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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 2 February 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

Civilization at Risk: Seeds of War
Ron D. Petitte
Cambridge Scholars Publishing
9781443894395 41.99 Brit. pounds / $TBA

Synopsis: The evil that permeates sex trafficking is not going to stop; but, it can be discouraged and abated and peoples lives spared the incalculable damage such evil inflicts. Regardless, the scourge will continue, and tomorrow's press will detail more tragedy for the victims of human trafficking. All of the authors proceeds, for the writing of this book, go directly to the Justice and Mercy Initiative at Bryan College to fight human trafficking.

Critique: An anthology of vignettes, contemplations, and proposed reforms to combat the social ills of rape and human trafficking, Civilization at Risk is thoughtful, serious-minded, and an open call to change cultural tolerance of heinous acts. Highly recommended, as is the previous volume in the series, "Civilization at Risk: Seeds of Strife" (9781443852968, $67.95). "The Criminal Justice community must stand up and be counted as standard bearers in the fight against this 21st Century Holocaust. If this fight is to succeed, there cannot be light sentences for human traffickers, i.e., for those persons who rape, torture, and murder children and women."

Cooking School
Alain Ducasse
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9780847849949, $55.00, HC, 656pp,

Synopsis: Alain Ducasse is a legendary, Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur with numerous restaurants around the globe, and operates an acclaimed cooking school in the heart of Paris. In "Cooking School: Mastering Classic and Modern French Cuisine" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to offer a complete course of step-by-step instruction in how to prepare almost two hundred French dishes. Each individual recipes is illustrated with full-color, step-by-step photographs, and expert instruction from master chefs. More than just another French cuisine cookbook, "Cooking School" is a complete gourmet education in a single volume. Thoughtfully arranged in three sections based on difficulty, "Cooking School" methodically introduces new methods with careful instruction. Included are exhaustive indexes provide a wealth of descriptive knowledge, illuminating equipment, ingredients, and techniques the way a master chef would to a class of culinary students. From recipes for simple condiments and fundamental sauces to the iconic dishes of French cuisine and international cooking, including sushi and curries, and pastry recipes, including composed cakes and confections, "Cooking School" turns readers into true masters of their own kitchens.

Critique: Cooks of all skill and experience levels interested in art of French cuisine will find Cooking School a priceless resource. Meticulously presented, beautifully illustrated and thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly', "Cooking School" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections.

The Northeast Quarter
S. M. Harris
1760 East River Road, Suite 145, Tucson, Arizona 85718
9781627873765, $20.95, PB, 467pp,

Synopsis: In 1918, Colonel Wallace Carson, the ruler of a vast agricultural empire in Winfield, Iowa asks his ten-year-old granddaughter and eventual heir Ann Hardy, to promise she will safeguard this choice piece of land called the Northeast Quarter, from which the empire was founded. Ann readily accepts -- little knowing what awaits her. When the Colonel is killed unexpectedly the same afternoon, the world around Ann and her family begins to fall apart. Against the background of America sliding from a post war boom into the Great Depression, "The Northeast Quarter" tells the story of Ann's struggle to keep a promise no matter what. She witnesses the remarriage of her grandmother to Royce Chamberlin, the seemingly humble banker who institutes a reign of terror over the household and proceeds to corrupt the entire town. Over the next ten years Ann matches wits with Chamberlin, enduring betrayal, banishment, and even physical violence. She grows from a precocious child into a tough-minded young woman -- watching, observing her enemy, and waiting for the moment to make her move. And when the moment comes in July 1929, life in Winfield will never be the same.

Critique: An exceptionally well crafted novel, "The Northeast Quarter" reveals author S. M. Harris as having a genuine flair for deftly created and memorable characters and consistently compelling storyline filled with unexpected twists and turns. An unfailingly engaging and entertaining read from cover to cover, "The Northeast Quarter" is highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

Ten Commandments
Emanuel Swedenborg, author
Morgan Beard, editor
Swedenborg Foundation
320 North Church Street, West Cester, PA 19380
9780877854319, $9.95, PB, 248pp,

Synopsis: Swedish scientist and visionary Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 - 1772) writes that the Ten Commandments are the most important part of the Bible. They encapsulate what we need to do to grow as spiritual people, with a meaning that penetrates far beyond the surface level of words and deeds.

One of the fundamentals of Swedenborg's theology is the concept that underlying the literal text of the Bible is an inner spiritual meaning. Using this method of interpretation, Swedenborg peels back the layers of the Ten Commandments to reveal a cohesive set of teachings with both practical applications and far-reaching spiritual implications.

Although Swedenborg discusses the Ten Commandments in many places throughout his writings, he wrote four extended commentaries on the subject in four separate volumes: Secrets of Heaven (volume 7, published in 1754), True Christianity (1771), the short work Life (1763), and the posthumously published Revelation Explained (1758 - 1759). Those four commentaries are now being combined in a single volume for the first time, allowing the reader to compare and contrast Swedenborg's approach across a seventeen-year span.

"Ten Commandments: The Secrets of Spiritual Growth Found in God's Principles for Living" offers new insights for spiritual seekers and students of Swedenborg alike, illuminating what is at once a familiar set of biblical teachings and one of the cornerstones of Swedenborg's system of personal growth.

Critique: Ably translated into English by the collaborative efforts of Jonathan S. Rose, B. Erikson Odhner, and George F. Dole, "Ten Commandments: The Secrets of Spiritual Growth Found in God's Principles for Living" is unreservedly recommended for 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 life and work of Emanuel Swedenborg that "Ten Commandments: The Secrets of Spiritual Growth Found in God's Principles for Living" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($0.99).

Loving, Supporting, and Caring for the Cancer Patient
Stan Goldberg
Rowman & Littlefield
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781442266155, $35.00, HC, 212pp,

Synopsis: At least once in your life someone will say to you, "I have cancer," and when they say those the three words, you may struggle with a response. If a loved one or friend hasn't informed you of a cancer diagnosis, it's only a matter of time until they will. Every year fourteen million people worldwide learn they are living with or may die from this insidious illness. The uncertainty of cancer causes anxiety in those diagnosed and feelings of inadequacy in loved ones and friends who want to help.

When someone says "I have cancer," what will you say? More importantly, what will you do? In "Loving, Supporting, and Caring for the Cancer Patient: A Guide to Communication, Compassion, and Courage" by Stan Goldberg (Professor Emeritus of Communicative Disorders at San Francisco State University), readers will learn specific ways of going beyond the response "I'm so sorry," and practical behaviors that will ease a loved one or friend's journey. They range from being specific immediately after a diagnosis, to honoring their loved one or friend at the moment of passing.

Based on Professor Goldberg's own cancer journey, his thirty years of counseling and coaching people living with cancer and their loved ones, and as a bedside volunteer in four hospices over eight years, "Loving, Supporting, and Caring for the Cancer Patient" is filled with poignant accounts of clients and patients, personal reflections, and age-old stories filled with infinite wisdom.

Critique: Simply stated, "Loving, Supporting, and Caring for the Cancer Patient: A Guide to Communication, Compassion, and Courage" should be on the Health/Medicine shelf of every community library in this country. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, it is an ideal instruction manual and guide for the non-specialist general reader wanting to offer emotional support to family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers having to deal with cancer. It should be noted for personal reading lists that ""Loving, Supporting, and Caring for the Cancer Patient: A Guide to Communication, Compassion, and Courage" is also available in a Kindle format ($19.24).

Understanding Susan Sontag
Carol Rollyson
University of South Carolina Press
718 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29208
9781611176803, $39.99, HC, 152pp,

Synopsis: Susan Sontag (January 16, 1933 - December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker, teacher, and political activist

With the publication of Susan Sontag's diaries, the development of her career can now be evaluated in a more genetic sense, so that the origins of her ideas and plans for publication are made plain in the context of her role as a public intellectual, who is increasingly aware of her impact on her culture. In "Understanding Susan Sontag", Carl Rollyson (Professor of Journalism at Baruch College, the City University of New York) not only provides an introduction to her essays, novels, plays, films, diaries, and uncollected work published in various periodicals, he now has a lens through which to reevaluate classic texts such as 'Against Interpretation' and 'On Photography', providing both students and advanced scholars a renewed sense of her importance and impact.

Professor Rollyson devotes separate chapters to Sontag's biography; her early novels; her landmark essay collections Against Interpretation and Styles of Radical Will; her films; her major mid-career books, On Photography and its sequel, Regarding the Pain of Others; and Illness as Metaphor and its sequel, AIDS and Its Metaphors, together with her groundbreaking short story, "The Way We Live Now." Sontag's later essay collections and biographical profiles, collected in Under the Sign of Saturn, Where the Stress Falls, and At The Same Time: Essays and Speeches, also receive a fresh assessment, as does her later work in short fiction, the novel, and drama, with a chapter discussing I, etcetera; two historical novels, The Volcano Lover and In America; and her plays, A Parsifal, Alice in Bed, and her adaptation of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea.

Chapters on her diaries and uncollected prose, along with a primary and secondary bibliography, complete this comprehensive study.

Critique: Impressively researched and informative, "Understanding Susan Sontag" is a seminal biographical study of a truly influential figure in 20th century American popular and political culture. Of special note is the appendix featuring 'The Uncollected Susan Sontag'. Enhanced with six pages of Notes, a four page Bibliography, and a seven page Index, "Understanding Susan Sontag" is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and work of Susan Sontag, it should be noted that "Understanding Susan Sontag" is also available in a Kindle format ($21.99).

The Estrogen Window
Mache Seibel, MD
Rodale Press
733 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781623366742, $25.99, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "The Estrogen Window: The Breakthrough Guide to Being Healthy, Energized, and Hormonally Balanced--Through Perimenopause, Menopause, and Beyond", Dr. Mache Seibel, an international health expert and leading authority on women's wellness and menopause, presents groundbreaking research that explains how every woman has a window of opportunity to begin estrogen replacement.

If begun at the right time, estrogen can lower the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease, while minimizing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, lower libido, fractured sleep, brain fog, irritability, and weight gain.

You'll discover which estrogens and progestogens are the safest and how long to take them, in addition to when your estrogen window closes and it's too late to take estrogen. You'll also gain insight about alternatives to estrogen and how to talk with your healthcare provider about what is best for you.

"The Estrogen Window" will eliminate your confusion, calm your fears, and help make you a partner with your healthcare provider.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, especially for the non-specialist general reader, "The Estrogen Window: The Breakthrough Guide to Being Healthy, Energized, and Hormonally Balanced--Through Perimenopause, Menopause, and Beyond" is impressively informed and informative. Throughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Estrogen Window" is recommended as a critically important addition to both community and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Women's Health supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Estrogen Window: is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99). Librarian should also be aware that "The Estrogen Window" is available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, 9781515955542, $24.99, CD).

Imagining the Supernatural North
Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, et al.
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
9781772122671, $29.95, PB, 296pp,

Synopsis: As polar regions become the focus of political and ecological controversies, scholars in the humanities and social sciences are turning their attention to the cultural meanings of Northernness. Collaborative collected and co-edited by the team of Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough (a lecturer in medieval literature at Durham University in the UK), Danielle Marie Cudmore (a lecturer at Halmstad University in Sweden), and Stefan Donecker (a research fellow at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna), "Imagining the Supernatural North" is an interdisciplinary collection of articles by sixteen scholars from twelve countries exploring the notion of the North as a realm of the supernatural. The North has long been associated with sorcerous inhabitants, mythical tribes, metaphysical forces of good and evil, and a range of supernatural qualities. It was both the sacred abode of the gods and a feared source of menacing invaders and otherworldly beings. Whether from the perspective of traditional Jewish lore or of contemporary black metal music, few motifs in European cultural history show such longevity. With their broad appeal, the themes of North and the supernatural will ensure Imagining the Supernatural North attracts a wide audience.

Critique: A seminal body of original scholarship, "Imagining the Supernatural North" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Folklore & Mythology collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Imagining the Supernatural North" is also available in a Kindle format ($23.99).

Waiting for Wonder
Marlo Schalesky
Abingdon Press
2222 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., PO Box 280988, Nashville, TN 37228-0988
9781501820106, $16.99, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: It's easy to believe God when a promise is new. It's hard when the years pass and nothing changes. It's even harder when desperation strikes, your plans backfire, and still God does not fill the emptiness. But what if, in this waiting, God is calling us to more?

In "Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline", Marlo Schalesky takes her readers on a unique, contemplative journey to reveal the wonder that is often missed when we find ourselves struggling to wait well. Walking through the life of the biblical character Sarah, one who knows what it means to wait, you will discover a glimpse of God's character that will give you strength to keep hoping and praying for the desires of your heart.

"Waiting for Wonder" is a journey into the heart of God where you will wrestle with personal questions, think deeply about God's true character, and learn to appreciate His divine work as you discover your own path to the promised land. Readers can recapture their hope, restore their soul, and renew their vision of a wondrous Savior when they learn to live on God's time.

Critique: Deftly written, inspired and inspiring, "Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God's Timeline" is an extraordinary reading experience from beginning to end. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Waiting for Wonder" is one of those potentially life changing studies that is very highly recommended to all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. While an enduringly popular addition to church and community library Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Waiting for Wonder" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.00).

A Thin Bright Line
Lucy Jane Bledsoe
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299309305, $26.95, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: At the height of the Cold War, Lucybelle Bledsoe is offered a job seemingly too good to pass up. However, there are risks. Her scientific knowledge and editorial skills are unparalleled, but her personal life might not withstand government scrutiny.

Leaving behind the wreckage of a relationship, Lucybelle finds solace in working for the visionary scientist who is extracting the first-ever polar ice cores. The lucidity of ice is calming and beautiful. But the joyful pangs of a new love clash with the impossible compromises of queer life. If exposed, she could lose everything she holds dear.

Critique: Author Lucy Jane Bledsoe is an impressively gifted novelist who in the pages of her latest epic, "A Thin Bright Line" is able to consistently engage her readers rapt and total attention from cover to cover. Deftly crafted and entertaining read, "A Thin Bright Line" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. It is interesting to note that "A Thin Bright Line" is based on the hidden life of the author's aunt and namesake. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Thin Bright Line" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.49).

Close to Home
Lily Everett
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250074058, $7.99, PB, 304pp,

Synopsis: When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn't love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she's settled into a quiet life on her own -- never expecting to see her husband again.

Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He's shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It's painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married?she's become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can't let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?

Critique: A riveting read from a true master of the romance genre, "Close to Home" is author Lily Everett's fifth book in her outstanding Sanctuary Island series. Deftly crafted characters, a plot with unexpected twists and turns, a fully and emotionally satisfying conclusion, "Close to Home" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. For the personal reading lists of dedicated Lily Everett fans it should be noted that "Close to Home" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Great Snail Race
Don Jordan
Don Jordan/Juliana Haubrich, Publishers
ASIN: B01LWJFEYQ, $4.99,

Kids ages 3-7 and parents looking for fun, original read-aloud picture books on Kindle will relish The Great Snail Race, an engaging story about a little snail who could.

The little snail leads a comfortable sea life on Latimer Bay right in front of boy Luca's house; but his kind are known as some of the slowest creatures in the Bay. Snappy is not happy about this label, because in fact he's one of the fastest snails in the world. How to emphasize this fact? By organizing a race!

But just because he's the swiftest doesn't mean he's a shoe-in for the lead: when an impossible obstacle seems to prevent his success, Snappy must become fastest at problem-solving, as well.

Gorgeous color drawings by Juliana Haubrich capture the zippy little snail and the sea life around him.

Adult read-aloud parents will find this an engaging story holding some 41 pages of detail on the snail's sea world and his determination to live up to his reputation.

The Attachment Bond: Affectional Ties Across the Lifespan
Virginia M. Shiller
Lexington Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
Hardback: 9781498522533 $100.00
eBook: 9781498551724 $ 99.99,

Attachments shape relationships, defining their nature, evolution, and quality; but although there is a wealth of research and information about this phenomenon, until now there's been no single book synthesizing this data to present a clear foundation title on the subject.

Licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor Virginia M. Shiller's purpose in writing The Attachment Bond is to make this information accessible to a wider audience than psychologists alone by taking data, research, and clinical experiences and combining them into a comprehensive, simple, accessible presentation.

Chapters thus translate attachment theory's intricacies with a lay audience in mind, making accessible the latest data and studies surrounding personal relationships and how they evolve from early childhood into adulthood as they trace the history of the study of attachment theory.

Vignettes cement and round out these studies and provide accessible and personal links between theory and real-world experience, considering both the observations of professional psychologists and clients who serve as examples of attachment theory in action.

From questions of whether the security of attachment predicts behavior problems during early childhood and risk factors associated with disadvantaged family structures to an extensive NICHD study following over 1,000 children from infancy to age 15, assessing the development of their social skills and the influence of parents and teachers during the process, The Attachment Bond moves beyond singular environments to consider attachment insecurity, bonds, parenting philosophies, and social influence.

The juxtaposition of research results and studies with case studies and the attention to explaining the impact of these studies and their review on the overall attachment theory's development presumes no prior psychological expertise. While psychologists will likely be the primary readers of The Attachment Bond, it's important to note that a secondary audience of non-experts, from parents to early childhood educators, will find it equally accessible.

The result is a solid, research-based overview that is recommended for psychologists, parents, and educators alike, representing a surprisingly accessible synthesis of study and real-world applications as it probes the latest developments in attachment theory.

What the World Does Not Know Nor Understand
10DolaPublishing Ltd.
ASIN: 78536283, $9.95,

What the World Does Not Know Nor Understand is a book about the Spirit: what it is, how it presents itself, and how it interacts with the world. All this is considered by '10dollar', the pseudonym of an author who grew up as part of a prominent tribe noted for its special and specific powers, from levitation to controlling the forces of nature.

10dollar grew up with an affection for science and a lifelong goal of developing his many gifts, and his privileged position in a high-profile family led to further contacts with powerful personalities and spiritual and psychic forces from all nations. The vision of his publishing company involves encouraging humans to reflect the contract between the Spirit and earthly beings, his purpose is to change lives, and his book supports the choice of the Holy Spirit and reviews its influences upon and presence in the world, with the ultimate goal being to make people endorse the contract between the Spirit and earthly beings.

New age and spiritual readers should anticipate, from all of this, a wide-reaching journey through spiritual and human affairs which takes a close look at matters often misinterpreted by humans in their various social, cultural and spiritual pursuits. Ignorance of the differences between Spirit, Dragon, and special Earthly pursuits that affect knowledge and power can prove costly, 10dollar maintains, and his book is designed to answer questions about the Spirit, how it operates, and the threats posed by the Anti-Spirit.

In the course of his discussions, 10dollar reveals the source and roots of 'supernatural' abilities and also probes the structures and incarnations of Spirit, beings, secret organization of the Dragon, and much more.

What the World Does Not Know Nor Understand demands an open mind and spiritual and intellectual flexibility from its readers, and also packs in so many revelations that it requires time and slow reading and re-reading to absorb its tenants properly. These challenges and cautions are offset by an intriguing ability to move from the outer limits of probing new age and psychic ideas relating to Spirit and humanity to the practicalities of how to examine and consider such forces as mega-churches and their connections to social ills and issues of greed as they make demands upon the poor and set up pyramid schemes for gullible members.

Recommended for the spiritual and new age reader already harboring an ability to think out of the box and beyond normal religious doctrine, What the World Does Not Know Nor Understand will reach audiences with a powerful, wide-ranging message about religion, philosophy, science and a spiritual force that impacts every person on the planet.

A Look in the Mirror
Darrell Cass
9780692474228, $14.95 Paper, $4.99 ebook

It's almost as if Darrell Cass climbed into a time machine to take a look at America's immediate future, and found it frightening. Such is the feel from reading A Look in the Mirror: The Disintegration of Our Morals, Values, Ethics and Society - Can America Be Saved?, which is the most contemporary book on modern America precisely because it nailed many of the nation's political undercurrents, manipulations, and trends even before the November 8th, 2016 election.

A Look in the Mirror chronicles the progressive, deliberate demise of America's social structure begun by and influenced by corrupt business and political processes, follows their progression through over thirty years of political maneuvering and manipulative behaviors, and closely analyzes the root causes of these actions and how they've escalated to erode democratic processes and ideals over recent decades.

As chapters reveal deliberate efforts by both individual and corporate entities to do the right thing, only to be thwarted by special interests, legal barriers, and a rising tide of warped priorities, A Look in the Mirror presents both admonitions and damning charges that pull no punches to either side.

From natural gas and auto racing to medical and insurance fraud, media snafus, monopolies, and bank meltdowns, chapters at first appear wide-ranging and disparate, but ultimately contribute to a frightening 'bigger picture'. Several chapters have been updated to include the latest damning evidence about Trump's special interests and the ironies involved in the fact that a man connected with federal fraud, money laundering, and billions in failed debt could rise in the system to become President: "As a reward, he is now president and we have the first "foreign born" First Lady."

In Darrell Cass's analysis, there is no 'good side/bad side', and nobody is immune from blame: men nor women, Republication, Democrat or 'Other', or business or political entities. Of special interest is specific documentation on the clever ways 99% of Americans and the world have been subjugated by special interests that employ clever methods of brainwashing and hypocrisy, spinning statistics, evidence and truth until the boundaries between myth and reality appear well blurred, to most Americans.

The question is: can America be 'saved' - and if so, how?

Darrell Cass may have written a new addendum note for his book and revised some sections to reflect the latest election results and what it portends for the future; but he didn't have to write much, because basically his message had already been hammered home throughout his book. The latest election results were just a confirming endnote putting the icing on the cake of corrupted and co-opted democratic processes.

Any American concerned about the country's social and political progress will find A Look in the Mirror draws important connections and makes some statements that may be hard to swallow; but which cannot be ignored.

It doesn't just ask that every American take a hard look at both government and their own individual lives and values.

It demands it.

The Prince's Plan
E. M. Youman
Will Records Publishing
9780996532617 (Ebook) $4.99
9780996532600 (Print) $23.99
Ordering links:
Barnes and Noble:

Singer Danny is a typical musician: an addict who has been with many women, ruined many lives through his self-centered inattention, and who is trying to redeem his soiled past by locating and making amends to a particular young woman whom he'd once abandoned.

Marnie's a lot like him - a recovering addict - only she's looking for love and waiting for her life to begin.

Neither suspected a new focus would be introduced by the other - but, it happens. When Marnie accepts a job with Danny, working as his personal assistant, a kettle of fish evolves as her job embraces exes, controversy, and publicity. Add the attentions of an unwelcome suitor to an already-complicated situation for a story line that is exquisitely fraught with tension.

The fact that both characters are flawed in similar ways, and that they come together against a backdrop of unusual circumstances, creates a tale that is inviting and intriguing. There are no pat solutions or approaches to their relationship as Danny struggles with addiction, enabling behavior patterns, and forging a different kind of relationship with Marnie: "He resisted the urge to pat her head and tell her everything would be okay. Sympathy would kill her. How many times had his family hugged him and given him another chance, which he had abused by using behind their backs? She didn't need him to be nice. "Do you even want to change your life around?"

Many such moments of insight are presented throughout The Prince's Plan, solidifying its plot and the human strengths and weaknesses of two characters who must find their own individual revised paths in life before coming together as a couple.

Readers who look for love stories firmly centered in realistic scenarios and protagonists who are not only imperfect, but broken, will find The Prince's Plan weaves a solid tale spiced by family drama, permeated with mood swings, and complicated by patterns of the past and an effort to build a different future: "All she ever wanted since Paul turned her life upside down through alcohol and drugs, was to go somewhere where no one knew her as a whore or a victim."

Romance readers who appreciate more psychological depth and social commentary than most typical love stories hold will find much different - and much to like - in The Prince's Plan.

Rubiks: The Rabbit Mysteries Book 1
Suse Wilcox
Joie Press
ASIN: B01GM5WFA4, $2.99,

It's Logan's tenth birthday; a day he will surely celebrate with the gift of something he's wanted for three years: a dog. Unfortunately, fate and his elders deem otherwise, and instead of a dog, he gets something very different: a dwarf rabbit. His disappointment is crushing, because all his expectations of having a dog so it can serve as both playmate and protector are crushed by the presence of a caged, "regifted" bunny who can be neither.

Logan and the reader are in for many surprises as Rubiks grows on him and comes to represent something larger in his life in this powerful story of a ten-year-old who is disappointed with his birthday gift.

A good amount of rabbit information, from behavior to care, hops into this fun story of how the little bunny grows on Logan despite his initial efforts to reject it. And as time goes on and his brother and the kids at school are less interested in teasing him over his new pet, Logan comes to find Rubiks a surprising plus in his life; especially when a mystery evolves that can only be solved with the bunny's help. It turns out that Rubiks has some unexpected talents in this direction, and as Logan becomes involved in something beyond his abilities to solve, it's up to Rubiks to pull him into the kind of adventure he never thought he could experience with a rabbit.

Unique, amusing, and refreshingly realistic in its portrait of family and friendships, the first book of Rubiks: The Rabbit Mysteries is a fun leisure read highly recommended for any advanced elementary to middle grader reader who enjoys pets, mysteries, and a dose of fantasy added into the mix.

Night of the Eleventh Sun
Steven Burgauer
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B01MDRXQ8K, $1.99,

Fans of Jean Aul and other writers who provide stories about early humans on Earth will find Night of the Eleventh Sun to be refreshingly thought-provoking as it focuses on a Neanderthal man's world and his interactions with the incoming homo sapiens species.

Strong Arms is well adapted to his environment and is a hunter who has achieved much; but when he spies another clan coming toward him one morning - one whose members aren't quite as he is - it is the beginning of a series of strange, wonderful, and frightening encounters with those who seem to be related to him in some way, but who are different.

These new humans don't just move differently; they have a different way of interacting with the world around them - and Strong Arms discovers that all his survival skills can't prepare him for the invading forces that soon take over his clan, his life, and his world.

Steven Burgauer's ability to portray the thoughts and feelings of Neanderthal man is excellent. Strong Arms faces the problems he created when he exiled a young man and other clan members from his group, experiences feelings and drives that portend well for survival even if he doesn't quite understand the reasons behind them, and moves through a world created and determined by the Nature God to explore how magic operates in conjunction with natural law. As he does so, readers gain insights into the possible explorations and thoughts of Neanderthal man and his changing place in the world.

From the desperate - even forbidden - attempts of a maturing girl to find a mate to the forces of natural selection and clan economics, Burgauer explores all facets of clan makeup, interactions, and psychology within a fictional story that creates involving characters fully immersed in their environment and its many changes and challenges.

As Strong Arms faces the elimination of everything he's built and known about his world, he tries to reason out life's purpose even as he becomes one of the last remaining eight hundred Neanderthals on the planet. In this changing world, even uncommon intelligence still has few options for survival.

Delicately and intricately wrought with a heavy focus on the thoughts and perceptions of one who walks through a world both familiar and increasingly alien, Night of the Eleventh Sun is an engrossing read especially recommended for readers who would consider the transitional changes and choices experienced by one species being replaced by another during the process of evolution.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Jon Frederickson
Seven Leaves Press
9780988378889, $15.95,

The Lies We Tell Ourselves: How to Face the Truth, Accept Yourself, and Create a Better Life is about identifying and accepting the lies we tell ourselves in the process of handling life, and it's recommended for anyone who would more clearly see the truth in their life choices and the path to peace.

Why is it that attention to fixing one's psyche too often results in only adjusting fantasies and the fallacies that affect self image and surface feelings; not one's deeper self? True healing comes from identifying shameful facets of psyche and actions and, more importantly, accepting responsibility for the choices that stem from these actions. It's a process that involves identifying and separating reality and truth from illusion - and that process brings with it many reasons for telling ourselves (and others) lies.

Chapters pair personal insights and examples with bigger-picture thinking on why truth is rejected or not embraced, how illusions create barriers that can keep disagreement and differences at bay, leading to a blend of denial and grief, and efforts to change others to make one's inner pain go away.

These spiraling facades cause many to lose self-image and become lost in obsessions and negativity as a rejection of feelings and self becomes a rejection of others.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves should be considered the first step in the healing process of self-help psychology readers. Identifying these lies, their origins, and their effects is the start of a long, arduous journey that can't be undertaken without this base knowledge, and Jon Frederickson clearly explains the difference between apparent causes of problems and underlying reality, showing how to confront these buried forces to gain real understanding and move away from falsehoods. Its precise path is highly recommended for introspective self-help audiences.

Exiles: A Mystery in Paris
Lawrence J. Epstein
Fig Hollow Publishing
ASIN: B01N95U9UL, $0.99,

"If you're a young American, and it's the middle of 1925, and you want to be a writer, the voice of your inner hidden heart sings out a desperate yearning for Paris."

This unexpected introduction to a mystery provides a compelling, evocative opener that promises more depth than your usual 'whodunnit' or problem-solving mystery; perhaps because the protagonist isn't a professional detective but is a would-be writer who finds himself in Paris with the dual goals of honing his literary skills and solving the mystery of a Lost Generation writer's demise.

He's aided not by the local police, but by the owner of the famous Shakespeare & Co bookstore, Sylvia, and he's hampered not just by his lack of familiarity with investigative processes, but by old war wounds and betrayals that come back to haunt him as he follows cold clues and warm hearts.

Lawrence J. Epstein's purpose is to puzzle the reader as much as the protagonist: thus, Exiles: A Mystery in Paris winds its way through murky threats and the kinds of patterns that struggling writers typically follow as Daniel Levin strives to earn a living and make his name in literary circles as a powerful new writer.

Part of the charm of Exiles lies in its ability to depict the subtle nuances of the literary community as a whole. As Daniel moves through various relationships in search of more than one truth, hr encounters Hemingway, editor Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and more. In each encounter he is invited to reveal himself and his prowess; yet too often he discovers he's still in the process of reinventing his craft and life, which feels diminutive against the impressive achievements of others: "I came to Paris precisely because I would have no past and no family. I can't tell you about myself because I have given up my self. I am here to build a new one."

As he confronts choices in his new life, defines why he writes and what his passions are, and continues to encounter famous personalities who reside on the "top floors of the Tower of Literature", he makes discoveries about what is lost, found, and their values. All this is overlaid with a mystery that brings Daniel to the realization that the pursuit of justice and truth supersedes any other goal in his life, and takes over his determination to become a powerful author as the literary figures in his world are threatened on more than one level.

From encounters between Americans and Europeans and their very different perspectives on and approaches to the world to Daniel's slow immersion in a very different kind of war, descriptions are powerfully presented and twists of plot well done, keeping readers both entertained and on edge of their seats about what is to come. The addition of philosophical reflection is another delightful facets of Daniel's story: "I don't know if I can ever let go of the guilt." "Then hold on to it, but don't let it be a brake. Let it be an accelerator. If it is to accompany you for your life let it not be used to block you or stop you or let you not think clearly."

Haunting and evocative, Exiles: A Mystery in Paris is hard to put down and is especially, highly recommended for mystery readers who look for exceptional stories that stand out from the crowd, eschewing the predictability of formula writing for a refreshingly and tantalizingly original result.

Absence of the Loved
Wade Stevenson
BlazeVOX Books
9781609642747, $16.00,

Many poems and poetry collections focus on the presence of love, but Absence of the Loved is about that aftermath where love is gone, poetically describing the void left behind, the process of passing into something else, and what happens when transformation and change confront a relationship: "This morning we were born for something else".

Winter mornings, maddened minds, the compulsive drives of love and passion, and possession all coalesce in passionate, emotional pieces that grasp the essence of not a light romantic dream, but the agony and ecstasy of bonding with another both physically and emotionally.

From the throes of breakup and pain ("When I'm not grieving I trumpet destruction") to the inevitable progress towards a turning point where grief turns to renewal, Absence of the Loved is a poetic breakup diary like no other, chronicling the intimate passage of days and pain with the deft precision of a romantic martyr as the writer considers the absence of one with a 'penchant for parting'.

Again and again the times before departure are analyzed and probed, the impetus for change considered, and the faded spark of love from which the inevitability of leaving reviewed: "One day I will go so you will at last understand/This simplest of lessons: everything flows."

How long will loss last when "what we are is made of half of each other's wholeness"? It may not be a lifetime, but these moments are perfectly captured in a poetic gathering of experiences that intricately chronicles just what the process of and pain of letting go involves.

However, "The Absence of The Loved" is not just about loss. Although it starts that way, there is a progression, and fans of poetry will appreciate the various depths and nuances of feeling. In the end the poet transfigures his loss into a vibrant, radiant presence. The young woman that he loved becomes a symbol for "the loved". In the moving final poem "You and You Again", the circle is closed, there is no more absence --- what remains is Amor.

Not So Easy Road: The Story of a Little Boy Who Kept his Promise
Dr. April L. Jones
Visionary Consulting Services, LLC
9781539357384, $26.38,

His name is Mose Jones Jr.; but everyone calls him "Lil Boy" because he seems too small and too smart for his age. Lil Boy and his family are black people who live in a small town, and though they are not rich, there is no lack of activities, even though Lil Boy's family are sharecroppers and some of the fun is also work, such as fishing or hunting.

As the children's story evolves, readers learn of how Lil Boy handles a particularly feisty pig, learns valuable lessons on community service, politics and family relationships, and makes some promises to himself that will lay the foundations for his moral and ethical approaches later on in life.

Not So Easy Road does a good job of chronicling one boy's growth and evolution, his sharecropper family's experiences, and how he handled problems in his young life. Lil Boy's optimism that one day his life will be better is evident throughout the book and in his activities, and as he begins school and learns what democracy is about, his inherent inquisitiveness leads him to question various facets about his life and the inequities he sees in his world.

A peppering of color illustrations throughout adds visual embellishment to this elementary-grade story of determination, struggle, and the family ties and character development that led Mose Jones Jr. to become a community leader and the first black commissioner to be elected into office in Lawrence County, Alabama.

This biographical portrait is especially recommended for children who would learn how a combination of personal perseverance, strong family relationships, and curiosity led Mose Jones Jr. to go further than anyone around him, to make a difference in his community.

Any children's book collection strong in portraits of black community leaders will find Not So Easy Road an engrossing, revealing and lively read.

The Controversial Mayan Queen Sak K'uk of Palenque
Leonide Martin
Made for Wonder
9781613398814, $17.99

The Controversial Mayan Queen Sak K'uk of Palenque is the second book in the Mists of Plaenque series, and centers around Sak K'uk, the spirited daughter of the first Mayan ruler, who faces political and spiritual challenges after an enemy attack on the city which destroys their temple, crops, and ruler.

Sak K'uk escapes death, but the perilous mission she finds herself on is nearly as challenging as facing the gods of the Underworld; for she is tasked with a quest that will involve her holding onto the throne in the midst of anarchy, fostering her son to his destiny of becoming a leader, and facing accusations that her Underwood experiences are fantasies that didn't really happen.

As the world of ancient Mayan Palenque come to life, readers with any degree of familiarity with the history of the early Mayans will find their struggles, culture, and jungle world receives an unusual attention to detail that perhaps stems from the fact that author Leonide Martin is a retired university professor well versed in adding supportive, well-researched facts that bring historical fiction to life.

Readers who seek action over history and who want stand-alone works may find that the open-ended conclusion (which paves the way for more series additions) and the close attention to background and detail belies the faster pace of an Indiana Jones-style adventure - but this is not Indiana Jones, even though it holds the appearance and many of the trappings of a Jones-style action piece.

The Controversial Mayan Queen Sak K'uk of Palenque is well-done, entertaining, and revealing as Martin takes time and attention to build the psychological, political, and cultural profile of a Mayan leader simultaneously struggling with family life and the future of her people. In addition to social and political strife, the emotionally charged and complex relationship between Sak K'uk and her son is particularly well detailed: both survived a devastating attack, both supported each other and defied death - and the same experiences that bound them closely together threaten their relationship and independence as Sak K'uk must learn to allow her son Pakal the freedom to make decisions about his life and loves. Having this kind of psychological detail in a historically-rich adventure story lends it an extra dimension that is unexpected and compellingly engrossing.

Readers who like well-researched historical works that add depth to a fictional extrapolation will find The Controversial Mayan Queen Sak K'uk of Palenque a vigorous, revealing journey through ancient Mayan traditions and struggles.

Levant Descending
Charles L. Carson
KaleBoy Press
ASIN: B01N9QG6P6, $2.99, Kindle,

Jack McManus knows all about Hyacinth, the mysterious emailer whose activities are somehow connected to something big building in the Levant region, a large area east of the Mediterranean Sea that can be geographically and politically viewed as something between a no-man's land and a hotbed of controversy preparing to explode. He knows he's failed at his attempt to distance himself from Department of Justice affairs to return to private life, and that his special skills make him indispensable to the United States government. And he suspects that the early morning package just delivered to him by the military, a weighty set of papers named Levant Descending, is about to change his life.

One of the forces at work in Jack's life is questioning who is pulling his strings like a puppet. He certainly isn't making these choices ("...someone, somewhere had figured that I could contribute something to this question. Possibly someone I had never met or would ever meet. Someone I don't know was in charge of my life."), but as he moves deeper into the layered meanings of Levant, he comes find that whatever is doing the manipulating also has the CIA and other major entities flying blindly into possible disaster.

One special pleasure in the Jack McManus series is that family is never far behind the action. As Jack confronts international scenarios that are far beyond anything he anticipates, he keeps being reminded, in small ways of the age-old questions central in his life: "Is my duty to raise my children? Or is my duty to answer my country's call for help? Seems I can't do both." This issue is central to the lives of many who serve their country, and lends a very human, personal touch to the political dilemmas and espionage challenges that plague Jack's world and lead him far from what he most loves.

Readers closely follow Jack's thinking as he faces the puzzle of fourteen missing planes, the involvement of Hyacinth in a dangerous competition, and a series of speculations on all sides that could lead to disaster: "Hyacinth now knows others are aware of something going on out there on the border. But, I'm sure he has no idea if we can connect up the dots. He could only speculate. And speculation can be dangerous."

Jack has all the questions but Hyacinth may hold all the answers in a deadly game that plays out like a chess match with checkmate always looming for either side. With two clever, one-of-a-kind opponents, who will win?

Thriller readers - even those new to the McManus series - are in for a treat with Levant Descending. The novel's tension is exquisite, the connections between this and other McManus stories are strong and yet arranged so as to allow this latest to be a stand-alone highly accessible to newcomers, and the ongoing juxtaposition between personal and political concerns is delicately and perfectly balanced to keep readers on a tightrope of tension throughout.

Very highly recommended!

Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State
Parag Khanna
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9780998232508, $19.99 Paper; $7.99 ebook

Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State presents a common contention: that American democracy is broken. But, unlike most competing books, global scholar Parag Khanna looks beyond American shores for solutions to fixing it in an unexpected move that allows for some unusual perspectives.

There are more 'technocratic' democracies in the world than the U.S., and their processes and successes hold many insights into America's political and social woes. Khanna's decades of living in other countries and studying their political arrangements leads to a book that advocates not a return to the past, but a forward-thinking vision where leaders would jointly manage the executive branch and where governors could unite in an entity that would enjoy more immediate powers and results than our current Congress.

The author's close-up observations of how the successful Singaporean and Swiss systems work forms the foundation not of a set of ideals and dreams, but for the basics of a working democratic process that has already been tested and fine-tuned, abroad. What factors connect these very different systems? "...what matters most is that Switzerland and Singapore are both verifiably democratic and rigorously technocratic at the same time. They both have a high percentage of foreign-born populations, national military and civil service, strong linkages between education and industry, diversified economies, and massive state investment in R&D and innovation."

Other nations who can't afford to experiment with political processes have already identified their strategic niches and have put innovations into place that apply their inherent niche assets in new ways on the global arena.

Technocracy in America may sound radical in some of its concepts, but its appearance represents perfect timing for America's new government, which stands poised on the brink of revolutionary changes. Should they go in the direction of this book, many might come to believe that democratic processes could be preserved and enhanced, bringing the nation up to speed in a technocratic environment which other democratic nations of the world are already successfully navigating.

Political and social science students, as well as concerned general readers, will find Technocracy in America satisfyingly specific in its examples and democratic in its focus, offering a different approach to change that acknowledges and enhances past successes while looking forward to a future that embraces technology and democracy in a different manner.

What Kyle Can Do
Conni Branscom & Brooke Luckadoo Hicks
Warren Publishing
3440 Toringdon Way, Suite 205, Charlotte NC 28277
9781943258277, $14.95,

What Kyle Can Do receives bright, large drawings by Marcin Piwowarski to accompany the story of seven-year-old Mya, who enjoys being a big sister to her siblings. There's a difference in her family when brother Kyle is born, however, for he has Down syndrome, and all the things Mya had dreamed of doing with her new brother seem impossible.

The message here isn't about Kyle's limitations so much as his possibilities. As Mya learns what Down syndrome means for her and her family, she also absorbs the basics of the condition and the possibilities of Kyle bringing joy to her family's life, and young readers are brought into her journey of discovery.

Parental read-aloud assistance will enhance this story; especially since it opens the door for discussions of Down syndrome and why Mya comes to realize that having such a brother "makes her family special".

The positive spin on this condition involves a young girl's appreciation for what her brother is and the many things she can do with him; not what could have been or should be - and this is what gives this picture book its important message, highly recommended for families facing the arrival of a Down syndrome child.

Secondhand Romance
Jessica Stevens
Warren Publishing
3440 Toringdon Way, Suite 205, Charlotte NC 28277
9781943258215, $15.95,

Secondhand Romance opens with wedding day plans. Everything is in place; everything planned. The story revolves around two people who'd never dreamed of marrying - but their blossoming love has taken only a few short months, marriage plans are happening quickly, and Rita discovers she's a hopeless romantic who just wants to be with Luca for the rest of her life. What isn't in place, and what isn't planned, is a tragedy that turns her life upside down and doesn't offer her even days of marital bliss before everything goes horribly wrong.

Fast forward three years, where Rita's life is still in stasis in many ways, and she's living in limbo. Though Rita's tragedy has changed her, life still moves on, and despite the opener of Secondhand Romance, the rest of the story isn't about the tragedy but about recovery and adaptation. Though her twin sister's pregnancy is a reminder of what she lost on that fateful day of the double wedding, Rita's course in life has been forever altered, and she slowly comes to discover that a different path lies ahead.

Jessica Stevens walks a fine line between producing a romance, a tragedy, and a story of evolution. Readers will find that Rita's many changes are realistic; especially points where she is 'stuck' and can't envision a different future. This sense of reality is one of the strong points of Secondhand Romance and gives the story line an extra, added boost with a flavor of real-world experience that doesn't hold to formula writing paths or results.

Secondhand Romance is about the nature and progression of Rita's recovery, and it paints a vivid picture of the years after tragedy and how she comes to make new discoveries about life and romance that will sweep her in unexpected directions. It's a powerful, revealing romance that will make the perfect beach or leisure read for women who like their steamy scenes light and their romances replete with absorbing psychological depth.

White Lake
Susan Amond Todd
Warren Publishing
3440 Toringdon Way, Suite 205, Charlotte NC 28277
9781943258284, $14.95,

Cynthia is a typical suburban housewife who has it all: a successful husband, a big house, children who are achievers, and a career as a nurse. Nothing could be better, and everything in her life seems set and perfect. But even the most perfect life has a way of taking a u-turn, and even a 55-year-old woman can find her set course taking a different trajectory.

Troubling doubts, secrets exposed, and shocking revelations send her on quite a different journey of discovering the identity she'd thought was cast in stone by time and choice, and as Cynthia faces her possibilities, so she makes the kinds of decisions she once would never have contemplated.

White Lake is a revealing story that holds many twists and turns: death, confrontation, rebirth, renewal and revelations. Susan Amond Todd's ability to portray Cynthia's growth and process of adaptation embraces the aftermath of tragedy and life-altering circumstances without a tone of melodrama, while her ability to detail the slow progression of how love builds also foregoes overdone emotion in favor of a more studied analysis of the anchors between past and present experience and how people change and learn how to love in new ways.

Matters of the heart are seldom predictable, but they are usually educational. White Lake successfully pinpoints moments which are pivot points in individual lives, and makes for an engrossing read especially recommended for women who enjoy the process of seeing their characters grow and change in unpredictable ways.

Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars
T.L. Williams
First Coast Publishers
9780988440067, $15.95,

Most thriller stories don't come with the authority of Zero Day because they are from authors who use their imaginations to build scenarios of espionage, global interactions and dangers, and military, political, or social conflict. But author T.L. Williams doesn't just sit at his writing desk: as an ex-CIA senior officer, he lived many hair-rising scenarios as he served undercover for thirty years throughout Asia and Europe.

Perhaps this is why Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars comes with a particularly realistic feel, offering fans of spy thrillers and international espionage a well-written, high-octane piece of fiction as it moves from China to West Virginia in its pursuit of an all-too-realistic scenario of a Chinese plot to control America by undermining its economy. This story could not have a more timely publication date, considering events surrounding the 2016 American election and possible Russian intervention.

Chapters are gripping as they carefully construct a cast of characters with special interests on all sides, from a Chinese assault on the American dollar through cyber attacks on America's banks to a snitch's revenge and a former Navy SEAL's desperate undercover work across Asia to stop the plot.

Few authors can say their book was reviewed by the CIA pre-publication; but Zero Day has that honor. Few can say that their intrigue is rooted in experiences and scenarios that could come true with relatively little effort. And few authors could create powerful characters and settings that attend as closely to building believable people with vested interests in their lives and actions as does this book.

As the events of Zero Day evolve, readers will find plenty of surprises that ultimately question who is on what side in an evolving cyber war scenario that closely examines world communications and the vulnerabilities of interconnected systems.

If it's a powerful work blending political, technological and personal achievements that is desired, Zero Day is the item of choice; highly recommended for any readers who enjoy a healthy dose of technological angst in their spy/thriller/espionage reads.

Bullies, Coasters, Hermits, and Heroes
Suse Wilcox
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00W891GXQ, $5.99,

Bullies, Coasters, Hermits, and Heroes will reach ages 10-13 with its vivid saga of Sarah and Jamie, who are facing fun summertime play and adventures and who have many plans for making the months exciting.

Not included in these plans are encounters with neighborhood bullies and hermits; nor did Sarah and Jamie interpret 'excitement' to mean more than exploring nature and the outdoors world they so love.

It's unusual to find philosophical and life-affirming messages in a leisure read for advanced elementary to early middle grades, but one of the surprising pleasures of Bullies, Coasters, Hermits, and Heroes lies in its attention to detail that goes beyond the usual leisure read to incorporate insights about a hard-working (and sometimes frustrated) small businessman father, a strict German mother, and circumstances in life which often translate to enlightening life insights for the young protagonist. Jamie's first-person impressions and thoughts are deftly captured: "Your life has a beginning and an ending, neither of which are within your control. The heart beats, the beating stops. What happens in between reflects your desire to experience life and to use the talents you have been given. You can't procrastinate. You simply cannot."

Young Jamie has plenty of questions about life, makes plenty of observations ("Some appeared to have no desire to change their situation. They didn't even take care of what they had. Their trailers were dirty and messy. They left litter strewn across their yards. How could they fulfill their purpose if they didn't strive for something else? Why didn't they at least take care of what they did have? Did something happen to break their spirit, or were they born as coasters?"), and part of the spirit of adventure in Bullies, Coasters, Hermits, and Heroes lies in her discoveries about these people and their worlds.

Too many elementary to middle grade reads eschew social insight and observation in favor of leisure reads filled with adventure and shallow characters. The special pleasure of this story lies in its ability to deftly provide the fun and excitement young leisure readers seek while peppering these encounters with thought-provoking social observations. The book presents a variety of topics appropriate for discussion in book clubs, church small groups, and literature classes.

From how a hermit has made particular lifestyle and values choices to seasonal adventures and encounters with people from different walks of life, the addition of these philosophical, religious, and social questions throughout lends an extra depth and introspective feel to the story line which makes it a top recommendation for parents who want their kids to read for more than cursory pleasure, and for kids who like characters who ask lots of questions about their world.

Russian Holiday
Kenneth Eade
Publisher: TBA
ISBN: TBA, Price: $TBA, Website/Ordering Link: TBA

Aleppo is in the headlines daily, and the very first word in Russian Holiday opens a story that begins there, as Robert Garcia observes a blasted world: "It reminded him of those surreal black and white photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atom bomb had been dropped. Once a thriving metropolis, now a graveyard inhabited only by terrorists and their mostly unwilling civilian subjects - slaves, held captive by the boundaries of their destinies." The problem is that Robert's not an observer, but a participant, gripping a sniper rifle as he plans to take out a high-ranking general and ISIS terrorist.

As the tables quickly turn, Robert finds himself on the other side of a gun, and it looks like even his Arab-looking features and flawless command of the language can't talk him out of execution. It will take some kind of miracle to save him - and then an unexpected Calvary arrives the form of Russians. As an independent agent, Robert has nothing to lose by accepting a ride that leads him out of Syria and deeper into Russian territory in a series of encounters that provides him a new Russian military 'family' circle and new alliances.

Russian Holiday is a sequel to Paladine, but requires little prior familiarity with its predecessor for newcomers to get up to speed quickly. It moves rapidly from Syria to France as Robert, in the company of his new Russian friends, encounters a series of jihadist murders in Paris and finds himself involved in surveillance and subterfuge that tests his best espionage capabilities.

As he tracks down rebels in small villages and finds that old friends have become new enemies, Robert's keen powers of observation track Syrian Army members and bring him into engagements with rebels under conditions where survival appears impossible.

Readers of international thrillers and military fiction will find the nonstop action and espionage scenarios gripping as Robert faces certain death time and again, only to emerge victorious. The action is fast-paced, the setting adroitly described, and the portraits of rebel, Russian, and American special interests against the backdrop of war are particularly well done so that all sides and their special interests become frighteningly clear and real.

Russian Holiday may be a sequel to Paladine, but it stands firmly on its own two feet as a remarkably gripping war scenario in which one man edges through a blasted world, his survival always a matter of question in a cat-and-mouse match that rolls across Europe in the company of enemies.

Molding My Destiny: A Story Of Hope That Takes One Child From Surviving To Thriving
Patrice M. Foster
Patrice M. Foster, Publisher
9780578181462, $9.50

By the time author Patrice M. Foster was ten, she had been molested, abandoned by her parents, and moved from foster home to foster home. By the time she graduated high school, she had been raped, arrested for drugs, and had been a prostitute so she and her sister could eat. She didn't trust or love anyone. For many like her, the story would have ended there.

But Foster searched for the things missing from her life and psyche - love and connections; things she had observed in other lives, but which were absent from hers - and in her quest she eventually found a way out of the depression and insanity that had shaped her world.

Molding My Destiny is her story about this process and, more importantly, about the process of building a successful and loving family from a broken past. It's an inspirational, revealing read for anyone who faces even an iota of the challenges Foster struggled with.

From bitter lessons about the norms foster kids face from peers and the world around them to a mother's inability to care for her kids, Foster's search for love, a sense of place, and a real home sweeps the reader through her life and through the range of observations, emotions, and struggles that influenced her ability to survive and grow.

It would seem unlikely that someone with this background would overcome feelings of loneliness, isolation, and the grim environments that framed her early life; but as Foster grows up and faces reforming her world with her own family, she walks a careful line between passing on the angst of her past and creating something new and positive for her future.

More so than most memoirs about overcoming adversity and impossible conditions, Molding My Destiny is, ultimately, a powerfully positive view of what can be achieved through determination and renewed, better-informed connections between past and present. These points are powerful rendered by a writer who depicts emotions, choices, and consequences with relentless passion.

Foster "...was used to fighting for everything in my life and now I had earned the right to choose who would be worthy of my time." Her realization that her self-esteem, happiness, and love lies within and not with a man, a mother, or including people in her circle that didn't support her makes for a thoughtful exploration of growth and evolution that holds striking messages for all readers: "Part of the process involved opening myself up to people who cared for me and letting go of friends and family who mistreated or disrespected me, rather than keep them in my life simply to have others around me."

Moynihan's Journey: And the Clash of Civilizations
Leo Gher
ISBN (Print) 9781483579962 $18.95
ISBN (Ebook) 9781483579979 $ 2.99

Imagine Romeo and Juliet as star-crossed lovers living not in Europe, but in a Muslim country. Now add a contemporary setting, the typical elements of an international thriller that romps through global settings, and two political movements that clash on an international arena of social change to get a sense of the backdrop and compelling plot and subplots of Moynihan's Journey: And the Clash of Civilizations.

Leo Gher's attention to building these subplots takes the thriller category to new heights as some of the action revolves around a murdered Pope, a spy in an Egyptian military unit, a world-wide religious war between Christians and Muslims, and cultural clashes that involve Tom and Zara in conflicts that would seem to belay any possibility of romance between them.

It would have been all too easy to stick to high-octane drama and action scenes, given such a diversity of scenarios, but Gher's focus on detail even goes right into traditions and clothing and strives for a far deeper portrait of the peoples, cultures, and sources of their conflict than a surface thriller could achieve. Readers should thus expect a good deal of description that's key to understanding the plot and subplots: something that more cursory thriller enthusiasts may chafe at (as it slows the story line a bit), but which enhances and builds upon social and political insights to add an exciting realistic feel to the story line.

Another source of this depth and attention to detail may lie in the fact that author Leo Gher has lived and worked in the Middle East and Central Asia for more than three decades. This experience enhances the story of what happens when a "blue-eyed Satan" enters Azeri girl Zara's life precisely at the point where she longs for something "unlike she'd ever known" to enter her life.

Her desire for this difference leads her and American diplomat Thomas Moynihan on a journey that moves far beyond romance and into the realm of world-changing clashes.

Readers with an affection for thrillers will find the tale intriguing, literary students familiar with Romeo and Juliet will find that references to Shakespeare's classic scenes (such as the nightingale) are delicately and definitively wrought at different points throughout the story line, and novel readers who enjoy complex stories of murders, kidnappings, confrontations between Arabs and Westerners, and secret operatives will find these elements add complex and satisfying moments as international agreements and relationships are forged.

Imagine star-crossed lovers at the pivot point of a mighty clash between two powerful cultures to gain a feel for the blend of personal and political intrigue that makes Moynihan's Journey: And the Clash of Civilizations such a passionate saga of assassination and change.

Psychology in the Light of the East
Margot Esther Borden
Rowman & Littlefield
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781442260269, $55.00,

Psychology in the Light of the East is recommended reading for college-level psychology students who want to integrate Eastern thinking into Western psychology traditions, and blends philosophy, psychology and spirituality in a survey of these two diverse worlds and the areas where they compliment one another.

In order to locate these meeting points, a history of Western psychology is required, and Margot Esther Borden provides this with a review of how psychology evolved over the decades, the places where psychology, spirituality, and philosophy intersect, and how different disciplines view ideas of consciousness, the human psyche, healing processes, and, finally, human potential.

Case history examples pepper a presentation that includes quotes from major Eastern and Western thinkers, while attention is given to ideologies, methodology, physical experiences and emotional reactions to them, and the importance of spiritual dimensions in the psychology arena.

Traditional Western psychoanalysts sometimes shun spiritual worldviews, especially if they don't fit into Western religious thinking. Thus, techniques reflective of our psycho-spiritual nature and potential such as mindfulness meditation, prayer, and teachings from both Western and Eastern spiritual traditions are not typically part of a Western psychologist's approach.

By demonstrating how to better integrate these traditions for maximum therapeutic benefit and insights, psychology students and practitioners receive a clear exploration of how to tailor their approach for more effective client care and responses, and will find Psychology in the Light of the East a clear road map of approaches backed by real-world sessions and history alike.

This book will also be helpful for individuals seeking psycho-spiritual healing and development as it provides a deep understanding of the many paths inwards and therefore, how to endeavour toward our greater potential.

Very highly recommended.

Sarah's Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness
Beverly Scott
Word Project Press of Sonoma
9780997034929, $12.95,

Beverly Scott's grandfather, who died when her father was a child, was a shadowy figure in her life: nobody talked much about him and her grandmother told her little. It took curious family members and much investigating to reveal a powerfully compelling truth and family secret.

Although it's presented as fiction, Sarah's Secret: A Western Tale of Betrayal and Forgiveness represents the author's perception of this tale, where "...the bones of this story are true but the flushing out of the context, human emotions and the reasons for decisions and impulses are created from my imagination. These are my efforts to put myself in the time period and the lives of the primary characters."

It opens in 1911 New Mexico, where Sarah's husband Sam is dying, leaving her alone to manage five children with no means of support, and evolves into a decision to leave the sandy, rattlesnake-infested world Sam has brought them to for a wagon journey back home to family roots in Nebraska.

From skinning rabbits to finding safe crossings during the journey, Sarah faces quicksand bogs and many dangers as she tries to keep her family together. Scott could have kept the focus on Sarah's perspective and trials; but her book's second section focuses on Will, a "sod buster" who gains employment on a cattle drive as he searches for a way home, guilty about abandoning his children and wife even as he dodges the law and becomes involved with another woman.

How these disparate lives come together makes for a Western story of struggle, redemption, betrayal, and family ties that winds its way through hearts and minds as deftly as it moves through early America's rugged landscape.

Journeys and their opportunities and consequences, Civil War history and its lasting impact on these choices, and a special focus on not just the lives but the psyches and motivations of the men and women who eked out lives on the frontier, built and broke family ties, and made decisions that had impacts on lives decades later makes for a Western story that goes well beyond well-researched history or leisure adventure to closely examine the far-reaching significance of individual lives.

Readers of Western fiction who enjoy a solid blend of history and psychology, and who seek more than just a frontier flavor in their fiction, will find Sarah's Secret a revealing and absorbing read.

The Beauty in Ms. White
Grey Line Press
9780983002871, $4.99,

Novella formats are particularly challenging to write because characterization, plot, and format, of necessity, must be succinct yet powerful, making the most of every word. The Beauty in Ms. White is a perfect example of the best use and practices of this format, opening with the image of a loser in life who finds himself being evicted from the apartment he's called home for ten years.

How did the tenant with the most seniority in the building not see the inevitable coming, upon its sale in a hot real estate market? Because he's been on a month-to-month lease through so many changes that he somehow believed that a rent increase would happen over eviction, because he hates change and would have preferred to make this downtown Philadelphia apartment his home forever, and because he has successfully avoided responsibility and decision-making.

It's only when he's forced to leave that he realizes that he needs the change and that he can call a new abode 'home' and come to accept its differences. Even deeper is the feeling that he "has no control over things"; that he is making motions in a "life not really lived".

"When you're forced to pack up your entire life, you can't help but assess it." This self-assessment process and midlife crisis is one of the foundations of The Beauty in Ms. White, which places the protagonist on the crux of a sea change that will lead him further into an unexpected direction so profound that he believes "this had to be fate".

As a voyeur into another's life, he is easily fascinated by subtle nuances, observations, and extrapolation. His early disillusionment with people, his love of the city, his interest in safe routine - all these have both crafted the art of a lonely author and cemented his self-imposed prison. When his fantasy goes awry and his outsider status is confirmed, he finds he is "haunted by the person I want to become" - and is adrift. But, she awakened him. Can he awaken her, in turn?

Fans of the novelette format will find the attention to detail, psychological introspection, and a fine line between fantasy and reality to be compelling and deftly portrayed in The Beauty in Ms. White, which takes the art of living an unrealized fantasy life to a whole new level.

How are inhuman monsters made? Through the very human experiences of loneliness, angst, fantasy and hope: all powerful depictions in a story that holds many poignant moments and a powerful, startling conclusion; and which is highly recommended for literary fiction readers looking for psychological depth and a powerful turn of events.

Three Paws
Bob Jenkins
Privately Published
9780997996036, $6.99,

What would happen to the world's animals if humans vanished from the land overnight? And what if these creatures began evolving into something different? Such is the premise of the young reader's fantasy Three Paws and Other Stories, a children's book slated for ages 9-12, but which promises to reach older audiences who enjoy animal protagonists and fantasies akin to Watership Down and other tales (sans humans, of course, in this case).

When the skies glow green and firestorms rage, many animals are killed - but some survive. Three Paws takes her place in a world where animals are newly sentient, are members of Fur Clans, and where their 'powers' are reflections of what humans used to take for granted.

It's a world where bears, raccoons, skunks and beavers are friends, where the Covenant of Good Manners allows them to live together, and where Story Talks and ceremonies are part of their lives.

Ancient ways and modern approaches mingle well in this animal fantasy and create fine tales of life-affirming habits and interactions: "Some of these things they learned from their Papa Beaver and Mama Beaver before their parents make them go away. Some of these things, they just knew. It is a great mystery. All beavers, and all animals, have the old knowledge buried deep inside their bodies. When they need to know it, they just know it. It is the ancient way."

From how an injured three-pawed beaver becomes the healer for her clan and rejects some of its early traditions about leaving home to how ancient ways are assessed, acknowledged, and respected in this strange new world, readers are given an animal world that is refreshingly different.

This first book in the 'Sharp Teeth, Flat Teeth' series exploring the world of the Fur Clans who have evolved in the Woods Beyond the Broken Lands is recommended for young fans of animal-oriented fantasy who will appreciate Flitter's debut story of "Three Paws," which marks her successful new role as Story Talker of the Fur Clans and sets the stage and background for further tales. Younger readers will find Three Paws filled with not just action and adventure, but numerous thought-provoking moments that will keep them interested to the end.

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light
Nikki DuBose with James Johanson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478777458, Paper: $27.95 Kindle: $9.99,

Model and author Nikki DuBose struggled with a variety of mental health issues for nearly twenty years; all while forging a career in the demanding fashion industry. Her problems began in childhood, where she was emotionally and sexually abused, and as patterns of self-abuse influenced her choices and progress in life, she found her self in a puzzling juxtaposition between success and failure as she worked as a TV host and began her modeling career.

While on the surface she appeared to be successful, traveling the world and leading a life that seemed enviable, in reality her struggles with PTSD, eating disorders, and mental and physical challenges were never-ending and became life threatening on more than one level.

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light tells her story and illuminates the forces which contributed to her warped self image and the paths she took to emerge from her personal version of hell.

It's written for audiences who suffer similar mental ailments and for those who would better understand and reduce the shame surrounding such struggles. Even though DuBose's path led her to a religious revelation and spiritual focus, it's not written for those who would receive a lesson in Christianity, but for any who would understand the various options leading to survival and recovery.

Readers should be warned that DuBose's life is tumultuous and her memoir describes sexual abuse, graphic inappropriate actions upon a child by many of the adults who should have been protecting her, and shows how these familiar patterns repeat into adulthood. It also details the physical health challenges that entered the picture more and more often as DuBose continued to abuse her body and mind. It's not an easy read: it's filled with strife, angst, and agony.

It also includes some unexpected aspects, such as the author's connections with paranormal phenomena and her insights about these events.

Readers who seek graphic, compelling memoirs that ultimately focus on victim mentality and how to recreate one's identity and self image in a more positive light will find Washed Away goes further than most memoirs of abuse to chronicle the way out and the road to recovery, offering inspirational guidelines that will appeal to religious and non-religious readers alike.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Doing More with Less
Anthi Theiopoulou
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781540513731 $21.00

Synopsis: A sustainable learning organization always has a competitive advantage, and organizational-learning tools can provide businesses of any size with the ability to achieve more with less. This innovation in management is based in science and backed by numerous successful applications.

Author Anthi Theiopoulou, MSc, conducted breakthrough research in organizational learning (OL) best practices and the operationalization of OL principles. As a leading international expert, she offers this guide for applying OL to any business and measuring the outcome.

This overview is for leaders and researchers from a range of backgrounds. It begins by reviewing management strategies and the most current research on OL. Part two covers each component of OL in greater depth to allow leaders to design and implement their own systems. Part three is a sample OL management system, which is highly customizable, uniquely scalable, and it includes the organizational learning self-evaluation tool - or OLSET - developed by the author at the University of Liverpool. This unique element of the methodology allows leaders to conduct an OL capacity audit.

The result of years of experience and research, Doing More with Less turns science into practice. These empirically based guidelines and techniques have the power to make organizations successful in any future.

Critique: Doing More with Less is a resource for leaders of all sizes of organizations, from large corporations to small businesses to small teams for social initiatives. Its tools focus on achieving "more", or better results, by leveraging the potential of one's organization - unlimited assets such as intelligence, creativity, and a positive work environment - as opposed to finite assets such as gains from operating an economy-of-scale. A methodical guide to understanding, implementing, and refining best practices, Doing More with Less is potentially invaluable. Simple evaluation exercises (which examine whether employees are encouraged to join formal or informal networks, whether individuals are responsible for collecting/processing/distributing employees' suggestions internally, and many more litmus criteria), a further reading list, a glossary of terms, and an author index round out this choice pick for entrepreneurs.

Alternative Approaches and Strategies of Human Resources Development
Edited by T.V. Rao, K.K. Verma, Anil K. Khandelwal, & E. Abraham S.J.
Rawat Publications
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9788170333814 $80.00 hc

Synopsis: There are many ways to develop human resources and harness their potential for organizational growth. In the past, organizations have used training as the main mechanism and strategy for developing human resources. In the last five years many organizations have started evolving and experimenting with different mechanisms and strategies of developing employees. These include performance appraisals, potential development exercises, performance feedback and counseling systems, career planning and development, drug interventions, role analysis exercises, etc. These are in addition to training being extended to unionized categories. The papers presented in this volume are first-hand descriptions of these experiences and experiments. The organizations covered include private and public sectors, multinational organizations, and banks. Only those experiences that are considered new and different have been presented.

Critique: As technological advances continue to transform the working world, promoting teamwork-focused Human Resources development and maximizing the potential of one's employees is more important than ever. This anthology of essays by learned authors isn't presented in a vacuum - there are also suggested activities and implementation strategies for putting alternative approaches to Human Resources Development into practice. "It is now widely recognized that maximum development takes place on the job and the immediate boss is the biggest influence. Therefore bosses with abilities to develop talents have their own importance in development activity." Alternative Approaches and Strategies of Human Resources Development is especially recommended for college library collections and Human Resources reading lists, and a "must read" for professionals in the field.

Arizona Moon: A Novel of Vietnam
J. M. Graham
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781682470718 $26.95 hc / $14.55 Kindle

Synopsis: Arizona Moon binds together the fates of three men who went to war to find meaning, but found only Vietnam. Cpl. Raymond Strader is a Marine Corps squad leader and designated platoon sniper who is counting down the days before he can return to Pennsylvania. LCpl. Noche Gonshayee is an Apache Indian feared by his fellow Marines and who sees any non-Apache as a potential enemy. Truong Nghi is a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) student volunteer caught up in patriotic fervor and is helping an NVA unit move munitions south in anticipation of the Tet Offensive.

Blood is shed when Nghi's NVA unit silently eliminates a listening post lead by Gonshayee and disappears into the night. What the Marine platoon finds in the morning doesn't look like an NVA action, but murder. The comatose Gonshayee is the only suspect.

Fresh from the Arizona Territory, Corporal Strader has only two days and a wakeup remaining of his time in country when bureaucratic expedience rips him away from finalizing his departure paperwork and throws him back into the line of fire. His assignment was supposed to be a simple escort mission to bring a prisoner back to An Hoa. But when the NVA shoot down the helicopter carrying Strader and Gonshayee, a deadly game of cat and mouse breaks out across the face of the Ong Tu Mountains as the NVA desperately try to protect their cargo and the Marines try to save their comrades. Through blood, bullets, and brotherhood, the characters of Arizona Moon are cast into the fire of conflict, transforming into the men they were destined to become.

Critique: Written by Vietnam veteran J.M. Graham (who served as a combat corpsman with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in 1967) and grounded in his real-life experiences, Arizona Moon: A Novel of Vietnam is a harrowing, unforgettable novel about the nightmarish Arizona Territory in Vietnam. Riveting from cover to cover, Arizona Moon is vivid and harrowing in its detail, and highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Arizona Moon is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.55).

The Lion's Den
Wes Brustad
Lighthouse Christian Publishing
9781517291518 $15.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the waning years of the seventh century BC, one of history's most notable and terrifying warriors succeeded to the throne of Babylon, a fledgling kingdom barely twenty-one years old. This is the story of Nebuchadnezzar growing into manhood and racing to claim the crown of his dead forgather from the hands of his manipulative younger brother. It is a story of wars as consumed by hatred he sought to kill a boyhood friend that had become his lifelong nemesis. An invincible warrior...a shrewd politician...and an artist. Babylon was his masterpiece featuring the massive artificial mountain he built for his wife-the hanging gardens, fifty-four gold gilt temples, and three-hundred-foot high pyramid piercing the sky to be seen for miles in the distance.

This is also the story of Daniel, a Jewish captive removed from Judah and placed in the royal palace of Babylon. Imbued with an intense faith in God, Daniel was a man of extraordinary abilities in governance and leadership.

Two men as different as could possibly be. A man of boiling passions and volatile temperament, Nebuchadnezzar would never have survived without his most trusted aide, Daniel. Daniel's closeness to almighty Jehovah was so compelling that even the arrogant and menacing Nebuchadnezzar was forced to come face to face with this creator. No matter who reigns or what is, God is in control.

Critique: The first novel in the "Lions of Babylon" trilogy, The Lion's Den is a vivid and memorable saga, highly recommended especially for historical fiction connoisseurs. A complex interplay of characters brings Biblical parables to life, in the turbulent and autocratic era of the seventh century BC. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Lion's Den is also available in an inexpensive Kindle edition ($2.99).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

You Can't Sink A Rainbow
Edgar John L'Heureux, Jr.
Sabal Palm Press
PO Box 756, Goldenrod, FL 32733
ASIN: B000MOP56S, $11.95,

Edgar L'Herueux Jr. has written a charming novel filled with memorable characters who come alive as the story moves along. The author sets up conflicts of a father and daughter who don't see eye to eye on the issue of some undeveloped land in Central Florida, and the environmentalist versus the developer that are believable and realistically played out. The author is a master wordsmith with his story and its players. "Sam an aging Golden Retriever lifted his head from his paws for a drowsy inspection of the trapeze chatter. The bluejay was soon safe and daybreak quite was restored. Sam stayed awake just long enough to observe what he could view of Sabal Palm Landing without awakening any devout slumber muscles. "Then he plopped his shaggy head back down on his head back down on his front paws and returned to canine dreamland." The story is timely and L'Heureux's writing ranks in the class of a John Cheever or John Updike novel "You Can't Sink A Rainbow" is a great read for anyone who cares about protecting the areas of the state where we can all still fish and go boating.

Double Shot
Raymond Benson
Brilliance Audio
PO Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417
9781501248344, $14.99,

James Bond is back in action in "Double Shot" On medical leave 007 is on a personal mission to avenge the killing of a friend. The group known as The Union that first appeared in "High Time to Kill" is out to destroy Bond with a perfect double who kills openly so that Bond will get the blame. The plot is complicated at times reminiscent of the best Fleming novels. "Double Shot" is a great Bond novel now in audio form.

Faye Kellerman
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062088178, $9.99

Kellerman's usual protagonist Peter Decker, plays a supporting role to his daughter rookie cop Cindy Decker. New to the force and fiercely independent, Cindy is determined, partly because of her father's objections to her career choice to show that she can be a good cop. To prove herself, she launches a private investigation into several unsolved cases without her father's knowledge and becomes a target. Kellerman demonstrates what it is like to be a cop or related to one very well. "Stalker" is a great crime yarn that will have readers racing along to the shattering conclusion.

The Dark Fantastic
Ed Gorman
Leisure Books
9780843948196, $5.99,

"The Dark Fantastic" is a collection of short fiction by one of the finest storytellers in any genre. The assortment contains horror, science fiction, mystery and western tales that are guaranteed to thrill. Gorman is a gifted writer who makes the craft of writing appears to be so easy. "The Dark Fantastic" is one of Gorman's best works.

Apache Law
Luke Adams
Leisure Books
9780843947861, $3.99,

Two men's paths cross a second time with deadly results. "Apache Law" is the fourth title in a series of western novels that has all the western shoot um up action fans of the genre demand.

Female Intelligence
Jane Heller
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440156762, $3.50,

Heller has written about the high profile world of male/female relationship authors. Dr. Lyn Wyman has a whole new approach that men and women should follow to a more perfect connection. Everything is going fine until her husband calls it quits with her. Then the world asks the question, "How can you expect us to listen to you when you can't even take or your own relationship" "Female Intelligence" is a witty fun stab at the larger than life personalities of real life who market their books and seminars on relationships.

Crescent City Kills
O'Neil De Noux
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
978148190236, $11.95, www,

Homicide detective Dino Lastanza is knee deep in dead bodies in the city of New Orleans. The case begins when two junkie prostitutes are killed that brings in Lastanza to investigate. "Crescent City Kills" is an exciting, entertaining tale by a writer who knows his stuff when it comes to describing cops in the New Orleans.

The Change in the Weather People, Weather, and the Science of Climate
William K. Stevens
Delta Trade Paperbacks
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385320078, $13.95,

Author William K. Stevens tries to answer some of the questions of why there is a pattern of drastic, destructive weather that continues to plague the planet in "The Change in the Weather" covers many different topics of the subject of weather and tries to show different beliefs of what is happening to the weather of the planet. "The Change in the Weather" is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to know what is happening to the planet's weather.

Essays From A Daughter
Dreamaker Publications
9780970795106, $10.35, www,

"Essays From A Daughter" shows that good things come in small packages. Many will be able to relate to the carefully chosen words that captivate readers to re-read over and over again her passionate narrative. The artwork by artist Trish Roddis is an added dimension to this fine work. "Essays From A Daughter" is an emotional and touching roller coaster account of how one woman realized she really loved her father.

The Bounty of Central Florida
Valerie Hart
Winner Cookbooks
9780974867601, $22.00,

For so long people around the world only think of Florida as the home of Disney World. But the state has so much more to offer and author Valerie Hart shows in her cookbook "The Bounty of Central Florida" so many tasty recipes that anyone can enjoy anytime. A delicacy is alligator tail that when cooked properly has the taste of chicken, or different uses for citrus like lemons, limes, oranges, and tangerines. She shows that many of them can be used in jams or jellies along with grapes and berries. Also she shows many uses for bananas that people have not thought to do. "The Bounty of Central Florida" reveals a very different side of the state of Florida that anyone in the world can enjoy.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Honky Tonk Samurai: A Hap and Leonard Novel
Joe R. Lansdale
Mulholland Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316329408, $26.00/31.50 CA$, Hardcover, 352 pp.
9780316529415, $15.99/20.99 CA$, Paperback, 368 pp.

From the publisher: The beloved, odd, PI-pair Hap Collins and Leonard Pine help a grandmother find her missing granddaughter. The story starts simply enough when Hap, a former '60s activist and self-proclaimed white-trash rebel, and Leonard, a tough, black, gay Vietnam vet and Republican with an addiction to Dr. Pepper, are working a freelance surveillance job in East Texas. The uneventful stakeout is coming to an end when the pair witness a man abusing his dog. Leonard takes matters into his own fists, and now the bruised dog abuser wants to press charges. One week later, a woman named Lilly Buckner drops by their new PI office with a proposition: find her missing granddaughter [who she hasn't seen for five years], or she'll turn in a video of Leonard beating the dog abuser. The pair agree to take on the cold case and soon discovery that the used-car dealership where her granddaughter worked is actually a front for a prostitution ring. The mystery of her disappearance only deepens from there. Filled with Lansdale's trademark whip-smart dialogue, relentless pacing, and unorthodox characters, Honky Tonk Samurai is a rambunctious thrill ride by one hell of a writer.

The book opens thusly: "I don't think we ask for trouble, me and Leonard. It just finds us. It often starts casually, and then something comes loose and starts to rattle, like an unscrewed bolt on a carnival ride. No big thing at first, just a loose, rattling bolt, then the bolt slips completely free and flies out of place, the carnival ride groans and screeches, and it sags and tumbles into a messy mass of jagged parts and twisted metal and wads of ble3eding human flesh. I'm starting this at the point in the carnival ride when the bolt has started to come loose.

That sets up the scene and the pace as well as anything could. What follows is a well-written and well-plotted novel as good as anything the reader will be expecting from this wonderful author, which is a tall order indeed. The book is filled with humor, and wonderful characters: Among others, a woman named Vanilla Ride; an "old gray-haired addict called Two-Toe George;" an accomplished scammer/p.i. named Tommy Jasons, a/k/a Jim Bob Luke, who "seemed like the biggest redneck that ever walked the earth until you spent time with him;" and a guy known only as "Weasel;" most of them highly accomplished in things illegal, many of whom are associated to some degree with the Dixie Mafia.

The writing is wonderfully funny, although readers should be warned that there is much salty language, and is distinctly non-p.c. Beyond that, it is a hugely enjoyable book. I must admit that when I got to the concluding pages, the overwhelming feeling was that the author's next book, Rusty Puppy, would be published in February, and I am most anxious to read that one. As you should be as well!

Highly recommended.

The Shut Eye
Belinda Bauer
Grove Press Paperbacks
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
154 West 14th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10011
9780802125852, $14.00 PB, $8.21 Kindle, 292pp,

From the publisher: Five footprints are the only sign that four-year-old Daniel Buck was ever here. And now they are all his mother has left. Anna is desperate for hope, which she's not getting from the police, or her husband. When a woman tells her she's found a true psychic, a "shut eye," she grasps at it. Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son. But when she meets the psychic, what she gets is not at all what she suspected.

The reader is introduced to DCI John Marvel on the first page, on Valentine's Day, 2000. Self-described as an out-of-shape 45-ear-old, "he looked across the road to the King's Arms. It was filled with warmth and noise and booze. It had been more than a year since he'd been there - - been drunk - - and he still missed it like a lover, with a yearn in his chest and a dry lump in his throat. He wouldn't have gone in tonight. Or any night. It was a test - - a game he played with himself ... [it had been] four hundred days since he had had a drink." It is shortly after having passed this test that he meets Anna Buck. She was deep in a depression that had started the day her son had disappeared, four months ago. Marvel could not have known how involved he was to become with the Bucks.

This is the second child disappearance that Marvel is working on: "One boy, one girl; one toddler, one twelve-year-old; one who'd run out of a door left open, the other the victim of what looked like a planned abduction and possible foul play." The earlier case was that of Edie Evans, who had left her home on her bike over a year ago, and had never arrived at school. In each instance, the distraught mother had gone to a man known as "a proper shut eye," Anna told that "a shut eye is for real. An open eye just pretends have the gift. Talking to the dead and all that." The man's name is Richard Latham, and he attracts people to the church where he draws crowds who believe they can be taught psychic powers. He has, after all, appeared on television; how can they doubt him? Marvel comes to believe that "Anna Buck had a psychic connection to Edie Evans, or to her killer. That she possessed mystical powers and had the secrets of the universe at her fingertips. Of course, he also believes she is completely mad.

Somewhat surprisingly, the suspenseful, gripping tale is interspersed with humor (there is even a mouse called Peter), and the whole is an amalgam of the emotional, psychological and mystical which make up a thriller of the highest order. This isn't a book easily forgotten after the last page has been read.


Little Girl Lost
Richard Aleas
Hard Case Crime
c/o Winterfall LLC
333 CPW, New York, NY 10025
97808439535140, $6.99/7.99 CA$, Paperback, 221 pp,

From the publisher: Miranda Sugarman was supposed to be in the Midwest, working as an eye doctor. So how did she end up shot to death on the roof of one of New York City's seediest strip clubs? It's John Blake's job to find out - not just because he's a private investigator, but because ten years earlier, Miranda had been his lover. Now he has to uncover the truth about the missing decade, about Miranda's secret life as half of the strip club circuit's hottest act, and about the vicious underworld figure she worked for. But the closer John gets to the truth, the more dangerous his investigation becomes, until a shattering faceoff in an East Village tenement changes his life forever.

Miranda was the only woman John, now 29 years old and living in a fourth-floor walkup in Manhattan, had ever loved, "loved her as only an eighteen-year-old escaping from virginity and high school in the same night can." She seemingly had vanished the day she flew to New Mexico to begin her new life. But her photo in the Daily News with a story of her murder on New Year's Eve under the headline "Stripper Murdered," has reawakened all those feelings, to the degree that he determines that he must find her killer. This despite the objections of Leo Hauser, an ex-cop for whom he'd been working for the past five years, since the day he'd "plucked him out of NYU to be his part-time research assistant," who tells him "We're private investigators. We're not cops. We don't solve murders. That's paperback novel stuff . . . But even now he'd insist on coming with me on a job every so often. I used to think it was his way of checking up on me, keeping an eye on the half-assed literature major he'd pulled out of NYU and tried to turn into a detective."

The author has thoroughly nailed the much-loved hard-boiled pulp fiction that has for the most part been lost to time. He beautifully captures that era, with the Korean grocery

Store on the corner, talking about "the seventies, walking the streets of Times Square before Disney and Giuliani made it the oversized shopping mall it was today." Mr. Aleas wrote one other John Blake book, "Songs of Innocence," which I highly recommended, as I do this first in that series.

As Night Falls
Jenny Milchman
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780553394818, $26.00/31CA$, Hardcover, 359 pp,

From the publisher: Sandy Tremont has always tried to give her family everything. Bu as the sky darkens over the Adirondacks and a heavy snowfall looms, an escaped murderer with the power to take it all away draws close. In her isolated home in the shadowy woods, Sandy prepares dinner after a fight with her daughter, Ivy. Upstairs, the fifteen-year-old - - smart, brave, and with every reason to be angry tonight - - keeps her distance from her mother. Sandy's husband, Ben, a wilderness guide, arrives late to find a home simmering with unease. Nearby, two desperate men on the run make their way through the fading light, bloodstained and determined to leave no loose ends or witnesses. After almost twenty years as prison cellmates, they have become a deadly team: Harlan the muscle, Nick the mind and will. As they approach a secluded house and look through its windows to see a cozy domestic scene, Nick knows that here he will find what he's looking for . . . before he disappears forever. Opening the door to the Tremont home, Nick brings not only a legacy of terror but a secret that threatens to drag Sandy with him into the darkness.

As the book opens, Sandy, a social worker, is waiting for Ivy to return from school, due within the next 15 minutes, and her adored husband, Ben, not long afterwards. The next chapter brings us to Nick and Harlan, as their planned prison escape works flawlessly. The chapters continue to alternate, up to the point where they converge when a home invasion brings them all together. After 24 years of imprisonment after being convicted of murder, Nick sees freedom before him, after he takes from the sprawling residence all that they will need to get to and across the Canadian border.

The chapters continue to alternate, though less frequently, as the reader is taken back 30 years in time, initially to when Nick is 3 years old, which proves illuminating in the present. Nick completely dominates and controls Harlan, a massive figure, who follows Nick's every command. The tension and suspense escalate precipitously, and the pages turn ever more swiftly.

The author once again does what she excels at: painting perfect word pictures, whether it's the family dog gulping a forbidden crust from a sandwich, or describing the Adirondack countryside and its denizens. An overriding theme pervades the novel: the relationship between children and their parents/siblings, which doesn't end when childhood does.

In this, her third novel, the author reinforces the fact that she is a very skilled writer. The book is very difficult to put down, and is, as were its predecessors, recommended.

Cut Me In
Ed McBain
Hard Case Crime
9781783294459, $9.95/12.95 CA$, Paperback, 240 pp,

Hard Case Crime has brought readers the great gift of bringing to life an early title by the late Evan Hunter, writing as Ed McBain, a book apparently lost after being originally published in the 1950's and never credited to this author, unavailable [till now!] for more than 50 years. Parenthetically, the publisher has included a special bonus: A long-lost private-eye novelette by McBain,"Now Die In It." (I have to confess to turning to the end of the main tale and reading said novelette first - and a bonus it truly is - I loved it! The main tale, Cut Me In, is written in the famed "pulp" style for which the award-winning author was well-known.

From the publisher: Cut Me In is the story of a New York literary agent who is forced to play private detective when his widely loathed, philandering partner is shot to death in his office. Was the killer one of the women the dead man was sleeping with? Or was the motive for his murder tied up with the contract for a lucrative television deal that's missing from the office safe? The book offers a dark and sexy crime story mixed with a pull-no-punches satire of the Manhattan business world in the pre-Mad Men era, informed by McBain's own personal experiences working in an ethically dubious literary agency early in his career.

The office of Gilbert and Blake is on the verge of signing a very lucrative contract with its hottest author, Cam Stewart, author of 6 published Westerns, and Josh Blake is anticipating signing the contract on the morning he comes into his office; but everything is upended when he discovers the dead body of his partner, Del Gilbert, on his office floor, next to an open safe. The police investigation proceeds slowly, with Josh high on their list of possible killers.

The writing brings the reader (well, this reader) back a few decades, e.g., when Josh enters a candy store (there used to be such things, nearly one on every block!), in which he finds a phone booth, and orders an egg cream [sigh]. The author's descriptions of the characters are all wonderful. The men: One looked like "the butcher in the A&P;" another "like a stockroom boy in the A&P." The women, for the most part "blonde . . . from the unhidden curve of her breast, to the flowing curve of her hip, to her legs, to her throat, to everywhere;" of the writers, "I'd long since stopped being surprised by the appearance of writers . . . I wondered if I'd ever met one who was sane."

There are two more dead bodies along the way, the cops no closer to finding the murderer as the novel goes along. "As long as there were people, there would be complications. There was no pattern, except in mystery novels." This one is a very welcome addition to that category, and it is highly recommended.

Coconut Cowboy
Tim Dorsey
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062240040, $25.99, Hardcover, 322 pp
9780062656315, $9.99, Paperback, 322 pp,

From the publisher: Inspired by the classic biker flick "Easy Rider," the irrepressible trivia buff and his drug-addled travel buddy, Coleman [otherwise known as his "research assistant"], head out on a motorcycle tour down the length of the Sunshine State, on a mission to rediscover the lost era of the American Dream. But going from small town to small town, they discover that some have lost much of their former charm - - including one particular hamlet of skeezy rural politics hell-bent on keeping prying eyes out of their ineptly corrupt style of local government. Traveling across the state, Serge and Coleman engage in some high-life hijinks, complete with the state's trademark crop of jerks, lethal science experiments, drug kingpins, double-crosses, unearthed bodies, barbecue and groovy tunes. And when a few innocent newcomers stumble into the mix, the stakes are raised to new backwoods heights.

After a recent diet of books filled with blood, gore and not a little violence, this was just what the doctor ordered, especially coming as it did for me after a year filled with tension and the stress of the political season ending as it did. To call this tale, the 19th in the series, 'zany' is an understatement, but oh, what fun!! It is pointed out to the reader that we live in the same country that "allows both Sarah Palin and Barbara Streisand to roam freely."

The novel begins with Serge and Coleman driving their '72 Mercury Comet west "across the part of the Florida Panhandle in the gravitational orbit of Alabama." They soon arrive in Wobbly, Florida, where the local rib joint doesn't sell alcohol for lack of a license, which doesn't deter the customers, who bring their own, and where there are rampant speed traps, lost utility-bill records and all the other off-the-books corruption" typical of how things run in this town, where traffic court is held in a barbecue restaurant, and which attracts our heroes since it was apparently the shooting location of the final scene from "Easy Rider." When they pass the state penitentiary in Atmore, and Coleman says it looks familiar, Serge tells him he probably recognizes it from the Prison Channel, which is what he calls MSNBC. They visit scenes straight out of the sixties, illicit drugs rampant, mainly "Molly," which we learn "is short for Molecule, specifically MDMA, the latest craze with a more purified strain of ecstasy." (Just in case you were wondering) There is a trio of characters named Elroy, Slow and Slower, who contribute mightily to the inability of the reader to keep from laughing out loud. A particularly funny scene is the site of a hearing in the Florida state capital in Tallahassee. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is, as you might have guessed, recommended. (The author's next book, Clownfish Blues, is scheduled for publication on January 24th.)

The Mask of Sanity
Jacob M. Appel
Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Rd., Sag Harbor NY 11963
9781579624958, $28.00, Hardcover, 256 pp,

From the publisher: On the outside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a pillar of the community: the youngest division chief at his hospital, a model son to his elderly parents, fiercely devoted to his wife and two young daughters. On the inside, Dr. Jeremy Balint is a high-functioning sociopath - - a man who truly believes himself to stand above the ethical norms of society. As long as life treats him well, Balint has no cause to harm others. When life treats him poorly, he reveals the depths of his cold-blooded depravity. At a cultural moment when the media bombards us with images of so-called "sociopaths" who strive for good and criminals redeemed by repentance, The Mask of Sanity offers an antidote to implausible tales of "evil gone right." In contrast to fictional predecessors like Dostoyevsky's Raskolnikov and Camus' Mersault, Dr. Balint is a man who already "has it all" - - and will do everything in his power, no matter how immoral, to keep what he has.

The author's Foreward lets us know immediately the source of the title phrase: "I have come to know a number of individuals who wear . . . 'The Mask of Sanity,' yet at their cores proved incapable of feeling empathy or compassion for their fellow human beings. . . Only recently, especially as a result of the exposure of gross misdeeds in the financial services industry and of large-scale Ponzi schemes, has the public become aware that many amoral individuals lurk in the highest echelons of power, be it business, law, and even in medicine. They are all around us, smiling and perpetrating evil." Himself an attorney, physician and bioethicist, the author obviously knows whereof he speaks. And then he introduces us to Dr. Balint.

Married to his wife, Amanda, for 9 years, and with two daughters he adores, at 47 he has just been appointed chief of cardiology, the youngest in the hospital's history to have that distinction. He has known the man he now discovers to be his wife's lover since they both attended Columbia and then medical school, who is now a transplant surgeon at the same hospital as he. He becomes obsessed with killing the man. And not getting caught. "Inevitably, avoiding detection meant selecting additional targets."

Not a page-turner in the usual sense of the word (i.e., taut suspense), the plot nonetheless pushes the reader to keep reading to see how it will unfold, and I rather unexpectedly found myself unable to put it down, consuming the novel in less than 36 hours. The final page will leave you, as it did me, startled, if not shocked, and saying "WHAT??"

This is a novel that grabs the reader from the first page and doesn't let go. It is, obviously, highly recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

Sir Nigel
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Amazon Digital Services LLC
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781516872312, $6.95, PB, 172pp,

Sir Nigel is a story about the start of the One Hundred Year War. It is written in the same style as the mythologies about Robin Hood but from the side of the Norman royalty and not the Anglo Saxon commoners. Doyle mixes in a little of the noble knight mythology found in the King Arthur myths but with an actual grounding with real history. This makes Sir Nigel an interesting blend of history and half remembered fantasy mythologies.

Sir Nigel starts with Nigel as a youth. After his knight father dies, the nearby Abby uses the law to push the family into poverty by annexing the family's land. Nigel trains to be a knight and, when the king visits his family's home, he uses the visit to obtain a station as a squire and leaves for war. As the title tells you, his adventures obtain for him a knighthood an royal station with the king.

Sir Nigel is good read for those who are interested in the storytelling of historic England. Doyle thought his books about Nigel were his best storytelling but to most contemporary readers Sherlock Holmes and his Professor Challenger novels have withstood the test of time better. Still the historic reader would be hard pressed to find a better title to get an understanding of the mid Fourteenth Century England royal culture. For anyone interested in this period, you can't go wrong reading Sir Nigel.

Allies and Enemies: Fallen
Amy J. Murphy
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
B017ZEYBG2, $0.99, ebook
9781517457600, $12.00, PB, 320pp,

Fallen is a suspense SF written in a minor key. Every aspect in the story is well done but the story borders on depressing from the beginning to the end. This is part of a series so possibly this might be a more upbeat future in the larger story.

Commander Sela's squad is pin downed on an alien planet. The other fire teams in the assault have been evacuated. Her son, one of the squad, is wounded and dying. Their coms are out and they can't contact their ship. Their only hope is if Captain Veradin can get a rescue shuttle to them on time. This is the high point in a story about interstellar intrigue, genetic manipulation and the Machiavellian power games of a sadist.

Allies and Enemies: Fallen is a solid SF tale. It has a nice layered storyline with a relatively fast paced plot. If you can wait for the next book and don't mind the depressing tone, Fallen has everything you would want in a SF suspense space opera.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Europe: Chained by History: What Force Can Break the Chain?
Larry J. Hilton
Newport Publishing
PO Box 6532, Chandler, AZ 85246
9780996786119, $14.99, PB, 344pp,

Synopsis: "Europe: Chained by History: What Force Can Break the Chain?" is a seminal historical study that makes a compelling case for Europe to form a United States of Europe or risk seeing the European Union start to fragment and come apart individually, country by country -- beginning with Britain.

Using the history of Vienna from its inception to 1938, readers are invited to observe Western Europe from within this ancient city. Indeed, "Europe: Chained by History" provides a wealth of fascinating details about what it was really like to live in Vienna from the first century through the days of hyper-inflation after World War 1.

"Europe: Chained by History" addresses such questions as: Where did historic rivalries among European nations begin?; How did the Enlightenment affect Europe and the United States?; What persistent darkness allowed Hitler to lead the word in to a second devastating world war?; What will it take for today's European Union to survive?

Thought provoking and well researched, "Europe: Chained by History" radiates hope even as it details the formidable & political obstacles to European unity. In the end, a banking or ISIS crisis will force the issue.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Europe: Chained by History: What Force Can Break the Chain?" is an impressively informed and informative study that will prove to be of immense interest to academia while being readily accessible for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and academic library European History collections in general, and European Union supplemental studies lists in particular, it should be noted that "Europe: Chained by History" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($0.99).

Exteriors and Interiors
C. McGee
Roundfire Books
John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785355165, $16.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Self-interest can motivate people to do a lot of horrible things. In "Exteriors and Interiors" by North Carolina writer C. McGee it leads people to lie, cheat, mock their inferiors, deride newborns, abandon fat people, steal from the terminally ill, apply feces as camouflage, scapegoat children, push over conjoined twins, and hit strangers with clown shoes. In the process, the limits of egotism, the brutality of reflection, the realities of affection, and the ramifications of shortsightedness are explored. Also, there is a love triangle, as well as some stuff about friendship and women and baseball and hemorrhoids and manscaping.

Critique: Ironic, iconoclastic, riveting, and original, "Exteriors and Interiors" is a compelling read from cover to cover. While highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Exteriors and Interiors" is also available in a Kindle format ($6.15).

Holistic Management
Allan Savory
Island Press
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781610917421, $77.60, HC, 552pp,

Synopsis: Fossil fuels and livestock grazing are often targeted as major culprits behind climate change and desertification. But Allan Savory (Cofounder of the Savory Institute), begs to differ in "Holistic Management: A Commonsense Revolution to Restore Our Environment". The bigger problem, he warns, is our mismanagement of resources. Livestock grazing is not the problem; it's how we graze livestock. If we don't change the way we approach land management, irreparable harm from climate change could continue long after we replace fossil fuels with environmentally benign energy sources.

Holistic management is a systems-thinking approach for managing resources developed by Savory decades ago after observing the devastation of desertification in his native Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Properly managed livestock are key to restoring the world's grassland soils, the major sink for atmospheric carbon, and minimizing the most damaging impacts on humans and the natural world.

Now in a newly published third edition, "Holistic Management" significantly updates Savory's paradigm-changing vision for reversing desertification, stemming the loss of biodiversity, eliminating fundamental causes of human impoverishment throughout the world, and climate change. Reorganized chapters make it easier for readers to understand the framework for Holistic Management and the four key insights that underlie it. New color photographs showcase before-and-after examples of land restored by livestock.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively informed and informative, throughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Holistic Management: A Commonsense Revolution to Restore Our Environment" will prove to be a practical and invaluable informational resource for ranchers, farmers, eco- and social entrepreneurs, and development professionals working to address global environmental and social degradation. Enhanced with seven pages of Notes, a five page Glossary, a two page description of 'Savory Global', and a thirteen page Index, "Holistic Management" is a critically important addition to community and academic library Environmental Issues collections and supplemental studies Environmental Management reading lists. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Holistic Management" is also available in a paperback edition (9781610917438, $35.00) and in a Kindle format ($33.25).

Lucifer's Banker
Bradley C. Birkenfeld
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626343719, $26.95, HC, 344pp,

Synopsis: As a private banker working for the largest bank in the world, UBS, Bradley Birkenfeld was an expert in Switzerland's shell-game of offshore companies and secret numbered accounts. He wined and dined ultra-wealthy clients whose millions of dollars were hidden away from business partners, spouses, and tax authorities. As his client list grew, Birkenfeld lived a life of money, fast cars, and beautiful women, but when he discovered that UBS was planning to betray him, he blew the whistle to the US Government.

The Department of Justice scorned Birkenfeld's unprecedented whistle-blowing and attempted to silence him with a conspiracy charge. Yet Birkenfeld would not be intimidated. He took his secrets to the US Senate, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Internal Revenue Service, where he prevailed.

His bombshell revelations helped the US Treasury recover over $15 billion (and counting) in back taxes, fines, and penalties from American tax cheats. But Birkenfeld was shocked to discover that at the same time he was cooperating with the US Government, the Department of Justice was still doggedly pursuing him. He was arrested and served thirty months in federal prison. When he emerged, the Internal Revenue Service gave him a whistle-blower award for $104 million, the largest such reward in history.

In "Lucifer's Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy", Birkenfeld provides the reader with a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the secret Swiss high-net worth banking industry and a harrowing account of our government's justice system. Readers will follow Birkenfeld and share his outrage with the incompetence and possible corruption at the Department of Justice, and they will cheer him on as he ''hammers'' one of the most well-known and powerful banks in the world.

Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "Lucifer's Banker: The Untold Story of How I Destroyed Swiss Bank Secrecy" needs to be available to every American citizen through their local library. An absolutely essential and critical addition to college and university Political Science and Economics collections, it should be noted for students, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Lucifer's Banker" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.39).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Road to Spiritual Freedom
Harold Klemp
9781570433412, $16.00, PB, 381pp,

Synopsis: Author and public speaker Harold Klemp is known as a pioneer of today's focus on "everyday spirituality.". In the pages of "The Road to Spiritual Freedom" Klemp directly confronts a world of limitations and offers startling possibilities. His wisdom and heart-opening stories of everyday people having extraordinary experiences tell of a secret truth at work in our daily lives. His principle thesis is that there is divine purpose and meaning to every experience we have.

Klemp notes that every single moment of our lives is the handiwork of a higher cause. And we can know what it is. -- God's love is the key, and spiritual freedom is the goal.

If we want true freedom from the limitations upon our heart, mind, and spirit, "The Road to Spiritual Freedom" is an excellent opportunity to earn it. All we need do is be open to the inner voice of Soul (our true self) as we explore the revelations given within these pages of this life-changing work.

Critique: "The Road to Spiritual Freedom" is a compilation of addresses that Harold Klemp gives to members of the Eckankar international seminars twice a year from 2000 to 2006. As the spiritual leader of the teaching, he is known as the Mahanta, the Living ECK Master. These transcripts comprising this inspired and inspiring volume reveal his approach to giving insights, wisdom, and guidance through the stories of people from around the world. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "The Road to Spiritual Freedom" is especially recommended for the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in personal spirituality and emotional growth.

The Disappearing L
Bonnie J. Morris
State University of New York Press
State University Plaza, Albany, NY 12246-0001
9781438461779, $80.00, HC, 247pp,

Synopsis: LGBT Americans now enjoy the right to marry but what will we remember about the vibrant cultural spaces that lesbian activists created in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s? Most are vanishing from the calendar and from recent memory.

"The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture" by Bonnie J. Morris (Adjunct Professor of Women's Studies at both George Washington University and Georgetown University) explores the rise and fall of the hugely popular women-only concerts, festivals, bookstores, and support spaces built by and for lesbians in the era of woman-identified activism.

Through the stories unfolding in these chapters, anyone unfamiliar with the Michigan festival, Olivia Records, or the women's bookstores once dotting the urban landscape will gain a better understanding of the era in which artists and activists first dared to celebrate lesbian lives.

"The Disappearing L" offers the backstory to the culture we are losing to mainstreaming and assimilation. Through interviews with older activists, it also responds to recent attacks on lesbian feminists who are being made to feel that they ve hit their cultural expiration date."

Critique: A unique, informed and informative study, "The Disappearing L: Erasure of Lesbian Spaces and Culture" is an extraordinarily thoughtful and thought-provoking read. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Disappearing L" is very highly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library LGBT History collections in general, and Lesbian Issues supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Disappearing L" is also available in a paperback edition (9781438461762, $22.95) and in a Kindle format ($13.77).

Where There Is No Miracle
Robert L. Wise
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825444258, $14.99, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: Over his long career, Robert Wise (an Archbishop in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and Director of the Office of Ecumenical Relations who has also been awarded the title of Apostolic Representative for Christian Unity by Pope Francis) has been on the front lines of disaster.

From the Oklahoma City bombing to 9/11's ground zero to the bedsides of lost loved ones, Archbishop Wise has stood on tragic ground and ministered to those who have lost seemingly everything. Each of those hurting people asked the same questions: Why do the innocent suffer? Why doesn't God deliver the light of miracles in the darkest times?

In the midst of his own questioning, Archbishop Wise has discovered some surprising and encouraging answers. In the pages of "Where There Is No Miracle: Finding Hope in Pain and Suffering", he shares those lessons, encouraging all those who struggle. Readers will learn of some unexpected and positive benefits of pain and suffering. They will see how God is always behind the scenes working for the ultimate good -- even when they cannot see it or imagine how it could possibly be.

Critique: Thoughtful, insightful, inspired and inspiring, "Where There Is No Miracle: Finding Hope in Pain and Suffering" is a compelling and revealing read that is unreservedly recommended for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. We live in a world of unexpected tragedies both natural and man-made making "Where There Is No Miracle" a necessity for both personal, family, community, church, and academic library Christian Studies collections.

In the Shadow of Lakecrest
Elizabeth Blackwell
Lake Union Publishing
9781503941847, $14.95, PB, 282pp,

Synopsis: It's 1928 and Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape -- as long as she can keep her past concealed.

After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn't quite right with her husband -- or her new family.

As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband's disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew's terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before.

As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone's sanity -- especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family's twisted past?

Critique: An exquisitely crafted and consistently compelling read from cover to cover, "In the Shadow of Lakecrest" reveals author Elizabeth Blackwell as having a genuine flair for creating a truly engaging novel that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "In the Shadow of Lakecrest" is also available in a Kindle format ($4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781536609288, $14.99, CD).

We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories
Clare Beams
Lookout Books
c/o John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
9781940596143, $17.95, PB, 184pp,

Synopsis: The literary, historic, and fantastic collide in the pages of "We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories". Comprised of nine deftly crafted and exquisitely unsettling stories, author Clare Beams offers themes that range from bewildering assemblies in school auditoriums, to the murky waters of a Depression-era health resort. Here literary landscapes are tinged with otherworldliness, and her diverse characters' desires stretch the limits of reality. Ingenues at a boarding school bind themselves to their headmaster's vision of perfection ; a nineteenth-century landscape architect embarks on his first major project, but finds the terrain of class and power intractable ; a bride glimpses her husband's past when she wears his World War II parachute as a gown ; and a teacher comes undone in front of her astonished fifth graders.

As they capture the strangeness of being human, the stories presented in the pages of "We Show What We Have Learned" reveal author Clare Beams's impressively unusual and extraordinary imagination -- and yet each of these nine original short storyes are grounded in emotional complexity, illuminating the ways men and women attempt to transform themselves, their surroundings, and each other.

Critique: A truly memorable collection of unfailingly entertaining yet thoughtful and thought-provoking stories, "We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories" clearly showcases author Clare Beams as a master of the short story literary format. While is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "We Show What We Have Learned and Other Stories" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Clay Girl
Heather Tucker
ECW Press
9781770413030, $16.95, PB, 352pp,

Vincent Appleton smiles at his daughters, raises a gun, and blows off his head. For the Appleton sisters, life had unravelled many times before. This time it has exploded.

Eight-year-old Hariet, known to all as Ari, is dispatched to Cape Breton and her Aunt Mary, who is purported to eat little girls. But Mary and her partner, Nia, offer an unexpected refuge to Ari and her steadfast companion, Jasper, an imaginary seahorse.

Yet the respite does not last, and Ari is torn from her aunts and forced back to her twisted mother and fractured sisters. Her new stepfather, Len, and his family offer hope, but as Ari grows to adore them, she's severed violently from them too, when her mother moves in with the brutal Dick Irwin.

Through the sexual revolution and drug culture of the 1960s, Ari struggles with her father's legacy and her mother's addictions, testing limits with substances that numb and men who show her kindness. Ari spins through a chaotic decade of loss and love, the devilish and divine, with wit, tenacity, and the astonishing balance unique to seahorses.

Critique: An impressively talented novelist, "The Clay Girl" by Heather Tucker is an extraordinary read from cover to cover. This is one of those all to rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Clay Girl" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Candida Albicans: Natural Remedies for Yeast Infection
Leon Chaitow
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620555811, $12.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: Leon Chaitow N.D., D.O., graduated from the British College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1960. Since 1983 he has been a visiting lecturer at numerous chiropractic, physiotherapy, osteopathic, naturopathic, and massage schools in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia. In the pages of "Candida Albicans: Natural Remedies for Yeast Infection" he draws upon his many years of experience and expertise to provide a 10-point program to naturally treat yeast overgrowth, the root cause of countless chronic ailments; details a proven anti-Candida diet, enzymes and herbs to support it, detox methods, and immune-boosting strategies to rebuild and prevent future Candida overgrowth; explains how antibiotics, antacids, contraceptive pills, and steroids as well as a sugar-rich diet lead to Candida overgrowth within the body; a reveals how Candida can contribute to a wide variety of physical and mental problems, from depression to irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia.

The yeast Candida albicans lives inside every one of us. Normally it presents no problems, but today's widespread use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, antacids, contraceptive pills, and steroids, as well as the all-too-common sugar-rich diet, can lead to a proliferation of this parasitic yeast within the body. Often overlooked by doctors, overgrowth of Candida has been linked to a wide variety of physical and mental problems such as: depression, heartburn, "brain fog", muscular pain, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), allergies, menstrual problems, irritability, acne, fibromyalgia, bloating and constipation, chronic fatigue, migraine, cystitis, and more.

Using the latest research and his decades of clinical work, Dr. Chaitow explains how to recognize if yeast is your problem and offers a 10-point program for getting it back under control. He reveals how Candida overgrowth occurs and its connection to many common health problems. He explores how to control Candida naturally with enzymes and herbs as well as detailing a sugar-eliminating anti-Candida diet to "starve" existing yeast overgrowth in the body. He explains the importance of probiotics and bitters and how antibiotic treatment as well as inflammation disturbs the balance of normal "friendly" intestinal bacteria, allowing Candida to colonize the gut.

Offering strategies for detoxing after controlling Candida and reducing inflammation, Dr. Chaitow also highlights the importance of rebuilding the immune system to enhance health and help prevent future Candida imbalances.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Candida Albicans: Natural Remedies for Yeast Infection" is as informed and informative as it is fully accessible and reader friendly, making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Health/Medicine collections. It should be noted that "Candida Albicans: Natural Remedies for Yeast Infection" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.32).

Counterfeit Comforts
Robia Scott
Chosen Books
c/o Baker Publishing Group
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780800798123, $13.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: How do we overcome what we are being overcome by, whether the problem is one of depression, anxiety, overeating, a negative view of ourselves or any other stronghold, in order to experience the freedom that is available to us in Christ?

When the pressures of life become overwhelming, we often find ourselves turning to food, shopping, alcohol, television or whatever our "counterfeit" might be in search of the relief, release and peace we are longing for. These choices are not necessarily bad, but the satisfaction is merely temporary. Before we know it, we can find ourselves enslaved by addictive and destructive behaviors, but there is a way out.

In the pages of "Counterfeit Comforts: Freedom from the Imposters That Keep You from True Peace, Purpose and Passion", author Robia Scott, with an impressive grace and warmth, shows how true healing and lasting satisfaction can be found only as we learn to transfer our dependence from counterfeit comforts onto our one true Comforter: the Holy Spirit. Drawing from the experience of battling her own counterfeits (primarily her tumultuous relationship with food and obsession with dieting, weight and body image) Robia leads you step by step through the process of transformation. It is through learning how to experience and connect with the Person, the presence and the power of God that we discover who we truly are, and acquire freedom to live the life of purpose that we were created for.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, informatively candid, impressively informative, exceptionally inspired and inspiring, "Counterfeit Comforts: Freedom from the Imposters That Keep You from True Peace, Purpose and Passion" is unreservedly recommended for the personal reading lists of all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliations. It should be noted that "Counterfeit Comforts" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.64).

Your Best Health Care Now
Frank Lalli
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781501132865, $19.99, HC, 352pp,

Synopsis: "Your Best Health Care Now: Get Doctor Discounts, Save With Better Health Insurance, Find Affordable Prescriptions" by prize-winning investigative journalist Frank Lalli details how he mastered the ins and outs of health care -- and how his readers can get the best care for their money.

Frank Lalli, the former editor of Money and George magazines, had devoted his career to getting to the bottom of a good story. When he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a rare but potentially deadly blood cancer, he put his reporter's instincts to work and got the wonder drug he needed at an affordable price -- thousands of dollars less than he was told he would have to spend. Amazed by the complex and arbitrary nature of the health care system, he decided to share what he has learned as his own Health Care Detective approach so that others can find their best care and save money, too.

Based on three years of research and more than 300 first-hand interviews with experts, "Your Best Health Care Now" is an easy-to-follow, real-world guide to making today's health system work for anyone. Lalli's readers will learn all the smart moves and timely tips to get better care and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars -- no matter what the health concerns may be.

Whether trying to book a free check-up or negotiate with a surgeon, looking for an effective generic drug or the best price for a brand-name, or worrying about high insurance deductibles and rising premiums or a stack of surprise bills, "Your Best Health Care Now" has all the answers needed to take charge of financing personal and family health care.

Critique: Practical, effective, comprehensive, informative, and fully accessible for the non-specialist general reader, "Your Best Health Care Now: Get Doctor Discounts, Save With Better Health Insurance, Find Affordable Prescriptions" will prove to be an enduringly appreciated and popular addition to community library Health/Medicine collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Your Best Health Care Now" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.00). Librarians should be aware that "Your Best Health Care Now" is available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Media, 9781515960416, $29.99, MP3).

Helen Dumont

Lorraine's Bookshelf

One To Ten: Squirrel's Bad Day
Carole P. Roman, author
Mateya Arkova, illustrator
Chelshire, Inc. Publisher
c/o CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781539590668 $10.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

"One To Ten: Squirrel's Bad Day" is a beautifully illustrated story that teaches children a wonderful technique to help in coping with disappointment and sadness when bad things happen. Squirrel was happily scampering along his path when he accidentally stumbled and dropped an armful of acorns that he had been gathering. They fell from a bridge into a stream and were lost to him, so he sobbed desperately. Luckily Squirrel's friend, Rabbit found him sobbing on the tree bridge and asked him to explain what happened. When Squirrel had told/shown Rabbit the story, he offered Squirrel a new way to think about events that seem terribly bad, and how to think about them. He suggested a using simple rating system, from one to ten, with ten being the absolute worst ever and one being not so bad. Rabbit showed Squirrel how other forest animal friends had used the one to ten system to help them figure out how to handle problems and difficult situations that they encountered. One of these examples tells about a deer whose parents had decided to make separate homes. Upon reflection and using the one to ten system, young Deer decided that this event really rated as an eight rather than a nine, after thinking about it. Sometimes there was a positive side to the terrible event that was being grieved, according to Rabbit. Using the one to ten system could help a young animal think constructively about what to do next, and how to decide the level of "badness" to assign to each event. Best of all, when Squirrel decided to rethink his reaction to losing all his gathered acorns, all the other forest animals decided to have an acorn gathering party to help Squirrel replace the lost acorns. Problem solved! Closing in narrative verse, Squirrel receives excellent advice about how to react to a problem in the future: "In the event that something happens, and you feel your world fly apart, recall this conversation; remember the one to ten chart. When you have a problem, whether it's big or small, think of a number to rate it. Maybe it won't bother you at all. One through five is pretty low. Six through eight are not. Nine and ten sound kind of bad. The truth is they don't happen a lot. Once you give it a number, (and please be honest about it too) the problem doesn't feel so big, and somehow you'll know what to do." "One To Ten: Squirrel's Bad Day" provides excellent advice to young readers in an attractive story filled with lovely, sensitive rainbow portraits of forest animals working together to tackle their problems.

Loretta's Pet Caterpillar
Lois Wickstrom, author
Francie Mion, illustrator
Look Under Rocks / Gripper Products
9780916176020, $12.00,

A delicately illustrated story of a girl's observation and protection of the metamorphosis of a young monarch butterfly, "Loretta's Pet Caterpillar" follows every exciting change in the life of an emerging butterfly, from egg, to caterpillar to chrysalis to beautiful monarch butterfly. Loretta is fascinated with her new pet, even though her mother refuses to let her bring it inside the house in its egg phase. Loretta names her creature Carthamus, because the tiny white egg looked like a safflower seed. Delicate pastel paintings show Carthamus in a Colorado meadow full of flowers as he goes through many changes to become the monarch butterfly he was meant to be. At every step along the way, Loretta protects Carthamus from other predators, without harming them. She becomes a little Carthamus shepherdess, faithfully tending her infant monarch butterfly until it is ready to take one last long drink of flower nectar and then fly north with other butterflies. Further background information about monarch migration, recognizing milkweed seeds, and distinctions between male and female monarch butterflies is included at the end of the story. "Loretta's Pet Caterpillar" is a lovely story with valuable lessons about the incredible nature of monarch butterflies.

A Friend Like You
Andrea Schomburg and Barbara Rottgen, authors
Sean Julian, illustrator
Tiger Tales
5 River Road, Suite 128, Wilton, CT 06897
9781680100310, $16.99,

"A Friend Like You" is a tale of two friends who unexpectedly enjoy their differences together. Squirrel and Bird met in a forest one day and both their lives changed as they explored their unusual friendship. Squirrel offered Bird a nut to eat, and even though Bird usually ate worms, she tried the nut and she found she liked it. Bird invited Squirrel to sing with her and even though Squirrel couldn't sing very well, he hummed along and had a wonderful time. In fact, the two friends' differences were part of what delighted them most about each other. Charming autumn scenes of the friendship and play of Squirrel and Bird decorate the pages of this tale of an extended relationship that inspires warmth in every heart.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Dark Fissures
Matt Coyle
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608092260, $26.95, HC, 352pp,

Synopsis: Private Investigator Rick Cahill fears the next knock on his door will be a cop holding a warrant for his arrest. For murder. La Jolla Chief of Police Tony Moretti is convinced Rick killed a missing person. No body has been found, but the evidence that's piling up says murder and it all points to Rick. With Moretti on his tail and the bank about to foreclose on his house, Rick takes a paying case that will stave off the bank, but pits him against Moretti and the La Jolla Police Department.

Brianne Colton, a beautiful country singer, is convinced her estranged husband's suicide was really murder. Rick is unconvinced, but the mortgage has to be paid. Each new piece of evidence convinces him she's right. He breaks his number one rule and falls for Brianne even, as he begins to question her motives.

As Moretti cinches the vise tighter, with Rick unable to trust the FBI, evil forces emerge from the shadows who will do anything, including torture and murder, to stop Rick from uncovering the truth.

Critique: A simply riveting read from cover to cover, "Dark Fissures" reveals author Matt Coyle's genuine flair for deftly crafted knack for stories replete with memorable characters and unexpected plot twists. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery/suspense buffs that "Dark Fissures" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Don't Blame Us
Lily Geismer
Princeton University Press
41 William Street, Princeton, NJ 08540
978069115723, $35.00, HC, 392pp,

Synopsis: "Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party" by Lily Geismer traces the reorientation of modern liberalism and the Democratic Party away from their roots in labor union halls of northern cities to white-collar professionals in post-industrial high-tech suburbs, and casts new light on the importance of suburban liberalism in modern American political culture.

Focusing on the suburbs along the high-tech corridor of Route 128 around Boston, Geismer challenges conventional scholarly assessments of Massachusetts exceptionalism, the decline of liberalism, and suburban politics in the wake of the rise of the New Right and the Reagan Revolution in the 1970s and 1980s.

Although only a small portion of the population, knowledge professionals in Massachusetts and elsewhere have come to wield tremendous political leverage and power. By probing the possibilities and limitations of these suburban liberals, this rich and nuanced account shows that (far from being an exception to national trends) the suburbs of Massachusetts offer a model for understanding national political realignment and suburban politics in the second half of the twentieth century.

"Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party" features an eight page Epilogue, and is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of sixty-eight pages of Notes, and an eleven page Index.

Critique: A timely and invaluable contribution to the current national dialogue among Democratic Party leaders and activists, "Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party" is impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, and an unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary American Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Don't Blame Us: Suburban Liberals and the Transformation of the Democratic Party" is also available in a paperback edition (9780691176239, $27.95) and in a Kindle format ($20.49).

How Change Happens
Duncan Green
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780198785392, $25.49, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: Human society is full of would-be "change agents", a restless mix of campaigners, lobbyists, and officials, both individuals and organizations, set on transforming the world. They want to improve public services, reform laws and regulations, guarantee human rights, get a fairer deal for those on the sharp end, achieve greater recognition for any number of issues, or simply be treated with respect.

Striking then, why so many universities lack programs for social activists, to which students can turn for advice and inspiration. Instead, scholarly discussions of change are fragmented with few conversations crossing disciplinary boundaries, rarely making it onto the radar of those actively seeking change.

"How Change Happens" bridges the gap between academia and practice, bringing together the best research from a range of academic disciplines and the evolving practical understanding of activists to explore the topic of social and political change. Drawing on many first-hand examples from the global experience of Oxfam, one of the world's largest social justice NGOs, as well as the insights offered are derived from studying and working on international development. "How Change Happens" tests ideas on how change happens and offers the latest thinking on what works to achieve progressive change.

Critique: Duncan Green is Oxfam Great Britain's Senior Strategic Adviser. He also teaches on international development at the London School of Economics, where he is a Professor in Practice. In "How Change Happens" he draws upon his years of experience, research, and expertise to deftly craft a impressively informed and informative study that will be of immense value to both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject. While very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How Change Happens" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Governing Cities Through Regions
Roger Keil, et al.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771122771, $39.99, PB, 295pp,

Synopsis: Galloping urbanization has pushed beyond historical notions of metropolitanism and promoted governance on a regional basis for reasons of efficiency and effectiveness. City-regions have experienced, in Edward Soja's terms, "an epochal shift in the nature of the city and the urbanization process, marking the beginning of the end of the modern metropolis as we knew it."

"Governing Cities Through Regions: Canadian and European Perspectives" broadens and deepens an understanding of metropolitan governance through an innovative comparative project that engages with Anglo-American, French, and German literatures on the subject of regional governance. It expands the comparative angle from issues of economic competiveness and social cohesion to topical and relevant fields such as housing and transportation, and it expands comparative work on municipal governance to the regional scale.

With contributions from established and emerging international scholars of urban and regional governance, "Governing Cities Through Regions" covers conceptual topics and case studies that contrast the experience of a range of Canadian metropolitan regions with a strong selection of European cases. It starts from assumptions of limited conversion among regions across the Atlantic but is keenly aware of the idiosyncratic and remarkable differences in urban regions' path dependencies in which the larger processes of globalization and neoliberalization are situated and materialized.

Critique: Comprised of nineteen groundbreaking articles by experts in the fields, "Governing Cities Through Regions" is enhanced with a listing of the contributors and their credentials, as well as a sixteen page Index. An extraordinary and impressively organized and presented series of studies, "Governing Cities Through Regions" is highly recommended addition to governmental, college, and university library Political Science collections and supplement studies reading lists.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Think and Grow Rich
Napoleon Hill
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781937879488, $ 27.95, 382 pages,

Thirteen Principles of Success - A Classic Model on Individual Achievement

"Think and Grow Rich," written by Napoleon Hill is your passport to financial independence, personal growth, and peace of mind. Napoleon Hill's thirteen principles of success are the result of 20 years of research. This edition is a reproduction of the unedited text of Hill's 1937 original work.

These principles contain important philosophies that you will want to study, digest, meditate on, and absorb as you make them your own. Hill includes stories to illustrate his philosophy of the "Law of Success." These stories include men like Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and other leaders in industry.

The foundational principles of Hill's "Law of Success" are the basic premise or substance of many success oriented authors, writing in the genre of visualization, positive thinking, and self-realization.

Personal treasures I gleaned from my reading include the wisdom found in these principles:

Faith, a burning desire, and persistence combined with a plan of action will produce miraculous results.

Every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage - handicaps can be converted into stepping stones.

Readers willing to commit themselves to Napoleon Hill's thirteen steps to riches as found in his book, "Think and Grow Rich" can expect to find "abundant riches" in finances, business associations, family relationships, peace of mind, and a changed life.

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

My Story in Black and White - The Autobiography of Jesse O. Thomas
Jesse O. Thomas
Rosemary Braxton
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
9781934759981, $14.95, 360 pages,

A Marvelous Story of Persistence in the Face o Adversity and Injustice

"My Story in Black and White" presents an absorbing account of a period in Black history, including antidotes that reflect a vivid observation into the relationships, behind the scenes drama, and an overall picture of the progression made possible by the cooperation these personalities (black and white) that influenced the direction and motivation taken by educational institutions, government agencies, and economic environment during the first 50 years of the 20th century. The book is adapted from original autobiographical notes of Jesse O. Thomas, facilitated by his daughter Rosemary Braxton.

The author captures an amazing glimpse into the life, brilliance and accomplishments of George Washington Carver's scientific imagination, and of the impact of Booker T. Washington's life and influence on government officials.

While an undergraduate at Tuskegee Institute, Jesse Thomas came to the attention of Booker T. Washington and President Theodore Roosevelt. The results of these contacts opened doors for Thomas to become an outstanding influence and spokesperson for educational causes, for the underprivileged, for racial inequality and for integration, and desegregation.

Readers will find nuggets of truth which lie hidden away in Braxton's detailed account, begging to be discovered, mined, polished and recognized as true gems of treasured wisdom.

"My Story in Black and White" is the story of a man who believes that regardless of the circumstances of birth, racial identity, or heredity it is man's purpose to fulfill his destiny by making a contribution to make toward advancing the world during his generation. Jesse O. Thomas is an example of this kind of man; a man of accomplishment and purpose.

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

Lessons from Zachary - Turning Disability into Possibility
Sandy Scott
International Publishing Works
P. O. Box 415, Bellevue, Colorado 50512-0415
9780997596205, $19.95 PB, $8.99 Kindle, 264 Pages,

Engaging and Releasing Hidden Powers Within

Just twelve days after his birth Zachary Scott was diagnosed as severely physically and intellectually disabled. This news began a journey into the uncharted territory of the unknown for Sandy and Jonathan Scott; a heart-rending journey plagued by unexpected disappointments and uncertainties. The daily stresses of hectic schedules, social pressures, and the demands created by Zachary's disabilities became overwhelming.

Sandy was devastated and frustrated by an unexpected and unusual combination of strained relationships and in desperation was forced to look within herself and to choose a new perspective - one that unleashed in her the power of love.

Sandy reached into the resources of unexplored potential to become a leader in coaching leaders in healthcare, to parents of children with disabilities, and to train professionals in the healthcare and educational fields.

Sandy's writing is authentic, genuine, realistic and relevant. Her premises are well thought out, her choice of words stir the imagination of the reader and enable them to relate personally to her journey through a complex set of circumstances. As the reader becomes deeply involved in Sandy's story; her insights and the lessons she learned become personal and identifiable and provide a new understanding into the complications, experiences and unknown potential of their own lives. Dozens of well-chosen pictures and good photography add a whole extra dimension to the heart felt emotions of love, pathos, and positive impact of Zachary's life.

"Lessons from Zachary" will resonate with readers who have been touched by the challenge of disappointment in broken relationships and other personal tragedy; readers in need of a message of hope, and a strategy for tapping into their unknown potential.

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

MacArthur's Airman
Thomas E. Griffith, Jr.
University Press of Kansas
2501 West 15th Street, Lawrence, KS 66049
9780700609093, $39.95, HC, 352pp,

Synopsis: A fighter pilot who flew 75 combat missions in World War I, George C. Kenney was a charismatic leader who established himself as an innovative advocate of air power. As General MacArthur's air commander in the Southwest Pacific during World War II, Kenney played a pivotal role in the conduct of the war, but until now his performance has remained largely unexplored.

In "MacArthur's Airman : General George C. Kenney and the War in the Southwest Pacific", author and biographer Thomas Griffith offers a critical assessment of Kenney's numerous contributions to MacArthur's war efforts. He depicts Kenney as a staunch proponent of airpower's ability to shape the outcome of military engagements and a commander who shared MacArthur's strategic vision. He tells how Kenney played a key role in campaigns from New Guinea to the Philippines; adapted aircraft, pilots, doctrine, and technology to the demands of aerial warfare in the southwest Pacific; and pursued daring strategies that likely would have failed in the European theater.

Kenney is shown to have been an operational and organizational innovator who was willing to scrap doctrine when the situation called for ingenuity, such as shifting to low-level attacks for more effective bombing raids. "MacArthur's Airman" reveals how Kenney established air superiority in every engagement, provided close air support for troops by bombing enemy supply lines, attacked and destroyed Japanese supply ships, and carried out rapid deployment by airlifting troops and supplies.

"MacArthur's Airman" draws on Kenney's diary and correspondence, the personal papers of other officers, and previously untapped sources to present a comprehensive portrayal of both the officer and the man. "MacArthur's Airman" illuminates Kenney's relationship with MacArthur, General "Hap" Arnold, and other field commanders, and closely examines factors in air warfare often neglected in other accounts, such as intelligence, training, and logistical support.

Critique: Impressively researched, exceptionally informed and informative, expertly organized and presented, "MacArthur's Airman : General George C. Kenney and the War in the Southwest Pacific" is a welcome addition to the growing library of World War II histories and biographies. While a highly recommended addition to both community and academic library 20th Century Military History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "MacArthur's Airman" is also available in a paperback edition (9780700624461, $29.95).

Electing Peace
Jonas Claes, editor
United States Institute of Peace Press
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172
9781601275226, $24.95, PB, 286pp,

Synopsis: Jonas Claes is a senior program officer in the Center for Applied Research on Conflict at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), where he conducts research and analysis on the prevention of electoral violence and mass atrocities. In this capacity, Claes coordinates USIP prevention projects and consults with senior U.S. and UN officials in fine-tuning prevention practices.

Claes draws upon his extensive experience and expertise to compile and edited seven major articles for "Electing Peace: Violence Prevention and Impact at the Polls" that examines election violence prevention and assesses the effectiveness of different prevention practices which are effective, which are not, and under what circumstances.

Targeted peace building efforts are frequently used to prevent election violence. Practitioners possess a variety of programming options, including peace messaging campaigns, preventive diplomacy, and monitoring missions. But the ability of election violence prevention to achieve its intended outcome merits further investigation.

This deftly edited volume focuses on five electoral democracies: Honduras, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malawi, and Moldova. During their most recent election cycle, all five countries displayed similar risk levels but experienced differing levels of electoral violence. Through these case studies and comparative analysis, the authors assess the impact of prevention efforts on the levels of violence and derive lessons learned that can be applied in other electoral contexts.

Critique: Even today in some American voting districts we have seen efforts at intimidation and voter suppression -- making "Electing Peace: Violence Prevention and Impact at the Polls" exceptionally relevant in our increasingly politically polarized country. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Electing Peace" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home
Llona Bray & Marcia Stewart
Nolo Press
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413323450, $24.99, PB, 448pp,

Synopsis: The ownership of a home is the largest financial investment most people will ever make. The number of homes for sale is on the rise and mortgage rates remain near historic lows. "Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home" provides everything needed to: research the local market and listings; decide between a house, condo, co-op, or townhouse; create a realistic budget; qualify for a loan you can truly afford; borrow a down payment from friends or family; protect yourself with inspections and insurance; and negotiate and close the deal successfully.

"Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home" offers insights drawn from 15 real estate professionals that include brokers, attorneys, mortgage specialists, a home inspector, a neighborhood researcher, and more. Plus "Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home" is enhanced with the inclusion of real-life stories from over 20 first-time homebuyers.

Readers should note that they can download from a Homebuyer's Toolkit Dozens of downloadable forms and podcasts that will help them find their dream home, crunch the numbers, interview real estate professionals, inspect the house thoroughly, and more.

Critique: Comprehensive, inclusive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home" is very highly recommended, especially for community library collections. For the personal reading lists of prospective home buyers it should be noted that "Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.49).

Where Memory Leads: My Life
Saul Friedlander
Other Press
267 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590518090, $24.95, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: Saul Friedlander is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA. He was born in Prague to a family of German-speaking Jews, grew up in France, and experienced the German Occupation of 1940-1944.

Forty years after his acclaimed, poignant first memoir "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945" (Harper Perennial, 9780060930486, $19.99 PB, $10.99 Kindle), Friedlander returns with the next installment of his life with"Where Memory Leads: My Life", bridging the gap between the ordeals of his childhood and his present-day towering reputation in the field of Holocaust studies. After abandoning his youthful conversion to Catholicism, he rediscovers his Jewish roots as a teenager and builds a new life in Israeli politics.

Friedlander's initial loyalty to Israel turns into a lifelong fascination with Jewish life and history. He struggles to process the ubiquitous effects of European anti-Semitism while searching for a more measured approach to the Zionism that surrounds him. Friedlander goes on to spend his adulthood shuttling between Israel, Europe, and the United States, armed with his talent for language and an expansive intellect. His prestige inevitably throws him up against other intellectual heavyweights. In his early years in Israel, he rubs shoulders with the architects of the fledgling state and brilliant minds such as Gershom Scholem and Carlo Ginzburg, among others.

Most importantly, this new memoir led Friedlander to reflect on the wrenching events that induced him to devote sixteen years of his life to writing the first account of his extraordinary life.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Where Memory Leads: My Life" is a compelling read from beginning to end and very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Biography & Autobiography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Where Memory Leads: My Life" is also available in a Kindle format ($12.99).

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

Rather Be the Devil
Ian Rankin
Little Brown
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY,NY 10017
9780316342575, $27.00 Hardcover, 320 pp.

In UK: Orion

9781409159407, 19.99 BPS, Hardcover, Nov. 3, 2016, 320 pp.
9781409168973, 12.99 BPS, Paperback, March 16, 2017, 320 pp.

In CA: Orion

9781409159407, 32.00 CA$Hardcover, November 1, 2016, 384 pp.
9781409159421, 15.99 CA$, Paperback, August 8, 2017, 384 pp.

While it is always enjoyable to read a Rebus mystery, "Rather Be the Devil" seems like Ian Rankin strained on this one and the retired detective appears to be just going through the motions in this novel. The apparent resurrection of Big Ger Cafferty, one-time big boss of the Edinburgh crime scene, thought also to be retired, is another example that the series might be a bit long in the tooth.

At the start of the book, Rebus becomes intrigued with a cold case in which a vivacious woman married to a leading Scottish banker known to enjoy numerous affairs was found murdered in a hotel room many years before. Meanwhile Malcolm Fox has been promoted resulting in a strained relationship with Siobhan Clarke, who remains behind. But their lives, along with Rebus', once again are intertwined as they investigate, at first, the savage beating of Cafferty's former protege, Darryl Christie, now a force all to himself, and then a money-laundering scheme. As the cases seem to come together, involving past and present, it becomes clearer that rivalry between Big Ger and Darryl is setting the stage for a sequel.

Despite these misgivings, the novel is, as has been the entire series, very well-written. Let's hope the next book will resume the level expected of a Rebus mystery, although the groundwork has been laid in this chapter for his permanent retirement, with hints of lung cancer or tuberculosis. Say it isn't so, Ian!


The Poison Artist
Jonathan Moore
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02166

In US/CA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
9780544520561, $24.00/34.00 CA$, Hardcover, January 26, 2016 288 pp.

Mariner Books
9780544811829, $14.95, Paperback, December 6, 2016, 304 pp.

In UK: Orion Books
9781409159735, 7.99 BPS, Paperback, March 10, 2016

There are obsessions and there are fantasies. And usually they don't coincide. But they do in this fascinating novel, which encompasses the elements of a serial murder mystery, a thriller and possibly a psychological analysis of a sick mind. It is the story of Dr. Caleb Maddox, a brilliant San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain in the most advanced laboratory in the country.

After his live-in girlfriend walks out on him following an argument, he goes out drinking. In a bar, he meets a beautiful woman named Emmeline. He becomes obsessed with her, and has to find her again. Meanwhile, he gets caught up in a serial murder investigation, helping his best friend, the Medical Examiner. One of the victims turns out to be someone who also was drinking in the same bar as Caleb that night. The detective in charge of the case is aware of Caleb's early history, and suspicion arises implicating him.

The novel is a complicated tale and is rather confusing until the author finally gets around to providing details on earlier history. Until then, the reader remains in the dark and has to take everything at face value. And the conclusion is somewhat offbeat as Caleb, perhaps, slips away from reality.

Written well, it is an unusual story well worth reading, and is recommended.

Presumed Puzzled
Parnell Hall
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250061232, $24.99, Hardcover, 275 pp,

The Puzzle Lady novels are meant to be cute, and this one has some light moments, but since the lady in question ends up tried for murder it turns out to be anything but. Actually, there are two courtroom scenes. First, the wife of the murder victim is initially charged with the crime, but halfway through the trial those charges are dismissed when a witness for the prosecution provides an alibi for her and another implicates Cora Felton, the Puzzle Lady.

It seems Cora was having an affair with the murdered man, and the irony is that she is employed by the wife's attorney to find him after the wife reports him missing when he doesn't come home from work. And, to add insult to injury, Cora accompanies the Police Chief to his home only to discover him lying on the floor, having bled to death, and his wife covered with blood holding a butcher knife.

A series of clues appear to indicate Cora is guilty, and the courtroom drama plays out until she unravels the mystery by testifying for the prosecution in her own trial in typical Puzzle Lady fashion. While events throughout both trials are dramatic and push the story forward, it is unlikely that such occurrences could possibly take place in a real trial. Of course, there is always a last minute fact or witness that occasionally pop up in real life, but hardly to the extent that this plot requires. Other than this objection, the Puzzle Lady mysteries are always cute and fun, and so is this novel. (The next book in the series, A Puzzle to be Named Later, is due out on January 17th.)


The Gun
Fuminori Nakamura
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616955908, $25.95, Hardcover, 198 pp.
9781616957681, $14.95, Paperback, 224 pp.

This author does not write simple stories. They are complex, convoluted, psychologically intense tales requiring the reader's undivided attention. Nishikawa is a young man, a student at the university, drifting along with little insight into his own personality and emotions. One night, while walking at night in a rainstorm with nothing better to do, he encounters a dead man with a gun near the body.

He picks up the revolver, and thus begins an obsessive possession of the weapon. The gun takes over Nishikawa's life as he continuously holds it, polishes it and thinks about it. He merges his mental and physical senses with what he perceives to be the pistol's purpose. The book slowly develops, looking into his mind as he acts with what he thinks the weapon wants. As he ignores any sense of right or wrong, it is a far gone conclusion that fate will be tempted.

The Gun is the third novel by the author translated into English. Each is a dark thriller pushing the boundaries between good and evil. It is a forceful examination of a troubled personality reacting to a fixation on an inanimate object, and is a memorable analysis.


Taking Pity
David Mark
Blue Rider Press
c/o Penguin
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399185748, $16.00/22.00 CA$, Paperback, 336 pp.,

Sgt. Aector McAvoy is compelled to live out of a suitcase in a motel with his young son while on sick leave, his wife secreted away for her safety with their young daughter following the destruction of their home. He is distraught without his family with little to do, when a representative of the Home Secretary requisitions his services from his superior, DI Trish Pharaoh, on a 50-year-old murder case involving a family of four. It appears that the supposed murderer who has been kept in a mental institution all these years is declared fit for trial, and McAvoy's assignment is to make sure the original investigation will stand up in any proceeding.

As McAvoy begins his own investigation, two warring groups are fighting for control of the rackets in Hull, the Yorkshire site of all the action. Pharaoh, as head of the Serious and Organized Crime Unit, is faced with the continued successes of one group, the Headhunters, who plan and execute their activities ruthlessly. The "pretenders" escalate violence and bring both lines of the plot together as the various characters intermingle.

The novel is a dark tale of deception, greed, love and jealousy. The characters are portrayed fully and the descriptions of the police procedural aspects, especially McAvoy's surprising investigation, are detailed and uncanny. The plot is complex, with a very original finale.


Even Dogs in the Wild
Ian Rankin
Little, Brown
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316342513, $26.00/28.99 CA$/19.99 BPS, Hardcover, 352 pp.,

Back Bay Books
9780316342544, $15.99/16.99 CA$/7.99 BPS, Paperback, 368 pp.

They retired Rebus in the 19th novel in the series, but they can't keep him down. In this, the 20th Rebus mystery, he proves that experience and relationships still count in solving a case. It all begins when someone takes a shot at Rebus' long time on-again-off-again bete noir, Big Ger Cafferty. As a result, Rebus becomes part of an investigation headed by his former sidekick, Siobhan Clarke, as a consulting detective.

Clarke's brief is the murder of David Minton, retired Lord Advocate, initially thought to be the result of a housebreaking, at least until Rebus begins to put two and two together. Meanwhile, another sub-plot involves Malcolm Fox, formerly of Professional Standards, and now a DI, involving the surveillance of a couple of heavyweight gangsters from Glasgow, now in Edinburgh presumably looking for a miscreant who stole goods and cash from them. But are they really there to take over Cafferty's territory?

The author wraps up the main plot by having Rebus, Clarke and Fox put the various clues together after Cafferty remembers a long lost thought. It is always a pleasure to read a Rebus novel, and I look forward to reading the 21st in the series, Rather Be the Devil, to be published January 31, 2017.

Highly recommended.

The Vulture
Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464204784, $15.44, Paperback, 252pp, $9.99 Kindle
9781464204760, $26.95, Hardcover, 252 pp.,

In a Forward to this, the tenth Ike Schwartz mystery, the author recounts an odd occurrence that actually happened to him. It seems that he took his car into a shop for routine servicing, and when it was completed he was handed his keys back. Only they weren't his keys, but they started his car anyway. Of course, there are only a limited number of lock combinations, but what are the odds that two cars will be in the same place at the same time with the same lock that can be opened by the same key? That is the starting point for the plot of this novel.

When Sheriff Ike Schwartz leaves a restaurant after meeting with an undercover agent, he discovers his dinner companion drove off in his car instead of his own. Ike is able to start the other's automobile with his own key. Shortly, Ike's car explodes, damaging a wide area and pulverizing the driver. Obviously, the bomb was meant for Ike, who then plays "dead" in an effort to find out who instigated the murder attempt. This leads to Idaho and a militant group known as the "51 Star."

The basic story flows smoothly, with parallel themes of terrorism and child abuse. Ike, and his wife, Ruth, are delightful characters, and Ike's CIA friend, Charlie Garland, proves as resourceful as ever. Too often, however, the reader is interrupted by the author's penchant for inserting polemics on extraneous topics. Were it not for this fact, this reader would have found the novel more enjoyable, but it is recommended nonetheless.

Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Psychedelic Gospels
Jerry B. Brown & Julie M. Brown
Park Street Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620555026, $19.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of educator, anthropologist and activist Jerry B. Brown and holistic psychotherapist and health coach Julie M. Brown "The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity" reveals evidence of visionary plants in Christianity and the life of Jesus found in medieval art and biblical scripture, a subject that was hidden in plain sight for centuries.

"The Psychedelic Gospels" follows the authors' anthropological adventure discovering sacred mushroom images in European and Middle Eastern churches, including Roslyn Chapel and Chartres; provides color photos showing how R. Gordon Wasson's psychedelic theory of religion clearly extends to Christianity and reveals why Wasson suppressed this information due to his secret relationship with the Vatican; examines the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels to show that visionary plants were the catalyst for Jesus's awakening to his divinity and immortality.

Throughout medieval Christianity, religious works of art emerged to illustrate the teachings of the Bible for the largely illiterate population. What, then, is the significance of the psychoactive mushrooms hiding in plain sight in the artwork and icons of many European and Middle-Eastern churches? Does Christianity have a psychedelic history?

Providing stunning visual evidence from their anthropological journey throughout Europe and the Middle East, including visits to Roslyn Chapel and Chartres Cathedral, authors Julie and Jerry Brown document the role of visionary plants in Christianity. They retrace the pioneering research of R. Gordon Wasson, the famous "sacred mushroom seeker," on psychedelics in ancient Greece and India, and among the present-day reindeer herders of Siberia and the Mazatecs of Mexico. Challenging Wasson's legacy, the authors reveal his secret relationship with the Vatican that led to Wasson's refusal to pursue his hallucinogen theory into the hallowed halls of Christianity.

Examining the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels, "The Psychedelic Gospels" provide scriptural support to show that sacred mushrooms were the inspiration for Jesus' revelation of the Kingdom of Heaven and that he was initiated into these mystical practices in Egypt during the Missing Years. "The Psychedelic Gospels" contends that the Trees of Knowledge and of Immortality in Eden were sacred mushrooms.

Uncovering the role played by visionary plants in the origins of Judeo-Christianity, "The Psychedelic Gospels" invite the reader to rethink what is commonly known about the life of Jesus and to consider a controversial theory that challenges the reader to explore these sacred pathways to the divine.

Critique: An extraordinary and original study, "The Psychedelic Gospels: The Secret History of Hallucinogens in Christianity" is impressively well written, organized and presented. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful and iconoclastic, "The Psychedelic Gospels" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Psychedelic Gospels" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Cable of Fate
John Eric Vining
Page Publishing Inc.
101 Tyrellan Avenue Suite 100 New York, NY 10309
9781684090617, $15.95, PB, 268pp,

Synopsis: On both sides of the turn of the twentieth century, there emerged a style of writing that was a distant kin to the modern historical novel. It was known as Les Guerres Imaginaires, which can basically be translated into "The Imaginary War".

This was a literary device used to tell how future wars might occur and be fought. It was a type of novel written by military authors seeking to mold and enhance their foresight with intricate historical and political analyses. Examples of this genre include "The Battle of Dorking," a 1871 short story in Blackwood's Magazine by Sir George Tomkyns Chesney; The Great Naval War of 1887, written in 1886 by Sir William Laird Clowes and Commander Charles N. Robinson; The Great War of 1892, A Forecast, by Rear Admiral Philip Colomb, written in 1893; The War Inevitable (1908), by Alan H. Burgoyne; The Valor of Ignorance (1909), by Homer Lea; and two great novels of the 1920s, Sea Power in the Pacific (1920) and The Great Pacific War (1925), by Hector Bywater.

In "Cable of Fate: The Zimmermann Affair and the Great Southwestern War of 1917" novelist John Eric Vining resurrects a mirror image of this genre to look back into history and explore what might have happened if Mexico had taken Germany's 1917 Zimmermann Telegram seriously and attempted to recapture the American Southwest at the height of World War I. While this is fantastically unbelievable at first glance, a further analysis is warranted. What you might find is that not only was a Mexican invasion of the American Southwest quite possible in 1917, the real surprise is that it did not happen in the actual history of World War I!

"Cable of Fate" is what might be termed an 'alternate universe' story of what might have been possible for the United States and Mexico to have fought the Great Southwestern War of 1917.

Critique: An original, deftly crafted, engaging, compelling, and unfailingly entertaining novel, "Cable of Fate: The Zimmermann Affair and the Great Southwestern War of 1917" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cable of Fate" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Radiant Terminus
Antoine Volodine, author
Jeffrey Zuckerman, translator
Open Letter Books
c/o University of Rochester
Lattimore Hall 411, Box 270082, Rochester, NY 14627
9781940953526, $17.95, PB, 500pp,

Synopsis: The most patently sci-fi work of Antoine Volodine's to be translated into English by Jeffrey Zuckerman (Digital Editor of Musice & Literature), "Radiant Terminus" takes place in a Tarkovskian landscape after the fall of the Second Soviet Union.

Most of humanity has been destroyed thanks to a number of nuclear meltdowns, but a few communes remain, including one run by Solovyei, a psychotic father with the ability to invade people's dreams (including those of his daughters) and torment them for thousands of years.

When a group of damaged individuals seek safety from this nuclear winter in Solovyei's commune, a plot develops to overthrow him, end his reign of mental abuse, and restore humanity.

Fantastical, unsettling, and occasionally funny, "Radiant Terminus" is a key entry in Volodine's epic literary project that features a broad landscape, an ambitious vision, and interlocking characters and ideas.

Critique: Antoine Volodine (a.k.a. Lutz Bassmann, a.k.a. Manuela Draeger) is the primary pseudonym of a French writer who has published more than forty books, over twenty under this name. Seven of his titles are currently available in English translation, including Minor Angels (University of Nebraska Press, 9780803220898, $16.95 PB, 166pp), Bardo or Not Bardo (Open Letter, 9781940953335, $13.95 PB, $8.69 Kindle, 162pp), and Post-Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven (Open Letter, 9781940953113, $12.95 PB, $9.49 Kindle, 100pp). A consummate and impressively original storyteller, Volodine's "Radiant Terminus" is a compelling and consistently engaging read from cover to cover and highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, as well as the personal reading lists of science fiction enthusiasts.

The Lost Continent of Pan
Susan B. Martinez
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591432678, $24.00, PB, 512pp,

Synopsis: Pan (also known as Lemuria or Mu) is the name of a prehistoric world culture in the Pacific Ocean some 24,000 years ago and which was lost due to natural catastrophe. "The Lost Continent of Pan: The Oceanic Civilization at the Origin of World Culture" by writer, linguist, teacher, and paranormal researcher, Susan B. Martinez is an inherently fascinating and informative study of the Pacific Ur-culture that seeded the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, India, Mexico, and Peru. Martinez shows how the Pan diaspora explains the similarities between Gobekli Tepe and Toltec carvings and stone towers in Japan and on Easter Island; reveals the mother tongue of Pan hidden in shared word roots in vastly different languages, including Quechua, Sanskrit, Japanese, Greek, and Sumerian; and explains the red-haired Caucasian mummies of China, the Ainu of Japan, the presence of "white" humans in early Native American legend, and other light-skinned peoples found in Southeast Asia and the Middle East

The destruction of the vast continent of Pan was the greatest catastrophe that ever befell humanity. Yet it resulted in a prehistoric Golden Age of arts and technology thanks to the Sons of Noah, who, forewarned and prepared for the disaster, escaped in 5 organized fleets. Theirs was the masterful Ur-culture that seeded China, Egypt, India, Mexico, and Peru, explaining the sudden injection of the same advanced knowledge and sophisticated arts into those widely separated lands.

Examining the diaspora from the sunken continent of Pan, Martinez finds traces of the oceanic Pan civilization in arts and technologies from canal-works, masonry, and agriculture to writing, weaving, and pottery, but most importantly in the art of navigation, the hallmark of the survivors of the catastrophe. Using archaeo-linguistic analysis, she reveals the mother tongue of Pan hidden in strikingly similar words for royalty, deities, and important places in vastly different languages, including Quechua, Maori, Sanskrit, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, and Sumerian, as well as English through the prefix "pan" which denotes "all-encompassing."

Martinez also reveals how the Pan diaspora explains the mound builders on each continent, the presence of "white" humans in Native American legend, the red-haired mummies found in China, and the Ainu of Japan. She shares recent genetic studies that reveal Polynesian DNA in central Europeans, Mesopotamians, South Americans, and the 9000-year-old Kennewick man and shows how Pan provides the missing link. She reveals why carvings at Gobekli Tepe are similar to Toltec artistry, why stone towers in Japan and Easter Island are identical, and how the Pacific Ring of Fire was activated.

Critique: A truly landmark study, "The Lost Continent of Pan: The Oceanic Civilization at the Origin of World Culture" is impressively well written, organized and presented making it certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted for academicians and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Lost Continent of Pan" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

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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