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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 7 July 2019 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Earned Citizenship
Michael J. Sullivan
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780190918354, $49.95, HC, 296pp,

Synopsis: The migration and settlement of 11 million unauthorized immigrants is among the leading political challenges facing the United States today. The majority of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. have been here for more than five years, and are settling into American communities, working, forming families, and serving in the military, even though they may be detained and deported if they are discovered.

An open question remains as to what to do about unauthorized immigrants who are already living in the United States. On one hand it is important that the government sends a message that future violations of immigration law will not be tolerated. On the other sits a deeper ethical dilemma that is the focus of "Earned Citizenship": What do the state and citizens owe to unauthorized immigrants who have served their adopted country?

In "Earned Citizenship", Michael J. Sullivan (Associate Professor in the Graduate International Relations Department at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas) argues that long-term unauthorized immigrant residents should be able to earn legalization and a pathway to citizenship through service in their adopted communities. Their service would act as restitution for immigration law violations. Military service in particular would merit naturalization in countries with a strong citizen-soldier tradition, including the United States.

"Earned Citizenship" also considers the civic value of caregiving as a service to citizens and the country, contending that family immigration policies should be expanded to recognize the importance of caregiving duties for dependents. This argument is part of a broader project in political theory and public policy aimed at reconciling civic republicanism with a feminist ethic of care, and its emphasis on dependency work.

As a whole, "Earned Citizenship" provides a non-humanitarian justification for legalizing unauthorized immigrants based on their contributions to citizens and institutions in their adopted nation.

Critique: "Earned Citizenship" is an impressive and erudite contribution to our on-going national discussion regarding immigration and the provision of paths to citizenship for the undocumented population of the United States. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Earned Citizenship" is unreservedly recommended as a critically important and core addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues & Immigration/Citizenship collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists of students, academia, governmental policy makers, social activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Earned Citizenship" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $33.99).

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon
Mary Fan
Page Street Kids
c/o Page Street Publishing
9781624147333, $17.99, HC, 384pp,

Synopsis: As a warrior who protects her village from shadow spirits, Anlei has never been beyond the borders of her town. All of that changes the day the viceroy and his fleet of mechanical dragons arrives. It's the protection her village is desperate for, but it will only be given in exchange for Anlei's hand in marriage. Torn between wanting to protect her village and her own freedom, Anlei is forced to make a sacrifice.

The day before her wedding, she encounters Tai, a young thief who is also trying to save his people. Tempted by his quest and the thrill of glory it promises, the two embark on an epic journey to the Courts of Hell to discover where the shadow spirits come from. But the secret of their existence isn't so easily solved. Amid dark experiments and battles on magic-fueled airships, Anlei must summon the courage to be the hero; to live the life she has always dreamed of.

Critique: "Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon" is an original, deftly crafted, and thoroughly entertaining action/adventure fantasy for young readers ages 10-18 and will prove to be an immediately popular addition to school and community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all fantasy fiction fans that "Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Those Who Dwell Below
Aviaq Johnston
Inhabit Media
9781772272352, $13.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Haunted by the vicious creatures of his recent past, Pitu tries to go back to a normal life at home after the other-worldly travels and near-death encounters of his recent disappearance into the world of the spirits. But Pitu knows that there is more work to be done, and more that he must learn in his new role as a shaman.

When word of a starving village nearby reaches Pitu, he must go help its people appease the angry spirits. It soon becomes clear that Pitu must travel to the bottom of the ocean to meet Nuliajuk, the vengeful woman below, one of the most powerful beings in Inuit mythology.

There he learns about his role in saving the starving community and that all in his home camp may not be as it seems!

Critique: An impressively original and deftly crafted fantasy action/adventure novel by an author with a genuine flair for reader engaging narrative storytelling, "Those Who Dwell Below" by novelist Aviaq Johnston will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, school, and community library YA Fiction collections in general and Fantasy Fiction lists in particular.

The Wayfinder
Darcy Pattison
Mims House
9781629441368, $8.99, PB, 202pp,

Synopsis: A great loss has frozen Win's heart. He cares for nothing. But a plague is spreading like wildfire across the Heartland. Win needs to use his Wayfinding skills to descend into the great Rift, for beyond it lies the Well of Life. Only its waters will heal the plague. No one has ever returned from a journey into the Rift. But the Heartland depends on him. Can he put his loss behind him and fight for the Heartland?

Critique: Also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99) and the first volume debuting author Darcy Pattison's 'A Heartland Tale' series, "The Wayfinder" is a deftly crafted and original fantasy novel that is very highly recommended for both school and community library collections -- and which will have a very special appeal to dedicated fantasy fans ages 8-12.

The Falconer
Darcy Pattison
Mims House
9781629441238, $15.99, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Britt's only goal is to become a falconer. She steals a gyrfalcon egg in hopes of raising a chick. But the fierce Zendi, who've conquered the Heartland, appear on her doorstep. She's pulled into their conflict. Their prophecies warn of a Wayfinder and a Bell. She's just an apprentice Wayfinder. But she's the only one who has a Finding for the missing Bell. Can Britt and her falcon journey together across the Heartland, Find the Bell and save her people?

Critique: Another deftly written action/adventure fantasy novel by an author who is a master of the genre, "The Falconer" is the second volume in Darcy Pattison's 'A Heartland Tale' series. The story of a falconer who is a courageous girl striding out of the north country and into legend, "The Falconer" is a compulsive page turner of a novel for young readers ages 8-12 and unreservedly recommended for both school and community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Falconer" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Fag Hags, Divas and Moms
Victoria Noe
King Company Publishing
9780990308195, $16.99, PB, 226pp,

Synopsis: The history of the AIDS epidemic has largely been told from the perspective of gay men: their losses, struggles and contributions. But what about the women in their lives -- in particular, straight women? Not just Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana, but thousands of women whose accomplishments have never been recognized?

For almost forty years, straight women have been affected by HIV/AIDS. They have fought for the right to be included in clinical trials and qualify for disability benefits. They have raised money and awareness. They have devoted their lives to caregiving, medical research and advocacy. But until now, their stories have been ignored or forgotten, even in accounts of women's history.

Drawing on personal interviews and archival research, "Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community" by author, speaker and activist Victoria Noe is the first book to share the stories of these women around the world, throughout the epidemic. Some of the names are familiar; most are not. But all have left a lasting impact on the fight against a virus that has killed over 40 million people around the world -- half of them women.

Critique: Offering a new and long overdue perspective on the AIDS epidemic (and one that is still very much on-going within the gay community and around the world in the general population), "Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community" is an extraordinary compendium of information and illustrative personal stories. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Fag Hags, Divas and Moms" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Fag Hags, Divas and Moms" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Silenced Resistance
Joanna Allan
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299318406, $79.95, HC, 360pp,

Synopsis: Spain's former African colonies (Equatorial Guinea and Western Sahara) share similar histories. Both are under the thumbs of heavy-handed, postcolonial regimes, and are known by human rights organizations as being among the worst places in the world with regard to oppression and lack of civil liberties. Yet surprisingly, one of these resistance movements to these oppressive regimes is dominated by women, while the other one by men.

"Silenced Resistance: Women, Dictatorships, and Genderwashing in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea" by Joanna Allan (who is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Durham) is an innovative and groundbreaking work that demonstrates why we should foreground gender as key for understanding both authoritarian power projection and resistance.

"Silenced Resistance" brings an ethnographic component to a subject that has often been looked at through the lens of literary studies to examine how concerns for equality and women's rights can be co-opted for authoritarian projects. This work of seminal scholarship deftly reveals how Moroccan and Equatoguinean regimes, in partnership with Western states and corporations, conjure a mirage of promoting equality while simultaneously undermining women's rights in a bid to cash in on oil, minerals, and other natural resources.

This genderwashing, along with historical local, indigenous, and colonially imposed gender norms mixed with Western misconceptions about African and Arab gender roles, plays an integral role in determining the shape and composition of public resistance to authoritarian regimes.

Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of illustrations, a two page listing of Archives Consulted, a three page Glossary, sixty pages of Notes, a thirty-six page Bibliography, and an eleven page Index, "Silenced Resistance: Women, Dictatorships, and Genderwashing in Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea" is a unique and seminal body of meticulous and deftly presented scholarship that is unreservedly recommended for both college and university library Contemporary International Studies, Political Science, and International Gender Studies collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Navigating the Zeitgeist
Helena Sheehan
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583677285, $95.00, HC, 384pp,

Synopsis: The zeitgeist is a concept from 18th- to 19th-century German philosophy, meaning "spirit of the age" or "spirit of the times". It refers to an invisible agent or force dominating the characteristics of a given epoch in world history. (Wikipedia)

Helena Sheehan is professor emerita at Dublin City University, where she taught history of ideas and media studies. She is also the author of several books, including Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History and Irish Television Drama: A Society and Its Stories, as well as magazine articles on politics, culture, and philosophy.

"Navigating the Zeitgeist: A Story of the Cold War, the New Left, Irish Republicanism, and International Communism" is the autobiographical account of why Helena Sheehan would, as an American girl-child, born into a good, Irish-Catholic family in the thick of the McCarthy era, and a girl who, when she came of age, entered a convent, ultimately would morph into an atheist, feminist, and Marxist.

"Navigating the Zeitgeist" is Sheehan's fascinating account of her journey from her 1940s and 1950s beginnings, into the turbulent 1960s, when the Vietnam War, black power, and women's liberation rocked her bedrock assumptions and prompted a volley of life-upending questions -- questions shared by millions of young people of her generation. But, for her, the increasingly radicalized answers deepened through the following decades.

Beginning by overturning such certainties as America-is-the-world's-greatest-country and the-Church-is-infallible, Sheehan went on to embrace existentialism, philosophical pragmatism, the new left, and eventually Marxism. Migrating from the United States to Ireland, she became involved with Irish republicanism and international communism in the 1970s and 1980s.

Sheehan's narrative vividly captures the global sweep and contradictions of second-wave feminism, antiwar activism, national liberation movements, and international communism in Eastern and Western Europe - as well as the quieter intellectual ferment of individuals living through these times. Navigating the Zeitgeist is an eloquently articulated voyage from faith to enlightenment to historical materialism that informs as well as entertains.

Critique: An absorbing, thought provoking, candid, and inherently fascinating memoir of a troubled life in troubled times, "Navigating the Zeitgeist: A Story of the Cold War, the New Left, Irish Republicanism, and International Communism" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Marxism and Feminism supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Navigating the Zeitgeist" is also available in a paperback edition (9781583677278, $25.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.93).

Sober.House. (My Story)
Mallory Neuberger
Page Publishing Inc.
101 Tyrellan Avenue Suite 100 New York, NY 10309
9781644623930, $21.95, PB, 384pp,

Synopsis: Raising her two beloved children in downtown Manhattan, Mallory Neuberger was living a double life: holding down a successful career, running marathons, eating healthy, married to a wonderful new husband, and hiding a soul-crushing drug addiction from everyone she loved.

As the daughter of an alcoholic mother, Mallory learned to hide things at an early age. So when she found herself unable to stop snorting cocaine or find a solution, she was resigned to dying alone with her secret addiction. "Sober.House. (My Story)" is her personal history of addiction, recovery, and opening and running women's sober houses in Delray Beach, Florida. It is about her years of pain and isolation followed by growth, change, and immense happiness and joy, surrounded by people she loves and cares about.

Mallory hopes that her story will help anyone struggling with or interested in addiction to find the peace, joy, and serenity that she has in living a sober life today, one day at a time.

Critique: Brutally candid and ultimately inspiring, "Sober.House. (My Story)" is a deftly written memoir with an underlying message in this age of rising opioid, heroine, and cocaine addiction epidemics that renders this deeply personal memoir a critically important and highly recommended addition to community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Sober.House. (My Story)" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Who's Got Your Back?
David W. Smith
CrossLink Publishing
9781633571730, $16.95, PB, 247pp,

Who's Got Your Back? Making and Keeping Great Relationships Among Men is a specific focus on how men build friendships and where they fail at this task, and is directed towards Christian men open to receiving a combination of psychological and spiritual insights about the process.

While it's based on David W. Smith's own experience with relationships, it broadens its perspective and references to tap into Biblical wisdom as well as the approaches of others, creating a more multifaceted production than most men's psychology books offer.

As chapters review definitions of manliness and traditional male relationship patterns, they examine what builds bridges between not only individuals, but God. It stands to reason that the man who is unable to fully let in human beings will also lack in the area of a personal relationship with God. Who's Got Your Back? Is, thus, an important consideration for Christian men who might eschew the notion of developing better relationships with others - until they realize that this process can be applied to any effective relationship with their Creator.

But, how can men make and form such meaningful relationships? The nuts and bolts of the process are covered in depth and detail, assuming no prior knowledge of the definition of what it means to be a friend: "A true friend will come to your aid even if it's unpopular to do so. When we are concerned with others, we tend to be less aware of ourselves. It's ironic how happiness eludes those who seek it directly. But the person who takes on the burden of concern for the welfare of another often discovers, surprisingly perhaps, that he has indirectly obtained happiness, but he's obtained happiness nevertheless."

This is not to say that Who's Got Your Back? replaces the need for counseling. Smith is quite clear about this: "This is not the Bible's view of man. We are not a tabula rasa or a mindless lump of clay to be molded by others or by biological genes. How much control do I really have over my own life? Can I change on my own, or do I need counseling to improve my patterns of living? In some cases, we can engage in self-examination on a solo basis. Self-reflection and contemplation can be helpful, but many people need the added insights, understanding, and objectivity that can be provided only by an outsider such as a close friend, wife, minister, or counselor."

Men seeking to truly change their perceptions, lives, and the depth of their interactions with loved ones and others will find the precise, Bible-supported message here translates neatly to interpersonal and spiritual relationships alike.

Who's Got Your Back? provides an excellent starting point to crafting better relationships with a deeper understanding of what makes them work and the (often self-driven) obstacles to success.

Who's Got Your Back? is especially highly recommended for thinking men who have already decided to make meaningful changes in their lives and attitudes.

The List: Rico's Revenge
Larry J. Horn
Independently Published
9781733952613, $27.85, Hardcover
9781733952606, $19.95, Paperback
9781733952620, $7.99, eBook

Dr. Stevens meets Rico in a bar in Dubai just after he's performed a successful kidney transplant on the sheik's son. Their first meeting doesn't go well because Rico insinuates that one of the greatest transplant doctors in the world is only in it for the money, rather than performing a life-giving service that should be available to rich and poor alike.

But Rico isn't done with his admonitions to the good doctor. He's determined to locate the man's weakness and exploit it, and thus the groundwork is laid for Rico's revenge in a prologue that sets the stage for confrontations and ethical conundrums.

The first thing to note about The List: Rico's Revenge is that the main event takes place a year later, when the good doctor is even more famous and even more apt to be in the right place at the right time to gain further fame and fortune. Despite the fact that he's saving people's lives, LAPD detectives Beth Harper and John Ramos sense that something is wrong - something likely connected to their investigation.

How are transplant recipients chosen? What are the opportunities for schemes involving pedaling organs to the wealthy? And how could the famous Dr. Stevens get rich off a system replete with underlying criminal influences?

An accident with possible widespread repercussions, a newfound focus on a secret list of names kept by Dr. Stevens, and increased transplant opportunities for the rich and famous keeps the detectives on their toes and Dr. Stevens and Rico dodging the bullets of discovery and ethical exposure in a fast-paced thriller reminiscent of the medical novels of Robin Cook.

The difference between a Cook production and L.J. Horn's riveting novel, however, lies in the details. Horn focuses not on medical science but on the social and ethical conundrums faced by a range of characters as they navigate the uncertain grounds of medical treatments and opportunistic choices. This focus creates a novel that holds many thriller elements, but is just as satisfyingly filled with psychological tension and ethical insights as it outlines connections between crooks and curers.

Facing increasing threats of discovery, Rico reluctantly finds himself willing to kill a mother and her child to keep the lid on his deals. This and other choices lead to a possible rupture in his carefully-wrought control over Dr. Stevens in a story packed with twists and turns and satisfying developments on all sides.

Readers who seek medical stories embracing ethical challenges and relationships between talented physicians and those who would exploit inherent special interests will find The List: Rico's Revenge an engrossing, different kind of murder mystery that even holds a taste of romance at the heart of its evolving story. It's unexpected on many levels, and will delight readers interested in a solid production that operates on the cusp between mystery and thriller.

The Healing Star
A. Kidd
Quiet Storm Publishing LLC
Email: a.kiddwrites [at] gmail [dot] com
9781733899208, $14.99, pbk
9781733899222, $4.99, ebook,

The Healing Star posits a world in which a dying grandmother, who is protagonist Julia's 'cosmic twin', may be healed by a particular kind of magic if Julia can find an old falling star with special stardust properties. Her goal is in keeping with those in her town who would catch such a star either for resale profit or to make their deepest wishes come true.

Julia sets out with a plan; but like most plans, it's subject to change and life circumstances. Guided by her ailing grandmother, who she calls Grammu, she must be stronger and braver than she's ever been before to confront the "magic in the sky" that her grandmother has warned her about.

As advanced elementary to middle school readers traverse Julia's world, they receive a fine combination of a magical journey and a coming-of-age story as Julia evolves to realize her own powers and how she can be more effective in her own life and that of her grandmother.

During a series of confrontations with a lost girl and other characters who also pursue a different kind of goal for winning, Julia finds herself in a situation where she might be trapped forever as her beloved grandmother fades away. Can she defeat the One-Eyed Thief and develop a rare brand of heroism while staying true to her goals and heart?

A. Kidd cultivates a special sense of magic in chronicling Julia's struggles against the odds. To call it a fantasy alone would be to do it an injustice: The Healing Star is as much a story of a young girl's efforts to achieve the impossible as it is the tale of a town steeped in the magic and legend of stardust and the potentials and consequences of seemingly unreachable dreams.

Ultimately, it's a story about living and dying. Julia's efforts and choices lead to a surprising conclusion that will leave all ages with much food for thought and a warm feeling about the powers of The Healing Star and its true impact.

Geoffrey M Cooper
Captain Thomas Publishing
9781733771405, $12.95, Paperback
9781733771412, $0.99, eBook

Amazon Ordering Link:

When sexual harassment escalates into rape and murder at a premier university, with one professor accusing his colleague of misconduct, it's up to not just a university detective but department chair Brad Parker to investigate matters in Nondisclosure.

An intriguing difference to this story over similar-sounding mysteries is that the assault took place first and resulted in amnesia. The victim is murdered only after her memories begin to return to lend a few clues as to what happened.

Readers should also anticipate a medical thriller approach that delves into student and faculty relationships, departmental politics and conflicts over technology and equipment acquisition, and the dilemma faced by a department head who never imagined his job description would include crime-fighting ("You're going to have to work with Karen as her guide and coinvestigator while she plows her way through this. Given the stature of the accused - one of your top faculty members - the investigation has to be airtight and leave no room for any complaints afterward.").

It turns out that his background in research and different kinds of investigations and methods lend a unique talent to the process, allowing him to see possibilities that professional detectives could miss: "I had the same feeling in my gut that I sometimes got about a research project in the lab. Something just didn't seem right about the obvious answer."

Detective Karen Richmond and her assigned partner Brad Parker make a good team, as it turns out. But it will take a great team to follow all the trails this murder creates before disaster strikes again.

Geoffrey M Cooper crafts a riveting saga of mystery, discovery, and redemption. Nondisclosure opens as a singular pursuit of the truth about a young woman's murder, but rapidly moves into areas of science, education, and special interests to keep readers guessing and on their toes.

As Karen sets herself up to be attractive bait and Brad moves perilously close to the truth, tension mounts in a story line that delivers a one-two punch and doesn't disappoint.

Murder mystery readers interested in medical thrillers will relish the turns taken in Nondisclosure, an engrossing story that's hard to put down.

The Lies Beneath
Ann Eichenmuller
High Tide Publications
9781945990298, $14.99, print, $4.99, ebook

Sandi Beck is an amateur sleuth and liveaboard sailor who can just sail away from her troubles at any moment. But in The Lies Beneath, adversity follows her onto the water and thwarts her plans for a peaceful life. The body of a former CIA agent draws her into the search for a missing scientist and international intrigue that makes the idea of a sailing adventure a duller back-burner affair.

Part of what makes The Lies Beneath so compelling is Ann Eichenmuller's ability to delve into the heart of not just a murder mystery, but the protagonist who seeks to leave her angst-ridden world and profession behind: "It was late afternoon on day one of my resurrected life. The breeze picked up, and I felt Serenity's sails catch the wind, felt the moment when her heavy hull became almost weightless, lifting me up and over the waves. I wanted to make Norfolk before sunset. It had been nine long hours since I untied the lines and left the dock. I had traveled more than fifty miles since morning. My friends, even the ones who knew me well, thought I was crazy. Just when it seemed I was getting past my husband's death, when it looked like I might be ready to live a so-called "normal" life, I suddenly announced I was taking off for the Caribbean in my own boat - me, the woman who had never sailed past Stingray Point alone. I could understand their concern. Sometimes I wondered if I were crazy myself."

What reader has not, at some point in their lives, wanted to hoist sail, throw off the dock lines, and escape into another world far from the familiar? And who has not experienced a compelling situation that drags them back into such a world, against all odds?

As Sandi becomes more and more involved in solving an increasingly complex murder mystery, she finds herself further from her goals than ever before. In many ways, Sandi's journey is one that brings her full circle; but in others, she is venturing into new territory that will challenge not only her abilities, but her values and vision of how she wants to lead her life.

It should be noted, at this point, that this is the third book in The Lies murder mystery series. It also should be mentioned that The Lies Beneath stands well on its own and needs no prior introduction to or familiarity with the protagonist and setting to prove completely satisfying to newcomers.

Is Sandi 'borrowing trouble' she can't give back, or is she increasingly getting pulled in over her head as the waters become murky? Ironically, an FBI investigation threatens her as much as her discoveries.

As Sandi faces the ominous feeling that she's missing something, she also struggles with a revised life not entirely of her making. Her reflections on the differences between past and present experience contribute to a solid psychological inspection of not just her actions, but her motives and how her past experiences fuel her present-day approaches to life: "Perhaps it was the weather, or living on a boat, but the Christmas season had come without my noticing. For the first time I was conscious of green wreaths on doors and lampposts and holiday displays in windows. It felt wrong somehow, to be wearing only a light jacket and hear "Jingle Bells" play on gas station speakers. If I had been in Irvington, there would have been a Christmas party at the museum and a Festival of Trees at the gym. Debbie would have hung lights along the ceiling of the Back Porch Cafe so it looked like a thousand stars were twinkling in the middle of the day. I would have sat on the bow with a mug of hot cider and watched the boats parade along Carter's Creek, each more elaborately decorated than the last. After Ryan's death I tried to ignore the season as much as my mother would let me, but slowly, insidiously, new traditions crept in to replace the old ones. Now, a traveler in a strange place, I found myself craving the rituals of a familiar life."

The result is a powerful exploration of not just murder and motive, but a determined amateur sleuth's increasingly complex dilemmas of being sandwiched between professional investigators and perps alike.

Fans of murder mysteries that hold strong characterization and insights will relish the attention to psychological inspection given in The Lies Beneath, which creates a compelling story not just about the murder event itself, but through the eyes of a protagonist facing her own major life changes.

Sell Your Words
Leila Peltosaari
Tikka Books
9781896106069, $5.99, Ebook
9781896106076, POD Edition

Sell Your Words: Write, Self-Publish, and Market Nonfiction Books is for indie authors who have decided to publish their own books rather than seeking an agent or pursuing a publisher, and offers invaluable advice not just on publishing, but on the important task of marketing the book after publication (which could be a book in and of itself).

Why another book on the process of self-publishing? Leila Peltosaari not only sports three decades of success, but points out she has "...made more than a million dollars by self-publishing title after title." And English is not her mother tongue! These facts alone add enough weight to this particular how-to book to make it a worthwhile pursuit.

Leila Peltosaari begins with the writing process based on her first book, written when she was 34 years old. Perhaps it was serendipity that her first home-produced book, Easy Sewing for Infants, gained the attention of Family Circle, which plugged it to a national audience in their magazine. But chance had no hand in her ongoing success story, as she wrote and marketed numerous well-received books, received much acclaim, and earned much more than the 'pocket money' she had anticipated from her efforts.

Nonfiction writers, in particular, are admonished to strive for creative originality: "Stand out from the crowd. Make your book different by focusing on one thing that makes your knowledge uncommon. Seize it, research it, and write it down. Explain and clearly illustrate what makes you unique, and your nonfiction book will attract great reviews."

Peppered with bright visual examples, Sell Your Words provides the right blend of excitement, encouragement, and practical advice to give aspiring, would-be authors a boost at all levels of the process.

The self-publishing tips are specific and cover everything from POD (print-on-demand) publishing to short runs, handling review copy distribution, making front and back covers which are enticing sales tools, and more.

Marketing insights include not only recommendations but cautions about pitfalls, offering many alternatives to getting out of the slush pile: "I found the literary critique section in any daily paper to be a dead end for my nonfiction books, but the lifestyle section often needs interesting leads. Some have sections like traveling, business, home, health, food, or pets, and one could be a match for your book. Many dailies have reduced personnel and use freelancers, so one person might write feature articles for several departments or publications - get familiar with those names as potential contacts. Some dailies list emails of their personnel and links to their previous articles or columns so you can see their style."

Packed with basic information provided in a lively, encouraging style, Sell Your Words should be the first book writers consult when they embark on the road to publishing success. It covers all the bases and basics and makes the writing and marketing process both logical and achievable.

Shards of Light
Susan Miura
Vinspire Publishing
9781732711280 $15.99

Book 2 in the Healer series, Shards of Light, opens where events left off in the first book after teen Shilo discovered she has the spiritual power of healing. That story ended with a sojourn to Italy to visit her great grandmother, who also possessed the power to heal, but lost it. In Shards of Light, Shilo arrives in Sicily and continues her spiritual and physical journey.

Too many series titles rely heavily upon one another for background and fluidity of plot, but one of the pleasures of Shards of Light is its ability to stand alone as a complete novel unto itself. Knowledge of background events aren't a prerequisite for the complete enjoyment of Shilo's story.

Another strength lies in its ability to cultivate intrigue right from the start, presenting Ricardo's plot to kidnap the young girls who were stolen from his brothel business by nuns. This would seem a rather mature subject for teen audiences, but Shards of Light will reach advanced teens to new adults and doesn't skimp on either describing deadly power plays or explaining the dark thinking behind them: "Whatever happens next will be their own fault." He mumbles to the darkness, justified in knowing they're simply paying the price for their actions. Doing wrong had painful consequences. He learned that childhood lesson all too well, and all too often."

These elements successfully create a 'crossover' title that will appeal as much to adult as to young adult audiences as Shilo's foray into Italian culture presents a dangerous opportunity for healing in a new fashion.

Under another hand, Shards of Light could all too easily have become a murder mystery or a novel of intrigue alone; but there's a larger purpose at work here, and romance enters into an already-complex equation to introduce Shilo not just to her newfound abilities, but her heart: "Dark eyes smile at me and they are molto bella, magnifico, so beautiful. Oh, man, my heart should not be beating at this rate. I'll just say no and help the sisters bake pastries tomorrow. That's the right thing to do. It's just a river. We have those back home. That's it, then. The answer is definitely no. "Okay. Yes. I'd like to go." Somewhere between my brain and my mouth, the words got lost in translation."

Broken shards are everywhere: in dreams, shattered trophies and lives, and even in the compassion that hurts as much as it heals. As Shilo learns different facets of healing on many levels, she explores not only her gift and its legacy, but also the darker forces at work in life and learns to field a host of special challenges as she grows not just healing powers, but better understanding.

Another plus is that this story is narrated through different perspectives: injured ballet dancer Melody whose parents are pursuing financial compensation, and Shilo, who knows her gift is "all God" but doesn't quite understand the role she plays in disseminating it.

With its different characters and their special focuses and its gentle exploration of a young woman's life and talents in flux, Shards of Light is a beautifully evocative story that stands well alone while enhancing a series. It invites readers to reflect long after Shilo's journey through faith and secrets comes to an end.

Heal Yourself With Journaling Power
Mari L. McCarthy
9781535616775, $6.99, Kindle

Journaling offers a self-healing method that anybody can use to enrich their lives, and Heal Yourself With Journaling Power provides an introduction to this resource for those who may have heard of it, but who are unaware of its many benefits.

Is it possible for writers to create a new life story just by putting pen to paper? Mari L. McCarthy demonstrates the wisdom of this approach not just by sharing her own life-changing process, but by interviewing others who used journaling to heal their lives.

Journaling can be used to funnel emotions such as anger into a 'safe' area of expression for cathartic relief: "Are you angry because you're struggling with health issues? Pour your raw, honest thoughts into your journal. Remember, Dr. Journal is there to listen to you 24/7, and she doesn't charge a dime. Everybody gets angry and upset. It's part of being human. What sets us apart is how we deal with it. We all know it's never healthy to keep things bottled up, but it can be equally as unhealthy to explode emotionally and verbally rage in front of others. On the other hand, verbally exploding into your journal can be courageous, combative, and incredibly cleansing!"

It can act as a thought and emotional organizer, exposing buried solutions to problems which simmer unresolved ("Journaling helps you access and unlock what's already inside you. And what you unlock can be amazing and really surprise you. In fact, what you'll discover through journaling is that within you is a treasure chest of answers and solutions."), and most of all, it requires little professional guidance in order to prove an effective self-help method.

As McCarthy and fellow journalers explore their processes of writing and healing, readers receive a guide to "the cheapest form of therapy", along with specific insights about why it works so well for so many: "Journaling allows you to break from this grind and create a sense of calm, so you can get clear on what you want. Even when you write about something bad that happened during your day, journaling empowers you to release it from your system, so you can focus more energy on good stuff to come!"

While McCarthy spends a good deal of time outlining just how and why journaling works, she also attends to the nuts and bolts of how to journal: "Just write in a stream of consciousness. You're not trying to impress anyone, justify your thoughts or emotions, or otherwise get kudos for being you. You are not writing the final draft of War & Peace. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, recommends doing three pages right as you wake up. We are in this wonderful half-asleep, half-awake state, when the mind has very few of its usual protective walls and logical thinking built up around it for the day. This way, you are more able to access your unfiltered thoughts, not the primped for prime-time thoughts. This unfiltered writing can be very helpful in "dumping" a lot of negative mental chatter. If you can't see it, you can't change it."

No professional can take the place of self-examination and self-knowledge. Journaling offers a method of tapping into these inner resources, and Heal Yourself With Journaling covers the why and how of that process. All that's required from readers is a willingness to put pen to paper more effectively, and to consider enacting the changes that flow from journaling's revelations.

Readers interested in self-help psychology will find these approach and insights invaluable, making Heal Yourself With Journaling a 'must' for anyone who would use their own inner wisdom to heal and change.

Nothing is More
Dolly Gray Landon
Seventh Species Publications
9781795387514, $12.99, Paper, $4.99, Kindle

Nothing is More: A High Black Comedy in Verse with Music for Six Actors demands much from its readers, who ideally will be drama students with a penchant for satire, verse, and the outrageous. Anyone expecting a staid story or a typical outline of dramatic form is in for both a revelation and a treat, because Nothing is More delights in the unexpected, from blatant and ribald sexual explorations to archaic and whimsical explorations of college courses as odd as Feline Transgender Studies.

In other words: toss any expectations out the window and settle back for a challenging but unique, rollicking ride as Dolly Gray Landon romps through academia and social inspection with an eye to probing the roots of artistic and social revolution alike.

Ideally, this play will be performed, but a six-hour production is a lot to commit to, for most theatres. College students and avant garde stages will be more likely to undertake the production of this complex story, knowing that an audience of literary-minded social scientists will be highly appreciative of both the literary achievement of putting together a six-hour production entirely in verse, and the story's focus on personality clashes, cultural and religious references, and sexual and social revelation.

It should also be mentioned that no group is immune, here. Landon pokes fun at and makes pointed observations of just about everything in this circle, which holds as much potential for offense as it does insight.

The result is a well-crafted, complex, dramatic work that will gain attention not just from innovative drama students and producers, but from readers of plays, who will find it delightfully quirky and whimsical in its creative, complex inspection of the evolution of dogmas and schemes in the art world.

Jake's Redemption
Jamie Schulz
Jamie Schulz, Publisher
9780998025711, $16.99, Paper, $2.99, Kindle

Jake's Redemption is a prequel to the Angel Eyes series, holding the unique ability to combine a cowboy romance with a dystopian fantasy insert to create something appealing both to romance and sci-fi readers.

In the opening scene, Jake and friend Bret are prisoners of a woman who openly mocks her former lover Bret: "How could you think any self-respecting woman would want you for anything more than your gorgeous face and hard body?" she asked, not waiting for a reply. "A decent woman would never accept you as an equal. Any woman who would is worse than the slave you will shortly become."

It's a scenario of men stripped of their power and enslaved by women, and one in which Jake Nichols suspects his life will end. Jake endures torture in captivity, but his life is not slated to conclude in this manner. When he's hired out to the beautiful Monica to help her finish building her ranch home, everything changes.

Unlike most dystopian reads, even those which include romance between characters, Jake's Redemption is firmly rooted in romance and doesn't skirt the edges like most such fantasy novels. This translates to steamy sex scenes, percolating love, and a focus on interpersonal relationships that supersedes the usual focus on survival tactics and conflict.

This isn't to say that the story is one-dimensional. Indeed, it is filled with psychological depth and insights. Jamie Schulz takes the time to explore each character's growth process, and this is reflected in passages that reveal these changing viewpoints: "There was more to him than the trembling, half-starved, pitiable man who'd first arrived, and definitely more than just his handsome face. All of it made her wonder what else lay beneath his wary, kind, and sometimes curious eyes."

Love builds predictably, but not without its obstacles, and as Jake and Monica begin to consider forging a brave new world, many things change.

It's rare to find a prequel that adequately covers the logic and progression of the novels to come. Often, such an attempt feels like an afterthought rather than holding real foresights to dovetail with the foundations of what is to come.

Jake's Redemption carefully crafts a story that doesn't feel like a manufactured tie-in, nicely pairing the feel of a romance read with the backdrop of a society where power has shifted and resulted in radical redefinitions of not just control, but love itself.

Forgiveness, trust, and control are hard gifts to give; especially in a world turned upside down. Jake and Monica are challenged on more than one level, finding that their increasing affection for one another redefines not only their perceptions, but how they feel about their potentials both individually and with one another.

As Jake begins to realize he has work to do to move from being a slave to being a powerful man in love, Monica finds him increasingly compelling. His emotional growth is very nicely portrayed, as is an evolving passion based on a different kind of power structure: "And what are you feeling?" she asked, almost breathless. His throat muscles worked as though he was having trouble swallowing. Then he took a deep breath and gave Monica her second pleasant shock of the morning. "Like I want to try to be the man I used to be. I want to stop being afraid. But I'm not sure how."

Romance readers will relish Jake's Redemption's effective, unusual blend of dystopian sci-fi and the trappings of romantic passion, but sci-fi fans looking for something different will also appreciate the story of a world that has changed so much that lovers must find new ways of defining relationships and themselves.

Knightmare Arcanist
Shami Stovall
Capital Station Books
9780998045221, $14.99 Print/$2.99 ebook

Ordering Links:

Knightmare Arcanist is the first book in the Frith Chronicles and tells of lowly gravedigger Volke Savan, who dreams of emulating the life and adventure of his hero, legendary magical swashbuckler Gregory Ruma. First, however, he must learn magic; and in order to do so, he must bond with a mythical creature. Any kind of creature will do. Even a knightmare, which is admittedly not the best of choices.

It turns out that Volke has made a wise choice, however, for the knightmare knows a terrible secret about Ruma that changes everything. This secret involves Volke in a heroic quest of his own - one which goes against his own long-held admiration for a legend.

But, how can a lowly newcomer to magic confront the powers of one who is perhaps the greatest arcanist in the world?

Shami Stovall has a winning way with words and description that brings Volke's world to life and lends both passion and purpose to his efforts. There's also a touch of humor embedded in many of the observations ("Did Tyms have to shout everything he said? The trumpet he had for a windpipe never rested.").

As Volke misses an opportunity to train under Ruma and fellow magical apprentice Illia faces a decision between Ruma and Volke, a powerful magical confrontation evolves which involves swordplay, shadows, and a knightmare's deadly knowledge.

From false memories created by his own magic, which are used against him, to form-changing mystical creatures and a foray into a kind of swashbuckling adventure he'd dreamed of (only to find its reality quite different), Volke carries readers into a darkly engrossing world with a passion that makes Knightmare Arcanist satisfyingly unique and hard to put down.

Readers looking for a magic-based quest fantasy will find this story compelling and nicely written, with strong characters propelling action which is often unexpected and revealing.

Knightmare Arcanist is highly recommended for both young adults reading coming of age fantasy sagas and adult fantasy readers who like stories of sword and sorcery paired with self-discovery.

High Flying
Kaylin McFarren
Creative Edge Publishing LLC
9781091374799, $3.99, Kindle, $12.99, Paper

High Flying combines a time travel odyssey with the aviation story of an angst-ridden pilot, Skylar, who narrowly escapes death during an air show, but finds herself mysteriously transported to the past. This isn't just any confrontation with the distant past, however. Skylar arrives eight months before she was born and a week before her father was murdered, and has the rare opportunity to change everything - if she dares.

An engrossing saga, combining flight with confrontations with the personalities of her family past and present, makes for many insights filled with psychological revelation and insights: "This situation was ridiculous and most of what he said was too, but that was who Jessop Haines was. A self-serving, self-absorbed man."

One strength to High Flying is this psychological inspection process, evident from the first chapter and increasing as the story evolves and Skylar begins to learn family secrets, dangerous truths, and the ultimate consequences of good and bad choices.

As Skylar confronts drug money, efforts to keep Jake's business afloat and her in the cockpit of what she loves to do most in life, and finds herself keeping secrets that have their price in losing credibility with others, she faces many conundrums and scenarios that threaten not only her heritage and life, but her love of flight.

During her efforts to make a difference and use money wisely, Skylar also confronts the possibility of love. Will she make wise choices taking that route, as well?

An engrossing story filled with satisfying aviation and romantic references will especially please readers looking for more than a simple time-travel saga.

With Kaylin McFarren's hand on the joystick, the story becomes much more multifaceted than anticipated, providing a satisfyingly engrossing read to female audiences who like stories of confrontation, change, family legacy, and present-day choices.

Flies in the Punch Bowl
Erika Simms
Wynkoop Press
9781733529501, $10.95, paperback
9781733529518, $4.99, ebook

It's satisfying to see a book subtitle that goes beyond defining the genre of a story to impart an exciting sense of its atmosphere. Flies in the Punch Bowl: Art Theft, Cocktails, and High Society sets the stage for a lively whodunit romp through the art world, attracting readers interested in a blend of social commentary and intrigue.

Take a rampage of thievery in Seattle's art world, inject an amateur artist/sleuth recovering from the impact of forgery on her own efforts, and add Annabel's motivation for entering an investigative process foreign to her (she wants to restore her reputation in art circles) for a story which neatly balances intrigue with a quest for personal and professional redemption.

Erika Simms writes with a style talented in spicy description: "From the shelf, the bartender selected a bottle of Pernod absinthe and mixed the emerald antidote. "This should soften the blow," he said. The pained man sipped from the martini. His posture relaxed. "Ordinarily I'd have my attorney sue the other buyer, but he's currently hiding out on a nude beach in Aruba bronzing his nether regions."

Hot topics and local gossip, intrigue and confrontation, and a well-paced action-packed story that is injected with wry humor at many turns will attract readers interested in stories that are a cut above the usual one-dimensional whodunit. Simms excels in a sense of irony and fun even when situations are tense: "Exasperated, Lyla hurried up behind me toward the abandoned hotel, mouthing the words reckless and beheading. The second of which made no sense, but I didn't stop to clarify. When she caught up, she yanked my stick away and tossed it to the ground, freeing me of the obvious encumbrance. It was the sort of foolish action typically saved for the movies, where the short-sighted protagonist tosses their only semblance of a weapon as the antagonist nears; a blunder on par with that same protagonist dashing upstairs to hide in the shower from an intruder who's just smashed in through the kitchen window."

Annabel is not above fudging ethics and truth during her pursuit, and so there are wonderfully succinct reflections embedded into action scenes that leave readers simultaneously thinking, laughing, and entertained: "Finally aware of my presence, the hobo yanked the cash from my fingers and ambled away, the coat dragging like a ragamuffin doll along the dirty cobblestones behind him. I turned my eyes back to the manila folder resting in the passenger seat of the convertible. I thought, two types of people exist in this world - those who get away with things, and those who do not. With that truism in mind, I lifted the folder from the convertible. It put up little fight as I thumbed through its contents."

Pair an original voice, realistic characters and motives, and solid descriptions of artistic circles and Seattle society for a superior, engrossing, fun story that is highly recommended not just for mystery fans, but for anyone looking for a rollicking good read.

The Resurrection of Jesus
Yancey Williams
9780986031694, $6.96, Paperback
9780986031649, $4.99, Ebook

The Resurrection of Jesus isn't another religious novel, and readers who automatically think that the title portends such will be disappointed...until they quickly realize that what they are immersed in is actually something compellingly different.

Yancey Williams excels at weaving a wry sense of humor into a story about an unresolved art world theft. Thirty years have passed since two policemen/thieves stole some $500 million of famous paintings at midnight from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Art Museum, but the case remains open. Until now.

Fiction weaves into nonfiction history to create a compelling "what if" exploration of the circumstances, but Williams takes no easy outs during his recreation of events.

What do two unlikely nere-do-wells, one newly out of prison, and the other a Native American from the reservation who holds a deep suspicion of the world around him, have to do with one of the biggest unresolved heists in the art world?

As Williams explores these possibilities using a fictional backdrop to add drama to speculation, readers receive a thoroughly engrossing story that grabs attention from the first few paragraphs and never lets go: "It stood out. The Jesus Saves part. The big, bold letters on the side of a weathered, tattered and frayed, dilapidated, old billboard. The message read, The Devil was on my back. He was heavy and riding me hard. But, not no more cause I found Jesus...Framed in a forty-by-sixty-foot crimson, pinewood border, the monstrosity was in the middle of nowhere. By its sheer size, you would have thought that the sign would be speaking to a much larger audience, but not so. Nowhere was a broad field deeper than it was wide, plainly measured between other open fields and long stretches of tattered barbed wire most of which was distressed, grounded, and loose ended, set some distance from a grove of leafless willow trees and scrub oak. The support timbers leaned in separate directions almost like poorly concocted decoration, perhaps interpretative, surely suggestive, even metaphorical, a tangential and bucolic bust of sorts but only if you used your imagination."

Wry observations of religion, belief, and purpose permeate the story and may offend those who have rigid, politically correct ideas about either religion or gender descriptions ("in the end, in this the final sundown, I am betting that God, the grand caretaker, He is not there. He has checked out. Or, He wasn't never there in the first place...My squaw, Esther, she can pretend though. And, she can then sprinkle the gray dust into the dark water of the beaver pond up above the coyote den or tip my remains into and along the water's edge of the clear, still trout stream. It won't matter none. I am dead. The pure water will wash away all of me in the blink of a stout and strong and bull-necked night owl. I am then little more than a memory in the minds of the people that I have touched for better or for worse.").

However, the meat of The Resurrection of Jesus lies not in social propriety but in the ribald, candid observations of life, opportunity, and fortune that the two thieves bring to the table. This creates a read that is more about the perps than their heist, crafting a fun series of observations about life that brings to mind the classic A River Runs Through It.

On the surface, The Resurrection of Jesus is about a major coup in the theft world. But look closer, for a powerful example of satirical reflection that is at once engrossing, thought-provoking, and simply a fun read.

Novel and literature readers with a special interest in humorous devices will find The Resurrection of Jesus a special production, indeed.

Spoken: A Novel
Melanie Weiss
Rosehip Publishing
9780988609839, $9.99 Paper, $7.99 Kindle

Roman Santi is a rich Hollywood high school freshman who materially has everything a young man could desire, but who lacks the guiding hand of a father.

When his mother one day turns his world upside down, he find himself in the Midwest, living on a sofa bed at his grandparents' house and entering a new high school. Everything is very different from anything he's known before in his privileged life, but the real changes aren't just external. Roman is also forced to delve into his own skill sets and ambitions to take charge of a life which, until now, has just been handed to him on a silver platter.

His mother has gotten them well-off by living with a rich Hollywood mogul, but her affair with another celebrity has landed her on the cover of a gossip magazine and ruined their plush situation. At first Roman feels like she has destroyed his life through her actions.

But Chicago offers him a rare opportunity to do more than blame his mother for their revised circumstances. This transition dovetails nicely with the fifteen-year-old's coming of age and entry into a world with more responsibility and choice than he's ever known before.

As Roman becomes interested in poetry and the Spoken Word literary performance movement, his life changes even more - it becomes one of his own making.

Spoken is not just another coming-of-age tale. It's about the power and potential of a young man who receives mentoring from adults and peers, and who finds support and purpose in a revised life.

Melanie Weiss draws readers into Roman's world by using the first person to follow how he cultivates a revised relationship with his visiting mother and the rest of his family as he explores this strange new world. He's disarmingly savvy during this process, as teens often are: "I know the whole messy drama of why we left L.A. has trickled down from parent to child and spread stealthily around the community...Mom and my friends spent the whole dinner talking about boring Hollywood stuff. She does not realize how confusing it is to have all these memories churn up again. It reminds me of when every day was golden and the hardest thing I had to think of was if Alex and I should fire up Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto on my PlayStation."

Readers will follow his blossoming maturity easily, receiving a solid hand on the joystick of experience as Roman evolves in his own personal growth and relationships with others.

Young adult readers of coming-of-age, rags-to-riches stories will find Spoken: A Novel holds more growth focus and insights on changing relationships than most. It's written with a compelling vision that has its finger on the pulse of teen concerns and family interactions.

Who Will? Will You?
Sarah Hoppe
Blue Whale Press
9781732893511, $16.99, hardcover
9781732893528, $10.99, paperback

Who Will? Will You? is a picture book for ages 4-8 that receives lovely colorful illustrations by Milanka Reardon as it explores a young beachcomber's unusual find at the seashore.

Lottie never expected to find something bigger than a shell, but a little pup tugs at her heartstrings and poses a problem far greater than locating the perfect shell.

Many are interested in adopting Lottie's find...until they look into her wagon after initial excitement. The story evolves to question not only who will take charge of a stray, but why nobody will do so.

A fun, unexpected conclusion teaches kids not only about shore life, but about what makes a welcoming home for a stray.

Kids who love beaches and parents who love thought-provoking messages will find Who Will? Will You? engrossing and fun.

A Terrible Loyalty: A World War II Submarine Novel
William Roskey
Independently Published
B07Q62KS4T, $0.99

A Terrible Loyalty is World War II military fiction at its best, capturing the struggles and experiences of the months before and after Pearl Harbor in a "you are there" fashion that brings history to life.

There are over seventy chapters in a book a little over seven hundred pages long, but while some might predict that the weight of this story would limit an enthusiastic tone to its contents, one of the strengths of A Terrible Loyalty is its ability to capture the atmosphere and excitement of its times while staying true to historical facts.

Of necessity, this approach requires not only a heavy research hand, but an exploration that weaves fact and fiction with many background details. Protagonist Dade Bowie escaped poverty in West Texas by becoming a military man, but his training didn't prepare him for the dilemma he and his fellow submarine commanders in the Pacific face when they discover that their torpedoes are shockingly unreliable, and that military ineptitude extends far beyond equipment and into the guiding leaders of U.S. forces.

Dade is sworn to obey the orders of these guiding hands, but when loyalty to his crew and oath collide against the backdrop of attack and war, where and when should he make his stand?

Everyone has a different way of fighting not only the war, but their own hearts. Romance, loyalty, and life itself take a back burner to codebreakers, submarine commanders, and struggles with moral and ethical conundrums as the war permeates every aspect of life in America.

It might seem unlikely that one novel could reach beyond military descriptions and circles to chart the course of these changes; but A Terrible Loyalty does so with its finger on the pulse of struggle and change, profiling one man's candid assessment of atmosphere and challenges in his submarine world.

Dade's honesty in response to a casual question at dinner imparts many insights into the physical challenges of living in a sub, but it's the reaction of his female dinner partners which is equally astonishing: "Commander, you have got to be one-in-a-million. What a woman expects to hear from a man who just came off a war patrol is pure braggadocio. Crazy bullshit about his heroics, even though he 'tries' to sound modest by giving a few of the other guys at least some credit. But you, sir, well, I've not seen one like you, a man given an opportunity to impress two very available women, neither one of them hard to look at, in an atmosphere of moonlight and music and a wonderful meal and cocktails and the lush tropics, who just talks about how he and his crew smell bad. Damn! I'll bet you're the real deal. I'll bet you're a real hero."

These kinds of interpersonal connections and explorations lend an unexpectedly personal tone to the military encounters and focuses that most World War II novels seem to exclusively feature. Amidst the descriptions of war and conflict are social, political, and moral and ethical challenges which are equally well probed; and this is a rare facet in a genre that typically focuses on physical struggle over relatively little else.

Another powerful attribute of A Terrible Loyalty lies in its ability to delineate the challenges of different kinds of concurrent loyalties which at times clash with one another. Dade, Rachael, and others have choices to make not only about their careers and anti-war efforts, but each other and the oaths and promises they have made. These choices prove as mercurial as the times. The result is a powerful exploration of not just battle or military structure and response, but the perceptions of loyalty and purpose that each character holds dear.

Readers seeking more than the usual battleground descriptions of World War II will relish the psychological and social depth of A Terrible Loyalty, which closely examines the forces that divide and challenge hearts and minds while recreating and taking the submariner experience to a depth that few competitors can achieve.

Birth Right: Galak's Rising
Christina Goebel
Christina Goebel, Publisher
9781733844970 $19.99, Print
9781733844994, $3.99, Ebook

Birth Right: Galak's Rising represents such a blend of approaches that it's hard to describe. Think of an epic fantasy, but with dystopian elements. Add a coming-of-age story and romance. Pepper this with a time travel story and it's easy to see that this story defies pat categorization.

The tale opens with a summary of events recapping and leading up to the Great Technological War in 2071 AD, where Mark Ward has long expected rebellion against his role in the increased interconnections between genetics and automation by those who perceive its potential for disaster.

Galak is the culminating representative of the problem: a half-automation monster capable of evil whose goal is to alter his genetic makeup so he can reproduce, making his new race the most superior on Earth.

Lovely blue and black line drawings pepper the story with vivid comic art panels as Galak turns on his creators and becomes the proverbial monster in the story, exerting his technological prowess over the lesser humans who try to oppose him.

As Galak presses forward unopposed by any who might have controlled him, readers receive a fast-paced adventure that moves swiftly from the events leading up to the war (including the last moments before its onset) to the world in 2203 AD, over a hundred years later. This is where the meat of the story takes place and, armed with proper background details, readers are well prepared to absorb the specter of a barren human world under a new feudal system bent on surviving attacks from marauders and Galak's warriors.

Into this world enters an unlikely hero in the form of Prince Henry, who knows (among other things) that unethical tactics are the only advantage that he has over his larger opponents. The human history that created this world has largely been forgotten, but its legacy lives on and survival and alliances, including romance, still move the human race to endure against vastly revised odds and environments.

Christina Goebel does a fine job of capturing the human elements left in this futuristic society, from the politics of survival to the psychology of love: "This woman must be in his future, if not in the stars, then in a destiny he will carve from hewn rock."

As young adult to new adult readers absorb an engrossing tale of survival, they receive a vivid story of wandering hearts, resolute minds, and a leader who thinks himself too old to rule until he becomes a prisoner and sparks a revolution in hearts and minds.

Sci-fi and fantasy readers seeking a story that bridges several subgenres and fills its pages with impossible challenges and hope against all odds will find Birth Right: Galak's Rising an excellent story that stands well on its own, but sets the stage for more stories in the series. It's a vivid, memorable tale of choices, consequences, and their lasting impact on the future of humanity that will linger in the mind long after the final struggle's outcome.

Aesop: Fable
Michele Packard
Independently Published
9781095797112, $9.99, Paper, $4.99, Kindle

Fable returns counterterrorism operative Matti Baker to the spotlight as she continues her struggle to maintain the appearance of an everyday wife and mother while juggling the demands of a secret identity tied with keeping America safe.

This time, Matti faces not only new dangers, but her obsession with death ("Being in my line of work, deep in the recess of my mind, I always play out how the end could come. Each day it changes, from some international terrorist blowing up a city block, to another undercover operative like myself who catches me off guard. I visualize being gunned, stabbed, burned, and then get creative with some sick, evil shit; the stuff no one wants to talk about."), her grown children's decision to become involved in her line of dangerous work, and challenges to her long-standing relationship with her buddy Freddy.

Her whole world is rocked when she discovers that a seemingly serendipitous relationship that led her to her husband was in fact a carefully orchestrated affair, a thought which leads her down some dangerous personal and professional roads: "You make mistakes when you assume. I had made too many assumptions. Fareed wasn't the only Wizard of Oz behind the curtain, orchestrating everyone's strings and waiting. His patience and commitment were far greater than anyone, including myself, could ever imagine. F'me. Just like in the movie Pelican Brief, I had caught wind of a crazy-ass conspiracy theory and it, on all accounts, appeared to be coming true. There had to be more."

Vulnerable, exposed, and angry, Matti faces haunting reexaminations about nearly everything in her life as she wonders exactly how many targets she's facing and if she can resolve all the questions about everything she holds dear and trusts.

The pleasure in the ongoing Aesop series lies in two strengths that set it apart from other thrillers featuring strong female protagonists: Matti's unique, gritty voice and approach to her job and life, which holds the ability to question herself and her assumptions as well as the truths she's long considered self-evident; and a story line which juxtaposes thriller elements with psychological inspection and revelation.

Another big plus is Michele Packard's ability to capture the background and psychology of Matti for newcomers, weaving this into the latest story so deftly that prior fans won't have to plow through recaps of scenarios and relationships they are already well familiar with. Packard expands upon these existing relationships in a way that keeps newcomers and fans equally engaged and involved in Matti's evolutionary process.

This keeps the story lively and engrossing. Matti continues to grow and change in the course of her courageous confrontations. Added to a thriller story that incorporates cat-and-mouse games and deadly adversaries, it's evident that a superior, completely engrossing read is in store.

Aesop: Fable proves that the series continues to be a delightful standout as its brash, spunky female protagonist challenges both the world and her abilities, taking neither for granted.

The Moonstoners
Barbara J. Dzikowski
Wiara Books
9780984030538, $13.95, Paperback
9780984030545, $2.99, Ebook

Many novels attempt to capture the turbulent times and social sentiments of 1960s America, but The Moonstoners goes a notch above most in exploring an individual's quest for love in the shadow of changing social relationships.

As a child of this era, Noel is only too aware of these dangerous forces, from a murder that sparked her family to flee their Louisiana home to her marriage to the man who raped her and made her pregnant.

Noel's individual tumult mirrors the world around her as everything from racial relationships to Vietnam's impact takes hold, changing her life and everyone she interacts with.

Perhaps the biggest eye-opener here is Noel's struggle to maintain her identity, which holds a dangerous secret at its core even as love threatens everything, including the stability and interrelationships of two families.

As Barbara J. Dzikowski's story deftly navigates both matters of the heart and questions of madness and redemption, the 1960s come to life in a manner that integrates romance with life choices and values.

The Moonstoners excels in marrying a sense of the times with a family's dire circumstances. It should also be noted that this is the first book in a projected trilogy: as such, it crafts the idea of 'moonstoners' and their hidden depths and then sets the stage for more revelations in future books.

Readers who enjoy blends of romance and social inspection will appreciate this story's realistic atmosphere and thoroughly engrossing approach to capturing not just one girl's dreams, but two family nightmares as they intersect in the arena of social change.

The Darkness of PFC Petkoff: and Other Stories
Andrew Ashleigh Kozelka
Independently Published
9781521862124, $9.99, Paper, $5.99, Kindle

The Darkness of PFC Petkoff: and Other Stories is historical short fiction at its best, offering a literary and revealing examination of individuals from other cultures who face controversies and life-changing moments. This cross-cultural inspection injects a seasoned blend of historical and social insights into every tale, creating an engrossing, involving set of 15 short stories with various settings in a mythologized mid-20th century milieu.

Take the introductory story 'The Octopus', for example. Take the introductory story 'The Octopus', for example. A spear fisherman faces a rare find in a pool, but it turns out that his increasing obsession with capturing it holds roots in a need to survive. As hunger drives both, a struggle ensues over who will become master of the small space that each wants all for himself.

'The Man Who Was Ready' tells of Jason, who faces police action in the imaginary country of Zagastan, retribution for being an American, and cultivates a suffocating paranoia in response to his foreign surroundings. His navigation through what he perceives as a series of dangerous possibilities documents a country which 'hangs in the balance' much as his mental state. However active his imagination, the danger is real, and sets the stage for a final battle and dubious victory.

Each story gives pause for thought about efforts to survive, change, and relate to one's world.

Readers looking for a literary, diverse collection of short stories that center on the human condition and its mercurial transition points will relish Andrew Ashleigh Kozelka's probe of the heart of darkness both within the human psyche and stemming from environmental encounters beyond individual control.

Fishermen's Court
Andrew Wolfendon
Black Rose Writing
9781684332854, $21.95

Finn Carroll has failed at his artistic ambitions and is living in his dead parents' home, bereft of goals, family, or connections in life. He should be the last candidate to be picked by a killer interested in framing another person for his actions, but actually, he's the perfect choice: a fact he discovers when a team of killers tries to murder him, leaving behind a note that exposes a secret from his past.

Fishermen's Court then takes many unexpected turns as Finn makes new discoveries and confronts numerous puzzles. The killers aren't through with him, his choice of refuge on Musqasset Island, after he flees, leads him to both new connections and further isolation, and he is forced to navigate the deeply disturbing political clashes between Maine's fishing community and the drive for tourist development.

Finn is caught in the middle of many dilemmas both personal and political as he faces debts that are almost twenty years old, his sister Angie's resistance to his probe into ancient history, mysteriously-disappearing text messages that lead him further into uncharted territory, and increasing questions that lead him to question the motives of the few people he trusts.

As Finn steadily conducts an increasing bizarre investigation, he discovers not just the source of fishing industry and family connections, but the wellspring of his heart and ties to life.

Andrew Wolfendon does an exquisite job of bringing together a mystery and personal investigation. From the differences between a close-knit community of islanders and their values to an unexpected romance which evolves against the backdrop of a relentless hit team, Fishermen's Court successfully draws in readers on more than one level.

Beginning with one man's alienation from the world and failed dreams and moving to how his life purposes are redefined in the face of life-threatening decisions, the story moves inexorably towards a riveting conclusion that neatly ties up all loose ends while keeping readers on the edge of their seats.

Fans of psychological thrillers and suspense stories will appreciate this fine balance between personal introspection and mystery, tempered by the added value of a sense of place and a community facing change. All these facets make Fishermen's Court a solid, involving tale that's hard to put down.

G.P. Gottlieb
D.X.Varos, Ltd.
9781941072523 $17.95, Paper
9781941072530 $6.99, Ebook

Fans of mystery stories which pepper recipes and food references into the overall saga will appreciate the focus in Battered, Book One of the 'Whipped and Sipped Mysteries' series which features Alene Baron, owner of the vegetarian cafe Whipped and Sipped. Forced to turn amateur detective when her friend is murdered, Alene finds herself moving from being the owner of a trendy Chicago neighborhood establishment to being an uncertain sleuth who faces personal danger from her investigation.

The first thing to note is that this story is steeped not just in culinary insights, but in a focus on healthy pursuits, as a young entrepreneur faces her days: "Alene woke up groggy. She wiped her eyes with the corner of her pajama top and dragged herself out of bed at five, as usual. Through the front windows, the sky billowed lighter where the sun was about to rise over the lake. She was somewhat revived by her morning glass of apple-cider-vinegar-and-honey spiked water. After that, she pulled on shorts and a t-shirt and headed down to run on the lake path before her children or father got up. Alene was only responsible for opening the cafe on Saturdays. Most other days, her employees took turns opening, and she worked out or ran before going in. She could usually count on Jocelyn, who'd served in the military and was used to waking up at the crack of dawn."

Alene's focus on eating and cooking healthy, working out, and maintaining physical fitness and mental acuity enhances her ability to move beyond her familiar job and into realms of investigative thinking and problem-solving.

A crazy person is on the loose, and she's personally threatened, but life - and business pursuits - goes on: "He didn't have to speak to her as if she were a child, she thought glumly. She turned away, instead of admiring Frank's muscular back and confident stride. She sat down and added him to her speed dial after her father, Ruthie, Lydia, and Brianne. Grabbing an apple from the counter, she headed to her office. It was the end of the month and she had to finish ordering and to work on payroll."

This juxtaposition of investigative avenues and personal and business objectives creates an excellent, involving read that holds more realistic scenarios than most competing culinary mysteries. Alene attempts to maintain her family and its foundations even during the course of her new tasks, and this makes for excellent added value to a story in which the protagonist is only too human, juggling too much already and hardly needing to embark on a new career, as well.

Readers looking for mysteries well steeped in both culinary traditions and realistic conflicts between career and family will relish this multifaceted investigative piece, which draws readers in from the start with its realistic balance of intrigue and life challenges.

Body Talk - Basic Mime
Mario Diamond
Modern Vaudeville Press

Body Talk - Basic Mime covers the basics of mime in a workbook format that can easily be accessed by professionals and drama students interested in learning more about body movement and language. It should be required reading for any theater participant looking to incorporate elements of mime into their routines.

Body Talk - Basic Mime assumes no prior knowledge and covers the basics of silent communication and movement's messages, opening with a quick survey of the history of mime and moving quickly to exercises and demonstrations of movements that translate easily to recognizable emotions.

Large-size black and white photos give visual embellishment to written descriptions which offer specific insights into how a mime can better feel their body's movements, as in the section devoted to eyebrows: "Put your index over the eyebrow, then lift your eyebrow high enough to feel the movement with your finger. Do not use your finger to push. Only your eyebrow muscles are working."

From warm-ups to examples of the flow of movements (such as the step-by-step demonstration of the 'spider'), specific exercises are followed by tips on studying the world to reinforce realistic, recognizable gestures: "Public areas are good for mime studies. Just sit somewhere, in a park or a shopping mall, and observe people around you. Look at their hands, how they move, and follow the words they say, or the emotions they show or hide. Hands can tell many things about who you are. On stage they become a very important part of you."

From discussions of visual effects gained from amplifying an illusion or fixing a point to translating body movements to convincing an audience of silent intentions, there is no more specific primer on mime than Body Talk - Basic Mime.

Its workbook exercises make for a highly recommended 'must' for any theater or drama reference collection and for producers and actors who want to translate mime's basics to better acting and cognitive results.

Gathered at a Bitter Cup: Short Stories of Trouble at Home
Diane Rosier Miles
Independently Published
B07HFHY6WC, $0.99

Three short stories in Gathered at a Bitter Cup center upon family life and struggle, offering pointed observations from both parent and child as they traverse lives challenged by family relationships and perspectives.

'Coldhearted' comes from the perspective of Jake, an adult "child made bold by a tantrum" who faces the challenges of aging parents who continue to ignore Jake's now-sage advice. Jake's elderly parents are in declining health, and he is a caretaker both considerate and resentful about the changes which have moved him from child to adult in this family.

A powerful snapshot of aging and angst is created as Jake faces the inevitable without the help of his parents.

'The Consolation of Barn Swallows' takes quite a different path as it presents the nature-savvy figure of old farmer Fred Stride who, at age 70, has faced storms throughout his life. Having lost his wellspring and much younger wife Linda, Fred is back to facing fields and weather alone.

It would seem he's faced the biggest challenges and come through them, but when a swallow dies in his hand, he is forced to reconsider the choices which have led him both to this point in time and to the junctures in his life which have created isolation in his later years.

'Veterans of Domestic Wars' follows Captain Patricia Harding as she interacts with her family as a former soldier in the army and as a disabled mother. Her effectiveness and choices also come to the forefront as she interacts with angry children and a drunk handyman who represents yet another battle in her life.

These are succinct, hard-hitting, well-crafted pieces that excel in vignettes of individuals who have each been isolated by circumstance and attitude alike.

Readers seeking short stories which read quickly but hold deceptively captivating portraits of powerful moments in time that linger in heart and mind long after the concluding sentence will find Gathered at a Bitter Cup a powerful drink, flavored with the roots of bitter lives and thwarted dreams.

The Keepers of the Black Cave
Pahima Hanit
Zameret Publishing
9781096489238, $7.99, Paper

The Keepers of the Black Cave charts the course of a band of siblings charged with keeping history on a liner, unchanged track. They are keepers of tradition and history charged with making sure the progression of events stays the same. But what happens when they confront a force dedicated to altering that timeline?

Many time travel stories address the effects of an alternate, changed history; but few focus on the responsibility of keeping the entire world safe, a charge that rests squarely on the shoulders of the characters in this story.

Nicole, the narrator, is not young anymore, and is fully aware of this responsibility: "I do what needs to be done, right or wrong. Following orders would make me rather predictable, if not for my personal interpretation of what is really needed. The inclination to change what I came to do, or how I am to do it, is common in my aims."

As she encounters knights and castles, challenging options and circumstances, and choices that demand she assume different personas to blend with the era she's interacting with ("As I saw it, I had three options: be mad, be submissive, or be blond. I had just a few seconds to make the decision. I went for the fourth option: be a lady."), the best-laid plans go awry for everyone involved. What promises to be another time management adventure becomes a potential disaster.

More so than most time travel adventures, The Keepers of the Black Cave probes the individual Keepers' motivations and responses as much as the backdrop of the era in which they operate. Atmospheric descriptions of past and present are tempered with intriguing reflections on the personal impact of being a Keeper outside of the usual constraints of time: "I had told Richard about Terry who died of old age and lived a good life, but he had aged while I stayed the same, and it was hard on him. It had been hard on all of us to say goodbye to him. We had very few relationships and so we didn't say goodbye often and were not used to it."

Nicole is a mature protagonist, not your usual teenager, and so adult themes are included as logical pieces of a story that is compelling and unexpected.

Perhaps the strongest attribute of The Keepers of the Black Cave lies in its ability to capture this sense of surprise in a genre which all too often features predictable plots and outcomes. Readers are continually kept on their toes, here, anticipating a direction which changes in delightful ways. This, plus an attention to strong characters and an unusual version of time travel dilemmas, makes The Keepers of the Black Cave a highly recommended standout for time travel fans seeking fresh and original approaches.

Big City Magic: Uncover the Secret of the Big Apple
Jeanne Bender
Pina Publishing
9781943493265, $10.00, paperback
9781943493272, $18.00, hardcover
9781943493289, $6.99, eBook

Big City Magic: Uncover the Secret of the Big Apple provides young readers with another Lindie Lou canine adventure. This time, the little dog is on a plane heading for New York City and adventure.

Lindie Lou loves to meet new people, learn new things, and have adventures, but she also holds an active imagination, as demonstrated by her dreams about being able to fly without mechanical assistance.

Her ability to learn, adapt, and wonder about the world are challenged, however, when a quest for a big apple tree leads her and a rescue dog onto the streets of New York for some unexpected encounters.

Parents of children who are past the elementary picture book level and into reading chapter books and longer readers will appreciate the blend of easy language, big print, and illustrations that nudge readers from picture book to longer forms.

Parents will also appreciate this story's focus on courage, flexibility, and facing life changes with hope and creativity as Lindie Lou imparts some basic insights into dealing with life through her adventurous perspective.

Her enthusiasm about the wider world, her ability to communicate with humans and fellow animals alike, and her involvement with Kris, who brings her a wonderful gift, creates many unexpected moments that lend to parent and child discussion, especially recommended for adults seeking materials that contain bigger-picture thinking rather than entertainment value alone.

The result is a winning story about a wise puppy who takes the world's challenges and runs with them. It's a delightful adventure with more than a light dose of messages for kids about how to live better, more emotionally cognizant lives.

Never Sit If You Can Dance
Jo Giese
She Writes Press
9781631525339, $16.95

Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons From My Mother is a memoir that should be shared between all mothers and daughters because it puts a smile on one's face, gets the feet tapping, and belays the notion that mother/daughter relationships should be staid.

It's a tribute to award-winning reporter Jo Giese's mother, but it's also a raucous celebration of personalities that often clashed with seemingly dissimilar values and very different life perspectives. Surprisingly, daughter Jo was the one who tended towards the serious as an adult, while her mother Babe enjoyed drinking, dancing, and partying, as well as sewing and dressing up.

As an adult, the author became closer to her mother and began to better understand the roots of values that somehow had become intrinsically entwined with her own life choices: "The beauty of learning and lesson and incorporating it so fully that it becomes a part of you, as if it were your own chromosomal material, is that you can casually pass it on without even noticing."

One day, she comes to realize that her closet is filled with the clothing her mother loved and cultivated as mother/daughter outfits before daughter Giese rebelled and chose different styles. The magic of exploring such a relationship from an adult perspective is that life lessons can be gleaned from both rebellion and acceptance.

As Jo Giese reviews these connections and her mother's life, she becomes more cognizant of the messages she's absorbed both consciously and unconsciously. Her tribute to her mother in Never Sit If You Can Dance reviews not only these ideas, but how they are transmitted and enacted throughout a child's life.

Lively, introspective, and fun, Never Sit If You Can Dance is more than a tribute: it's a review of the mother/daughter relationship that offers much food for thought about the nature of trust, intimate relationships, and family ties. Readers will find it compelling and entertaining all in one: a simply outstanding piece that grabs attention from its first few lines and never lets go: "One day Babe and I were discussing why some people were so unhappy and cranky. I asked her, "Okay, why do you think I turned out so happy?" "Because you take after me," she said."

How Beautiful They Were
Boston Teran
High-Top Publishing
9781567030655, $22.00

How Beautiful They Were is a historical novel set in 1850s New York's theatre world, where Colonel Tearwood's American Theatre Company challenges the status quo of its times by bringing daily life to the stage.

All the elements of high drama are deftly incorporated into a vivid story that comments not only on individual lives and perspectives, but the impact of theatre in everyday American society as a whole: "Theatre is ideas, and ideas change the flow of power, and the flower of power affects who has the money, and everyone has a dog in that fight."

From operas and high society to criminal acts that challenge actors and viewers alike, characters face their fears, often play dual roles on and off stage, and address plays lacking essential elements, such as a female character.

When the owner of a theatre troupe is murdered, the investigation moves into private lives made public by circumstance, association, and fate. The American Theatre Company stands at the crossroads of not only changing social mores and political contention, but a deadly game that its key players are ill-equipped to handle.

Filled with evocative descriptions, compelling drama, and the backdrop of seasons passing through New York City's 1800s culture, How Beautiful They Were is a captivating examination of life and death both on and off stage, and will delight not just general-interest novel readers, but those who hold a special affection for theatre history and New York City.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Everyday Chaos
David Weinberger
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633693951, $30.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: Artificial intelligence, big data, modern science, and the internet are all revealing a fundamental truth: The world is vastly more complex and unpredictable than we've allowed ourselves to see. Now that technology is enabling us to take advantage of all the chaos it's revealing, our understanding of how things happen is changing -- and with it our deepest strategies for predicting, preparing for, and managing our world. This affects everything, from how we approach our everyday lives to how we make moral decisions and how we run our businesses.

Take machine learning, which makes better predictions about weather, medical diagnoses, and product performance than we do -- but often does so at the expense of our understanding of how it arrived at those predictions. While this can be dangerous, accepting it is also liberating, for it enables us to harness the complexity of an immense amount of data around us. We are also turning to strategies that avoid anticipating the future altogether, such as A/B testing, Minimum Viable Products, open platforms, and user-modifiable video games. We even take for granted that a simple hashtag can organize unplanned, leaderless movements such as #MeToo.

Through stories from history, business, and technology that comprise "Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility", philosopher and technologist David Weinberger finds the unifying truths lying below the surface of the tools we take for granted -- and a future in which our best strategy often requires holding back from anticipating and instead creating as many possibilities as we can.

The imperative for business and beyond expressed with "Everyday Chaos" is simple: Make. More. Future. The result is a world no longer focused on limitations but optimized for possibilities.

Critique: From the earliest days of the web, David Weinberger has been a pioneering thought leader about the internet's effect on our lives, on our businesses, and most of all on our ideas. He has contributed to areas ranging from marketing and libraries to politics and journalism as a strategic marketing VP and consultant, an internet adviser to presidential campaigns, an early social-networking entrepreneur, a writer-in-residence at Google, a senior researcher at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, a fellow at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, a Franklin Fellow at the US State Department, and a philosophy professor. His writing has appeared in publications from Wired to Harvard Business Review.

It is clear that his professional career and expertise has enabled Professor Weinberger to provide an impressively informative, thought-provoking, and inherently fascinating study into the complexities of our post-industrial information age. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility" is a work of meticulous scholarship and one that should be a part of every community, college, and university library Artificial Intelligence & Technology collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Everyday Chaos" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.72) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781721383566, $29.99, CD).

Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions
Brad Blosserman
Georgetown University Press
3240 Prospect Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
9781626166684, $32.95, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: The post-Cold War era has been difficult for Japan. A country once heralded for evolving a superior form of capitalism and seemingly ready to surpass the United States as the world's largest economy lost its way in the early 1990s. The bursting of the bubble in 1991 ushered in a period of political and economic uncertainty that has lasted for over two decades.

There were hopes that the triple catastrophe of March 11, 2011 (a massive earthquake, tsunami, and accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant) would break Japan out of its torpor and spur the country to embrace change that would restart the growth and optimism of the go-go years. But several years later, Japan is still waiting for needed transformation. Even disaster has not spurred radical enough reform reveals something about Japan's political system and Japanese society.

"Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions" explains why Japan has not and will not change, concluding that Japanese horizons are shrinking and that the Japanese public has given up the bold ambitions of previous generations and its current leadership. This is a critical insight into contemporary Japan and one that should shape our thinking about this vital country.

Critique: Brad Glosserman is deputy director of and visiting professor at the Tama University Center for Rule Making Strategies in Japan, and a senior advisor at Pacific Forum International, a Honolulu-based think tank; he previously served there as executive director for 16 years. He was a member of The Japan Times editorial board from 1991 to 2001 and continues to serve as a contributing editor there. He is the co-author of The Japan-South Korea Identity Clash.

His professional career has given him a very special expertise and insight into Japanese economics, policies and problems which he has deftly distilled and presented in the pages of "Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions". A sterling work of exceptional scholarship, "Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and a useful ten page Index.

While unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, governmental, college and university library Contemporary International Studies collections in general, and Post-Cold War Japanese Economics supplemental curriculum lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, corporate executives, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $23.58).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

David Bell
c/o Penguin Group USA
9780440000860, $26.00,

Joshua Fields life has become routine, of flights around the country, until he meets at a terminal bar, Morgan, a mysterious woman who changes his life forever. "Layover" opens in a hospital where cops want to talk to Joshua about how and why he has ended up in a hospital bed. He begins his account of events taking the detectives back along a course that is a complicated ride. Bell who is a master of the suspense novel is at the top of his game with "Layover" "Layover" races along to its closing pages that will have readers turning the pages, to finish this remarkable tale of a mystifying lady, who captivates Joshua each time they meet, that are more bizarre with each encounter.

Missing Daughter
Rick Mofina
www.Harlequin com
9780778369196, $9.99

Once again Mofina tells a story in "Missing Daughter" that takes readers along for a thrilling rollercoaster ride to the last page. This time out he tells the story of the Lane family who are a regular people with everyday problems until daughter Maddie disappears without a trace. Along the way the situation will rock the very foundation of the Lanes, as Ryan and Karen learn the truths of their daughter, as well as Ryan's own estranged brother's clan. Along the way many dark secrets that have been buried for a long time will surface as the novel races along. Mofina deftly handles the tale with strong prose, well fleshed out characters set against a parent's worst nightmare scenario. "Missing Daughter" is a stimulating yarn that is for anyone looking for a complicated suspenseful novel

Everything Changes
Bob Williams
Legacy Book Publishing
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park Fl 32789
9781937947718388, $24.95,

Once again, Bob Williams tells a great story that draws on his educator background, in "Everything Changes." Davey Crockett, no relation to the famous one from Tennessee, is the only one of his siblings to not be named for a well know rock star. The tale opens the day before Davey is to be married where a secret, he carries is revealed to his fiance that changes their lives forever. As "Everything Changes" unfolds Davey's life evolves in and out of the United States. Author Williams writes about a close-nit family and how they pull together through the worst and best of times together. There are many issues that include the education system of the country in "Everything Changes" Many readers will relate to "Everything Changes" well written prose, strong characters and believable story line sure to please anyone looking for a glorious novel to devour.

Smuggler's Moon
Doug Haddaway
Stratosphere Publishing Company
9780984249749, $14.95,

I read and reviewed "Smugglers Moon" a while ago when it originally came out but was not too pleased with the overwhelming mistakes it had that detracted from the story. I am pleased that the author has made many changes to the work that make it a lot more enjoyable to read. A veteran pilot from the Viet Nam War becomes embroiled in the drug smuggling world with a mysterious nineteen-year-old female. The reworked Smuggler's Moon" now races along to its final page with interesting characters, realistic flying scenes set against believable situations that make this adventure yarn so much fun to read.

"Where I come from..." Reflections of my youth in West Virginia
Carl Freddy Shinn
Legacy Book Publishing
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park Fl 32789
9781947718302, $19.95,

So much of small-town America has disappeared through the years. Author Carl Freddy Shinn takes readers back to a different time and place in West Virginia in his wonderful retelling of events in his own life in "Where I come from..." He talks about things in Belle including a particular phone poll, television reception back then, milk men and their deliveries are a few of the things he touches on. Though the writings take place in Belle, all of us can relate to the pieces in "Where I come from." to fondly reminisce our own situations as well as enjoy his retelling of events in Shinn's own life.

Out of This World Ideas and the Inventions They Inspired
Edward M. Wysocki, Jr.
Create Space
9781724654038, $17.99,

Over the year's debates have taken place about where things we take for granted ever came from. "Out Of this World Ideas And the Inventions They Inspired" begins to settle the discussion by showing if and how science fiction influenced inventors to create many devices and things we use every day. Some of the revelations are did "Star Trek" play a role in the creation of the cell phone, GPS, and clear metal as brought out in Trek movie 4? Wysocki also reveals where and how the waterbed was created while he also shows authors of science fiction who were also scientists and what they contributed to the world besides their writing. Like his other two books Wysocki has a writing style that is clear to understand as if he is talking directly to the reader. "Out of This World Ideas And the Inventions They Inspired' is fascinating reading for all science friction fans proving with its impressive cover how important it is to catch a person's interest to want to enter the work in question Hopefully this will be a series that will delve further into other things and what helped them to be created.

End Medical Debt: Curing America's $1 Trillion Unpayable Healthcare Debt
Jerry Ashton, Robert Goff, and Craig Antico
Hoku House
9780989224123, $15.95,

The authors who assist people to help pay medical debts write about the medical crisis of this country in all its forms. They open "End Medical Debt" by showing the many problems of the medical field from waste to costs that are sky rocketing out of control and why. Later the three writers tackle solutions that are sound logical and should be instituted by politicians, doctors, the pharmaceuticals and average citizens to resolve the problems. They even approach the VA system pointing out its flaws and what can be done to fix them. "End Medical Debt" is a valuable resource that should be read by every American citizen to make our health care system the best it can be in the world.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Ian Fleming, author
Joe Berger, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover Street, Somerville, Massachusetts 02144
9780763666668, $6.99,

Growing up, I read "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" when it came out, instantly loving it. Today so many years later I enjoyed it even more from an adult perspective, seeing things I never saw before. Fleming, who is the creator of James Bond, wrote "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" for his son Casper. When I tell people about Fleming being the author of both James Bond and this one, they are surprised because the books are so different from each other. Though the movie was an instant hit, it is different from the novel, but both are enjoyable. The story is fun as it magically unfolds to its conclusion. Sadly, Fleming never saw the huge success of both James Bond and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang because he died in 1964 just before it was published and the release of Goldfinger that propelled the Bond franchise to what it is today. The holders of the Fleming estate commissioned another writer to continue the miraculous car to new adventures the same as they found other authors to continue the Bond legacy. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is for all ages to discover and enjoy

Theodore Boone The Scandal
John Grisham
Puffin Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
9780147510198, $8.99,

The wait is over. Theodore Boone is back in "Theodore Boon The Accomplice." This time out Boone helps out a friend in need who goes to jail because of his involvement with a very bad older kid who robbed a convince store. Boone will do anything he can to prevent his friend from serving years in prison. Once again Grisham takes readers along a thrilling ride with fascinating characters with realistic situations. "Theodore Boone The Accomplice" is a great addition to the series of Boone novels

Nobody Hugs A Cactus
Carter Goodrich
Simon & Schuster
9781534400900, $17.99,

"Nobody Hugs A Cactus" Hank a small cactus lives by himself and normally that is fine but today is very different from any other in his live. Now he hooks up with a turtle, a cowboy, a lizard, and an owl. There is also a special character who Hank encounters two different times. Though geared as a children's book with beautiful artwork, "Nobody Hugs A Cactus" has many hidden messages for all ages to enjoy.

Nelly Takes New York: A Little Girl's Adventures in the Big Apple
Allison Pataki and Marya Myers, authors
Kristi Valiant, illustrator
Simon & Schuster
9781534425040, $17.99,

Nelly and her dog Bagel who live in New York go exploring the Big Apple in "Nelly Takes New York." They take in such sites as The Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, and Central Park are just a few of the places they take in on their journey of one of the greatest cities in the world. The authors have done a masterful job of showing the many wonderful different sites and sounds of New York city. "Nelly Takes New York" is a fun filled excursion for everyone to enjoy about the Big Apple.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

From the Ashes (Ravenwood Mysteries Book 1)
Sabrina Flynn
Amazon Digital Services LLC
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
B00KL1E482, $4.99, ebook
9781499661316, $15.00, paperback, 270 pages

From the Ashes is a classic style Holmesian mystery that takes place in turn of the century San Francisco. The historical setting feels real to the reader and the mystery is solid. The story has slightly less Victorian mores so although it reads like a hundred year old classic there is a more modern bite to the story.

Private detective Atticus Riot was wounded when his partner and mentor was killed. Unable to handle the anguish of the killing, he left San Francisco for a tour of the world. He comes back to find the detective agency he now owns is embroiled in a missing woman case and is persuaded to take back the reins of the agency.

From the Ashes is a great classic style mystery. It pulls you into turn-of-the-century San Francisco. The mystery portion of the story is solid but the real grist of the tale are the characters and the setting. In the back of your mind, you know Atticus and missing woman Mrs. Kingston are too good to be true characters but you wish they had existed. The wishing gives the reader a bigger stake in the story. Ashes is an easy recommendation for any mystery reader.

Formation: Age of Expansion - A Kurtherian Gambit Series (The Ghost Squadron Book 1)
Sarah Noffke and Michael Anderle
Amazon Digital Services LLC
LMBPN Publishing
B077DGCVWP, $3.99, ebook, 285 pages

Formation: Age of Expansion is a classic SF military tale. It doesn't break new ground in the genre but for anyone who has enjoyed the classic space operas it is fun read.

Pilot Eddie Teach is retired from the Federation. He is drifting along the edges of the federation getting into bar fights and lost. General Lance Reynolds tracks him down and recruits him to handle a clandestine mission. Someone is organizing attacks on colonial worlds and is generally trying to ferment unrest and war. The General wants Eddie to pilot a stealth ship and find out what is going on.

Formation is a fun space opera. It isn't in the same class as the classic SF novels but it is close enough for the both the new old readers in the genre to have an enjoyable time. It is recommended for any reader who needs a fresh space opera fix and is not looking for something more.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Slaughter on the Otter: The Kendrick Sheep Raid
Forest B. Dunning
Sweetgrass Books
c/o Farcountry Press
PO Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781591522386, $17.95, PB, 112pp,

Synopsis: In mid-November 1900, a herd of sheep crossed a plowed furrow "deadline" which had separated the public ranges for cattle and sheep herds for many years. On the early morning of December 28, 1900, a determined group of cattlemen, led by a future Wyoming Governor and U.S. Senator, destroyed a band of 2,113 head of sheep which had invaded their range. The story was cloaked by a conspiracy of silence for nearly 75 years; finally coming to light 40 years after the Senator's death. Yet some of the facts and motivations remained shrouded in mystery. "Slaughter on the Otter: The Kendrick Sheep Raid" by Forest B. dunning is the full and complete story told for the first time.

Critique: A masterpiece of meticulous and detailed research, "Slaughter on the Otter: The Kendrick Sheep Raid" is an inherently fascinating and exceptionally well presented piece of western American history and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections -- and is a 'must read' for anyone with an interest in an authentic and very real range war between cattlemen and sheep ranchers.

Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies: Lafayette Park, Detroit
Danielle Aubert, Lana Cavar, Natasha Chandani, editors
Metropolis Books
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9781942884408, $29.95, PB, 304pp,

Synopsis: Lafayette Park is a middle-class residential area in downtown Detroit and home to the largest collection of buildings designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in the world. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, it remained one of Detroit's most racially integrated and economically stable neighborhoods, although it was surrounded by evidence of a city in financial distress.

Through interviews with and essays by residents, reproductions of archival material: new photographs by Karin Jobst, Vasco Roma and Corine Vermeulen, and previously unpublished photographs by documentary filmmaker Janine Debanne, "Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies" examines the way that Lafayette Park residents confront and interact with this unique modernist environment. This study is a reaction against the way that iconic modernist architecture is often represented. Whereas other writers may focus on the design intentions of the architect, authors Aubert, Cavar and Chandani seek to show the organic and idiosyncratic ways in which the people who live in Lafayette Park actually use the architecture and how this experience, in turn, affects their everyday lives.

"Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies" was originally published in 2012, two years before the city of Detroit entered into the largest municipal bankruptcy in the country. The new 2019 second edition of "Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies" includes a revised introduction and two new texts by Lafayette Park residents, and authors, Marsha Music and Matthew Piper. Music and Piper reflect on the changes the neighborhood underwent between 2012 and 2018, when the city went through and emerged from bankruptcy and entered into a new phase, as a desirable place for real estate investment.

Critique: Exceptionally informed and informative, this impressive and newly updated study is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library American Architecture & Urban Development history collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Lost and Found In Spain
Susan Lewis Solomont
Disruption Books
9781633310308, $16.99, PB, 276pp,

Synopsis: When her husband was appointed by President Barack Obama to be U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, Susan Solomont uprooted herself. She left her career, her friends and family, and a life she loved to join her husband for a three-and-a-half-year tour overseas.

Part memoir and part travelogue, "Lost and Found In Spain: Tales of An Ambassador's Wife" is the personal story of how Solomont learned the rules of a diplomatic household; went on a culinary adventure with some of Spain's greatest chefs; finds her place in the Madrid Jewish community; and discovers her own voice to create new meaning in her role as a spouse, a community member, and a 21st century woman.

Critique: An inherently interesting memoir that is exceptional for its candor and retrospective informational insights, "Lost and Found In Spain: Tales of An Ambassador's Wife" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lost and Found In Spain" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.90).

The Visual is Political
Na'ama Klorman-Eraqi
Rutgers University Press
106 Somerset St., 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
9781978800328, $99.95, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: "The Visual is Political: Feminist Photography and Countercultural Activity in 1970s Britain" by Na'ama Klorman-Eraqi (who is a Lecturer in the Art History Department at Tel Aviv University in Israel) examines the growth of feminist photography as it unfolded in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s.

This period in Britain was marked by instability following the collapse of the welfare state, massive unemployment, race riots, and workers' strikes. However, this was also a time in which various forms of social activism emerged or solidified, including the Women's Movement, whose members increasingly turned to photography as a tool for their political activism.

Rather than focusing on the aesthetic quality of the images produced, Klorman-Eraqi looks at the application of feminist theory, photojournalism, advertising, photo montage, punk subculture and aesthetics, and politicized street activity to emphasize the statement and challenge that the photographic language of these works posed. She shows both the utilitarian uses of photography in activism, but also how these same photographers went on to be accepted (or co-opted) into the mainstream art spaces little by little, sometimes with great controversy.

"The Visual is Political" highlights the relevance and impact of an earlier contentious, creative, and politicized moment of feminism and photography as art and activism.

Critique: A seminal work of original and insightful scholarship, "The Visual is Political: Feminist Photography and Countercultural Activity in 1970s Britain" is an extraordinary study that is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of thirty-six pages of Notes, an eighteen page Bibliography, and an eleven page Index. Impressively informative and exceptional in organized and presentation, "The Visual is Political" is unreservedly recommended for college and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Visual is Political" is also available in a paperback edition (9781978800311, $29.95).

For Dear Life
Carol Jacobsen
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
9780472073924, $85.00, HC, 216pp,

Synopsis: "For Dear Life: Women's Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus" chronicles feminist and artist Carol Jacobsen's deep commitment to the causes of justice and human rights, and focuses a critical lens on an American criminal-legal regime that imparts racist, gendered, and classist modes of punishment to women lawbreakers.

Jacobsen's tireless work with and for women prisoners is charted in this rich assemblage of images and texts that reveal the collective strategies she and the prisoners have employed to receive justice. "For Dear Life" gives evidence that women's lawbreaking is often an effort to survive gender-based violence.

The faces, letters, and testimonies of dozens of incarcerated women with whom Jacobsen has worked present a visceral yet politicized chorus of voices against the criminal-legal systems that fail us all. Their voices are joined by those of leading feminist scholars in essays that illuminate the arduous methods of dissent that Jacobsen and the others have employed to win freedom for more than a dozen women sentenced to life imprisonment, and to free many more from torturous prison conditions.

"For Dear Life" is a document to Jacobsen's love and lifelong commitment to creating feminist justice and freedom, and to the efficacy of her artistic, legal, and extralegal political actions on behalf of women.

Critique: A fairly unique and impressively organized and presented contribution to the growing library of judicial studies with respect to incarcerated women's issues, "For Dear Life: Women's Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus" is an extraordinary and seminal study of outstanding and meticulously researched scholarship that should be considered a critically important addition to community and academic library Contemporary Judicial Studies collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, social justice advocates, prison reform supporters, government policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "For Dear Life" is also available in a paperback edition (9780472053926, $34.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $33.20).

Folded Wisdom
Joanna Guest
Celadon Books
9781250207791, $20.00, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: For her entire childhood, Joanna's father, Bob, had a ritual: wake up at dawn, walk the dog, and sit down at the kitchen table with a blank pad of paper and plenty of colored markers to craft notes for his two children. Over the years, word games and puzzles for five-year-olds morphed into thoughtful guidance and reflections for his teenagers approaching adulthood.

Now, with more than 3,500 of her father's colorful notes in hand, Joanna has decided that the lessons tucked inside are worth sharing. "Folded Wisdom: Notes from Dad on Life, Love, and Growing Up" highlights the collection of Bob's notes, telling a story filled with universal values that encourages meaningful self-reflection - about how we all face successes and failures; express happiness and sadness; and communicate frustration, praise, and love to one another.

Heartfelt and full of possibility for the future, a father's folded notes and drawings are timeless reminders of love.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "Folded Wisdom: Notes from Dad on Life, Love, and Growing Up" is an extraordinary compendium of insightful commentary that the reader will experience as though listening in on a an extraordinary conversation laced with practical wisdom and unexpected observation. While especially recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Folded Wisdom: Notes from Dad on Life, Love, and Growing Up" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

That's What She Said
Joanne Lipman
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062437211, $28.99, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: There is no 'man shaming in' in Joanne Lipman's "That's What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together". A recent Harvard study found that corporate "diversity training" has actually made the gender gap worse -- in part because it makes men feel demonized. Women, meanwhile, have been told closing the gender gap is up to them: they need to speak up, to be more confident, to demand to be paid what they're worth. They discuss these issues amongst themselves all the time. What they don't do is talk to men about it.

It's time to end that disconnect. More people in leadership roles are genuinely trying to transform the way we work together, because there's abundant evidence that companies with more women in senior leadership perform better by virtually every measure. Yet despite good intentions, men often lack the tools they need, leading to fumbles, missteps, frustration and misunderstanding that continue to inflict real and lasting damage on women's careers.

"That's What She Said" solves for that dilemma. Filled with illuminating anecdotes, data from the most recent studies, and stories from Joanne Lipman's own journey to the top of a male-dominated industry, "That's What She Said" shows how women can win their goals for equality and equity by reaching across the gender divide.

What can the Enron scandal teach us about the way men and women communicate professionally? How does brain chemistry help explain men's fear of women's emotions at work? Why did Kimberly Clark have an all-male team of executives in charge of their Kotex tampon line? What can we learn from Iceland's campaign to "feminize" an entire nation? "That's What She Said" shows why empowering women as true equals is an essential goal for women and men -- and offers a roadmap for getting there.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "That's What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. Especially recommended to anyone and everyone who is striving for women's political, economic, and human rights, it should be noted for personal reading lists that Joanne Lipman's "That's What She Said" is also available in a paperback edition (9780062437228, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Joanne Lipman is one of the nation's leading journalists. She most recently was Chief Content Officer of Gannett and Editor-in-Chief of USA TODAY and the USA TODAY NETWORK, comprising the flagship publication plus 109 local newspapers, totaling more than 3,000 journalists. Under her leadership, the Network earned three Pulitzer Prizes.

A Better World Starts Here
Stacy Russo
Sanctuary Publishers
9780998994666, $14.99, PB, 308pp,

Synopsis: Compiled by Stacy Russo, "A Better World Starts Here: Activists and Their Work" presents the stories of activists contributing towards the common good within their communities and beyond in a commitment to eradicate various forms of injustice and oppression. This is a book of struggle but also a book of hope, joy, and liberation.

"A Better World Starts Here" should be considered as essential reading for anyone wishing to find empowerment and guidance, the stories of activists such as Michelle Carrera (Chilis on Wheels), activist poet Judy Grahn, Sarah Rafael García (Barrio Writers), vegan and ecofeminist writer Carol J. Adams, feminist anthropologist Ruth Behar, Sonya Renee Taylor (The Body is Not an Apology), Kameke Brown (Farm Sanctuary), Steve Bell (Prison Library Project), Bamby Salcedo (TransLatin@ Coalition) and many others will inspire, support, and ultimately, provide promise for a better world for all readers -- whether new or seasoned to activism.

Critique: For any democracy to survive its citizenry must be engaged in the solving of political, social, cultural, economic, environmental, and community problems, issues, concerns and inequalities that, if untended, could erode and even end it. "A Better World Starts Here" should be a part of every community, college, and university library collection in the country. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Better World Starts Here" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99). It should also be noted that sales from "A Better World Starts Here" will be donated quarterly to the BBIPoC activists featured in its pages.

The Road to Power
Barbara Berger
O Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785358142, $19.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: "The Road to Power: Fast Food for the Soul" is Barbara Berger's is about power of the mind, about the ways in which you can take control of your life and create the life you've always wanted to live.

But how do you take control? In this highly practical volume of insightful commentary and instruction, "The Road to Power" gives us the tools and then guides us, step by step, into how we can change our lives by changing our thinking. If your life is not working, or you just want it to work better, here's a simple yet effective way to look inside yourself and see what you can do about money, relationships, love, your health, family, work, peace, joy, and much more.

And it will be faster and easier than you ever dreamed possible.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Road to Power: Fast Food for the Soul" is one of those life changing, life shaping, life enhancing instructional and motivational guides that is especially commended to the attention of anyone seeking to improve themselves in terms of successfully dealing with the stresses and pressures that contemporary life can impose upon us. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Road to Power: Fast Food for the Soul" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: American-born and currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark, Barbara Berger is the author of fifteen self-empowerment books. After Barbara left the USA to protest against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, she settled in Scandinavia and continued her quest to learn more about the science of the mind, spirituality and psychology. Today, she gives workshops and coaching to help her clients harness the power of their own minds.

The Emperor's Orphans
Sally Ito
Turnstone Press
9780888015679, $21.00, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: During the Second World War, approximately 4,000 Japanese-Canadians were "repatriated" to Japan. Among those Canadians sent back to were members of author and poet, Sally Ito's own family.

As a Japanese Canadian child growing up in the suburbs of Edmonton, Alberta, Ito's early life was a lone island of steamed tofu and vegetables amidst a sea of pot roast and mashed potatoes. Through the Redress movement of the late 80s, the eventual Parliamentary acknowledgment of wartime injustices, and the restoration of citizenship to those exiled to Japan she considers her work as an author of poetry and prose, meditating on themes of culture and identity.

Later as a wife and mother of two, Sally returned to Japan and re-lived the displacement of her family through interviews, letters, and shared memories. Throughout her personal Journey in Sally weaves a compelling narrative of her family's journey through the darkest days of the Pacific War, its devastating aftermath, and the repercussions on cultural identity for all of those called the Emperor's Orphans.

Critique: Deftly written, deeply personal and impressively informative, "The Emperor's Orphans" is an extraordinary blend of personal memoir and cultural/political history born of wartime fears and defensive policies. An extraordinary, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "The Emperor's Orphans" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Emperor's Orphans" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.64).

Editorial Note: Born in Taber, Alberta, Sally Ito is a writer, editor, and translator. She is an instructor of Creative Writing and a former blog contributor to a children's multicultural literature blog, PaperTigers. She currently lives in Winnipeg with her husband and two children.

Helen Dumont

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Ripley Publishing

Two brand new and very highly recommended picture books from Ripley Publishng feature fun and engaging stories around more Ripley's Aquarium mascots, this time Gabby the sea turtle and Norman the penguin. Filled with expressive illustrations by John Graziano, and silly situations, and lovable characters by the team of Carrie Bolin and Jessica Firpi, kids and parents alike will be enchanted by each of these charming "tails"!

In "Gabby and the Dark" (9781609912567, $16.99, HC, 40pp) Gabby's not afraid of the dark! Well, maybe just a little. Children ages 5-7 can join Gabby as she explores the deep, dark ocean. Told from Gabby's point of view, the kids will relate to how scary the dark can feel but, like Gabby, will be assured that they, too, can conquer their fear and maybe even make a new friend in the process!

In "Norman and the Fight" (9781609912574, $16.99, HC, 40pp) who says penguins can't fly? Young readers ages 6-7 will join the adorable Norman as he searches for a way to accomplish the impossible. Told from Norman's point of view, enthusiastic children will giggle at Norman's silly attempts and relate to his disappointment at his failures. Will Norman ultimately find a way to fly? There's only one way to find out!

Editorial Note: A globally renowned authority on the weird, the eccentric, and the amazing, Ripley's Believe It or Not! also provides entertaining books for children of all ages which educates and informs them in a humorous style. The Ripley brand is known around the world as a trend-setting source of family-friendly fun and excitement! Every day the researchers at Ripley's are busy digging up the craziest true stories and the most unbelievable facts.

ARE Press

Edgar Cayce (March 18, 1877 - January 3, 1945) was an American clairvoyant who answered questions on subjects as varied as healing, reincarnation, wars, Atlantis, and future events while allegedly asleep. A biographer gave him the nickname, The Sleeping Prophet. A nonprofit organization, the Association for Research and Enlightenment, was founded to facilitate the study of Cayce's work -- especially through their publishing activities as the ARE Press.

Long before traditional medicine began examining the impact the mind has on physical health, America's "father of holistic medicine", Cayce was laying the groundwork for one of the most fascinating truths presented in the 20th century: What one thinks and feels emotionally will find expression in the physical body.

Mental patterns can have a direct impact on good physical health or disease. The wisdom of Edgar Cayce reveals that in order to maintain a healthy weight, addressing calories is only half the story. The other half deals with both physiological and psychological factors--which can all be identified, controlled, and conquered!

Written by Anne Hunt and edited by Eric Mein MD, a trilogy of books are now available as part of the 'Natural Remedies for Common Ailments & Conditions series through the ARE Press that can help helping the reader to identify their unique sources for dealing with weight issues; relieve the pain and stress of head aches; and take proper care of the largest organ of the body -- the skin.

These three paperback, pocket sized little volumes include: "Weight No More: A Weigh-Loss Program That Can Work" (9780876042601, $8.95, 76pp); "Relieve Your Aching Head: Holistic Tips for Soothing Head and Neck Aches" (9780876042809, $8.95, 85pp); "Saving Your Skin: Holistic Tips for Healthy Skin and Hair" (9780876042625, $8.95, 71pp).

Thoroughly 'user friendly' in commentary, organization and presentation, all three of these informative holistically oriented self-help medical instructional guides are very highly recommended for both personal and community library Alternative Health & Medicine collections in general, and Edgar Cayce supplemental studies lists in particular.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

The Dao in Action: Inspired Tales for Life
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594396519, $16.95, PB, 236pp,

Synopsis: Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming is a world-renowned author, scholar, and teacher. He has been involved in Chinese martial arts since 1961. Dr. Yang's writing and teaching include the subjects of kung fu, tai chi chuan, and meditation, and he is a leading authority on qigong. Dr. Yang is the author of over 35 books and 80 videos.

"The Dao in Action: Inspired Tales for Life" is collection of fables in which Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming shares the stories that have influenced him most as a martial artist and lifelong student of the Dao. They bring the Dao to life for readers of all generations. Whoever we are, wherever we're going, these short tales help us along the path -- the Way. Some offer the traveler a moral compass. Some illustrate the dangers in human folly. Others just make us laugh. The Dao in Action will inspire young readers to refine their character. Older readers will smile and recognize moments of truth. This collection is for anyone who would like to explore the enduring lessons of martial wisdom.

Fables entertain us, enlighten us, and guide us. We recognize ourselves in the characters, be they emperors, village girls, or singing frogs. They help us see our own weaknesses, strengths, and possibilities. Their lessons transcend time and culture, touching what it really means to be alive.

For example, in life we must ask questions, learn from others, and find our place in the world. On the other hand, there is real danger in worrying too much about what others think. This lesson is clear?and very humorous?in the story "A Donkey, a Father, and a Son." We must help others and give of ourselves, but we must also guard against those who would take advantage of us, as in "The Wolf, the Scholar, and the Old Man." We should save our money and plan for the future, but we must also resist greed, lest we end up "A Rich Man in Jail."

These lean, concise fables illustrate that balance, the duality of yin and yang, always shifting, always in correction. They help us laugh at our human predicaments -- and maybe even at ourselves.

Critique: Wonderfully entertaining while impressively inspirational, "The Dao in Action: Inspired Tales for Life" is an extraordinary collection of fables that rival anything ever attributed to Aesop. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Dao in Action: Inspired Tales for Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Robot Revolution
John Hudson
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781788974479, $110.00, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: As it has for the past thirty years, in the coming decades robots and artificial intelligence will continue to fundamentally change our world. In doing so they offer the hope of a golden future, one where the elderly are looked after by companion robots, where the disabled can walk, robot security protects us all, remote rural areas have access to the best urban facilities and there is almost limitless prosperity.

But there are dangers. There are fears in the labor market that robots will replace jobs, leaving many unemployed, and increase inequality. In relying too much on robots, people may reduce their human contact and see their cognitive abilities decline. There are even concerns, reflected in many science fiction films, that robots may eventually become competitors with humans for survival.

In "The Robot Revolution: Understanding the Social and Economic Impact", The late John Hudson (formerly Department of Economics, University of Bath, UK) looks at both the history of robots, in science and in fiction, as well as the science behind robots. Specific chapters analyze the impact of robots on the labor market, people's attitudes to robots, the impact of robots on society, and the appropriate policies to pursue to prepare our world for the robot revolution. Overall the book strikes a cautionary tone. Robots will change our world dramatically and they will also change human beings.

These important issues are examined from the perspective of an economist, but "The Robot Revolution" is intended to appeal to a wider audience in the social sciences and beyond.

Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of lists of figures, tables, and acronyms, "The Robot Revolution: Understanding the Social and Economic Impact" also includes a thirteen page list of References and a three page Index. Exceptionally well organized, "The Robot Revolution" is a deftly presented work of extraordinary scholarship that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, university Contemporary Economics & Contemporary Social Issues collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

In Pursuit of Health and Longevity: Wellness Pioneers through the Centuries
Cal Samra
Robert D. Reed Publishers
9781944297305, $14.95

Health, Physical Fitness, Longevity, Wellness

I am so fortunate to have Cal Samra's book "In Pursuit of Health and Longevity" come to my attention at this time. I have recently been establishing personal goals in regards to developing a healthier lifestyle, including; physical fitness, health and wellness, mental alertness, and an exemplary contagious faith.

Sal gleans from the wisdom of "Wellness Pioneers through the Centuries" to reveal a commonality among theological and philosophical traditions. Fast moving, poignant stories, pertinent illustrations, hilarious quips, and thought-provoking quotes fill the pages of the book.

From the Hebrew prophet Daniel to the centuries of Jesus and the apostles, the unmercenary Greek physicians Cosmos and Damian M. D.s of the third century, and historical health pioneers. He also explores the philosophies of more contemporary religious leaders of all faiths, health professionals, counselors, philosophers, professional athletes, dieticians, and nutritionists.

Cal Samra is known for his work as lay executive director of the Huxley Institute for Biosocial Research as well as editor of the "Joyful Noise Letters," a publication providing jokes and anecdotes to pastors to use in their sermons or church publications to introduce light-hearted humor emphasizing the healing power of laughter. This same humor carries throughout "In Pursuit of Health and Longevity."

As I read a few pages, I pondered the implications and applications for pursuing a healthy lifestyle. In another few pages, I laughed from the depth of my belly. The mood changed again - tears flowed, followed by a sense of gratefulness.

"In Pursuit of Health and Longevity - Wellness Pioneers through the Centuries" is a must-read for individuals concerned with health, nutrition, and fitness as well as personal trainers, pastors, and physicians.

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

Brain Storm: An Electrifying Journey
Kate Recore
Robert D. Reed Publishers
9781944297466, $14.95, 176 pages

Informative, Inspirational, Moving and Challenging

Kate Recore introduces the reader to her world - an unknown stormy journey of night seizures, stress, anxiety, physicians, specialists, and diagnosis errors. Hers is a story of "new norms," setbacks, and forward leaps.

Kate's writing is superb - every detail adds to the suspense, empathy, and the experience of vicariously living through the nightmares, seizures, memory lapses, and another misdiagnosis.

"Brain Storm - An Electrifying Journey" is heartwarming, inspirational, and informative, calling for involvement in a crusade bringing to the fore the myths of Epilepsy: encouraging others to tell of their struggles with the disease, and to spread awareness and understanding of the "Brian Storm" of Epilepsy.

Personal experiences, family challenges, and an eighteen-year journey with my wife's Alzheimer's disease helps me to identify with Kate's struggles and victories. I can emphasize with the victims of epilepsy, their families, and friends. I can highly recommend Kate Recore's book "Brain Storm."

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

The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Water Spirits
Jennifer Leclaire
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
9780768442946, $16.99 208 pages

Spiritual Warfare Revelations and Strategies to Defeat Them

In her book "The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Water Spirits" Jennifer Leclaire introduces the reader how to recognize and overcome the squeezing stronghold of the Python, detect the lies of the Leviathan, over the spirit of Rahab, and to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit to gain victory to overcome the spiritual forces of water spirits.

Leclaire sheds light on the "Mystery of Behemoth;" provides a new awareness of the spirit of Dagan and the influences of Merman spirits.

The impact of these spirits is prevalent in business today as seen through "the love of money," in the entertainment industry through an exaggerated emphasis on graphic violence, sexual immorality, an ideology that impacts our families and homes and introduces false gods into church rites and religious teaching.

Step by step Jennifer provides the reader with guidelines to "overcoming demons that twist, suffocate and attack God's purposes for your life.

Jennifer's writes with clarity, has done extensive research that is well documented, and she is convincing in her approach.

"The Spiritual Warrior's Guide to Defeating Water Spirits" is an important study for today's culture.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Oregon's Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide
Chandra LeGue
Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781680512014, $26.95, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: "Oregon's Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide" by Chandra LeGue is a guidebook with a purpose: to inspire readers to learn about and visit Oregon's rapturous old-growth forests, and then love them enough to keep them protected.

But it is not just for hikers, sponsored by Oregon Wild this information packed guide explains where the forests are and who manages them, the threats they face, and an action plan for protecting what remains and restoring damaged forests so they may become the ancient forests of the future.

Author Chandra LeGue also discusses forest ecology, flora, and fauna and also details 91 of her favorite hikes across the state. Each showcased hike features: Trailhead GPS coordinates and driving directions; Trail distance, elevation gain, difficulty level, and best season to visit; Type and protection status of the forest; Full-color maps and photos.

Critique: While unreservedly recommended for community library Oregon based Travel Guide collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists (especially as a take-along reference for backpackers) that "Oregon's Ancient Forests: A Hiking Guide" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.68).

Editorial Note: Chandra LeGue moved to Oregon in 1999 to earn her master's degree in environmental studies at the University of Oregon. The Western Oregon Field Coordinator for Oregon Wild, Chandra lives in Eugene with her husband and can be visited on Instagram @OregonWild.

Lions of the Desert
Samuel Marquis
Mount Sopris Publishing
9781943593255, $16.99, PB, 378pp,

Synopsis: A true tale of WWII espionage, romance, and derring-do in the North African desert, "Lions of the Desert" by Samuel Marquis is told through the eyes of six historical figures that lived through the epic events: Scottish Colonel David Stirling, leader of the Special Air Service, a brigade of eccentric desert commandos that raided Axis airfields and supply lines; German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the vaunted Africa Corps, who very nearly succeeded in driving the British out of Egypt; Egyptian Hekmat Fahmy, the famous belly dancer, regarded as a Mata-Hari-like German agent in previous accounts but in fact a far more intriguing and ambiguous character in real life; Major A.W. Sansom, head of the British Field Security unit that hunted down Axis spies and pro-German Egyptian nationalists operating in Cairo; Johannes Eppler, the notorious German spy of Operation Condor whose real story is finally told; and Colonel Bonner Fellers, the U.S. military attache in Cairo, who was privy to Allied secrets in the North African theater and inadvertently played an important role in intelligence-gathering activities for both sides in the campaign.

Critique: The stuff of which blockbuster movies are made, "Lions of the Desert" is an impressively researched, deftly written, and exceptionally well presented epic that will have particular appeal for World War II military buffs. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lions of the Desert" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Nailed To The Crossbar
Ronald A. Smith
Mt. Nittany Press
c/o Eifrig Publishing
9781632334091, $24.95, PB, 274pp,

Synopsis: Nailed to the Crossbar focuses on what the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its Consent Decree did to Penn State, cumulating in two lawsuits against the NCAA for illegally punishing Penn State and damaging coach Joe Paterno's legacy.

Critique: An erudite defense of Penn State coach Joe Paterno and the NCAA controversy that devastated his professional career, "Nailed To The Crossbar: From the NCAA-Penn State Consent Decree to the Joe Paterno Family Lawsuit" offers an impressively detailed and documented account. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nailed To The Crossbar" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99)

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Book of Forging
Karl Gissing
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764357374, $19.99, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: Specifically designed to provide a quick-reference overview that explains the basics of all aspects of blacksmithing, "The Book of Forging" with more than 450 photos, focuses on only the most essential tools and equipment. In "The Book of Forging", forging expert Karl Gissing keeps the information simple for the beginner.

Summaries cover the tools of forging, their uses, and the essential equipment in the work space; the differences among free-form forging, drop forging, industrial, hot work, and cold work; the steps of the process, such as bending, joining, riveting, welding, chiseling off, and splitting; and the chemistry of iron and steel. "The Book of Forging" also shows a gallery of 44 types of forged items, from hooks to tool handles, with comments on their forged features.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout and highly recommended for personal and community library collections, "The Book of Forging: Basic Techniques and Examples" by Karl Gissing is an ideal instruction manual and guide for novice blacksmiths as well as anyone looking to brush up their forging skills.

Practical Project Management for Engineers
Nehal Patel
Artech House
685 Canton Street, Norwood, MA 02062
9781630815851, $95.00, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: Nehal Patel is a program management and systems development expert with strong systems engineering and integration (SE&I) background with a proven history of successful completion by championing customer requirements, risks, budget, & schedule. She is currently a senior program manager at a large defense aerospace company. She received her M.S. from Loyola Marymount University.

In "Practical Project Management for Engineers" Nehal Patel draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provide an new and invaluable instructional resource guide that takes her readers through a step-by-step process on how to deliver quality, robust products and services while strengthening teams and customer relationships.

Drawing especially on Nehal Patel's extensive knowledge in aerospace and defense contracting, "Practical Project Management for Engineers" shares real world examples to recover schedule, cost and performance, explaining the tools, techniques, and methodologies to ensure success. It compares NASA, Department of Defense (DoD), and Project Management Institute (PMI) processes and provides best practices that work in the real world to deliver quality products on time and on budget.

Critique: A complete and comprehensive instructional study, "Practical Project Management for Engineers" by Nehal Patel is ideal for use as a curriculum textbook and a highly recommended addition to personal, professional, corporate, college, and university library Project Management collections and supplemental studies lists.

Beyond the Lies
Vanderbilt Brabson III
Doretha Publishing
9780982842737, $19.99, PB, 464pp,

Synopsis: Surpassing the expectations his father had for him, Anthony Morgan is poised to be the biggest phenomenon baseball has seen in years. Anthony's future is set. He has worked hard for it, dreamed about it all his life, and can practically taste it! However, what Anthony could not foresee was the untimely death of the mentor and hero that was his father. This tragedy started a downward spiral of bad decisions, which ultimately threaten Anthony's life and future in baseball.

Seeking to overcome the scars from her abusive, alcoholic father, Jesse Cartwright, Anthony's best friend from childhood, is determined to make something of her life. Tomboyish in every way, at times her stubbornness puts her in direct conflict with Anthony's other friends. A born fighter, she ultimately proves to be tougher than every boy in the neighborhood and the only friend Anthony can really count on.

As Anthony battles his inner demons in his march toward glory, and Jesse struggles through her own personal tragedies and loss, their paths grow apart. Eventually the two discover their lives are somehow intertwined and neither will truly realize his or her dreams without the other.

Critique: Basically a coming of age story by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a distinctive narrative storytelling style, "Beyond the Lies" by Vanderbilt Brabson is a thoroughly reader engaging novel that is especially recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Beyond the Lies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Paul T. Vogel

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

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