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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 1 January 2016 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Taking Sides
Cindy Milstein, editor
AK Press
3500 Parkdale Avenue, Building 1, #A28, Baltimore, MD 21211
9781849352321, $12.00, PB, 110pp,

Synopsis: "Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism" is a critical response to divisive debates within current movements against police violence and white supremacy, especially since the murder of Michael Brown at the hands of police officers. These sharp interventions ask activists to avoid easy (and safe) answers and take on the hard work of building real grassroots solidarity across racial lines.

Critique: A timely and much needed contribution to our current and on-going national conversation with respect to the kinds of systemic, structural, and entrenched political corruptions that have resulted in the every frequent shooting deaths of unarmed black citizens at the hands of local police officers and the rise of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement. Simply stated, a copy of "Taking Sides: Revolutionary Solidarity and the Poverty of Liberalism" should be on the shelves of every community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues reference collection and supplemental studies reading list in the country. It should be noted that "Taking Sides" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Clouds of Heaven, Beings of Light
Sharon Kay Casey
Circle Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785351693, $14.95, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: How does one describe the indescribable? With trust, the words will come to paint a faint image of that which lives and dwells in us all. "Clouds of Heaven, Beings of Light" by Sharon Kay Casey is the true story of a blessed life that, through a series of events, went to a very dark place of abusive relationships and drug addiction, until one night while sitting in a car, Casey's path was changed forever when she heard God's voice say, "Trust me". A few years later she entered a place of golden light. "When stillness comes flowing over like a well springing from the depths of our being... We see your face, faint at first then brilliantly shining with many lights brighter than the sun itself. We witness the universe moving within you, swirling slowly, then like a spiraling vortex with lights of many colors like precious stones of unspeakable brilliance. Within your being, surely all the heavens dwell. Beams of lightning extend from your head and we your Children of Light stand in awe and wonder."

Critique: An inherently fascinating and inspiring read from beginning to end, "Clouds of Heaven, Beings of Light" is an invaluable contribution to the reading lists of those with an interest in metaphysical studies. Writer and poety Sharon Kay Casey brings a certain literary excellence to her deeply personal account. Very highly recommended, it should be noted that "Clouds of Heaven, Beings of Light" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.49).

Fell the Angels
Catherine Butzen
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586892, $17.95, PB, 250pp,

Synopsis: Abby and her team mates at the Society for the Security of Reality stand between mankind and the "other". Faeries, selkies, werewolves, ghosts, ghouls -- all of the creatures mankind refuses to admit exist. Abby knows firsthand that they are real. She fights her personal demons as she fights the "other" -- with determination, hope, and spunk. After solving the disappearance of hundreds of children only a month ago, Abby is suddenly thrust into fighting the unknown once again. This time, it's the faeries who have invaded Chicago. And these are not the fae of your childhood stories. These are dark magic-wielders, capable of murder and committed to obtaining power over the mortal world. All Abby needs to do is find out who is helping them, solve the gruesome murders, and rebuild a relationship with her teenage son while keeping herself and her team mates alive.

Critique: "Fell the Angeles" is the sequel to author Catherine Butzen's fantasy novel "Thief of Midnight" (9781933586311, $15.95, 228pp) and once again demonstrates her complete mastery of the fantasy/horror genre. A riveting read from beginning to end, "Fell the Angels" is very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of fantasy fans, as well as an enduringly popular addition to community library Fantasy & Science Fiction collections.

My Spirit Rejoices
Marci Alborghetti
Twenty-Third Publications
1 Montauk Avenue, #200, New London, CT 06320
9781627850452, $12.95, 112pp,

Synopsis: In these moments when the angel informs her that she is to bear the Son of God, says Marci Alborghetti in "My Spirit Rejoices: Imagining and Praying the Magnifcat with Mary", everything comes together for Mary. She comprehends the magnitude of what God has done for the world as she begins her prayer of praise: My soul magnifies the Lord. Let Marci Alborghetti s unforgettable book transport you back to the hills of Judea, to the home of Elizabeth and Zechariah, as you imagine the visit and prayer of a teenage girl from Nazareth who changes the course of human history. Using historical and biblical background, Alborghetti pieces together a narrative to help you read and pray each verse of The Magnificat as you never have before. With each chapter you ll uncover new meaning and perspectives on Mary s words, drawing you to a deeper understanding of God s dream for the world through his Son s life, death and resurrection. As you stand at the threshold of that home in Judea more than 2,000 years ago, you ll begin to see just how fresh and new Mary s Magnificat still is for us today.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and presented, "My Spirit Rejoices: Imagining and Praying the Magnifcat with Mary" is both inspired and inspiring. "My Spirit Rejoices" is very highly recommended to all members of the Christian community.

The Money Queen's Guide
Cary Carbonaro
Morgan James Publishing
4410 E Claiborne Square, Suite 334, Hampton VA 23666-2071
9781630475574, $17.95, PB, 186pp,

Synopsis: Are you a material girl? The truth is that, as women, we all have a unique relationship with money. We strive for financial security to support our family, ensure we can retire comfortably, create independence separate from our partners, and along the way, buy some nice purses. As much as we are motivated to make money, we often do not consider the crucial relationship between what we do today and how it will impact our life tomorrow. From your Roaring 20's, to your Thrifty 30's, and all the way to your (hopefully) Smooth 60's, "The Money Queen's Guide: For Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear" will work to lead you through each of these financial decades step-by-step and provide insight into the steps you can take, and the decision you should make to build a financially responsible future.

Critique: "The Money Queen's Guide: For Women Who Want to Build Wealth and Banish Fear" by Cary Carbonaro (a Certified Financial Planner with an MBA in finance with over 25 years of experience in financial services) is as informed and informative as it is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation. A complete course of money management instruction under one cover, "The Money Queen's Guide" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Money Management instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Money Queen's Guide" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

How to Knit Socks That Fit
Donna Druchunas
Storey Publishing
210 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
9781612125411, $8.95, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: Whether you're working socks from the toe up or from the cuff down, designer Donna Druchunas's "How to Knit Socks That Fit: Techniques for Toe-Up and Cuff-Down Styles" offers complete, step-by-step instructions make sock knitting easy, enjoyable, and successful. You'll learn several different approaches for getting started, and you'll also discover how to shape comfortable toes, create heels that fit, and ensure stretchy cuffs that can be counted on to keep your socks up. Druchunas's useful tips and tricks include working confidently with double-pointed needles, knitting socks on one or two circular needles, and even knitting two socks at the same time. Once you've mastered these basic techniques, you can adapt them to create your own custom sock designs.

Critique: Nicely illustrated throughout, "How to Knit Socks That Fit: Techniques for Toe-Up and Cuff-Down Styles" is ideal for the novice knitter wanting to make sock projects. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, and presentation, "How to Knit Socks That Fit" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Needlecraft instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "How to Knit Socks That Fit" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.49).

The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoscha
Agnes Husslein-Arco, et al.
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791354941, $60.00, 240pp,

Synopsis: "The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoscha" is a compendium with commentary showcasing female portraits and nudes, mothers and children, as well as couples by of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka, the three most outstanding painters of Viennese modernism. In the early 20th century, the traditional relationship between the sexes was challenged by a number of social, economic, and philosophical changes. It was above all the incipient development towards gender equity that provoked vehement counter-arguments. On the other hand, sexual liberation can be seen as a common goal of men and women, since they both sought to escape the restrictive moral taboos of the 19th century. Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka (all three of whom were outstanding painters of Viennese modernism) approached the subject matter generally referred to as the "woman question" from slightly different, albeit overlapping perspectives. "The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoscha" will present an in-depth exploration of these differences and similarities.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated with superbly produced color plates and images, "The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoscha" is enhanced throughout with insightful and educative commentary making this coffee-table style volume a complete course of instruction on these three major Viennese painters. "The Women of Klimt, Schiele and Kokoscha" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library 19th Century Art History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet
Mike Berland & Gale Bernhart
Regan Arts
65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012
9781942872504, $26.95, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Mike Berland (the CEO of Edelman Berland whose clients have included multinational companies, professional sports leagues, entertainment figures, higher education and cultural institutions, and political leaders) and Gale Bernhart (two-time Olympic coach and leading athletic trainer), "Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet" is a compendium of a straightforward and simple, doctor-approved approach to eating and exercise that throws out decades of bad science and will transform a man or woman from being a fat-storing person into a permanent fat-burning machine. "Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet" offers a practical plan that will result in dramatic, life-altering results. So much of what is taught about fitness and weight loss is patently false, namely that we have to eliminate all fat from our diet or that we should load up on carbohydrates before a workout. These practices may actually be sabotaging weight management success. "Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet" exposes the myths that have prevented the achievement of weight and fitness goals, and will revolutionize the way we think about our body, our health, and our outlook on life.

Critique: Informative, 'real-world' practical, thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, presentation, and commentary, "Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Health & Medicine instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Fat-Burning Machine: The 12-Week Diet" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Healing Traumatized Children
Faye L. Hall, Jeff L. Merkert, John A. Biever
New Horizon Press
PO Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931
9780882824956, $15.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Because millions of children experience early trauma and attachment disruptions, whether through death, physical or sexual abuse, domestic, community, or school violence, terrorism or other tragic losses, parents and professionals need not just vague theories but a proactive plan for healing relationship avoidant children. In the pages of "Healing Traumatized Children: Navigating Recovery for Children with Turbulent Pasts", collaborative authors Faye L. Hall, Jeff L. Merkert and John A. Biever have successfully merged mental health, trauma, and attachment, parenting and in-home treatment strategies into a single comprehensive resource for parents and professionals. "Healing Traumatized Children" emphasizes the importance of an in-home plan (where the healing must begin), outlines how to effectively assemble a support network, provides the keys to the establishment of a therapeutic home environment, discusses psycho-education that identifies the six distinct Trauma Disrupted Competencies, and provides multiple types of healing interventions. "Healing Traumatized Children" confirms that without effective in-home intervention, many of these children will become involved in juvenile and adult justice systems and continue the inter-generational transmission of maladaptive relationships, abuse, and neglect. It is important to remember that these children will eventually become tomorrow's parents.

Critique: The collaborative work of Faye L. Hall and Jeff L. Merkert (who are respectively the program director and the co-director of Healing Hearts Family Based Mental Health in Harrisburg, PA.), and John A. Biever, M.D. (who is a Distinguished Life Fellow in the American Psychiatric Association, and a general and child/adolescent psychiatrist in private practice at the Quittie Glen Center for Mental Health in Annville, PA, as well as a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center), "Healing Traumatized Children: Navigating Recovery for Children with Turbulent Pasts" will prove to be of immense interest to academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the treatment of traumatized children due to such issues as the loss of a parent, parents addicted to drugs or alcohol, mentally ill parents, physical and/or emotional abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, and more. A work of impressively scholarship from beginning to end, "Healing Traumatized Children" is highly recommended and a critically important addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Healing Traumatized Children" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Edgar Cayce's Sacred Stones
Shelley Kaehr
ARE Press
215 - 67th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451-2061
9780876048177, $16.95, PB, 195pp,

Synopsis: "Edgar Cayce's Sacred Stones: The A-Z Guide to Working with Gems to Enhance Your Life and Health" offers fascinating advice for the use of gems and stones for a variety of life issues and enhancements, such as healing, psychic development, protection, and more. This is a thorough hands-on A-to-Z guide to gems, stones, and other materials the late Edgar Cayce mentioned in his life readings, plus more including suggestions and recommendations for their uses. Color photographs will assist in the descriptions and make for a beautiful book!

Critique: Informed and informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Edgar Cayce's Sacred Stones: The A-Z Guide to Working with Gems to Enhance Your Life and Health" by Shelley Kaehr is a "must" for students of metaphysics in general, and the contributions of Edgar Cayce in particular. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Edgar Cayce's Sacred Stones: The A-Z Guide to Working with Gems to Enhance Your Life and Health" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.95).

Spiritual Practices for Effective Leadership
Debora Jackson
Judson Press
PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-0851
9780817017583, $16.99, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: Burn out. Exhaustion. Depression. Stagnation. Stress. The demands of ministry take a toll on even the most resourceful and intentional minister. No one knows this better than Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson, President of the Ministers Council for American Baptist Churches USA and author of "Spiritual Practices for Effective Leadership: 7 Rs of Sanctuary for Pastors". In this new leadership resource, readers will discover the spiritual art of practicing sanctuary -- a process that ushers pastors into retreat and release, in order to review and reconnect, before reflecting and recalibrating, all with the goal of returning to ministry as more effective leaders. Practical and inspirational, "Spiritual Practices for Effective Leadership" is grounded in Scripture and solid research. Key features include: Making the critical link between spiritual practice and how it impacts leadership effectiveness; Providing a way-of-life process for pastoral leaders help them deepen their spiritual lives and use that deepening to impact and strengthen their effectiveness as a pastoral leader; Leveraging leadership theory, Judeo-Christian scriptures, and the lived experiences of pastoral leaders to demonstrate the value of reflection as a spiritual practice and how that practice becomes a critical requirement for leadership effectiveness and spiritual well-being.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Spiritual Practices for Effective Leadership: 7 Rs of Sanctuary for Pastors" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary. Very highly recommended, especially for members of the clergy, ""Spiritual Practices for Effective Leadership" is also readily available in a Kindle edition ($11.61).

Still Time
Jean Hegland
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781628725797, $24.99, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: Until John Wilson met the warm, wise woman who became his fourth wife, the object of his most intense devotion had always been the work of William Shakespeare. From his feat of memorizing Romeo and Juliet and half a dozen other plays as a student to his evangelical zeal as a professor, John's faith in the Bard has shaped his life. But now his mental powers have been diminished by dementia, and his wife has reluctantly moved him to a residential care facility. Even there, as he struggles to understand what's going on around him, John's knowledge of the plays helps him make sense of his fractured world. Yet, when his only child, Miranda (with whom he has not spoken since a devastating misunderstanding a decade ago) comes to visit, John begins to question some of his deepest convictions. In his devotion to Shakespeare, did he lose his way? Did he wrong the child who wronged him? The story of an imperfect father and a wounded daughter's efforts to achieve some authentic connection even now, "Still Time" celebrates redemption and the gift of second chances. "Still Time" is that rare novel that ends on a resounding note of hope, reminding us that there is always time to live fully and love deeply, so long as we are alive.

Critique: An absolutely riveting read from beginning to end, "Still Time" clearly documents author Jean Hegland as a superb novelist whose deftly crafted characters and thoroughly absorbing story make this one of those all to rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. "Still Time" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Still Time" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Down Home Blues
Phyllis R. Dixon
New Generation Press
P.O. Box 750024, Memphis, TN 38175-0024
9780974954004 book - $16.99
9780974954028 e-book

Phyllis Dixon's novel Forty Acres began the story, and it was supposed to end there - but superior works tend not to end quietly, but inspire to seek more - and thus Down Home Blues was born from a combination of reader request and author motivation.

One might presume, from this beginning, that a prerequisite would be familiarity with Forty Acres; but thankfully, this is not the case. Each book stands alone, and while Down Home Blues continues the stories of the Washington protagonists who were introduced in Forty Acres, it doesn't leave newcomers lost and wandering, but introduces prior events and people with just a few references and descriptions.

Readers are introduced to this background through the first-person experiences of Beverly Ann, who faces a bleak winter (having just lost her mother) as she recovers from both a car accident and the division in her family caused by her mother's death and legacy.

The first thing to note about protagonist/narrator Beverly Ann is her refreshingly candid assessments of the pros and cons in her life and her determination to make the best of everything: "... but losing Mama made me realize how short life is and I don't want to look back and see I wasted half of it chasing Anthony Townsend."

And then there's Carolyn, who dreads the holidays without her mother and who acknowledges the difficulties in a life changed by death and marriage: "Mama said it was years before she and Daddy came to an understanding about a lot of things and sometimes the worse comes before the better. It's no coincidence that we got married shortly before Mama died. The Lord sent Derrick to me, not to replace Mama, but to give me a new kind of happiness."

Seeing events from different first-person perspectives (especially when the transitions between characters are clearly marked, leaving little opportunity for confusion) lends a fine feel to a winding saga that delves into a fight, accusations of assault, altercations and adjustments between husbands and wives, and more.

Phyllis R. Dixon doesn't just describe events and circumstances that befall her characters: she uses the first-person to its maximum advantage, allowing each character to explore their thoughts, reactions, and experiences, which range from midlife crises and loss to the winding complexity of legal agreements and relationship changes.

Her protagonists are committed to different things - family, care giving, career, and each other - but their lives also intersect with larger issues, from legal proceedings to environmental concerns. Does 'for better or for worse' apply under all conditions?

Down Home Blues does a fantastic job of exploring how individuals and families interrelate and how their choices influence wider events in the greater world, making it a recommendation for novel readers who want their action driven by strong characters and their views of life's winding directions tempered by a better understanding of underlying psychological motivation.

Chelsea Creek to Bunker Hill: Spring 1775
Terri A. DeMitchell
Piscataqua Press
Tom Holbrook, Publisher
RiverRun Bookstore, 142 Fleet Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
9781939739971 $12.95

Chelsea Creek to Bunker Hill: Spring 1775 is children's historical fiction at its best, providing a sequel to The Portsmouth Alarm: December 1774 (not seen by this reviewer) and covering events following the political turmoil in Lexington.

The first thing to note is that Chelsea Creek to Bunker Hill is a historical novel focusing on political proceedings and viewpoints in 1775. This means that characters, action, and differing political positions (and their rationales) are the driving force of its story line. It is also important to note that most of the individuals referenced were real people who lived during the times (but are subject to the author's interpretation of events - thus, its fictional cloak).

Look closer and it can be seen that under this cloak of political facts is an attention to characters with their own changed dreams and aspirations, as in the case of the character of fourteen-year-old Andrew, who has studied hard for his college entry exams only to find the college has been closed indefinitely. His plans for his career, the troop buildup in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the unrest in his town become even more of a personal challenge as escalating tensions between colonists and the British affect his future aspirations.

Middle grade readers will find learning early American history a snap because this novel is fueled with the passions, family challenges, and concerns of young protagonists on the cusp of adulthood who find that the politics of their times is taking over their lives, options and choices.

As Andrew joins up, learns new skills, and participates in a regiment as a doctor's assistant, he is tasked with jobs that move beyond his initial interest in medicine to become struggles for autonomy and independence.

DeMitchell inserts a wealth of facts into Andrew's life and experiences that hold the side benefit of teaching middle school readers about the personal aspects of surviving the times: "Andrew was aware that the students tended to be younger than the soldiers. Andrew would have turned fifteen when he began his studies, but some started at twelve or thirteen. The soldiers were at least sixteen and many were much older."

From the mechanics of reinforcing fences and managing errant livestock to facing battles, troop movements, and facing the ultimate challenges of war, Andrew's shift from a relatively naive aspiring college student to becoming a passionate soldier involved in a cause takes the dispassionate facts of history and deftly turns them into an intimate, personal portrait of not only a nation entering into war, but a boy entering into manhood with all its complexities and challenges.

Young readers will come to understand the personal struggles behind historical facts and will find Chelsea Creek to Bunker Hill: Spring 1775 a powerful saga of the legacy of battle and the concerns of those who became mired in political and military struggles.

Warrior Kids
Michael J. Bowler
9781517398378 $7.75 paperback $1.99 Kindle

Warrior Kids: A Tale of New Camelot is set in New Camelot, where eighteen-year-old Lance and his Earth Warriors are battling climate change. It would seem unlikely that a youth-led movement can save the earth from its own inhabitants, but Lance's movement is spreading across America, attracting friends and making enemies alike. The question is: can they really make a difference?

It's unusual to see a middle-grade novel steeped in different themes often directed to adult audiences: political struggle, climate change, and the process of becoming a leader in a turbulent world. Such themes would seem to preclude the audience Warrior Kids is intended for - and, indeed, the subject and approach promises not a light leisure thriller, but a story offering more depth than most.

That's one of the strengths of Warrior Kids: set within the 'Children of the Knight' universe, it combines elements of Arthurian legend and futuristic struggle to create its own unique world where young adults have power and learn how to wield it.

Chapters discuss the kinds of wars movements spawn, the strengths needed from a determined leader of any age, and the types of enemies that are born under such circumstances. They follow the rise of 'kid power' in previously-adult political circles and they use many of the trappings of Arthurian times (Excalibur, knights, etc.) to explore rhetoric, political structure, and how determined kids could possibly make a difference in their world - if it's not already too late.

While Warrior Kids is might be considered a middle grade read, it's really a better read for high school, with its older teens and their social and political savvy. Such an audience will find it a refreshingly different world that poses many questions about ethics, morality, and human interactions with the planet; all presented under the unusual focus on 'kid power' and the ability of individuals and grassroots communities to change the world.

The Last Chameleon
James North
Crooked Cat Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN: 9781909841550 (paperback) $10.54
ASIN: B00IK56OK2 (eBook) $2.99

When Caroline Dupre joined a secret government organization after the assassination of her husband, she never expected to be placed into an effort to stop a nuclear terrorist. She never expected to become an intelligence operative tasked with one of the biggest jobs in history. And she never anticipated being part of an international cat-and-mouse game affecting the lives of everyone on the planet.

But in The Last Chameleon, she's involved in such a fight, and her prior encounters with killers have only added to her expertise and made her a stronger operative. Her strength is about to be tested, in more ways than one.

On the face of it, The Last Chameleon is a thriller on par with James Patterson and other notable writers. The strength of characterization, the expansion of scenarios described in the prior Vanguard novel Deep Deception, and North's ability to provide a sequel which both stands on its own and builds a striking continuation of events makes for a story that is accessible to newcomers, vivid reading for prior fans, and filled with both political twists and turns and powerful psychological development.

The characters find their abilities tested under impossible, unpredictable circumstances, which will delight readers looking for not just nonstop action, but psychological insights. Protagonists even have room for a dash of romantic possibility (though this is in keeping with their overall involvements in trying to save their world, and is presented more as a possibility than a subplot).

The storyline is dynamic, with poor but generous people, helicopter desert rescue missions, and characters who hesitate to reveal their vulnerabilities until it's almost too late ... The Last Chameleon is about changing, blending in, and transformations on many levels; but most of all, it's a super-charged thriller powered by one woman's struggles. This makes for a compelling read from start to finish: highly recommended for fans of high-octane thrillers who look for a strong psychological touch throughout, for added value reading.

The Other Side of Him
Alice Rene
California Country Press
9780996949002 $14.94 pbk
9780996949019 $TBA ebook

The Other Side of Him paints a rough urban scene with only a few strokes of the pen: a girl traverses her urban ghetto home, switchblade in hand, protected by her attitude, her weapon, and the fact that her big brother's protective wrath is well-known in their neighborhood.

But Claire isn't a girl without dreams: she's determined to go to college rather than work after graduating high school, even if her 'old country' immigrant mother opposes her goals in favor of gaining another working family member, and a scholarship is the only route that will make her dreams come true. That's the introduction of The Other Side of Him, but what is to follow is anything but a predictable course of action.

Alice Rene crafts exact, realistic settings which are one of the strengths in her story line ("The three of us ate the dinner Mama cooked in the afternoon between sessions at her Singer sewing machine. It could've been schnitzel or gulash or knackwurst with sauerkraut. Tonight it was meatballs.") She fast-forwards through Claire's college years, her brother's departure for a successful job in San Francisco, and a stubborn mother's refusal to leave the Chicago area which has become home to her and her German friends. All this is presented in Chapter One!

When Claire begins dating a doctor, there are early warning signs on their first date which portend trouble for the up-and-coming girl studying for her master's degree in Berkeley. ("I wasn't on an equal footing with him, but I didn't care. This was fun") And as she encounters troubled cases in her social work career, she acknowledges the personal work she needs to do to stay on top ("I need to work with myself - figure out how to deal with people I'd really like to murder.")

As the juxtaposition between pros and cons increases in the relationship, Claire finds herself learning about love in ways she never expected: through friendships, man troubles, and the evolution of a controlling stalker who weasels his way into her world despite all her efforts to identify and mitigate his threat.

Without giving away any more of the story line, suffice it to say that The Other Side of Him goes where few fictional accounts tread in identifying not just the evolution of a dangerous relationship, but how a smart, successful girl could find herself entrapped despite her most street-savvy senses.

Can Claire face her greatest challenge and emerge intact? Not without a series of unexpected encounters, which make The Other Side of Him a powerful recommendation for readers of fictional stories of abuse who want the superior (and more revealing) device of 'show' over the more common approach of 'tell'.

Angela McCubbins
Goldminds Publishing, LLC.
1050 Glenbrook Way, Suite 480, Hendersonville, TN 37075
9781942905172 $14.99 Paper / $6.99 ebook

Meet fifteen-year-old twins Liv and Oliver, who are facing the adventure of their lives in a first-person saga that opens with Liv worrying that "I'm afraid that my twin brother, Oliver, and I will be stuck in this place, sleeping on creaky cots, locked in a cell being guinea pigs for the rest of our lives." In two sentences, young adult readers of Transference are 'hooked': what has happened to the twins to lead them to this point? What has transpired are events that will change and challenge their lives, and they revolve around missing parents, a close-held family secret, and choices that will change them all forever.

It's quickly revealed that Oliver and Liv's special connection includes telepathy between them - and that this special ability is about to become much more dangerous as events unfold to reveal deeper, darker dangers.

A cat-and-mouse series of encounters evolves where Oliver and Liv succeed in escaping dangers time and again, only to find themselves more deeply immersed in discovering the truth about their abilities and the threats surrounding them.

As it becomes evident that more than one side has been watching them all their lives ("This man had been waiting and hoping for years that we'd just show up to one of his functions? But why didn't he try harder to reach out to us?"), it also becomes obvious that a myriad of tangled special interests are intersecting, placing them in the middle of danger on several fronts. At numerous points the number of questions outweighs all options and answers and seemingly leads nowhere - but then the plot twists again, and a path emerges that will prove a satisfying surprise to even the most savvy teen sci-fi or thriller reader.

As the twins discover that their fate leads to new friends and enemies alike (and a larger purpose), they are left with a newfound determination to take charge of their lives and abilities in defiance of all special interests and against all odds.

Be forewarned: Transference provides no simple conclusion but leaves the door wide open in a cliff hanger that portends more exciting adventures. Teens from middle to high school grade levels will find it action-packed and thought-provoking, with solid characterization and intriguing mystery throughout.

The Needy Greedy Dilemma
M.T. Webb
CreateSpace Publishing
9781505360189 $15.99

The Needy Greedy Dilemma: Coming to Grips with Greed and Gratifying Unmet Needs tackles a very specific psychological topic that usually is covered under different names or overly complex approaches: the state of being needy.

Chapters focus on how needy behaviors are linked to selfishness, self-centeredness, and issues revolving around self image, and they include a 'needy quiz' for identifying one's neediness along with self-help exercises designed to help readers recognize their needs and sync them with better behaviors and approaches to life.

That's the overview of Webb's approach: the real 'meat' lies in quotes (mostly Biblical, but from other sources too) that set the stage for understanding how and where dysfunction occurs in relationships and overall life approaches.

From how sexual preoccupation replaces intimacy to understanding authority, leadership, and the needy (or greedy) roots of isolation, The Needy Greedy Dilemma cements its observations in Biblical context and modern living and thus represents an unusual approach that melds spirituality, psychological insight, and social commentary.

Christian readers seeking self-help discussions firmly rooted in both scripture and psychology will find The Needy Greedy Dilemma to be a solid, compelling approach.

Success Through Super Systems
N. Muthuswamy
9781311572950 $6.99

Success Through Super Systems: A Single Dynamic To Steer You Through Your Life's Decisions comes from a veteran management consultant who has worked with companies throughout India, creating and applying products and management approaches for various companies. His survey of success opens with reflections on what constitutes success and how to measure it, creating a foundation for analytical applications before moving on to identify the basics of 'super systems', identified here as systems between businesses and customers and the kinds of verifications that take place between them.

Communication models for improving self-awareness, identifying and understanding the latent powers in the 'Hidden Self' and how to use them, and taking R&D and other linear management approaches and tempering and improving them with a healthy dose of psychological insight are just a few of the approaches used in Success Through Super Systems, a model of thought that requires more than a small dose of psychological introspection from the business managers while considering its special attributes.

Quest Systems has developed a wide range of these models and applications and their philosophy is embedded in chapters that are as precise about their potential as they are about the common pitfalls of typical business approaches: "We pity those company managements who tell lies to their customers for explaining out their delay in delivery or in explaining quality problems faced by their customers in their supplies. Their days are numbered. We say emphatically: Do not manage your customers, do not just maintain relations with them, never ever manipulate them but merely serve them genuinely."

The tips also incorporate spiritual reflection and discussions of how to overcome obstacles to success on different levels: "The advantage of the mind becoming comfortable with both opposites is to be seen in the way such a mind works in a decision making process, in personal or official fields. The decision made by such a mind becomes the most effective decision under the given set of circumstances as the mind is not bogged down by likes and dislikes, unbiased by one's own conditioning of previous successes and failures, convictions or mental blocks."

From perceived values and preferred values to examples drawn from Indian literature, spirituality, and business traditions, Success Through Super Systems outlines an approach that considers the roots of success and failure in a variety of systems and encourages a fluid understanding of how to identify the correct 'Super System' for a particular role or goal.

The reader who will gain the most value from Success Through Super Systems won't be the business manager used to linear thinking and problem-solving, but those who can appreciate the added value brought to the table by a blend of psychology, spirituality, and cultural understanding. This is a text that should not be hastily digested, but slowly absorbed for its ability to offer lasting food for thought and discussions of not a single system, but a variety of 'super system' options. The dynamic promised may seem singular at first; but its wide-ranging concepts strive for clearer thinking and include examples for both business and life pursuits in a complex, thought-provoking read filled with powerful opportunities for change.

Sworn To Raise
Terah Edun
NLA Digital LLC
1732 Wazee Street, Suite 207, Denver, CO 80202
9781620511862 $2.99

Sworn to Raise is Book One of the 'Courtlight' fantasy series and centers around seventeen-year-old Ciardis, who is a humble cleaner in a small town on the outskirts of an empire - and the last person who would seem to become involved in the struggles of princes and the court life. So when she's chosen to leave home and train to become a Court Companion, she is tasked with rising above her servant station to fill an impossible role.

Several things should be mentioned: first, it takes time to build the character of Ciardis and her world; so young adults expecting nonstop action and shallow adventure might find Edun's attention to detail surprising for a leisure fantasy read, which usually forsake depth for nonstop action and a faster pace. This just serves to create subplots with unusual stories, such as the introductory challenge posed to Ciardis when she finds her future partner has been suddenly betrothed to another because of an unwanted pregnancy and a father's intervention.

Attention is given to outlining the different aspects of magic in such a world, and to cementing Ciardis' changing place in it. What takes time and, for those expecting quick action, detail will ultimately prove much more attractive to fantasy readers seeking more complexity and depth than the usual young adult fantasy offers.

Ciardis isn't perfect. But it's quickly evident that her narrow, self-centered vision of herself and her limited world is about to expand exponentially; and as her ability to attract candidates cements her new position, she finds herself in an increasing whirlwind of controversy and struggle.

The story line builds slowly, methodically, and solidly, cemented by different characters and descriptions of magic's place in their world. Just enough detail is given to hold everything together: as Ciardis grows and evolves, so readers are drawn into her new life and revised future.

Minor grammatical flaws are peppered throughout, but not to the point that the story line is significantly hampered - a quick proofing or edit job would catch and fix these blemishes upon the apple. Teens will find Sworn to Raise a compelling saga of magic, romance, and one young woman's struggle to find and understand her revised role in her world.

Free of Malice
Liz Lazarus
Mitchell Cove Publishing
9780990937401 $12.95

Laura is having yet another nightmare - and her patient, loving husband is fed up; so he's scheduled her for a visit with a therapist, hoping things will change...and, they will. Only, not the way he envisions.

Free of Malice offers many sterling qualities that place it more than a cut above the usual 'whodunnit'. Some of these features are as subtle as having a daily timeline at the start of each chapter to keep readers on track with the sequence of events. Others include letting readers into Laura's inner world through her first-person narration, including illustrations (such as refrigerator notes and memos), discussing PTSD and trauma therapy approaches, and adding courtroom drama into the mix.

One of the most striking facets of Free of Malice lies in the fact that readers really have no idea where the plot will go. It opens in a fairly straightforward manner and just when readers believe they can anticipate its story line, it turns 180 degrees into the unexpected. Perhaps that is its greatest strength of all: in a literary world too filled with formula writing and overdone approaches, its ability to inject more than an element of surprise to keep readers guessing and on their toes is its finest achievement - and what sets the thriller/mystery/psychology of Free of Malice apart from any potential competitors, making it a worthy and riveting pick for any who look for legal thrillers firmly rooted in psychological depth.

Darker the Night
Lisa London
Deep River Press
9780991163557 trade paper $18.95
9780991163564 large print $24.95
9780991163571 ebook $9.95

Publication date: February 19, 2016

Enter the story in 1944 (World War II), where the blast of an air raid siren sends two girls tumbling from their beds and into a basement shelter; then go back in time to 1937, where Hedy is a winner in a competition certain to make the Furher proud of his young warriors. This win will earn her a position in his Youth Gathering in Cologne, a high honor, indeed, for one not yet fourteen.

Hedy's classmates are in the SS and in special corps serving the Furher, and their lives take on new meaning in an adult world where they are usually directed instead of respected.

More so than most similar books about Hitler's youth movement, Darker the Night chooses a powerful character (Hedy) to portray how youth were affected by his ideals and encouraged to participate in increasingly dark events. It's often about seeking and gaining approval from peers and adults alike: and just as frequently, events pose a strange juxtaposition between adult training and concerns and a child's eye view of the world just beginning to change as they teeter on the cusp of adulthood: "Grinning, Hedy picked it up and swung back. Frieda seized a pillow and returned fire. Soon all of the girls were throwing pillows and shrieking. Laughter, squeals, and feathers filled the room as they fell on top of one another."

By interspersing these moments of a child's life and innocence with the insidious unwinding of events to come, London's survey succeeds, more so than most young adult reads, in capturing the flavors of both the times and the sentiments of young people determined to fit in and establish a position for themselves in life.

As Hedy continues to mature and comes to make some difficult decisions about friends, enemies, and her future, she finds herself constantly walking a thin line between survival and ethics, making decisions that often tend to thwart the effects of starvation and challenges to life itself: "Dammit, Hedy, every time I visit you, I ask, 'What do you and your family need?'" He stopped and drew a deep ragged breath. "You lied to me. You insisted you did not need a thing. Your family is starving and you won't tell me? What kind of relationship is this?" Squirming, Hedy explained ..."I didn't want you to think I was dating you to get food." Hedy fought back the tears swelling in her eyes. "I never wanted you to question my motives."

And as she interacts with Americans and Germans alike, she savors the good things that evolve in her world (for, yes, there is good - it's not all darkness) and battles against those which would drag down her and her family.

Each chapter opens with a quote from a speech or piece of propaganda to give a flavor of the times and its influences, and each section offers new opportunities for reflection and understanding; because just as events in Germany weren't singular, so Hedy is a complex character whose perceptions aren't based on political correctness today, but on the experiences of a young German citizen confused about her country's direction and its real actions.

Against this backdrop, Hedy's coming of age isn't just political: it's a personal saga personal, throughout. This approach gives the book a stunningly realistic, absorbing quality that will make it a powerful juxtaposition to Diary of Anne Frank, recounting the youth experience from quite a different vantage point and making it a special recommendation for a companion read and contrast to Anne Frank's more famous Diary's perspective.

Fracking America
Walter M. Brasch
Greeley & Stone, Publishers, LLC
2351 Wyda Way, Suite 1113, Sacramento, CA 95825
9780942991277 (trade paper) $TBA
9780942991284 (case bound) $TBA

Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefits provides a follow-up to Walter M. Brasch's prior, acclaimed Fracking Pennsylvania; expanding the subject's scope and using some of the Pennsylvania settings as examples in a wider-ranging assessment of fracking's environmental, economic, and political impact on America.

Because many fracking discussions focus on environmental impact, it's satisfying to see an account that moves well beyond the usual focus to analyze some of the other reasons why fracking is an unusually dangerous pursuit. The wide-ranging discussions move from theological perspectives on fracking (from religions that include admonitions to care for the environment) to connections between industry interests and political maneuvering, which have influenced politicians to create laws skewed toward industry benefits and against public health and environmental concerns.

Dr. Brasch isn't just a naysayer who fills chapters with emotional rants: he offers a studied, rational series of analyses centered around the mechanics of fracking and its impact on different levels. And while it may be his third book on the topic (at first, he didn't want to write any of them; initially not wanting to take the time and effort to learn about engineering, geology, and political practices involved in any real in-depth treatment of the subject), Fracking America may well be his most important yet.

As Dr. Brasch delved into the mechanics of the natural gas fracking process, he became more and more convinced it is a bad idea on many levels - and Fracking America continues this conviction by gleaning more hard evidence from fracking operations across the country.

Readers should anticipate the same attention to detail and facts as in his other books on the subject. Charts, graphs, and footnoted references to CAC studies, news reports, scientific papers and documents support his contentions and provide authority to support every statement. While the prevalence of so many footnoted references (several thousand) may seem daunting to some, these serve to not only support Dr. Brasch's contentions, but provide annotated references readers can turn to (almost all of them presented as website links) for their own research.

Discussions and assessments of renewable energy resources around the world, their locations, and their potentials round out what has to be the most authoritative, well-researched, rational and evidence-based discussion of fracking in America to hit the book market to date.

Fracking America is highly recommended for anyone studying the subject at any level, whether they are newcomers to fracking or activists who have only researched environmental impact, and need to fill in the blanks on political processes and impacts that hold important questions about American freedoms and political maneuvering.

Samantha Smartypants and the Slippery Slope
Barbara Puccia
9781515200390 $6.99

Samantha Smartypants and the Slippery Slope is a fun elementary level to middle school read and is narrated in the first person by Samantha Pojanowski (i.e. 'Smartypants'), who has earned the class reputation of being too smart for her own good.

Luckily, Samantha is able to make the most of her name - but not before she faces one of the biggest challenges of her life (and one in which her intelligence level doesn't help): skiing. It's clear early on that physical exercise isn't part of her skills list: "I whizzed through the math and spelling, and read a chapter in my history book. It didn't take long because homework was easy for me. On the other hand, skiing at Devil's Drop seemed like the hardest job in the universe."

Can she come up with a plan so she doesn't have to go skiing, which will interfere with her beloved book reading?

Any young bookworm or non-athlete will readily appreciate Samantha's dilemma and her creative efforts to wiggle out of what surely will be an unpleasant situation.

But that isn't the only slippery slope that Samantha faces: there's the advent of Kindle over her beloved paper books; there's an infatuation evolving on the ski slopes, and there's a special girl who wants to ski even though she's wheelchair-bound.

As Samantha faces all kinds of new situations, from fighting fears to different classmate interactions, she discovers that the answers don't always lie in books and intelligence. Instead, she re-adjusts her perspective to face these new challenges which lie at the heart of not just a slippery slope, but a series of downhill experiences that ultimately strike at Samantha's short-lived (but well-constructed) identity.

At the end of her story, young readers will readily relate to Samantha's perspectives, changing world, and the choices she faces in tackling her greatest fears over new experiences. Samantha Smartypants and the Slippery Slope is highly recommended as a lively read incorporating many absorbing questions about a child's evolving identity in the face of life's changes.

QUACK Goes the Corgi
Nancy Kondos
1264 Old Alpharetta Road, Alpharetta, Georgia 30005
9781610056250 $12.95

QUACK Goes the Corgi is a whimsical picture book that at first glance would seem to capture a child's eye with fun multi-colored animal drawings; but the winding topic also holds the power to intrigue adults with its insights into animals and psychology, and is best pursued through a child/adult reader partnership.

The corgi dog barks as often as a duck quacks, and thinks of himself as the center of the universe, but he has a true friend in Bunny, and the two very different critters cultivate a relationship through various tests and encounters that range from a staring contest to races. How can the little corgi "stand tall" on his own?

Various devices, from thievery, to being silly, to being overly vocal, lend a feeling of power to the corgi's efforts. But are they all effective?

The concepts are presented in simple language and scenes that are often compellingly fun and silly; but they do require adult discussion to move beyond the 'silly factor' into something more thought-provoking for youngsters. One of the joys of QUACK Goes the Corgi is that it's actually not a simple read, despite its easy presentation and approach; this means that kids will find each page delightfully unexpected and fun - and quite a few will be easy to relate to for various age levels. For example: "Corgis get in bad moods whenever their cookie jars are not refilled."

As a parade of different corgis moves through the book, with different perspectives on life and what makes it good, kids are treated to some fun perceptions of how the world becomes good or bad depending on approaches, desires, and different perspectives.

Heady reading, couched a in fun cartoon-like collection of colorful drawings and a range of corgi psyches, makes QUACK Goes the Corgi an unexpected delight, standing well apart from the picture book crowd with a whimsical and zany perspective that includes more than a small dose of psychological insight - something young readers and their parents will relish as discussion points.

Love's Timeless Melody
Cindy Irish
Amazon Digital Services
9781942627036 $TBA print / $3.99 Ebook

Love's Timeless Melody (the second book in the Bel Homme Quartet) continues Cindy Irish's saga of lives in transition and tells of Jamie's dual life as a successful, newly moneyed pop-opera group member who has come from small-town roots to make good, but who retains family in Stonehenge, and a spiritual connection to a fate that will draw him from the lure of fame and fortune to possible true love.

This love could take the form of Jessica, an American psychic whose own powers didn't help her avoid a devastating assault and its deadly ramifications, and who flees America for a safe haven to heal and escape her past.

While it may seem inevitable that the two star-crossed lovers will meet, what is less predictable are the devices by which each confront not just one another, but their destinies; facing their fears in new ways that hold opportunity for transformation as well as confrontation.

Can one cultivate love while fleeing demons? And what if those demons follow and re-emerge to destroy one's dreams of future happiness?

As Love's Timeless Melody winds through passionate scenes, dazzling promises, and the quaint villages of England, readers enjoy a flavor of romance overshadowed by a looming question which threatens to tear apart what has been so carefully reconstructed.

Is Jessica's newfound love an illusion? Should she return home to confront the rest of her life? And what about Jamie: has he found another passion that fills in some blanks? And should he share with Jessica a financial revelation that could change things?

As the romance builds, so do the questions - and so do efforts upon each character's part to resolve their pasts and cement a solid future. Should they be together, or apart? That is the question. Romance readers won't need the prior book to serve as an introduction to this stand-alone saga; but after reading it, one surely will want to turn to its predecessor to learn the background of how events progressed to this point.

The Widow's Guild
Anna Castle
Privately Published
9780991602582 $13.49

The Widow's Guild is the third Francis Bacon mystery in the series and, as such, it functions as both a stand-alone read and (even better) as an expansion of the prior mystery's themes. Set in the politically stormy summer of 1588, the Spanish armada has been defeated, and Francis Bacon is involved not in a political war but in a personal battle when his assistant is accused of murder and locked in the Tower after trysting with a rich newlywed.

Bacon is tasked with proving his assistant's innocence, which seems a fairly predictable turn of events given his relationship with the man and political connections that turn to him to solve cases of high-profile murders. What is less predictable (and wonderfully engrossing) is the turn of events that leads Bacon to realize that the real perp has something more insidious in mind than a singular crime.

As the nation recovers from months of war and Bacon undertakes a more dangerous battle on the home front, it quickly becomes evident that what drives The Widows Guild is not a politically charged atmosphere nor even a killer's questionable motives: it's author Castle's attention to building historical atmosphere and intriguing twists that ply men and women against one another and expose some of the emotional perceptions of each sex: "Ben meant well, but if he thought she was going sit around on her lily-white arse embroidering cuffs while everyone else got to rove the city tracking crafty villains, he had not been paying attention during the past two years of their friendship. Besides, these crimes concerned her more than anyone else. She had a right to help solve them."

Accidents that turn into strokes of luck, books with messages, and Bacon's own confrontation with his role in society and its effect upon others ("That shamed Francis. How could he sit smugly in his comfortable chambers, never giving another thought to the men he had recommended for "further questioning"? This was where they went, he'd always known it. Perhaps he did have a moral obligation to face the result of his judgments, at least once.") are steeped in the cultural and social atmosphere of its times and bring characters and events to life.

The result is a historical mystery that excels in depth as it presents a saga of vengeance and change, discussing character and theories of murder that takes Bacon his and readers on a whirlwind tour from dungeons to mansions in search of answers that question the very tenants guiding his life and actions.

Fans of historical mysteries will find this book just as captivating and well-done as the rest in a highly recommended read brimming with action and captivating scenarios.

Major Crimes
Michele Lynn Seigfried
Privately Published
9781518818929 $12.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Amazon Order Link:

Book Four in the Jersey Shore is a 'cozy mystery' perfect for newcomers to the mystery series as well as prior fans, and it opens with a heart-stopping scenario that portends danger from its first moment: the protagonist returns home to find her front door unlocked - and she's always meticulous about locking it, even though she owns little of value.

She searches her house instead of fleeing or phoning the police - and finds a surprise. It's an unannounced visit, and one that affects Chelsey's good judgment (and ultimately lands her into big trouble) as she becomes personally involved in a convoluted crime whose twists and turns seem to have no end.

As the story line switches perspectives between characters, readers catch a good glimpse of motivations, unspoken feelings, and complications faced by the single mother. Chapter headings do a fine job of informing readers about these changing perspectives and help keep everything on track as the complex mystery unwinds.

Police interrogations, murder, relationships between exs still bound by children, uncertain connections that may (or may not) indicate romance: all these are wound into a story line that is spiced with children, husbands, parents, police departments and ex-cops.

At the center of this whirlwind is Chelsey, whose strongest connections with men have also proved to be her most unstable foundations. Three men in her life have failed her. One has done something crazy. One is falling in love. And the choices Chelsey is forced to make around all three will change her life.

Major Crimes is a revealing, compelling mystery story that's hard to put down. Driven by interpersonal relationships, a sassy combination of fun and angst, murder and mayhem, and dangerous associations, it's an emotion-driven and yet is a light, fun mystery that's perfect for a cozy winter's night.

One Bucket at a Time
Terrell Dinkins
1264 Old Alpharetta Road, Alpharetta, Georgia 30005
9781610057066 $15.99

The concept of wealth building has been one typically directed towards men, but that arena is about to change as aging women realize that their lack of preparedness is about to translate to working into their seventies to meet their retirement goals.

One Bucket at a Time is thus a top recommendation for women who haven't previously considered the opportunities involved in wealth building, and who seek a direct connection between present and future lifestyles and how to fund these goals.

Chapters focus on the author's "bucket system" of handling and building this wealth, offering a step-by-step progressive method of rethinking money management strategies that go beyond savings accounts and delve deeply into the various options of how to make existing and future money work well.

The key to all this lies in "creating sustainable wealth" and the advice comes from a woman who has inherited neither wealth nor knowledge. She DID enter the banking world at a young point in her career, though, and her observations of clients and their approaches contribute to an evolving sense of how wealth is accumulated and nurtured.

From common errors in logic involving the lack of a budget to short-term thinking about goals to paying off one's home before retirement and not placing all one's wealth-building income in the stock market, chapters review common pitfalls and opportunities alike and provide a road map that includes many precautions (such as taking advantage of an employer's free programs while understanding that benefits can be left behind upon leaving that employer).

The basic premise here is that "women should be in control of their habits and behavior around money." Women seeking the mechanics of such control will find One Bucket at a Time an accessible and informative read, filled with case history examples and clear discussions of how wealth is acquired and managed.

Escaping Poverty
Various Writers
Reading Harbor
0692574069 $10.00

Discussions of poverty in the U.S. typically adopt a sociological viewpoint, analyzing and pointing out influences on poverty and patterns among different ethnic groups - but few go so far as to point out how to escape these patterns; much less document the experiences of those who have succeeded.

This is why Escaping Poverty stands out from the crowd in its subject area: its focus is on those who have escaped 'impossible' heritages and conditions, and its chapters pinpoint obstacles to success and how these individuals rose above them. Only some 30% beat the odds: this collection gathers their stories.

Some of the stories hold similar qualities: of workers underpaid, under-employed, and lower-skilled. Others document life-changing decisions that led to poverty - and surprising lessons learned in the process ("A business can't succeed if it is selfish. A business needs to deliver some kind of value. Otherwise, it is just this soulless, dream-crushing succubus that will drain your spirit and ruin you. Chasing after fumes is intoxicating and poisonous; it will fill you with regret.")

What ultimately links all these presentations is their spirited first-person voices which examine not just the dispassionate term 'poverty', but how it is being conquered in each contributor's very different life.

The chapter headings themselves delineate the boundaries of these discussions, from 'Still Trying to Escape' to 'Successfully Escapes with a Little Help', 'Successfully Escaped Through Education', and 'The Aftermath of Poverty', documenting lingering effects.

Inspirational, thought-provoking and personal, these true-life accounts are recommended as a 'must have' anecdote to any third-party analysis of the state and sociology of poverty in modern-day America. It's here, with this collection and these accounts, that the real story truly begins.

Absolute Intolerance
Kenneth Eade
Times Square Publishing
c/o CreateSpace
9781522752202 $13.50 pbk / $0.99 Kindle

Ordering Link:

Absolute Intolerance holds many themes within its drama, which returns lawyer Brent Marks to courtroom and investigative process alike when a serial killer of gay couples threatens his Southern California town.

When the perp is apprehended after a horrific hit-and-run and a murder spree that results in the killing of a busload of people, the case seems fairly cut-and-dried - but Marks becomes convinced that his client, a religious zealot, is innocent; and to prove this, he must follow a faint clue that leads elsewhere, to find the real perp.

Absolute Intolerance is packed with delightful twists and turns, but its real surprise lies in an unexpected conclusion that neatly sums up events without a predictable path being taken. This makes for a gem of a read for courtroom drama and mystery fans used to the clues adding up to one direction.

Without spilling beans, suffice it to say that Absolute Intolerance remains thought-provoking from start to finish, and is a winning story fueled by issues of religious and gay civil freedoms alike.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

A History of Fort Worth in Black & White
Richard F. Selcer
University of North Texas Press
1155 Union Circle #311336, Denton, TX 76203-5017
9781574416169 $29.95 hc / $23.96 Kindle

Synopsis: A History of Fort Worth in Black & White fills a long-empty niche on the Fort Worth bookshelf: a scholarly history of the city's black community that starts at the beginning with Ripley Arnold and the early settlers, and comes down to today with our current battles over education, housing, and representation in city affairs. The book's sidebars on some noted and some not-so-noted African Americans make it appealing as a school text as well as a book for the general reader. Using a wealth of primary sources, Richard Selcer dispels several enduring myths, for instance the mistaken belief that Camp Bowie trained only white soldiers, and the spurious claim that Fort Worth managed to avoid the racial violence that plagued other American cities in the twentieth century. Selcer arrives at some surprisingly frank conclusions that will challenge current politically correct notions.

Critique: Extensively researched and thoughtful, A History of Fort Worth in Black & White lives up to its title in its balanced portrayal of Fort Worth's African-American communities from early settlers to present-day legal battles over education, housing, and political representation. Brief biographies of both famous and notorious African-Americans who resided Fort Worth are also included. Written to be accessible to readers of all backgrounds (including high school students), A History of Fort Worth in Black & White is an edifying and welcome contribution to public library American and Texas History shelves.

Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930-1975
John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473
9781107083080, $99.99, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: "Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930-1975" by John A. Gronbeck-Tedesco (Associate professor and Convener of American Studies, Ramapo College of New Jersey) examines the ways in which Cuba's revolutions of 1933 and 1959 became touchstones for border-crossing endeavors of radical politics and cultural experimentation over the mid-twentieth century. Professor Gronbeck-Tedesco ably argues that new networks of solidarity building between US and Cuban allies also brought with them perils and pitfalls that could not be separated from the longer history of US empire in Cuba. As US and Cuban subjects struggled together towards common aspirations of racial and gender equality, fairer distribution of wealth, and anti-imperialism, they created a unique index of cultural work that widens our understanding of the transition between hemispheric modernism and postmodernism. Canvassing poetry, music, journalism, photographs, and other cultural expressions around themes of revolution, "Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930-1975" seeks new understanding of how race, gender, and nationhood could shift in meaning and materialization when traveling across the Florida Straits.

Critique: An outstanding work of seminal scholarship, "Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930-1975" an exceptionally well written study that should be a part of every academic library Cuban/American Studies reference collection. Of special note is the chapter on 'Race and Revolution in Verse: US-Cuban Diasporic Culture and Politics'. It should be noted for academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history and evolution of US - Cuban relations that "Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930-1975" is also available in a Kindle edition ($80.00).

Abba Eban: A Biography
Asaf Siniver
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781468309331, $40.00, HC, 464pp,

Synopsis: A skilled debater, a master of language, and a passionate defender of Israel, Abba Eban's diplomatic presence was in many ways a contradiction unlike any the world has seen since. While he was celebrated internationally for his exceptional wit and his moderate, reasoned worldview, these same qualities painted him as elitist and foreign in his home country. The disparity in perception of Eban at home and abroad was such that both his critics and his friends agreed that he would have been a wonderful prime minister -- in any country but Israel. In "Abba Eban", biographer Asaf Siniver (Associate Professor in International Security in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham) paints a nuanced and complete portrait of one of the most complex figures in twentieth-century foreign affairs. We see Eban growing up and coming into his own as part of the Cambridge Union, and watch him steadily become known as "The Voice of Israel". Siniver draws on a vast amount of interviews, writings, and other newly available material to show that, in his unceasing quest for stability and peace for Israel, Eban's primary opposition often came from the homeland he was fighting for; no matter how many allies he gained abroad, the man never understood his own domestic politics well enough to be as effective in his pursuits as he hoped. The first examination of Eban in nearly forty years, "Abba Eban" is a fascinating look at a life that still offers a valuable perspective on Israel even today.

Critique: It ironic that Abba Eban was an Israeli diplomat who was revered by every nation except the one he represented. Informed and informative, This outstanding biography draws from a wide range of primary sources to create a complex portrait of a man who left an indelible mark on the quest for peace in the Middle East. "Abba Eban" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library 20th Century Biography and Israeli History Studies reference collections.

Girl Singer
Mick Carlon
Leapfrog Press
P.O. Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248736, $15.95, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: It's Harlem, New York in 1938 and eighteen-year-old Avery, an aspiring singer, is heard by Lester "Pres" Young, Count Basie's tenor saxophonist. Pres recommends her to Basie, and Avery is whisked into the jazz life. Years later, with several hit records to her credit, Avery settles in Greenwich Village. But her life takes a sharp turn when she meets Karl, a Jewish refugee from Hitler's Germany.

Critique: A deftly crafted work of fiction that accurately conjures up an historic yesteryear of American popular cultural and political climate of the time, "Girl Singer" is an extraordinary and entertaining read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Girl Singer" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts
Loren W. Christensen
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594393914, $14.95, PB, 464pp,

Synopsis: It's the time of the seventh moon, when hungry ghosts slip through the gates of hell to bring havoc to the living. To some in the Asian community it's only folklore; to others it's very real. Portland, Oregon, police detective Sam Reeves has earned a reputation for being a magnet for trouble. Even for a cop he's been in the middle of too much conflict for any sane man's taste. He's had run-ins with crazed psychopaths, Vietnamese mafia, and white supremacists. People think shooting a gun is just part of a cop's day and he moves on with his life, just like it's portrayed in the movies. But it isn't like that, and the ghosts of Sam's past continue to haunt him. The adventure starts on a beautiful day at an outdoor shopping mall and continues into San Francisco. Sam's father, Samuel, a martial art master of the Temple of Ten Thousand Fists, and his best friend, a Vietnamese man named Tex, come for a visit to meet the estranged brother of Samuel's recently deceased grandmaster, Shen Lang Rui. On a road trip to San Francisco what could go wrong? How about everything?

Critique: An impressively well written martial arts action/adventure saga from beginning to end, "Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts" demonstrates author Loren W. Christensen's exceptional mastery of the genre. Solidly entertaining, with its deftly crafted storytelling, "Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Dukkha: Hungry Ghosts" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Camp Olvido
Lawrence Coates
Miami University Press
Department of English
356 Bachelor Hall, Oxford, OH 45056
9781881163572, $15.00, PB, 98pp,

Synopsis: In the California heartland of 1932, at a migrant labor camp whose very name means forgotten, a child's sudden illness leads to tensions between workers wishing to break camp and the land barons enforcing their contracts. Into this dispute Esteban Alas, a contrabandista and self- styled businessman, is reluctantly drawn as a mediator, until an act of violence forces him into a more tragic role.

Critique: A deftly crafted novella from first page to last, "Camp Olvido" by Lawrence Coates is a truly absorbing and unfailingly entertaining read. "Camp Olivido" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Literary Fiction collections.

Fantastic Adventures in Metaphysics
Michael Perlin
Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 754, Huntsville, AR 72740
9781940265124, $15.75, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: "Fantastic Adventures in Metaphysics: An Extraordinary Journey into the Nature of Reality" by Michael Perlin (the director, writer and producer of the Metaphysical film, 3 Magic Words which reveals the common theme taught to us by all great spiritual masters) explores the secret teachings of all the great philosophers and spiritual geniuses of our time and reveals the common theme throughout all of them. According to the esoteric schools of advanced knowledge, certain divinely inspired teachers brought spiritual, philosophical, and scientific knowledge to the human race following a global cataclysm. This planet has a history of unexplained phenomena that still baffles scientists today. There have been structures built all over the world that are simply out of place and out of time. Have humans been on the scene much longer than we previously thought? Did they leave us clues in writing, sacred geometry, and architecture about who they were and where they came from? Do these clues reveal the truth about who we really are?

Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively written, deftly organized, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "Fantastic Adventures in Metaphysics: An Extraordinary Journey into the Nature of Reality" is a welcome and highly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted that "Fantastic Adventures in Metaphysics: An Extraordinary Journey into the Nature of Reality" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Casey's Last Chance
Joseph B. Atkins
Sartoris Literary Group
9781941644171, $15.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: Written in a hardboiled mystery/suspense style, "Casey's Last Chance" by Joseph B. Atkins is the story of Casey Eubanks, a small-time North Carolina hustler on the run after angrily firing a shot over the head of his girlfriend Orella during an argument and accidentally killing his cousin. He seeks refuge with a crony, Clyde Point, who steers him to a big operator in Memphis, Max Duren, a shadowy former Nazi with a wide financial network across the South. The story takes place in the U.S. South in July 1960 and is reflective of underworld opposition to organized labor. Duren hires Casey to kill Ala Gadomska, a labor organizer who is stirring up trouble at one of Duren's mills in northern Mississippi. Casey sets up for a sniper shot during a rally, but can't go through with it. She's beautiful, makes sense, and maybe he's developing a conscience. Now he's on the run again, this time from Duren's goons as well as the cops. Enter Martin Wolfe, a freelance reporter investigating Duren's operation. He tries to talk Casey into joining forces with him and FBI agent Hardy Beecher to bring Duren down. Casey dumps Wolfe, steals his car, and returns home to Orella. A Duren goon awaits him there, however. A bloody shootout leaves Orella dead and convinces Casey to partner with Wolfe and Beecher. It's Casey's last chance. The three take off across the South to execute a plan, with the help of Ala Gadomska, to destroy Duren. Everything works according to plan until the explosive end, at which point no one is able to escape unscathed.

Critique: A true noir mystery/suspense novel by a master of the genre, Joseph B. Atkins' "Casey's Last Chance" is a riveting read from beginning to end and very highly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Casey's Last Chance" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.95).

A Window into the Spirituality of Paul
Patrick J. Hartin
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814637630, $14.95, PB, 150pp,

Synopsis: Paul's spiritual journey is driven by a transforming encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. In "A Window into the Spirituality of Paul", Patrick J. Hartin (an ordained priest of the Diocese of Spokane, Washington who presently teaches courses in the New Testament and in Classical Civilizations at Gonzaga University) focuses on the spiritual vision that emerges in Paul's own personal response to Christ, found within his letters in the New Testament. Not only were early followers shaped by Paul's example, but throughout history many saints and sinners have given flesh to this rich spiritual tradition. Their witness is an integral part of how Hartin helps us explore key aspects of Paul's spirituality.

Critique: Deftly organized and presented in three major sections (Paul's Spiritual Encounter of the Risen Lord; Paul's Spiritual Vision - Reflections and Prolongation; Paul's Spirituality - Incarnate and Alive Today), "A Window into the Spirituality of Paul" is enhanced with the inclusion of an informative introduction (Context for Exploring Paul's Spirituality), and fourteen pages of notes. Of immense value for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in New Testament Studies in general, and Pauline Studies in particular, "A Window into the Spirituality of Paul" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as church, seminary, and academic library Christian Studies reference collections.

Unanswered: Lasting Truth for Trending Questions
Jeremiah J. Johnston
Whitaker House
1030 Hunt Valley Circle, New Kensington, PA 15068
9781629116563, $15.99, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: You cannot Google the answers to the probing questions in this book! People who investigate the Christian faith often stop short because they have searing questions that most believers simply cannot answer. Additionally, "de - conversions" (people leaving the church) are on the increase. The trigger point of their departure is often an unanswered question! In "Unanswered: Lasting Truth for Trending Questions", Jeremiah Johnston (a New Testament scholar, professor, apologist, and regular speaker on university campuses, churches, and conferences) does not back away from the toughest questions, rather he provides you with solid, substantive answers. "Unanswered" gives you information, insight and confidence to help your friend or loved one discover God's divine tapestry for good in life's bleakest moments! You will discover priceless confidence and peace in your own circumstances through this critical book. Unanswered is that indispensable resource tool for your own study, small group or Bible study class you attend. "Unanswered" responds to such tough issues as: God on Mute: What Do I Do When God Is Silent?; Body of Proof: Why Can I Trust in the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus and How Does That Change Things Today?; My Invisible Disease: What Christians Must Understand About Suicide and Mental Health; Paranormalcy: Understanding Spiritual Darkness and the Paranormal Allure Among Christians and How to Escape It; Bible - ish Christianity: Why Most Christians Know Just Enough About the Bible to Be Dangerous; Becoming Job: Why Suffering, Me - Centric Christianity, and a Concierge - God Don't Mix. Unanswered will leave you enriched, characterized by a thinking faith, equipped to communicate confidently, and committed to escape the tendency of offering trite answers to a skeptical friend.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, reasoned, organized and presented, "Unanswered: Lasting Truth for Trending Questions" is a very strongly recommended and rewarding read for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted that "Unanswered" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Who Done Houdini: Another Sherlock Holmes Mystery
Raymond John
North Star Press of St. Cloud
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0451
9780878398072, $14.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Detroit Free Press reporter Timothy Wiggins learns of Harry Houdini's death on Halloween 1926 with more than casual interest. He had been at the great magician's final performance the night before. Wiggins had grown up as a sort of magician himself on the streets of London, stealing to survive. But then he met the real-life Sherlock Holmes, who made him his chief Bay Street Irregular. Now, years later, Holmes notifies Wiggins he is in the U.S. at the request of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who is being investigated as a possible murder suspect in Houdini's death. What follows is a mad dash to New York and Boston with a deranged Spiritualist medium on the tail of Holmes and his team of investigators: Wiggins, his feminist wife, and Rose Mackenburg, Houdini's top investigator into phony Spiritualism, which was rampant at the time. In Boston, Sir Arthur introduces the team to Margie, the most highly regarded Spiritualist of the day. Her seance and the bizarre form of treasure hunt that follows leads to a stunning climax that will change everyone's perception of Holmes's character.

Critique: Ever since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes became public domain, any number of stories featuring the famous detective have been written. Raymond John's "Who Done Houdini: Another Sherlock Holmes Mystery" is one of the best of them. A riveting and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, "Who Done Houdini: Another Sherlock Holmes Mystery" is an absolute 'must read' for the legions of Sherlock Holmes fans. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Who Done Houdini: Another Sherlock Holmes Mystery" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Healing of Jordan Young
Tobin Blake
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608683543, $15.95, PB, 280pp,

Synopsis: Jordan Young had been dating author Tobin Blake's daughter for two years when, days after his eighteenth birthday, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lymphoma. Within months, several rounds of chemotherapy had failed and top physicians determined that Young (now on a ventilator in the ICU) could not survive the widespread disease. But he did survive and, two years later, is cancer-free. "The Healing of Jordan Young: A 21st Century Spiritual Guide to Health and Healing" is a suspenseful narrative that deftly explores the anatomy of a miracle in terms of the precise steps Blake took with Young on his journey back from the brink. Young's path shows how methods based on spiritual laws can be used to transform fear, navigate the medical world, guide family and friends, and, most important, heal. "The Healing of Jordan Young" illustrates that with love, all things can be healed, hope is always justified, and nothing is impossible -- no matter what the doctors tell you.

Critique: As informative as it is inspiring, "The Healing of Jordan Young: A 21st Century Spiritual Guide to Health and Healing" is an extraordinary read and very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Healing of Jordan Young" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

Andrew Grant
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780345540737, $9.99

"Run" is an exciting fast paced cat and mouse chase action thriller that would make a great big screen movie. Early Monday morning, Marc Bowman a computer consultant is told his services are no longer required for the company he has been working with that his wife still works for. At home she confronts him and she tells him to give back some techno information he has taken from the company. Their relationship gets rocky and she leaves not telling him where she is going. Over the next few days things take a nose dive to where he is in a fight for his life. He also does not know who to trust as his world collapses while he tries to survive. I devoured "Run" and look forward to reading other books by Andrew Grant.

Tim Washburn
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780786036530, $9.99,

"Powerless" begins with a frightening scenario of a massive geometric solar storm that hits the United States and other countries. It wreaks havoc on many different things from airplane guidance systems to electric power companies unable to deliver the service. The novel builds, with a government unable to fix the problem, people struggling to survive and a military barely able to function. The story is scary because we as a society have seen what can happen when solar flares erupt and hit this planet on a daily basis certain months of the year. The novel gets confusing of which of the nations of the world are affected. Two that seem to be ok are South Korea and Iran, who rattles its saber once again in the Middle East. The problem I had is how can the crippled military of the United States take on Iran. It is just not believable with the scenario the author has presented. "Powerless" was a major disappointment.

Star Trek The Original Series Child of Two Worlds
Greg Cox
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476783253, $7.99

A short time after the events of the "Star Trek" episode "The Cage," the Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike has an outbreak of a deadly disease. There is a way to save the crew but it requires obtaining a substance on a planet not far from the Klingon border. Cox develops the characters of Spock and Pike very well, showing that they are more complex than we have ever seen before "Star Trek" has always thrilled fans and "Child of Two Worlds" is a great addition to the legacy of the series. .

Finding Angel
Kat Heckenbach
Splashdown Books New Zealand
9781927154137, $10.99

Angel has always known there is something different about herself. She goes to school and has a brother and two parents, but as the novel opens she begins to learn that she has been living with a foster family. She has been having dreams but is unable to understand their meaning until she meets a man named Gregor who begins to shed light on who she really is and what her life is to be. "Finding Angel" is a fantastic fantasy that takes readers along a self discovery journey with interesting characters surrounded by a dark and sinister realm of magic that Angel must learn how to deal with.

Future Wars . . .And Other Punchlines
Edited by Hank Davis
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781476780801, $14.00, www,

A question at science fiction conventions has long been "Can you combine humor and science fiction?" The answer with "Future Wars... And Other Punchlines" is an overwhelming yes". Hank Davis has collected some of the finest short stories that do both, tell good sf while being very funny. Some of the authors he has included are Frederik Pohl, Clifford D. Simak, Gordon Dickson, David Drake and Sarah A. Hoyt. A special mention has to be given to Fredric Brown who was a master of the shorter short story that many times was only one page. He is included here with "Sentry" Like many of his works of sf there is a surprise ending that is memorable. "Future Wars... And Other Punchlines" is great fun for anyone who likes to read short stories.

Downton Abbey: A Celebration The Official Companion To All Six Seasons
Jessica Fellowes Foreword By Julian Fellows
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250091550, $29.99,

For six seasons "Downton Abbey" has thrilled viewers all across the world. In "Downton Abbey: A Celebration The Official Companion To All Six Seasons" fans of the show can once again go behind the scenes to learn many interesting things about the stars, the locations, costumes, the writing and a lot more. There are a lot of teasers for those of us who have not seen the entire sixth season of what is to come. But the most stunning thing about this fine book are the many pictures of the world of Downton Abbey. No fan of the show should miss "Downton Abbey: A Celebration The Official Companion To All Six Seasons."

The Cinematic Legacy of Frank Sinatra
David Willis Contributing essays by Nancy Sinatra, Tina Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Jr.
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250070807, $35.00,

Frank Sinatra was a multi talented performer whose career spanned more than five decades. He was a crooner who was like no other with hit after hit of great songs like "New York New York" that were truly his, while he was a director, movie star, and much more. "The Cinematic Legacy of Frank Sinatra" takes readers back into the film career of a legend, and gives more detail to the different types of roles Sinatra played in so many different types of films. Included are writings by Sinatra's kids who add their perceptions of their talented dad the world loved. "The Cinematic Legacy of Frank Sinatra" is perfectly timed for the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra that no fan of the man and his movies should miss.

In This Together My Story
Ann Romney
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010,
9781250083975, $27.99,

During the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential race, the press depicted Ann Romney his wife, as someone who treats her MS by riding horses. "In This Together" shows that since she first learned of her MS, she has done a lot more than just ride horses. She has listened to her doctors and tried many different treatments, and she reveals that it is very hard to stay ahead of the disease because it attacks a person's body in many different ways and there is very little known about MS. Romney tells in greater detail how she and her family have dealt with it, having a support group of friends and professionals, and the things she has done to help others. "In This Together" is also the life story of Mitt and Ann Romney that shows them to be a lot more than we saw in the presidential election.

Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer
John Grisham
Puffin Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
97801424217225, $7.99,

Grisham introduced Theodore Boone, his family and friends in "Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer" In the small city of Strattenburg a sensational murder trial begins. Thirteen year old Theodore Boone, whose parents are both respected attorneys, dreams of one day becoming a lawyer. Theo has information that could change the outcome of the case but due to a technicality can not use it as evidence for the state. The state has a very shoddy case to begin with. Theo has to find a way to help the state prosecute the man charged with the crime. "Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer" is for anyone who likes a good legal thriller.

Anna Learns to Play the Violin
Cathy Finch White
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington IN 47403
9781452055794, $12.49,

In her music class Anna decides she wants to study and play the violin. Through several mistakes, she learns several lessons she will take with her the rest of her life. Parents and kids can read and discuss the many underlying themes "Anna Learns to Play the Violin" presents, to lead better lives.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Ghost in the Wind
E.J. Copperman
Berkley Prime Crime
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780425269275, $7.99, Paperback, 289 pp,

Alison Kerby returns in the 7th and newest in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series by E.J. Copperman. Alison Kerby, a single mother in her late thirties, runs a guesthouse in her childhood hometown of Harbor Haven, on the Jersey Shore [which she describes as 'a charming but somewhat rickety Victorian' into which she has sunk 'every last dime I had'], inhabited by her and her precocious eleven-year-old daughter, Melissa, as well as Maxie Malone, Alison's resident Internet expert, who had died at 28, and Paul Harrison, an English/Canadian professor turned detective, both of whom have lived there since before their deaths, and her deceased father. (At Paul's urging, Alison is now a licensed private investigator.) It would seem that Alison, her daughter and her mother are the only ones who can see the ghosts. She now acknowledges the ghostly residents, and advertises the inn as a Haunted Guesthouse, specializing in Senior Plus Tours which include twice-daily 'spook shows.'

Alison is taken aback, to understate the case, when she is asked by a new ghost in the house, a man/musician who has been her idol for decades, and who I suspect may be the fictional reincarnation of one of the Beatles, who I also suspect has held that position in the author's life (he is here called Vance McTiernan, 'lead singer and songwriter of the Jingles,') who tasks Alison with finding out who murdered his daughter, who died a few months before from an allergic reaction to food she had ingested. Although there was a suspicion that it was suicide, he is convinced she was murdered. Alison and her ghostly cohorts take up the investigation, made more difficult since many if not most of the people who might have killed the girl were presently dead.

There is a second 'job' that Alison works on when she has a spare minute, and that is discovering the whereabouts of a 'short blond guy named Lester from Topeka, Kansas,' at the behest of a rather strange woman pulling a wagon who turns up from time to time.

The writing is terrific, just what one needs in these days of fictional and real-life horrors, and I read the book over a span of a couple of days, all of it with at least a smile on my face or laughing out loud. The book is well-plotted and the characters, alive or otherwise, thoroughly engaging (even the ones who try Alison's, and perhaps the reader's, patience).

As I've said before, my preference in mystery genres generally does not include either "cozies" or books dealing in the supernatural (not that there's anything wrong with those, and many of my best friends love them, I hasten to add). But this author's writing overcomes any such reluctance on my part - - his books are always thoroughly delightful, and highly recommended, and this one is no exception.

The Skeleton Road
Val McDermid
Grove Press
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9780802124210, $14.00 PB, 432 pp.,

The brief prologue of Val McDermid's newest book describes the brutal murder in Crete of a man whose throat is cut, the first of many killings, both old and new, described in this fascinating novel. The second one becomes evident when a skeleton is found on the roof of a building in Edinburgh that was about to be demolished. The case is assigned to DCI Karen Pirie and her second-in-command, DC Jason Murray, of the Historic Cases Unit (as cold cases in Police Scotland are called), aided by Karen's best friend, Dr. River Wilde, forensic anthropologist "the nearest thing Karen had to a best friend. Cursed by her hippie parents with a name nobody could take seriously, River had worked harder and smarter than any of her colleagues to earn respect beyond dispute.

We are soon introduced to Professor Maggie Blake, self-described geography professor at Oxford, turning 50 as the book opens and a distinguished academic, prolific author, beloved tutor and efficient snapper-up of research grants." Maggie is still trying to get past the fact that her significant other, a man she'd met in Dubrovnik in 1991 when he was 32, a retired Croatian general who was a NATO security advisor in Bosnia and a UN monitor in Kosovo, had gone of the grid and disappeared from her life eight years ago. She too has a best friend, Tessa Minogue, a lawyer "who dealt in the thorny moral dilemmas of human rights," involved in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The book's over-riding theme is that the world was more complex than it was comfortable to admit, as this book makes clear in its own complexities. There is much here about the massacres in the Balkans in the later years of the 20th century. Maggie has written a book about the consequences of the siege of Dubrovnik, but is now working on the story of "how she came to be there [and] the convoluted journey that had led her to Kosovo with its massacres and rape camps." Interspersed through the tale are chapters of that work-in-progress. There are ongoing investigations of eleven instances of ICTFY targets being assassinated in what is believed to be someone's idea of vigilante justice, and all of the investigations of these murders, old or current, converge in a fascinating plot with great historical detail, leading up to a suspenseful and jaw-dropping denouement, and the book is recommended. (The author's newest novel, "Splinter the Silence," is due out this month.)

The One That Got Away
Simon Wood
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Publishing
276 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10001
9781612184081, $15.95, Paperback, 294 pp,

This newest book from Simon Wood opens with a terrifying scene: Zoe, a post-grad student in a PhD program in San Francisco, wakes up in a scene from a horror film, but it's all too real: She is shackled and alone, in a dust-covered shed, naked. She and her best friend, Holli, had decided to get away from their busy lives and take a road trip to Vegas for a hedonistic weekend. She finds that they have somehow fallen victim to a sadistic killer, and after she manages to free herself and escape her prison, she finds Holli in a much worse situation, at her captor's mercy, strung up and being tortured and whipped.

Zoe manages to get away, found some time later with her car in a ditch, with no idea of where she is or the location from which she had escaped, filled with an unrelenting guilt at what she is certain has been Holli's fate and the fact that she had been unable to save her. Her life, fifteen months later, is anxiety-filled, and she has been urged to see an analyst, which she has done, although she sees no appreciable lessening of the all-consuming guilt, plagued by feeling that she had "abandoned a friend to her death . . . [having fought] against cowardice and lost."

The reader soon meets her killer, and so does Zoe when she sees news of a live scene where a new victim has been found, certain from the manner in which the woman has been killed that it is the same man, and rushes to the scene, hoping to convince the police present there that she can perhaps help them to identify the perpetrator. With the media present, she also inadvertently makes her own presence known to him, however; to her would-be killer, she is simply "the one who got away," and he is determined to correct that situation.

I urge readers of this book not to make any plans once the book has been started; the term "page-turner" has never been more apt: I was unable to put it down, literally, racing through it until the suspense-filled last page within 24 hours of picking it up. The author has written some wonderful thrillers in the past, none more so than this one, and it is highly recommended.

A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633880467, $15.95, Paperback, 267 pp.,

This is the newest in the Samuel Craddock Mystery series, and the fourth such. Craddock is the Acting Police Chief for Jarrett Creek, Texas, 6 feet tall, widowed and somewhat older than your usual top cop, he had been chief years back, now and for the past few months filling in at the mayor's request until the town, now bankrupt, can afford to hire someone else. But this is 'his town,' and like most of the townspeople, he cares about the people who live there. Jenny Sandstone, his next-door neighbor, asks for his help in caring for her beloved horses while she visits with her mother, 75 years old and hospitalized after suffering a stroke.

After doing the necessary chores with his cows and Jenny's horses, he goes to the hospital to see how both women are doing. Jenny being out of the hospital room for a few minutes, her mother, Vera, presses Samuel to look into a couple of things that have been worrying her, asking him to try to find her husband, who apparently walked out on his family years back, and also asks him to "find his first wife." (Strange, since no one seems to know anything about there having been a prior marriage!) She also tells him that she thinks Jenny is in danger. Soon Samuel finds himself with other things to worry about, when a shop in town is vandalized, and although he suspects that the gallery owner's ex-husband is responsible, she refuses to get an order of protection, insisting that she thinks some local high school kids are behind it.

Samuel does indeed keep a protective eye on Jenny, and some incidents occur in short order, three of them with her horses as the target, and then someone runs her car off the road and into a ditch. A lot of questions surround Jenny's brother, from whom she has long been estranged, and Samuel's investigation raises a lot of questions surrounding him. His inquiries take him into the neighboring town, Bobtail, 15 miles away; some jurisdictional questions arise, the answers wholly unexpected.

This novel was just the thing for this time of year, when one [or this reader at least] prefers to avoid the dark and graphic (the people of Jarrett Creek and Bobtail are delightful), and it is recommended.

Liza Marklund
Translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith
Emily Bestler Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781476778297, $16.00, Paperback, 385 pp.,

In her newest Annika Bengtzon series entry, the protagonist has returned with her husband from an assignment as a Washington, D.C. correspondent for Sweden's 2nd largest newspaper, the Evening Post, the Stockholm newspaper where she had been working since she was twenty-four. Her return is greeted, professionally speaking, by the murder of a young woman near her residence in a manner that suggests that a serial killer is on the loose. But that soon takes a back seat. Annika's husband, Thomas, had been attending a conference in Nairobi about increased cooperation concerning EU borders. On the fourth day he and 7 other delegates left the conference on a reconnaissance trip to a site close to the Somali border, when they all disappeared. More ominous is the fact that their interpreter and the guard traveling with them have been found murdered, and it appears that the seven have been kidnapped.

The book is told from Annika's 3d-person p.o.v., although periodically interspersed with 1st-person p.o.v. from Thomas, from where he is captive in Africa while his kidnappers, whose motives are both political and monetary, attempt to obtain enormous ransoms for his and the other victims' release. Of course the lives of Annika and her two young children are devastated (though their marriage has not always been smooth, due to his roving eye). But she does everything in her power to obtain the funds to ransom him.

The book is divided into sections starting with "Day O," November 22nd, the last portion being December 2nd, denoted as Day 10 (although the final six pages, almost an Epilogue, are noted as Day 0, December 13th), and a lot is packed into that three-week period. The minor characters, editor-in-chief Anders Schyman, and Jimmy Halenius, Thomas' boss and undersecretary of state at the Department of Justice, are well-drawn, and each plays an important role in the plot. The suspense mounts as one and then another hostage is killed. The author has given us another fascinating novel, one which is recommended.

Splinter the Silence
Val McDermid
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
154 West 14th Street, 12th Floor, New York, NY 10011
9780802124081, $26.00,, Hardcover, 388 pp.,

The good news is that Val McDermid's Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are back. The even better news is that this book is perhaps the best yet in this terrific series (and that's saying a lot!).

Carol has two love/hate relationships, in the two most important aspects of her life: the professional, and the personal. As to the former: Carol was for years an ace detective and the boss of an elite murder squad, which she gave up when she handed in her resignation. "The career she'd defined herself by was over. At moments like this, she had to remind herself that had been her own choice. She could have been Detective Chief Inspector Jordan yet. But she had chosen to be plain Carol Jordan." Until now, that is, when she is offered the chance to run and to "run a free-standing Major Incident Team, hand-picking her officers, and handling murders, serious sexual assaults and the like over six distinct forces."

As to the personal aspect of her life, her relationship with Dr. Tony Hill, the socially awkward but brilliant criminal profiler who had worked as consultant with Carol and her squad for a long time, is more like a not-quite-love/not-quite-hate relationship, she has gotten the ok to have him on her new squad. And when push comes to shove, Tony is the one she calls upon when things in her life take an ugly, alcohol-fueled turn. (On his part, he is said by one of the other characters to be "trapped in her orbit like a captive moon.") But before her MIT space has even been completed, Carol and her team, including Tony, start to look into what appears to be a spate of cyber-bullying suicides, each of women in their mid-thirties who were very outspoken on women's issues.

Tony has an office in Bradfield Moor secure mental hospital. "All his working life, he'd been held up as the expert in empathy, the one who knew how to stand inside other people's skin and report back on what they felt and why they felt it." And his expertise has never been more important than with this investigation, as he and Carol both feel they have a serial killer on their hands. (The reader gets to see exactly how Tony goes about putting together a criminal profile, and it is fascinating indeed.)

The investigation, and the evolution of Carol and Tony's relationship, are brilliantly done. The writing, as always, is excellent, and the novel a page-turner. Not a slim book, I nevertheless tore through it in two days. It is, obviously, highly recommended.

Humans of New York: Stories
Brandon Stanton
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250085252, $29.99, Hardcover, 428 pp.,

This new book by Brandon Stanton, a follow-up to his 2013 "Humans of New York," is perfect for this time of the year. It's title says it all: It is comprised of stories, some very short, many less so, which accompany photos of those whose words they are, displaying their very human-ness (if there is such a word - - and if there isn't, there should be!). Or, if one prefers, their humanity. Perfectly captured. The second book is even better than the first, in that it adds people's quotes along with their pictures, wonderful in themselves.

Mr. Stanton has a knack of asking just the right questions which will evoke answers that get into the soul of the responder, who will have to quickly search his or her own soul for the deepest feelings hiding there. The results are what has made his blog, "HONY," one that is followed by a staggering 15,000,000 people.

The photos are taken at venues which are frequently immediately identifiable, some of which explicitly so, e.g., Coney Island, Lincoln Center, and a Crown Height synagogue, and the story-tellers anonymous, with one glaring exception: one Barack Obama. They run the gamut from a man whose best friend had committed suicide; a woman past middle age, self-described as an "international cougar;" a construction worker at what appears to be a busy Manhattan intersection, whose best quality he describes as "my body;" and nearly every other imaginable New Yorker, which itself is limitless.

Highly recommended.

Losing Faith
Adam Mitzner
Gallery Books
9781476764245, $26.99, Hardcover, 368 pp
Pocket Bookks
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476764269, $9.99, Paperback,432 pp

From the publisher: "Aaron Littmann, the chairman of one of the country's most prestigious law firms, has just been contacted by a high-profile defense attorney, whose client is Nikolai Garkov - - a Russian businessman widely believed to have pulled the financial strings behind a recent terrorist bombing. Aaron suspects Garkov is looking to switch representation, as he's willing to pay one hundred thousand dollars just to take a meeting, but Garkov has blackmail on his mind. Armed with damning evidence that the presiding judge, Faith Nichols, had a torrid affair with Aaron during another recent case, Garkov threatens to destroy Aaron's career unless he influences Faith."

Aaron is a very successful man, with an immaculate background: He had been an All-American swimmer at Harvard, and had started his career clerking on the U.S. Supreme Court before joining and then making partner at a very prestigious law firm. His wife, Cynthia, is no less so: After an Ivy League education, she has a medical practice specializing in high-risk births. They have two daughters they adore. His mentor, the man who had talked Aaron into joining the firm despite his having had an offer to teach at Yale, is Sam Rosenthal, who has been there for nearly fifty years, and who now sees Aaron as something more akin to surrogate son than just another partner.

The eponymous Faith Nichols herself has a very impressive c.v., having been a very respected jurist on the Federal Court with every indication of being about to be nominated to the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court. So the possibility of such highly unethical behavior on her part threatens life as she knows it every much as it does Aaron. And way beyond all that, there is the fact that Garkov is almost certainly a terrorist and a murderer, and now is a blackmailer as well. Things only escalate when Faith is murdered in Central Park one night shortly after Aaron had met with her. And he is soon arrested and charged with her murder, and put on trial.

I have to admit that, very unusually for this reader, I had to take a break when I approached the end of this book, the suspense being that intense as the showdown approaches. An excellent legal thriller, the novel is highly recommended.

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter
Malcolm Mackay
Mulholland Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316337304, $15.00, Paperback, 336 pp,

From the publisher: "A twenty-nine-year-old man lives alone in his Glasgow flat. The telephone rings; a casual conversation, but behind this a job offer. The clues are there if you know to look for them. He is an expert. A loner. Freelance. Another job is another job, but what is this organization wants more? A meeting at a club. An offer. A brief. A target. Lewis Winter, a necessary sacrifice that will be only the first step in an all-out war between crime syndicates the likes of which hasn't been seen for decades. It's hard to kill a man well. People who do it well know this. People who do it badly find out the hard way. The hard way has consequences."

So the reader is introduced to Calum MacLean, a hitman, who on the opening page is reading a novel by Somerset Maugham when the telephone call described above interrupts his reading. He is the one chosen by a local crime boss to take care of the job in question. The job itself is described in fascinating detail. Calum follows the target to a club to start to plan the act for which he has been hired, where he is self-described as follows: "He isn't deemed attractive to women, no matter how dark it is." He is a professional, after all, and he goes about his 'job' (his contract, if you will) in a thoroughly professional manner. As do most of the characters in the book, including the cops on the case (well, most of them anyway - the exceptions being the ones in the pockets of the criminals). "Calum has never been arrested, no convictions, never seen the inside of a jail cell. He's been in the business for ten years. He won't gloat about avoiding arrest until he's retired."

What follows is a fascinating, wonderfully written tale from a standpoint seldom seen in your run-of-the-mill crime novel. The traits sought by the man hiring Calum are: "Don't hire someone who's been too busy. Don't hire someone who hasn't been working at all. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. A Goldilocks employee." Interestingly, p.o.v. moves from one character to another and, as mentioned above, each with the same traits of professionalism. Whose p.o.v. it is isn't always immediately clear from chapter to chapter, which one would think would be distracting, but seemed to this reader to only make things a bit more interesting. A list of characters and their "connections" provided at the beginning of the book proves helpful. Calum has been recommended for the job by Frank MacLeod, the man usually chosen for this kind of job, now past sixty and recovering from hip replacement surgery. A plus for the reader at the end of the book is an excerpt from the next book in the trilogy, in which apparently MacLeod is the headline act once again. This is a wonderful novel, highly recommended, and I can't wait to read the next in the trilogy, "How a Gunman Says Goodbye."

Sweet Sunday
John Lawton
Grove Press
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10011
9780802124234, $15.00, Paperback, 288 pp.,

From the publisher (a succinct plot summary, without spoilers]:

"A standalone thriller from the acclaimed author of the Inspector Troy series, Sweet Sunday is set during the tumultuous American summer of 1969. It is the summer of Woodstock and the moon landing, and the summer when unassuming PI Turner Raines is forced to investigate his best friend's death. Raines is in his thirties, but he's already a has-been - - among the things he has been are a broken civil rights worker, a law-school dropout, and a tenth-rate journalist. But as a private eye, he's found his niche. The Vietnam War is ripping the country to pieces, and if your kid dodges the draft, hooks up with a hippie commune, or makes a dash for Canada, Raines in the man to find him. That turbulent May, as Normal Mailer runs for mayor of New York City, Raines leaves the city, chasing a draft-dodging punk all the way to Toronto. But by the time he gets back, his oldest friend, a reporter for the Village Voice, is dead, and Raines' life has changed forever. He finds himself blasted back to the Texas of his childhood, confronted anew with his divided family, and blown into the path of people who know about secret goings-on in Vietnam, stories they may now be willing to tell."

This was a time - an era, I guess - through which I lived, and though it seems very long ago, the feelings and emotions of that period, which ran very high, came back to my mind quit clearly, along with the racial unrest before the end of segregation. I remember well the references made here, such as the "military advisors" (as opposed to "soldiers") sent there by the US Government, "Never trust anyone over thirty," chants of "Hell no, we won't go," and young men publicly [and privately] burning their draft cards. The author makes the old cliche "War is Hell" come to life, and not as a cliche.

The physical descriptions are wonderful: "Jerome, AZ - - a town that seemed to be made of matchwood and perched on a cliffside to spit in the face of gravity . . . the red and purple streaks that tore across the mountainside above Sedona - strata like the plot of a novel . . . the congealed story of the earth's crust writ large on the face of Arizona." And his description of the Statue of Liberty as seen from the Promenade in downtown Brooklyn is absolutely gorgeous.

The investigation into the death of Raines' friend, Mel, described as "a loudmouth, smart-ass, irritating Jewish runt of a man who never hurt anybody in his entire life," takes him to the men who'd survived and lived to tell the tale of having fought in 'Nam, and what a tale it is. I must admit that there were a couple of times when I had to stop reading and just take a break for a short while. The tale told in this novel is, as well, fascinating, beautifully written if at times harrowing, and it is recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Wild Hunt
Thomas Galvin
Saint Troy Press
Amazon Digital Services
9780692343883, $6.66, 439 pages, ebook

The Wild Hunt is a non-stop action adventure with mythology and the paranormal. If you need action in your stories, this will cover your quota for a month. The weakness in the story is what I refer to as the Harry Dresden failing. Every few pages an impossible situation occurs that the hero nearly doesn't survive but then in the next chapter it repeats with an even bigger problem. The storyline and character development is pretty good so even when the next impossible situation occurs you still are able to turn the page.

Caden Lindsey is a former saint who fights demons and other paranormal creatures. He has a vision of the Norse Wild Hunt coming to the US bringing death and destruction. He travels to Mirrormont Washington to try to stop the Wild Hunt and confronts the neo-pagans trying to bring back the Norse gods with the assorted demi-gods, demons and Valkyries.

The Wild Hunt is a variation on the Harry Dresden one man against a world filled with evil type action adventure. It is a solid addition into this niche. Jim Butcher's Dresden is a little more detailed but Galvin's Godless Saint series is a nice fill in now that the Dresden series has slowed down. The Wild Hunt is too much paranormal action for most readers but, if you can handle the adrenaline rush, it is a nice weekend read.

The Geneva Decision
Seeley James
Amazon Digital Services
9780988699618, $2.99, 284 pages

The Geneva Decision is a Bond style action adventure with a female playing a corporate Bond style operative. It is nonstop action with well written action sequences. But there are problems with the storyline. The sparse narration style and bare setting of scenes creates a choppy story.

Pia Sabel has just inherited the leadership in an international security firm. Before taking the reins of the security firm, she was an international soccer star. Both the press and many in the firm believe she is not up to the job. On her first outing as the owner of the security company she is meeting a Swiss banker in Geneva. He is murdered while she is approaching him in a park. She decides to find out who killed him and starts a manhunt ranging across Europe and North Africa.

The Geneva Decision is a solid action/operative thriller with plenty of blood and mayhem. It is a solid read for fans of the genre. The narration weaknesses make the story just slightly above average for the genre. On balance it has more in favor than against. It fits best as an escapist read as long as you don't look closely at the story.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin: Book IV of the Liber Sancti Jacobi
Pseudo-Turpin, author
Kevin R. Poole, translator and editor
Italica Press
595 Main Street, Suite 605, New York, NY 10044
9781599102894, $35.00, HC, 180pp,

Synopsis: The twelfth-century "Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin" (also known as the "History of Charlemagne and Roland") offers an "eye-witness" account of events during the late eighth century. Charlemagne's compatriot, Archbishop Turpin of Rheims, describes the miraculous appearance of Saint James to Charlemagne and the battles against the Muslims that he and Roland fought in Iberia as a result of this vision. The chronicle is one of the fundamental texts in the literary legend surrounding Charlemagne, Roland, Compostela and St. James. It served as source material for a large number of other chronicles as well as for French "chansons de geste" and other forms of heroic literature, including the Song of Roland. This Chronicle comprises Book IV of the "Liber Sancti Jacobi" (Codex Calixtinus), a twelfth-century manuscript from the archives of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the burial place and shrine of St. James. This site, along with Rome and Jerusalem, was one of the three major pilgrimage destinations of the Middle Ages. This key manuscript also contains the "Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela", the "Miracles of St. James" and the 'Veneranda dies' sermon (all previously published by Italica Press), a collection of liturgical texts and other sermons associated with the cathedral and its saint, and a series of letters surrounding the fate of the body of St. James and its burial in Spain. In his introduction to this first modern English translation of the chronicle, Kevin Poole (Assistant Professor of Spanish and Medieval Studies at Yale University) investigates the issues of fiction, legend and authorship and the relationship between the false chronicle and its wider literary tradition. He also highlights the possible connections between the work and its contemporary political and religious environment. His introduction elucidates the differences between "textbook" history and the history created within the false chronicle.

Critique: A core addition to any academic library Medieval History reference collection and supplemental studies reading lists, this outstanding edition of "The Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin: Book IV of the Liber Sancti Jacobi" is enhanced with the inclusion of ten illustrations, an informative introduction, ninety-two pages of notes, a six page bibliography, a twenty-four page glossary, and a six page index. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Chronicle of Pseudo-Turpin: Book IV of the Liber Sancti Jacobi" is also available in a paperback edition (9781599102900, $20.00) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Transnational Chinese Cinema
Brian Bergen-Aurand, Mary Mazzilli, Hee Wai-Siam, editors
Bridge 21
c/o Transaction Publishers
10 Corporate Place South, Piscataway, NJ 08854
9781626430105, $49.95, PB, 282pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Brian Bergen-Aurand (Assistant Professor of English and Film in the Master of Arts in Contemporary China Program at Nanyang Technological University); Mary Mazzilli (a Lecturer in Theatre at Goldsmiths College and Research Associate in Chinese Film and Theatre at SOAS, University of London); and Wai Siam Hee (Assistant Professor of Chinese at Nanyang Technological University), "Transnational Chinese Cinema: Corporeality, Desire, and Ethics of Failure" is a collection of ten essays on transnational Chinese cinema that exploring the corporal, psychological, and affective aspects of experiencing bodies on screen; engages with the material and discursive elements of embodiment; and highlights the dynamics between the mind and body involved in bio-cultural practices of cinematic production, distribution, exhibition, and reception.

Critique: Informed and informative, "Transnational Chinese Cinema: Corporeality, Desire, and Ethics of Failure" is an impressive boy of extraordinary scholarship that is enhanced further with the inclusion of a sixteen page Bibliography, a six page Filmography, a list of contributors along with their credentials, and a nine page Index. A unique and highly recommended contribution to academic library Cinematic Studies and Chinese Popular Culture reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted that "Transnational Chinese Cinema" is also available in Kindle edition ($49.95) as well.

News and Politics
Stephen Cushion
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9780415739887, $155.00, HC, 194pp,

Synopsis: "News and Politics: The Rise of Live and Interpretive Journalism" by Stephen Cushion (Senior Lecturer at the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, UK) critically examines television news bulletins (which is still the primary source of information for most people) and asks whether the wider pace and immediacy of 24-hour news culture has influenced their format and style over time. Drawing on the concepts of mediatization and journalistic interventionism, Professor Cushion empirically traces the shift from edited to live reporting from a cross-national perspective, focusing on the two-way convention in political coverage and the more interpretive approach to journalism it promotes. Challenging prevailing academic wisdom, Professor Cushion argues that the mediatization of news does not necessarily reflect a commercial logic or a lowering of journalism standards. In particular, the rise of live two-ways can potentially enhance viewers' understanding of public affairs (moving reporters beyond their visual backdrops and reliance on political sound bites) by asking journalists to scrutinize the actions of political elites, interpret competing source claims and to explain the broader context to everyday stories. Considering the future of 24-hour news, a final discussion asks whether new content and social media platforms, including Twitter and Buzzfeed, enhance or weaken democratic culture.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of figures, tables, thirteen pages of notes, and a seventeen page index, "News and Politics: The Rise of Live and Interpretive Journalism" is a impressively written and timely analysis that is ideal for students of political communication and journalism studies, as well as communication studies, media studies, and political science. It will also prove of enduring value for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the effect the presentation of the news can have on governmental decision making. Very highly recommended for both community and library Journalism and Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, It should be noted that "News and Politics: The Rise of Live and Interpretive Journalism" is also available in a paperback edition (9780415744713, $41.95) and in a Kindle format ($41.95).

The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis
Jerry Root & Mark Neal
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426795107, $34.99, PB, 280pp,

Synopsis: The fictional lands of Narnia and Perelandra are places of wonder and longing. The memorable characters of the White Witch, Screwtape (a personifications of evil), Aslan (a portrait of the divine) are just some of C.S. Lewis's writing surprises that whet the appetite of generations of readers for more. But some of his works bite and nip at our heels. What enabled C.S. Lewis to create such vivid characters and compelling plots? Perhaps it was simply that C.S. Lewis had an unsurpassed imagination. Or perhaps he had a knack for finding the right metaphor or analogy that awakened readers' imaginations in new ways. But whatever his gifts, no one can deny that C.S. Lewis had a remarkable career, producing many books in eighteen different literary genres, including: apologetics, autobiography, educational philosophy, fairy stories, science fiction, and literary criticism. And while he had and still has critics, Lewis' works continue to find devoted readers. The purpose of "The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis" by the team of Jerry Root (Associate Professor of Evangelism and Leadership at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois) and Mark Neal (an independent C. S. Lewis scholar) is to introduce C.S. Lewis to his readers through the prism of imagination. For Lewis, imagination is both a means and an end. And because he used his own imagination well and often, he is a practiced guide for those of us who desire to reach beyond our grasp. Each chapter highlights Lewis's major works and then shows how Lewis uses imagination to captivate readers. While many have read books by C.S. Lewis, not many readers understand his power to give new slants on the things we think we know. More than a genius, Lewis disciplined his imagination, harnessing its creativity in service of helping others believe more deeply.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, as exceptionally well written as it is insightful, "The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis" is a "must read" for the legions of C. S. Lewis enthusiasts with as much value to offer academia as it provides the non-specialist general reader wanting a more complete and appreciative understanding of C. S. Lewis as his works. A critically important addition to community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

The Atheism That Saved Me
Robert Morlan
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781490886121, $33.95, HC, 204pp,

Synopsis: Bob Morlan was a young boy growing up in southern Illinois, who was the product of a broken family. After dealing with the heartbreak of his family's dysfunction and brokenness, he spent time on the streets, and lost himself. Morlan, totally disillusioned by faltering role models, was filled with anger and rage. Without college as an option after high school, he enlisted in the army and while serving in the military, came to the conclusion that God did not exist. Years later in the face of an adoption that was unraveling, after the loss of two children, the emotional welfare of his wife hung in the balance, and he found himself in a state of despair. With absolutely no options left, his desperation forced him to pray to a God he did not believe in. Filled with light-hearted stories of his youth, poignant experiences in the army, a heart-warming love story, and the redemption of an atheist turned Christian, "The Atheism That Saved Me" is a religious biography will compel the reader to examine their own walk with Christ.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and truly riveting read from beginning to end, "The Atheism That Saved Me" is very highly recommended and rewarding reading for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. Indeed, "The Atheism That Saved Me" is an ideal evangelistic resource to provide agnostics and atheists with insights into the value of a Christian life that they might otherwise not encounter. It should be noted that "The Atheism That Saved Me" is also available in a paperback edition (781490886114, $17.95) and in a Kindle format ($4.99).

The Athaan in the Bull City
Nazeeh Z. Abdul-Hakeem
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483435671, $32.00, HC, 158pp,

Synopsis: "The Athaan in the Bull City: Building Durham's Islamic Community" tells the little-known story of the growth of the Islamic community in Durham, North Carolina. Drawing upon his own personal knowledge of the founding and development of Jamaat Ibad Ar-Rahman, Inc., Nazeeh Z. Abdul-Hakeem, the organization's principal founder, draws together personal recollections and the details of Durham's major Islamic organization to tell about Durham's burgeoning Islamic community. Reaching back across the community's history of more than thirty years, "The Athaan in the Bull City" recounts how Islam's foundations in Durham rest upon the lives of Black American Muslims. With the passing of years, the community has grown and has changed, as arriving immigrants, Muslims from around the world, have given the community a decidedly international perspective and outlook.

Critique: Nazeeh Z. Abdul-Hakeem is a retired city palnner for Durham, North Caroline who became a Muslim in 1979. He went on to make several major and minor pilgrimages to Makkah and Madinah in Saudai Arabia, and visited Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem. He is perfectly positioned to write this local history which is an extraordinary contribution that deserves as wide a readership as possible in the current climate of Islamaphobia that is currently contaminating American political discourse. Simply stated, "The Athaan in the Bull City" is highly informative and specifically recommended for non-specialist general readers wanting a better understanding of Muslim communities and their contributions to American civic life. A critically important and urgently needed addition to community and academic library Islamic Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Athaan in the Bull City" is also available in a paperback edition (9781483435657, $15.95) and in a Kindle format ($8.99).

God & Churchill
Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley
Tyndale Momentum
c/o Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496406026, $26.99, HC, 312pp,

Synopsis: When Winston Churchill was a boy of sixteen, he already had a vision for his purpose in life. "This country will be subjected somehow to a tremendous invasion . . . I shall be in command of the defenses of London . . . it will fall to me to save the Capital, to save the Empire." It was a most unlikely prediction. Perceived as a failure for much of his life, Churchill was the last person anyone would have expected to rise to national prominence as prime minister and influence the fate of the world during World War II. But Churchill persevered, on a mission to achieve his purpose. "God & Churchill: How the Great Leader's Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World and Offers Hope for Ours" tells the remarkable story of how one man, armed with belief in his divine destiny, embarked on a course to save Christian civilization when Adolf Hitler and the forces of evil stood opposed. "God & Churchill" traces the personal, political, and spiritual path of one of history's greatest leaders and offers hope for our own violent and troubled times. More than a spiritual biography, "God and Churchill" is also a deeply personal quest. Written by Jonathan Sandys (Churchill's great-grandson) and former White House staffer Wallace Henley (who is also a Senior Associate Pastor at the Second Baptist megachurch in Houston, Texas), "God and Churchill" explores Sandys' intense search to discover his great-grandfather -- and how it changed his own destiny forever.

Critique: An extraordinary and unique biography of one of the pivotal political figures of the mid-20th Century, "God & Churchill: How the Great Leader's Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World and Offers Hope for Ours" is an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of a section of historic photographs, "God & Churchill" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as a valued addition to community and academic library 20th Century Biography collections in general, and Winston Churchill supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted that "God & Churchill" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99) and in an MP3 format (Tantor Audio Books, $29.99).

Renewing the Process of Creation
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, DHL
Jewish Lights Publishing
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781580238335, $24.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: In "Renewing the Process of Creation", a deft blending of Jewish theology, science and Process Thought, theologian Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson (Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University) explores Judaism and the sciences as dynamically interactive and mutually informative. "Renewing the Process of Creation" shows how integrating human knowing with human living can help us arrive at a plausible and likely account of what we can know about the beginning and unfolding of the cosmos. "Renewing the Process of Creation" offers new ways to find fresh insights in the cultural and spiritual resources of the Jewish tradition, Torah, midrash, philosophy, and new possibilities for human wholeness.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented in five major sections (The Science of Creation; Creation Theology in the Light of Science; Creation in Space and Time; Creation Ethics; Locating Ourselves - Israel and the World), "Renewing the Process of Creation" is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative read that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Very highly recommended for personal, synagogue and academic library Judaic Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted that "Renewing the Process of Creation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($23.74).

Mad for Glory
Robert Booth
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884483571, $24.95, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: Their was a time when a naval captain went rogue with an American battleship. In October, 1812, as the 32-gun U.S. frigate Essex ventured out against the British enemy, only one man had any idea that this cruise would turn into the longest, strangest naval adventure in American history. That man was Captain David Porter, who had decided to run off with the navy's ship and its three hundred men to fight a separate Pacific war -- one of privateering, pillaging, and orgies. Drawing on Porter's own writings and the accounts of eyewitnesses, author and historian Robert Booth memorably recounts the events of a dark and fatal voyage in which David Porter crosses the line from commander to cult-leader, from improbable fantasy to disastrous reality. In a tale so amazing that it reads like fiction, Porter, impelled by his own demons and by rivalry with the ghostly British buccaneer Lord Anson, took his men and boys on a seventeen-month mystery tour that did not end until he had disrupted the Chilean revolution, captured the entire English whaling fleet (manned mainly by Americans), vanished into the enchanted Galapagos, and re-emerged in Polynesia, where he made himself the conqueror-chief of the stone-age Nukuhivans. In the end, when he sought redemption with a glorious victory over a British opponent, he failed terribly and sacrificed the lives of one-third of his crew to his personal notions of heroism.

Critique: An exhaustively researched and impressively well written account, "Mad for Glory: A Heart of Darkness in the War of 1812" reveals an extraordinarily true and heretofore obscure story. "Mad for Glory" is a riveting read from beginning to end and very highly recommended for community and academic library 19th Century American History collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Mad for Glory" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids
Vikki Stark
Green Light Press
4413 Wilson Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H4A 2V3
9780986472152, $17.95, PB, 136pp,

Synopsis: "The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids" is the definitive guide to helping parents break the news of an upcoming separation and/or divorce to their young children with the least risk of emotional damage. Written by Vikki Stark, an internationally known divorce recovery professional, "The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids" is based on interviews with over one hundred children whose parents divorced. Readers will learn, step-by-step, how to manage their own emotions, to understand the meaning of divorce to children, what to say to the kids, and how to deal with the children's reaction to the news. "The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids" is practical and offers solutions that are designed to help parents limit the risk of trauma in the most important conversation of their children's lives.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary and content. Simply stated, "The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids" should be considered a "must read" for any father or mother engaged in or considering a separation or a divorce and needing to break the news to the children. As a simple social service to their communities, every library in the country should have a copy of "The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids" in the collections and available to their patrons. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Divorce Talk: How to Tell the Kids" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Evangeline Denmark
c/o HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780310729662, $17.99, PB, 432pp,

Synopsis: Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town's people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she, like her grandfather and father, may not actually need. By working at her grandfather's repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed -- or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists' enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make. But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family's secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows -- her grandfather's shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit's life and also end the Chemists' dark rule forever.

Critique: An exceptionally entertaining novel for young readers ages 15 to 20, "Curio" clearly documents author Evangeline Denmark has an especially gifted storyteller of originality who will leave her appreciative readers looking eagerly toward her next novel. Also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99), "Curio" is highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as school and community library YA Fiction collections.

Joachim's Magic
M. L. Stainer, author
James Melvin, illustrator
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478754978, $16.95 pbk / $3.50 Kindle, 233pp,

Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Reis Courtney, from Surrey, is apprenticed to one Dougham Gaunse, also known as Joachim Gans, famed metallurgist of Queen Elizabeth I and the first recorded Jew in the New World. Joachim and others travel to the Virginia lands in 1585, to search for gold, silver and most valuable of all, copper, to fashion the armaments for England s war against Spain. This special expedition, under the leadership of Ralph Lane and supported by Sir Walter Raleigh, is fraught with danger, from the native Indians who lurk in the woodlands to the hatred which the German miners harbor as they work alongside Joachim. Reis finds his master taciturn and mysterious. He chants in Hebrew and antagonizes all except Thomas Hariot and Ralph Lane. Trouble occurs when the great Indian Chief, Pemisapan, formerly known as Wingina, turns against them. What happens when Pemisapan captures them, holding them hostage and threatening their lives? What magic can Joachim perform to save them all? Faced with the choice of giving in to Pemisapan, or sacrificing his apprentice, Joachim must make one of the hardest decisions of his life. Upon him rests the fate of the entire 1585 expedition and the life of one small boy.

Critique: An impressively written historical novel from beginning to end, "Joachim's Magic" is very highly recommended for children ages 12 to 16, and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Joachim's Magic" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.50).

In the Oneness of Time
William Douglas Horden
Larson Publications
4936 NYS Route 414, Burdett, NY 14818
9781936012763, $16.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: "In the Oneness of Time: The Education of a Diviner" by William Douglas Horden ( a Master Diviner who works with the I Ching and pre-Hispanic MesoAmerican sacred tools) is an inspiring true story that draws the imagination into its own magical source, where things become possible, and possibilities become things. Throughout history and in all cultures, authentic diviners have been connecting their communities with real things unavailable to the physical senses and surface mind. Water for wells, healings, on-target meanings for events, wisdom to guide actions, unusual insights of many kinds -- the intuitive perception of diviners makes them available. "In the Oneness of Time" masterfully unfolds story of how Horden discovered this mode of intuitive perception and was trained to develop and use it by a series of highly skilled teachers and experienced a series of down-to-earth-life events and compelling "in-between world" experiences.

Critique: A riveting read from beginning to end, "In the Oneness of Time: The Education of a Diviner" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "In the Oneness of Time" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.69).

Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Leigh McAdam
Granville Island Publishing
212 -1656 Duranleau, Granville Island, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6H 3S4
9781926991467, $27.95, PB, 294pp,

Synopsis: Outdoorswoman Leigh McAdam has been to 54 countries on every continent except Antarctica. Her popular outdoor blog, which attracts a large following of kindred spirits, vicarious travelers and, increasingly, admirers of her fine photographic skills, receives 36,500 page views per month. Now in "Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures" the very best adventures are selected from the author's vast outdoor experiences are presented along with detailed maps and McAdam s stunning photographs. Writing as she travels with good humour, wisdom and verve, McAdam guides readers to spectacular wilderness locations as well as sites of historical interest. The 100 adventures in all ten provinces and three territories are rated for difficulty and come with information on getting there, the length of the trip and estimated time to accomplish it. Valuable preparedness tips, adventure highlights and interesting facts round out this essential guide for the wilderness adventurer. Selected to highlight areas of outstanding natural beauty in warm weather or winter ice and snow, these adventures are designed to be experienced while hiking, climbing, paddling, rafting, biking, skating or cross-country skiing.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly', beautifully illustrated, informed and informative, "Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures" is a very highly recommended resource of planning itineraries for Canadian trips and excursions fo any length or duration. Highly recommended for community and academic library Canadian Travel Guide reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Being Present: A Book of Daily Reflections
David Kundtz
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573246446, $16.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: "Being Present: A Book of Daily Reflections" by David Kundtz is a simple book that meant to make your life more peaceful, more rewarding, and more awakened. It has one purpose: to give readers an opportunity to be in the moment once a day, every day. Being Present is: Paying full attention to what is going on right now; Staying in the moment; Observing what is, without criticism or judgment; Balanced concern for things exactly as they are; Accepting whatever experience we are having; and Having an awake participation in ongoing life. In "Being Present", Kundtz guides us through the seasons of a year--and the seasons of a life--drawing inspiration from poets and scientists, spiritual teachers and children, butterflies and big cities. Each day is a surprise that helps readers to find their own moments in surprising ways.

Critique: An exceptionally reflective and meditative read, "Being Present: A Book of Daily Reflections" is especially recommended to the personal reading lists of anyone seeking calm, balance, and inspiration in their daily lives. It should be noted that "Being Present: A Book of Daily Reflections" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Spiritual Telepathy
Colleen Mauro
Quest Books
c/o The Theosophical Publishing House
306 W. Geneva Road, Wheaton, IL 60187
9780835609319, $17.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Colleen Mauro founded "Intuition: A Magazine for the Higher Potential of the Mind" in order to introduce readers to the emerging field of intuition development. In her new book, "Spiritual Telepathy: Ancient Techniques to Access the Wisdom of Your Soul", she takes readers beyond the intuition basics and introduces them to the next step -- a more advanced form of intuitive perception called spiritual telepathy. "Spiritual Telepathy" provides the ancient mind-training techniques that will allow you to access the wisdom and guidance of your own soul. These techniques, once taught in the ancient mystery schools come from a body of knowledge called the Ageless Wisdom. The Wisdom teachings tell us that the soul is our gateway to the higher worlds. Through the soul, we have access to the universal or divine mind where information on all subjects can be found. In the past, it's been only the "special" people (our saints, shamans and spiritual leaders) who have had access to the higher worlds. Colleen assures us that we can all gain access to that universal wellspring of inspiration and knowledge.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, "Spiritual Telepathy: Ancient Techniques to Access the Wisdom of Your Soul" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Spiritual Telepathy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Fashion and the Art of Pochoir
April Calahan & Cassidy Zachary
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500239391, $85.00, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: The 1910s and 1920s witnessed an outpouring of luxury fashion publications that used a hand-stenciling technique known as pochoir (French for stencil). This highly refined, painterly technique, which consists of applying layers of gouache paint or watercolor to achieve bold blocks of saturated color, produced works of visual artistry previously unrivaled in the history of fashion illustration. The collaborative work of April Calahan (a New York-based fashion historian and writer who is also Special Collections Associate at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York) and Cassidy Zachary (a fashion historian and collections manager based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.), "Fashion and the Art of Pochoir: The Golden Age of Illustration in Paris" presents a carefully curated selection of 300 of the most exceptional illustrations from albums produced by the leading French couturiers, as well as from high-end fashion magazines. Artists from Paul Iribe, Georges Lepape, and George Barbier to Umberto Brunelleschi, Eduardo Garcia Benito, and Andre E. Marty, these artists inaugurated the alliance between fashion and art with highly stylized depictions of the work of cutting edge designers such as Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin, and Madeleine Vionnet, among others. Complete with biographical descriptions of the featured illustrators and fashion designers, Fashion and the Art of Pochoir celebrates the rare (and rarely seen) images that defined a short but magnificent golden age of fashion illustration.

Critique: With more than 300 beautifully rendered color illustrations, "Fashion and the Art of Pochoir: The Golden Age of Illustration in Paris" is itself an impressive work of art. This coffee-table format study of French stencil art known as 'pochoir' is replete with informative commentaries and captioned illustrations, making it a critical success and very highly recommended as an extraordinary addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Art History and Fashion History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Eye to the Sky: Storytelling on the Edge of Magic
Bobby Norfolk
Parkhurst Brothers Publishers
9781624910463, $23.95, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: Few people knows how to tell their personal story like three time Emmy Award winner Bobby Norfolk, which is exactly what he does in the pages of "Eye to the Sky: Storytelling on the Edge of Magic". Norfolk grew up in hardscrabble neighborhoods of Saint Louis, Missouri, during the 1950s and 60s, sometimes walking to elementary school from an apartment his parents could not afford to heat. Lifting himself up by force of will and God-given talent, Norfolk defeated a childhood stutter to become a high school dramatist and later an exceptional college student. The path was never easy. It was often frightening. With men of color being killed all-too-frequently in America in those times, Norfolk sought a personal identity based upon talent and hard work, but also upon where safety and justice might be found. In "Eye to the Sky" he tells these stories. Some heartwarming or humorous, some frightful and treacherous, all are honestly related with a graceful mindfulness that everyone would do well to emulate.

Critique: An inherently absorbing and engaging read, "Eye to the Sky: Storytelling on the Edge of Magic" is exceptionally well written and presented from beginning to end. "Eye to the Sky" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography and Black Studies collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Eye to the Sky" is also available in a paperback edition (9781624910470, $14.95).

The Idea of a Human Rights Museum
Karen Busby, Adam Muller, Andrew W. Woolford, editors
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887557828, $31.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: Under the collaborative editorial efforts of Karen Busby (Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Human Rights Research at the University of Manitoba); Adam Muller (Associate Professor in the Department of English, Film, and Theatre at the University of Manitoba); and Andrew Woolford (Professor of Sociology at the University of Manitoba), "The Idea of a Human Rights Museum" examines in detail the formation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and to situate the museum within the context of the international proliferation of such institutions. Comprised of sixteen essays considering the wider architectural, political, and cultural contexts within which the museum physically and conceptually evolved, and the comparisons they draw between the CMHR and institutions elsewhere in the world that emphasize human rights and social justice, "The Idea of a Human Rights Museum" particularly illuminating. This collection brings together contributors from diverse fields (law, cultural studies, museum studies, sociology, history, political science, and English) to critically assess the potentials and pitfalls of human rights education through "ideas" museums. Accessible, engaging, and informative, the collection's essays will encourage museumgoers to think more deeply about the content of human rights exhibits and their development.

Critique: An exceptional anthology of informative, thoughtful, and insightful commentaries, "The Idea of a Human Rights Museum" is very highly recommended for academic library Human Rights and Social Justices reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Alchemy & Mysticism
Alexander Roob
107 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012
9783836549363, $19.99, HC, 576pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Alchemy & Mysticism", author Axlexander Roob and The Hermetic Museum takes readers on a magical mystery tour spanning an arc from the medieval cosmogram and images of Christian mysticism, through the fascinating world of alchemy to the art of the Romantic era. The enigmatic hieroglyphs of cabalists, Rosicrucians, and freemasons are shown to be closely linked with the early scientific illustrations in the fields of medicine, chemistry, optics, and color theory. Even for those with no knowledge of the fascinating history of alchemy, "Alchemy & Mysticism" is a delight to explore. Each richly illustrated chapter begins with an introduction and quotes from alchemists. The roots of surrealism and many other more recent artistic movements can be found in this treasure trove.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing read from beginning to end, "Alchemy & Mysticism" is a richly illustrated and exceptionally informative study that is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Sciences reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Constellation Approach
Jamy Faust & Peter Faust
Regent Press
2747 Regent St., Berkeley, CA 94705
9781587903311, $39.95, PB, 368pp,

Synopsis: "The Constellation Approach: Finding Peace Through Your Family Lineage" is the culmination of Jamy and Peter Faust's brave and innovative healing work over the past twenty years. Together and individually, they have helped hundreds of people heal emotional wounds rooted in many varieties of trauma, neglect, loss, and longstanding family loyalties. Inspired by the teachings of Bert Hellinger, "The Constellation Approach" combines the practical wisdom of healing traditions from both East and West with the Fausts' signature understanding of the Soul's journey. As they carefully guide us to uncover the sources of unresolved and often long-hidden conflicts, a path to inner peace emerges. The journey they invite us to embark upon will not only change forever the way we understand the dynamics of our families, but it will also expand and deepen our experience of authentic love. This book reimagines our conflict-ridden world gradually but boldly transformed by peace -- one family at a time.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Constellation Approach: Finding Peace Through Your Family Lineage" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. An impressive collaboration and an inherently absorbing read from beginning to end, "The Constellation Approach" is appropriate for both academia and the non-specialist general reader. Indeed, "The Constellation Approach" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections.

Nourish: Mind, Body & Soul
Amber Rose, Sadie Frost, Holly Davidson
Kyle Books
National Book Network (distributor)
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781909487321, $27.95, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: Nourish is an inspiring compendium by Amber Rose, Sadie Frost, and Holly Davidson, who as three friends cover good eating, well-being and fitness and exercise. Each woman presents her own area of expertise, bringing you a holistic guide to caring for your mind, body and soul. In her Super-Food section, Amber Rose offers a delicious array of breakfasts, soups and salads, mains and desserts and treats. All of her recipes use seasonal ingredients rich in vitamins, antioxidants and immune boosters, and bolster good health as well as exciting the palate. Try her Quinoa with a Rainbow of Jewels or Baked Pollock with Ginger, Tomatoes and Pine Nuts. Have fun with FrozenYogurt and Blackberry Swirl Pops or indulge with pretty Baked Figs and Strawberries with Honey, Vanilla & Toasted Almonds. Revitalise with Super Red Berry & Kefir Smoothie, or relax with Mint & Orange Blossom Tea. Sadie Frost's Super-Woman chapter is full of inspiring ideas to keep you on track and serene, from simple recipes to soothe tired skin to tips for organizing your day when there's simply too much to do. There are basic yoga exercises to promote physical and mental well-being, advice for meditations and guidance on mindfulness to keep your life moving in a positive direction. Sadie's refreshingly honest views on parenting, divorce, health and looking after yourself are both comforting and practical. Finally, Holly Davidson's Fit-Woman section is sure to motivate you and get you moving. There are tips on the importance of fitness, making time to exercise and avoiding excuses, as well as helpful information on appropriate exercises through the years. Holly has developed a fabulous 4-week Exercise Program to get you active and make you stronger, fitter, leaner and more toned. Each workout takes less than 30 minutes but is sure to make a real difference. The three friends conclude their stunningly photographed book with two week-long programs for good living -- Nourish Week and Cleanse & Tone Week. They hope that, in Nourish, you will find the kind of advice and support that you will turn to again and again, and that you will keep it constantly at hand for inspiration, amazing food and companionship.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoroughly absorbing from beginning to end, "Nourish: Mind, Body & Soul" is unique and exceptionally well written, organized and presented. This outstanding collaboration is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections.

Shark Assault: An Amazing Story of Survival
Peter Jennings & Nicole Moore
The Dundurn Group
3 Church Street, Suite 500, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5E 1M2
9781459732179, $22.99, PB, 200pp,

Synopsis: One of the most dreadful experiences humans fear is a shark attack. This horrifying agony is exactly what happened to Nicole Moore, a nurse from Orangeville, Ontario. It was an assault all the more brutal for being so unlikely because it happened when she was standing in waist-deep water at a Mexican resort. She came very close to dying, losing 60 percent of her blood from deep bites on her arm and leg, and was rushed to a hospital where she received a questionable level of medical care that left her and her family confronting physical and mental anguish. Surviving gruesome misery, including the amputation of her left arm and attempts to rebuild her disfigured leg, she has fought on to become a source of inspiration for those facing seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Critique: A harrowing true story that is a riveting read from beginning to end, "Shark Assault: An Amazing Story of Survival" is a compelling and highly recommended addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Shark Assault: An Amazing Story of Survival" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.49).

The Light of Hidden Flowers
Jennifer Handford
Lake Union Publishing
9781503950870, $24.95, HC, 368pp,

Synopsis: Book-smart Melissa Fletcher lives a predictable life in her hometown, working behind the scenes for her charismatic father in a financial career that makes perfect sense. But when her dad is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Missy is forced to step up and take over as his primary caregiver and the principal of the firm. After her father's death, Missy finds a letter from him in which he praises her for being a dutiful daughter but admonishes her for not taking any risks in life. Devastated, Missy packs her suitcase and heads for Italy. There she meets a new friend who proposes a radical idea. Soon, Missy finds herself in impoverished India, signing away her inheritance and betting on a risky plan while rekindling a lost love. "The Light of Hidden Flowers" is a deeply felt story of accepting who we are while pushing our boundaries to see how much more we can become. It's a reminder that it's never too late to pursue our dreams.

Critique: A deftly crafted and deeply engaging story from beginning to end, "The Light of Hidden Flowers" is another superbly written novel by Jennifer Handford and very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Light of Hidden Flowers" is also available in paperback edition (9781503947511, $14.95) and in a Kindle format ($5.49).

Helen Dumont

Laurel's Bookshelf

An Everyday Guide to Joy and Abundance: A New Approach to Living With Ease
Beth Wonson and Mary Kay Stenger, Ph.D., RN, CHT
Dandelion Books LLC
1111 East Brown Rd. Ste. 230, Mesa AZ 85203
9780996708920, $22.95, 191 pages,

Today, the world around us can be dark and frightening, stressful and chaotic. Job stress, financial worries, traffic jams, and a steady stream of bad news bombards us day and night. We worry, stew, fight exhaustion and plug along, endlessly juggling life's problems while numbing ourselves and hardening our hearts against past, present, or imagined future pains. In this book, the authors prove with simple step-by-step guidelines that life can be joyful and satisfying, that we'd all be happier and healthier if we allowed ourselves to feel life with open minds and hearts.

Humans tend to carry burdens and baggage that weigh us down. Sadly, much of the baggage we drag with us through life was never ours to begin with. Why do we hold onto old wounds, familiar patterns and behaviors, even when they harm our health and work against us? For example, physical wounds create scars. We treat physical wounds with healing ointment and soft bandages until they are well. What would happen if we treated emotional scars with the same gentle care? Our mind responds to our thoughts as if they were reality. We become what we think. In this book, Wonson and Stenger show us that even slight modifications in the way we think about ourselves can radically improve our everyday existence.

The collaboration between Beth Wonson and Mary Kay Stenger is a godsend for struggling, troubled people. This book is so helpful and hopeful, presented in simple, genuinely kindly terms that anyone can understand and put to daily use. They share their soul journeys honestly, with compassionate concern for others. They are not the typical self-help gurus who write a book and move on. These exceptional women have navigated their own troubled waters and made it safely to peaceful shores and want the same for everyone. Highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Hope & Healing for Transcending Loss
Ashley Davis Bush, author
Richard Evans, photographer
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781573246675, $16.95,

"Hope & Healing for Transcending Loss: Daily Meditations For Those Who Are Grieving" is a sensitive collection of 365 daily meditations for the recently bereaved. Here is practical help in dealing with all the unanswerable questions of mourners. The emphasis is on developing patience with your own grieving process, learning to accept small bright spots of comfort in daily thoughts of grief, pain, and loss. Each calendar day has a brief paragraph about special problems and issues with grieving and loss. In addition, there is a specific brief suggestion called Today, which allows the mourner to focus on a specific task, or response, to help work through the process of grieving and mourning. An example is the reading for June 9: "There are mysteries in this life, things we cannot know or understand or explain. Rest in the not-knowing. Watch how nature quiets life in the winter only to revive life in the spring. We only see a small part in the vast chain of life and death. One thing that we are sure about is that love is deep, vast, and eternal. Today: Begin to tolerate the reality that there is much we cannot know or understand in this life (page 99)."

In addition to the daily meditations and exercises, there is a special section following called Special Trigger Days. In the first year following the death of a significant loved one, there are many specially tender, or painful anniversaries or moments to be gotten through. Ideas are suggested for coping strategies to endure these special trigger days, and to continue on one's grief journey. In addition, there is a page on Hope for the Future, a list of suggested related reading, and a number of sensitive black and white photographs of natural subjects that inspire meditation and transcendence. These photographs were made by Richard Evans after the death of his 25 year old son in 2003, when he found comfort in the beauty of the natural world.

"Hope & Healing for Transcending Loss" is a valuable book to assist those who mourn the passing of a loved one, especially for that first year.

Jim Stubblefield, composer, performer
Bo Astrup, producer, mixer
Natural Elements Records, Inc.
B011Q1H6ZI, $14.98 CD /, $8.99 MP3

Laced with fiery, Spanish guitar, compelling complex percussive rhythms, and haunting vocals, "Encantado" is the answer to winter-bound dreamers of the frozen North land, longing for warmth. Ten original songs explore the soul with spicy cadences of passionate Spanish guitar, dancing effortlessly with drums, vocals, percussion and other instruments. A mix of cultural/ethnic influences is present, well seasoned and blended. Flawless execution, passion, and fire ignite this unique combination of Spanish guitar songs by Jim Stubblefield, certain to enchant, as its title promises. Savor each of these songs: Beyond the Horizon, Puesta del Sol (for JDZ), Across the Burning Sands, Cielo Azul, Highland Dreams (for Fiona), Odyssey of Fire, Shadow & Light, Corazone de Fuego, Phrygian Suite, Op. 1, and Terra e Sole.

Grace In a Wintry Season
Edwin Steinmann, author
Florence Fleming LLC
P.O. Box 365, Saint James, MO 65559
9780996184106, $11.99,

"Grace In a Wintry Season: Feeling our Creator's Love in a World Grown Distant and Cold - and Loving in Return" is a careful exploration of dream contents to derive enhanced spiritual understanding. It becomes the mirror of an individual's journey from skepticism, or religious unbelief, to a deep mysticism, and an overwhelming awareness of the transcendent, or grace. The author was formerly Catholic, then Protestant, and finally neither in his beliefs. At the age of 42, he consciously decided to pursue examination of his dreams to unlock spirituality. This experiment was life changing and eye-opening, a turning point that led to a metaphorical opening of the floodgates for the author. "Grace" has been described as a memoir, a series of mystical visions, or a quest for spiritual oneness. It is all that and more. It is a powerful seeking of something eventually labeled as Vita, perhaps a female consciousness hidden inside a male body, or even the reverse, or both. To follow some of the dreams and interpretations in "Grace In a Wintry Season," the reader must engage in some form of suspension of disbelief. Once so freed, the power of the visions revealed can be astonishing. It is perhaps trite to conclude that the core findings of "Grace" involve spiritual transcendence. But it is difficult to discuss or explain these dreams and inner visions. One must tread carefully, respecting the birthing pains of the author and creator of dreams. What emerges is a new definition of spiritual awareness, perhaps a new definition of the love of the infinite, whom some call God. The author uses several techniques of word amalgamation to convey a sense of perhaps powerful love transcending sexuality. Poems are quoted to define new and old visions; Matthew Arnold's "Dover Beach," and Ulrich Schaffer's "the man who rowed across the ocean." In the end, in the Conclusion, the author thanks the reader for accompanying him on his dream vision quest and analysis, and charges him finally with classic advice: "Know thyself." "Grace In a Wintry Season" is a challenging but rewarding book of faith and self discovery, one of enduring complex enigmas that many will find inspiring and intriguing.

Friends Forever, You and God: A Coloring Book for Adults and Children
John Schmidt, author
P. Lacey Maillett, illustrator
Path Publishing
4302 SW 51st #121, Amarillo, Texas 79109
9781517067106, $5.50,

"Friends Forever, You and God" is a special coloring and reading book that is meant to be shared between a child and an adult, perhaps a loving grandparent. The story begins, "Dear One, I am reading this to you because I want you to hear some of the things I wish someone had told me when I was a child...." The pages go on, filled with warm and tender thoughts and meditations on the closeness between a beloved child (like the reader) and God. Charming, detailed black and white illustrations show children and families, animals and angels, flowers and trees, and quiet reassuring bedtime scenes. Everywhere the message is "God is Love." To participate in life is to participate in the love and joy of God, for all life is a reflection of God. "Friends Forever, You and God" is a treasured intergenerational experience to be shared between friends of all ages.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Visions Through a Glass, Darkly
David I. Aboulafia
Cosmic Egg Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785350221 $18.95 pbk / $7.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Two days, eighteen hours, fifty-eight minutes... The time of your life on this earth. Richard Goodman is the caretaker of a unique institution that trains disabled youth in the art of watchmaking. But he is no ordinary administrator. He possesses extra sensory powers he does not fully understand and cannot control. But an innocent outing to Coney Island results in him obtaining a more disturbing ability, along with a terrifying prophecy that he will die in less than three days. As the clock of his life counts down, a still greater threat emerges. An uncanny assassin who will destroy everyone he knows and loves. Unless he can discover who the killer is. And stop him in time.

Critique: A taut novel of suspense with a thread of the supernatural, Visions Through a Glass, Darkly seizes the reader's attention and will not let go. Lurking underneath the saga of a psychic's imminent mortality and the threat of a ruthless murderer are deeper thematic questions about the essence of human free will. An unforgettable, dizzying kaleidoscope of a thrill ride!

The New Threat
Jason Burke
The New Press
126 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005-4007
9781620971352, $26.95, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: Jason Burke is one of the world's leading experts on militant Islam. He embedded with the Kurdish peshmerga (currently at war with ISIS) while still in college. He was hanging out with the Taliban in the late 1990s. He witnessed the bombing of Tora Bora in Afghanistan in 2001 firsthand. With the current emergence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, no one is as well placed as Burke to explain this dramatic post - Al Qaeda phase of Islamic militancy. We are now, he argues, entering a new phase of radical violence that is very different from what has gone before, one that is going to redefine the West's relationship with terrorism and the Middle East. ISIS is not "medieval", as many U.S. national security pundits claim, but, as Burke explains, a group whose spectacular acts of terror are a contemporary expression of our highly digitized societies, designed to generate global publicity. In his account, radical Islamic terrorism is not an aberration or "cancer," as some politicians assert; it is an organic part of the modern world. "The New Threat: The Past, Present, and Future of Islamic Militancy" will challenge the preconceptions of many American readers and will be hotly debated in national security circles.

Critique: When so much misinformation is spewing forth from the current crop of Republican candidates for the presidency, and so much chest-thumping misunderstanding about the nature of ISIS and how to confront it is being showered upon the American public by a jingoistic hosts of radio and television talk shows, "The New Threat: The Past, Present, and Future of Islamic Militancy" by Jason Burke couldn't be a more timely antidote in helping the non-specialist general reader to gain a clear understanding of just what America and its allies are up against. Simply stated, every governmental political policy maker needs to give a careful reading to "The New Threat", and every community and academic library needs to have a copy in their collection for the benefit of the communities they serve. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The New Threat" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.49).

Saints Who Battled Satan
Paul Thigpen
TAN Books
c/o Saint Benedict Press
PO Box 410487, Charlotte, NC 28241
9781618907189, $16.95, PB, 264pp,

Synopsis: Satan is real. He s a formidable foe who wants to snatch us away from God, and the thought of doing battle with him can seem daunting. Even so, the saints who have gone before us have engaged the Devil, armed with the power of Christ ... and emerged victorious! These fellow warriors in heaven now fight on our behalf. In the pages of "Saints Who Battled Satan: Seventeen Holy Warriors Who Can Teach You How to Fight the Good Fight and Vanquish Your Ancient Enemy", Paul Thigpen details the heroic combat of 17 saints who defeated the Enemy. In "Saints Who Battled Satan", readers will discover: How Satan attacks us through extraordinary assaults and everyday temptations; How these 17 saints used prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, and other spiritual weapons against the Enemy; How the virtues served these saints as combat armor; How these victorious saints now offer their aid to those of us still battling on earth. Here are to be found the inspiring and triumphant stories of Padre Pio, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, John Vianney, and a dozen other saints who battled Satan. These are examples of the strength, the courage, and the faith that will enable the readers to win their own war against the Enemy.

Critique: A convert to the Catholic faith, Paul Thigpen has served the Church as an award-winning journalist, historian, apologist, catechist, and member of the National Advisory Council of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In "Saints Who Battled Satan: Seventeen Holy Warriors Who Can Teach You How to Fight the Good Fight and Vanquish Your Ancient Enemy" he has provided an invaluable service to the Christian community with an inspired and inspiring work that is commended to the attention of not only Roman Catholics, but all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Saints Who Battled Satan" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.98).

Parliamentarism and Democratic Theory
Kari Palonen & Jose Maria Rosales, editors
Barbara Budrich Publishers
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9783847401582, $58.00, PB, 324pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Kari Palonen (Professor of Political Science and Director of the Centre of Political Thought and Conceptual Change, Editor of Redescriptions, and Co-founder of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland) and Jose Maria Rosales (Associate Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the University of Malaga, Spain, and board member of Concepta, International Research School in Conceptual History and Political Thought, University of Helsinki, Finland), "Parliamentarism and Democratic Theory: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives" deals with the place of parliamentary politics in democracy. Apparently a truism, parliamentarism is a missing research object in democratic theory and is a devalued institutional reference in democratic politics. Yet, the parliamentary culture of politics historically explains the rise and fall of modern democracies. In early 20th-century political thought, the relationships between democracy and parliamentarism were at the focus of the agenda. In the post-war era, the study of politics has taken the parliament for granted, meaning its analysis has been, on the whole, limited to concomitant factors, such as elections, party systems, or the government-opposition divide. Even rhetorical studies have largely dealt with historical and linguistic aspects of argumentative reasoning, and parliaments have been merely considered institutions producing speeches and texts to be studied. By exploring democracy from the vantage point of parliamentary politics, the book advances a novel research perspective. Aimed at revising current debates on parliamentary politics, democratization, and democratic theory, "Parliamentarism and Democratic Theory" examines the role of the parliamentary culture of politics in democracy, highlighting the argumentative debating experience of politics to recast both some of democratic theory's normative assumptions and real democracies' reform potential.

Critique: Comprised of twelve erudite and informative contributions by political science experts, "Parliamentarism and Democratic Theory: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives" is presented in two major sections: The Changing Uses of Parliamentarism and Being Democratic: Theory and Practice. Enhanced with the inclusion of an introduction by the editors (The Theory and Practice of Parlamentary Democracy), a listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a five page index, "Parliamentarism and Democratic Theory" is a critically important work of exceptional scholarship and very highly recommended for academic library Political Science reference collections in general, and Parliamentary Democracy supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Playboy Swings
Patty Farmer
Beaufort Books
27 West 20th Street, Suite 1102, New York, NY 10011
9780825307881, $24.95, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine, is one of the world's best-known publications in the world. Since the its launch in 1953, two elements have been remarkably consistent: the first, obviously, is the celebration of nubile, female flesh. The second, readers may be surprised to learn, is Playboy's involvement in the music scene. The Playboy experience was never just about sex but about lifestyle. Music (particularly the finest jazz, a personal passion of Hefner's) has always been an essential component of that lifestyle. "Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music" focuses specifically on Playboy's involvement in the music scene, its impact on popular entertainment (and vice versa), and the fabulous cadre of performers who took to the stages of the mythic Playboy Clubs and Jazz Festivals. Throughout Playboy Swings, author Patty Farmer demonstrates how Playboy helped change the world through music by integrating the TV shows, festivals, and the clubs. Complied through interviews with hundreds of people who were on the scene throughout Playboy's rise, fall, and on-going renaissance, "Playboy Swings" carries readers on a seductive journey through the history of the empire -- all the while focusing on the musical entertainment that made it unique. Hefner's personal passion for music and his belief in it as a cornerstone of the Playboy ethos has expressed itself in a wide range of media over Playboy's 60-year history, and all of it comes alive in the pages of "Playboy Swings".

Enhanced with some 60 black and white photos, and a complete Playboy music reference guide, "Playboy Swings: How Hugh Hefner and Playboy Changed the Face of Music" is exceptionally informed and informative. Impressively written, organized and presented from beginning to end, "Playboy Swings" is a "must read" for all Playboy magazine and Contemporary American Music enthusiasts. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Music History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Playboy Swings" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).

Changing the Immutable
Marc B. Shapiro
Littman Library of Jewish Civilization
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781904113607, $39.95, HC, 364pp,

Synopsis: "Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History" by Marc B. Shapiro (holder of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Chair in Judaic Studies, University of Scranton, Pennsylvania) focuses on how segments of Judaism's Orthodox society have taken it upon themselves to rewrite the past by covering up and literally cutting out that which does not fit their own world view. For reasons ranging from theological considerations, to internal religious politics, to changing religious standards, such Jewish self-censorship abounds. "Changing the Immutable" discusses examples from each category. The analysis is illustrated by a number of images of the original texts next to their censored versions, together with an explanation of what made them problematic and how the issue was resolved. "Changing the Immutable" considers the concepts of history that underlie such changes, looking at how some Orthodox historiography sees truth as entirely instrumental. Drawing on the words of leading rabbis, particularly from the haredi world, "Changing the Immutable" shows that what is important here is not historical truth, but a truth that leads to observance and faith in the Sages. "Changing the Immutable" concludes with a discussion of the concept of truth in the Jewish tradition, and when this truth can be altered. This detailed study also reflects on the paradox of a society that regards itself as traditional, but, at the same time, is uncomfortable with some of the inherited tradition, and thus feels the need to create an idealized view of the past. "Changing the Immutable" considers this in context, detailing precedents in Jewish history dating back to talmudic times. Since the objects of censorship have included such figures as Maimonides, Bahya ibn Pakuda, Rashi, Naphtali Herz Wessely, Moses Mendelssohn, the Hatam Sofer, Samson Raphael Hirsch, A. I. Kook, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and J. B. Soloveitchik, as well as issues such as Zionism, biblical interpretation, and attitudes to women and non-Jews, "Changing the Immutable" also serves as a informed and informative study in Jewish intellectual history and how the ideas of one era do not always find favor with later generations.

Critique: An impressive work of detailed and seminal scholarship, "Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History" is a major contribution to Judaic Studies and is very highly recommended as a critically important addition to synagogue and academic library reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Disclosure: The Future is Now
Graham Clingbine
9781784624507, $18.48, HC, 448pp,

Synopsis: "Disclosure: The Future is Now" by Graham Clingbine is the story of strange experiences about what happens when events in the future return to affect the past. "Disclosure" traces the life of Kevin Powell from the age of eight when he is living with his mum Sylvie. He undergoes a number of strange experiences that his young mind cannot interpret and that he assumes are a normal part of growing up. As a teenager, Kevin supports his mum when she falls ill and requires surgery to remove a mysterious object of unknown origin and function. In adulthood, he again has a number of realistic nightmare-like visions. He sees his wife and mum in a bizarre, unfamiliar environment. Revelations of a depopulated planet Earth are shown to him from the distant future. He is placed in a dilemma which sets his love for his daughter against an uncertain future on Earth...Disclosure will appeal to both sci-fi fans and individuals interested in UFOs and related phenomena. For many years, strange sights have been observed in the skies and "Disclosure" references UFO sightings back to distant civilizations such as those of Sumeria, ancient Egypt and the Mayans. It forwards through history, right up to the present time, also looking at what US presidents may or may not have known about UFOs and alien contact, conspiracy theories, abductions and contacts, observations by pilots, secret bases and 'black ops', back engineering, government programmes like Project Blue Book, crop circles, subatomic particles, novel technology and much more.

Critique: A deftly crafted and impressively written novel, "Disclosure: The Future is Now" will prove to be of special interest to science fiction enthusiasts and an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. A thoroughly absorbing work from beginning to end, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Disclosure: The Future is Now" is also available in a paperback edition (9781784624262, $16.39) and in a Kindle format ($5.99).

Against the Grain
James Carson
University of North Texas Press
PO Box 311336, Denton, TX 76203-1336
9781574416114, $32.95, HC, 432pp,

Synopsis: Henry Martyn Lazelle (1832 - 1917) was the only cadet in the history of the US Military Academy to be suspended and sent back a year (for poor grades and bad behavior) and eventually return as Commandant of the Corps of Cadets. After graduating from West Point in 1855, he scouted with Kit Carson, was wounded by Apaches, and spent nearly a year as a "paroled" prisoner-of-war at the outbreak of the Civil War. Exchanged for a Confederate officer, he took command of a Union cavalry regiment, chasing Mosby's Rangers throughout northern Virginia. Lazelle's service was punctuated at times with contention and controversy. In charge of the official records of the Civil War in Washington, he was accused of falsifying records, exonerated, but dismissed short of tour. As Commandant of Cadets at West Point, he was a key figure during the infamous court martial of Johnson Whittaker, one of West Point's first African American cadets. Again, he was relieved of duty after a bureaucratic battle with the Academy's Superintendent.

Critique: A model of an exceptionally well researched and written military biography from beginning to end, "Against the Grain: Colonel Henry M. Lazelle and the U.S. Army" by James Carson is the ninth and newest addition to the outstanding 'North Texas Military Biography and Memoir Series' published by the University of North Texas Press. Informed and informative, "Against the Grain" is enhanced with the inclusion of maps, photos, forty-eight pages of Notes, an eighteen page Bibliography, and a thirty-seven page Index, making it a valued and highly recommended addition to community and academic library American Civil War reference collections and supplemental studies lists. Especially commended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the American Civil War, it should be noted that "Against the Grain" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.25).

Independent Ed
Edward Burns
Avery Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781592408597, $26.95, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: At the age of twenty-five, Ed Burns directed and produced his first film, The Brothers McMullen, on a tiny $25,000 budget. It went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995, and established the working-class Irish American filmmaker as a talent to watch. In the twenty years since, Burns has made ten more films (She's the One, Sidewalks of New York, and The Fitzgerald Family Christmas), while also acting in big budget Hollywood movies (Saving Private Ryan), hit television shows (Entourage and Mob City), and pioneering a new distribution network for indie filmmakers online and with TV's On Demand service ("why open a film in twenty art houses when you can open in twenty million homes?"). Inspired by Burns's uncompromising success both behind and in front of the camera, students and aspiring filmmakers are always asking Burns for advice. In "Independent Ed: Inside a Career of Big Dreams, Little Movies, and the Twelve Best Days of My Life", Burns shares the story of his two remarkable decades in a fickle business where heat and box office receipts are often all that matter. He recounts stories of the lengths he has gone to secure financing for his films, starting with The Brothers McMullen (he told his father: "Shooting was the twelve best days of my life"). How he found stars on their way up to work in his films including Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz, and how he's adhered religiously to the dictum of writing what you know, working as if he was just starting out, and always "looking for the next twelve best days of my life". Chronicling the struggles and the long hours as well as the heady moments when months of planning and writing come to fruition, "Independent Ed" is a must-read for movie fans, film students, and everyone who loves a gripping tale about what it takes to forge your own path in work and life.

Critique: Impressively well written, exceptional well organized, informative and a "must" for all aspiring filmmakers, "Independent Ed: Inside a Career of Big Dreams, Little Movies, and the Twelve Best Days of My Life" is very highly recommended as a core addition to community and academic library Theatre/Cinema instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Independent Ed" is also available in a paperback edition (9781592409334, $16.00) and in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Rapid Teamwork - 5 Essential Steps to Transform Any Group into a Great Team
Sean Glaze
Oak Wind Books
c/o New Shelves Distribution
20 Office Park Way Suite 126, Pittsford, NY 14534
9780996245814, $16.95 PB, $8.99 Kindle, 156 pages,

Transforming River Rafting Principles to Rapid Teamwork Realization

Sean Glaze has hit upon a fascinating approach to inspire, motivate, and transform disgruntled employees to productive, successful and, winning teammates. In "Rapid Teamwork" Glaze uses the platform of fiction to help readers discover, assimilate, and apply five ingredients important to building effective teams in today's fast moving, ever changing economy.

A surprise visit by Matthew Patterson, president of CDI National, with Greg Sharpe, manager of the Memphis branch of CDI, puts into motion a river rafting retreat for Greg's management team. Patterson uses his background as a basketball coach and Sharpe's common interest and respect for highly respected basketball coaches, to put him in contact with Sofia Mitchell, his former basketball team leader, presently leading river rafting retreats with a focus on teaching team leadership principles.

By the end of the river rafting retreat every member of Greg's CDI management team had a new understanding of and commitment to apply five G-R-E-A-T principles of "Rapid Teamwork." They were each determined to become a more effective team, and were ready to build a stronger, more productive and more unified workforce.

Glaze uses a lot of dialog and strong character development to move his plot forward and to accomplish his goal of teaching strong team building techniques. By the last chapter I had become deeply empathetic with, protagonist Greg Sharpe, as well as engrossed in the storyline. I was eager to discover how the multifaceted "team" would move forward and find closure to unresolved issues in their loosely connected relationships. I was not let down.

Sean Glaze is a professional team building facilitator leading interactive events in leadership development. He is a keynote speaker, inspiring "Rapid Teamwork."

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

Embracing the Wild in Your Dog
Bryan Bailey
Fast Pencil Inc.
307 Orchard City Drive, Suite 210, Campbell, CA 95008
9781619334717, $ 16.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 174 pages,

A Wonderful Combination of Story, Scientific Fact, and Guidelines to Understanding Your Dog

Bryan Bailey unlocks the key to trying to domestic the wolf in his book "Embracing the Wild in Your Dog." He guides the reader on a journey that includes emotionally charged stories and well developed scientific fact.

Although there are many theories and methodologies that have been disputed for years, advance in scientific evidence show that today's domestic dog is a direct descendant of the grey wolf. In consultation with dog owners as a professional trainer Bailey works on the premise that, a dog's behavior is dominated by "instinct" passed down from the wolf. The dog is a modified wolf, not a human.

Bailey's highly developed intuitive sensitivity and curiosity are the result of growing up in Alaska and as young man being mentored by Special Forces survival instructor. He writes from years of formal study and real life experiences in the field of wolves in their wild habitat, sled dogs in Alaska, his years as a K9 officer and as a training instructor. He is an advocate for taming the wild and teaching others to "embrace the wild in their dog." His writing is articulate, authoritative, important and informative.

Bailey has given me a new appreciation for nature and especially for the wilds of the Alaskan frontier. As an extra "take away," I was reminded of the importance of acceptance without judgment, and of the importance of always striving for personal and professional growth.

"Embracing the Wild in Your Dog" is an imperative read for every dog owner.

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

The Last Goodbye
Alfred M. Albers
Infinity Publishing
1094 New Dell Haven Street, Suite 100, West, Conshohocken, PA 19428
9781495808210, $26.95 PB, $3.95 Kindle, 444 pages,

Magic, Mystery, Illusion, Collusion, Crime, Murder, and Resolution

Within the first five pages of Alfred M. Albers "The Last Goodbye" I was hooked. I remembered then why I had become a fan of his unique writing skills, characterizations, and the memorable descriptions of New York City. I learned to appreciate his incredible plots and the challenge of matching wits with the remarkable John Michaels, magician extraordinaire.

Alber's writing begins at a comfortable casual pace, but always moving the plot forward. He uses a realistic conversational dialog, this added to a genuine credibility and a strong cast of believable characters build an ever steady course of actions which introduce a complex storyline of suspense, mystery, police procedure, media frenzy, and hospital protocol. Whether magician's myth, actual fact, or a creative imagination, the backstory of Louie Franklin is plausible and adds a new twist to an already multifaceted plot. This fast moving narrative style adds to the suspense and builds a sense of the risk and danger his protagonist, John Michaels is facing.

"The Last Goodbye" is must reading for amateur and professional magicians and illusionists as well as all their fans and "wantabe" magicians. Every magic shop in New York City should make sure to stock Alber's books.

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

Legging It - Life Lessons Learned Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Craig Clapper, AKA Hoosier
Xulon Press
2301 Lucien Way, Suite 415, Maitland, FL 32751
9781498418867, $ 14.99, HC, 116 pages,

Legging It - A Life Changing Pilgrimage

The Appalachian Trail begins at Springer Mountain, Georgia and ends at Mount Katahdin, Maine. Craig Clapper brings together for the reader three facets of life observed during his 2,186 mile Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hiking experience: the physical, mental, and spiritual.

In a logical progression Hoosier, Clapper's trail name, carefully describes the topography of the trail, the climate, the scenic beauty, and the pitfalls and dangers along the way. He uses his keen power of observation to draw parallels from these unique experiences and shows how they mirror life and give insight into man's personal quest to find purpose and meaning.

Hoosier devotes a full chapter to the benefits of "Traveling Tight - Traveling with Friends." The community of hikers on the Appalachian Trail attest to the fact that the camaraderie and companionship developed along the trail is a driving force behind reaching Katahdin and attaining their goal of becoming a thru-hiker.

Photos taken of scenic markers and of fellow hikers add a significant dimension to Hoosier's creative word pictures of these new friends; they include: Sparks, Caribou, Dovetail, Nickelodian, Rash, Punkin Pie, Mot, Joe the Hiker, Samson, and many others. Hoosier compares this to the bond of friendship of David and Jonathan described in the Old Testament.

I especially appreciated the emphasis of the final chapters: Traveling with the End in Sight - Staying Committed, and The Joy of Completion. After completing the journey the thru-hikers received certificates of completion. The author's certificate is made out to "Hoosier, formerly known Craig Clapper." Hoosier reminds the reader of a more important "Joy of Completion" for the Christian, that is when at the end of our journey we hear the words from Jesus, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Higher Places
Annette Marie Spiezio
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478759973, $12.05, Paperback, 99pages,

This is one of the most tender, encouraging books that I have read in a long time. Our author takes us into the heart of our beloved dogs and gives several examples of how they show their love, their desires and the many ways they are aware of our needs. This is an excellent read to show you the purpose of having a precious dog in our lives. The author will open your eyes and your heart and move you to appreciate the wonderful gift you have in your life with your dog. You will love this read, excellent, heart touching, recommended.

Between The Tides
Susannah Marren
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250066735, $20.08, 304pages,

As we travel with this family as they begin a new life after a move we are caught up with Mom who suddenly looks around her and wonders where has her life gone and where is it going. This is a story of a woman, a family, and a decision of how much do we sacrifice, how much of ourselves do we give, where is the turning point and what are we willing to sacrifice. Many as you read will relate, some will turn away, some will agree but most will understand. Quite a read by a excellent author.

Sacred Mountains of China
Ryan Pyle
Ryan Pyle Productions
9780992864415 $12.95, 184pgs,

I have seen this great explorers videos and now I have enjoyed sharing his adventure in this read as well. This is a excellent read that will pull you into the adventure and is written in such a real to life manner that you will feel you are traveling and experiencing the true adventure. I loved this read and am very happy to recommend it to you. Lay back with this book and enjoy the travel. Wonderful for young and old as you share adventure and true life experiences while you travel and learn. Great read, highly recommended.

Little Rice
Clay Shirky
Columbia Global Reports
91 Claremont Avenue, Suite 515, New York, NY 10027
9780990976325, $11.74, 128pgs,

This book is generally about the rise of China with their products. I'm not usually into this type of book but I did learn a lot and actually found this quite a learning experience of a read. Will be interesting to see what happens in the future for China and the world.

Invasion Of The Earthmen
Vitor Rodrigues
Inner Vision
9780956883384, $13.99, 184pages

I liked this read quite a bit. It is the story of travelers going to space and the life style they find. I thought it is very well written because it held my attention. The writing slowly draws you into the story and the happenings of both earth people and those who inhabit this new planet. It kept my attention and I loved the ending. Good read. I think you will like this one.

To Swallow the Earth
Ransom A. Wilcox
Premio Publishing & Gozo Books
648 W. Wasatch Street, Midvale, UT 84047
9780692436394, $9.85, 214pgs,

This story held my attention. I loved hearing the descriptions of the old times, the battles in so many areas, some won, some lost, it was really interesting. Did a great job with that. A story of man against nature, man against man, the growth of a nation, people, and the battles there of all wrapped into a interesting tale. One day would make a great movie, I hope that happens. Book received for a honest review.

Ghosts Don't Do Homework
Carolyn J Gold
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511764063, $9.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle, 168 pages,

This is a great Ghost story with a learning experience added to it. We travel with a family who moves into a new house that has a History of hiding Slaves years before. However, little did they know there was also a Ghost that lived there as well. Was he evil or good? I am not going to tell. rusty, the son of the family encounters this Ghost and the story wraps around their relationship. I was really pulled into this tale and could not put it down. It had facts in it about the Slave days but also had a great family story. I liked it a lot from beginning to end and I am happy to recommend it to you..

The Chorus Effect
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478750321, $14.95, 460pgs,

I really didn't think at first I would like this book but I certainly had a change of mind once I got into the read. I loved the way he brought the characters alive, regular and the 'strange' ones. It really held my attention and the story line moved along at a great pace. This is a different read, which I found refreshing and very enjoyable. Good job. .

Bats and Bones
Jeffrey Hickey
Big-n-Boo Productions
9780991257546, $14.95, 44pgs

I was quite surprised with the reading of these stories. They may also be heard on CD. I found myself captivated in the tales and especially when I heard them read on the CD. They just truly came to life, almost giving me chills. This book is very captivating entertaining and interesting. I'm happy to recommend this read to you. I really believe you would truly enjoy the listening tales. Very well done.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Divergent and Philosophy
Courtland Lewis, editor
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812699029, $19.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Courtland Lewis (Instructor of Philosophy at Owensboro Community and Technical College in Kentucky), "Divergent and Philosophy: The Factions of Life" begins by examining the personal struggles that all people face at some time: What sort of person should I be? What if I find out my life is a lie? What do I owe my parents? Am I normal? Once readers have finished answering these questions they're ready for the "choosing ceremony". Part two examines each faction, looking at its virtues, vices, and other features that will help readers pick the "right" faction. This part gives readers a glimpse into what it's like to be faced with the most important decision of our lives, the one that will forever determine who we are. Part three takes a step takes a step back, in order to question Chicago's ordering of society. Chicago is on the verge of revolution, but is this the result of the faction system itself, or is it the people within the factions that are behind the social discord? Part four shifts the focus individuals and those who hold power. Part five tells us how to recognize injustice.

Critique: An absorbing, thoughtful and thought-provoking read throughout, "Divergent and Philosophy" is comprised of nineteen erudite essays organized into five major sections: Are You Divergent?; How to Make Everyone Less Evil; Today We Choose; Wisdom before Faction; Know Thy Faction, Know Thy Self. One of the latest additions to the outstanding 'Popular Culture and Philosophy' series from the Open Court Publishing Company, "Divergent and Philosophy" is very highly recommended for both community and university library Philosophy collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Divergent and Philosophy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Find It Fast
Robert I. Berkman
Information Today, Inc.
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055-8750
9781937290047, $24.95, PB, 424pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Find It Fast: Extracting Expert Information from Social Networks, Big Data, Tweets, and More", Robert Berkman draws upon his more than 25 years of professional experience and expertise in the media and information industries to gives expert advice on how to search the internet to locate the best information sources, how to find and utilize the professionals behind those sources, and how to combine these techniques to complete an information search on any subject. This fully updated 6th edition of "Find It Fast" includes how to search beyond Google, leveraging big data in the search process, and how to search the social web. Readers will also find expert advice on how to know if a site is a trusted source; understanding how and why sources differ; using precision search strategies and taming information overload; and finding, evaluating, and identifying experts.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Find It Fast: Extracting Expert Information from Social Networks, Big Data, Tweets, and More" is an ideal resource to doing research whether it's for consumer advice, information for a job or project, facts for starting a new business, or answers to questions on obscure topics. Informed and informative "Find It Fast" is the perfect resource for learning to hone one's internet searching skills and very highly recommended for personal, community, corporate, and academic library Information Technology reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Contesting Antiquity in Egypt
Donald Malcolm Reid
American University in Cairo Press
420 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10018-2729
9789774166891, $59.95, HC, 516pp,

Synopsis: The sensational discovery in 1922 of Tutankhamun's tomb, close on the heels of Britain's declaration of Egyptian independence, accelerated the growth in Egypt of both Egyptology as a formal discipline and of 'pharaonism'-popular interest in ancient Egypt-as an inspiration in the struggle for full independence. Emphasizing the three decades from 1922 until Nasser's revolution in 1952, "Contesting Antiquity in Egypt: Archaeologies, Museums, and the Struggle for Identities from World War I to Nasser" by Donald Malcolm Reid (Professor emeritus, Georgia State University, and Affiliate Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, University of Washington) looks at the ways in which Egypt developed its own archaeologies-Islamic, Coptic, and Greco-Roman, as well as the more dominant ancient Egyptian. Each of these four archaeologies had given birth to, and grown up around, a major antiquities museum in Egypt. Later, Cairo, Alexandria, and Ain Shams universities joined in shaping these fields. Contesting Antiquity in Egypt brings all four disciples, as well as the closely related history of tourism, together in a single engaging framework.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Contesting Antiquity in Egypt: Archaeologies, Museums, and the Struggle for Identities from World War I to Nasser" is enhanced for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the history of Egyptology with the inclusion of maps, figures, tables, a list of abbreviations, a "Note on Transliteration, Translation, and Dates", eighty pages of Notes, a thirty-two page Bibliography, and a thirty-five page Index. "Contesting Antiquity in Egypt" is an extraordinary history and a work of seminal scholarship, making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library collections.

Wellington's Hidden Heroes
Veronica Baker-Smith
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781612003320, $32.95, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: The Duke of Wellington described the Battle of Waterloo as "the most desperate business I ever was in . . . I was never so near being beat." The courage of British troops that day has been rightly praised ever since, but the fact that one-third of the forces which gave him his narrow victory were subjects, not of George III but of the King of the Netherlands has been almost completely ignored. "Wellington's Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo" seeks to correct a grave injustice through the study of Dutch sources, the majority of which have never been used by English-speaking historians. The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras. He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometers of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle "hung upon the cusp," their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander (the Prince of Orange) has been viciously described as an arrogant fool, "a disaster waiting to happen" and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of Wellington himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate. "Wellington's Hidden Heroes" reveals a new dimension of the famous campaign, and includes many unseen illustrations. For the first time, a full assessment is made of the challenge which Willem I faced as king of a country hastily cobbled together by the Congress of Vienna, and of his achievement in assembling, equipping and training 30,000 men from scratch in 18 months. During this 200th anniversary year of the Battle of Waterloo, the veneration which the Duke of Wellington justifiably enjoyed after the campaign should not be allowed to overshadow his lifelong lack of recognition of the debt he owed the Netherlanders. As he once said himself, "there should be glory enough for all," and in these pages some of his most vital allies are finally allowed to claim their share.

Critique: An extraordinary and impressively researched, written, organized and presented history that sheds considerable new light on one of the most influential battles of 19th Century Europe, "Wellington's Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo" is very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of members of academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Wellington, Napoleon, and their consequential conflict at Waterloo, as well as a core addition to community and academic library 19th Century European History collections in general, and 'The Battle of Waterloo' supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Eclipse of the Assassins
Russell H. Bartley & Syliva Erickson Bartley
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299306403, $44.95, HC, 548pp,

Synopsis: "Eclipse of the Assassins: The CIA, Imperial Politics, and the Slaying of Mexican Journalist Manuel Buendia" is a stellar volume of historical scholarship that is grippingly told, meticulously documented, and doggedly pursued over thirty years by Russell H. Bartley (Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee) with the help of Sylvia Erickson Bartley (an historian, historical records archivist, and former photojournalist). Tracking a Cold War confrontation that has compromised the national interests of both Mexico and the United States, "Eclipse of the Assassins" exposes deadly connections among historical events usually remembered as isolated episodes. "Eclipse of the Assassins" sheds new light on the American-instigated "dirty wars" that ravaged all of Latin America in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s and reveal for the first time just how Mexican officials colluded with Washington in its proxy contra war against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. "Eclipse of the Assassins) draws together the strands of a clandestine web linking: the assassination of prominent Mexican journalist Manuel Buendia; the torture and murder of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent Enrique Camarena; the Iran-Contra scandal; a major DEA sting against key CIA-linked Bolivian, Panamanian, and Mexican drug traffickers; a CIA-orchestrated suppression of investigative journalists; as well as a criminal collusion of successive U.S. and Mexican administrations that has resulted in the unprecedented power of drug kingpins like "El Chapo" Guzman. "Eclipse of the Assassins" also places the major political crime that was the murder of Buendia in its full historical perspective and shows how the dirty wars of the past are still claiming victims today.

Critique: A rigorous work of original, documented, and seminal scholarship, "Eclipse of the Assassins: The CIA, Imperial Politics, and the Slaying of Mexican Journalist Manuel Buendia" is an informed and informative expose of the dark underbelly of American political corruption that was well hidden from the general public by the presidential administrations that inflicted it. Enhanced with a twelve page Glossary of Names; forty-two pages of Notes; twenty-for pages of Sources; and a thirty-five page Index, "Eclipse of the Assassins" is an invaluable and very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Political Science and American History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the history of unlawful American governmental covert interference and corruption with respect to Latin American governments that "Eclipse of the Assassins" is also available in a Kindle edition ($42.70).

The First King of Hollywood
Tracey Goessel
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613734049, $34.95, HC, 560pp,

Synopsis: Silent film superstar Douglas Fairbanks was an absolute charmer. Irrepressibly vivacious, he spent his life leaping over and into things, from his early Broadway successes to his marriage to the great screen actress Mary Pickford to the way he made Hollywood his very own town. The inventor of the swashbuckler, he wasn't only an actor -- he all but directed and produced his movies, and in founding United Artists with Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith, he challenged the studio system. But listing his accomplishments is one thing and telling his story another. In "The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks", Tracey Goessel (a member of the board of directors of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and the founder of the Los Angeles - based Film Preservation Society) has made the latter her life's work, and with exclusive access to Fairbanks's love letters to Pickford, she brilliantly illuminates how Fairbanks conquered not just the entertainment world but the heart of perhaps the most famous woman in the world at the time.

Critique: With extraordinary attention to detail, ""The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks" is a truly impressive biography that is especially remarkable for its historic accuracy, detail, candor, sources, and insight. Enhanced with the inclusion of a section of historic photos, "The First King of Hollywood" is an inherently fascinating and informative read from beginning to end. A seminal work of outstanding scholarship coupled with a narrative style that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, scope and presentation, "The First King of Hollywood" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography and American Theatrical/Cinematic Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The First King of Hollywood" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

The Reason: It's About More Than Just the Money
Quentin Brent
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane, Edina, MN 55439
9781592988716, $24.99, HC, 480pp,

Synopsis: Illicit profits were all part of Zane Donovan's work at a financial firm, but suddenly the stakes change when his family is violently abducted. Following a trail that was never meant to be uncovered, Zane realizes that with Quantitative Easing, the Federal Reserve is doing something no criminal has ever accomplished -- and the catastrophic economic implications are worth killing over. Together with a computer hacker and a seemingly helpful special ops warrior, Zane must decide between exposing the truth and preserving the financial strength of the world. However, only Zane knows the real truth and why it can't be revealed. The Federal Reserve isn't just about money. While it also involves domination and control, it all comes back to one thing.

Critique: A riveting thriller of a read from beginning to end, "The Reason: It's About More Than Just the Money" showcases author Quentin Brent as a true master of the genre. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Reason: It's About More Than Just the Money" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Christopher Dell
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500291511, $29.95, PB, 352pp,

Synopsis: Every recorded culture in the history of the human race has its own myths. "Mythology: An Illustrated Journey into Our Imagined Worlds" by Christopher Dell is lively and accessible compendium that gathers some of humankind's most enduring mythological stories in one place. Here, from every corner of the globe, are tales of the world's creation, undying love, the Sun and the Moon, gods of the weather, tricksters, terrible monsters, the afterlife and the underworld, and more. Looking at the overarching themes of the world's mythologies, Christopher Dell shows how many myths share common patterns and traces how the human imagination, in all its diversity, has expressed itself through the ages. From the ancient Norse characters to Homer's epics to Gilgamesh, from the Hindu deities to the Old Testament and King Arthur, this is the perfect introduction to mythology. Brought to life through hundreds of colorful, beautiful, and sometimes bizarre illustrations, ""Mythology: An Illustrated Journey into Our Imagined Worlds will appeal to anyone interested in the tales we tell to make sense of the world around us.

Critique: An extraordinary compendium showcasing the impressive and diverse mythological legacy that has accumulated down through the millennia. An inherently fascinating and informative read from beginning to end, ""Mythology: An Illustrated Journey into Our Imagined Worlds" is highly recommended for personal reading lists, and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library Mythology/Folklore collections.

The 16 Strivings For God
Steven Reiss
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207-0001
9780881465570, $25.00, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: The first comprehensive, psychological theory in over a century, in "The 16 Strivings for God: The New Psychology of Religious Experiences" picks up where William James left off. This ground breaking work by American psychologist Steven Reiss (who served as a tenured professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (1972-1991) and at The Ohio State University (1991-2008), where for sixteen years where he directed the developmental disabilities center at The Ohio State University Medical Center.) will emphatically change the way we understand religion. Previous scholars such as Freud, James, Durkheim, and Maslow did not successfully identify the essence of religion as fear of death, mysticism, sacredness, communal bonding, magic, or peak experiences because religion has no single essence. Religion is about the values motivated by the sixteen basic desires of human nature. It has mass appeal because it accommodates the values of people with opposite personality traits. "The 16 Strivings For God" offers the first comprehensive theory of the psychology of religion that can be scientifically verified. Professor Reiss proposes a peer-reviewed, original theory of mysticism, asceticism, spiritual personality, and hundreds of religious beliefs and practices. Written for serious readers and anyone interested in psychology and religion (especially their own), "The 16 Strivings For God" is an eminently readable book will revolutionize the psychology of religious experience by exploring the motivations and characteristics of the individual in their religious life.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The 16 Strivings for God: The New Psychology of Religious Experiences" is a work of impressive scholarship throughout, and will prove to be of enduring interest to academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the psychology of religion. "The 16 Strivings for God" is a strongly recommended addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The 16 Strivings for God" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.00).

Living in the Shadow of Death
Rabbi Stuart G. Weinblatt
KTAV Publishing House
527 Empire Blvd, Brookyn, NY 11225
9789655241709, $23.95, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: "Living in the Shadow of Death: A Rabbi Copes with Cancer" is a heartfelt account of how Rabbi Weinblatt confronts cancer after receiving this devastating diagnosis, this memoir traces his journey from beginning to end. It deals with his emotions, fears, and treatment and offers comfort, encouragement, and inspiration from a Jewish perspective. Using humor and coupling it with the wisdom of Jewish and Biblical sources as reflected in his sermons and other communications and writings, his words are a vehicle for sharing his experience and insights as he battles this disease. As a comforter to others, as well as a recipient of comfort, support, and love from family, friends, and members of his congregation, "Living in the Shadow of Death" is also a valuable tool for clergy and health care professionals who interact with and counsel individuals in similar situations.

Critique: Candid, informative, and ultimately inspiring, "Living in the Shadow of Death: A Rabbi Copes with Cancer" is a compelling read from beginning to end. Rabbi Stuart G. Weinblatt (founder of the Congregation B'nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland) has done a tremendous service to others having to face similar threats of terminal illness. "Living in the Shadow of Death" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.

The Letter to the Hebrews: A New Commentary
Albert Banhoye, SJ
Paulist Press
997 MacArthur Boulevard, Mahwah, NJ 07430
9780809149285, $34.95, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: Written for theologians and graduate students in New Testament studies, "The Letter to the Hebrews: A New Commentary" by Jesuit scholar Albert Banhoye exegetes the entire letter verse by verse, paying attention to relevant issues for theology and spiritual life. Most remarkably, it explains why this letter is really a homily written by a preacher who must have delivered it several times in different places, and it offers an eloquent interpretation of the Letter to the Hebrews as a Christological hymn celebrating the priesthood of Christ. "Letter to the Hebrews: The: A New Commentary" includes a thorough commentary on one of the favorite and yet most enigmatic books of the New Testament. The Letter to the Hebrews is not a letter at all, it is a homily.

Critique: Jesuit Albert Banhoye is one of the most recognized scholars on the Letter to the Hebrews, and earned his doctorate in biblical studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He taught NT exegesis many years at the Biblical Institute, where he was also rector. Dr. Vanhoye was named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. "The Letter to the Hebrews: A New Commentary" is the admirable result of years of research, experience and expertise, making it an invaluable and highly recommended addition to personal, church, community, and academic library New Testament Studies reference collections in general, and Letter to the Hebrews supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

Tokyo Kill
Barry Lancet
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781451691733, $15.99, Paperback, 352 pp.,

Jim Brodie made his initial appearance in "Japantown," an action-packed thriller and the series debut. He now returns in a novel which is no less filled with derring-do and lots of exotic descriptions of Japanese culture and history. Brodie inherited a half-interest in Brodie Security, founded by his late father and headquartered in Tokyo, and also operates an art dealership, which he claims is his main profession, in San Francisco.

In Tokyo seeking a rare painting, Brodie is approached by a 90-year-old veteran of World War II asking for protection because members of his military detachment in Manchuria during the war-time occupation by Japan were being murdered. After he supplies a security detail, events take over the course of the rest of the novel, as Brodie investigates the possibility of Triads, Chinese spies and others as the culprits. And that takes on a life of its own.

The author has lived and worked in Japan for more than a quarter century, and the flavor and information about the country permeates with authenticity throughout the novel. His description of various types of martial arts practiced in Japan is a further exhibit of his expertise. Powerfully written, "Tokyo Kill" is a very enjoyable read, and this reader is looking forward to additions to the series.


Away in a Manger
Rhys Bowen
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250052032, $24.99, Hardcover, 247 pp,

It was inevitable that the Molly Murphy series should have a Christmas tale, and now it does. It is the winter of 1905 in Little 'Ol New York, and the streets are filled with Holiday shoppers, beggars and pickpockets. Molly, now Mrs. Murphy, with a little boy and married to police Captain Daniel Murphy, is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with her family and her husband's visiting mother. Instead, of course, she becomes involved with a murder mystery.

While out pushing the pram in which Liam is belted in, with her young ward Bridie accompanying her, Molly hears an angelic voice singing carols coming from a young girl sitting, freezing, in the entranceway of a store. It turns out that the little girl and her eight-year-old brother were left in the care of a Scrooge-like boarding house owner by their mother, who just brought them to America from England where they were living. The children, with little clothing, are forced into the streets during the day to beg for change by their minder. The mother is missing. Circumstances ideal for Molly to once again demonstrate her detective skills despite her promises to her husband to refrain from such activities.

The story is a simple one, straightforward and with few complications. About the only impediments are the snow and slush and the fact that Captain Murphy is shot along the way, delaying Molly's progress in discovering the whereabouts of the children's mother and hopefully reuniting them with their American family. The descriptions of turn-of-the-century New York, customarily excellent in previous entries in the series, are up to grade, especially in the way the author describes what no longer exists in Manhattan: the Sixth, Ninth and Third Avenue Els and trolley cars.

Another charming chapter in the life of Molly Murphy, and one which is recommended.

night night, sleep tight
Hallie Ephron
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062117632, $26.99, 287 pp., Hardcover
9780062117649, $14.99 320 pp., Paperback

Hallie Ephron has the reputation of infusing her novels with the glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood. But this novel reads more like a cancelled TV soap opera, despite the liberal sprinkling of names, from Marilyn to Ava and Frank. It's too bad, because there is a gem of a mystery in the story, which is ultimately lost in a mushy finale.

The action takes place in 1985 in Beverly Hills. Deidre Unger drives from her San Diego home to her screenwriter father's domicile, at his behest, to assist him in preparing the house for sale, only to find him floating face down in the swimming pool. Initially an accident is suspected, but then the police detective determines that it was murder. Flashback to 1963, when Deidre's girlhood friend confessed to stabbing to death her movie star mother's lover. The rest of the book dwells on the possibility that the two murders are related.

To give credit, the plot is crafty, but the execution is cumbersome. Some suspense is built up but is dissipated by an unjustified conclusion. For readers who like this sort of thing, it could well be enjoyable. But this reader would have preferred a more traditional crime story without the gushiness of soap.

Night Life
David Taylor
Forge Books
c/o Tor-Forge
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NYY 10010
9780765374837, $25.99, Hardcover, 332 pp.,

Michael Cassidy is a detective in New York City's midtown precinct during the 1950's in the era of McCarthyism. He is a dramatic character drawn in the classic mold of a tough hombre. His godfather is the mafia stalwart Frank Costello, his father an immigrant who started with less than nothing and rose to become a well-known Broadway producer. Cassidy picks up a murder case, the victim actually a dancer in the show his father is producing and now in rehearsal.

One murder leads to three others, and Michael becomes involved in a web of conspiracies involving the FBI and the CIA, and with Roy Cohn and J. Edgar Hoover, no less. Cassidy is taken off the murder case by higher-ups, but true to fashion, he persists. Faced with complications of monumental proportions his doggedness continues.

This novel, a debut, is excellent. The background of New York City just after World War II is superb, and the atmosphere of the Red Scare years and McCarthyism is very real, especially for those who lived through the period. The book has much to recommend it, and indeed is highly recommended.

Ted Lewis
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616955502, $26.95, Hardcover, 320 pp.,

The author died during 1982. But before he passed away, he wrote nine well-received novels, pioneering the British Noir School. Perhaps "Get Carter" was the most well-known, especially after it was made into a movie. "GBH" is a head-scratching story about the destruction of one George Fowler, who ran a highly successful pornographic film empire. It is told in alternating chapters: first set in his home, where he ruled his criminal enterprise, and then in a hide-away home he built in a seaside location.

The reason he is in seclusion is revealed slowly as the plot unfolds and the reader is provided with

bits of background. Included in the telling is his deterioration and excessive drinking, giving rise to mounting paranoia. It is a cunningly told tale and as the clues unfold it begins to make more and more sense.

Apparently, the author had written a couple of unsuccessful novels, and his reputation was severely diminished. But when "GBH", which turned out to be his final work, was published, his reputation was reestablished. The novel really deserved five stars, but this reader felt somewhat confused too often to give it that lofty rating. Nevertheless, it is wholeheartedly recommended.

Cold Betrayal
J.A. Jance
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476745060, $9.99, Paperback, 432 pp.,

This series is one of three that J.A. Jance writes, and it is interesting to see how Ali Reynolds has evolved as a character along the way, from TV anchor, sheriff's deputy and a questionable marriage to the newlywed wife of B. Simpson, and who gets deeply involved in contemporary situations. In this latest novel, two subjects, if not three, arise: polygamous cults, elderly persons being taken advantage of and, perhaps, the mistreatment of women. How's that for a mouthful?

It all starts a dozen years ago when a teen-age mother takes her baby and runs away from a group called The Family in Colorado Springs, AZ, only to end up in the hospital barely alive. Sister Anselm is called to serve as her advocate, but both patients die from the apparent beatings they had endured. Then history seems to repeat itself, as a lone pregnant woman is hit by a car on a remote country road near Flagstaff and the Sister is again called to serve. As a result, Sister Anselm and Ali, who has been asked to help, are drawn into a situation that leads to a much more frightening scenario.

Meanwhile, Ali becomes involved with the plight of her daughter-in-law's grandmother, whose competency is being questioned. Apparently, one night the grandmother is awakened by her dog's barking to discover all the gas jets open and her home filled with gas. The police find no evidence of a break-in and conclude that she left them open. Consequently her son and his wife arrange for her to be examined by a doctor. Using the resources of B's high-tech security firm, Ali arranges for the house to be wired for secret surveillance and to audit the woman's bank accounts, from which about $60,000 has been fraudulently withdrawn.

The two plots are then used to take a look into cults and the abuse of women and the elderly. These are topics that lend themselves to an exciting page-turner, and the author certainly knows how to weave them into an electrifying finale.


Scent of Murder
James O. Born
Forge Books
c/o Tor-Forge
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765378477, $25.99, Hardcover, 304 pp.,

This novel reminds me of the old TV show Mr. Ed. Instead of a talking horse, we have talking dogs. And the dogs are more intelligent than their human handlers, who are K-9 cops. There are three on the K-9 team led by Tim Hallett, who was booted out of the detective bureau even though he rescued a girl and captured her would-be rapist, obtaining a confession by an unorthodox method.

Now a series of abductions, with the victim of one of them murdered, leads the police poobahs to enlist the K-9 team in an effort to capture the culprit. Hallett is convinced the perpetrator he originally apprehended who is now at liberty is responsible for the present crimes. And he pushes the investigation in that direction. But it is really up to the dogs to solve the crime.

Well, having dogs as the protagonists in a crime novel is different. Unfortunately, much of the writing is too cutesy, and having sections with the dogs offering analysis and other observations is too much. And various attempts by the author to explain the person responsible for the reign of terror by offering psychological reasons for his actions seem too simplistic. On the other hand, the novel is light and can be read quickly and enjoyably.

Jonathan Kellerman
c/o Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780345541390, $9.99, Paperback, 400 pp.,

The Alex Delaware series features a familiar pattern. Not that there's anything wrong with familiarity. At least until it breeds contempt. Motive, indeed, begins with Detective Sturgis' usual frustration trying to solve a murder, but this time Alex plays the detective, and the LT provides the support. To begin with, a woman is brutally stabbed to death, and the murder scene includes a fancy dinner setting for two. There is no clue as to whether the food ambience is the murderer's MO or was provided by the woman before her death.

So Sturgis asks Alex for help. The question does not remain open for very much longer, when a successful and beautiful woman is shot in an office building's parking area and inspection of her home turns up another dinner setting. Now we have the beginnings of a serial murderer, and other bodies begin turning up. The problem facing Delaware and Sturgis: There is no apparent relationship between the victims, except for the office building, and how can that be possible?

But the two trudge on with all kinds of police activity, including stakeouts and Delaware's insights and intuition rising to the fore. The novel is written in the author's usual excellent style, and is well-plotted. Somehow, it doesn't seem to rise to the level of previous books in the series. Let's hope Mr. Kellerman isn't getting tired of his protagonists, and that the next Delaware mystery will again rise to what we've come to expect. Not that this one wasn't an enjoyable read, and it is one which is recommended.

The Lady from Zagreb
Philip Kerr
Putnam/Marian Wood Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399167645, $26.95, Hardcover, 415 pp
9781101982518, $16.00, Paperback, 480 pp.
B00O4RHN82, $13.99, Kindle

After nine novels, Bernie Gunther turns up again in war-time Nazi Germany solving mysteries, murders and other assorted questions, falling in love with a beautiful actress (the eponymous Lady) and moving in exalted circles, ranging from those of Goebbels to various generals. Bernie, who originally started out as a Berlin homicide detective, now is little more than an errand boy for the propaganda minister who covets the affections of the actress while designing to star her in a film.

The actress refuses to accept the role unless Goebbels finds her estranged father, supposedly somewhere in Croatia or Yugoslavia. So enter Bernie Gunther, who is sent to find her dad in an effort to sway her to Goebbels' desires. But first he falls in love with her, spending a blissful night in her arms. The trip gives Bernie, an irreverent anti-Nazi, ample time to observes the cruelties and murderous results of the powers-that-be and their allies. And along the way, the role of "neutral" Switzerland and its setting for English, Russian and American spies, including Allen Dulles, who arranges o have Bernie kidnapped while delivering a Mercedes for a German general to a Swiss associate.

While there are mysteries and murders to solve, the detective seems to approach them almost off-handedly, like an afterthought. A saving grace in the novel is Bernie's sense of humor and the sly comments he makes of the Nazis and their regime. It is worth reading the novel for these alone. In an afterward, the author promises Bernie will return next year in the 11th book in the series. It should be a pleasant addition and waited for patiently. ("The Other Side of Silence" is due out in late March, 2016.) Meanwhile, if one hasn't read any of the previous novels, including this recommend tome, it would more than pleasantly fill the intervening time.

Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

First Defense: Anxiety and Instinct for Self Protection
David Hopkins
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594393426, $18.95, PB, 144pp,

Synopsis: We all have a built in weapon system that we rarely use, it's called anxiety. We are taught that anxiety is something to avoid. That emotional experiences such as fear, trepidation, or stress, are contrary to living a happy life. We are also told that in threatening situations, anxiety should be quelled. This is not true. In the pages of "First Defense: Anxiety and Instinct for Self Protection", author David Hopkins (a psychologist with 21 years of experience combining psychological principles relating to violence and psychotherapy with martial arts, self-defense, close protection, and in investigative work against terrorists and criminal elements, including organized crime) provides the realization that a key to success in a threatening situation is to use your anxiety to increase your sensory input with information vital to your survival. "First Defense" provides an understanding of how to manipulate the anxiety of your aggressor, denying him critical information he will need for success. Whether you are a college student, a martial artist, a parent, or a citizen, you will learn three constants that will help you stay safer and reduce your overall risk of being victimized by aggression. How your instincts are the key to making the right decisions for the toughest challenges. Why your anxiety is the link between decision-making and instinct. How to be completely in the moment, so your will can coordinate your anxieties and your instincts into a highly effective decision-making process.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and impressively informed and informative, "First Defense: Anxiety and Instinct for Self Protection" is a unique and welcome addition to any personal or professional Martial Arts instructional reference collection or supplemental studies reading list. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collection, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "First Defense" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.49).

Natives of a Dry Place
Richard Edwards
South Dakota State Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SC 57501-2217
9781941813041, $16.95, PB, 121pp,

Synopsis: Before the oil industry transformed western North Dakota, the natives of Stanley went about their normal, everyday lives. Postmen, farmers, housewives, doctors, and other residents of the bustling town held certain qualities close as they cultivated the cultural fabric of the Great Plains. For generations, inhabitants of this wheat-growing region developed a combination of resoluteness, steadfastness, devotion to the community, and ever-present modesty. Contrasting these values with the trials of the modern oil-boom community, author Richard Edwards has created an anthology of short stories that examines the old town s virtues through the life experiences of those who built and sustained a community on the dry, open plains in the twentieth century. A deeply personal look at a small North Dakota town, "Natives of a Dry Place" focuses on a not-so-distant past and takes readers on a journey of reflection to a time before big oil. Edwards uses his experience as both a historian and an economist to delve into the overarching questions of what makes a community and how it survives during times of upheaval.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and thoroughly absorbing collection, "Natives of a Dry Place: Stories of Dakota before the Oil Boom" is a riveting read from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of images, maps, a bibliography, and an index, "Natives of a Dry Place" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library American Cultural Studies and Social Issues collections.

We Are the Creators: A Little Everyday Philosophy
L. R. Sumpter
Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 754, Huntsville, AR 72740
9781940265117, $10.50, PB, 104pp,

Synopsis: "We Are the Creators: A Little Everyday Philosophy" by L. R. Sumpter offers a positive message about your soul's power, your life's purpose, NDE's (Near Death Experiences), deja vu and your spiritual guides. "We Are the Creators" demonstrates how everyday features of modern life such as democracy, television, airplanes, computer technology and instant communication establish that we live in a new age that has suddenly broken away from the last 10,000 or more years. "We Are the Creators" proves that we have new spiritual powers that have been suppressed for years. We can find out what sort of beings we really are and how we create the things that are in our world.

Critique: A succinct and extraordinary read from beginning to end, "We Are the Creators: A Little Everyday Philosophy" is an informative as it is inspiring. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted that "We Are the Creators: A Little Everyday Philosophy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

On the Frontier
William Wallace, author
Ken S. Coates & Bill Morrison, editors
University of Regina Press
University of Regina
3737 Wascana Parkway, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4S 0A2
9780889774087, $25.95, PB, 350pp,

Synopsis: First published more than twenty years ago as "My Dear Maggie", "On the Frontier: Letters from the Canadian West in the 1880s" is a new edition of William Wallace's letters home to England and provides rare documentation of the earliest days of settlement in the West. The correspondence conveys a sense of unspoken courage -- the courage that was needed to make a fresh start in a strange new land. William's letters contains many elements common to settlers and their writings that have passed down to us including: a recounting of the exhausting trip behind slow-moving oxen from the jumping-off point to the homestead, the violence of thunderstorms, the pain of frozen extremities, and the destruction caused by prairie fires. They are also full of the fine details of life not usually found in such abundance in pioneer narratives, details made vivid by William's observant eye and lyrical writing style. He tells of mosquitoes (he even encloses one in a letter), the fierce weather, nearby bears and howling wolves. In "On the Frontier", William Wallace takes us on his personal journey from immigrant to citizen, a journey awakened by his growing attachment to his new landscape.

Critique: Deftly edited for a new generation of appreciative readers by the team of Ken S. Coates and Bill Morrison, ""On the Frontier: Letters from the Canadian West in the 1880s" is a critically important and highly valued addition academic Western Canadian History and 19th Century Canadian Biography reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Return to Arroyo Grande
Jesus Salvador Trevino
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558858190, $17.95, PB, 158pp,

Synopsis: In the opening piece, "Where Lost Things Reside," rumor has it that Old Man Baldemar has died. Stories about the old geezer's demise abound: he died of pneumonia; he was hit by a car, even killed by the big C. All Yoli Mendoza knows is that she's lost the income from helping the perverse recluse with his grocery shopping. Entering the house she has never been allowed in before, she's shocked to find it's much larger than it appears from the street. And even odder, it's full of items, each tagged with a name, city and date. There's a room full of cell phones, drawers packed with rings, trays and trays of plastic lids ... socks, watches, wallets, glasses! Was Baldemar the caretaker of all of the things that have been lost, no matter the time, city or even country? Weird things continue to happen to the characters that renowned author and filmmaker Jesus Salvador Trevino introduced in his captivating debut, The Fabulous Sinkhole and Other Stories. At the theme park where Choo Choo Torres works, people begin to disappear - and then reappear slightly changed; are they moving back and forth between alternate universes? Charlie Villalobos keeps blacking out and losing days; could it be that he exists only in someone's dreams? And Jeannie de la Cruz has very distinct memories of seeing her partner Gale run over by a speeding taxi in Mexico City; how can she still be alive? Many in these interrelated stories have left Arroyo Grande to follow their dreams, but in the raucous title story they all return to their home town in a resounding confirmation of the power of community. Weaving magical realism with issues of loss, memory and identity, Jesus Salvador Trevino once again confirms his place as a powerful storyteller in both Chicano and American literature.

Critique: A truly impressive literary anthology, "Return to Arroyo Grande" by Jesus Salvador Trevino is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Chicano Literature collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Return to Arroyo Grande" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Trace
Forrest Gander
New Directions Publishing Corporation
80 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10011
9780811223713, $22.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: "The Trace" by Forrest Gander is a masterful, poetic novel about a journey through Mexico taken by a couple recovering from a world shattered. Driving through the Chihuahua Desert, they retrace the route of nineteenth-century American writer Ambrose Bierce (who disappeared during the Mexican Revolution) and try to piece together their lives after a devastating incident involving their adolescent son. With tenderness and precision, Gander explores the intimacies of their relationship as they travel through Mexican towns, through picturesque canyons and desertcapes, on a journey through the heart of the Mexican landscape. Taking a shortcut through the brutally hot desert home, their car overheats miles from nowhere, events spin out of control, with devastating consequences.

Critique: A truly exceptional, deftly crafted, and thoroughly original novel, "The Trace" is a compelling read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Trace" is also available in a paperback edition (9780811224864, $14.95) and in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Pioneering Movements
Steve Addison
InterVarsity Press
PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 605151426
9780830844418, $16.00, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: God's mission needs movement leaders. Jesus pioneered something completely new in human history -- a dynamic missionary movement intent on reaching the world. His mission is as clear and as relevant today as in the days of the early church: to make disciples everywhere, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded. But the potential of the church remains untapped. What does it take to lead movements that successfully carry out this mission? In the pages of "Pioneering Movements: Leadership That Multiplies Disciples and Churches", Steve Addison (Director of MOVE, an Australian based mission agency that multiplies disciples and churches - everywhere) identifies what it takes to follow Jesus' example. Building on his previous books "Movements That Change the World" and "What Jesus Started", he reveals the apostolic qualities and behaviors of biblical, historical, and contemporary pioneers who can guide church and ministry leaders today. "Pioneering Movements" is a book for those who are called to embrace the mission-driven work that Jesus and his disciples began - making disciples of all nations, in all places.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Pioneering Movements: Leadership That Multiplies Disciples and Churches" is especially recommended reading for anyone, be their clergy or laity, with an interest in the evangelical responsibilities of the Christian community to spread and nurture the Word of God anywhere and everywhere in the world. It should be noted that "Pioneering Movements" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

A Just Cause
Bernard H. Sieracki
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive
SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809334636, $32.50, HC, 232pp,

Synopsis: During the predawn hours of December 9, 2008, an FBI team swarmed the home of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and took him away in handcuffs. The shocking arrest, based on allegations of corruption and extortion, launched a chain of political events never before seen in Illinois. In the pages of "A Just Cause: The Impeachment and Removal of Governor Rod Blagojevich", Bernard H. Sieracki (who teaches Public Administration at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and at the Stuart School of Business, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago) delivers a dynamic firsthand account of this eight-week political crisis, beginning with Blagojevich's arrest, continuing through his impeachment and trial, and culminating in his conviction and removal from office. Drawing on his own eyewitness observations of the hearings and trial, the comments of interviewees, trial transcripts, and knowledge gained from decades of work with the Illinois legislature, Sieracki tells the compelling story of the first impeachment and removal from office of an Illinois governor, while providing a close look at the people involved.

Critique: Impressively detailed, exceptionally well written, effectively organized and presented, "A Just Cause: The Impeachment and Removal of Governor Rod Blagojevich" is an inherently fascinating and extraordinarily informed and informative read from beginning to end. A seminal work of original scholarship, "A Just Cause" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Political Science and American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A Just Cause" is also available in a Kindle edition ($30.88).

Photographers A-Z
Hans-Michael Koetzie
107 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012
9783836554367, $19.99, HC, 640pp,

Synopsis: Featuring true masters and monographs, "Photographers A-Z" by Hans-Michael Koetzle (a Munich, Germany based freelance author and journalist who focuses mainly on history and the aesthetics of photography) is an encyclopedia of 20th century photographers and their finest publications. Arranged alphabetically, this biographical encyclopedia features every major photographer of the 20th century alongside her or his most significant monographs. From the earliest representatives of classical Modernism right up to the present day, "Photographers A - Z" celebrates those photographers who have distinguished themselves with important publications or exhibitions, and who have made a significant contribution to the culture of the photographic image. The entries include photographers from North America and Europe as well as from Japan, Latin America, Africa, and China. Richly illustrated with facsimiles from books and magazines, the collection also features photographers working in "applied" areas, whose work is regarded as photographic art. Star turns include Julius Shulman, Terry Richardson, Cindy Sherman, and David LaChapelle.

Critique: Simply stated, no personal, professional, community, or academic library History of Photography reference collection will be complete or comprehensive without the inclusion of a copy of Hans-Michael Koetzie's "Photographers A-Z".

Creative Design in Industry and Architecture
Genco Berkin & Onder Kucukermon
WIT Press
25 Bridge Street, Billerica, MA 01821
9781784661151, $198.00, HC, 204pp,

Synopsis: Covering the topics of architecture and industrial design "Creative Design in Industry and Architecture" argues that the discourse on design criteria for both professions share many similarities. It is not intended to be prescriptive, but is rather the outcome of a detailed design analysis of the works of a number of industrial and architectural designers. Academicians Genco Berkin and Onder Kucukermon (both of whom are members of the Halic University Faculty of Architecture, Turkey), sought to compare the cultural outcomes of vernacular design in an attempt to show that the design process does not need to be difficult or complicated. "Creative Design in Industry and Architecture" seeks to present a critical assessment of design processes which achieve innovation in the fields of both architectural and industrial disciplines. "Creative Design in Industry and Architecture" is therefore about creativity, design strategies and innovative understanding. With decades of academic experience, the authors are keen on the idea that creativity can be taught. Professors Genco Berkin and Onder Kucukermon wrote "Creative Design in Industry and Architecture" from an ongoing pedagogical need to show students that the creative palette has a wide range. Case studies and their related theory which support this view are included within the chapters. "Creative Design in Industry and Architecture" also unveils the design dilemma; how design can become complicated when surrounded with intricate problems although it is the sum of simple solutions. Common theories and practices are exposed within the two disciplines through observation, analysis, experiment and reflection to discuss and gain insight. Both creative and practical approaches are analyzed by making a historical study followed by the fundamentals reflecting the current situation and practical applications of the architectural and industrial design principles outlined in an extensive collection of examples. To educators "Creative Design in Industry and Architecture will prove to be instructive, to the students deductive, to designers inspiring.

Critique: Informed and informative, insightful and analytical, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Creative Design in Industry and Architecture" is very highly recommended for professional and academic library Industrial Design and Architectural Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Yankees Had Something To Do With It
Kerry Hotaling
Christopher Matthews Publishing
9781938985683, $16.95, PB, 246pp,

Synopsis: "The Yankees had something to do with it." is a quote attributed to General George Pickett when asked after the Civil War why the Confederate Army was defeated at the Battle of Gettysburg. In the pages of "The Yankees Had Something To Do With It ", Kerry Otaling brings the reader onto the battlefield and into the strategy sessions during the Gettysburg Campaign from the viewpoint of several Union generals that had indeed had something to do with it! Readers will experience the campaign as it unfolded for these men. General Doubleday, General Hancock, General Warren and General Meade are a just a few of the characters who bring the story of Gettysburg to life.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "The Yankees Had Something To Do With It "The Yankees Had Something To Do With It" is an informed and inherently fascinating read that is very highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in the history of the American Civil War in general, and the Battle of Gettysburg in particular. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to the growing library of American Civil War literature, "The Yankees Had Something To Do With It" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted that "The Yankees Had Something To Do With It" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

Saint Peter: Flawed, Forgiven, and Faithful
Stephen J. Binz
Loyola Press
3441 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657
9780829442601 $14.95 pbk / $10.49 Kindle

Synopsis: If St. Peter had moved in business or political circles, he would have been forgotten millennia ago. In most areas of life, those who make major mistakes are cast out, left to languish in their failure. But Peter, who made more than one major mistake while following Jesus, has been highly revered within the Church since the days when Jesus walked with the disciples. In fact, in holding Peter up so high, we can easily miss the essential lesson his life teaches us: that when flawed people experience forgiveness through Jesus, they are freed and empowered to be faithful followers of Christ.

In Saint Peter: Flawed, Forgiven, and Faithful, biblical scholar Stephen Binz takes readers on a pilgrimage from Galilee to Rome - from the spot where Peter first dropped his nets to follow Jesus to the place where he gave his life out of love for his Lord. Through sound scholarship, first-hand experiences at places of pilgrimage, and spiritual reflection, Binz helps us embrace the reality that God works through broken human beings to accomplish truly beautiful things.

Critique: Saint Peter: Flawed, Forgiven, and Faithful takes a step beyond scholarship to place readers in the shoes of Saint Peter, the apostle who denied Jesus Christ three times out of fear. Yet Saint Peter regretted his wrongdoing, and turned to God. Peter's example shows that it is possible to change oneself for the better, that flawed human beings are not exempt from God's love, or from striving toward grace. Inspired and inspiring, Saint Peter: Flawed, Forgiven, and Faithful is highly recommended for bible study courses, church libraries, and personal Christian Studies reading lists.

My Boys: Summer on a Swedish Island
Gustaf af Geijerstam, author
Paul Goldsman, translator
Penfield Books
215 Brown Street, Iowa City, IA 52245-5801
9781572161009 $10.95

Synopsis: My Boys is the story of a Swedish family's summer vacation on an island in the Stockholm archipelago, based on the author's vacation with his own family in the 1890s. It is "a summer book for big and small," a book of lightness and gentle humor, and a departure from Gustaf af Geijerstam's usual serious literary work "writing silly and boring books that little children could not read" (as he says in the book). Early reviewers recognized My Boys as a classic that both children and adults could read with pleasure. Children's book for grades 3-6, with illustrations.

Critique: Flawlessly translated from the original Swedish, My Boys: Summer on a Swedish Island recalls summer fun, and the glories of imagination. Young adults and adults alike will enjoy the palpable warmth and joy in this lighthearted story. My Boys is a cozy treat perfect for kindling memories of warm weather an idyllic days! Also highly recommended is "Favorite Swedish Stories of 'Hasse Z'" (9781932043860, $14.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle).

Paul T. Vogel

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

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