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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 2 February 2020 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Fruit of All My Grief
J. Malcom Garcia
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
9781609809539, $21.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "The Fruit of All My Grief: Lives in the Shadows of the American Dream", journalist J. Malcolm Garcia lets the people he writes about speak for themselves. His writing highlights the struggles and the dignity of people quietly fighting for their lives. They include families and small businesses still recovering from the BP oil spill; the man sentenced to life in prison for transporting drugs to pay for the medical care that would save his son's life; the widows of soldiers who died, not in war, but from toxic fumes they were exposed to at their bases overseas; the Iraqi interpreter who was promised American asylum, only to arrive and be forced to live in poverty. The soaring narratives told in "The Fruit of All My Grief" let the reader feel the fears, hopes, and outrage of those living in the shadows of the American Dream.

Critique: A deftly crafted, inherently engaging, and often riveting read, "The Fruit of All My Grief: Lives in the Shadows of the American Dream" is an extraordinary study that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Social Issues collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, social justice activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Fruit of All My Grief: Lives in the Shadows of the American Dream" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: J. Malcolm Garcia is the author of The Khaarijee: A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul (Beacon 2009), What Wars Leave Behind: The Faceless and the Forgotten (University of Missouri Press 2014), Without a Country: The Untold Story of America's Deported Veterans (Skyhorse Press 2017), and Riding through Katrina with the Red Baron's Ghost: A Memoir of Friendship, Family and a Life Writing Stories (Skyhorse Press 2018). Garcia is a recipient of the Studs Terkel Prize for writing about the working classes and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism. His work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Essays.

Nothing Succeeds Like Failure
Steven Conn
Cornell University Press
512 East State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
9781501742071, $32.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: Do business schools actually make good on their promises of "innovative", "outside-the-box" thinking to train business leaders who will put society ahead of money-making? Do they help society by making better business leaders?

In "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools" the message of Steven Conn (who is the W. E. Smith Professor of History, Miami University) is that no, they don't -- and what's more they never have.

In throwing down a gauntlet on the business of business schools, Professor Conn examines the frictions, conflicts, and contradictions at the heart of these enterprises and details the way business schools have failed to resolve them. Beginning with founding of the Wharton School in 1881, Professor Conn measures these schools' aspirations against their actual accomplishments and tells the full and disappointing history of missed opportunities, unmet aspirations, and educational mistakes. Professor Conn then poses a set of crucial questions about the role and function of American business schools. The results aren't pretty.

Posing a set of crucial questions about the function of American business schools, "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure" is pugnacious and controversial. Deeply researched and fun to read, "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure" ably argues that the impressive facades of business school buildings resemble nothing so much as collegiate versions of Oz. And Professor Conn pulls back the curtain to reveal a story of failure to meet the expectations of the public, their missions, their graduates, and their own lofty aspirations of producing moral and ethical business leaders.

Critique: An exceptionally informed, iconoclastic, and thought-provoking read throughout, "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: The Sad History of American Business Schools" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to both college and university library Business Education & Reference collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of business students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Nothing Succeeds Like Failure" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

Lover Come Back
Tom Preschutti
Black Rose Writing
9781684334414, $17.95

Lover Come Back is the second book in the Lori Daniels mystery series, but it should be noted that prior familiarity with the first book, Pillow Talk, is not a prerequisite in order to thoroughly enjoy this latest Daniels adventure.

The heart of the mystery lies in the issue of corruption in city offices and a deadly force that moves beyond graft and payoffs to embrace murder. A crime gang is orchestrating a takeover of the government, witnesses are being silenced, and even Police Sergeant Lori Daniels and her crackerjack team of investigators can't seem to get to the bottom of what is going on.

One thing is certain: despite Lori's successful gang raids of the past, this group stays a step ahead of her. One clever man orchestrates bold moves that involve using Daniels and her team to eliminate the competition and obstacles to his plans.

He's a perp who feels 'destined to succeed'. And he just may have the resources - including Lori's own - to do so.

Lover Come Back excels in a blend of mystery, investigative work, and explorations of the emotional conundrums Lori Daniels faces in the course of her work and private life. Both have been irrevocably changed by her past decisions, and each are about to be additionally challenged by a situation that tests not only her resolve, but her emotional stability.

From local Mexican crime syndicates and dangerous loyalties to Exeter's moves when Detective Sergeants Carol O'Reilly and George Tate of Precinct 3 get too close for comfort, Lover Come Back creates satisfying juxtapositions between investigative processes, ploys and plots, shifting blame, and interactions between rookies and seasoned cops alike.

As events revolving around love and death reach an unexpected crescendo in a surprise conclusion, Lover Come Back excels with a standalone story that is riveting and hard to put down.

Prior fans of Lori Daniels who want a tense, gripping thriller exploring her social, political, and investigative interactions will find her latest story a winner especially notable for its multifaceted exploration of city and departmental politics.

The People We Wanted to Forget
Michael G. Harpold
Book Publishers Network
9781945271687, $15.95, Print
B07D7KFMSS, $9.99, eBook

Assigned to prepare a report for U.S. Congress on the status of the boat people refugees in Thailand in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, author Mike Harpold didn't realize he stood exactly at a crossroads in policy-making and humanitarian efforts. His impromptu effort to save a boatload slated for disposal holds an unexpected result as it affects U.S. policy and turns the American public's spotlight on a hitherto-underreported crisis.

The People We Wanted to Forget is a memoir of his experiences, but most of all, it serves as a lesson for those who believe individual efforts don't count for much in the greater arena of world events. And this is, perhaps, its greatest lesson - not just the events Harpold participated in (which are now part of history, thanks to his reporting), but the lasting impact of moral and ethical decisions he made within 10 minutes of confronting a life-or-death situation.

Black and white photos and maps pepper a story filled with firsthand impressions and insights to create a "you are there" feel, moving between his life in America and his assignment in Vietnam to contrast two lives and cultures from an intriguing perspective.

From his encounters with Viet Cong snipers and the National

Police Field Force he led during his stay in Vietnam to its aftermath, readers receive a much more personal, close inspection of Vietnam's cultural and struggles, both during and after the war, than most other accounts offer. Perhaps this is because Harpold's participation in events comes from a different position: that of a civilian advisor and observer, not a single soldier's perspective. It thus straddles the line between civilian and military experience.

Harpold didn't enter into his job intending to change or even influence U.S. policy. But his actions and choices made a difference, saved more than the lives of the thirty-plus boat people whom Thailand had deemed expendable undesirables, and resulted in an enlightening worldwide broadcast of Vietnam's postwar plight and struggles.

The People We Wanted to Forget thus serves as more than a document of either Harpold's experiences and actions or Vietnam post-war. It's an inspirational reminder that individuals can (and should) stand up and make a difference, and hold the responsibility and ability to do so.
The challenge of this mission lies in the 'how', and Harpold provides just one example of his process of choosing the best option to make for a positive, lasting difference in the world.

This Book Is Alive!
Justine Avery
Suteki Creative
9781948124393, $4.99, ebook
9781948124416, $8.95, softcover
9781948124423, $15.95, hardcover

This Book Is Alive! is a picture book that holds two unusual features: its handwritten pages capture the feel of a personal diary, and it's from the perspective of a book (that's right - a book) which comments on not just its odd identity, but its value to others.

A book can't be a living thing. Or, can it? Justine Avery's unusual premise is embellished with simple but appealing drawings by Daria Yudina, who deftly tackles the difficult task of illustrating an ethereal concept.

Avery's story assumes a life of its own as it explains that books hold all the trappings of reality, from expressing intangible ideas to being original, artistic productions (for the most part) that "never hide their feelings," but hold secret motives.

The dual messages in this book, about the liveliness of the written word and the joy of life itself, impart a rare feeling and opportunity for read-aloud parents to discuss the nature of books and ideas with the very young.

Imaginative, positive, and thought-provoking, there's nothing quite like This Book Is Alive! Its compelling discussion and magic is highly recommended for adults who would capture the allure of life and reading for beginning bookworms.

What Wonders Await Outdoors
Justine Avery
Suteki Creative
9781948124430, $4.99, ebook
9781948124454, $9.95, paperback
9781948124461, $16.95, hardcover

What Wonders Await Outdoors uses a rollicking rhyme to deliver a message encouraging kids to exchange indoor activities for outdoor pleasures. It pairs these with lovely watercolors by Liuba Syrotiuk that capture the allure of the outdoors.

In its opening pages, the characters are cuddled up indoors, safe from the elements, warm, cozy...and bored. They've played inside all day. Isn't there something new to enjoy?

The answer lies right outside the door. Time has passed so quickly that adult and children players have almost forgotten the best part of all.

As the story moves from inside to outside, readers enjoy a lively sense of discovery and action that promotes exploring the whole wide world outside one's door.

Pioneers explore and make discoveries, and so do the characters in this story. Nature invites them out to enjoy all its glory, no matter what the weather, and they just know "...we'll have fun wherever we may go."

Adults who want to encourage kids to view indoor and outdoor play differently finally have a picture book that contrasts the two, supporting the notion of moving, discovering, and exploring nature. The focus on listening, looking, and experiencing leaves nothing to wonder and gives adults rudimentary clues for helping youngsters interact with, observe, and appreciate their outdoors world as much as their indoors one.

What Wonders Await Outdoors is highly recommended for parents, preschool teachers, childcare providers, and anyone who would foster an early appreciation of nature in the very young.

The 60-Minute Startup
Ramesh Dontha
The Agile Entrepreneur
9781733465106, $14.99, Paper, $19.99, Hardcover
9781733465113, $2.99, Ebook

The 60-Minute Startup: A Proven System To Start Your Business In 1 Hour A Day And Get Your First Paying Customers In 30 Days (Or Less) provides a different formula for business success than the usual entrepreneurial guide to conducting market research, focusing on how to begin an online business in an hour a day or less. It explains the premise of "agile entrepreneurship" and explores how it applies to any and all business ventures, but it also makes some surprising contentions - such as the idea that one can conduct an online business even with little prior knowledge of the online environment's processes.

How? The first step is not considering 'why', but 'what'. This is illustrated in a case history example of would-be entrepreneurs Sally and Sunder. Sally is a diligent student who researches everything and carefully considers her online business choices. Sunder puts a minimal amount of work and effort into building an online presence. Guess who gets the most customers for the amount of effort expended? What did he do right, and what did she do wrong?

The 60-Minute Startup is startling in many ways. The first is because it refutes popular business wisdom of how to research, work against learning curves, and progress at a step-by-step snail's pace to build a thoughtful venture. The agility program illustrated in the Sunder example, in contrast, promotes speed, flexibility, and adaptability. In a nutshell, these features describe the agile business personality and environment.

What remains are the nuts and bolts of how to create such an environment and how to assure its profitability. Here's where The 60-Minute Startup truly shines. Chapters offer checklists and specific tasks that all lend to lean approaches to business-building, from setting up a payment processing account to building a sales pipeline through cultivating local relationships, joining support and networking groups, and delivering services or products at a profitable price point.

Using social media to cultivate referrals, adopting a service-oriented approach that sets one's business apart from competitors, and building a business on a limited budget are all pieces of the bigger success story that The 60-Minute Startup tackles in a step-by-step manner.

No startup manager or owner should be without this book. It not only reveals a strategy proven to work across the board for many different types of businesses, but it confronts and dispels many myths about wheel-spinning efforts along the way, honing in on the lean, agile techniques that result in the most sales for the least amount of effort.

It's all about working smarter, not harder. The 60-Minute Startup is the epitome of this approach: a blueprint for success, not to be missed.

The Moon Show
Carmen Gloria
Uncommon Grammar
9781950767069, $2.99, E-Book
9781950767076, $9.99, Paperback
9781950767083, $19.99, Hardcover

The Moon Show combines a fictional approach with astronomy facts for the very young, and will best be utilized by read-aloud parents interested in introducing a young child to astronomy in a fun manner.

This isn't a grouping of facts alone. The moon is the narrator, here, offering whimsical observations designed to intrigue kids about what's up in the sky: "Sometimes, I even look like a banana, or a big smile called a crescent."

With its narrowed focus on only the planets in the solar system that have moons, kids receive a user-friendly, light story that helps them absorb basic moon facts in a story that alternates between moon science and broader observations: "I, Phobos, am slowly moving closer and closer to our planet, Mars, while little Deimos is slowly moving further and further away. One day, millions of years from now, I might crash into Mars, and little Deimos might be far, far, away, but hey, every day is different, and that's what makes life so wonderful!"

The beautiful illustrations throughout include smiling moons and often reflect humor, as in the renaming of one of Neptune's moons, which is announced to a waiting room of moons at the Moon Approval Office.

Parents looking for a fun, easy beginner's introduction to astronomy will find the entertainment quality of this story intriguing. It's a recommended parental read-aloud pick for youngsters, designed to cultivate a new appreciation of the night skies and our moon.

Caintuck Lies Within My Soul
C.M. Huddleston
Interpreting Time's Past Press
9781732833326, $12.99

Jemima Boone's story begins in the mid-1700s and opens with a feisty little girl's determination to hunt ginseng in the Yadkin Valley hills. Her success at uncovering 'sang' without tools or the help of her older brother is somewhat tempered by the realization that she's gotten lost. The roots of her determination and adventures are formed on this night, as well as author C.M. Huddleston's ability to capture not only sights, sounds, and atmosphere, but the culture and language of Kentucky's peoples: "She stopped and turned in a slow circle, observing every direction for familiar landmarks or smoke from a cabin fire, for theirs was not the only cabin along the Yadkin. She listened, but heard only the tree frogs begin their songs, a few crows, and then a whippoorwill. Not close. She knew the will's loud call carried for miles."

As Jemima grows up in an environment that includes Indian threats, the dangers of settling in 'Caintuck', and the spirited now-young-adult Jemima's handling of two suitors and many changes in her life and family, readers receive an engaging, engrossing story. Part of its strength is because it is narrated from more than one perspective and incorporates the lingo of the region in a readily understandable fashion that lends atmosphere and meaning to the story: "Flanders Callaway, the worst happenin' a married woman faces is the loss of her husband. While I've not suffered it myself, I suffered with her as Daniel's sister Hannah grieved for John. Today, Jemima stood at that gate watchin', while her husband acted like a fool, exposin' himself and his brother to the danger of being shot and scalped. And yet you, young man can't figure out why Mima is crying?"

From women who bravely face their man's absence or treachery to meetings between captains, warriors and chiefs and the lasting impact on Native American and white relationships that these moves bring, the pioneering efforts, perceptions, and challenges of early America come to life in a re-enactment of early Kentucky's history and settlement.

Caintuck Lies Within My Soul is a work of fiction with a strong historical overlay. Almost every event described in the course of the story really happened. Years of research about early Kentucky settlements in general and the Boone family in particular create a strong reality-based focus to the story.

In profiling the women involved in the nation's first major westward expansion, Huddleston expands upon and adds depth to the Boone family story, which traditionally focuses relatively exclusively on the more famous Daniel Boone.

Readers interested in American pioneer experience in general and women's perceptions and challenges in particular will find Caintuck Lies Within My Soul does an outstanding job of bringing the times and women's issues to life.

It's a story hard to put down, not easily forgotten, and packed with facts about Kentucky's evolution.

Happily Ever After...Right Now
Luann Robinson Hull, MSW, LCSW, D.MIN
Top Reads Publishing, LLC
9781970107142, $18.99, Paperback
9781970107159, $8.99, Ebook

Happily Ever After ... Right Now: Stop Searching for Mr. Right and Start Celebrating YOU blends spirituality, science, and practical applications of research in its promotion of happiness, exploring not only individual happiness in the moment but its lasting impact on others.

In 1999, Luann Robinson Hull experienced a prophetic dream and vision. Before that, she'd believed that life was over. And, she was right. The life she knew, had invested in, and had trapped herself in was over, but a new purpose was just around the corner.

Hull was in a familiar bind over her former life focus: "I had settled, and settled, and settled again - settled for being a slave to my man, the men who had preceded him, my children, clients, and even my house, yard, and dog. I just wanted to be good. I wanted to be good so that people would stay. Therefore, I would be needed, hopefully invaluable, and less likely to be replaced or abandoned. And regardless of the benevolence I believed myself to be offering, people kept leaving anyway."

What is the alternative to settling and security? Taking risks and being unsettled. That's exactly what Hull did, and her journey is a reflection of this process and a guide to the definition and achievement of happiness through a renewed purpose in and vision of life.

From a deep, deep sorrow, separation, and self-examination came new opportunities and, with it, new wisdom about what constitutes happiness. But if this sounds like many other discussions on the subject of happiness, it should be advised that this book is actually much more.

Scientific research reinforces Hull's self-discoveries and elevates her book beyond a self-help memoir: "Dr. Pert demonstrates that when thoughts and beliefs are no longer supported, the neuro-nets and pathways in the brain that have strengthened them literally fall away. This research explains how it is possible to undo our conditioned responses and reactions. We can retrain our minds."

With Happily Ever After ... Right Now in hand, readers can consider not just the patterns of their lives, ideals of happiness, and good and bad choices leading to or away from it, but they can evaluate the kinds of processes that support better or different decisions.

As various components of real love, connections, and happiness are examined, readers receive not general ideals but specific approaches: "A significant part of the process involves learning to distinguish the difference between happiness (peace, fulfillment) and pleasure (immediate gratification, or shortlived ecstasy). And, identifying how to experience and then live our lives from a foundation of real love is a critical component of the formula for happily ever after ... right now."

The result is a primer that serves as a guidepost, blueprint, and pattern recognition resource that inspires readers on the road to more closely examine not just their lives, but the possibilities of enacting powerful change. Any self-help reader searching for not just answers but strategies to define, locate, and reinforce happiness factors in their lives will find Happily Ever After ... Right Now a precious find, indeed.

The Last Getaway
Clay Savage
Ocean Park Press
978733880602, $9.99, Paperback
978733880619, $2.99, Ebook

Two different bank robbers target the same bank at the same time. What are the odds? In The Last Getaway, chance plays a unique role in the lives of clever thieves Calvin Russell and Richie Glass, who move from being adversaries in crime to becoming partners.

They face not only the usual law enforcement challenges, but the newfound irony of dealing with one another as each learns about the other's life of crime, motivations, and need to make this bank heist a success.

It's unusual to have a crime story's focus lie on the evolving partnership of perps with disparate interests in life. Clay Savage builds his engrossing story by contrasting their lives of crime and their motivations. This lends an extra dimension to the story that moves it far beyond the usual heist thriller.

Readers follow the evolution of each character as Ritchie turns into a getaway driver and Calvin involves them in a million-dollar money detail that includes kidnapping and shady deals with murderers more ruthless than he or Ritchie could ever become.

The dialogue is realistic and nicely done, dilemmas are logical and compelling, and the two getaway drivers who reluctantly combine forces are at once believable and humorous as they juggle their special interests with a relationship neither anticipated nor wanted.

Set in Los Angeles, The Last Getaway's gritty, ironic, and involving story will delight thriller readers looking for something different.

The Liberating Birth of Jesus
Lee Van Ham
OneEarth Publishing
9781734029901, $11.95, paperback
9781734029918, $2.99, eBook

The story of Jesus' birth and impact on the world is so famous that readers might wonder at the need for yet another book on the subject. This alternate viewpoint is a much-needed adjunct to both the story and the efforts of humanity to survive, and thus provides a very different perspective than most.

The Liberating Birth of Jesus: A Birth Story Able to Reverse Our Planet's Perils is not a holiday story, but draws important connections between dreams, angel lessons, acts of goodness, and the real meaning of Jesus' creation story. As such, Mary, Jesus, the cosmological and psychic impact of Jesus' arrival on Earth, and underlying messages pre- and post-Jesus are connected to both human affairs and planetary health and systems as a whole.

Lee Van Ham crafts a blend of new age and religious inspection that old school Christian readers may at first find puzzling or challenging. The difference lies not in the Jesus story itself, which is more than familiar, but in perceptions of its translation and impact.

The tone of this methodical consideration of political, social, and religious systems is scholarly, yet accessible. It creates solid references between scripture and broader new interpretations of its meaning than most religious inspections offer: "Tamar's story in Genesis 38 oozes intrigue, family dysfunction, and trickery. It revolves around the levirate law, so named because of its derivation from the Latin levir, which means "brother-in-law." According to this law, if a woman's spouse died, the spouse's brother was required to marry his sister-in-law (Deuteronomy 25:5-10).

When it operated well in patriarchal cultures, it was better than a modern life insurance policy. While today a husband can buy insurance on his life to assure the economic viability of his wife and family in case of his death, continuing relationships with in-laws and community are not assured. Social vulnerability increases. The levirate law provided both economic and social glue for a community. A brother who refused to follow the law opened himself to public shame for putting his own interests above the wellbeing of his relatives and the community as a whole. Furthermore, this economic and social law was given divine sanction, meaning that to disobey it was to disobey God, so when Judah and his sons disobeyed it, Tamar exposed them socially, economically, and spiritually."

This food for thought is weighty and compelling, of necessity requiring that readers move slowly through the book. There's simply so much to digest and consider that a quick reading is not recommended.

Choices in the narration of the birth story in the Bible and the impact of social, political, and religious perceptions in how it was presented provide intriguing insights with wide-ranging messages for any Biblical student: "Matthew is eager to show that the birth story includes wider geographies and ethnicities than Judea and Jews. The magi were from a geography beyond Judea, just like some of the women in his genealogy, and are another example of how Matthew decisively includes foreigners in his transforming story."

Discussions of patriarchy, matriarchy, the politics of Rome, the "naming of Jesus by an angel," and other circumstances often challenge an average Christian reader's long-held assumptions and viewpoints about Biblical history - and this is a good thing.

Those who appreciate different approaches to Biblical interpretations and events will find The Liberating Birth of Jesus a significant new approach to Biblical scholarship. It's not just an urgent call to action, but a recreation story of empowerment that pinpoints a major point of diversion and hope between past Biblical perceptions and modern analysis: "...the creativity of people 20 centuries ago connecting the Jesus of Bethlehem and the Christ of the eons and cosmos. Their context, however, differs from ours in that "Christ" was not then assumed to be Jesus' second name. What is especially important for us today is to rediscover how they are separate."

What is happening in today's world, ecologically and politically, is impacted by misinterpretations about the birth and impact of Jesus.

This broader cosmological consideration of planetary ecology is a much-needed, empowering read recommended for a new generation of thinkers as well as those who would incorporate the creation story's cosmology into revised approaches to life.

I'm a?
Nicole Beil
Independently Published
9781733092906, $11.99

I'm a? A Book of Rhymes, Riddles, and Choices is a lovely board book for the very young which combines engaging, colorful drawings by Karine Makartichan with a series of questions that read-aloud parents can use to engage and invite kids to hone their visual skills and problem-solving abilities.

One key to successfully using this book lies in the word 'interactive'. This isn't a book to be handed to a toddler to pursue on their own. Its success lies in its engagement opportunities. Adults will thus find it unexpectedly appealing and inclusive as it presents its queries and facing pages of clues.

Occasionally, the wordplay seems too sophisticated for the very young, as in the seashell observation ("Life at the beach is going very swell."). That's why parents who work with their child can easily illustrate the fun in these observations and insights, helping kids solve puzzles while identifying links to life as they learn how to connect, enjoy, and appreciate the puzzle solutions in the real world.

It's rare to see a board book that blends entertainment and interactive opportunities so nicely with educational touches, but I'm a? A Book of Rhymes, Riddles, and Choices cultivates a different approach that parents and childcare providers will appreciate.

Body Language: Short Stories
Marylee MacDonald
Grand Canyon Press
9781951479954, $12.99

Body Language: Short Stories is about individuals facing crossroads in their lives. It uses 12 disparate short pieces to identify these transition points, their choices and dilemmas, and the lasting impact of each character's perspective and decision. Each story is different, and each is compellingly unique in its approach and background.

Take elderly Klara Schmidt in 'Year By Year', for example. Klara is content in her home and feels safe and comfortable, but her worried children insist that she move someplace else - not to their houses, but into an old folks' home.

Klara doesn't want to part with all the possessions that define her life and she doesn't want to move in with strangers. Yet, she's forced to make decisions about every piece of her life, reflecting on the past as she moves through the present.

Marylee MacDonald does a fine job of illustrating Klara's process and the newfound revelations it introduces: "Even if Klara were going to St. Paul's, which she hopes, God willing, she can find some way to avoid, she wouldn't want to bring these reminders of time passing year by year. Not that she doesn't love her kids. They just didn't turn out the way she'd imagined."

Klara's at the end of her life, but change is creating new beginnings. 'Year By Year' deftly captures the wellspring of these changes in a poignant story of family interactions and a stalled life "moving forward again" despite the costs of progress.

'The Memory Palace' similarly surveys a very different life: that of bartender Arlo Pastori, who "thinks too much" and who relies on his memorization technique, 'The Memory Palace', to remember his regulars' names, drinks, and lives.

Early customer Brian challenges this system and Arlo's carefully organized world from the moment he enters the bar off-hours, alters his habits enough to keep Arlo guessing, and faces temptations that are often irresistible: "It is not a decision, so much as a surrender."

MacDonald's characters seem so familiar, readers might easily imagine encountering them in daily life themselves. As each confronts what drives them crazy, forces them to accept changes, and considers their lives and the impact of fate, the stories circle the wagon around the passage of time, the impact of memory and struggles with its ongoing reliability, and the lasting effects of actions and reactions.

Readers seeking a literary, psychologically engrossing series of portraits of individuals who, in different ways, stand at the crossroads of change will appreciate the slice-of-life vignettes about peoples' powers and passions that often represent quiet calls for help and change in Body Language: Short Stories.

Girl Out of Darkness
Jim Christ
Joseph & Associates Publishers
9781688799844, $12.00, Paper, $4.99, Kindle

Girl Out of Darkness is a southern Arizona crime thriller that takes place in the 1980s and revolves around Deputy Pete Caldwell's investigation of a small-town woman's death. Another writer might have narrowed the focus to this puzzle alone, but Jim Christ broadens his horizons to include a wide range of subplots, and these contribute to an overall satisfying complexity and depth that most investigative works fail to achieve.

Deputy Caldwell is no stranger to strife and murder, but he's less familiar with departmental politics that revolve around issues of minority inclusion and female coworkers who do more than sit at desks or bring coffee and who assume active roles in the field. Deputy Naomi Savage is just one of the women who challenge his decades of routine and experience. She's a savvy, capable woman who equals his abilities in many ways - and she's not about to take a back seat as matters heat up.

The victim's stepson Timmy Pyre, a "giant with a baby's face," reeks of both innocence and sly cunning, and may be more than meets the eye.

The story is as much about young loose woman Sherry's methods of skirting the edge of danger as it is about her struggles to change her image and settle down in the face of murder and threats.

As Caldwell interacts with the story's young women, Timmy's one friend Daniel, and others, he deals with control freaks and mounting suspicions that the town's sons and daughters have more clues about what's going on than he does.

There's a good amount of social inspection to the story as the Mexican-American heritage of many of Arizona's small-town residents interact with law enforcement and neighbors alike.

Caldwell, Timmy, Daniel, and others lend different perspectives to events. While the reader is savvier about what's happening than the investigators in this story, a satisfying number of unexpected plot twists keep the intrigue high and the events unpredictable.

Ultimately, Girl Out of Darkness is about changing lives, social milieus, and challenges to psyche, soul, and body that keep all the characters evolving and human.

Jim Christ does an outstanding job in crafting a story that moves through the struggles of men and women recreating their lives. This drives a murder mystery investigation just as much as any traditional focus on perp and problem-solver, making Girl Out of Darkness a satisfyingly complex, involving, and unexpectedly heart-tugging drama that's hard to put down.

I'll Lend You My Daddy
Becky King
Starts With Us
9781733663038, $17.99

Ages 4-8 will be intrigued by the picture book story of a father's deployment in I'll Lend You My Daddy, which holds colorful drawings by artist Valerie Valdivia that bring to life the experiences of military children whose enlisted parents "work for us all."

Patriotic pictures of fathers with the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Army, along with their families supporting their efforts, pepper a warm story of children who 'lend their daddies' to their countries.

There are very, very few books written from the perspective of military children that acknowledge the underlying sentiment behind a military parent's service (and absence). I'll Lend You My Daddy does so with a grace and positive perspective that lends to its value for military families, substituting the usual discussions of loss and loneliness with those of pride and contribution to a cause.

The tone of encouragement throughout acknowledges these kids' emotions using a gentle rhyme as it illustrates different families of all ethnic backgrounds who are preparing for a parent's absence: "I'll lend you my daddy./He serves us, you see./He's going away,/But he'll come back to me."

I'll Lend You My Daddy creates a dance between patriotism, loss, and achievement that Becky King performs well as she acknowledges a small child's sad feelings, yet injects a tone of encouragement: "I'll lend you my daddy,/He's ready to go./I'll try to be brave,/But I'll sure miss him so."

No military family with small children, or collections catering to them, should be without this unique, bright, encouraging picture book that emphasizes pride, reunion, sacrifice, and duty.

A Dangerous Liberty
Mary Sheeran
Prairie Rose Publications
9781657349650, $18.99, Paperback
B083N2MMFB, $3.99, Kindle

A Dangerous Liberty takes place in the 1860s in two cities: Virginia City, Nevada and San Francisco, California. Elisabeth Winters is back in the United States, but realizes that the nation has changed: "Although this was the land of her birth, she both hated and feared what the nation had become. It had stolen her youth and grown corrupt and cynical. The old dream of the forefathers', and of her father, had died with his murder six years before."

Despite her anger over her homeland's direction, she returns from her expat status abroad to delve into Virginia City's silver mine opportunities at her uncle's encouragement. It's an investment decision which could propel her musical career and sojourn to Russia.

This homecoming forces an unexpected resolution and takes away some of her anger and pain as she absorbs the atmosphere of rural Nevada: "The Nevada desert, of all things, forced her to watch what happened outside her window. She had never seen such rich colors of purple and brown and had been startled by the bright green sage, the purple hills circling the desert, and the glittering rock of a land she'd assumed was dead. The desert was very much alive. How that fascinated her, life where all had been assumed dead. She felt as if she were being healed, whether she wanted that or not."

It also prepares her for her next journey into career and romance as she moves from healing to growing in new directions, albeit harboring an anger towards men that seems to preclude any close relationship: "With most men, she could put up her famous icy armor: a patina of graciousness that put great distance between her and any one. In most situations, she was chaperoned, but now, her protection would be her own natural and now strengthened cynicism."

Under Mary Sheeran's hand, the history, culture, and challenges of 1860s America come alive as she explores not only the new possibilities of changing times, but volatile emotions that accompany it.

Elisabeth never expected to participate in bloody battles, never expected to finally feel safe in the arms of a wounded man after these confrontations, and never stops pursuing the answers to her father's untimely death: "Is that why Papa was murdered? Because he would not compromise for the country's future?"

Sheeran does an excellent job of weaving American history with Elisabeth's story and experiences as a woman fording the treacherous and changing undercurrents of a nation at war within itself, and thus her story is both thoroughly engrossing and educational. Elisabeth's determination not only powers the plot, but lends a bright, well-reasoned and strong perspective to a story that achieves much by not equating romance with surrender, but growth.

Elisabeth will have to leave again before she can call any place home, and any man hers. The reader follows her journeys with baited breath at Elisabeth's determination in the face of physical and mental blows.

Take one strong woman who has already been through hell and who has formed a furiously jaded vision of America because of it, follow her through challenges to career and self growth, and add a dash of romance for a story that is vividly compelling as it tells of a young woman's comeback in more ways than one.

Tales Of Old, Stories From the Old Testament
Clive Johnson
Labyrinthe Press
9781916227620, $9.95, Print
9781916227637, $5.95, Ebook

Tales Of Old, Stories From the Old Testament are retold by Clive Johnson and move from Adam and Eve through Noah, Samson, Ruth, and other Old Testament figures.

Children ages 5-14 years will find these stories accessible, enlightening pieces that lend to read-aloud drama, bringing to life not just the tales but their underlying lessons. It should also be emphasized that these 15 tales lend to enjoyment by all ages, and shouldn't be limited to the young.

These stories don't just lend to read-aloud, but beg to be performed. Each story is also available as a separate title and as an Audible audiobook, and each emphasizes a call to action or presents a warning.

Take 'Samson the Strong', for one example. This story illustrates the power of love, vows, and the force of social pressure. It also weaves God's plan into Samson's life: "God had put this incurable love in Samson's heart for a reason, to enable him to ensnare this great enemy of Israel. So too, God had stirred a great passion within Samson for seeking justice, and filled him with great strength in his body. In fact, Samson was one of the strongest men who have ever lived, and there are many tales told that attest to this." And so the Samson legend assumes its proper place as a story of God's purpose, different kinds of strength, and the destructive force of revenge.

Clive Johnson does more than embellish stories to make them more accessible to audiences. He adds powerful revelations to the story's progression which helps listeners absorb not just the plots, but the many nuances of Biblical meaning which ordinarily would have been lost to some age groups in the original translation.

Christians who look for a better way of imparting these complex messages to a younger audience than is typical for these Old Testament stories will find Tales Of Old, Stories From the Old Testament just the ticket for family enjoyment.

They embrace drama and adventure, but add the moral, ethical, and spiritual flourishes necessary to open dialogues about the Bible's underlying lessons, making them far more than just a rehash of the originals.

In Progress: Stories
Catharine Leggett
Sowilo Press
9780999491515, $23.00, Paper, $8.99, Kindle

Change comes quickly to neighborhoods and towns - sometimes faster than humans can process, even though time seems to move slowly, for some. In Progress: Stories documents these transition points in the lives of all kinds of ordinary individuals.

One such story, 'The 401', follows changes experienced by a teen country girl who longs to blend into the sophistication of city girls rather than being a simple farmer's daughter clothed in hand-me-downs (a feel that threatens to follow her through her first job and into adulthood).

When she is forced to fight for her life one night, then keeps her assault a secret from her parents and the world, her perspective is altered forever. She's worked all summer to afford the pretty clothes she once longed for, but she hasn't bought a thing. All that she's earned is a terrible realization about the dangers of the outside world - and this changes everything.

In another example, 'Ruthie and the Big Blue Sky', Ruthie is a 'human robot' checkout clerk who, like a bartender, learns much about the 'regulars' who shop at her store. Some reveal nothing and are enigmas, much as she is, herself. When an unusual work opportunity involving a hot air balloon presents itself, Ruthie has the choice of breaking free and flying or remaining in predictable, safe routines.

All stories see their protagonists through change and revelation, and each excels in deeply inspecting environment, perceptions, transition points, and newfound realizations.

Catharine Leggett's short stories reflect quiet acts of desperation and realization - the kind that mirror life's progression. Her ability to capture the moments that alter lives and hearts makes these tales special works, indeed, and highly recommended for literary readers who enjoy close psychological inspections of individual lives.

The Way to Go Home
Catharine Leggett
Urban Farmhouse Press
9781988214276, $24.95, Softcover

The Way to Go Home opens with expert horseback rider Buddy Scott's possibly life-ending injury which leaves him helpless in a remote ravine. As he awaits rescue or death, Buddy reviews his life, considers its possibly 'ridiculous ending', and reflects that he could have been a better father, husband, and friend to those around him.

In many ways, The Way to Go Home offers a sharp inspection of end-of-life reconsiderations of alternate pathways, personal failures, and choices that, if made differently, could have resulted in better options. In others, it's a literary exploration of drifters who move in and out of and affect others' lives until they finally settle down, there to be changed, themselves, by the demands of life and being tied to one place.

Buddy has often received conflicting messages throughout his life about how he should live, as in his musing over sexual choices which embrace three different perspectives from his mother, father, and uncle: "Why now think of Wes's rants in the barn as the boys lay on their cots? "The fire that burns in your loins is a sign of weakness: a sin. God condones it only under the sanctity of marriage. God will strike you, punish you, if you indulge in wickedness other than the Godly union between man and wife. Those who are weak and act upon their lusting will be visited by disease that will chew their organs and devour their brains." His mother put it differently. "Wait for the right girl, Buddy. Share it with her. Honour yourself and your future wife. Save yourself for her. Not everyone does. That's human. But try. Don't hate yourself too much if you can't hold out. No matter what, always be respectful." What would she say if she knew what he'd just done? With his father out in the barn. "Some have greater drive than others, Buddy. You are the only one who will know how to deal with it. But if you're going with the ladies of the night, make sure they're clean. You don't want to end up with the clap."

The contrast between these influential viewpoints and Buddy's own choices are nicely done and create evocative, thought-provoking descriptions about the wellsprings of not just individual choice, but evolving ideas on how to interact with others.

At each stage of Buddy's life, these early influencers and their admonitions are explored as he absorbs conflicting messages, picks those which resonate with his nomad inclinations, and eventually comes full circle to settle down in a revised fashion. His brother has made a good life for himself...perhaps better than his own. This and other observations provoke him to further reflections about the course of his life: "Ray's visit would pick away at him. He'd go over and over it and he wouldn't be able to leave it alone."

Under Catharine Leggett's observational pen, characters, setting, and options come alive. Buddy now has all the time in the world to reflect, until something changes. He's always thought he deserved what happened to him in his life. In the end, now, he's not so sure. The central event that changes everything is slowly revealed in a series of scenes that build to a satisfying crescendo of self-realization and discovery.

The Way to Go Home is all about reaching through time to reconsider trauma and its lasting influences. As the story winds through Buddy's world, readers will find it a literary work packed with history, changing perspectives, and characters that live and breathe with a sense of reality that's too rarely seen in fiction but which is more than alive and kicking, here.

Even Goblins Get The Blues
Patrick Rodgers
Dancing Ferret Press
9781734279702, $17.99

Even Goblins Get The Blues comes from a fantasy author who melds the real-world backdrop of a psychological practice with his fantasy interests in a whimsical, fun manner.

Abernathy The Clear is a therapist catering to goblins, mermaids, and other creatures (plus, the occasional human client). He treats the usual range of psychological ailments (depression, PTSD, phobias) in his clients, using his insight and healing abilities to help them navigate rocky situations and reactions to life.

Renowned for his abilities, Abernathy nonetheless meets his match when called upon to solve an odd crime involving one of his clients, only to find that the psychology of the situation is not only puzzling, but out of control.

Sex, intrigue, and conundrums permeate the story, but best of all, there's a wry sense of humor that emerges from the very start: "The ogre's breath was hot and stank of death. He had eaten a turkey not long ago, and some of its bones and feathers were still lodged in his massive, rotten yellow teeth. His nose was pierced by the wrist bone of a well-known knight who had attempted to kill him in his lair. His left hand, pocked with warts and scars, was clenched into a fist. His right hand, missing one finger, rested on the bone-inlaid pommel of his sword, sheathed in a scabbard made of troll hide which hung from his neck by a thick iron chain. Both of his red eyes blazed with anger as he stared at the scrawny human in front of him. The blade made a horrible rasping sound as he began to draw it from its sheath. One swing would cleave the pathetic pale creature in twain. "Glarb, where's that anger coming from?" The human's voice was even and calm."

This fun observational tone takes the usual psychologist protagonist/patient relationship and turns it upside down, incorporating the basic approaches and strategies of therapy but adding twists and turns that are often hilarious simply because they so accurately and realistically play on the therapist's milieu and approach.

From orc development projects, politics and manipulation, Abernathy's looming unemployment and quest, and a host of helpers who bring their own strengths and puzzles into the picture to odd new business proposals based on warped fashion, the story line delves into whimsy in many different ways as its characters evolve their own purposes: "I just had the most inspired idea." Helgi's eyes narrowed slightly. "This whole business of the building being raised on pillars to avoid the floodwaters, you see how it's reflected in what we've seen of local design so far? Well, what about a line of high-heeled shoes for women that has a stone or wooden pillar as the heel? I'll bet I could make a fortune here. What do you think?" "Well...for me, they'd have to be thin," said Lucinda. "I wouldn't want a big, clunky looking heel. And obviously color is always a concern, so it would depend on the type of stone or wood." "I only wear heels on special occasions," said Helgi, "so I'm not the right person to ask. But I'd remind you that we're still in The Wheat Kingdom. Fashion doesn't seem to be a high priority here."

Readers who come steeped in the usual cliched presentations of psychologists in fiction will find Rodgers crafts a fantasy that is delightfully original and unexpected. Mind you, there are sex scenes, battles, scandals, and ethical concerns within the story - it's not all fun and games.

But the real delight of Even Goblins Get The Blues lies in its unique blend of psychological introspections and vivid description, which pair well with its unique method of injecting unexpected humor even into confrontational situations: "If you think to ambush us from the brush, you might kill two of us, three if you're very lucky," he called out loudly. "But then the rest of us will slice you up slowly like a Granadinian ham."

Readers who enjoy fantasy, comedy, and solid psychological processes (albeit tied in with monsters and clients who are a cut above the usual) will relish the lively progression, realistic therapeutic progressions, and adventure quest that places Even Goblins Get The Blues in a category of its own.

MF Thomas
9781543989069, $15.99, Paper, $2.99, Kindle

There are many kinds of darkness. Some are external forces; other internal. Arcade explores both in a cat-and-mouse game that pits personalities and evolutionary experiences with survival conundrums that reach beyond most post-Apocalyptic scenes.

California residents in particular will relish the Silicon Valley setting in a world after the Change has rendered most electronics useless. A certain irony exists in this story of failed electronics taking place in one of the largest technology centers on the planet. There is no warning of the event. One day there is a flash, and everything stops working.

Retired FBI agent Walter Jackson arrived in Sunnyvale from Memphis just before the blast that changed the world, but after his wife and daughter vanished from his life months ago (also with no explanation or warning). He's on a mission to find them - one which doesn't change with the newfound apocalypse, but only gets more complicated in a world without power.

He was prepared because his world was already set adrift by their exit and he's used to finding himself at a loss, but also because he holds the skills from his prior job to make an investigation his mission until it's resolved. Until then, he works for the local police in a position that dovetails his experiences and purpose.

Meeting Silicon Valley high-tech mogul Sean Holt and learning of his similar mission to locate a missing person leads him into new avenues of discovery as they face prospects even more threatening to mankind, from human greed to alien invasion.

Arcade cultivates an atmosphere of on-edge activity that keeps readers both guessing about the next twist or outcome and satisfied with the psychological development and evolution of Jackson, Holt, and the other characters in the story. Its action is breathtakingly nonstop, at times, but ebbs and flows like the tide. MF Thomas takes the time to build subplots, characters, and intrigue between these confrontations and struggles.

Most of all, Arcade excels in taking the trappings of sci-fi and turning them upside down. Time travel? Try a time travel experience that pits faith with a rebuild of the world. Aliens? Consider an invasion that takes a far different form than H.G. Wells could have envisioned. Investigative piece? Arcade excels in adding detective overtones into its sci-fi drama.

With all these subplots held together by the glue of psychological depth and revelation, it's no wonder that Arcade represents a standout in the genre of post-Apocalyptic survival stories. It incorporates elements that hold wide-ranging possibilities beyond the usual tale of survival or recovery, layering these with a satisfying unpredictability to keep readers guessing to the end.

Playing Dead: A Memoir of Terror and Survival
Monique Faison Ross with Gary M. Krebs
WildBlue Press
9781948239332, $12.99, Paperback
9781948239325, $5.99, Ebook

HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
B0816ZPZ32, $18.37

Playing Dead: A Memoir of Terror and Survival opens with the life of a girl who got pregnant, married her high school sweetheart, and endured his abusive behavior until she finally abandoned her fantasy of an ideal family and gathered what few resources she had to take her children and leave her husband.

It's at this point that the story in Playing Dead really begins. Rather than starting a new and better life, author Monique Faison Ross endured stalking, attacks, and life-threatening injuries that continued to challenge and impact not just her happiness, but her survival.

From the process of loving her role as mother and seeing her husband's explosions as "manageable" to winding up in the hospital with major injuries as her husband became a fugitive from the law, only to realize that his threats were never far from her life, Faison Ross paints a desperate picture of how ineffective victim protection plans can be. Her story follows her determination to be creative and proactive while trying to protect her family and herself.

Victims of spousal abuse will readily recognize the dilemmas posed by a legal system that does little to effectively protect from violence and the dilemmas of a wife and mother who seeks a different kind of life.

How Monique Faison Ross eventually achieves her goals makes for fascinating, educational reading and provides hope and a blueprint for success to others in her shoes who lack an easy way out.

The financial challenges of mounting bills as well as psychological, physical, social, and legal dilemmas all coalesce to create more than just a story of abuse. It covers the systems that enable spousal abuse, the patterns and options that sometimes appear mercurial and frustrating in trying to deal with it, and solutions that eventually (albeit too slowly) bring justice to the author and her family.

Most stories of abuse chart physical and psychological challenges. By going a step further to document social safety programs, ineffective efforts, and many circumstances where the author felt she wouldn't survive, readers receive a thought-provoking probe that goes beyond most to document various levels of survival and recovery - economically, psychologically, physically, legally, and socially.

Her story is one that needs to be widely disseminated. It's a powerful portrait of manipulation, psychological and physical violence, and the options for moving forward and away from a life of terror.

Feasible Living
Ken Kroes
1779671 Alberta Inc.
9780995847064, $17.99, Paper, $7.99, Kindle

Book covers usually aren't mentioned in reviews, but the exceptional cover of Feasible Living: Dealing with Ecological Anxiety While Adapting to Our Changing World both reinforces the title and catches the eye. A sexy, long-haired sunbather sitting in a beach chair receives more than a second glance because she sports a gas mask with a cityscape in flames in the background and parched earth all around her.

Threats to the ecosystem and books about them abound, but

Ken Kroes narrows his focus to a psychological syndrome called 'ecological anxiety' in response to news and research about the disintegrating ecosystem and its immediate and future impact on mankind.

This emphasis creates a different perspective as Kroes provides chapters on climate change; pollution affecting water, air, and land; the loss of biodiversity; and the social, economic, political, and health challenges these represent which lead to ecological anxiety, another detrimental side-effect of acknowledging impending environmental disasters.

Unlike other books on ecological degradation, Kroes provides many 'can-do' solutions specific to these conditions in general and this anxiety in particular, from considering ecological anxiety's incarnation in specific age groups to formulating plans for redefining success and applying ecological anxiety to ecological solutions.

Discussions pinpoint research and add insights into conditions and situations which should be of concern versus those which are 'optional' and require refining thinking and understanding, as with the problems of glyphosates: "The jury on the health impact of glyphosate is still out. Though many studies show that it can be harmful, it has also been used for decades in North America and there have been no dramatic increases in health problems that have been directly attributed to it. The decision is up to you if you want to be concerned about this or not, but my opinion is why take the unnecessary risk? If you are concerned about your current or past exposure to glyphosate and other chemicals, do an internet search for home test kits for your food or other tests that are available for you. One key point to note is that it is not the GMO that is dangerous, but the pesticides that can be applied to the GMO."

As much as there is a wealth of threats to human health and safety and planetary ecosystems, there are also many tools that individuals can use to understand, assess, and fact-check media representations, lending hope and logic to situations and alleviating some of the ecological anxiety factors: "With fake news being prominent in our world today and with the outlook that it will only get worse, what can you do to protect yourself from it and handle the ecological anxiety that it feeds? To avoid fake news, you must first learn to identify it. Some fact-free broadcasts are very well-done and hard to detect, but most can be easily identified if you know what to look for. A few pointers are given below, but also consider taking one of the many free online classes on how to identify fake news such as one put out by the University of Michigan or the University of Texas. An internet search for "online class fake news identification" will turn up these and several other options."

As readers survey these problems, the latest research, psychological reactions to ecological threats, and many different solutions, they receive the kinds of tools and information necessary to support critical thinking and more logical, proactive courses of understanding and reaction.

Herein lies the true value of Feasible Living. It's not another doomsday prediction, but outlines a blueprint for better living in a changing world, documenting concrete strategies readers can take to change their perceptions, reactions, possibilities, and, ultimately, some of the course of nature itself.

Packed with footnoted research and references, a diverse bibliography, and charts and notes, Feasible Living fills the gap between a call to action and changing one's perceptions, attitudes, and possibilities to build a better life.

It's a top recommendation for social issues, environmental issues, and psychology or self-help readers alike and is a much-needed offering of hope at a critical time in human and planetary history.

The Haircut Who Would Be King: A Political Fable
Robert Trebor
Palindrome Press
9780578475684, $14.95, Paper, $8.00, Kindle

Fans of political spoofs who find Donald Trump the best basis for pointed observations will relish the blend of fact and fancy that is The Haircut Who Would Be King: A Political Fable.

What makes this story so hilarious is Robert Trebor's cultivation of Trump's possible viewpoints and reflections on his life's progression: "He rarely slept well; his mind was always churning to gain advantage, to game the next play, to trap a possible enemy. Reflection did not occupy much real estate in Donald's brain. Promotion, instinct, a taste for the jugular, these were his trump cards. But you have to take stock once in a while. How did he get here? How did he defy all the odds, the editorials, and the pundits from both Parties? Some were saying that he was a walking cartoon, nothing more than a haircut atop a small orange hot-air balloon, a self-promoting egomaniacal huckster who was dangerously unfit and unqualified. There were also assessments that could be considered negative. "Yeah, they can all fry ice," he thought as his mind drifted back sixty years..."

From Trump's growth and arrival as an outsider in the political arena to his debate with Clinton and his rise to power, Trebor has a fun way of cutting to the chase and creating reality-based descriptions of events which are both hilarious and thought-provoking, as in the description of the aforementioned debate's media coverage: "Ladies and gentlemen, we expect a dirty fight to justify the high cost of commercial time we're charging. Thirty million people may be watching, so be aware that every word and gesture will be dissected and parsed ad nauseam by pundits from now until doomsday. And now, LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!" "...what affects the American people most is the quality of leadership, the steady hand that can lead this Country into the future, a future the benefits everyone equally." --applause and cheering-- "First, you are dead wrong, believe me. What affects Americans most, are the crime, the poverty, and the massive unemployment rate that is ravaging the average person's pocketbook, if you want to know the truth." "Ok Donnie, let's take a look at crime, poverty and unemployment. They are at their lowest levels in twenty years. Those are the facts. Period." "You can take your facts, and shove them up your valise...."

Whimsy aside, these tongue-in-cheek interpretations of facts provide food for thought as they capture the absurdity and ironies of the political process and media representations.

As events move into the curious relationship between Trump and Putin and Trump's policies, readers receive an intriguing satirical probe which will surely offend Trump believers and enthuse and entertain those who are not.

It's too bad that readers who are either enthusiastic about or less than entertained by The Haircut Who Would Be King: A Political Fable will likely divide on partisan lines based not on Robert Trebor's efforts and powerful satirical hand, but on preexisting conditions.

Trebor's story is entertaining and pinpoints the methods of gaslighting, fake news, alternate facts, and the realities of communications and social and political growth in modern American society. It should ideally be digested and relished by a wide American audience on both sides of the political spectrum.

Shadowshine: An Animal Adventure
Johnny Armstrong
Guernica World Editions
9781771834605, $25.00, Paper
9781771834629, $10.99, Kindle

Fans of Watership Down and other animal fiction adventure stories for adults will find Shadowshine: An Animal Adventure an intriguing story that winds a classic good-versus-evil battle into the story of animal survival and adjustments as the ice age transitions to a more temperate, very different world.

The animals that interact in this arena range from bobcats and possums to woodpeckers, raccoons, and other forest folk who confront the possibility and nature of a force they usually don't name: evil.

Though a caution is given at naming the sans-pelages this way ("...we believe that the word has no validity except as a vehicle of mean-spiritedness by its users."), it is generally acknowledged that this word (or one like it) is the best identifier of the trouble facing the animal kingdom.

From 'pearls of truth' in stories told to an evolving universal wisdom in the face of a 'vine revolution' and other challenges, readers receive a solid adventure that is intriguing and hard to put down.

Readers who enjoy animal fiction stories for adults in the manner of Watership Down will find Shadowshine a strong story that considers the evolving morals, ethics, and worldviews of animals who, like their environment, are in transition.

From intrigue and 'how things get crosswise' between groups and individuals to an accounting of events to the Canopy Connection that eventually clarifies intentions, evil, good, and everything in between, Johnny Armstrong crafts an absorbing, fun story that will entertain even as it poses food for thought about the animals' relationships, choices, and evolutionary process.

Adult enthusiasts of animal-based fiction are in for a real treat.

Shadow of Athena
Elena Douglas
Penmore Press
9781946409980, $19.50, Paper, $3.19, Kindle

In ancient Troy, young maidens from afar are chosen by lot to serve as slaves in Athena's temple for a year. Such is the unfortunate fate of sixteen-year-old Marpessa of Lokris in Shadow of Athena, who embarks on a journey that challenges her life. Accompanying her is the slave Arion who escorts her to her new life, escapes slavery himself, and lingers to help her when Troy is overcome by barbarians, sparking another journey for the two.

But with the temple of Athena destroyed, Marpessa, whose life has been sworn to the goddess, is adrift, with no way to return home. And Arion feels his life has devolved into an empty, meaningless struggle to survive. Can two lost souls who want something more and different from their lives become united over a goal that seems to defy their separate destinies?

Shadow of Athena excels in exploring the social, political, and religious flavors of the times as cruel oligarch Klonios searches for a way of achieving his heart's desire (Marpessa) despite her newfound obligations and her struggles against his power.

Schemes and dreams swirl around the beautiful girl as she examines her own heart's desires and the course of her life during the course of an arduous journey that changes everything.

Author Elena Douglas has done a fine job of researching ancient history and mythology surrounding Athena the goddess and events in Troy to blend them into a riveting story line powered by a feisty female protagonist, a strong, resourceful hero, and their struggles against the inimical forces of man and nature.

From their encounters with the sailing Phoenicians to the evil machinations of a vengeful villain, and in the end a mother charged with protecting them both against all odds and tradition, Douglas crafts a story that weaves Trojan events and atmosphere into a compelling tale replete with nonstop action and intrigue.

Readers seeking an adventure story nicely grounded in historical research, early Greek history, and the evolving love between two very different young people will find Shadow of Athena compelling, educational, and filled with real notes about what is known about the annual ritual of the Lokrian maidens in a world where goddesses, curses, and fate flourish.

Invisible Scars of War: A Veteran's Struggle with Moral Injury
Dick Hattan
Independently Published
9781732741010, $7.95

As a young man, author Dick Hattan went to war in Vietnam. Forty years later, he investigates the roots of survival, moral beliefs, and his actions in Invisible Scars of War: A Veteran's Struggle with Moral Injury, a memoir not just about his tour of duty, but war's underlying challenge to his moral belief system.

Plenty of other memoirs cover Vietnam experiences, but few approach the subject from a moral values perspective. The challenges Dick Hattan faced were as much about testing these values as they were about physical survival. Invisible Scars of War thus documents an important struggle that too many Vietnam discussions leave out, identifying the effects and presence of moral injuries.

As Hattan considers other writings and teachings about morality, he weaves these into his memoir and self-examination: "I feel dishonest, playing both sides, unable to reconcile the two positions. What complicates this is the morality that wraps itself around participating in war and about war itself. I studied war and consulted contemporary theologians like Stanley Hauerwaus and Walter Wink who influenced my thinking on nonviolence and "just war." Their writings expanded my thoughts, challenging long-held belief systems that formed me as a young man. Instead of providing clarity, I felt more conflicted as I tried to reconcile these new thoughts with the role that religion had played in my life, guiding my moral compass, showing me the path to truth."

Hattan "stepped forward and was a soldier," but fought an internal battle that began in Vietnam and continued when he came home and resumed his former life as a civilian. These are chronicled in chapters that move from childhood to his term of service and beyond, considering the evolution of his moral belief system and how it was changed forever.

Hattan, like many soldiers, came to believe that God was AWOL in Vietnam. He struggled daily with being an active participant in something he didn't believe in, an immoral war. He didn't worry about being killed. He worried about killing. And he worried about breaking the fifth commandment, Thou Shalt Not Kill.

His thoughts, prayers, and insights make for an exceptionally powerful memoir in which he survives on many levels, but requires much healing upon return. His wounds are not physical or visible, but just as deadly.

Any veteran of any war (and those who love or work with them) will find Hattan's account of his survival and moral evolution compellingly different from other Vietnam memoirs. It's filled with insights on how a man with a strong moral upbringing finds his way home at last.

Bakersfield Boys Club
Anne Da Vigo
Quill Driver Press
9780974572222, $18.99, Paper, $6.99, Kindle

Widow Suzanne Ricci is a widow struggling to handle her teenage son in the 1970s in Bakersfield, California. One cold morning she opens her front door to the neighbor's cat with bloody paws, who has come from Reggie's house next door.

Reggie helped her when Carlo died and has always been kind to her, but she's long suspected he leads another, wilder life from the parties and clues she received about them ("Suzanne has heard it, the deep-throated male laughter through the open window during parties at Reggie's after the Bakersfield bars close.")

What she didn't suspect was that her son may have been involved in them. The key ring she had given him (and taken from the crime scene before investigators arrived) is her clue, now holding the ignition key to a Mercedes.

It would have been bad enough had only one death occurred, but as a murder spree ensues, Suzanne finds herself unwillingly drawn into an affair and deeply-held secrets as she struggles to protect her son while uncovering the truth about his activities and involvements.

Bakersfield Boys Club is a story of abuse, friendship circles, and a boy's efforts to leave the sordid lure of Bakersfield for something different. Even on probation, Danny and his friend Grace are drawn into memories of parties where sex changed their lives forever: "It's been a relief to hang out with Grace in the last weeks. He can be innocent with her - not that he doesn't think about sex all day and dream about it at night - but they know each other's secrets. They pretend they're virgins. Laugh at themselves. Be goofy and uncool. They dream that someday Bakersfield will be far behind them, and they'll live as poor artists in a tiny apartment in Paris."

As mother Suzanne's investigations delve deeper into official circles and dangerous collusions between cops, politicians, and teenagers who are members of The Club, she treads on increasingly deadly ground that leads to revelations about the sexual exploitation of local young people.

Intrigue and social issues are nicely woven into a plot which is absorbing and filled with twists and turns. Some of them may be anticipated, while others lead in surprising directions.

Readers receive a solid education about sex trafficking on American soil as the conspiracy draws the FBI into the bigger picture. The story features many real points about such events beyond the murder mystery and tale of corruption presented in Bakersfield Boys Club.

Based on a true story of murder and abuse that affected lives over a period of decades which was exposed in an award-winning newspaper series, "The Lords of Bakersfield," Bakersfield Boys Club's roots in a realistic event hold much food for thought and many engrossing insights. These are strengthened by Anne Da Vigo's career as a newspaper journalist covering hundreds of stories of murder and court hearings, including a 1978 trial remarkably akin to many of the scenarios in her fictional exploration.

True crime and murder mystery readers alike will find Bakersfield Boys Club a riveting winner.

The Storykeeper of Chequamegon
Jean Day Alexander
Day's Eye Press
Ordering Email: jeanday [dot] alexander [at] yahoo [dot] com
9780999292808, $16.00

The indigenous Anishinaabe people live on the shores of Lake Superior in the 1790s and watch their familiar world change in The Storykeeper of Chequamegon. These changes are not represented by a single experience, but are depicted in a series of some seventeen tales heard by 'storykeeper' Oshauguscodaywayquay, who learns the key stories of connection between generations and peoples of not just her tribe, but those around them.

Collections strong in Native American experience should know that these tales stem from real experiences and peoples, thus representing more than fictional explorations.

Seasonal changes are emphasized by chapter headings which move through and are named by Native moon cycles ("Wild Rice Moon As It Wanes" and "Sap Running Moon" for two examples), while the stories themselves consider tribal heritage, interactions with a changing world, and personal and tribal struggles.

The narrator, who is the daughter of Chief Waubojeeg, is not immune from these changes and acts as not just a story collector, but a participant in many of the efforts to preserve her heritage. Perhaps this is because, as she reflects, "Each storyteller puts something of himself into a story" - and so does this story collector.

The atmosphere, as well as the experiences of her world, come to life: "I left the lodge and walked down to the shore and looked to the east. My father was better, but how restless I was. I knew the reason. I was not at the sugarbush camp that lay a day's journey away. I was not following the way of the Anishinaabe as the moons came upon the land."

Jean Day Alexander's attention to capturing the atmospheric details of this environment brings to life not just the tribal experiences, but their surroundings: "The lake glowed red from the sun behind the hills across the bay and the sky matched the dark blue of the water. We sat on two rocks above the sand. The birds sang their night farewells. "The meadow behind us is my place on this earth," I said. "It is the meaning of my name." "And what is that meaning?" he asked. I pointed to the meadow. "Oshauaguscodayway and it holds this meaning: Woman of the Forest Meadow."

Beautifully descriptive, evocative, educational, and engrossing, each story contributes a powerful lesson and observation that is embellished by black and white illustrations peppered throughout by Roberta Collier-Morales.

The result is a lovely Native American cultural inspection that lingers in the mind long after the last story is told.

Unravel your Hidden Gems
Tolu' A. Akinyemi
T & B Global Concepts Ltd
9781999815998, $13.13, Paper, $4.99, Kindle

Readers seeking a collection of motivational works will find real gems within the covers of this book, Unravel your Hidden Gems.

Sections neatly separate the special challenges of this process, from an introduction discussing preparations for life, death, and making a success of efforts in between the two to parts that follow the processes and special challenges of learning life lessons from encounters with family, friends, and adversity.

Tolu' A. Akinyemi intends these essays to reach readers who would otherwise be inclined to 'sleepwalk through life or settle for the norm' without growing from its challenges. This audience might not be motivated to pick up Unravel your Hidden Gems without a push from some life-changing event, but those who are gifted this book will benefit from its road map of growth that proposes the notion of building a life mission and purpose and embarking on it with a gusto that defies the criticism or negativity of others.

"Dream big...the World awaits your Roar" is the introductory message. Where other self-help volumes might fail to identify either the dream or the route to cultivating such a "roar," Akinyemi unravels the process of getting there in specific chapters of life-affirming, uplifting admonitions.

Succeeding in life, for one example, involves giving motion to a vision and always reaching towards that goal. This involves "looking for new techniques to improve old ways of thinking" and continually investing in that forward momentum: "To be in motion in life, we must continually make ourselves relevant wherever we find ourselves. As much a possible, we must not despise personal development, we must crave education, continuous learning, seeking out new information and enlarging our reference base."

Examples of individual and organizational endeavors that support this idea of continual, forward-reaching movement follow. This provides readers with specific courses and ways of achieving end goals while viewing them as stepping stones for further improvement and enlightenment.

Ignorance is a "killer disease" that is part of what must be addressed during this process. So is questioning the idea of God, acknowledging responsibility for choices in directing one's life and experiences, and making the most of God-given talents rather than wasting them.

A healthy dose of spiritual reflection is part of the growth and direction promoted in Unravel your Hidden Gems. These spiritual observations are not just reflections throughout, but form the foundations for the kind of changes Akinyemi promotes as life-affirming and God-driven.

As he explores lessons to be learned from mistakes and the need to allocate resources, energy, and time more wisely, readers receive admonitions that follow the course of life's challenges to uncover the new tools that may stem from this learning process.

Readers seeking a God-based set of affirming admonitions and essays on how to live a more effective, more positive, and more purposeful life will appreciate the clear roadmap to success presented in Unravel your Hidden Gems, an engrossing self-help primer that encourages readers to move away from comfort zones to identify and consider growth-inducing paths in their lives.

A Booktiful Love: Poems
Tolu' A. Akinyemi
The Roaring Lion Newcastle
B082Z6J531, $2.99, Kindle

A Booktiful Love: Poems celebrates the written word, literacy, and life with equal abandon, traversing a diverse set of themes that range from depression and self-admonishment to the pain and promise of being a Freedom Fighter in the world.

If one thing can be said about this collection, it is that it celebrates, chastises, and enlightens readers on life and its various processes even as it emphasizes that dreams are valid and worth the price of their pursuit.

Reader who choose A Booktiful Love will find it borders on a literary self-help and an inspirational collection under one cover, considering the corruption of saints, the ironies of literacy and writers, and how the written word celebrates and reflects life.

Some poems reflect on this process, as in 'Ignoramus': "I laugh in satire/& choke from the sound of my voice/A writer lives on the clouds/& draws strength from imagination/Say tales by moonlight/Or the world of make believe."

Others muse on life challenges, such as a marriage gone wrong: "Don't force him to stay if he wants-away./You uttered, "He promised till death do us part,"/But the fury in your eyes pull him to his grave/every hour."

It will take a blend of appreciation for psychology, philosophy, spirituality, and modern culture to value and absorb the nuances that power the poetry in A Booktiful Love, but those who harbor such interests will find it replete with explorations of life events, themes, and beliefs.

Poet Tolu' A. Akinyemi tackles life with a passionate, analytical, observing eye and creates admonitions which pull at emotional strings in the heart. Poetry readers who choose his free verse collection will find it equally powerful whether it's considering divorce and grief or the love language of 'A Booktiful Love'.

The Black Alabaster Box
Frances Schoonmaker
Auctus Publishers
97800997 960747, $12.00, Paperback
97800997 960744, $18.00, Hardcover
B07B6FRBYQ, $7.49

Buy links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Walmart Book Depository, the iTunes iBooks app, and local bookstores upon request.

The Black Alabaster Box is Book 1 in The Last Crystal Trilogy and opens with pioneer girl Grace Willis's journey to the West along the Santa Fe Trail, led by the Stokes Company. She's homesick as they depart, but has no choice about leaving or staying. She also has no choice when she is kidnapped and brought to Oklahoma Territory far from not only her home, but her parents and everything she loves.

Her parents dreamed of starting medical school. Grace dreams of going home and, later, the seemingly impossible task of locating her parents and returning to them. Between the two pursuits lies the struggle to survive, and Grace comes into her own abilities as she forges new paths in her life and becomes invested in the magic that springs from these efforts.

Teens expecting a fairytale story or mystery may be surprised at the real facts and history that serve as a backdrop for Grace's adventures. The realities of early days in Oklahoma during the Great Western Migration come to life, as does Grace's involvement with the mysterious Mr. Nichols, a rare alabaster cave that is only one of three places in the world where black alabaster is abundant, and threats to one of the last "wild and free" places on Earth, under siege from human settlements.

An ecological message is given to Grace which will resonate with teen readers, even though it's couched in fantasy: "You see, Grace, when the Earth was born, Immortals wandered about freely as did the Angels. They delighted in each new living thing, tending the Earth like a garden. But, as the Earth grew older, Mortals came. Immortals watched as people spread over all of the Earth, using it as if there would always be some fresh, new place to spoil. Forests were lost. Mountains cut down, great gashes left in the Earth. The powerful used the meek and lowly as if their lives were of no consequence. Mortal fought against Mortal to own what was never theirs, bringing death and leaving a burned, scarred land. The Immortals who had lovingly tended the earth were distressed to leave it in such hands, yet their time was drawing to an end."

As the story moves from fantastic caves and stories to social circles in early San Francisco, a 100-year-old dog's return to Grace's life as an adult with children, and her son James' observation of the fluidity of time and the same mercurial qualities of good and evil forces in the world, it cultivates many intriguing messages in a magical adventure story set in pioneer days.
Kids receive the backdrops of attic treasures, unusual encounters with strange people and powers, and unexpected journeys that challenge Gracie in more ways than one.

With its wide-ranging themes of adventure and murky lines between good and evil, The Black Alabaster Box will prove satisfyingly complex and thought-provoking. It reflects the depth and multifarious nature of life and encounters in the world as it shows how Gracie builds the courage, knowledge, and grit to survive extraordinary circumstances.

Young adults, especially those in middle school, will find The Black Alabaster Box a lively, action-filled story. Filled with the promise of magic and cemented by the realities of survival in early pioneer times, it's a solidly engrossing tale that holds lessons about kindness, respecting and caring for the world, and how small choices can hold big consequences for either good or evil.

A Killer Secret
Jeff Berney
BAQJAC Entertainment
9780578615424, $7.99, Kindle

A Killer Secret entwines the lives and closely-held secrets of three disparate individuals: a professor, a jaded psychologist, and a lying patient, enveloping them in increasingly deadly encounters and murder. This approach offers the kinds of twists and turns designed to keep readers on edge and guessing throughout the story.

The first thing to note about A Killer Secret is that absolutely nothing is predictable. Readers may anticipate a set direction, psyche, or story, only to find that they occupy left base, leaving them to wonder how they got there. (Only upon reflection is the progression is actually quite clear. It's just that the clues aren't overstated and obvious, as in so many murder stories, and thus the outcomes aren't set in stone, which makes for satisfyingly unexpected plot developments.)

The killer is searching for something different to help make him feel alive. What could be more of a challenge than a beautiful homicide cop? Psychologist Edie is sick of the same tears, the same posturing, and clients who never seem to change. All she seems to offer them is a box of tissues. And deeper meanings are elusive and mercurial for all the characters even as they are drawn together by fate, circumstance, and purposeful plots.

It's difficult to easily capture the changing story line, here, because the strength of A Killer Secret lies in two areas: powerful characters and their changing motives, and revised approaches to life and its challenges.

Cornered in her own dialogue by a serial killer confessor who ensnares Edie using her own professional methodology, Edie is as much a pawn in a larger game as those around her. Each prove to be players on a bigger field than just that of a clever killer's creation.

Jeff Berney knows how to craft a suspense story that is as compelling as any Alfred Hitchcock could have shaped. As events in multiple lives move forward in a chess match-style of intrigue, readers will not only find the story replete with surprises, but should be advised that if it's chosen for late night reading, dawn might arrive before the story's completed.

A Killer Secret is ultimately about not just death and secrets, but about evolving characters whose psychological profiles have kept them from living the lives they really wanted...up until now.

The key to A Killer Secret's success lies in the progressive journey taken to get there and in the surprises along the way, which will delight readers seeking truly unpredictible suspense.

Struggle: No Obstacle Is Too Great
Talla Spaul
Talla Spaul, Publisher
9780578596136, $14.95

Struggle: No Obstacle Is Too Great is a memoir that dispels many myths about immigrants to America being uneducated, or that Middle Eastern immigrants are all Muslims, or that arrival in the Land of Opportunity brings an end to poverty and leads to a problem-free life.

Talla Spaul points out that these assumptions (and more) are wrong, offering her story of struggle and prejudice that tackles underlying American sentiments about the immigrants that come to this country, using her own life experiences as powerful examples.

As Spaul recounts her former life in Iran, the many misconceptions Americans harbor about Iranian women and their experiences, and the process of building a challenging new life in this country as a mother and career woman, readers receive an insightful story of not just coming to a new land and navigating its special obstacles, but dealing with career, retirement, and a marriage that is steadily falling apart.

Her move away from the U.S. and her return, her travels, her involvement in the medical community in the U.S., where she finds ways to use her skills without an American license to practice medicine, and ways of handling health issues highlight her self-reliance and determination to handle her own affairs in her own way. This makes for riveting, inspirational reading.

There are many journeys undertaken, both psychologically and physically, within the course of Struggle, but none are so revealing as those which lead to spiritual truths and a newfound appreciation for home, family, and roots in and paths to joy.

Ultimately, Struggle captures the immigrant experience and the blossoming of ideals which lead to a better life, well-lived. This universal goal and the course to it create a vivid read that considers sources of inspiration, discontent, journeys undertaken to locate the wellsprings of happiness and contentment through one woman's determination to find a better way to live.

While Struggle will initially attract audiences looking for immigrant experiences, its message is much broader and should be welcomed by self-help and psychology readers interested in the intersection between personal growth, sources of renewal, and the end goal of life satisfaction. These readers will find much to appreciate as Spaul navigates her world: "I feel like so much of my life has been about working toward a goal. When I lived in Iran, my goal was to become a doctor and run a medical practice. After the revolution, my goal became getting myself and my sons out of Iran so we could build a better life for ourselves in the United States. Once we were in the United States, my goal was to earn enough money that I could raise my sons and make sure they had every opportunity to be successful and happy. When I found a lump on my breast, my goal had simply been survival. After beating cancer, my goal was to find a better way to live. And once I'd returned from China, my goal became to eliminate those things in my life that no longer brought me joy - that fancy house on the beach and my marriage. Now I had time, money, freedom, and enlightenment. I had everything I needed to pursue my next big goal. So what was left? What was my goal now?"

Where Madmen Rule: A Coup on Sunworld
Eugene Hayman
Independently Published
9781506107585, $15.88, Paper, $2.99, Kindle

Resisting evil can be a thankless job unless the reward is a life you value (which may not even be your own). Narrator Mike Hayden discovers this fact when he stumbles into the life of Theresa Seyboldt, rescuing her from an alleyway mugging.

In some stories, passion would then evolve, but Where Madmen Rule adopts a broader reach as it surveys the social challenges of a disintegrating society under siege, a psychotic madman's influence on Mike and Theresa's lives, and a newfound determination between the two to battle social and political disintegration.

This story beats from the heart of madness and sanity alike, with its main characters traversing an uncertain border between the two which reaches out from their lives and experiences into society as a whole.

Sunworld is a primitive planet with a somewhat civil society. Theresa is an idealist whose job involves advocating for women and children. It turns out that her most effective stand comes not at social events, but emerges from struggle after an ambush, involving long-distance political influences and the one man who may be able to help her change everything.

Readers receive a dark and involving probe of a flawed hero who emerges from Project Poker which consumes him, who is ready to confront (with Theresa's help) the reason why he's been on the run from his life and heart for so long.

As the two join forces and their journey takes them beyond Sunworld, readers are treated to a riveting series of encounters, from coup leaders who threaten them to the twisted Quartho, who dogs their lives with a tenacity that extends beyond physical force.

High technology, daring rescues and confrontations, Theresa's ongoing efforts to protect her children, and Mike's confrontation with Xandro when the kids rise to the challenge and the rescue make for riveting moments spiced with assassination, confrontation, and change.

Readers seeking a blend of intrigue, social and political confrontation, otherworld journeys and psychological drama will relish Where Madmen Rule for its astute and involving story line that keeps the drama and action supercharged with twists, turns, and solid energy.

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light
Jaimie Engle
INtense Publications
9781947796294, $15.99, Paperback
9781947796300, $25.99, Hardcover (paperback) (hardcover)

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light represents the kind of young adult fantasy that many an adult can equally enjoy, and is a top recommendation for both middle school and older readers who will find Clifton's fantasy adventure thoroughly engrossing.

Jaimie Engle excels at creating a strong protagonist which will have readers readily identifying with Clifton's conundrums, both big and small, from the first paragraph: "The thought that this was a brainless thing to do hadn't crossed his mind until now. He fumbled to fit his bow, his fingers like gelatin, as classmates lined up beside him in Wickham Park. The rest of the seventh graders gathered around to see who would win the bet between Clifton Chase and the new kid, Ryan Rivales. The instructor counted down the seconds from his stopwatch, and Clifton swiveled around to see if a certain pair of green eyes watched him. Yup. Even Ava Harrington had come to see. "

The sudden appearance of a strange arrow leads Clifton into another world which (being a practical-minded lad) Clifton at first questions: "He leaned back, his head throbbing. It was too much to handle. How could this even be happening? He knew there was no way he could have made up all those details in a dream, especially not with such accuracy. The explanation stared right at him. The information was as clear as a bell."

Could he have really travelled back in time? Clifton navigates two very different worlds, learns about history and his strange place in it, and comes to realize that his purpose and place in past events are affecting his familiar future. He also finds that the Arrow of Light apparently made a wise selection in choosing him to help resolve problems, out of all the boys in the world who could have been tapped for this extraordinary task.

Magical creatures from land and sea, political entanglements and family fights, nations on the brink of war, and arrows that offer solutions only if their mysteries are unlocked by a worthy hero all contribute to a thoroughly engrossing plot as readers follow Clifton's efforts to understand these strange realities and his newfound purpose in them.

Clifton Chase and the Arrow of Light represents the kind of fantasy that only comes along every decade or so. It's a winning blend of fantasy adventure and coming of age story that presents the dilemma of an object of power that is coveted by many, but able to be successfully used by only a few. Clifton only wants his life to return to normal again. But, once changed, that may never be possible...and would he really give up his newfound role as the 'truest of friends' to have anything turn out differently?

Readers receive an absorbing story of Clifton's growth and challenging interactions with the world around him as they enjoy a fantasy adventure that traverses not just time, but the intricacies of friendships, adversity, and courage.

Loud Pipes Save Lives
Jennifer Giacalone
Carnation Books
B07ZXJ3W3P, $2.99, Kindle

Loud Pipes Save Lives follows NY City detective Lily Sparr's special challenges when she's transferred to a precinct that had handled her father's murder and is tasked with the job of investigating a women's motorcycle club which has been involved in acts of violence throughout New York. Family ties to the precinct and its actions are questioned as Lily discovers unexpected links between an old case, current family members, and her new assignment.

The first thing to note about Loud Pipes Save Lives is that it embraces the culture and diversity of its setting, from a gay detective who is "married to her job" to Muslim women who find each other against the backdrop of a violent encounter, to different forms of faith and survival that test various characters as the story expands to embrace their lives: "At some point, though, I realized that my faith was the only thing that tied me to myself, the only thing that was a tangible reminder of who I was before all of that. "I needed it, but in a form I could swallow, which means that in some ways, no... I don't practice the way you're supposed to. I had to carve things out of it to make it work for who I had become. And they love me no less, and tolerate my queer, motorcycle-riding, pot-smoking, naked-praying self the way I am. I'm lucky that way."

From cop-on-cop snuggling and warm relationships to the icy challenges of murder, motorcycle clubs, and an investigation which opens up a can of worms, Lily and other characters carry readers along on a vivid ride through personal and professional challenges that bring New York's communities to life.

By reopening the old case that continues to test her heart, Lily inadvertently becomes a major player in a game that she can't walk away from. This involves many 'gray areas', both professionally and ethically, leading her into unexpected yet unfamiliar places to probe accidents, cover-ups, and romance with equal precision and abandon.

As Lily finds herself inadvertently protecting what she's supposed to be investigating, complicated questions and relationships ensue. Miri and Lily are a good team in more ways than one, but this investigation could come between them and change everything.

Jennifer Giacalone specializes in creating a spirited, sassy, interlocking set of characters and puzzling circumstances that are delightful in their complexity and realistic presentation. From struggles with corruption and personal boundaries in handling ethical dilemmas to queer relationships and the challenges of balancing work and home life, the plot excels in mixing detective intrigue with personal growth.

The result is a story that is compelling on more than one level, replete with the atmosphere and world of New York City's different cultures and peoples, and a solidly engrossing read especially recommended for fans of LBGT mysteries.

The Illustrated Wild Boy
John Du Cane
Du Cane Media
9781734194401, $29.95

The Illustrated Wild Boy features Judit Tondora's beautiful color drawings which embellish a literary story collection that captures different memories and experiences, from a child's fascination with the power and attraction to setting things on fire to an adult's experience of color and vivid life during a cocaine experiment, causing him to lose track of years of carefully cultivated spirituality in search of bliss, creating a pattern that results in the reflection "We build beauty. We destroy the beauty. We rebuild the beauty. And so it goes..."

The surprising blends of autobiography, philosophy, spirituality, and cultural investments in wild times, wild feelings, and different forms of horror and growth are wound into a story of media explorations and artistic investments to create a unique graphic novel-style memoir.

Unlike typical graphic stories, this collection blends a healthy degree of literary writings with colorful visual backgrounds. Where graphic productions typically promote brevity over detailed explorations, John Du Cane centers his adventures firmly in written observations that embrace metaphor and reflection with equal depth and insight.

From young and new adult pranks and family legacies to Du Cane's independent film investments, associations, and productions which fuel riots and political fervor, one lasting legacy of this collection is its unusual ability to juxtapose spirituality, counterculture, and childhood memories.

These back-to-back revelations take readers from the mountains of China, where Du Cane reflects on the pan-fried wasps he enjoyed in a serene and surreal holy mountain atmosphere, to the philosophical insights created by misreading a tee shirt affirming the importance of staying awake in life (as opposed to staying away from it).

Irony, critical observation, artistic expression, counterculture trends, and social and family influences craft a series of thought-provoking, lively, engrossing short works that are not just about Du Cane's world, but about how readers interpret these visions and revelations.

It's rare to find a multifaceted short story collection of vignettes whose tales are equally well rooted in artistic, personal, and social observation.

Hungarian illustrator Judit Tondora's lovely backgrounds bring Du Cane's adventures to life. The result is a creative and involving work of art, language, and social inspection that will delight readers looking for literary works strong in spiritual and social revelations.

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

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

The Store
James Patterson & Richard Dilallo
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
9781538745496, $15.99,

"The Store" is a futuristic warning, of the extent a popular present-day business can go without governmental restrictions. The Store, a mega giant retailer has infiltrated people's lives in every conceivable way, from merchandise, to what we do in the privacy of our own homes. The Store began as a retailer of books that mushroomed into selling such things as groceries, medical prescriptions, dog and cat food and security devices and a lot more. The Store branched out into just about everything you can ever think of in a person's life. "The Store" begins with a simple situation, of a writer who is rejected by the publishing arm of the company, that leads the author to begin to expose the Pac Man like company gobbling up anything in its way. Readers should enjoy "The Store" is a thought-provoking novel that races along to its final conclusion that should have more of us talking about it.

Jane Haseldine
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780786038794, $9.99,

Julia Gooden has a wonderful life in Detroit. She is a well-respected journalist, with a fantastic husband and two sons. By all appearances everything is rosy. But all of that will change as her prosecutor husbands newest case unfolds. The very day the trial begins, there is a bombing at the courthouse that will expose many buried secrets that will affect many lives. "Duplicity" is a page turner of excitement with many complicated twists and turns to the final page that will please any reader.

Twisted Twenty-Six A Stephanie Plum Novel
Janet Evanovich
c/o Penguin Group USA
9780399180194, $28.00,

Stephanie Plum is back with a new laugh out loud crime caper novel with "Twisted Twenty-Six" This time Grand Ma Mazur gets married to mobster Jimmy Rosolii. Before they can go on the honeymoon groom dies of a heart attack. The circumstances are too bizarre for words, as Plum becomes entrenched in a mobster conflict, because Jimmy was hiding a finical windfall that his former partners believe is now controlled by Plum's Grand Ma. Stephanie must do all she can to protect her family members in another great fun story in the long running series. "Twisted Twenty-Six is a welcome addition to the world of Stephanie Plum.

Gremlins Go Home
Ben Bova & Gordon R. Dickson
9781982124241, $16.00, www,

Two giants of science fiction come together to tell a wonderful tale in "Gremlins Go Home" Rolf Gunnarson would like to have more time with his dad who is just too busy lately because his father is consumed with the forthcoming NASA Mars launch. To Rolf they are two ships passing in the night as they hardly even see each other. Riding his bike around the NASA complex Rolf and his dog come in contact with several Gremlins who tell him they must have his help that involves the launch. Bova and Dickson collaborated with "Gremlins Go Home" in a satisfying read that is a gem for fans of science fiction.

Still Mine
Amy Stuart
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781982122348, $9.99,

"Still Mine" launches the Clare O'Day series with a story that is filled with plot twist that come together at the end. Clare leaves the life she has had to search for something that is missing in hers. She is recruited by Malcom Boon to the remote mining town of Blackmore to find a missing woman. She gains the confidence of some of the residents who tell her different things about the person she has been sent to find. Along the way she will come to terms with many of her issues as well. "Still Mine" is a multi-layered thriller is a well-crafted tale of suspense.

Three Days in Moscow
Bret Baier with Catherine Whitney
William Morrow
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062748430, $16.99

"Three Days in Moscow" takes readers behind the scenes of the Ronald Regan Presidency primarily dealing with the summits with the Soviet Union. We for the first time see the two leaders who confront each other through numerous meetings in the United States and in Soviet Union. For the first time readers have a ringside seat to the speech Regan made at the Berlin Wall and possible consequences as well as little known facts of the Regan Presidency. Like Baier's "Three Days in January" he takes us into the inner working of the American government and reveals little know facts in both books about how our government works under pressure. "Three Days in Moscow" should be taught as required reading for courses of political issues on colleges across the country.

Weird Florida
Charlie Carlson
Sterling Publishing Company
9780760759455, $19.95,

When the state of Florida is mentioned, most people think first of the major attractions of Disney, Universal, and Sea World in Orlando. But Florida is a lot more than theme parks as evidenced in "Weird Florida" Here in one collection are things not as well known about the "Sunshine State" like things that go bump in the night like strange monsters that make the state their home, UFO sightings, places of strange things flying around in the night or day, or roads that have strange things happen when people drive on them. "Weird Florida" is a road map for anyone who wants to see some of the abnormal phenomenon the state has to offer that sometimes can be chilling. "Weird Florida" is a great resource to find something different to experience in Florida

Night of the Ninth Dragon
Mary Pope Osborne illustrated by Sal Murdocca
A Stepping Stone Book
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780553510898, $16.99

The days of King Arthur are alive and well in "Night of the Ninth Dragon" as two children are summoned to assist to save the kingdom of Camelot. Along the way they encounter dragons, robbers and help solve riddles that have been left for them to expose. "Night of the Ninth Dragon" takes readers on a magical journey with mystical story telling for all ages to enjoy

I Survived The Shark Attacks of 1916
Laura Tarshis
9780545206952, $4.99,

We are more aware of shark attacks throughout the world because of the advancements of our media and the way they report the news. In 1916 it was not as well known as now. Chet Roscow lives in a small community in New Jersey where he is trying to fit in with other boys his age. They make fun of him and play tricks on him until he decides to pull one on them by making them think he has been attacked by a shark in the river nearby. Later there really is a shark that swam into the channel and up the river in search of food. The other boys at first think its another joke until they realize it's a real situation. Chet becomes a hero by saving one of the boys. "I Survived The Shark Attacks of 1916" utilizes historical factual material as a backdrop for the beautifully told story of kids relating to each other. At the end of the book the author has also detailed factual material about sharks and attacks by them for all of us to take heed.

I Survived The Battle of Gettysburg, 1863
Laura Tarshis
9780545459365, $4.99,

The I Survived Series continues with another great story set against the backdrop of a historical event in " I Survived The Battle of Gettysburg, 1863." Eleven-year-old Thomas and his little sister Birdie are run-away slaves during the Civil War. The two hook up with a group of Union Solders as Thomas fight as a free person to end slavery and to protect his sister. They go to the battlefields while he sees firsthand the horror of war at Gettysburg PA. "I Survived The Battle of Gettysburg 1863" is filled with believable characters, solid writing that leads readers to an enjoyable ending that is also filled with a lot of historical documentation throughout the novel as well as information from a number of sources on the Civil War. The I Survived Series is a great way for all of us to learn about historical events in an easy format.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

Her Neighbor's Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage
Lauren Jae Gutterman
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812251746, $39.95, HC, 328pp,

Synopsis: At first glance, Barbara Kalish fit the stereotype of a 1950s wife and mother. Married at eighteen, Barbara lived with her husband and two daughters in a California suburb, where she was president of the Parent-Teacher Association. At a PTA training conference in San Francisco, Barbara met Pearl, another PTA president who also had two children and happened to live only a few blocks away from her. To Barbara, Pearl was "the most gorgeous woman in the world," and the two began an affair that lasted over a decade.

Through interviews, diaries, memoirs, and letters compiled and edited with commentary by Lauren Jae Guttermann, "Her Neighbor's Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage" traces the stories of hundreds of women, like Barbara Kalish, who struggled to balance marriage and same-sex desire in the postwar United States. In doing so, Gutterman draws our attention away from the postwar landscape of urban gay bars and into the homes of married women, who tended to engage in affairs with wives and mothers they met in the context of their daily lives: through work, at church, or in their neighborhoods.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the lesbian feminist movement and the no-fault divorce revolution transformed the lives of wives who desired women. Women could now choose to divorce their husbands in order to lead openly lesbian or bisexual lives; increasingly, however, these women were confronted by hostile state discrimination, typically in legal battles over child custody. Well into the 1980s, many women remained ambivalent about divorce and resistant to labeling themselves as lesbian, therefore complicating a simple interpretation of their lives and relationship choices. By revealing the extent to which marriage has historically permitted space for wives' relationships with other women, "Her Neighbor's Wife" calls into question the presumed straightness of traditional American marriage.

Critique: A uniquely groundbreaking, inherently fascinating, impressively documented, and informationally revelatory study, "Her Neighbor's Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university LGBTQ collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a two page listing of abbreviations, fifty pages of notes, and an eight page index, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, scholars, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Her Neighbor's Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $32.97).

Press Here! Chakras for Beginners
Victor Archuleta
Fair Winds Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781592339419, $18.99, HC, 128pp,

Synopsis: Chakras are the body's energy centers and key to physical health, emotional stability, and mental clarity. Ensuring your chakras are perfectly balanced offers a new dimension of healing and growth. "Press Here! Chakras for Beginners" by Victor Archuleta is a robust DIY toolbox that utilizes sound, color, smell, energy, philosophy, and mindfulness with beautifully illustrated step-by-step meditations and exercises will help to achieve this balance.

Critique: Profusely illustrated and thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections, "Press Here! Chakras for Beginners" is an ideal introduction for non-specialist general readers with little or no previous experience with utilizing chakras for health and wellness.

Editorial Note: Victor Archuleta is a healing practitioner with his own practice in the Los Angeles, California, area. He is trained as a yoga teacher and is a certified Reflexologist, a 3rd level Reiki practitioner and is trained as a CranioSacral therapist. He is a member of the Reflexology Association of California and a member of the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals.

Hats: A Very Unnatural History
Malcolm Smith
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9781611863475, $44.95, HC, 194pp,

Synopsis: For such simple garments for human beings, hats have had a devastating impact on wildlife throughout their long history. Made of wild-caught mammal furs, decorated with feathers or whole stuffed birds, historically they have driven many species to near extinction.

By the turn of the twentieth century, egrets, shot for their exuberant white neck plumes, had been decimated; the wild ostrich, killed for its feathers until the early 1900s, was all but extirpated; and vast numbers of birds of paradise from New Guinea and hummingbirds from the Americas were just some of the other birds killed to decorate ladies' hats.

At its peak, the hat trade was estimated to be killing 200 million birds a year. At the end of the nineteenth century, it was a trade valued at 20 million British pounds (over $25 million) a year at the London feather auctions. Weight for weight, exotic feathers were more valuable than gold.

Today, while no wild birds are captured for feather decoration, some wild animals are still trapped and killed for hatmaking.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "Hats: A Very Unnatural History" is a unique and inherently fascinating read that will have the reader questioning the history of the concept of decorative headwear and its impact upon the ecosystem of planet Earth. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an appendix (The IUCN Red List Classifications), twenty pages of Notes, an eight page Bibliography, and a four page Index, "Hats: A Very Unnatural History" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hats: A Very Unnatural History" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $38.10).

Editorial Note: Malcolm Smith is a biologist, a former chief scientist and deputy chief executive at the Countryside Council for Wales, and a former board member of the Environment Agency, Europe's largest environmental regulator, for England and Wales.

Tarot at a Crossroads
Kooch N. Daniels & Victor Daniels
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764351860, $29.99, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Tarot at a Crossroads: The Unexpected Meeting of Tarot & Psychology", tarot practitioners and metaphysical studies students can journey through a unique Tarot resource that presents thought-provoking methods to help bridge the worlds between Tarot readers and psychology counselors, psychotherapists, personal coaches, and healers. With "Tarot at a Crossroads", tarot enthusiasts can convey depth and incisiveness to both their tarot readings and therapeutic sessions by making them more engaging and useful.

The reader will find out how to give "representational readings" and learn to select cards that represent issues with others or within the reader. Discover a technique of laying cards in "emotional stacks" that can be used in both readings and counseling sessions to view what lies beneath the surface of consciousness, and then gain knowledge of how to open realms of new possibilities.

The reader will encounter blended traditional symbolic Tarot coupled with modern psychological practices that integrate the use of visual imagery via distinctive tools and approaches -- thereby developing a broader psychological background, new methods, and insights for their Tarot readings

Critique: Exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Tarot at a Crossroads: The Unexpected Meeting of Tarot & Psychology" is a unique, impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking approach to the psychology of the tarot. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Metaphysical Sciences collections in general, and Tarot supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students, academia, and tarot enthusiasts that "Tarot at a Crossroads: The Unexpected Meeting of Tarot & Psychology" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: Kooch N. Daniels, (who is a professional reader for more than four decades), and her partner Victor Daniels (Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Sonoma State University) have worked together to develop unique Tarot/Gestalt healing techniques for readers, therapists, and counselors.

Dreams That Can Save Your Life
Larry Burke MD, author
Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos, author
Findhorn Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781844097449, $17.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Your dreams can provide inner guidance filled with life-saving information. Since ancient Egypt and Greece, people have relied on the art of dreaming to diagnose illness and get answers to personal life challenges. Now, dreams are making a grand reappearance in the medical arena as recent scientific research and medical pathology reports validate the diagnostic abilities of precognitive dreams. Are we stepping back into the future as modern medical tests show dreams can be early warning signs of cancer and other diseases?

Showcasing the important role of dreams and their power to detect and heal illness, Dr. Larry Burk and Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos collaborate to share amazing research and true stories of physical and emotional healings triggered by dreams in "Dreams That Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Diseases". The authors deftly explore medical studies and ongoing research on the diagnostic power of precognitive dreams, including Dr. Burk's own research on dreams that come true and can be medically validated. They share detailed stories (all confirmed by pathology reports) from subjects in medical research projects whose dreams diagnosed illness and helped heal their lives -- including Kathleen's own personal story as a three-time breast cancer survivor whose dreams diagnosed her cancer even when it was missed by her doctors.

Alongside these stories of survival and faith, "Dreams That Can Save Your Life" also includes an informative introduction to dream journaling and interpretation, allowing the reader to develop trust in their dreams as a spiritual source of healing and inner guidance.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively informative, expertly organized and presented study, "Dreams That Can Save Your Life: Early Warning Signs of Cancer and Other Disease" is a unique, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Health/Medicine collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of medical students, academia, doctors, medical support staff, and non-specialist general readers that "Dreams That Can Save Your Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

The Vegan Travel Handbook
Lonely Planet Food
c/o Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
9781788687584, $17.99, PB, 168pp,

Synopsis: Whether you've been vegan for years or are traveling as one for the first time, "The Vegan Travel Handbook" from Lonely Planet Publications will enable you discover, plan and book a huge range of vegan-friendly adventures around the globe.

"The Vegan Travel Handbook" provides a wealth essential advice and expert tips on everything from where to go when and the best vegan restaurants, accommodation and cities, to how to stay healthy on the road and order food with confidence. It also showcases not-to-be-missed vegan tours, festivals and food trucks.

From cooking classes in India to wildlife watching tours in New Zealand, Lonely Planet shows you how to explore the world on a plant-based diet; Explore the wilds of Patagonia, Argentina; Go trekking and wildlife watching in Ethiopia; Meditate in the mountains in Taiwan; Melt any stresses away in a Japanese onsen; Wild camp by a pristine lake in Scandinavia; Go wine tasting in Piedmont, northern Italy; Eat your way around Delhi, Agra and Jaipur; Dance and dine the night away in Seville; Monitor jaguars in the Amazon Rainforest; Savor local produce at a New Zealand farmers' market; Spot the 'Big Five' in safari in South Africa; Explore the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia; Shake up a rum cocktail in the Cayman Islands; Road-trip your way up the east coast of Australia; Embark on a DIY doughnut tour of the USA's west coast.

Critique: Exceptional in organization and presentation, "The Vegan Travel Handbook" is an ideal resource for planning unforgettable vacation and business trips abroad for vegans and vegetarians. While especially recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Vegan Travel Handbook" is also available in a handy-for-the-traveler digital book format (Kindle, $17.09).

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting
Travis Robert Alexander & Brianna L. Ewing Valliere
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781789245493, $40.00, PB, 96pp,

Synopsis: In recent years, with the rise of the craft beverage movement, the cider industry has been through a period of rapid commercial and non-commercial growth. Tasting and quality control is a core aspect of successful cider making and it is essential for industry and researchers to characterize cider using a standard, quantifiable metric. "The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting" is a research-based handbook for understanding both the theory and practice of effectively evaluating the sensory properties of cider.

Nicely illustrated throughout, "The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting" includes content on the physiological basis of sensory evaluation, effective profiling of sensory evaluation, types and styles of cider, origins of cider quality attributes and direction for pairing cider with foods.

"The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting also: Covers a broad range of cider tasting techniques with associated technical explanations; Provides data and research-driven information; Contains sample sensory evaluation sheets, a tasting wheel, and guidance for creating fresh cider sensory standards and the utilization of various apple cultivars; Includes a summary of the current global cider styles

"The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting" is an invaluable resource for commercial cidermakers, non-commercial cidermakers, students on cider production courses, researchers and other industry and stakeholder personnel.

Critique: A unique and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and manual, "The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of professionals and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Professional Handbook of Cider Tasting" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $35.92).

Fast Times: How Digital Winners Set Direction, Learn, and Adapt
Arun Arora, et al.
Amazon Publishing
9781542007696, $29.95, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: Today's technology demands lightning-fast changes. But speed without purpose is not progress. In "Fast Times: How Digital Winners Set Direction, Learn, and Adapt", McKinsey leaders Arun Arora, Peter Dahlstrom, Klemens Hjartar, and Florian Wunderlich collectively cut through the hype to provide a readable inside look into what digital winners do best -- set direction, learn, and adapt faster than anyone else.

Specifically relevant to executives who are frustrated with their pace of change, "Fast Times" digs into the root questions that shine a light on the issues that keep companies like yours from setting direction, learning, and adapting: Do you really know how your company is performing? How do you make it safe for people to experiment so you can build a proactive culture? How do you balance fast execution with deliberate decision-making? Are your training programs up to the challenge of reskilling the talent you need tomorrow? Do your IT people have the skills needed to build the tech that's needed and incorporate cybersecurity?

The experts at McKinsey & Company draw from decades of experience and detailed analysis to highlight what matters most in order to become a digital winner. With illuminating sidebars and real-life scenarios, "Fast Times" is an invaluable shortcut to setting direction, learning, and adapting to win.

Critique: Information packed, and inspired and inspiring read that will work to the direct improvement of an executive's ability to improve their company's digital performance in an ever increasingly volatile and technology driven economy, "Fast Times: How Digital Winners Set Direction, Learn, and Adapt" is an unreservedly recommended addition to corporate, community, and academic library Business Management & Leadership collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of business students, academia, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Fast Times" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781799760467, $29.99, CD).

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

The American Women's Almanac: 500 Years of Making History
Deborah G. Felder
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578597222, $59.95, HC, 608pp,

Synopsis: The most complete and affordable single-volume reference on women's history available today, "The American Women's Almanac: 500 Years of Vitality, Triumph and Excellence" is a unique and valuable resource devoted to illustrating the moving and often lost history of women in America. It is a fascinating mix of biographies, little-known or misunderstood historical facts, enlightening essays on significant legislation and movements, and numerous photographs and illustrations.

Honoring and celebrating achievements from the First Nations women and the French Huguenot Women of Fort Caroline to the unprecedented number of ethnically diverse women running for modern office, as compiled with commentary by Deborah G. Felder, "The American Women's Almanac" provides insights on the long-ignored influence, inspiration, and impact of women on U.S. society and culture.

From the first indigenous women in North America and the dangers and hardships of the 15th, 16th, and 17th century journeys to the New World to the continual push against patriarchal political, military, corporate, and societal systems and expectations, "The American Women's Almanac" is an essential informational reference and history that illustrates the important events and figures surrounding the suffrage movement; literature, art, and music; business leaders and breakthroughs; political history and office holders; advances in science and medicine; and other vital topics. Readers will learn about the Nineteenth Amendment; Title IX; the legalization of birth control in 1966; the dramatic increase in women attending colleges and universities in the United States; the limitations of 19th-century women's fashion on athletes; and so much more.

Critique: Impressively detailed, comprehensive, and documented, "The American Women's Almanac: 500 Years of Making History" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended for high school, community, college, and university library Women's History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. Exceptionally well organized and presented, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The American Women's Almanac: 500 Years of Making History" is also available in a paperback edition (9781578596362, $22.95).

Editorial Note: Deborah G. Felder worked as an editor at Scholastic, Inc., and has been a freelance writer and editor for over 30 years. The author of more than 20 publications, including fiction and nonfiction books, and articles for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers, her books include The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time: A Ranking Past and Present; A Century of Women: The Most Influential Events in Twentieth-Century Women's History; and A Bookshelf of Our Own: Works That Changed Women's Lives. She has also written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly.

Life is a 4-Letter Word
Dr. David A. Levy
Mango Publishing Group
9781642501544 $16.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Insights from a veteran psychologist: Dr. David Levy is a media consultant who has appeared on over 70 television and radio broadcasts, from CNN to National Geographic, to provide psychological perspectives on current events. His previous works have been published internationally, many of them becoming bestsellers. In this book, Levy approaches readers on a more personal level but carries the same expertise that he's shared with viewers and listeners worldwide.

Valuable life lessons: Levy's book takes a different approach than others in the self-help genre. Rather than being instructional, Levy shares bits of wisdom through telling his own stories. In other words, he offers life lessons without lecturing or preaching. Written in a style that is engaging and humorous, readers will find relatable truths in Levy's uplifting stories and wise advice.

A journey to wisdom: The path to living a smarter lifestyle is not always smooth. Levy encourages readers to embrace all the feelings his book may bring out as they read his stories, from laughing to wincing, and learning along the way. Discover the power of positive thinking as Levy shares a lifetime journey of personal reflections, growth, and wisdom.

Dive into Dr. David Levy's latest book, Life Is a 4-Letter Word, and find...

40 autobiographical essays, each one containing a relatable and applicable life lesson
A unique source of both humor and inspiration that reassures readers that life is good
A self-help book for men and women from a published professional in psychology
If books such as You are a Badass, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and Sometimes You Win - Sometimes You Learn have interested you, then Life Is a 4-Letter Word should be your next read!

Critique: Award-winning Professor of Psychology (Pepperdine University) Dr. David A. Levy presents Life is a 4-Letter Word, an insightful collection of stories about learning, transforming, brushing off the small stuff, and rising to meet challenges with a strong sense of goodwill. Life is a 4-Letter Word is inspirational reading from cover to cover, and also makes an excellent gift! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Life is a 4-Letter Word is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins
Jim Forest, author
Vladislav Andrejev, illustrator
SVS Press
575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, NY 10707
9780881415117, $24.00, HC, 32pp,

Synopsis: The figure of Saint Nicholas stands apart from nearly every other Christian saint: his fame spread across empires and generations to make him one of the most recognizable Christian saints in history. But the popular perception of Saint Nicholas today diverges greatly from his original veneration as a compassionate almsgiver and defender of the poor.

In contemporary times Saint Nicholas has been reduced to the pop culture figure of Santa Claus, a jolly old man who brings presents to good little boys and girls. The collaborative work of author Jim Forest and illustrator Vladislav Andrejev, "Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins" reacquaints those boys and girls with the authentic Santa Claus Nicholas, a man who found greatness not simply in spreading "good cheer," but in being a true icon of Jesus Christ in word and deed.

Critique: The striking iconographically Byzantine style artwork of Vladislav Andrejev is brilliantly aligned with the succinct story paragraphing narrative of author Jim Forest. The result is an especially and unreservedly recommended picture book for young Christian readers, making "Saint Nicholas and the Nine Gold Coins" an ideal and appreciated addition to family, church, and community library collections.

Editorial Note: Jim Forest is international secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship and associate editor of its journal and website, In Communion. He is a recipient of the Peacemaker Award from Notre Dame University's Institute for International Peace Studies, a prolific writer of inspirational, historical, and biographical books, and is also the author of two other children's books available from SVS Press: St George and the Dragon and Silent as a Stone.

Vladislav Andrejev was born in St Petersburg, Russia and received a formal education in fine art book illustration. His search for deeper meaning in art led him to study icon painting. Andrejev is an accomplished iconographer, teacher of iconography, and illustrator of award-winning books manifesting his unique continuation of the ancient Byzantine-Russian tradition. He is also illustrator of St George and the Dragon.

Delivered by Midwives
Jenny M. Luke
University Press of Mississippi
3825 Ridgewood Road, Jackson, MS 39211
9781496818911, $90.00, HC, 210pp,

"Catchin' babies" was merely one aspect of the broad role of African American midwives in the twentieth-century South. Yet, little has been written about the type of care they provided or how midwifery and maternity care evolved under the increasing presence of local and federal health care structures.

Using evidence from nursing, medical, and public health journals of the era; primary sources from state and county departments of health; and personal accounts from varied practitioners, "Delivered by Midwives: African American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South" by Jenny M. Luke (who worked as a British-trained nurse-midwife before earning advanced degrees in history from the University of Texas at Arlington) provides a new perspective on the childbirth experience of African American women and their maternity care providers. "Delivered by Midwives" moves beyond the usual racial dichotomies to expose a more complex shift in childbirth culture, revealing the changing expectations and agency of African American women in their rejection of a two-tier maternity care system and their demands to be part of an inclusive, desegregated society.

Moreover, "Delivered by Midwives" illuminates valuable aspects of a maternity care model previously discarded in the name of progress. High maternal and infant mortality rates led to the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Protection Act in 1921. This marked the first attempt by the federal government to improve the welfare of mothers and babies. Almost a century later, concern about maternal mortality and persistent racial disparities have forced a reassessment. Elements of the long-abandoned care model are being reincorporated into modern practice, answering current health care dilemmas by heeding lessons from the past.

Critique: An exemplary and comprehensively detailed work of meticulous and documented scholarship, "Delivered by Midwives: African American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South" is an extraordinary and unique study that is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library American Medical History and African American History collections in general, and American midwifery supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Delivered by Midwives" is also available in a paperback edition (9781496821133, $30.00) and in a digital book format (eTextbook, $16.50).

Editorial Note: "Delivered by Midwives: African American Midwifery in the Twentieth-Century South" by Jenny M. Luke is the winner of the 2019 American Association for the History of Nursing Lavinia L. Dock Award for Exemplary Historical Research and Writing in a Book.

One Family: Indivisible
Steven Greenebaum
MSI Press
1760-F Airline Hwy, #203, Hollister, CA 950243
9781933455464, $19.95, PB, 260pp,

Synopsis: Throughout history, from the neolithic age down to the present day, humans have divided themselves into groupings of "us" and "them". "One Family: Indivisible" by Steven Greenebaum is a kind of spiritual memoir that engagingly invites the reader into the deeply spiritual and lifelong journey of the author to find a way to acknowledge our differences without dividing and subdividing ourselves into competing tribes. It is a journey of mountain tops and deep valleys, but it leads to the inclusivity and mutual respect possible with Interfaith.

Critique: Unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, "One Family: Indivisible" is a thoughtful and thought-provoking read that is especially recommended for the personal reading lists of seekers from all races, ethnicities, and spiritual paths who are searching for that elusive goal of a community of love and inclusion that also respects social, cultural, racial, economic, and political diversity in harmony.

Restore Hearing Naturally
Anton Stucki
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620558935, $29.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: An instructional guide and reference by Anton Stucki, "Restore Hearing Naturally: How to Use Your Inner Resources to Bring Back Full Hearing" offers an effective step-by-step training program to improve hearing through enhanced perception with all five senses. It also features detailed instructions for 20 simple, practical exercises anyone can do at home to improve their hearing and train their senses.

"Restore Hearing Naturally" also explains the connection between hearing loss and emotional stress and trauma and shares stories from people who have used this method to compensate for deafness in one ear, others who have been able to ditch their hearing aids completely, as well as the positive effect restored hearing has for patients with dementia and Alzheimer's.

Exploring the mind-body role of consciousness and belief on overall health, "Restore Hearing Naturally" reveals how onset hearing loss can be a manifestation of an inner state of imbalance, driven by emotional causes and stress, and how finding the "triggering event" stored in our bodies and dissolving the trauma surrounding it can help restore your hearing. Offering a way to reconnect with the sound environment around us and enhance our inner and outer senses of perception, "Restore Hearing Naturally" also shows how improving your hearing can also restore balance to our overall health physically, emotionally, and mentally

Critique: Ably translated into English for an American readership by Iren Izabella Toms, "Restore Hearing Naturally: How to Use Your Inner Resources to Bring Back Full Hearing" by Anton Stucki is enhanced for academia and the non-specialist general reader with the inclusion of two appendices (Directory of Exercises; Reproducible Templates), a five page listing of References, a seven page Index, and a one page listing of Books of Related Interest from Healing Arts Press. While especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general and Hearing Loss Treatment supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of medical students, physicians, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Restore Hearing Naturally" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99).

Editorial Note: Residing in Brandenburg, Germany, Anton Stucki is an audio expert, well known in Germany for his hearing recovery system. For over 10 years he has helped thousands of people restore their hearing and has trained medical practitioners and therapists to use his system.

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

Jack Kirby's Dingbat Love
John Morrow
TwoMorrows Publishing
10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614
9781605490915, $43.95, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: In cooperation with DC Comics, John Morrow of TwoMorrows Publishing has compiled a tempestuous trio of never-seen 1970s Jack Kirby comic book projects with the publication of "Jack Kirby's Dingbat Love"! These are the final complete, unpublished Jack Kirby stories in existence, presented here for the first time and include two unused Dingbats of Danger Street tales.

"Jack Kirby's Dingbat Love" is comprised of Kirby's final Kid Gang group (which is inked by Mike Royer and D. Bruce Berry, and newly colored for this edition) 'True-Life Divorce', the abandoned newsstand magazine that was too hot for its time (reproduced from Jack's pencil art - and as a bonus, Morrow commissioned Mike Royer to ink one of the stories)! And 'Soul Love', the unseen '70s romance book so funky, even a jive turkey will dig the unretouched inks by Vince Colletta and Tony DeZuniga.

Plus, "Jack Kirby's Dingbat Love" also includes Kirby historian John Morrow's in-depth examination of why these projects got left back, concept art and uninked pencils from Dingbats. Of special note is an informative Foreword by '70s Kirby assistant Mark Evanier!

Critique: Fun, informative, and an absolute 'must read' for the legions of Jack Kirby fans, "Jack Kirby's Dingbat Love" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Comix & Graphic Novels collections in general, and Jack Kirby supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Music is Power
Brad Schreiber
Rutgers University Press
106 Somerset St., 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
9781978808126, $29.95, HC, 238pp,

Synopsis: From Yankee Doodle Dandy of colonial times down to We Shall Overcome sung in current times, popular music has long been a powerful force for social and political change. Protest songs have served as anthems regarding war, racism, sexism, ecological destruction and so many other crucial issues.

In "Music is Power: Popular Songs, Social Justice, and the Will to Change" Brad Schreiber takes us on a guided tour through the past 100 years of politically-conscious music, from Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie to Green Day and NWA. Covering a wide variety of genres, including reggae, country, metal, psychedelia, rap, punk, folk and soul, Schreiber demonstrates how musicians can take a variety of approaches (angry rallying cries, mournful elegies to the victims of injustice, or even humorous mockeries of authority) to fight for a fairer world.

While shining a spotlight on Phil Ochs, Gil Scott-Heron, The Dead Kennedys and other seminal, politicized artists, Schreiber also gives readers a new appreciation of classic acts such as Lesley Gore, James Brown, and Black Sabbath, who overcame limitations in their industry to create politically potent music

Additionally, "Music Is Power" tells fascinating stories about the origins and the impact of dozens of world-changing songs, while revealing political context and the personal challenges of legendary artists from Bob Dylan to Bob Marley.

Critique: A fun and informative read from first page to last, "Music is Power: Popular Songs, Social Justice, and the Will to Change" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community, college, and university library American Music History collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Music is Power" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.47).

Editorial Note: Brad Schreiber is an award-winning author, journalist, and screenwriter. His previous books include Death in Paradise, Becoming Jimi Hendrix, and Revolution's End. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Press Foundation, Edward Albee Foundation, International Book Awards, Independent Publisher Book Awards and Los Angeles Press Club.

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

He Made Ice and Changed the World
Linda Hansen Caldwell
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781620236925, $21.95, PB, 154pp,

Synopsis: An American physician, scientist, inventor of mechanical cooling, and humanitarian, Dr. John B. Gorrie (October 3, 1803 - June 29, 1855) changed the world with his invention, but today most people have never heard of him.

After taking the Hippocratic Oath, he vowed to do what no other physician of his day had done: cure malaria and yellow fever. Realizing that temperature affected how likely epidemics would occur, Dr. Gorrie set off on his journey that would bring medicine, and the world, into the future. With little money and even less public support, Dr. Gorrie became a well-known face in the South, producing artificial ice in the dead of summer.

Once big corporations took over operations, Dr. Gorrie's new ice machine was making more ice than ever before, and people started to take notice everywhere. Though, Dr. Gorrie's legacy didn't end there; he'd start applying his technology in his medical practice, leading to the increased comfort and overall health of countless diseased victims suffering from the fevers, as tropical diseases were then called.

Today, Dr. Gorrie's artificial ice has changed lives and made modern convenience possible. Although he's still underrated in the media, his life and legacy live on through various medical journals, memorials, statues, and people who are passionate about his contribution to the world.

It's definitely not far fetched to say that Dr. Gorrie really left his mark.

Critique: Impressively informative and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "He Made Ice and Changed the World: The Story of Florida's John Gorrie" by Linda Hansen Caldwell is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to school and community library 19th Century American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "He Made Ice and Changed the World: The Story of Florida's John Gorrie" is also readily available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

The Manufacture of Consent
Stephen M. Underhill
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9781611863468, $44.95, PB, 354pp,

Synopsis: The second Red Scare was a charade orchestrated by a tyrant with the express goal of undermining the New Deal so argues Professor Stephen M. Underhill in "The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI", a hard-hitting analysis of J. Edgar Hoover's rhetorical agency.

Classification 94 is a vast trove of recently declassified records that documents the longtime FBI director's domestic propaganda campaigns in the mid-twentieth century. Drawing upon them, Professor Underhill shows that Hoover used the growing power of his office to subvert the presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman and redirect the trajectory of U.S. culture away from social democracy toward a toxic brand of neoliberalism.

Hoover did so with help from Republicans who opposed organized labor and Southern Democrats who supported Jim Crow in what is arguably the most culturally significant documented political conspiracy in U.S. history, a wholesale domestic propaganda program that brainwashed Americans and remade their politics.

Hoover also forged ties with the powerful fascist leaders of the period to promote his own political ambitions. All the while, as a love letter to Clyde Tolson still preserved in Hoover's papers attests, he strove to pass for straight while promoting a culture that demonized same-sex love.

The erosion of democratic traditions Hoover fostered continues to haunt Americans today.

Critique: An impressively detailed and documented study, "The Manufacture of Consent: J. Edgar Hoover and the Rhetorical Rise of the FBI" is an extraordinary and definitive work of seminal scholarship. Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of sixty-six pages of Notes, a thirty-six page Bibliography, and a six page Index, "The Manufacture of Consent" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Forensic Science Law, Propaganda & Political Psychology, and Law Enforcement Biographies in general, and J. Edgar Hoover supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students, scholars, and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "The Manufacture of Consent" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $42.70).

Editorial Note: Stephen M. Underhill is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Marshall University. He served as the lead reference person for declassified FBI and Department of Justice textual records at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Maryland, from 2007 to 2012.

Michael Dunford

Nancy Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Wish and the Peacock
Wendy S. Swore
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781629726083, $16.99, HC, 336pp,

Living on a small Idaho vegetable farm, Paige's family has faced tough times before, but a year after the loss of her father, her mom is overwhelmed by the financial challenges and reluctantly agrees to sell the farm. However, when a realtor pounds the "For Sale" sign into the family's front yard, the reality (and finality) of it is almost too much to bear. Paige is determined to do whatever it takes to save her father's farm, which has been in their family for generations.

With the help of her little brother, her best friends, Matteo and Kimana, and, of course, her trusty farm dog, T-Rex, Paige believes she can use her "farm smarts", however sneaky, to try to stop the sale of the farm. She puts makeup on the cows so they look sickly to potential buyers, and she pranks the realtor by releasing a jar of grasshoppers in her car. Her efforts don't stop reality from setting in; her mother and grandfather just don't have enough money to keep the farm running and selling it is their only option. But who will be the new owners, and where will her family go?

Paige finds a new appreciation for the land, animals, and even the barn she once took for granted. One day while roaming in the hay barn, Paige finds a peacock. She's fascinated by the beauty of the bird's plumage but discovers an injured wing among its fancy feathers. Since the bird cannot fly and return home, Paige is eager to nurture it back to health. Her book-smart brother helps her care for the bird and tells Paige that peacocks are symbols of luck, protection, and integrity in folklore and legends.

Shortly after the exotic bird is discovered, a man dressed in a business suit shows up on the farm with his two children and claims ownership of the peacock. Paige is devastated by the prospect of yet another loss and, again, prepares to face an adversary.

Paige is suspicious of him, especially because he's spending a lot time with her mom. But her first impressions are wrong and, like the peacock, his true colors show him in a positive light. He's a journalist looking for a good, human-interest story about their farming community and Paige sees a way to make the farm a solution that will help everyone.

With all the changes and challenges she faces with her family, Paige learns that sometimes the idea of a home is less about place and more about the people you call a family and that asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, but an opportunity for working with others and building strength.

A deftly crafted, thoroughly entertaining and engaging read from first page to last, "The Wish and the Peacock" by Wendy S. Swore is especially recommended for school and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-11. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Wish and the Peacock" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

A Journey to the Mother of the Sea
Maliaraq Vebaek, author
Aka Hoegh, illustrator
Inhabit Media
9781772272512, $16.95, HC, 32pp,

The sea animals have disappeared, and people are starving. An old couple, once great shamans, are asked to journey to the Mother of the Sea to find out what happened to the animals. But the journey is dangerous and the old woman does not know if she will be able to please the Mother of the Sea and convince her to free the animals the people of her community so desperately need.

The Mother of the Sea is an important character in Inuit traditional stories shared across the circumpolar region. Known by many names across various regions of the Arctic, the Mother of the Sea is a powerful woman who can withhold the animals humans need to survive if she is displeased by human behaviour. Only a shaman is able to appease the Mother of the Sea and convince her to release the animals that the hunters so desperately need.

Unreservedly recommended for children ages 9-12, and certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, school and community library collections, "A Journey to the Mother of the Sea" is deftly crafted and beautifully illustrated folk tale shares the specific traditional story of the Mother of the Sea told and retold in Greenland for generations.

Coral Reef Animals: Vertebrates
Eve Heidi Bine-Stock, author
Independently Published
9781090146397 $9.99 HC, $3.49 Kindle, 33pp,

"Coral Reef Animals: Vertebrates - A Guide in Rhyme" by Eve Heidi Bine-Stock is a stunning series of cleverly versed descriptions of 20 coral reef animals accompanied by creative color portraits crafted by applying artistic effects to photographs sourced from and

The amazing coral reef species represented include Green Sea Turtles, Porcupine Fish, Dugong and Manatee, Seahorse, Trumpet Fish, Stonefish, Moray Eel, Parrtofish, Leafy Sea Dragon, Yellow Boxfish, Flying Gurnard, Banded Sea Krait, Picasso Triggerfish, Blue-spotted Ribbontail Ray, Copperband Butterflyfish, Clownfish, and Grey Reef Shark. Even the reefs themselves are described in the poem, Reefs at Risk.

A favorite example of a quick biosketch poem is the poem on the Leafy Sea Dragon: "Found only in seas off Australia,/ They're known for their plantlike regalia./ /They hide so well/ In seaweed and kelp/ Due to their paraphernalia."

Shades of Ogden Nash are reinvigorated in these poems. This beautiful book of coral reef animals is a tribute to the crucial role of the coral reef and its inhabitants to balance and health of the world and unreservedly recommended for family, school, and community library marine life collections for children.

Royal Fireworks Press
First Avenue
PO Box 399, Unionville, NY 10988

Royal Fireworks Press has newly published three simply outstanding biographically oriented books by Robert Black in his 'Mathematical Lives' series which are unreservedly recommended addition to both school and community library collections for young readers.

"Pascal and Fermat: The Probability Pen Pals" (9780898247060, List $14.99/Website $10.00, PB, 106pp) is about how, in the early 1650s, a French aristocrat posed a gambling question to Blaise Pascal, one of the most brilliant scientists and philosophers of the time. But even Pascal needed help. The idea of seeing the future (even seeing a possible future) was so alien that he needed to discuss it with someone else. So he contacted his countryman Pierre de Fermat, arguably the greatest "amateur" mathematician of all time. During the course of several months, the two men exchanged a series of letters that laid the foundation of what we know as probability theory. In those letters, they changed the world.

"Florence Nightingale: The Lady with the Diagrams" (9780898247053, List $14.99/Website $10.00, PB, 124pp) is about the woman who is best known today for her revolutionary impact on medicine. She transformed the hospital system and dramatically reduced the death rate from infection and disease. She reformed the nursing profession from a job fitted only for women of low repute to one that employed dedicated, educated women who wanted a career in nursing. She was known internationally as the woman with the lantern who visited sick and wounded soldiers at night to soothe and comfort them.

But what most people don't know is that Nightingale's influence went far beyond the medical profession. In an effort to make the results of her research on disease and death rates accessible to people, she began creating diagrams - visual tools to allow people to see beyond the simple numbers they were reading in order to understand the true nature of what those numbers conveyed. She invented an array of circular diagrams and bar charts, many of which are still in use today or which have evolved to become commonplace to our modern eyes. The "Lady with the Lamp" can also be credited as the "Lady with the Diagrams" for her work in pioneering a way for mathematicians and statisticians to present bare facts as intelligible truths.

"David Blackwell and the Deadliest Duel" (9780880928076, List $14.99/Website $10.00), 116pp) begins with a boy's interest in math that was sparked in a high school geometry class, and who spent the rest of his life pursuing solutions to mathematical problems, but not just in geometry. Blackwell's career is particularly interesting because he worked in an array of subjects, instead of delving deeply into a single one, as is more typical of eminent mathematicians. He would read the work of others and then investigate different cases or applications of theorems that he thought hadn't been explored thoroughly enough. As a result, his influence stretched across a wide range of subjects, although it all centered on the basic concepts of mathematical and statistical decision-making.

Much of Blackwell's work stemmed from his study of duels. If two people are given guns with one bullet in them and are told to stand apart from each other (Old West style) draw, and fire, is there any way to tell who would emerge as the winner? Blackwell thought it was possible, and he worked on the problem until he had an answer as to what the outcome was likely to be, given a variety of conditions. That sort of thinking infused all of his work, and today he is regarded as a brilliant mathematician whose contributions helped to lay the foundation for new fields such as information theory. That he was an African-American working in the years before and during the Civil Rights Movement makes his accomplishments that much more remarkable.

Editorial Note: It should be noted that each of these three outstanding books include a 'Doing the Math' section that provides real math problems for children to solve using the contributions of the mathematicians explored in each volume.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

Wood Urbanism: From the Molecular to the Territorial
Daniel Ibanez, editor
Jane Hutton, editor
Kiel Moe, editor
Actar D
c/o Actar Publishers
355 Lexington Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781945150814, $54.95, HC, 492pp,

Synopsis: Wood holds unique and timely lessons for urbanization, yet it remains inadequately characterized in architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism. From under-considered thermal properties to emerging manufacturing possibilities, from changing forestry regimes to larger carbon cycle dynamics, "Wood Urbanism: From the Molecular to the Territorial" explores the unique material and scalar properties of wood, presenting it as a critical material for design today. It brings into conversation scholars and practitioners who focus on wood from a range of perspectives: from the working forest to the mid-rise building to the basic cell. Drawing from the inherent intelligence and depth of multiple disciplines, this book offers a transcalar perspective on the role of wood in contemporary urbanization: from the imperceptibly small to the confoundingly large.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the academic team of Daniel Ibanez, Jane Hutton, and Kiel Moe, "Wood Urbanism: From the Molecular to the Territorial" is impressively comprehensive and an expertly organized and presented work of collectively scholarship that is especially and unreservedly recommended for college and university library Architectural Materials reference collections, as well as its use as a curriculum textbook and supplemental studies reading lists with respect to trees in the biological sciences and the use of wood in urban and land use planning.

Editorial Note: Daniel Ibaņez is a practicing Spanish architect and urbanist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is co-founder and director of the design firm Margen-Lab. At Harvard University, Ibaņez is instructor and Doctor of Design candidate, editor of the New Geographies Journal and researcher at the Urban Theory Lab and the Office for Urbanization.

Jane Hutton is a landscape architect and Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Hutton is a co-founding editor of the journal Scapegoat: Architecture, Landscape, Political Economy, and is and is co-editor of Issues: 01 Service, 02 Materialism, and 06 Mexico D.F./NAFTA, which look at the political dimensions of material practice in design.

Kiel Moe is Associate Professor of Architecture and Energy at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His work as a scholar and practicing architect has been recognized by the Architecture League of New York Prize, the Boston Design Biennial Award, and multiple fellowships at the MacDowell Colony.

My Victorians: Lost in the Nineteenth Century
Robert Clark
University of Iowa Press
119 West Park Road, Iowa City, IA 52242-1000
9781609386672, $20.00, PB, 184pp,

Synopsis: "My Victorians: Lost in the Nineteenth Century" by Robert Clark is a hybrid in both form and content, part memoir/extended lyric essay but also a work of biography, photography, and cultural, literary, and art history. This is a travelogue in which Clark attempts to work through a sudden and inexplicable five-year-long obsession focused on Victorian novelists, artists, architecture, and critics. He wends his way through England and Scotland, meticulously tracking down the haunts of Charles Dickens, George Gissing, John Millais, the Bloomsbury Group, and others, and documenting everything in ghostly photographs as he goes.

As Clark delves deeper into the Victorian world, he wonders: What can its artists offer a twenty-first century writer by way of insight into his own life and work? His obsession with Victoriana bleeds into all aspects of his life, even the seemingly incongruous world of online dating. "My Victorians" considers what happens when heartbreak, eros, faith, and doubt drive us to take refuge in the past.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, deftly written, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "My Victorians: Lost in the Nineteenth Century" is an extraordinary, unique, and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that "My Victorians: Lost in the Nineteenth Century" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.62).

Paul T. Vogel

Richard Blake's Bookshelf

The Power of Imagination: Unlocking Your Ability to Receive from God
Andrew Wommack
Harrison House Publishers
9781680312867, $15.99

Andrew Wommack opens his book "The Power of Imagination in his book" with stories of ways men of faith in Old and New Testaments times experienced miraculous results in their lives, by activating their faith by living as though the answer was already a completed fact.

Noah stepped out in faith, believing when he built the ark. We can learn from the life of Abraham the rewards of pursuing the vision the Lord reveals a panoramic view of promises awaiting fulfillment.

Moses demonstrated the power of, and the miracle of faith by visualizing the land promised to God's chosen people, Israel.

Womack explores with his readers the concept; that imagination is the processor power of forming a mental image of something not real or present. He takes it a step further as he adds: vision is a mental image produced by imagination.

Andrew's writing stimulates the reader's imagination and activating positive change. I was challenged to allow God's Word to quicken my spirit and my imagination to effect changes, encouraging me to envision myself as a child of the highest God.

"The Power of Imagination - Unlocking Your Ability to realize their full potential and experience God's will for their life.

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

Overflowing with the Holy Spirit
Dr. Pat Harrison
Harrison House
9781680312652, $16.99, 224 Pages

Dr. Pat Harrison opens "Overflowing with Holy Spirit" with principles that demonstrate how the presence of the Holy Spirit and His power and might operates and flows through our lives.

Each chapter is filled with Scriptural evidence that enlightens the reader.

I received new insight and a better understanding and new insights into walking in holiness, distinguish the indwelling, and the outpouring of the Spirit of the Christian.

Harrison writes with a deep understanding, life experience and years of ministerial exposure to knowing the Spirit and walking in His power.

I received new insight and a better understanding and new insights into walking in holiness, distinguish the indwelling and the outpouring of the Spirit of the Christian.

Dr. Harrison helps the reader understand the importance of three essential truths:

1. A constant renewal of the Holy Spirit.
2. Become fully aware of how God wants us to live.
3. Learn the way of the Spirit - to appropriate the benefits of daily walking in God (the Spirits) way.

"Overflowing with the Spirit" is a primer, for the newer Christian, an operating manual for the more mature Christian and a must-read for all who want to walk in power and fullness of the Spirit's presence.

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

Victory Decrees
Jennifer LeClaire
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
9780768451467, $16.99, 366 pages

Promises and Challenges from the Scriptures for Overcoming Victory in Spiritual Warfare

"Victory Decrees" is made up of 366 daily reading filled with strategies for overcoming victory in spiritual warfare. Each day's reading includes incredible challenges, promises, and prompts from the Scriptures, bold prayers, and powerful decrees for a strategy to fight off the line of attack of the enemy and for attaining victory over spiritual warfare.

Each page highlights a fascinating perspective of developing an intimate conversation with God, including a specific approach for entering into the battle lines, gaining ground in an ongoing battle with the satanic forces of sin, to come out victorious.

Jennifer LeClaire is highly recognized for her leadership in the prayer movement, a prolific author, and a former editor of Charisma magazine. Jennifer's writing is consistently encouraging and uplifting.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

100 Bible Verses that will Change your Life - It's Time to Encounter the Father's Love
Mark Stibbe
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
9780768451559, $12.99, 252 pages

An Open Invitation to a Radical Life Change

In his book"100 Bible Verses that will Change your Life" Mark Stibbe gives the reader a profound glimpse into the heart of God, our Abba Father. Readers can expect to experience a radical life change through the depths of God's love as revealed throughout human history from the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem revealed in the book of Revelation.

Mark selects 50 verses from the Old Testament and 50 verses from the New Testament to relate examples of the love of the Father for man. The final chapter "a love from Our Father" provides a synopsis of God's love for his children from the foundation of the world through man's rejection, the covenant with Abraham, and the promise of the coming Messiah, Jesus, our redeemer and the Holy Spirit, our helper, and of His endless love. This summary is based on the 100 verses designed to change our life.

"100 Bible Verses that will Change your Life" is a book I will want to have readily available in my Devotional Library for regular access, chosen frequently for review and regularly for rereading. Hight recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own

Power & Authority over Darkness
Angela Greenig
Destiny Image Publisher, Inc.
9780768460941, $16.99, 236 pages

Demobilizing Demonic Strongholds: Spiritual Warfare, Prayer

Angela Greenig writes from personal understanding and a broad level of ministry experience in areas of Spiritual Warfare in her book "Power & Authority over Darkness." The book includes specific prayers and decrees, intriguing stories of partnering with angels in the deliverance process and basic instructions for identifying and defeating evil spirits. I was fascinated by the title "Dressed for Success" in which Angela highlighted each of the focal points of putting on the Armor of God.

Greenig is known as an international leader in the deliverance ministry. Her work is highly endorsed by National and International Mission spokesmen, Church leaders, and pastors.

Angela has a unique communication style that will resonate with readers at every stage of the Christian life, as well as educational background or professional status. Her writing is fast-moving, interesting, and informative.

"Power & Authority over Darkness" is a wakeup call to all Christians, a training manual in Spiritual Warfare for prophetic ministers as well as her challenging testimony of deliverance from the forces of darkness.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Our Hands Are Stained with Blood
Michael L. Brown, PhD
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
9780768451115, $16.99, 302 pages

Affirming God's Eternal Purposes for the Jewish People

As I read and reread the preface to this new, expanded, edition of "Our Hands Are Stained with Blood," I have had to search my heart to examine my attitude toward Jewish people, their history, and my understanding of an apostate church.

Dr. Michael L. Brown traces the fourth century through the Holocaust, including the bad press Israel consistently receives, and the anti-Semitism expressed in the pulpits of our churches today. Readers are challenged to make change; to shape the church that will end this cycle of persecution and violence toward the Jewish people.

"Our Hands Are Stained with Blood" is not a book for casual reading. Each chapter is worthy of intense study in a search for a deeper understanding and genuine enlightenment regarding anti-Semitism in the church.

Important detailed chapter end-notes provide evidence of the careful, thorough study and research Dr. Brown has done in completing this expanded version of "Our Hands are Stained with Blood."

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Secrets of the Anointing
Dr. Michelle Corral
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc
9780768450705, $16.99, 142 Pages

Unlimited Promises, Multiplying - Miracles, and Fulfilling God's Purpose

As I scanned the contents, feasted on the forward, and previewed the chapters ahead; I knew that Dr. Michelle Corral had a message for me in her book "Secrets of the Anointing."

Dr. Corral opens the book by introducing the seven avenues of access and the bondage breaking power of the anointing of God's Holy Spirit. She compares the successes and failures of familiar characters of the Old Testament.

Dr. Corral provides the reader with tools for learning to rely on the Holy Spirit and His anointing, and it's purpose and power. Each chapter also includes a prayer or prophetic word designed for the reader to enhance their relationship with and control of the Holy Spirit.

These proven principles of the anointing of the Spirit is backed by the result of Dr. Corral's forty years of experience operating in the anointing.

I was challenged to embrace God's plan, purpose, and will for my life and to recognize his purpose and mission for me to become an agent of change.

I can wholeheartedly recommend "Secrets of the Anointing - Walking in a Lifestyle of Holy Spirit Visitation" as a pattern of empowerment and enablement during the critical moments and challenging circumstances faced every day by Christ's followers.

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

Issuing Divine Restraining Orders from Courts of Heaven: Restricting and Revoking the Plans of the Enemy
Dr. Francis Myles with Robert Henderson
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
9780768445589, $16.99, 216 pages

Resisting, Restricting, and Revoking the Plans of the Enemy

"Issuing Divine Restraining Orders from Courts of Heaven" powerfully presents evidence of the concept of operating within the Courts of Heaven.

Chapters are made up of prophetic teaching on essential aspects of working within the courts of heaven, specifically as they relate to restraining orders for restricting and revoking the plans of the enemy.

I have had several opportunities for serving and observing several jury trials in my lifetime. I have been exposed to the court system as providing justice for the citizens of our country. Because of these experiences and my observations, I am intrigued by Dr. Myles's book "Issuing Divine Restraining Orders from Courts of Heaven."

A Life Application Section, which includes a related memory verse and powerful questions for reflection and application, and adds meaning to understanding the concept of the Courts of Heaven.

Other features I found helpful included:

Biblical Case Studies

Supernatural Testimonies

Powerful Scriptural Evidence

The extra lined pages at the end of the book for personal notes

The eighteen Activation Prayers

Instructions for how to use your spiritual authority to empower you and cancel the devil's plans!

"Issuing Divine Restraining Orders from Courts of Heaven" is a part of the Official Courts of Heaven Series.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

The Thirteenth Gate
Kat Ross
Acorn Publishing
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B071RQ142S, $2.99, ebook, 348 pages
9780997236293, $12.99 pbk

The Thirteenth Gate is a sequel to The Daemoniac, a very good spin off Sherlock Holmes. The Daemoniac is a delightful mystery with a touch of the paranormal but The Thirteenth Gate is a paranormal thriller with a touch of detective mystery. The change of genre focus does not read as well. Part of the charm of the first book is that the compare and contrast between the original Sherlock Holmes tales and the new one gave an intricate layered storyline. With the shift to paranormal, the story becomes a typical paranormal thriller where the focus has moved from detecting to the world building of a parallel paranormal world.

Two supernatural demon hunters track a very powerful demon who has escaped from New York to London to become Jack the Ripper. The demon is on the search for a gate into the shadow world, called the Dominion in the story. Leaving a trail of bodies, the demon stalks London and heads back to New York. The demon hunters and the detective pair from the first story must survive long enough to stop the demon before he causes more chaos across the world.

The Thirteenth Gate is an average paranormal tale with a handful of links to the classic Holmes stories. It doesn't stand out in the genre. It is recommended for paranormal readers or diehard Holmes fans. The price is right for anyone who wants to try a taste in the paranormal but it doesn't stand out in the genre.

The Clincher: A Horseshoer Mystery
Lisa Preston
Simon & Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
Arcade Crimewise
B075X332BD, $16.99, ebook, 288 pages
9781950691135, paper

The Clincher is a hard to read story. It is written in first person but that is not the real problem with the narrative. Preston writes first person as a stream of consciousness which produces a choppy and hard to follow storyline. The character development is solid and the mystery is average. The main character, being a farrier or horseshoer, is the story's greatest strength. Here Preston's writing is at her best as she brings alive the horseshoer's job and lifestyle.

Rainy Dale is a young farrier just starting her practice in Oregon. One of her clients is murdered shortly after she shoes a horse for her. She becomes a suspect in the death. A few more unusual occurrences happen and she decides she has to try to figure out what is happening. This brings her to the attention of the real killer which leads her into a lethal confrontation.

The Clincher is a good mystery but it doesn't stand out. If you like the farrier focus of the story, you should try to read the book but unfortunately you should probably avoid the ebook version because of the big publishing pricing practice of selling ebooks at higher prices than the normal paper printed versions.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Shelley Glodowski's Bookshelf

The Dog Who Knew Too Much
Krista Davis
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Random House LLC
9780451491688, $7.99

Krista Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of both the Paws and Claws mysteries and the Domestic Diva series. She has sixteen books to her credit and bases her writing on her love of cats, dogs, and her sumptuous recipes... which she lavishes on her willing friends. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with her furry friends.

THE DOG WHO KNEW TOO MUCH combines Holly Miller, hotel owner extraordinaire, her faithful dog, Trixie, and a cast of characters who inhabit Wagtail, a town specializing in the doting love of pets. Hollywood has invaded Wagtail for publicity surrounding a new tv show featuring Pippin, America's favorite dog. But their heralded arrival coincides with the dognapping of two well-loved dogs, followed closely by murder most foul:

"And there it was. The thing I had feared. Trixie, Gingersnap, and Pippin sniffed at a figure who lay among the briars at the bottom of the ravine. I couldn't tell much from the clothing. The person lay facedown with their legs pointing toward me, as though he or she had stood over the hollow and tried to dive headfirst. My heart sank when I saw the woeful face of a boxer lying alongside the person, her head resting on the person's back. It had to be Diane Blushner who lay there, because that was Stella, faithfully staying by her side."

Davis does a wonderful job of inventing a dog and cat fantasy town that will delight all lovers of four-legged furry wonders. She combines interesting Hollywood characters invade the town for publicity, but end up in the middle of the action, their hopes, dreams, foibles, and histories intertwined with Wagtail's culture. Wagtail is dog and cat heaven, Holly and her (Oma) grandmother, Liesel, run the local hotel, along with Trixie, her canine co-detective, Gingersnap, the hotel's ambassador, and Twinkletoes, the hotel's feline calico ambassador. Readers will be thoroughly charmed and cozied by Wagtail's devotion to all domestic animals, and the murder plot hits all the right spots for a perfectly plotted murder mystery, mixed with a little romance.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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