapter endnotes which can be used as a resource for additional reading and study.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Created for the Impossible - Break Every Hindering Thought, Believe What God Says About You
Krissy Nelson
Destiny Image Publisher, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768411706, $15.99, 238 Pages

See Yourself the Way God Sees You - Live Out His Amazing Plan for Your Life

In her book "Created for the Impossible - Break Every Hindering Thought, Believe What God Says about You" Krissy Larson establishes the foundational truth of the depths of God's love, the centrality of the cross, of God's transforming power, and of his unique purpose and plan for every individual life.

Krissy has a gift for casting vision, inspiring dreams, and encouraging hope.

Her writing is uplifting, transparent, and genuine. Krissy relates stories and testimonies that touch the heart are authentic and meaningful.

Each chapter ends with the question: What is God saying to you? As I listened expectantly in spirit filled wonder, He reminded me of the innocent faith of my childhood, never a doubt of who Jesus was, an innocent blind faith, the faith of a child, deeply rooted in Christian heritage, a faith that embraced God's love and saving power. Chapter by chapter I listened. He spoke.

"Created for the Impossible" is written for anyone willing to dream dreams, ready to "challenge the impossibilities of life," and will resonate with those Christ followers who understand what it means walk in an attitude of expectancy and experience the miraculous power of God at work in the lives

Krissy Nelson regularly hosts women's conferences and is founder of Not Alone Ministries. She has a vision and passion for people, to help them learn how to let God's supernatural promises, dare to dream, and overcome obstacles

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Faithing It - Fight For Your Faith
Cora Jakes Coleman
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768409109, $16.99, 252 pages

Discovering Miracle Working Power of God - On a Path with Destiny - A Life Changing Message of Faith

"Faithing It - Fight for Your Faith" is an important book for anyone who has ever faced a challenge that made them wonder if they could survive. Cora Jakes Coleman's story is faith building. Stories from Cora's life and from the testimonies of her friends reveal how to conquer obstacles, face tumultuous times, and heart breaking disappointments by fighting for your faith.

Each chapter contains a faith building lesson, teaching from the scripture, a personalized prayer designed for the reader, an affirmation to claim, a faith point to ponder, and a faith activation exercise to put into practice. An added benefit is an essential resource, a list of 30 short daily affirmations. designed to be used throughout the day affirming evidence of God's confirming word in your life.

"Faithing It - Fight for Your Faith" is filled with powerful lessons for facing inner struggles, on how to prevail in prayer through deep travail or from the "ashes of despair," and to move from misery to ministry.

Coleman's writing is filled with penetrating insight, sound principles, and a step by step process for fulfilling your dream, purpose, and destiny. Cora is an incredible communicator; her stories offer hope and inspiration to the reader. Her writing is authentic and meaningful. Highly motivating

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Can You Stand to Be Blessed? Insights to Help You Survive the Peaks and Valleys
T D Jakes
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P O Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768409635, $14.95, 192 pages

Transforming Truth for Finding and Fulfilling Your God Given Identity

New York bestselling author, T. D. Jakes is recognized for his "Potter's Touch" ministry program, and for his Grammy award winning music and films. He has written and published over 25 books.Through this new edition of "Can You Stand to Be Blessed?" a new generation of readers will be introduced to the magnitude of Jakes teaching as they delve into the depth of his writing and discover a treasure trove of insight for savoring the peaks and surviving the valleys of life's personal spiritual journey.

Each chapter is filled with transforming truths, golden nuggets of wisdom, reminders of God's providence, insights for avoiding spiritual stagnation, and how to receive supernatural deliverance. Jakes provides the impetus for the reader to find nurture from the scripture, enrichment in times of trouble, and renewed faith in times of distress.

"Can You Stand to Be Blessed? Insights to Help You Survive the Peaks and Valleys" is written for Christians who are in every season of life, who are seeking to draw on their inner strength and exchange feelings of carrying the weight of the world for a realization of the abundance of blessing God wants to provide.

This is classical writing at its best, rich in proven principles and sage wisdom.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions express are my own.

Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute
Judy Woods-Knight
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
9781944297077, $12.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 136 pages,

The Art and Challenge of Creating a Win/Win Teaching Situation
Using a memoir writing form Judy Woods-Knight tells of her experiences as a career substitute teacher. Her book "Teaching School is a Scream! Confessions of a Career Substitute" is filled with practical advice, lots of humor, and actual classroom experiences.

Judy's enthusiasm, optimistic spirit, and subtle sense of humor help her face the uncertainties, and hassles so often prevailing in contemporary classrooms. Judy tells of the excitement and challenge "of daring children to cooperate and have real fun learning."

In her preface Judy talks about the reasons she chose to become a substitute rather than having her "own classroom and all the benefits that go along with a full-time job." She goes on to develop some of the advantages for anyone who may be in the process of change or in the early stages of preparation for a career in teaching.

In a natural and logical progression Judy offers recommendations for creating a "Tool Kit" as well as back up plans for your first day as a substitute. She then moves into Part 1 of the book which is filled practical ideas for dealing with unforeseen dilemmas, with humorous and heartwarming stories, and with those unexpected miracles that bring joy and hope back to the classroom.

The final sections of the book deal with hands-on suggestions and illustrations for defusing problems and preventing disasters; she concludes with dozens of resource ideas and valuable suggestion for making learning fun.

Whether a Regular Classroom teacher or a Career Substitute you will resonate with Judy Knight's heartwarming stories, real-world examples, and fun loving sense of humorA complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did
Randy Newman
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825444289, $17.99 PB, $10.99 Kindle, 268 pages,

Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did - by Asking Questions

In the book "Questioning Evangelism - Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did" Randy Newman asks his readers to look at evangelism in a new way; following the example of Jesus by asking questions.

Using examples from personal experiences Newman introduces an approach for designing questions that are more engaging and less confrontational. He combines a balance of biblical theology, infused with compassion, in a distinctive merger of apologetic information and relational evangelism.

Newman teaches evangelism and apologetics at the C. S. Lewis Institute in the Washington D.C. area. He is a for a former staff member of Campus Crusade, and originator of Connection Points, which specializes in helping people of different backgrounds dialog in questions of faith.

"Questioning Evangelism - Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did" can be used for individual study and challenge or in an interactive group setting. A study guide is included to generate stimulating discussion and personal application.

I was personally challenged as I pondered the concept that: evangelism "happens" in relationships, developed through challenging questions while allowing me to: Declare the gospel, defend the message, and dialog the truth to a new generation. "Questioning Evangelism" has given me a new awareness of how I can more effectively share my faith in todays' culture and within my community.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline
Jerry M. Kimble
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825444456, $18.99, PB, 272 pages,

Church Membership and Church Discipline as Components of a Healthy Church

"40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline" is a unique approach to the study of church membership and church discipline, in that, Dr. Jerry Kimble gives a substantive treatment to the inter relationship of the two issues as being crucial to the health of the church, discipleship, and the ongoing work of sanctification in the believer. Dr. Kimble introduces the topics from a biblical, historical, theological, and practical viewpoint.

Each chapter begins with one of the 40 questions being addressed in the book, includes an in-depth answer, a summary statement, and reflections questions, for personal consideration, or for use in a small study group. The book is divided into four parts: Part 1: Considers General Questions about Membership and Discipline. Part 2: Addresses General Questions about Church Membership from a theological approach. Part 3: Looks at general questions about Church Discipline. Part 4: concludes with question regarding the significance of membership and discipline.

Dr. Kimble's writing is succinct, exegetically sound, theologically conventional, and pastorally supportive; extensively researched and well documented. Detailed footnotes add an extra dimension for further study, and will be especially helpful for pastors, bible teachers, and seminary students.

Readers will appreciate Dr. Kimble's academic depth of in his presentation. I especially appreciated the authentic concern Kimble reveals in his emphasis on the process of discipline, restoration, and forgiveness. The reflective questions related to the ministry questions are especially thought provoking.

Dr. Jerry M. Kimble is Assistant of Theological Studies at Cedarville, Ohio. His book "40 Questions about Church Membership and Discipline" is an important resource for pastors, church leaders, and elder board members. Highly Recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Fourth Vow
Richard T. Dolezal
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781540337122, $15.00 PR, $3.99 Kindle, 414 Pages,

A Diabolical Plot - Clandestine Meetings - Political Corruption - International Intrigue and Realism in the genre of Fiction

Repercussions were felt around the world within hours of the news flash of a nuclear explosion at the American Civil Liberties Union holiday fundraiser in San Francisco, California. An estimated 500 or more ACLU leaders, supporters, and innocent bystanders were killed in the blast.

Members of ACLU Headquarters top executives in New York City, and Staff members of the ACLU office Washington DC are in a state of shock. Pope Benedict in the Vatican sets plans in motion to discredit rumors of scandal among the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

The President of the United States feels the pressure of an ongoing barrage from the news media; pressing for an immediate update on what government agencies have uncovered, competing for headlines, generating a tirade of hatred through groundless insinuations, under the guise of the public's right to know the facts.

As United States Attorney General, Tom Owens is in charge of the investigation. Owens calls on a personal friend, Blake Elliot, a brilliant and successful former attorney, to review the evidence. Chapter by chapter the international intrigue thickens as a sinister complex plot become more far reaching.

Dolezal understands the important building blocks of a good story. He delivers a well-crafted, fast moving, action packed plot, filled with diabolical conspiracy, and hair raising suspense. I found myself reading into the wee hours of the morning, a definite page turner. Richard has created a master piece of political corruption, diabolical evil deception, and fictional realism.

Author Richard T. Dolezal skillfully weaves into his story insights from his experience working in the Department of Justice as an Assistant United States Attorney. Dolezal's "The Fourth Vow" is destined to attract fans from the political, legal, and suspense genre of adventure thrillers. I am looking forward to more from Richard Dolezal.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Holy Spirit - The One Who Makes Jesus Real
Michael Koulianos
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, Pa 17257
97807684116983, $16.99, 272 pages

Let the Holy Spirit Kindle the Flame as He Leads You into Knowing Jesus in a New Dimension

I was intrigued by Michael Koulianos' question, "Have you ever seen Jesus?" This is the first chapter of Michael's book "Holy Spirit - The One Who Makes Jesus Real." By the end of chapter one, I knew I was going to experience a whole new dimension in my walk with Jesus, my relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit.

Michael Koulianos combines the story of his spiritual journey with Biblical truths on the person and work of the Holy Spirit. Michael focuses on the role of the Spirit in our lives, in giving us access to the presence and resurrection power of Jesus, to reconsider and encounter Him as savior, and to develop a dynamic relationship with Him as Son of God.

Michael is authentic and genuine; he writes with authority, from his experiences; telling of his personal encounters with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Michael's book is destined to ignite the hearts of those hungering to know more of God.

Michael Koulianos author, international evangelist, and founder of Jesus Image, has a passion for bringing the saving and healing message of Jesus to the world.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Blue Curtain
L. G. Metcalf
Molecyco Press
9780995858602, $14.95, 314 pages

Suspense, Fantasy, Magic, and Romance

"The Blue Curtain" by Author L. G. Metcalf is a suspense novel

With a plot that weaves two stories together; spanning over 500 years, beginning in Southern England in the year 1549.

In the midst of a brewing revolt Mitchell, son of Duke Keats, was in love with Marigold, the daughter of the Lord Protector; whose rule was being challenged by Duke Keats, Mitchell's father, and other revolutionaries. Mitchell and his father were both killed in a battle fighting for their cause.

The second story takes place within the current timeframe in Portland, Maine. Emily Bliss is distraught by the murder of her father and is determined to find his killer. The trail takes her into unexplored territory. Her obsession, leads to a romantic touch, in the midst of revealing family secrets, and a lover tormented by demons. Emily is introduced to a nether- world of a secret clan of vampires, bloody conflicts, and fear.

Metcalf has masterfully developed a plot that puts his characters in imminent danger, with mounting tension. Metcalf's characters are well developed establishing reader empathy, allowing them to become engaged with the story, and identify with the characters, while sustaining suspense.

The Blue Curtain will resonate with fantasy readers in the genre, and those who appreciate the creative genius and imagination of successful writers on subjects of the unknown, alluding to magical powers, with a hint of the supernatural from a period in recent or ancient history.

Metcalf's debut novel is destined to win awards in the genre and will assure him of an impressive fan base. The promise of a sequel adds another level of expectation of a growing readership.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Swabbed & Found
Frank Billingsley
Bright Sky Press
2365 Rice Blvd., Suite 202, Houston, TX 77005
9781942945475, $24.95, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: As Houston's beloved KPRC weatherman for more than 20 years, Frank Billingsley seems like a relative to many people. His optimistic presence comes into their homes and reassures that even the gloomiest of rainclouds probably has a silver lining. He has such a way with people that it is obvious that he comes by his sunny, outgoing demeanor naturally.

Billingsley always wondered if he got his personality, his bright blue eyes, or his love of people from his mother or his father. But he was adopted, so he never knew. "Swabbed & Found: An Adopted Man's DNA Journey to Discover his Family Tree" is the fascinating story of how he combined cutting-edge DNA tests and genealogical programs in combination with his investigative skills to put the pieces of his family tree in order. Along the way he discovered that people are not always who they seem, or even who they think they are. Each time he would think that he had come to a dead end, he found himself helped by a new friend or a newly discovered relative, until finally, he was able to find the family he had wondered about for his whole life.

The science of genealogy is booming, and in his typical open fashion, Billingsley puts a human face on it. His story shows that who we are is not necessarily who gave us our eye color, but who we love. Knowing our genealogical background is important, but wielding that information with care and compassion is a vital part of this new science.

Providing a clear road map of how the DNA discovery process works, resources, and explanations of just what second cousin-once-removed really means, as well as insight on life as a gay public figure in the South, "Swabbed & Found" is generous related and personal story makes it clear why Billingsley has found such a home in Houston's heart. Anyone who has ever wondered about missing branches on their family tree, wanted to know more about their heritage, or wanted to understand, once and for all, that we are all really one big family, will find "Swabbed & Found" enlightening.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking, especially inspired and inspiring, "Swabbed & Found" is an extraordinary and inherently fascinating read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be considered a 'must read' for the legions of Frank Billingsley fans in and around Houston, Texas.

Warriors of the 106th
Martin King, Ken Johnson, Michael Collin
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781612004587, $32.95, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: The 106th were American troops that were fresh, green and right in the pathway of the German 5th Panzer Army when the Battle of the Bulge began at 0530 hours on December 16, 1944. "Warriors of the 106th: The Last Infantry Division of World War II" by the collaborative team of military historians Martin King, Ken Johnson, and Michael Collin covers the history along with the individual stories of the incredible heroism, sacrifice and tenacity of these young Americans soldiers in the face of simply overwhelming odds. From this division 6,800 men were taken prisoner but their story didn't end there.

For the ones who miraculously escaped, there was a battle to fight, and fight it they would with every ounce of strength and courage they could muster. They would fight debilitating weather conditions more reminiscent of Stalingrad than the Belgian Ardennes. They would fight a determined enemy and superior numbers and despite all adversity they would eventually prevail.

One 106th GI waged his own personal war using guerilla tactics that caused serious consternation amongst the German troops. For another GI his main concern was recovering his clean underwear. These stories are heartwarming, heartbreaking, nerve-wracking and compelling. They aim to put the reader right there in the front lines, and in the stalags, during the final months of WWII.

Critique: An invaluable contribution to the growing library of World War II military histories, memoirs and biographies, "Warriors of the 106th: The Last Infantry Division of World War II" features an informative Introduction and Epilogue, an Appendix (106 Infantry Division: Records & Statistics), a twelve page Bibliography, and a seventeen page Index. While highly and unreservedly recommended as a core addition to community and academic library World War II European Theatre collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists that "Warriors of the 106th" is also available in a digital book format ($19.77).

Metaphysical Graffiti
Randall E. Auxier
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812699647, $21.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "Metaphysical Graffiti: Deep Cuts in the Philosophy of Rock", Randall E. Auxier (Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale) deftly explores the philosophical themes prevalent in the music of the classic rock era. Each individual chapter is a detailed study of a classic rock performer or ensemble, applying insights from philosophers ancient and modern. Among the chapters comprising this unique study are: "Frenzy" applying Plato and mystery religion to the Rolling Stones; "An Everlasting Kiss: The Seduction of Wendy" applying Vico to Bruce Springsteen; "Warm Impermanence" applying Danto and Andy Warhol to David Bowie; "Magic Pages and Mythic Plants" applying Cassirer to Led Zeppelin; "A Touch of Grey: Gratefully Dead?" applying Kant and Whitehead to the Grateful Dead; "Yesterday's Tom Sawyers" applying Suzanne Langer to Rush; and "Dead Reckoning and Tacking the Winds of Fortune and Fate" applying Machiavelli to Jimmy Buffett.

Critique: A unique and inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Metaphysical Graffiti" will have special appeal to readers who were inspired by the music of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The underlying premise of Professor Auxier is that "Philosophy is in this music and it is of this music and for this music." While highly and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Philosophy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers that "Metaphysical Graffiti" is also available in a digital book format ($15.09).

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

The Tunnel
Carl-Johan Vallgren, author
Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
In CA, 32.49 CA$, 432 pp., ISBN 9781681444130
In UK: ISBN 9781784282799
9781681441870, $26.99, Hardcover, $12.99 Kindle, 336 pp.,

Danny Katz is an odd sort of protagonist: an ex-junkie, once a highly skilled military intelligence officer, with a penchant for languages and a flair for computers, he has a strange affinity for getting involved in odd situations. In his first appearance in the debut novel in this series, he was targeted to be killed by the person he ultimately shot and killed.

In this follow-up thriller, beautifully translated, he undertakes to find his former drug supplier, Ramon, and Ramon's girlfriend, both of whom have disappeared, a journey that takes Danny through the undersides of Stockholm, including the porn industry and trafficking in women for the sex trade. As his investigation proceeds, Danny faces numerous obstacles, many of which are placed in his way by powerful persons who are hiding the truth, especially of their own roles.

The author's style is not easy for the reader to grasp, but it is an interesting mixture of Scandinavian mystery genre and noir. His description of the grip drugs have on users is powerful and what makes Danny Katz stand out is his Jewishness, somewhat unusual for a Swedish character.


Fall From Grace
Tim Weaver
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399562570, $26.00, Hardcover, $11.99 Kindle, 408 pp.
9780399562594, $16.00, Paperback, 416 pp,

David Raker, finder of missing persons, is asked to locate Leonard Franks, a retired 35-year veteran who headed the Met's murder squad, and had disappeared seven months before without a trace in a variation of the locked room mystery. His investigation becomes more complicated than just finding out what happened after Franks stepped out from his living room to gather a few logs from the woodshed. When he didn't return, his wife went out to look for him and couldn't find a trace: no tracks in the snow, no car visible for miles in any direction.

Raker's investigation takes him from the bucolic Dorset countryside to the depths of London and into an abandoned Bethlehem, a mental institution, a cast of characters too numerous to contemplate and copious family and police secrets. Along the way, violence erupts and Raker and his daughter are in danger.

The author has chosen to develop a plot far beyond a simple missing person's case, unraveling a series of subplots ending in a denouement far from the original start of the story. Whether this track is a good idea or not is up to a reader's taste. This reader reacted in the negative, believing a story should be simple rather than overly complex. But the novel is well-written and well-plotted, and for those who can enjoy very multifaceted tales, it can be and is recommended.

Murder in Saint-Germain
Cara Black
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616957704, $27.95, Hardcover, $14.99 Kindle, 326 pp,

Recently, Paris has been under siege by Muslim terrorists, but in July, 1999, Aimee LeDuc faced a different danger: A Serbian war criminal supposedly blown up in an explosion years before. The man is sighted by her friend Martine in a local cafe, and when she reports the sighting she is told she is suffering from traumas resulting from what she witnessed while on an official mission on behalf of The Hague seeking war criminals. Martine calls in a favor and asks Aimee to verify the sighting.

Busy as she is (Aimee is conducting a huge case and is caring for her eight-month-old daughter while attempting to run her business) undertakes the request. Without leads, the going is rough, but Aimee continues doggedly, following clue by clue.

It is an exciting tale, and Aimee faces considerable danger from the former Yugoslavian war lord. While the author sprinkles various street names when describing Aimee's cab or scooter rides, and the names of various buildings and institutions, somehow the flavor of Paris doesn't show as colorfully as in previous entries in this long-running series. Whether it is Saint-Germain's formidable history and architecture or something else, the beautiful area just doesn't shine as other neighborhoods have to this reviewer. Nevertheless, it is an exciting story, and is recommended.

Three Minutes
Anders Roslund & Birge Hellstrom, authors
Elizabeth Clark Wessel, translator
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
In CA, 9781681444130, 32.49 CA$, 432 pp.
In UK: 9781784295301, Riverrun
9781681444130, $26.99, Hardcover, $12.99 Kindle, 472 pp,

This carefully constructed novel combines all the elements of an extraordinary tour de force: cocaine, drug cartels, political and police duplicity and sympathy for a criminal. It is the story of Piet Hoffman, known as El Sueco, a Swede who escaped from a long prison sentence while serving in a Swedish prison and now living a double life in Colombia with his wife and two sons, serving two masters: a honcho known as El Mestizo of the Colombian cocaine cartel and a DEA informer.

Add to the plot the capture of the Speaker of the House by the cartel and his torture, and you have the makings of an even more intriguing story as the war on drugs escalates and El Sueco is listed as number seven on a list to be killed by the United States. In order to survive and save his family, Piet has to maneuver delicately between all elements.

The descriptions of the drug culture and the amoral character of its various people are gripping, as are the insights into the thinking and actions of police officials and U.S. politicians from the Vice President on down to staff members. The sixth and newest in the DCI Ewert Grens series, it is written with power when necessary and delicacy when appropriate, this is a novel to be savored.

Highly recommended.

Paradise Valley
C. J. Box
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780250051042, $27.99, Hardcover, 340 pp.

In the previous novel in the series, the Lizard King, responsible for the murder of dozens of women, finally was in the hands of the authorities and was even brought to trial, at which Cassie Dewell testified. Only he walked on a legal technicality. Cassie and the prosecutor became friendly and teamed up in an effort to recapture him. Cassie started a sting operation to attract him to Bakken County, North Dakota, where she worked as chief investigator in the Sheriff's Department, posting "possible" pickups at a local plant to entice the long-haul trucker-murderer into her jurisdiction.

And after four years obsessing over the Lizard King, he bites and Cassie sets up the trap to finally capture her prey. Only, the Lizard King thwarts the attempt, by having the rig driven to the loading dock and exploding, killing three deputies, including Cassie's fiance, and injuring others. Cassie is blamed for the fiasco and quits the department. The Sheriff is forced to retire. Meanwhile two boys go missing, as does a woman.

Cassie, now a private citizen, is asked by the grandmother of one of the boys to find out what happened to him. Reluctantly, she undertakes a private investigation which brings her on the trail of not only the missing boys and woman, but the Lizard King himself. Once again, Mr. Box has written a tightly plotted thriller, with stark descriptions of the Yellowstone Park area in which Cassie finally seeks a solution to her four-year obsession with the Lizard King.


Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Confederate Courage on Other Fields
Mark J. Crawford
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611213522, $18.95, PB, 192pp,

"Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership, Cruelty, Character, and Kindness" by Mark J. Crawford showcases a series of valuable but little-studied events of the American Civil War. Each individual story explores the hardships of battle, and demonstrations of courage and other human attributes, away from the glare of well-known battlefields like Gettysburg and Shiloh. These previously untold or little-known stories expand our understanding of this dreadful conflict --and of the enduring human spirit.

"Rebel Resort of the Dead" introduces readers to General Hospital Number One in Kittrell Springs, North Carolina, where hospital chaplain Rev. M. M. Marshall did his best to tend to the religious needs of severely wounded men. Marshall's recently discovered recollections are threaded throughout this moving narrative and include many of the last words of dying soldiers.

"I'll Live Yet to Dance on That Foot!" offers the letters of Charles Blacknall, a wealthy plantation owner-turned-Confederate officer who penned candid letters back home that reveal not only an educated and passionate man, but one who is slowly being consumed by war.

The astonishing tale of a personal conflict between a Union major and a Confederate colonel unfolds in "An Eye for an Eye." The quarrel, which quickly became deeply personal, resulted in a series of vicious retaliatory killings, guerrilla warfare, the eventual intervention of president Abraham Lincoln?and the murder of one of the officers.

The story of the Battle of Dinwiddie Courthouse, a bitter battle during the closing days of the war in Virginia, is told through many first-person accounts in "The South's 'Sunset Charge.'" In this fight, the prelude to the better-known battle of Five Forks, Federal troops put up a stout fight, despite being heavily outnumbered, with the help of their deadly repeating carbines. Few know that many Confederate soldiers were swept away and drowned there in a valiant charge across a muddy rain-swollen river.

Critique: An extraordinarily informed and informative study, "Confederate Courage on Other Fields: Overlooked Episodes of Leadership, Cruelty, Character, and Kindness" includes ten pages of Notes and References, a six page appendix (Confederate Cemetery Roster at Kittrell), and a four page Index. While unreservedly recommended as an invaluable and unique addition to community and academic library American Civil War collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Confederate Courage on Other Fields" is also available in a digital book format ($11.50).

Ancient Ocean Crossings
Stephen C. Jett
The University of Alabama Press
PO Box 870380, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0380
9780817319397, $49.95, HC, 528pp,

Synopsis: In "Ancient Ocean Crossings: Reconsidering the Case for Contacts with the Pre-Columbian Americas", Stephen Jett (Professor Emeritus of Geography and of Textiles and Clothing at the University of California, Davis) encourages readers to reevaluate the common belief that there was no significant interchange between the chiefdoms and civilizations of Eurasia and Africa and peoples who occupied the alleged terra incognita beyond the great oceans.

More than a hundred centuries separate the time that Ice Age hunters are conventionally thought to have crossed a land bridge from Asia into North America and the arrival of Columbus in the Bahamas in 1492. Traditional belief has long held that earth's two hemispheres were essentially cut off from one another as a result of the post-Pleistocene meltwater-fed rising oceans that covered that bridge. The oceans, along with arctic climates and daunting terrestrial distances, formed impermeable barriers to interhemispheric communication. This viewpoint implies that the cultures of the Old World and those of the Americas developed independently.

Drawing on abundant and concrete evidence to support his theory for significant pre-Columbian contacts, Professor Jett suggests that many ancient peoples had both the seafaring capabilities and the motives to cross the oceans and, in fact, did so repeatedly and with great impact. His deep and broad work synthesizes information and ideas from archaeology, geography, linguistics, climatology, oceanography, ethnobotany, genetics, medicine, and the history of navigation and seafaring, making an innovative and persuasive multi-disciplinary case for a new understanding of human societies and their diffuse but interconnected development.

Critique: An extraordinary study that is exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Ancient Ocean Crossings: Reconsidering the Case for Contacts with the Pre-Columbian Americas" is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. Remarkably informed and informative, "Ancient Ocean Crossing" is enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, thirty-six pages of Notes, a sixty-two page listing of Works Cited, and a forty-seven page Index. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of student and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Ancient Ocean Crossings" is also available in a digital book format ($47.44).

Places in Need
Scott W. Allard
Russell Sage Foundation
112 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10065
9780871545190, $32.50, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Americans think of suburbs as prosperous areas that are relatively free from poverty and unemployment. Yet, today more poor people live in the suburbs than in cities themselves. In "Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty", social policy expert Scott W. Allard (Professor of Public Policy at the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance) tracks how the number of poor people living in suburbs has more than doubled over the last 25 years, with little attention from either academics or policymakers.

Rising suburban poverty has not coincided with a decrease in urban poverty, meaning that solutions for reducing poverty must work in both cities and suburbs. Professor Allard notes that because the suburban social safety net is less-developed than the urban safety net, a better understanding of suburban communities is critical for understanding and alleviating poverty in metropolitan areas.

Using census data, administrative data from safety net programs, and interviews with nonprofit leaders in the Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas, Professor Allard shows that poor suburban households resemble their urban counterparts in terms of labor force participation, family structure, and educational attainment. In the last few decades, suburbs have seen increases in single-parent households, decreases in the number of college graduates, and higher unemployment rates.

As a result, suburban demand for safety net assistance has increased. Concerning is evidence suburban social service providers (which serve clients spread out over large geographical areas, and often lack the political and philanthropic support that urban nonprofit organizations can command) do not have sufficient resources to meet the demand.

To strengthen local safety nets, Professor Allard argues for expanding funding and eligibility to federal programs such as SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which have proven effective in urban and suburban communities alike. He also proposes to increase the capabilities of community-based service providers through a mix of new funding and capacity-building efforts.

"Places in Need" demonstrates why researchers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders should focus more on the shared fate of poor urban and suburban communities. This account of suburban vulnerability amidst persistent urban poverty provides a valuable foundation for developing more effective anti-poverty strategies.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "Places in Need: The Changing Geography of Poverty" is an extraordinary and timely study that will prove to be a critically important addition to both community and academic library Social Issues and Contemporary Economics collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, a forty page Technical Appendix, twenty-two pages of Notes, a twenty-two page listing of References, and a thirteen page Index, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Places in Need" is also available in a digital book format ($16.17).

Paul T. Vogel

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

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