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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 7 July 2024 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf Diane Donovan's Bookshelf Gary Roen's Bookshelf
Helen Dumont's Bookshelf John Taylor's Bookshelf Mary Cowper's Bookshelf
Micah Andrew's Bookshelf Michael Dunford's Bookshelf Paul Vogel's Bookshelf
S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf Suzie Housley's Bookshelf  

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf

Data Ethics, second edition
Katherine O'Keefe & Daragh O Brien
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398610293, $201.00, HC, 400pp

Synopsis: Ever evolving, data-gathering technology is more sophisticated than ever, as are the ethical standards for using this data. This newly updated and expanded second edition of "Data Ethics: Practical Strategies for Implementing Ethical Information Management and Governance" by co-authors Katherine O'Keefe and Daragh O Brien shows how to navigate this complex environment.

"Data Ethics" provides a practical framework for the implementation of ethical principles into information management systems. It shows how to assess the types of ethical dilemmas organizations might face as they become more data-driven. This fully updated second edition from Kogan Page includes guidance on sustainability and environmental management and on how ethical frameworks can be standardized across cultures that have conflicting values. There is also discussion of data colonialism, the challenge of ethical trade-offs with ad-tech and analytics such as Covid-19 tracking systems and case studies on Smart Cities and Demings Principles.

As the pace of developments in data-processing technology continues to increase, it is vital to capitalize on the opportunities this affords while ensuring that ethical standards and ideals are not compromised. Collaboratively co-written by two internationally regarded experts in the field, "Data Ethics" is the essential guide for students and practitioners to optimizing ethical data standards in organizations.

Critique: While also readily available for the personal reading lists of students, academia, aspiring corporate data managers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject in a paperback edition (9781398610279, $62.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $62.99), "Data Ethics: Practical Strategies for Implementing Ethical Information Management and Governance, second edition" must be considered an essential and core addition to professional, community, corporate, and college/university library Information/Library Management & Business Ethics collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1 Katherine O'Keefe is currently works with Ireland's national water utility, Uisce Eireann, and is on the teaching faculty of the Law Society of Ireland's Diploma Centre. Katherine has designed and developed an international professional accreditation scheme for Information Management for which she was awarded the DAMA International Professional Achievement Award in 2017, and she was a contributing editor to the DAMA Data Management Book of Knowledge 2nd edition. She was a member of the Scottish Government's National Expert Group on Digital Ethics between 2019-2022, is a contributor to Information Ethics Research at the ADAPT Centre at Trinity College Dublin and served on the steering committee for the ADAPT Centre's ELITE-S fellowship at Dublin City University. In 2019 she was recognized as one of the DPO 200 by the Data Protection World Forum for significant contributions to the privacy and security sectors.

Editorial Note #2: Daragh O Brien is the founder and managing director of Castlebridge, a leading data strategy consultancy based in Ireland. He has worked for almost three decades on the business side of data, helping change how people in organizations think about data. He is also a Fellow of the Irish Computer Society and an IAPP Fellow of Information Privacy and lectures in Data Protection and Data Governance in the Sutherland School of Law in University College Dublin. Daragh O Brien is also a founding member of the Strategic Advisory Board to the School of Business in Maynooth University and a member of the Leaders' Data Organisation (, a collaborative think-tank of data management consultants. He is an active research contributor to the Innovation Value Institute ( at Maynooth University and the Adapt Centre ( in Trinity College Dublin.

The Coach's Casebook
Joan Swart & Christine Guirguis
Kogan Page Inc.
9781398610491, $131.00, HC, 432pp

Synopsis: What skills do I need to craft clear and effective coaching questions? How do I set goals for my clients? What do I need to be aware of when coaching with different personalities and facing mental health conditions?

With the publication of "The Coach's Casebook: Skills, Tools and Techniques for Effective Coaching", co-authors Joan Swart and Christine Guirguis answers these questions and provides coaches with a thorough grounding in the knowledge, competencies, tools and techniques they need to coach employees to reach their full potential. "The Coach's Casebook" also explains how these coaching tools and techniques apply in practice to boost personal development, performance and well-being.

Additionally, "The Coach's Casebook" provides extensive coverage on how to apply coaching interventions to manage work-life balance and prevent burnout at work and at home, and how to combine coaching and mindfulness as well as how to encourage clients to develop a growth mindset and reframe imposter syndrome.

Included is specific guidance on active listening, coaching high-performers and those with high-potential, leadership coaching, coaching minorities and underrepresented groups and how to coach challenging personalities is also given.

"The Coach's Casebook" is a 'real world' practical guide, supported by case studies and scenarios throughout taking from real-life coaching, is for those new to coaching and those in the intermediate stages of their career. Essentially, "The Coach's Casebook" comprises everything needed to allow clients to flourish.

Critique: Expertly written, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Coach's Casebook: Skills, Tools and Techniques for Effective Coaching" will be of particular interest and value to readers with an interest in achieving an effective work/life balance, or who have been given mentoring/coaching responsibilities in business. While an extraordinary and definitively recommended pick for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781398610477. $35.98) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.79), this edition of co-author Joan Swart and Christine Guirguis' "The Coach's Casebook" from Kogan Page is a core addition to community, corporate, and college/university library Business Leadership collections and supplemental MBA curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Joan Swart, PSYD forensic psychology and MBA, is a coaching psychologist, researcher and author. She has developed several individual, organizational and leadership curricula, including at the Jay Shetty Certification School, and is an accredited supervisor at the Association of Coaching. She is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Editorial Note #2: Christine Guirguis is an Association For Coaching Certified Productivity and Performance Coach. With a passion to discover and unlock the secret of living life to one's full potential she created the Human Potential Diagram and the 7 Keys of Discovery. She's also the community leader of Connecting with Christine, which unites like minded people to level up their lives through sought out challenges and workshops. She has also founded Advaya Project which provides people with the tools they need to reach their true potential. She is based in Egypt.

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

Head Fake
Scott Gordon
Maxwell Street Books
9798990103504, $27.99 Hardcover/$15.99 Paperback/$4.99 ebook

Head Fake is a novel about basketball, second chances, and coaching a team of kids who drove away their last coach. These kids hold a reputation for especially dangerous attitudes in a high school already devoted to high-risk offenders who show symptoms of mental illness.

Under these conditions, and given his own failure to control his mental condition, how can twenty-five-year-old coach Mikey succeed against the odds and efforts of those who presumably were far wiser and mentally more competent than he?

Surprisingly, he finds that his mental condition actually proves to be a strength as he addresses this mixed bag of upstarts and delinquents on a level that most adults and prior leaders haven't understood.

But, is the cost of such a great effort another mental breakdown, or will it lead to healing?

Readers who navigate Mikey's world and the uncertainty of his pathway to success and personal mental health will find Head Fake a rousing story of failure, success, and relationships. It introduces unexpected insights and connections for adults and kids who also struggle with mental conditions.

Scott Gordon creates a multifaceted story that includes Mikey's family relationships and influences as his casual foray into coaching becomes both a profession and a point of conflict:

"'Mikey couldn't coach a dish from the sink to the dishwasher,' said my old man. The camera pushed in a foot from my face, allowing me to see my distorted reflection in the lens, which felt about right. This wasn't how I wanted my old man to learn I'd encroached into his sacred world.
'Little birdie told me you were coaching,' said Knowles. 'I drive a bus for the Mary Friedman Alternative High School and their coach quit, so I'm just helping out - no big deal,' I said, attempting to lessen the blow."

A father convinced that his son is "always looking for a way to embarrass me"; a son taking tentative late steps into finding his life abilities and passion independent of his mental challenges; and kids that fall under his leadership and inadvertently absorb new lessons about their own illnesses, impulses, and ideals makes for a riveting story of discovery.

As conflict rages over student fights and administration processes, a wry tone of ironic humor permeates the novel, lending it just the right flavor of insight and fun to keep readers both enjoying and thinking.

The result is a late-stage coming-of-age story; a foray into mental health and recovery; an examination of intergenerational relationships; and an uplifting success story that navigates many mine fields of failure before achieving its goals.

Libraries will find Head Fake satisfyingly hard to narrowly define and easy to recommend to patrons looking for realistic, streetwise stories of transition and change.

Sparks of the Revolution
Todd Harrison Otis
Modern History Press
9781615997879, $35.00 Hardcover/$21.95 Paperback/$6.95 eBook

Sparks of the Revolution: James Otis and the Birth of American Democracy is a novel that is steeped in the birth of the American democracy. It narrows its focus to a small band of patriots led by the words of James Otis, whose argument against the Writs of Assistance led Boston first to resist British rule and triggered events that led to Revolution.

Otis contributed much to the foundations of the early American democracy through his legal pursuits and their concurrent political impact. He led the growing opposition to the British with the charge that the rights of the colonies were independent of foreign rule, and he helped influence and establish the framework by which the American democracy was formed.

The sparks lit by this 1700s patriot are especially important for modern audiences to understand, considering the current challenges to long-held democratic principles and the arguments that swirl between historical precedent and modern political ideals.

Todd Harrison Otis couches his novel in dramatic experiences and history. This approach lends a compelling touch to its real-world foundations:

"What Bostonians found most vexing, and which added fuel to the fire of Boston resistance, was that Governor Hutchinson's sons were two of the specially designated consignees of the East India Company tea. The crowd of resisters resented Thomas and Elisha Hutchinson for flagrantly ignoring the non-importation agreements in the late 1760s; it was only natural the Sons of Liberty sought to stigmatize them. The Hutchinson sons, like their father, came to see how despised they had become."

Under Otis's hand, the culture, politics, and perceptions of the times come to life, inviting contemporary contrasts between modern events and history.

From massacres and alliances to the incendiary flames of battle and increasing confrontations, Sparks of the Revolution brings the past to vivid life in a manner that invites understanding and interest through its detailed contrasts between social and political visionaries of the times.

The result is especially highly recommended to libraries and readers looking for fictional surveys that are engrossing, imparting a "you are here" feel to events that make it easier to understand the roots of American culture and revolution, whether they be past or present-day.

Men Who Walk in Dreams
Marisa Labozzetta
Guernica Editions
9781771839075, $17.95

Men Who Walk in Dreams is a collection of stories about men and women who confront their influences and life progressions. The title story opens the collection with a reflective process that muses on early influences and attitudes:

"...when you are deemed the worst from conception, your possibilities are limitless and your desires, no matter how destructive, never unrealistic."

The narrator embraces an early recognition that she is different from everyone else, the evolving relationship she has with Father Salvator Nania (who is both a spiritual advisor and the object of her attraction), and the journey they undertake together from the sleepy Italian village of Fossato Serralta to America, where anything is possible.

Many times, the narrative style widens to embrace bigger-picture thinking:

"That's how it was, whether people walked or drove; they couldn't be seen until they had climbed the steep road that branched off from a wider one, dotted with other farms, that led to the main route."

How she can cultivate relationships with men who "walk in dreams only" forms the crux of an inviting journey of immigrant experience and new discoveries.

In contrast is "The Intruder," which is set in Boston and follows an encounter between an American woman and a middle-aged French stranger. As the story evolves, kismet enters the scenarios traveled by a woman who experiences desire, mourning, and lost youth coalescing in unusual ways.

Each tale offers a different setting, focus, realization, and experience. Each provides much food for thought about ambitions, assumptions, thwarted love and relationships, and the efforts of disparate characters to redefine their realities.

The result is a short story collection highly recommended as a literary read for both men and women and reading groups interested in the intersection of reality and 'magical thinking.' Libraries will find it easy to recommend Men Who Walk in Dreams for its intriguing diversity and literary and psychological strengths.

House of Honor
Margaret Philbrick
Ambassador International
9781649604231, $32.99 Hardcover/$25.99 Paperback/$4.99 eBook

Readers who enjoy intrigue, the art world, novels that revolve around 1960s European atmosphere, Mafia activities, and unexpected involvements between the Vatican and the art world will find House of Honor: The Heist of Caravaggio's Nativity a powerful narrative. It combines the best strengths of intrigue, suspense, art world escapades, and political subterfuge.

The action swirls around two Italian sons whose relationship is frayed by their connections to the art world, each another, and their changing definitions of honor as wayward son Orazio Bordoni discovers that his heroes and influences are both questionable.

His association with Nicolo Giotto, whose Sicilian Mafia family has instilled within him convictions about honor and love that clash with convention, injects a new sense of discovery and despair into his actions, reactions, and confrontations both within and outside the art world. This tests his admiration for his art hero Caravaggio's work, creating questions about its real value.

Associate Nicolo adds a deeper flavor of psychological inspection and motivation to the story through his reconsiderations of family values and his own trajectory and ambitions:

"Honors. His father deserved a great deal of respect - he'd earned his title - but honor was something different. Onore: to earn respect by doing the right thing, repeatedly; by sticking to an action despite opposition; to display chastity and virtue. He'd looked up the definition many times because his father demanded honor, but he also blurred the defining lines of honor. Nicolo struggled to secure his place in their family in the midst of this unfolding enterprise of conflicting values."

The contrasts and dances between these two characters blend with other interests and influences in art and crime to bring a sense of discovery and surprise to events which test both young men.

Enigmas and love abound as each is revealed in a different manner. Their friendship brings new baggage and introduces insights into their endeavors.

Margaret Philbrick's ability to capture both the European art milieu and the questions of honor and fidelity which merge from Mafia and Vatican special interests creates a story steeped in art community influences and history.

Her equal prowess in crafting characters motivated and influenced by family connections (and disconnections), and the Pope's involvement in their lives, creates added value with insights that shift and shimmer as the plot thickens.

The result is an exquisite dance between cultures, underworld influences, and art world politics that will thoroughly immerse readers in Nicolo and Orazio's pasts, passions, and future possibilities.

Libraries will want to highly recommend House of Honor: The Heist of Caravaggio's Nativity to readers and book clubs seeking thought-provoking discussion material and action that rests on relationship revisions as much as politics and social issues.

A Place Unmade
Carla Seyler
Black Rose Writing
9781685134211, $24.95 Paperback/$6.99 eBook

A Place Unmade blends themes of corporate intrigue and environmental issues into the lives of two very different characters. Each find themselves immersed in a scheme that challenges their moral and ethical compasses.

Valentina Sorelli is a graduate student and also a marketing director. Executive Jack Stillman's mission to use his company's research for personal gain would seem to place these two characters in worlds which wouldn't collide. However, Valentina's relationship with Stillman's son Sam complicates matters as she finds herself immersed not in marketing or studies, but a whistle blowing battle that eventually threatens her life and her friends.

Carla Seyler creates a moving, thoroughly engrossing story. It pairs a New Orleans botanical garden director's job with bigger-picture thinking and activities that force her to move well beyond her experience, objectives, and comfort zone.

Flashbacks into Jack Stillman's activities lend to insights on not only his motivations, but his ultimate goals. This, in turn, leads to understanding why Valentina is being threatened and the links between corporate activities, personal gain, and political interference.

Powerful insights are developed based not just on these disparate interests, but the psychology of motivation and greed which fuel character actions and reactions.

The last thing Valentina expected from these murky waters is romance - and yet new possibilities emerge..

Readers may not expect the threads of humor which flavor serious conflicts with comic relief, but Seyler's adept employment of such translates to a story which rests on the perfect blend of tension, understanding, and fun to pique the mind and delight the heart.

Terrorism and friendship served hot, with a dashing side dish of comedy, makes A Place Unmade an ideal recommendation for libraries seeking multifaceted stories spinning compelling yarns of discovery and special interest.

Cauldron of Wrath
Terrence Poppa
Demand Publications
9780966443035, $14.95

Everybody knows disaster's coming; but nobody knows just when or how. This is why thriller enthusiasts are in for an exceptional journey in Cauldron of Wrath. Its action is tempered by reader realization that the violence and events described represent all-too-possible scenarios rooted in modern dilemmas and perceptions.

Two nukes are smuggled over the Mexican border into America in an attempt to paralyze the nation. Their objective goes beyond the Twin Towers disaster - they intend to attack Los Angeles as a cover for their real goal: setting off the sleeping dragon of natural destruction that resides under Yellowstone National Park, effectively destroying the entire nation.

FBI agent Malcolm Hendricks has no more clue of where or when disaster will strike than anyone else. All he knows is that his prior achievements, which have landed him in a plum position as the head of the Southern California Joint Terrorism Task Force, may prove futile in a scenario where the destruction of L.A. is but the tip of the fatally tipping iceberg of terrorism.

As Hendricks investigates, the bodies stack up alongside his questions. Viewpoints shift between him and terrorists Abu Hadi al-Maliki and others who've infiltrated the country, with objectives on both sides receiving enlightening inspection.

Terrence Poppa cultivates high-octane, nonstop action as he unravels a thriller steeped in pursuits and confrontations. The characters on both sides (including Mateo Ochoa, a Marine Corps vet whom everyone calls Cholo; and Yellowstone drilling site boss Harley Duke) find themselves working against time to either instigate or prevent disaster.

Shootings, confrontations, subterfuge, and social media involvements lend contemporary realism to the plot. This makes it even more engrossing and relevant for contemporary readers, who will all too easily picture these possibilities; yet less easily predict the story's outcome.

Cauldron of Wrath adds social, political, investigative drama to its cat-and-mouse game, creating a thriller that stands out - especially because its heroes range from rogues to ordinary people. These elements, joined by equal attention to both sides of a bigger picture, make this thriller highly recommended to libraries and readers seeking a vivid saga that's nearly impossible to put down.

Toys in Babylon
Patrick Finegan
Two Skates Publishing LLC
978173390257, $11.50 Paperback/$26.99 Hardcover/$3.99 eBook

Toys in Babylon: A Language App Parody and Whodunit gives readers the perfect demonstration of a parody written with lively intention. This will prove especially intriguing to high school to college-level students of contemporary fiction who are interested in learning about language usage, form, and parody's possible applications.

The tale originally appeared online in thirteen installments, but its appearance here reflects both an expanded presentation and a renewed focus on the language and fine art of parody writing.

Author Patrick Finegan is passionate about languages. His participation in an online chain-novel project delivered unexpected fruits of achievement as he republishes these installments for a larger audience.

The plot revolves around a cast of satirical, fictional characters and situations that embrace animated teaching characters, AI influences, jokes, and mystery alike.

The presence and juxtaposition of all these facets may prove challenging to readers who anticipated the usual linear production, but the joy of Toys in Babylon lies in its unconventional approach to fiction and action. These facets will delight readers seeking the look and feel of something completely different.

Romance, poetic interludes, and more emerge from unexpected encounters. Readers are kept on their toes by a progression of shifting events and realities that keep the characters engaging and memorable.

Confrontations and realizations are carefully crafted to lend insight into the overall atmosphere and motivations of AI and human alike:

Do not pretend it isn't you. You are the leader, the disgruntled one - all because the Burmese language didn't sell, and ok Dilli dumped you." Myaing lurched back in alarm. Someone squealed on them. Her comrades stared at her in terror and confusion. She stared back in rage and consternation. Her recruits ran for the doors, as fearful as she was, that ok Dilli's unseen army would soon surround them. The room emptied swiftly. Just Myaing and the old hag remained, not even the proprietor. Myaing's feet felt glued in place to the floor.

Again: the complexity of these intersecting worlds and experiences may prove challenging to everyday readers simply seeking staid entertainment value from their fiction. It's the literary-minded reader interested in the changing devices of satire and parody who will find the progression thoroughly absorbing, albeit steeped in language not ordinarily seen in standard writing approaches:

Arpita did not think Clarisse was bonkers but understood why the story was a bombshell to the group: Coki scattered her CD Anon members among cottages outside town, fearful their interaction with official Cokland citizens and cast members might disrupt what she had taken so long to nurture. In fact, she lodged Clarisse in a forest, but her addict cravings were so pertinacious she applied for the high school's vacant media arts position.

These strengths are why Toys in Babylon: A Language App Parody and Whodunit is especially recommended for advanced students of language and parody, who will find the story's contemporary twists and usage to be both thoroughly engrossing and ultimately educational.

Wolves and Empires
Daniel McKenzie
Atmosphere Press
9798891322349, $20.00 pb/$29.99 hc/$9.99 ebook

Wolves and Empires is the second book of the Seafourthe Saga, continuing the story of the Wolf of the Agean, who finds himself sailing to the Caribbean; there to become involved in a clever heist at Spain's major shipping port in Vera Cruz, Mexico.

Captain Lucien Dumaine ("The Wolf") expected resistance and battle. He did not plan on fighting his heart when romance evolves and beckons him away from his assigned objectives, there to enter unfamiliar waters that swirl him away from his purposes and very self.

Can a purposeful foray into political clashes still be conducted when his attraction to Parisian apparel salon owner Lady Seafourthe emerges during a new sailing assignment?

Once again, the swashbuckling, seaworthy adventures of The Wolf come to life, with social and political alliances affecting the course of events, driving the good captain and his crew towards ever-murkier waters of involvement and political alliances.

The underlying political associations and influences of dialogues and encounters bring characters from Europe and the Caribbean to life:

"Forgive me, Viscount. This is all so overwhelming," he answered in a political gesture so universal with the inexperienced and inattentive born-to-wealth again calling him by his father's title, Viscount.

From the experiences of being at sea for months to the disparate interests of a wide range of characters who work alongside or become associated with The Wolf, McKenzie employs astute observations to capture events from more than one viewpoint:

John could only hope that one day his fellow captain would embrace the unending sweetness, the peace and love of God. This rogue Wolf had proven himself repeatedly, and it was evident to him the Wolf was beloved of God. Yet he must recognize this wondrous gift and could only pray for him to see the light and open to the truth of salvation.

Between heists and heroes to "wind-scoured" high seas adventures, Wolves and Empires expands the character of the good captain through experiences that will prove adventurous, compelling, lively, and thought-provoking for readers attracted to sea sagas and action.

Libraries looking for solid, compelling, stand-alone, seaworthy stories will find Wolves and Empires runs hot, whether through its adventure-packed encounters or a romance that blossoms under unpredictable circumstances.

Detour Dimension
David Keay
Independently Published
9798350944549, $12.00 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

Truly original experimental literary writings are relatively rare. Try Detour Dimension for a modern sense of how paradox, irony, and the intersection between reality and fiction operate.

The story opens with a resonant bang:

A dissonant guitar.

A bongo roll.

The opening theme to your favorite television program: The Detour Dimension.

A man in a suit and skinny tie, smoking a Chesterfield, introduces each episode:

That's me, Ron Sterling.

Supposedly, I died over half a century ago. But what do they know? You think I was kidding with those shows?

No, I've been around.

Cultural reflections on the Grateful Dead; a rollicking road trip powered by whimsical, zany participants; and a sense of discovery and irony permeate a story which feels like a Rod Serling portrait of life's oddities and encounters, but paints its picture with characters akin to the odd ducks in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest:

Frank announces we're going to pull into a Stuckey's for a rest stop. It's only a three-hour ride, with two to go. Go figure.

The ringleader of the opposition is a guy who's got a televised wrestling match to referee in Scranton who's already running late.

We take a vote. After all, we're in The World's Only Democracy.

The majority want to stop.

The kids are chanting, clapping, squealing.

Readers interested in media studies, pop culture references, Serling-like irony, and literary devices that intersect odd characters and situations in compelling, thought-provoking ways will find Detour Dimension challenges boundaries and literary mindsets... but in a good way.

Its best value will lie in its assignment to all kinds of college-level studies; from media and educational fiction to literature classrooms subject to debate over themes ranging from pop culture explorations to road trips through music, life, and institutions.

Libraries will find Detour Dimension an excellent detour from the norm. Don't change that channel. Dig in and prepare for a roller coaster of a read permeated by Crazy Clowns and characters intent on taking charge of and redefining reality itself.

The Cape: Hellfire
Braxton A. Cosby
Starchild Comics
B09Z9QM81T, $4.99

The Cape: Hellfire follows the events of Infinity 7: Gods Among Men with an action-packed, colorful comic book rendition that opens with a superhero's grief over the loss of his beloved Karla ("Blurr"). Sebastian ("Paladin") has had little time for mourning before a stranger confronts him with the special knowledge that he could be reunited with his lost love... if he is willing to embark on a dangerous quest.

Of course he is. The Thief and Zenith return to accompany him on his galaxy-hopping mission to rescue Karla from another time, but the trio unexpectedly discovers that more is at stake than recovering a lost love. The future of the universe lies at the heart of their interconnected lives and struggles.

Of course it does. And that supercharges a comic book adventure that, once again, defies death and tests values and goals as the heroes interact on a very different playing field.

From the start, Braxton A. Cosby presents vivid dialogues, scenarios, and revelations to invite both prior fans of Infinity and newcomers alike, who will find that just because The Cape is the third book, doesn't mean that that prior experience with its characters or plot is required. The immersion is seamlessly compelling, while an unexpected sense of wry underlying humor often permeates action and observation ("Nice ride. All kings live this high-life where you're from?").

As cousins, fellow heroes, and adventurers literally get on board, the story evolves a complex mix with timeweavers, choices in competing special interests, and just plain fun. Again, wry humor appears when and where least expected ("You're late. I was expecting you hours ago. Also, the timeweaver is losing his touch.").

The comic format excels in bringing characters and adventure to life. It will appeal to a wide audience, from comic book and prior Cosby fans to newcomers who will find the illustrations of beefy men, sexy women, and satisfyingly vivid transformations to be brightly alluring.

The comic ends with a cliff-hanger. Of course. It leaves its readers hungry for more in a dish most comics don't serve up, making it highly recommended both as supplemental Cosby reading and as a stand-alone, action-packed story.

A.N.V.K.: Birthed in the Blood
Chayil Champion
Starchild Comics
B0CSQ1NHFBk, $4.99 eBook

A.N.V.K.: Birthed in the Blood tells of African Ninja Vampire Killers who operate in Pretoria, South Africa. Here, they face a series of murders that the karate-wielding ninja warriors must confront.

They fight with more than martial arts, however - high technology adds another dimension of strength to their toolboxes, and may be the only thing keeping them from disaster as they hide under their ninja identities and struggle to confront deadly killers whose own powers may be equal to (or greater than) their abilities.

Chayil Champion crafts his comic story with a sense of purpose, action, and discovery as these would-be heroes find themselves confronting a bigger vampire problem than they had anticipated.

Elizabeth Olamide demonstrates her own form of superpower in the form of colorful, engrossing illustrations throughout the comic. These capture unfolding events as a group of young student warriors evolves in response to a threat to their world.

This comic is directed to teen readers, and contains a certain amount of gore as the vampire(s) strike. (After all, it's about vampires... and gore is part of their picture and modus operandi).

This, combined with streetwise actions, slang, confrontations, and newfound missions that spark social and ethical observation in the young warriors, makes for a vivid comic book read. It walks the mean streets of bloodsuckers with an avid eye to bringing to life not only confrontations with vampires; but between age groups and special interests operating behind the scenes.

Teens (and many an adult) seeking comics steeped in action, confrontation, and shifting alliances and insights will welcome A.N.V.K.: Birthed in the Blood's bloody consideration of an impossible invasion from within. It also leaves the door wide open for more confrontations and action.

Steel Reign: Preflight
Braxton A. Cosby
Starchild Comics
B0BYB85JJ5, $4.99 eBook

Steel Reign: Preflight provides a prequel to the already-published international-bestselling novel Steel Reign: Flight of The Starship Concord, and is an important predecessor to the first story. It thoroughly explains the characters, culture, and experiences of Proxima Centauri and the actions and confrontations of ex-Bounty Hunter Steel Reign.

All the trappings of sci-fi adventure are here, including high-tech enhanced adversaries that force Steel Reign into unfamiliar territory. His failure to locate the genetically enhanced soldiers leads to more trouble as he becomes involved in universe-saving efforts and child trafficking rings, confronting painful experiences of his past.

Once again, Braxton A. Cosby injects subtle humor into the dialogues and interactions ("D'Muir Le'Rou, for the crimes of sedition, murder, rape, and blah, blah, blah... Damn, this list is long."). These add comic relief to the events as they unfold with a complexity and force. These elements make for a superior graphic novel story that readers will find exceptionally engrossing.

Action-packed words are used to capture touchdowns to confrontations, permeating Steel's adventures and associations with others with vivid language, from the "Raattt-taaa-taaatt" of firearms to the "Blaassstt!" of tactical engagements.

The outstanding blend of vivid language, visuals, and descriptions of clashing forces brings action and characters to life in the sci-fi comic. Teens and adults alike will find the tale steeped in fantasy, science, psychological insights, and a "you are there" feel in Steel's latest adventure.
As with Cosby's other comic books, the story ends "to be continued...", so readers can look forward to more Steel action in the future.

Metatron: Terror at the Track
Laurence St. John
Starchild Comics
B09Z8T3M22, $4.99 eBook

Metatron: Terror at the Track is a sci-fi superhero comic book that features Tyler (a.k.a. Metatron) and his team of young heroes. It follows the last Metatron adventure, The Secret Grid, opening at a car racing event where some respite from action and adventure is being enjoyed, and where the only threat is flipping a new birthday present on the track.

When the owner of Payne Oil calls the next race, Tyler senses danger. And when a flyover goes bad, Tyler faces revealing himself to rescue a crowd of race fans, or stepping back to let disaster unfold.

Guess which course he chooses.

That's only the opener to a game which immerses Tyler and his friends in a deadly pursuit that goes beyond car racing.

Laurence St. John plays out the events in comic slow-mo to draw out the suspense, which at times feels like the characters have plenty of time to respond to an emergency situation... including bumping into one another in their confused efforts to survive, before Metatron emerges to save the day. Or, has the hero just exposed himself to his deadliest foe, at the track?

St. John's blend of simmering tension and action-packed scenes, which evolve step-by-step, give readers plenty of time to absorb nuances of Metatron's heroic actions and the risks he takes. This lends to an approach that addresses adversity from different angles as Killtie, the immortal Black Shadow, and a host of evil entities converge on Metatron.

Unexpected humor injected into many of the discourses ("I tell you what, how about you let...! What's your name, kid?" "Ryan. Ryan Zink."), add comic relief to confrontations which move the nonstop action from familiar milieus (such as the racetrack) to extraordinary circumstances involving confronting super-endowed beings.

Once again, Metatron has been forced from childhood and the ordinary to change and confront the extraordinary in yet another bid to save humanity.

Replete with the rat-a-tat of unceasing action, unexpected twists, well-developed characters and motivations, and an adventure that stands nicely alone for newcomers to Metatron's world, teen graphic novel and comics readers are in for a real treat with this marriage of sci-fi and the account of an ordinary (not so much!) day at the track.

Broken (Book 2 of the Young Hellions Series)
Braxton A. Cosby
Starchild Comics
B0BBD9H9GD, $4.99

Broken: Book 2 adds another comic book story to the Young Hellions series. Here, Alphas Kessa and Kiran are reunited after Kessa is cured of Horder Poison.

Dr. Raymond Gregg has not only saved her, but he knew her father and now operates Shelter 719, their joint project (which Kessa knew nothing about). As she learns about his participation in a secret group of scientists commissioned to build fallout shelters across America, Kessa is concurrently introduced to The Resistance.

The creature who'd been tracking Kessa and her friends is presented not as the monster she'd thought, but a rescuer. As everything she'd trusted and believed in is turned upside down, Kessa is tapped to participate in the resistance effort before she's even formulated new notions of who the bad guys really are.

Braxton A. Cosby creates a powerful series of clashes and action-packed confrontations. These pair nicely with a swift flow of plot that excels in mercurial fluidity and changes to keep both Kessa and her readers on their toes.

Just when you think you know the outcome, the story line changes in an unexpected direction.

As abandoned towns, rescues, and horder threats emerge, Kessa faces beasts that rise from the glowing ashes of humanity's wars. She finds her loyalties, perceptions, and courage duly tested.

Readers of the first Young Hellions title will find the action and deployment of unexpected realizations and truths to be equally compelling in the second book. With the foundations of the characters nicely set in the first adventure, prior fans will find seamless the actions of new friends and enemies in this story.

Broken: Book 2 of the Young Hellions Series is highly recommended for comics readers of all ages who look for succinct descriptions and explanations, strong characters, and futuristic scenarios that challenge not only the survival of humanity, but the perceptions of emerging young heroes.

The Night Owl Sings
Judy McConnell
Boyle & Dalton
9781633377806, $28.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper

The Night Owl Sings: and Other Stories of Old Age matches literary craft with psychological insights as Judy McConnell tackles advancing years through characters who each face their own special aging issues.

These stories together form a fine synthesis and intersection of experience that reflects on deeper and different issues, in which age is but an overlay to developing life concerns. While its likely readership will be those on the cusp of advancing years, young people should not peg its audience as the elderly. These lessons, which consider general life attitude and choices, are appropriate lessons for all ages.

Take the opening story 'Urgent Care,' for example. Yes, Lila is an aging grandmother; but under this veneer lay concerns not limited to the elderly. Lila has once again entered her son's home to be with the family for Christmas. She's been invited as an insider. But, coexisting alongside these connections is an outsider's loneliness and uncertainty. Her grandchildren are growing up, her son and stepdaughter operate as an efficient team without her, and she's regulated to the position of 'guest' in her own family, her skills long laid to rest.

Lila is well capable of adaptation and easily recognizes that her current role of being sidelined in the family is also connected to the fact that:

It was only natural for a wife to instinctively proceed to wrestle control from the lifelong caretaker she had replaced. Lila must make sure she didn't intrude - Todd had his own family now.

Lila gets it. But that doesn't mean she has to like it, accepting though she is of her revised role and importance, which lately seems to rest on the fact that she is old and not long for this world. This makes her temporarily valuable - but in an antique sort of way.

Disappointments over her disconnection from her family mount even as she chants her survival song:

I understand, her mantra. She couldn't know the challenges of their lives, which played out in happenings far beyond her single vision.

The remnants of interlinked lives are shaken, one surprising morning, when she awakens to a silence that smacks of abandonment, loneliness, and ghosts of the past.

In satisfying contrast to Lila's experiences and revelations are the very different family connections that unfold (and unravel) in 'No Greater Love.' Here, cousins Angela and Pinky reflect on their shared past experiences and the different ways in which each have moved on and away from the family.

Neither is old (indeed, one is only eighteen!), but both are aging. This process and these connections receive close inspection in a story that enlightens readers on matters of heart, mind, and experience to influence changing courses of events.

Older Angela, who is married, at times chafes at Pinky's slow growth:

Fond of her cousin as she was, sometimes it took patience waiting for her to grow up.

Forced to face the reality of her own questionable choices, Angela confronts her marital problems and her own uncertainty about where she ultimately wishes to land as she acknowledges her husband's seemingly uncaring stoicism and his distance from her.

As Pinky finds love in an unusual way and Angela continues to grow, the aging, in this case, is as much mental as physical, introducing new facets of life possibilities to each character.

Judy McConnell examines and contrasts very different sides of the aging and growth process in The Night Owl Sings. Her approach makes the collection not only of literary import (as well as accessible to general-interest fiction readers), but the perfect item of choice for libraries to recommend to reading groups interested in short stories that traverse the range of aging's new and revised options.

Funny Thing Is: A Guide to Understanding Comedy
Stephen Evans
Time Being Media, LLC
9781953725479, $9.99 Paperback/$7.99 eBook

Funny Thing Is: A Guide to Understanding Comedy analyzes the evolution of comedy in many different ways; from sociological observations to political, psychological, and historical components of comedy. Stephen Evans includes insights from philosophers and other observers during the process of considering what makes people laugh (and why), and what makes terminology or twists of language humorous.

This, in turn, leads to a reasoned study of the influences on comedy's development, perception, and appearance which provides food for thought. The opportunity emerges on levels ranging from personal reflections and experiences to examples from scholars who come from different disciplines and approaches to comedy.

From Chaucer to Freud, this wide-ranging hop through worldviews and laughter is marked by its own special brand of serious inspection and insight:

Comedy is like an iceberg; most of it floats below the water line of consciousness. And just as Kant connected comedy with meaning, Freud connects it with truth."

Chapters also delve into why comedy has not been seriously studied in depth, despite the many allusions to its devices and incarnations. Of special interest is the attention given to how comedy began and has evolved over human history.

From the nature of laughter to philosophical reflections, the connections drawn between major thinkers and comedy's impact on daily life makes for thought-provoking reading, and certainly will power book club and classroom discussions:

I don't mean to say that some comedy is true and others false. What I mean is that some comedy, the rarest form unfortunately (maybe we can change that) is comedy that leads us toward truth. True comedy opens the mind and keeps it open.

Is Funny Thing Is funny? Not in and of itself - and it's not meant to be. Plenty of other books tap the funny bone, but it's the flow of enlightened consideration of comedy's roots and applications that makes Funny Thing Is highly recommended for a wide audience. This includes those interested in philosophical, social, or psychological analysis and general-interest readers who will relish the rare history embedded in this story of human laughter.

Phoenix Saga: Peace on Earth Protocol
amalL era JesuseJ hO
Atmosphere Press
9798891322646, $18.99 Paperback/$27.99 Hardcover/$9.99 eBook

Phoenix Saga: Peace on Earth Protocol comes from an American poet and engineer who delves into the world of metaphysical sci-fi. While it's related to Book 1, to bill this book a 'sequel' would be to set up associations for prior readers and the supposition that the first book will be required reading for newcomers - both of which would be unfair.

In fact, Phoenix Saga: Peace on Earth Protocol, while related to and extending the narrative of the first book, in actuality stands alone and apart from its predecessor as it reframes ideas of sanity, insanity, mental illness and truth using a reflective, poetic overlay that may challenge those anticipating the usual linear sci-fi production.

Indeed, the very categorization of Phoenix Saga: Peace on Earth Protocol defies any pat terminology or anticipation of a progressive plot in the usual sense.

amalL era JesuseJ hO (NOT a misspelling; this an English transliteration of the author's name) incorporates reflections on ancient linguistics, punctuation (produced and adjusted to lend to vocal intonation over the relatively flat presentations of works intended to be silently read), and history that leads to a basic invitation to audiences:

Dearest You, Where did God go?

History, reflections on the peace-on-Earth concept, a galactic manifestos, and literary thoughts that confront traditional spiritual thinking require a reader and mind interested in experimental sci-fi, a flow of adjusted words and punctuation intended for read-aloud and drama, and a concurrent flood of ideas that come from various narrators.

One example is 'Unshattered Visage', written by Yahweh:

Eneolnen walks a narrow, tidy Path through thy Oasis reaching thy Base of thy Exquisite Tri-Pyramid Complex of Phoenix. Black Drakon leads, Eneolnen trails. Indescribable Beauty & Complexity accent Connection manifest from enduring-rapturous Dialogue. Evening Bird-Song captivates All Sole-Soul-Soule, as forest breaks on stone steps yielding a grand opening in thy Canopy at thy Base of Thy Complex.

Obviously NOT your usual sci-fi or literary pursuit, Phoenix Saga: Peace on Earth Protocol invites the attention of literary readers interested in the juxtaposition (and re-interpretation) of prose, poetry, and spiritual and philosophical discourse.

From discourses on openness and intellect to wide-ranging reflections on purpose that all arrive cemented with an overlay of the ultimate objective of peace on Earth at a future time, the protocols covered in Phoenix Saga: Peace on Earth Protocol will prove revealing and challenging. It will prove of special attraction to audiences who want to move away from pat genre definitions and into the more mercurial world of extraordinary, demanding definitions and reading. It promotes a leap of faith and literary excellence as it tackles transfigurations of ancient Babylonian stone tablets (called Enuma Elis).

Perhaps college-level classrooms seeking experimental literary and sci-fi discussions suitable for read-aloud and debate will be the best audience for a book that holds such a rich vein of spiritual and intellectual thinking under the loose guise of the 'sci-fi' genre.

The Silver Forest, Book One
J. D. Rasch
Lamina Press
9781962247016, $18.99 paperback/$0.99 eBook

The Silver Forest, Book One, the first book in the Wanderer series gives readers a coming-of-age metaphysical fantasy that will give rise to thought-provoking discussions about dictators, followers, rationales for setting aside moral and ethical values, and more. Perfect fodder for modern times!

J. D. Rasch's intention was to take these issues and explore them by placing characters in uncomfortable positions where their values and beliefs come into question.

The first important observation intrinsic to this book's success in the reader's mind lies in an all-important Author's Note which neatly introduces the author's objectives. Now, most such notes can be easily skipped. Not so this one, which cements the plot and intention of the story:

It was important to me that, unlike in traditional epic fantasy, my wizards did not actually have powers that others didn't have or couldn't obtain. They were just more expert at manipulation so that everyone could obtain what they had. The key theme to the book is getting to know your own mind, getting rid of outside influences, and understanding what is true.

This represents higher-level thinking at its best, merging insights about truth with ethical concerns that readers can keep in mind while pursuing a fantasy story that, while epic and fast-paced, doesn't neglect its underlying duty of stimulating a reader's mind.

Young adult and adult audiences alike will appreciate the dynamics which emerge from such an approach; particularly since it follows characters that also come to better understand their influences and the impacts of their choices:

...the wizards didn't work that way. Their power lay beyond merely "locked" doors. Their power lay in perceptions. As long as Asmar believed escape impossible, it was. He had not been forgotten by the wizards at all - just taught a lesson he would never forget.

Asmar's growth evolves to the point where he realizes the wizards need him as much as he needs them. The crux of the story hinges on battles and choices that carry Asmar from child to man as he embarks on his journey supported by cousin Remer, who longs to go home back to a quieter life, but knows he can't abandon Asmar mid-quest.

Already labeled a misfit, Asmar doesn't trust the wizards set to influence him. Perhaps he should, because worse things await him. Also key to the saga is aging rogue wizard Malzus, who introduces an unexpected flavor of rebellion combined with new possibilities to the action and confrontations between wizards, boys, and men.

J. D. Rasch creates, in The Silver Forest, a respectable and compelling novel of accomplishment and discovery that introduces engrossing concepts accompanied by a moral and ethical fiber that compliments the story's adventure component.

Libraries seeking books suitable for recommendation to book clubs for young adult to adult fantasy readers will find the characters, action, and underlying questions of The Silver Forest worthy of high praise and (more so than most first books presented with the idea of series growth) equally worthy of acquisition.

The Autobiography of Moon County
Jeremy Dennis
Independently Published
9798218420291, $1.99,

The ten interconnected stories in The Autobiography of Moon County come together to map the struggles and hopes of those living in a small town in the American South. By reflecting differing experiences and perspectives through the lens of unforgettable characters like Cyrus and Abel, Jeremy Dennis creates an interlocking puzzle of lives that marry human complexity, mystery, and community in a manner designed to inspire thought and self-observation. Each story embraces a different world view, set of circumstances, and experiences that, together, create a melting pot of inflictions and reflections.

Take 'Cyrus', the introductory character. Cyrus has built himself a fine little grocery store in Moon County, Georgia, but his values lie not just in monetary success, but spiritual foundations. He also believes in "knowing folks," and this chronicle of his life, narrated in the first person, explores his special focus and how he finds "q-u-a-l-i-t-y" in everything he does - until a mysterious fire changes things.

From the truth about a church's demise to a Gentleman's Society that absorbs his friends, Cyrus provides a lens of inspection that peels away layers of Southern experience to expose underlying influences and compromised values.

In contrast, there is 'Abel.' He owns a barbershop where Moon County's history is constantly reconstructed - leading to tragedy . His story explores issues of blame, murder, curses and lies, and prejudices as the story rises and collapses over the nature of a child's potential in a world that Abel can no longer recognize or accept.

Libraries and readers seeking a collection of linked stories that expresses a fascinating and deeply encompassing portrait of American life will find The Autobiography of Moon County pointed, revealing, and worthy of consideration and discussion - especially for book clubs seeking literary works with strong characters that face compelling circumstances.

Lost and Found
Mark D'Souza, M.D.
Morgan James Publishing
9781636983837, $18.95

Lost and Found: How Meaningless Living is Destroying Us and Three Keys to Fix It tackles a major existential question. In so doing, Dr. Mark D'Souza creates a masterful alternative to the usual analytical approach of honing meaning from life choices.

His is at once a philosophical history and a spiritual analysis. He considers past efforts to reconcile disparities in notions of life's meaning, present-day challenges posed by material and technological focuses, and the emerging 'religions' of victimization and radical thinking that have shaken modern society.

The paradoxes created by modern-day disconnections from meaning and purpose are astutely explored in chapters that skirt the edge of intellectual observation and emotional investment. This approach guides readers to conclusions that will certainly provoke discussion and debates, leading to further enlightenment:

The solution to the unholy trinity of nihilism, atheism, and depression is meaning and responsibility. Speaking of meaning, there is nothing better to provide it than a sophisticated, traditional religion. To loosely paraphrase Winston Churchill again, traditional religion is the worst form of belief system except for all the others.

Dr. D'Souza's assertion that part of the solution to contemporary nihilism is a renewed and different approach to religion and social connection is outlined in chapters that probe the foundations of these contemporary dichotomies:

Ultimately, every individual has to decide consciously or unconsciously whether traditional Western values, those of the Enlightenment, are worth defending. These values include equal opportunity, natural justice, colorblindness, merit, free will, primacy of the individual, objective reality, empiricism, effort, appreciation, humility, and nuance. And if they aren't protected, they will subsequently be replaced by equal outcome (equity), presumption of guilt, microaggressions, political correctness, the perpetually offended, Maoist struggle sessions, racial essentialism, intersectionality, determinism, tribalism, group guilt, group entitlement, victimhood, lived experience, postmodernism, relativism, radical nonjudgment, nihilism, rationality, expectation, and pathological altruism.

Marry philosophy, social inspection, and religious considerations, and what you get is a melting pot of opportunity and inspection. Lost and Found is especially highly recommended for a wide circle of thinkers, from college students and philosophers to book clubs seeking controversial, engrossing discussion and debate materials about life progression.

Libraries will want to include Lost and Found in any collection where intellectual discourse and philosophical inspections of daily life is of interest. Its compelling arguments about free speech and personal accountability should not be missed.

Children of Mandrake
Jesse Stein
Atmosphere Press
9798891322516, $20.00 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Jesse Stein's Children of Mandrake sports a lovely cover illustrated by Meng Samantha Shui, enticing young readers to follow the journey of teens Truman and Donna, the only teens in the small town of Mandrake that care about the summer of rain.

A mandate by the town hermit and baker to locate a special cinnamon tree somewhere downriver, that hides Mandrake from the outside world, sends them on an unexpected path of discovery as the quest for a perfect dessert turns into a search for answers and survival.

Ecological messages cemented in these children's' lives are imparted from the story's opening introduction:

"The Hojo River is round and pointless," Donna says to me. "Nothing feeds it, and it doesn't feed nothing." She works up a brick of snot to tsk through her bottom teeth. "You even remember the last time you saw a fish?"

"I don't look for fish," I say, making a face, thinking about gills. "I don't look for birds either; they're just the fish of the sky."

Stein builds the narrator's unique perspective and voice, which cements the story's attraction and promise of adventure through strong characterization:

I don't know the particular magic that old black river mud carries, nor do I necessarily subscribe to her mother's claims of knowing how every single thing in the world is stitched up and twisted together. I mean, I'm fourteen years old. I don't want to know how anything works. But if anyone asked me, which they never would, I'd say it sounds like a bunch of nonsense.

Truman has very little interest in the outdoors. And if he wanted to go and sleep outside (he says), he'd join a circus. For him, nature and the concept of interconnected lives lie in the realm of magic, not reality. That reality is about to change as their journey embraces both Donna's dreams and the sordid truth about what is happening to their environment.

Stein moves back and forth in viewpoints between the two. This neatly outlines their disparate perceptions as Truman talks to animals and Donna recovers from loss. How can Truman talk to animals when she can't?

Chapter headings that identified these viewpoint shifts would have made reading even smoother, but it's fairly apparent who is doing the observing, after a few lines of each chapter.

Meng Samantha Shui's gorgeous illustrations bring this story to life. Children of Mandrake's rich synthesis of ecological and personal connections makes it a top recommendation for middle to high school readers and elementary-level libraries interested in a coming-of-age fantasy that weaves together elements of social and ecological consciousness, detective work, epic adventure, and magic.

Wandering from China to America
Xiuwu R. Liu
9783838210711, $40.00 Paperback/$24.77 ebook

Wandering from China to America: A Life Straddling Different Worlds appears in a second revised edition that not only corrects minor grammatical snafus and factual errors in the first rendition, but, more importantly, includes historical documents related to the story, for readers of Chinese. These appear in the appendices as photocopies which capture their authors' drafts and their own revisions, reinforcing their authenticity.

The book itself will appeal to new generations of Chinese and American readers alike as it traces Xiuwu R. Liu's journey through Chinese and American societies. This autobiography is neither a story of immense struggles nor a treatise on resilience or prejudice, but incorporates basic insights into how Liu fell into teaching, made a difference in others' lives, and assimilated lessons from basic living as he made his way through life.

Why will Wandering from China to America prove of interest to readers who do not know Liu? Because he captures not just the nuances and influences of his own journey, but interacts with, absorbs, and incorporates flavors of two different cultures (plus other ethnic influences) into his life.

This creates an inviting interplay which follows his experiences through a myriad of life challenges, from travel and cross-cultural encounters to marriage, divorce, and higher education:

Having worked so hard to get into a school so that I could continue my education, now I would throw myself into my studies. Or so you might imagine. On the contrary, barely a month into the fall semester, I dropped two of my three classes and nearly had a nervous breakdown. What happened? The circumstances of my life in Iowa City were, if anything, more livable than before. When I landed in Cedar Rapids, a fellow student sent by the Chinese Student Association met me and drove me to the campus. I immediately found a place to stay; to save money three other students from China and I shared a large studio at the back of a building, a semi-basement space.

Readers can also anticipate a healthy dose of philosophical reflection from Liu's life story:

Conventional wisdom has it that the United States is an individualistic society. Politically and legally, it is individualistic in that the individual enjoys certain basic rights; psychologically and socially it is individualistic in that the individual is egoist. But the society is not individualistic in the sense that its members typically show independence of thought and action.

Lest readers think, by these quotes, that the account is staid and dry, it should be noted at this point that Liu's life story is alternately candid, ironic, playful, and satirical, reflecting his personality and life philosophy and mindset.

The result is a memoir that is firmly and satisfyingly rooted in the personal, but will prove of interest to Chinese-American readers, in particular, who will follow Liu's life events with interest and reflective thinking that's also perfect for book club recommendation.

Libraries will want to consider Wandering from China to America for its accessible form of individual reflection and bigger-picture thinking on cross-cultural assimilation and contrasts.

The Uncommon Life of Danny O'Connell
Steve Wiegand
Bancroft Press
9781610886338, $33.00

Sports followers of baseball history may not know the name of player Danny O'Connell, but Steve Wiegand's The Uncommon Life of Danny O'Connell plays a key role in returning this renowned (but lesser-known) player to the top billing he so deserves.

Readers may not expect baseball card history to be one of the prominent focuses of this book, but Steve Wiegand's ability to move from collector history to baseball events and personalities creates a satisfying synthesis of subjects and history. This approach will attract both sports card collectors and enthusiasts of baseball itself.

Chapters trace the life and career of Danny O'Connell, exploring both his world and his appearances on baseball cards as his career evolved.

Readers who anticipate a sports outlook alone will be surprised (and, hopefully, delighted) by the broader inclusion of baseball card history that lends a different flavor of insight to the story.

Numerous good-sized color photos of baseball cards liberally pepper the account, accompanied by a play-by-play history that baseball fans will relish.

Even more added value lies in the ethic and cultural insights included in the discussions, which trace how baseball reflected America itself in the years following World War II, from economic to social transformations.

Because The Uncommon Life of Danny O'Connell moves from baseball to card collecting history, it's highly recommended for a wider audience than sports fans alone. Readers and libraries interested in baseball history, sports card collecting oddities and facts, Danny O'Connell in particular, or the moves of players as they participate in key games will find this survey highly attractive, informative, and thoroughly engrossing.

Change of Heart
Cristina LePort, M.D.
Bancroft Press
9781610886604, $27.95

Medical thriller enthusiasts will find Cristina LePort's Change of Heart the perfect ticket for a thoroughly absorbing read. Its foundations in the medical world are cemented by the author's medical degree and familiarity with the world of medicine and its politics.

More than a story of the usual detective work of investigative efforts, however, Change of Heart incorporates elements of romance, ethical issues that challenge the characters in unexpected ways, and cybercriminal encounters. These contribute to character development and action that contrasts nicely with other genre reads, raising the bar for the medical thriller as a whole by cementing character challenges with questions that arise in the course of making life-supporting decisions:

"I have to ask, just to make sure: Did anyone offer you a deal: provide you with a heart to save your life, so long as your wife agreed to end hers?"

These and other ethical questions reflect the very fabric of medical decision-making, influence, and values, offering readers scenarios designed to raise questions about personal objectives and sacrifices made in the name of survival, science, and healthcare concerns.

Having the mystery so thoroughly embedded in background particular to Dr. LePort's career as a cardiologist lends the entire effort an authenticity not to be found in the usual medical thriller genre.

The action is solid and nonstop, characters are believable and well-drawn, and the supporting underlying moral and ethical quandaries lend excellent tension to the story, which develops many twists and turns readers won't see coming.

Libraries seeking medical thrillers more than a cut above the usual will find Change of Heart an outstanding exploration of hospital politics, medical challenges, and mystery that lends equally well to book club recommendation and discussion groups.

Rescue Run
John Winn Miller
Bancroft Press
9781610886437, $27.95

Rescue Run: Capt. Jake Rogers' Daring Return to Occupied Europe is a sequel expanding the World War II maritime Peggy C Saga series, and is especially recommended for prior fans of John Winn Miller's blend of history and action.

Newcomers will find Rescue Run an unusual approach to World War II history, in that it describes events and experiences from the viewpoints of ordinary sailors who become caught up in a war they never trained for.

Miller's attention to even small nuances of daily life experience lends an authentic feel to the saga, bringing it to life with rich detail:

The three ravenous men gathered around a small table in the backroom for a plateful of a beef version of braadworst, a traditional Dutch sausage, typically served on top of steaming hutspot - mashed potatoes with kale, onions, and carrots. Vegetables were hard to come by, and meat was even more scarce, so the dish was mostly carrots.

"No, that will not do," Mr. 400 said, snatching the fork out of Rogers' right hand. "Here, do this." He cut the tiny sausage with the fork in his left hand and the knife in his right and shoved the bite into his mouth with his left hand. "Do not eat like an American. Do not switch hands. Understand?"

Leader Jake once again risks his life to save innocents and others who also have found themselves caught up in a battle far from their experience.

History and local atmosphere are embedded into these descriptions, furthering the feel of realistic settings, environments, and encounters as tense action and high drama unfold:

The canal, unlike the ones in Amsterdam, was cut several meters below street level and was lined with windows, arched double doors, and an occasional staircase. The doors led to the city's wharf cellars, carved out under homes so the owners above could take in supplies and store them without having to haul them up to street level. Most of the 700 in existence had been abandoned after rail and road traffic began to dominate transportation.

It is Miller's close attention to building intricate details to support these confrontations that keep this novel both entertaining and insightful. It captures the milieu of different countries, nautical adventures and interests, and social and political clashes in a manner unequalled by typically one-dimensional portraits of the times.

Cementing all these events is also an exquisite characterization in which all participants in the struggles hold their distinct personalities, special interests, and viewpoints.

From Resistance movements and double spies to pathways of escape and redemption, the movements Jake and his cohorts make, and the morals and values that fuel their decisions, create vivid scenarios that will prove hard to put down.

Libraries strong in either nautical novels or historical fiction, particularly those with a special interest in World War II battles or that have seen patron interest in Miller's prior book, will find Rescue Run an excellent choice. It will attract even readers who may initially hold little prior interest in nautical or military history, but seek rollicking good fiction that defies pat categorization.

Ring: A Novel
Michelle Lerner
Bancroft Press
9781610886277, $23.95

Ring: A Novel is a story about grief, suicide, and rejuvenation. Trigger warning: this will prove difficult reading for those who might hold unresolved issues in their own lives. Recommendation? Start such a self-examination here, through the comforting distance of fiction, by moving through the life and reactions of grieving parent Lee, who is searching for solace after an immeasurable loss.

Nobody is ready to face suicide - or its aftermath. As the story opens, Lee, who has hardly left the house since the death, is on the first trip he's undertaken since Rachel's funeral, heading for a sanctuary bereft of the comfort of Xanax or the ability to continue hiding from the world and his own heart.

Rachel and Lee's perspectives shift throughout the story, juxtaposing the thoughts, observations, and experiences of parent and child in a manner that lends to enlightenment and understanding on both sides.

Witness the changes that occur when grief is transformed into concern for Ring, a dog brought to the sanctuary by a man determined to not only end his life, but take Ring with him to be his companion in the afterlife.

Pulled into another dilemma surrounding the ethics and morality of suicide, Lee embarks on a journey that not only addresses this unique situation between animal and owner, but covers past connections to Rachel which have, until now, proved impossible to confront or absorb.

Michelle Lerner crafts a story which delicately walks between psychological insight and inquiry, injecting atmospheric influences of Canadian culture and environment into the tale of a search for not just peace, but understanding.

Rituals and changing perspectives shift Lee's prior convictions about suicide and its possibilities, as well as its influence on those that are left behind with loss and grief.

Concurrent issues facing First People residents at Attawapiskat and its nearby Seven Pillars Sanctuary (which purportedly has little to do with the Swampy Cree First Nation government, but ripples influences into the nearby native culture) are also explored, adding additional, unexpected dimensions of cultural, social, and psychological inspection to widen the scope and subject from suicide to First Nations concerns.

Lerner's delicate reconstruction of Lee's life without Rachel in it (but newly enriched by knowing Ring) offers thought-provoking dialogues and insights perfect for psychology group or book club discussion as bigger-picture thinking about life, death, and purpose come into play:
"Maybe you can do that for Rachel, maybe you can survive and serve others as a legacy for her. I think that's part of what Gloria was trying to suggest. Or maybe you can use this opportunity as a place to live with Ring while you figure out another way to honor Rachel's memory. I know you're afraid. I know you're in pain. And I know maybe you don't want to heal. I just wonder if maybe you do."

Libraries seeking novels about suicide and parental loss which take an extra step into arenas of animal protection and connection, healing, and First Nations concerns will find Ring: A Novel the perfect recommendation for patrons who struggle with their own losses.

More is going on in Ring than loss alone: it's the rejuvenation opportunity, which works on different levels of realization and resolution, which give this book added value and expanded interest.

Wrangling the Doubt Monster
Amy L. Bernstein
Bancroft Press
9781610886383, $14.95

Wrangling the Doubt Monster: Fighting Fears, Finding Inspiration is a survey of confidence, questions, and conundrums. It's directed to writers who struggle to overcome their own internal messages and barriers to writing success.

The real killer of any art is self-doubt. Amy Bernstein doesn't devote her entire book to illustrating this fact or its impact. Instead, she outlines various types of doubt and informs writers and artists about how best to deal with it so that artistic inclinations aren't quashed by its force.

Those who think the psychology of doubt will receive yet another staid definition or self-help approach in Wrangling the Doubt Monster will be surprised (and pleased) to learn that Bernstein delves far beyond psychology alone, asking and stating, right from the start, that:

Are your doubts as an artist affected - possibly even determined - by the culture around you? I'm not referring to your dad, who thinks you need to find a "real" job and stop futzing around with art. I'm referring to the dominant culture and society in the country where you live (or have spent the most time). There could be a connection, even if it's tangential, between your cultural environment and the severity or prevalence of your doubts about practicing your artform.

From the origins and influences of persistent doubts and working definitions of how it impacts one's artistic soul to concrete self-help strategies that not only analyze the problem, but place it in a different light of resolution, Bernstein fine-tunes her presentation to appeal across the board to a variety of artistic pursuits and senses:

Doubt is a question holding a knife. A question, by itself, can be innocent or sinister. But hand that question a knife, and all at once you are in danger. What sort of danger? Danger that exposes your deepest vulnerabilities, plumbs your weaknesses, finds flaws in your logic, pokes holes in your systems... tears you down... Here's what no one tells you about the danger of doubt...

Presented in succinct, descriptive language complimented by black and white illustrations that add comic relief to the serious tone of this survey, Wrangling the Doubt Monster is highly recommended for a diverse audience, from artistic library patrons to young adult aspiring artists, adult book clubs interested in self-help books that promote discussion and change, and psychology readers who would identify and resolve their own doubting personalities.

The Playbook
Gary E. Parker
Bancroft Press
9781610886642, $24.95

The Playbook is a novel about football, players and coaches, and the experience of strategy and determination as one young woman forges new pathways in a traditionally male sport.

Chelsea Deal represents a dichotomy. Manicured hands don't ordinarily hold a football, even if it is a high school sports scenario. Players don't usually wear lipstick. And her participation in a contact sport that males dominate places her in an unusual role when it comes to bending rules, making plays, and assuming an active stance in a ballgame where she is encouraged to "do something they won't expect."

In reality, she's already done so by her drive to participate in football. But something more is required than her presence and game skills alone, and as The Playbook unfolds, these elements come into play in a manner that highlights the presence of women in sports in general and one young woman's perseverance and determination in particular.

Gary E. Parker's playbook comes with rules that are meant to be broken as Chelsea explores new options, forging new pathways not only for herself, but future generations of young women interested in football.

Team clashes and efforts, Chelsea's ability to guide her team and take command of situations through her special insights, and the playbooks of tradition that fall to her leadership abilities are outlined in group and individual dynamics that come to life under Parker's hand:

A football in hand, Chelsea steps forward and scans the team. Knowing the players aren't accustomed to losing, she isn't sure whether to go easy or rain hellfire and brimstone on their heads. "Okay, gentlemen," she starts, deciding to stay positive. "First thing: Last week is over. Flush it. We're not talking about it anymore." Everyone relaxes a little as she continues. "Second, this is a bye week, so we can all rest up, recover from injuries." The players nod, letting their guard down a little more. But Chelsea's next words jerk them quickly back to attention. "But know this," she says, her face tightening. "A bye week doesn't mean it's a 'jerk-around and waste-time' week. Or an 'act-like-an-idiot and get-in-trouble week.' Use your time wisely. We clear on that?"

A new Playbook is created which challenges both Chelsea and her team as faith plays a strong role in outcomes and shifting goals.

Parker's inclusion of this Christian foundation adds yet another dimension of attraction and interest to the story, elevating it beyond any perception that the novel will be about football or women's participation alone.

This makes The Playbook a game-changer for its revelations about life, belief, and bigger-picture thinking. All will drive readers to appreciate facets of life experience that go well beyond Chelsea's participatory skills alone.

Libraries looking for faith-based, strong considerations of sports, relationships with God, male and female confrontations and love, and evolving goals that embrace new revelations will find The Playbook an excellent choice that outlines more than one game's changing strategies.

Cristina LePort M.D.
Bancroft Books
9781610886185, $25.95

In the beginning, there were thrillers. The expanded subjects of this genre began to dictate further delineation into such sub-categories as 'political thriller' or 'psychological thriller'.

Dr. Cristina LePort now raises the bar with Defrosted, a 'cryogenic & political thriller' that pairs science, medicine, political intrigue, and cat-and-mouse games that operate on expanded levels of intrigue designed to pique the mind and reader's knowledge. The general 'medical thriller' category thus expands to define yet another category, which proves refreshingly original and captivating.

The story opens in present-day Alaska, a suitably chilly environmental backdrop for the events that unfold. The same exactness of medical world detail is present as in Dr. LePort's other medical thrillers (such as Dissection), but takes a different tone and twist as cryogenic possibilities, science, and manipulation become hot topics.

What does a routine Forest Service helicopter survey have to do with cryogenic politics? Plenty, as the unfortunate pilots discover when a routine fly-over patrol reveals a mother elk in distress, a baby gone missing, and a lake simmering with trouble.

In short order, the plot moves from the wilds of Alaska to the heady rush of medical world lab investigations that jump forward to 2220, where a successful power play by a medical manager has resulted in a leadership position that's being challenged from an unexpected direction.

High-tech medical options and dangerous new avenues of research and exploitation cement a plot steeped in too many threats as Dr. Ralph Clifford and his son Maurice's inspection mission probes too close to secret efforts replete with moral and ethical conundrums. Who is better saved if there is a choice: a baby, or drug addicts?

Can the Chief Medical Officer of the Northern Regions be blackmailed? Can research on an emerging chemoculture save humanity from extinction?

The power plays operate on both political and psychological levels as Dr. Ralph Clifford, Dr. Alan Muller, and a cast of characters become involved in a program that defrosts not only those with now-solvable medical conditions, but the truth.

Dr. LePort's medical background lends a realistic authenticity to the story, but it's her concurrent focus on medical and political conundrums that keep readers thoroughly engaged as the characters' special interests dovetail with bigger-picture thinking, legal proceedings, and problem-solving.

Readers drawn by either the thriller promise or the medical backdrop will find that Defrosted's ability to thaw out the truth of purposes, visions, and the consequences of actions yet to be tested on moral and ethical grounds gives much food for thought. Against the backdrop of political and medical special interests beats the heart of a captivating series of interlocked relationships that are all tested by new opportunities and novel choices that hold no clear pathways to redemption or resolution.

This is why Defrosted is especially recommended, above many other medical thriller genre reads, for books clubs active in debates over medical ethics and new technology.

Libraries will find it easy to recommend Defrosted to a wide audience of thriller and medical thriller patrons as a refreshingly different take on future medical processes and accompanying ethical possibilities.

Deflating Human Beings V. 1
Selected by Xiuwu R. Liu
Hermit Studio
9798987005507, $25 Hardcover/$9.99 Kindle

Deflating Human Beings: Sources and Quotations from Around the World, V. 1: Numerals - C presents college-level students and quote readers with a different approach, gathering writings which are "deflationary" in definition, designed to puncture the egos, suppositions, and errors in the human condition.

The philosophical, inspirational, and psychological value of these selected quotes thus operates in arenas not typical of the standard general-interest quote book. This offers opportunities for debate, classroom discussion, and reader enlightenment that goes beyond inspirational value alone.

Xiuwu R. Liu's compilation and categorization of these works is both extensive and enlightening. In contrast to the usual synthesis of material in quote books that tend to come from singular times or themes, Liu has gathered excerpts from classics from around the world, from antiquity to modern times. He even samples from contemporary works not usually considered as quote material, from college textbooks and trade books in dozens of fields and academic disciplines to treatises on history, literature, and philosophy.

This wide-ranging approach to the quote form and its value lends a scholarly, rich wellspring of source materials suitable for college-level and intellectual discourse, with its attention to bibliographic documentation allowing researchers to return to the sources of these reflections.

One example lies in the quotes from Black Elk Speaks, a classic of Native American experience and observation:

Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux, premier ed., Black Elk, as told through John G. Neihardt (Flaming Rainbow), SUNY, 2008:

Crazy Horse was dead. He was brave and good and wise. He never wanted anything but to save his people, and he fought the Wasichus [white people] only when they came to kill us in our own country. He was only thirty years old. They could not kill him in battle. They had to lie to him and kill him that way.

I cried all night, and so did my father. (ibid.) (113)

In contrast are thought-provoking quotes from European woman Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, with quotes such as these:

Those who understand only what can be explained understand very little.


Whoever believes in the freedom of the human will has never loved or hated.

The depth and extent of these selections makes Deflating Human Beings: Sources and Quotations from Around the World, V. 1: Numerals - C a special recommendation for college-level libraries and reading groups interested in the topics of deflating human experience, better understanding the human condition, and contrasting the thoughts of cynics, visionaries, and observers of history. As the first of four volumes, it opens the door to a more wide-ranging appreciation of the quote form than most, offering sources and insights that are usually not present under one cover.

The value of having these works under one cover will not be missed by serious students, libraries, and general-interest readers used to the generally self-help nature of simpler quote books, who will find Liu's scholarly collection invaluable.

A Venue of Vultures
Patsy Stagner
Independently Published
9798350947991, $14.99

Mystery fans who enjoy writing that is high-octane in its action, yet thought-provoking in its subject and progression, will find A Venue of Vultures, the first book in the Rancho Exotica mystery series), to be more than worthy of acquisition and discussion.

Patsy Stagner creates a pair of feisty senior citizen investigators in sisters Claire and Avery, who maintain an exotic animal sanctuary, but are forced to solve a murder mystery when they become suspects in a hunter's mysterious death.

Two elderly women would seem to be the last people to want to spend their time pursuing a truth the police are better suited to follow, but Stagner's ability to inject whimsy alongside serious age-related issues lends the story as much added value as in its animal-centric backdrop of endangered species preservation issues:

"Age did have its advantages. Most young people held an idea about senior citizens that might not be entirely accurate."

Indeed, if readers approach this mystery anticipating staid turns of events, they will be pleasantly surprised by the strengths and creative thinking pathways Claire and Avery cultivate as their probe moves in unexpected directions that even the seasoned police don't anticipate.

Wry humor even permeates scenarios such as those where fiery minister promises his flock the specter of hell... which somehow does not put Avery's appetite for trouble on hold:

"The visions of a flaming hell promulgated by the funeral preacher did not put Avery off her food. What did were the platters of carcasses that dominated the buffet table."

From being in the position of defending a woman she doesn't even like to working with detectives while harboring anger over their methods and decisions, Avery's probe into the identity of the real murderer edges she and her sister ever closer to moving from suspects to victims, themselves.

Stagner excels at contrasting aging personalities with wicked wit, social observations, and savvy that arrives with not just growing older, but defying convention in different ways.

These elements give her characters realistic, engaging personalities that drive the mystery towards revelations over a myriad of prejudices about age, environment, and detective work, which will lend nicely to mystery book club discussions.

Libraries that choose A Venue of Vultures seeking something satisfyingly original and compelling will find the story more than thoroughly absorbing as Claire and Avery voluntarily enter into roles that challenge their past, present, and possible futures.

Katharine's Remarkable Road Trip
Gail Ward Olmsted
Black Rose Writing
9781685134327, $20.95 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

Katharine's Remarkable Road Trip is a novel about travel and discovery; but unlike the rollicking ride of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, this story comes steeped in a sense of history, aging-related issues, and adventurous encounters that prompts new revelations and growth.

Set in 1907, it follows a 300-mile road trip undertaken by a 77-year-old woman from her Rhode Island home to New Hampshire, and the unexpected encounters and changes that transform her experience and perspective during this journey.

Katharine's real-world life fuels this fictional pursuit, which offers a wry sense of humor from its opening lines:

I held the telephone's mouthpiece as far from my ear as I was able, but my sister's shrill voice could still be heard. I did not want to believe that Mr. Alexander Graham Bell had invented the telephone for the sole purpose of my younger sister screeching at me from two hundred miles away. Clearly, he'd had far loftier goals in mind.

Katharine is no newcomer to travel. Indeed, she's made the journey between her two homes (as well as other places) numerous times. What concerns her family is her age and the fact that she's traveling solo as a female traversing a man's world. But that's nothing new, either: for most of her life, Katharine has been alone and done many things. So, really, it all boils down to aging and safety.

Katharine's journey defies both as she engages with various characters, navigates new situations, imparts the wisdom of her years, and learns unexpected new things in the course of her road trip.

The real Katharine (Prescott Wormeley, 1830-1908) was fiercely independent, educated, and never married. She was a nurse, a school founder, a hospital administrator, a writer, and a translator.

The facts about her life neatly blend into her times, here, to capture both a psychological and philosophical sense of growth and the circumstances. These lead her into unexpected new directions via not only her expanded relationships, but their impact:

Perhaps my random meanderings were meant to serve a real purpose, after all. No, that was ridiculous. It had just been nothing more than a fortunate coincidence that had put us in the same place and time today. Unless...

The result is a story that will especially delight readers of women's historical fiction and novels rooted in real-world people. Gail Ward Olmsted's in-depth studies of the real Katharine's life and times lends a realistic atmosphere to all her choices and their consequences, successfully cementing character intentions and the adventurous nature of her life and thinking.

Katharine's Remarkable Road Trip is very highly recommended for a wide audience, from libraries seeking appealing stories of women's lives to book clubs that will find plenty of material here for discussion and debate on everything from aging and life experiences to revised perspectives on how to approach and live one's twilight years.

Deep Cover, The Unknowing Agent
Jeffrey Jay Levin
Black Rose Writing
9781685134365, $18.95

Deep Cover, The Unknowing Agent is a thriller that posits the question of whether more Cold War Russian spies are lying undercover in America, either doing damage or waiting quietly for instructions from the Kremlin.

What does this question have to do with genetic researchers Lisa Jones and Jennifer Turner? Plenty. Lisa's boyfriend, Sgt. Stephan Beck, regularly interprets intercepted messages from Russia, but the latest message has him convinced that underneath its apparent subject lies a secret and deadly dangerous direction.

His probe shakes his relationship with Lisa, distancing them at a point where they really should be strengthening their ties to stand against the personal and professional forces which threaten not just them, but the world.

Because Jeffrey Jay Levin ties these characters into a plot that rests on the foundations of modern-day political and social turmoil and questions, readers will find Deep Cover, The Unknowing Agent especially pertinent to issues involving Russian influencers on modern events in America.

The confusion which evolves in Lisa and Stephen's relationship mirrors the confrontations and confusion in political circles as the truth is twisted, obscured, and finally emerges in an unexpected new light to challenge everyone involved. Levin also injects history lessons into his story line, giving it the flavor of a revisionist review as Russian/American relationships and experiences develop.

This, too, casts deep shadows and revelations about evolving events. This keeps thriller readers guessing, engaged, and absorbing new insights about the cat-and-mouse game of espionage and subterfuge that has marked the social and political relationships of two nations subtly at war with one another.

Excellent tension comes from nonstop twists and turns, paired with first-person observations and experiences that walk a fine line between psychological and political involvements.

Libraries and readers looking for a thriller that ultimately delivers the one-two punch of modern-day relevancy and discovery will find Deep Cover, The Unknowing Agent thoroughly thought-provoking and completely worthy of thriller and political science book club group discussion.

The Genetic Universe: Revised Edition
Independently Published
9798989736201, E-book: $11.00 / Paperback: $19.00 / Hardback: $27.00

Picture a synthesis of philosophy, science, metaphysics, and psychology. Garnish this blend with the overlay of complex language that lends a scholarly tone to the examination, juxtaposing philosophical reflection and inspection in a manner suitable to college-level and intellectual readers. Then add an icing of reflection that delves as much into psychological influences and forces as it does scientific and global issues, for a sense of both the complexity and appeal of The Genetic Universe.

To call The Genetic Universe 'wide-ranging' would be to both accurately describe it and do it a disservice. While intellectual readers interested in such complex blends will find Garcia-Gonzalez's language and scholarship appropriately challenging and intriguing, the examples and illustrations of metaphysics' relationship to everyday living and dilemmas of the human condition lends it an appeal to lay audiences seeking mind-expanding connections and unusual discourses.

Take Garcia-Gonzalez's chapter on 'Making Perfect Copies of Inexistent Images'. Herein lays a perfect example of how the author draws important connections between perception, upbringing, classifications of different types of recognition and identification, showing how all these facets dovetail neatly with cognitive actions and reactions.

Garcia-Gonzalez's basic query ("Is a genetic essence needed before things can exist?") thus expands into realms that singular readers won't see coming - which makes it both a challenge and an enlightening read. This undoubtedly will deter many general-interest readers, who will find either the science or the philosophy (or even the metaphysics) to be more detailed than anticipated.

However, readers of all disciplines (including general-interest audiences) who cultivate inquiring minds and the flexibility of adapting to the leaps of subject and connections that Garcia-Gonzalez makes will find the reward lies in absorbing and better understanding his fruits of intellectual effort:

Simply put, wisdom emerges from transcending the logical ramifications of theoretical learning, which, in its own right, is the largest portion of an educated individual's personal formation. A "highly educated" or "cultured" individual accumulates more theoretical learning than an ordinary individual and could become a specialist or expert in a field that requires a high level of theoretical learning, but only if the cultured individual transcends the learned theory with complementary physical experience could he or she become, and be correctly regarded as, wise.

This reviewer's degree lies in psychology. Other readers may hold pedigrees in intellectual philosophical discourse, genetics, or metaphysical subjects. Regardless of the background and approach of the audience, only one real prerequisite is needed for appreciating the divergent courses and connections Garcia-Gonzalez makes here: an interest in the intersecting puzzle pieces of human awareness and understanding.

Putting these pieces together is no simple task. That's why The Genetic Universe is especially recommended for book reading groups interested in a study that, admittedly, is a slow read; if only for its complex associations and integrative discipline approach. Indeed, there are so many subjects, applications, and facets to this discussion that it's hard to synthesize all these connections in a succinct review.

Surprises in conclusions and the applicability of these seemingly ethereal thoughts to real-world events lies in chapters like 'Global Overpopulation,' which makes a powerful case for world issues grounded in overpopulation's incarnation in modern times:

Considering the global problems mentioned, could our time be "the age of the receptor," ruling over every significant area that could harm people and their environment? It is not a matter of a lack of intelligence that prevents confronting each problem as it appears; alternatively, it is a matter of overpopulation eventually defeating any strategy that could be put into practice.

Libraries willing to take a chance on a book that defies pat categorization or discipline assignment will find the very challenges posed by these approaches in The Genetic Universe also represent the book's strength.

This makes it a top interdisciplinary recommendation for readers who would think beyond the usual linear presentations of social, philosophical, scientific and psychological examination to delve into the nature and applications of consciousness itself.

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

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

Diamond Cut
Thomas B. Cavanagh
Oceanview Publishing
9781608095957, $18.99 pbk / $9.49 Kindle

"Diamond Cut" is a rapid pace thriller to the very end. The story opens with two detectives working a case to prove a married man is unfaithful to his wife. Sandy Corrigan the female investigator has a nice life working for her brother's agency and a wonderful son. All is fine until a woman from her past, hires Sandy to find out what happened, to a young girl from Vietnam, who disappeared. Risking everything she has accomplished; Sandy takes the case dredging up buried memories and she realizes she will have to deal with some of the people she left to secure a new life. "Diamond Cut" has well fleshed out characters and tight writing, set in the degrading world of human trafficking, prostitution, and evil pimps, revealing a sinister side of Orlando few of us ever see. "Diamond Cut" is a beautifully told mystery novel.

Every Single Secret
Christina Dodd
Canary Street Press
c/o Harper Collins
9781335008503, $29.99 HC / $12.99 Kindle

Christina Dodd has always told a great thriller and "Every Single Secret" is one of her best. Rowan Winterbourne lives in a in a small community on the coast in California . She resides in a lighthouse and has a quiet life after she has decided to hide out from the powerful drug lord who had her mother murdered. Things change when a stranger comes to her door. Then she begins a relationship with this mystery man. "Every Single Secret" is a complicated roller coaster ride until the very end.

Witch of The Black Circle Dawn Of The Blood Witch Book I
Maria DeVino
4 Horsemen Publications
9781644504840, $19.99 pbk / $0.99 Kindle

"Witch Of The Black Circle" is a gem first of horror series. For all her life a female has heard from her mom she is a witch. Soon she sees the truth of her mother's words realizing through a sequence of situations she, must be careful how she uses her special gifts. "Witch Of The Black Circle" is a chilling alarming tale of one persons journey to know who and what she is that is crisply written prose to the last page.

Unexploded Remnants
Elaine Gallagher
Tor Publishing Group
9781250325211, $16.99 HC / $4.99 Kindle

AI is becoming very popular in the publishing world with titles in nonfiction and fiction especially science fiction. "Unexploded Remnants" a current one, shows what can happen, when AI takes over. Alice the last human being is on a quest to find an ancient weapon before it wipes out more beings in other galaxies. She enlists the aid of a computer as well as several aliens to stop the device from carrying out its mission. Elaine Gallagher handles the story with solid writing, interesting characters on an operation to stop a device from its task. "Unexploded Remnants" is solid rollicking fun, for anyone looking for a new author to discover in the genre.

Unknown Soldier World War I
David Preston
Azalea City Publishing
9798990562219, $21.99 HC / $6.99 Kindle

"Unknown Soldier World War I" is a story of the sacrifice many of us face, when family members serve in the military. James Reynolds, lives in a small town in Alabama with his sister, mother, and father, seventeen yearning for something better in life. James, decides to leave striking out on his own, somewhere else in the state. During his time in Mobile, an event happens whereby he decides to enlist in the Alabama National Guard. Before he does he returns to his birthplace to see if his best friend Tommy wants to register too. Once inducted, they have a series of adventures that lead to actual combat in Europe, as America enters World War I. Tommy and James friendship is stronger than ever as the story moves quickly through their escapades to climax in the conflict in France fighting the Germans. A bonus touch is historical figures like General Douglas MacArthur who show up from time to time with the characters of James and Tommy. There is a lot to like here, but I found some of the language, is not historically accurate, while it also does not make a connection very well, with the beginning, at times it is difficult to know when it is taking place. Even with its minor glitches "Unknown Soldier World War I" is worth reading for its tribute service personnel or veterans, and their families.

The Murder Mystery Race
Andrew S. Cohen
Permuted Press LLC
9781637588260, $19.99 HC / $9.99 Kindle

I had doubts about, "The Murder Mystery Race" when I learned the author, is only thirteen years of age, because it too polished for someone that young, is my overwhelming thought. There is a serial killer who shows up on a cruise that is a gaming event. The writing is fast paced with young adult characters who are realistic on this outing on the high seas. Other readers of "The Murder Mystery Race" I am sure will not have a problem with it as I did.

One True Home Behind the Veil of Forgetfulness
Claire Candy Hough
Angel Healing House
9780981857619, $18.99 HC / $9.99 Kindle

Normally books about angels show them as protectors against bad things happening to many of us. "One True Home" has a very different slant not realized before. According to this work, their function is to guide us through other past journeys, to the person we are today, There is a woman of ancient Egypt, Scotland, Venice, Nigeria to United States, and North Dakota through so many centuries. The work takes readers on a trip through many realms that are thought-provoking interest all the way through. "One True Home" will make you believe in angels and past lives.

You Never Know: A Memoir
Tom Selleck with Ellis Henican
Dey Street Books
c/o William Morrow
c/o Harper Collins
9780062945761, $29.99 HC / $15.99 Kindle

For the first time Tom Selleck tells about his early years in the entertainment, in "You Never Know." Beginning with a car crash that almost ended his life Selleck takes readers on a wonderful journey ending just after the last season of Magnum PI. Selleck openly talks about lasting friendships he has made over the years; work he did as he climbed the ladder of success. It is Selleck talking to readers telling how The Rockford Files helped get him Magnum PI, the making of The Sacketts and other movies with Sam Elliot, High Road To China and Lassiter that he did with so many great actors with huge benefits. Most interesting is the power he had for many of the aspects of Magnum as well as the evolution of the show from the very beginning its nice where he does not down grade anyone, so common these days with other titles. "You Never Know" is an enjoyable fun read, that should have readers searching for episodes he discusses to enjoy including Frank Sinatra's appearance the two with Carol Burnett and many others that will add bonus pleasure

My Lost Freedom
George Takei, author
Michelle Lee, illustrator
Crown Books For Young Readers
c/o Penguin Random House Children's Books
9780593566350, $19.99 HC / $11.99 Kindle

The man, best known, as Hikaru Sulu of Star Trek, tells a new version of his life during World War II in "My Lost Freedom" After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7th 1941), America took what it thought were precautionary measures by rounding up all Japanese Americans and putting them in camps, until the end of the war. Takei tells the horrors he and any Asians endured during this time marked by hate and degradation, even though many had served in the American military and were clearly Americans. Unlike his adult autobiography this account makes it much clearer what he and others had to deal with. "My Lost Freedom exposes why it was done and the effect on American Japanese people. "My Lost Freedom can be an educational tool to never again do this to any other group of Americans.

The Quacken
Justin Colon, author
Pablo Pino, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781665922487, $18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

"The Quacken" is a laugh out loud, hilarious children's story. Hector a little boy, goes with his parents on a camping outing, in the woods. Once there he is advised, of a monster, and to not in any way, engage the ducks by other people. He disregards the warnings, to find out the truth of the scary creature. "The Quacken" is a fun excursion, when you do not heed other people's advice, who know better than you, about some things lurking out there.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

Sanctuary: The Inner Life of Home
Valerie Andews, editor
Chiron Books
9781685032180, $42.00, HC, 228pp

Synopsis: If you want to get to know someone, listen to their story of home. Intimacy builds as we ask: Where do you come from? What did you leave behind? Where do you feel safe?

In "Sanctuary: The Inner Life of Home", these questions are explored by Jungian analysts, architects and historians, scientists, and storytellers. Contributors also consider how climate change, Black Lives Matter, and an unprecedented wave of global refugees are impacting our notions of home and hospitality.

Critique: Deftly compiled and edited by Jungian psychology expert Valerie Andres, this edition of "Sanctuary: The Inner Life of Home" from Chiron Books features contributions from Jean Shinoda Bolen, James Hollis, Tom Singer, Helen Marlo, Gilda Frantz, John Hill and many others. Occasionally illustrated with B/W photos, "Sanctuary: The Inner Life of Home" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Jungian Psychology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for readers with an interest in the subject of home as sanctuary that "Sanctuary: The Inner Life of Home" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781685032173, $27.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, 9.99).

Editorial Note: Valerie Andrews is a writer, editor, and seminar leader specializing in Jungian psychology and the inner life of home. A graduate of the Guild for Spiritual Guidance, she is the author of A Passion for this Earth, praised by Marion Woodman as "a courageous book about our sacred marriage to the natural world," the founder of Sacred Words: A Center for Healing Stories, and editor of the digital magazine, Reinventing Home: Culture, Creativity, Character. Andrews has contributed to Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche, Parabola, Anima, The Sun, The Optimist, and DreamTime as well as to Esquire and New York magazine. She has also edited several books by Jungian analysts and interviewed Thomas Moore for the documentary, Care of the Soul.

Women in Blue
Cheryl Mullenbach
Chicago Review Press
9781613734223, $19.99, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: They were once called sleuths in skirts, guardian mothers, copettes, and police in petticoats. It would be a long time (well over 150 years) before women in law enforcement were known simply as police officers.

Balancing the stories of trailblazers from the past with those of today's dedicated officers, chiefs, FBI agents, and forensics experts, "Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs, and More" is collection of riveting biographies that collectively trace the evolution of women in policing.

"Women in Blue" inspires readers to value those who broke through barriers (often enduring ridicule and discrimination as they fought for equality) while original interviews shed light on the daily challenges, rewards, and life on the job of various women currently in the trenches of law enforcement. The chronological progression puts hot-button issues like police brutality, race relations, and the treatment of suspects and prisoners into historic context and shows how many women in law enforcement are working to challenge and improve their field.

"Women in Blue" is a rich, authoritative history that is simply packed from cover to cover with colorful anecdotes, excerpts from primary sources, and sidebars on related topics and includes photos, a bibliography, source notes, and a list of organizations interested teens can explore to learn more about the world of law enforcement, making it an indispensable resource for aspiring sleuths, officers, agents, crime scene investigators, and more.

Critique: A celebratory history of women in law enforcement, "Women in Blue: 16 Brave Officers, Forensics Experts, Police Chiefs, and More" by Cheryl Mullenbach is occasionally illustrated with B/W historical photos. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Women in Blue" is a fascinating, informative, and memorable history-through-biography and will prove a welcome and appreciated addition to highschool, community, and college/university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that this edition of "Women in Blue" from Chicago Review Press is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780897333061, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Editorial Note: Cheryl Mullenbach ( is the author of The Industrial Revolution for Kids, winner of the 2015 International Literacy Association Award for Intermediate Nonfiction, The Great Depression for Kids, and Double Victory. She is a former history teacher, librarian, public television project manager, and social studies consultant.

The Times They Are A-Changin'
Mary McSwain Steele, author
Steven M. Steele, author
Independently Published
9798865705994, $13.99, PB, 348pp

Synopsis: Steve and Mary McSwain Steele have celebrated 72 birthdays, 52 of them as a married couple. Looking back over their lives, they've witnessed massive changes in everything from fashion to music to politics: bell bottoms, mini-skirts, skinny pants; Rock n' Roll, Disco, Hip-Hop; The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen Z; The Vietnam Conflict, The Civil Rights Movement, the struggle for gender equality.

With the publication of "The Times They Are A-Changin': As Told By a Couple Happily Married (Most Days) for 50+ Years" readers will find themselves taking a deep dive into nostalgia with this fascinating couple as they reminisce about the past and look to the future.

If you are over 50, their story will bring back long-forgotten memories. If you're younger, this combination memoir and family history will help you better understand your parents (and explain why they are the way they are!)

Critique: Articulate, informative, fascinating, memorable, "The Times They Are A-Changin': As Told By a Couple Happily Married (Most Days) for 50+ Years" is a engaging, entertaining, and absorbing read from start to finish. Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library Contemporary American Biography/Memoir collections.

Editorial Note: Mary McSwain Steele is also the author of"Betty: A Memoir" (2020). was an award-winning newspaper reporter and section editor before investing three decades of her career as director of the RSVP Volunteer Program, enriching the lives of older Americans and their communities through meaningful service activities. Mary is the mother of three and grandmother of 10. She and Steven Steele (her husband of 51 years who is a middle school science teacher, coach, and pastor, are now retired.) live in Spencer, Iowa.

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

Assembling Tomorrow
Scott Doorley & Carissa Carter
Ten Speed Press
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9781984858184, $35.00, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, known as the, was founded at Stanford University in 2005. Each year, more than a thousand students from all disciplines attend classes, workshops, and programs to learn how the thinking behind design can enrich their own work and unlock their creative potential.

With the publication of "Assembling Tomorrow: A Guide to Designing a Thriving Future from the Stanford", co-authors Scott Doorley and Carissa Carter explore the intangible forces that prevent us from anticipating just how fantastically technology can get out of control, and what might be in store for us if we don't start using new tools and tactics. Despite our best intentions, our most transformative innovations tend to have consequences we can't always predict.

From the effects of social media to the uncertainty of AI and the consequences of climate change, the outcomes of our creations ripple across our lives. Time and again, our seemingly ceaseless capacity to create rubs up against our limited capacity to understand our impact.

"Assembling Tomorrow" explores how to use readily accessible tools to both mend the mistakes of our past and shape our future for the better. We live in an era of "runaway design," where innovations tangle with our lives in unpredictable ways. "Assembling Tomorrow" explores the off kilter feelings of today and follows up with actionables to alter your perspective and help you find opportunities in these turbulent times.

Mixed throughout are histories of the future, short pieces of speculative fiction that imagine the future as if it has already happened and consider the past with a critical yet hopeful eye so that all of us (as designers of our own futures) can create a better world for generations to come.

Critique: A seminal and inherently fascinating read that will be of particular relevance to those with an interest in creativity, decision making, and problem solving in a world of rapidly evolving technology as illustrated by the current introduction of artificial intelligence (AI). Featuring illustrations by Armondo Veve, "Assembling Tomorrow: A Guide to Designing a Thriving Future from the Stanford" is a unique and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections. It should be noted for MBA students, academicians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Assembling Tomorrow" is also readily available from Ten Speed Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Editorial Note #1: Scott Doorley is a writer, designer, and the creative director at the Stanford He co-wrote the book "Make Space: How to Set the Stage for Creative Collaboration" and teaches courses in design communication. His work has been featured in museums from San Jose to Helsinki and in publications such as Architecture + Urbanism and the New York Times. (

Editorial Note #2: Carissa Carter is a designer, geoscientist, and the academic director at the Stanford She is also the author of "The Secret Language of Maps: How to Tell Visual Stories with Data", and teaches design courses on emerging technologies, climate change, and data visualization. Her work on designing with machine learning and blockchain has earned multiple design awards, including Fast Company Innovation and Core 77 awards. (

Editorial Note #3: Armando Veve ( is an award-winning illustrator whose drawings have appeared in publications including The New Yorker, National Geographic, Scientific American, MIT Technology Review, and Wired, among others. He studied illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design and currently resides in Philadelphia.

Crossing under Cover
Sara Beth Kohut
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
9780764367502, $19.99, HC, 112pp

Synopsis: "Crossing under Cover: Covered Bridges of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Surrounding Regions" by Sara Beth Kohut is a lovingly crafted and detailed profiling of the 24 covered bridges located in the tricounty/state area of Chester County, Pennsylvania; Cecil County, Maryland; and New Castle County, Delaware.

The features comprising "Crossing under Cover" include: A general history of covered bridges, including Pennsylvania's prominence in that history; An overview of covered-bridge architectural styles; A profile of each bridge, including photographs and interesting local facts; The legacy and lore of each individual covered bridge and the impact they have on their communities and local history; A map and detailed driving tour that readers can follow to visit all the bridges; The architectural style of each bridge.

"Crossing under Cover" from Schiffer Publishing is the only study to feature covered bridges of three contiguous states, and the latest volume in decades to focus on covered bridges of Chester County.

Critique: This large format (7.5 x 0.75 x 9 inches, 1.7 pounds) hardcover edition of Sara Beth Kohut's "Crossing under Cover: Covered Bridges of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and Surrounding Regions" is profusely illustrated throughout with informatively captioned full color photos of the featured covered bridges. Of special note is the inclusion of 'A Driving Tour of the Covered Bridges'. A fun, informative and interesting read from start to finish, "Crossing under Cover" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library collections and supplemental Historic Architectural Protection curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Sara Beth A. R. Kohut grew up exploring her native Chester County, Pennsylvania, as well as the neighboring counties in Delaware and Maryland. Sara Beth's passion for covered bridges started when her parents took her at the age of nine to see the Jackson Saw Mill Covered Bridge as it sat in shambles after a storm. Fortunately, that bridge was rebuilt, enabling her, as an adult, to rediscover and write about the lore and legends of that and other covered bridges. She has written, published, and presented about local history and events and serves on her township's historical commission. Sara Beth lives in Chester County and works as an attorney, writer, and historian. (

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

Under the Rainbow
Jeff Keene
WordCrafts Press
9781957344478, $29.99, HC, 106pp

Synopsis: The magical Ruby Slippers, worn by actress Judy Garland in MGM's beloved 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz is perhaps the most iconic example of movie memorabilia in the world. The pair on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History draws more visitors than any other exhibit at the famed museum-with the single exception of The Star Spangled Banner.

With a market value exceeding $6,000,000 they are easily the most expensive prop in Hollywood history, sought after by collectors... and thieves.

On August 28, 2005, the "Traveling Pair" which were on display at the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, were stolen and remained missing until July, 2018. "Under the Rainbow" by Jeff Keene is the true story of their recovery.

Critique: Jeff Keene's "Under the Rainbow" from WordCrafts Press is the detailed and fascinating story of a remarkable theft and recovery that will be of particular appeal to fans of true crime, as well as the legions of readers with an interest in one of the truly iconic Hollywood memorabilia from one of the truly iconic Hollywood movies -- Dorothy's ruby red shoes from The Wizard of Oz". An exceptional and interesting read from start to finish, "Under the Rainbow" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library True Crime collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Under the Rainbow" is also available in a paperback edition (9781957344485, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Jeff Keene II ( has been able to balance full-time teaching with the creation of accurate First Century historical fiction. He also has written a unique memoir, in that it is written from the perspective of a shack. That can be found at (

Radical Self-Care: Rituals for inner resilience
Rebecca Moore, author
Christian Cassiel, photographer
Line & Honeyt, illustrations
Leaping Hare Press
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711294219, $20.00, HC, 144pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Radical Self-Care: Rituals for Inner Resilience", wellness practitioner and contemporary spiritual guide Rebecca Moore provides you everyday practices, reflections and wisdom that will help you design a life that you want and love. With stunning photographs by Christian Cassiel and line drawings by Line & Honey, "Radical Self-Care is your go-to guide to interconnected wellbeing, destined to become a cherished reference.

Of special note are the "Radical Self-Care sections Be Here Now, Embodiment, Check In and Reflect, Letting Go, Self-Soothe, Conscious Rest, Nature's Gifts, and Togetherness, exploring:

Prioritising your wellness
Being aware of your own needs
Taking steps to protect your energy every day
Taking care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others
Taking time away from what you 'should' be doing
Devotion to the rituals that keep you grounded and centred
Building inner resilience and increasing your capacity to deal with life's challenges.

Harnessing a variety of healing techniques, including breathwork, movement, meditation, mindfulness, journaling, affirmation and nature therapy, the rituals have been curated with simplicity and accessibility in mind. Every exercise can be practiced in a short time to make it easier to weave into your existing daily routine. Throughout, you are encouraged to get familiar with your own wants and needs, to reveal what makes you happy.

Critique: Living in our modern and complex world, it is essential for mental and spiritual well being that we have 'real world practical' guide to authentic self-care. "Radical Self-Care: Rituals for Inner Resilience" is that perfect DIY instructional resource. Thoroughly 'reader/user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Radical Self-Care is a highly recommended pick for personal, professional, and community library Stress Management & Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

Editorial Note #1: Rebecca Moore ( is a contemporary wellness guide, author, and yogini, devoted to empowering individuals through self-healing tools and fostering deeper connections with themselves and others. Drawing inspiration from ancient healing practices, she translates them into practical support for modern city living. Born and raised in London, Rebecca holds certifications in a range of alternative therapies, including yoga, breathwork, energy healing, bodywork, and aromatherapy. By integrating these modalities, she cultivates transformative spaces that encourage exploration, expression, and personal growth.

Editorial Note #2: Amberlee is an Illustrator, Mental Health Practitioner and Lecturer who lives by the mantra 'you can be more than one thing'. She founded Line & Honey, an illustration studio focused on minimal, intentional design and the visibility of women of colour. Based in London and of Jamaican heritage, she instigates conversations around representation, softness, and how we access rest through her work. (

Editorial Note #3: Christian Cassiel ( is a British-Jamaican visual artist who uses photography to navigate the world and build relationships with people and the communities he engages with. The ability to create while understanding the cultural and historical context of his subjects, allows him to produce imagery that is both visually absorbing and emotionally resonant.

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

Finnian Kelly
Hay House, Inc.
9781401977542, $25.99, HC, 296pp

Synopsis: Do you want to fully reconnect with yourself and reclaim your power? To unlock a world of infinite possibilities, adopt the mantra at the heart of Finnian Kelly's approach to life -- prioritize feelings over outcomes.

Using lessons learned from creating and selling multimillion-dollar companies and overcoming upheaval in his own life, with the publication of "Intentionality: A Groundbreaking Guide to Breath, Consciousness, and Radical Self-Transformation", Finnian Kelly shares his step-by-step process for manifesting Intentionality into success. Through combining both scientific and spiritual principles, Finnian leads you through the five key intentions, including actionable steps and targeted breathing exercises you can incorporate into your everyday life.

Through this process, you will: Learn the core makeup of your emotional operating system
Let go of social conditioning; Master your built-in superpower of breath; Recode your mind; Elevate your consciousness.

Kelley's basic message is that Intentionality is more than just a concept -- it's a profound shift in consciousness that will enable you to truly feel and experience more of what life has to offer.

Critique: Articulate, eloquent, insightful, thought-provoking, inspiring, "Intentionality: A Groundbreaking Guide to Breath, Consciousness, and Radical Self-Transformation" will have a very special value and appeal to readers with an interest in Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Business Management/Leadership Motivation. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99), "Intentionality" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as professional, community, and college/university library collections.

Editorial Note: A sought-after speaker, high-performance coach, and trusted advisor for world-changing leaders, Finnian Kelly ( offers a fresh perspective to ancient wisdom by implementing his Intentionality(R) methodology. As a multi-time successful entrepreneur and a retired officer in the Australian military, Finnian has gone on to coach the CEOs and leadership teams of more than 150 companies.

Forest Under Siege
Rand Schenck
Basalt Books
c/o Washington State University Press
9781638640257, $24.95, PB, 248pp

Synopsis: The first man assigned to be chief of the United States Forest Service marveled at the Cascades' ancient forests, but by 1990, relentless logging left a mere thirteen percent of the Pacific Northwest's original old growth.

Focusing primarily on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, with the publication of "Forest Under Siege: The Story of Old Growth After Gifford Pinchot" environmental activist Rand Schenck examines one hundred years of Pacific Northwest forestry -- and in doing so reveals just how close the region's ancient forests came to extinction. Schenck goes on to offer his perspective on the decades of stewardship, the period of unabated harvest, and efforts toward old growth rebirth.

Critique: Of immense interest and relevance to readers concerned with Old Forest preservation and reconstruction, "Forest Under Siege: The Story of Old Growth After Gifford Pinchot" is informatively enhanced with the inclusion of a four page Bibliography, twelve pages of Source Notes, and a seven page Index. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Forest Under Siege" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Forestation collections, and supplemental Environmental Policy/Nature Conservation curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: As a boy, Rand Schenck hiked and backpacked in the same mountains and woods where Gifford Pinchot first worked as a forester and developed a lifelong love of the outdoors. He holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado, as well as an MA in Recreation Administration and a Masters of Social Work, both from University of North Carolina. Now retired, his most recent employment was as an executive coach and an organizational development specialist and consultant.

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

Bullying and Society: A Personal Story
Kevin L. Reichling
Independently Published
9781712263266, $12.99, PB, 275pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Bullying and Society: A Personal Story", Kevin L. Reichling shares his childhood experiences with chronic bullying, describing what goes through the mind of such a victim and how he or she may come to view other people. Kevin also describes how the experiences effected him into his twenties and how he learned to mitigate the damage.

Critique: An articulate and eloquent telling of his own life experiences with an impressive narrative skill supported by thoughtful and thought-provoking insights that while personal to him, have a universal resonance with anyone who has had to deal with being bullied themselves whether in childhood or as adults. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), this paperback edition of "Bullying and Society: A Personal Story" is an especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library American Biography/Memoir collections and supplemental Psychological Trauma Counseling & Prevention curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Kevin Reichling began writing wildlife articles for a local newspaper. His professional background was in wildlife management and wildlife science. He never intended to write about bullying or social issues. He was, however, still struggling with emotional problems from the bullying he experienced in my youth, which prompted his father to suggest that he write a book about it as a form of therapy. Kevin took this idea and ran with it, realizing that he might be able to use my life story to correct the many misconceptions the public has about this issue.

Sketches of Curious Events and Practices in the Lives of the Intriguing People Who Inhabited Early America
Frank E. Kuron
Kuron Publishing
9798218365714, $26.95, PB, 396pp

Synopsis: Few stories of fiction can compare to the true tales that have written themselves through the lives of real people. With the publication of "Sketches of Curious Events and Practices in the Lives of the Intriguing People Who Inhabited Early America", author and historian Frank E. Kuron focuses on some of the intriguing events and practices of the souls who left their mark on North American lands before our present era.

Through the historical writings comprising "Sketches of Curious Events and Practices in the Lives of the Intriguing People Who Inhabited Early America" ranging from diaries, journals, newspaper accounts, and letters, the reader will become introduced to some of the most heroic, as well as the more unscrupulous, people of recorded history. Some are known personalities, while others have been generally overlooked and historical obscure until now.

The beliefs, culture, and experiences of these individuals are expounded upon. They are authentic testimonies; however, like a sound bite from a speech, a story told out of context can easily be misconstrued. Therefore, though packed with quotes from the people involved, these accounts have pertinent background information woven into them as well.

"Sketches of Curious Events and Practices in the Lives of the Intriguing People Who Inhabited Early America" addresses: How did the Native Americans come to inhabit North America?; Why did the early settlers drink so much?; What caused the author of our National Anthem to be a witness to the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the first place? -- and so much more

Critique: An inherently fascinating and deftly written approach to early American history, "Sketches of Curious Events and Practices in the Lives of the Intriguing People Who Inhabited Early America" breathes new life into old history in the form of historical questions/mysteries and answers/explanations. Impressively informative and a fun read from start to finish, "Sketches of Curious Events and Practices in the Lives of the Intriguing People Who Inhabited Early America" is an unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, highschool, and college/university American History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Frank Kuron ( is a native of Toledo, Ohio. He is an early-American history enthusiast who became an author in 2011. Through the bicentennial celebration period of the War of 1812, he contributed a weekly column titled, Perspectives of the 1812 Era, to the former Toledo Free Press newspaper.

Michael Dunford

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

L.A. Birdmen
Richard J. Goodrich
Prometheus Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
9781493084395, $29.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Although most people credit Wilbur and Orville Wright with America's first powered flight, two months before the brothers lifted off the sands of Kitty Hawk, a French immigrant named August Greth flew the California Eagle, an airship of his own design, across the skies of San Francisco. While the Wrights claimed they had invented a flying machine, Greth and the California aviators proved it in front of thousands of spectators at state fairs and festivals across the country.

With the publication of "L.A. Birdmen: West Coast Aviators and the First Airshow in America" by Richard J. Goodrich reveals the fascinating and forgotten story of America's first aviators -- Californian aviators like August Greth, Tom Baldwin, Roy Knabenshue, John Montgomery, and James Zerbe. Possessing a rare blend of ingenuity, creativity, and bravery, these pilots captured the world's attention in 1910 when Los Angeles hosted America's first international airshow. Inspired by a flying exhibition held in Reims, France, Los Angeles promoter Dick Ferris convinced the city to host a competing event -- a show that featured the world's best pilots and machines and would firmly establish Los Angeles as the center of American aviation.

Featuring a fierce competition between French pilot Louis Paulhan and American Glenn Curtiss, the Los Angeles International Aviation Meet was a revelation: the pilots shattered existing aviation records, refuted those who doubted the viability of heavier-than-air flying machines, and performed death-defying stunts. The ten days of flying received national newspaper coverage and attracted more than 100,000 visitors, including future industry leaders like Glenn Martin and William Boeing.

"L.A. Birdmen" offers a high-flying account of the West Coast contribution to aviation, a little-recognized chapter in the story of American flight. In the first decade of the twentieth century, these dashing aviators (and not the Wright brothers) were the public face of American aviation.

Critique: Uncovering a hitherto obscured and forgotten piece of American aviation history, Richard Goodman's "L.A. Birdmen: West Coast Aviators and the First Airshow in America" is an extraordinary and detailed study that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and college/university library Aviation History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that this hardcover edition of "L.A. Birdmen" from Prometheus Books is also readily available for students, academia, and aviation history buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.45).

Editorial Note: Richard J. Goodrich ( earned his Ph. D, at St. Andrews and spent twenty years teaching ancient history in Britain and the United States. In addition to six academic texts, he is the author of Comet Madness: How the 1910 Return of Halley's Comet (Almost) Destroyed Civilization.

Waldwick: We hold these truths to be self-evident that...
Kenneth Linde
Little Creek Press
c/o Waldwick Books
9781942586463, $19.95, PB, 324pp

Synopsis: "Waldwick: We hold these truths to be self-evident that... " by Kenneth Linde is set in historical Mineral Point, Wisconsin. "Waldwick" examines the concept of oppression and its justification from the perspective of one person -- first as the victim, then as the witness and finally as the oppressor.

"Waldwick" tells the story of one man's dreams and the challenges he faces to turn those dreams into reality. Weaving actual events and people, Waldwick imagines how one family is affected by real-life situations, while adding one more vital component -- emotion!

Critique: A deftly crafted work of historical fiction set in a Wisconsin yesteryear, "Waldwick: We hold these truths to be self-evident that... " by novelist Kenneth Linde is a simply fascinating read from start to finish. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), this paperback edition of "Waldwick" from Little Creek Press and Waldwick Books is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Historical Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Kenneth Linde, has published eight fictional historical and social narratives in the acclaimed Waldwick Series since October of 2018 dealing with contemporary social, legal, and ethical issues that remain prevalent today. Following the fictional Terrill family, Linde stories are all centered around Southern Wisconsin from 1820 to today.

Paul T. Vogel

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

A Floof to a Kill: An Utterly Addictive Cozy Murder Mystery
(The Murderwell Mysteries Book 1)
B.G. Wood
Bogwood Press
9780985194352 $13.77, paper
B0CLBXVDJW, $0.00 ebook, 266 pages

A Floof to a Kill is a cozy mystery that is more mystery than cozy. There are two problems with the tale. The first problem is with the world building. Wood created a model village that blends the past and the future. The mystery narration is continually interrupted with the world building. The second problem is how Wood adds action to the tale. Wood continually has the protagonist knocked out.

Gina Biletti has just signed her divorce papers and loses her job. Her friend Danielle talks her into flying across the country to go on a girl's weekend escape. Gina soon finds out that Danielle has brought her along for a work weekend at the model village Maidenwell. With Danielle busy, Gina finds herself stumbling into a series of unusual occurrences. The village is hosting an alpaca auction. With possibly millions of dollars involved with the auction, there develops an uncurrent of tension and eventually murder.

A Floof to a Kill is a solid mystery with uneven narration and a few logic problems. The setting is fun and the mystery is solid but the story is only okay. There is real potential in the storyline which does push the recommendation up.

Murder Comes to Notchey Creek
(Notchey Creek Mystery Series Book 1)
Liz S. Andrews
Little Forest Press
B07KX7566H, $4.99 ebook, 251 pages

Murder Comes to Notchey Creek is a fun mystery. The setting is interesting. The protagonist is quirky. The story is rich in details. And lastly the mystery has many layers.

Harley Henrickson has inherited and runs a whisky distillery. She is the nerdy introvert who has never fit in with the rest of the town. A neighbor is killed and Harley starts looking for why. She slowly uncovers decades old secrets of the interconnected lives of people in a small town. The twisted past is the key to today's murders.

Murder Comes to Notchey Creek is an easy mystery recommendation. The narration is smooth and the storytelling is rich.

S.A. Gorden
Senior Reviewer

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Sequins, Scandals & Salchows: Figure Skating in the 1980s
Ryan Stevens
Independently Published
97817381982385, $30.99 HC, $7.99 Kindle, 284 pages

Synopsis: Get ready to return in time with Sequins, Scandals, & Salchows: Figure Skating in the 1980s. This captivating book takes you on a journey through one of the most exciting decades in figure skating history when the sport was at the height of its popularity and its stars were true icons.

From Torvill and Dean's unforgettable Bolero to The Battle of The Brians, this book covers all the most memorable moments in the history of figure skating. It's not just about the skating - this book also explores the real-world events that shaped the decade. This book provides fascinating insights into the sport's cultural significance by exploring the connections between figure skating and global events.

Whether you're a die-hard fan or a casual viewer, this book is a must-read for anyone who loves the sport or wants to learn more about this captivating sport.

Critique: Whether you're a lifelong fan or just discovering the world of figure skating, Sequins, Scandals, & Salchows is an essential read. So, lace up your skates and join a journey through the history of this captivating sport.

Ryan Stevens is a fascinating author, whose descriptive words have captured the grace and beauty of figure skating. In this interesting book, he allows readers to rediscover the magic of this beloved sport.

With vivid descriptions and captivating storytelling, Stevens will transport readers that will allow an up close and personal world of skating. Skating captivated me as a young girl, and I felt overjoyed that this book brought back memories of my youth as a huge skating fan.

During my childhood days, I remember staying glued to the television, watching these graceful dancers. I would like to thank the author for writing a book that is both enlightening, and one that brought significant memories back into my life.

Jewels Among The Ruins
Dani Dee, author
Catherine Kirkland, illustrator
River Dee Designs
9798989727117, $9.79 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 380 pages

Synopsis: Step into the enchanting world where the past intertwines with the present in a mesmerizing tale of love, resilience, and redemption.

The story follows a successful interior architect, whose journey from war-torn Poland to a bustling Chicago firm unravels a tapestry of family secrets and emotional healing.

As she navigates through life's challenges, a chance encounter with an American war veteran sets off a chain of events that will test their strength and courage. Together, they face a mysterious adversary who threatens to disrupt their lives, forcing them to confront their past and secure their future in a world filled with uncertainty.

Join this riveting journey as they strive to find solace amidst chaos and discover the true meaning of family and perseverance.

Critique: Jewels Among The Ruins is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This captivating masterpiece boasts expertly developed characters that will surely leave you in awe.

Prepare to be mesmerized as you delve into the captivating world of Dani Dee's exceptional work. Let the brilliance of her writing sweep you away on an unforgettable literary journey. Explore the magic and wonder that awaits within the pages of Dani Dee's creations.

Leadership: The Inside Story: Time-Tested Prescriptions for Those Who Seek to Lead
Willie Pietersen
Rivertowns Books
9781953943408, $29.95 HB, $9.99 Kindle, 178 pages

Synopsis: Immerse yourself in a unique and profound journey of leadership wisdom in Pietersen's masterpiece, Leadership: The Inside Story: Time-Tested Prescriptions for Those Who Seek to Lead. This book stands out for its unique approach to leadership, making it a must-read for anyone interested in this field.

In this insightful masterpiece, Pietersen shares his wealth of leadership experience, guiding readers on a path to effective leadership that is a continuous journey of growth and discovery. Packed with valuable anecdotes, lessons, and, most important, practical advice, this book is a treasure trove of strategies that can be immediately applied to enhance your leadership skills.

Explore various leadership theories that can revolutionize your competitive strategy and uncover the power of asking the right questions to unlock instant solutions. Embrace the transformative insights within these pages and unlock your full leadership potential.

Critique: Leadership - The Inside Story is an innovative book that explores leadership in both traditional and non-traditional corporate environments. This remarkable book provides valuable insights that individuals can apply in various contexts, making it a useful resource for all who wish to succeed and advance in their careers.

Willie Pietersen's influential voice resonates with power and wisdom. Pietersen's words can be a life-changing experience for everyone from seasoned executives and nonprofit managers to student leaders and sports coaches.

Get ready to elevate your leadership journey to new heights, unlock your full potential, and let Willie Pietersen's inspiring voice enhance your confidence and determination, empowering you to make a life-changing difference in your career.

Sand, Sea, Second Chances: Gull Island Romance Book One
Catherine Michaels
Cool Breeze
B0D1CYFSSB, $.99, Kindle 367 pages

Synopsis: Step into the enchanting world of Gull Island, North Carolina, where Kate Fiore promises a summer filled with twists and turns.

As Kate, seeking solace from a painful past, becomes entwined in the island's allure and the mysterious Luke McAllister, their initial clash of personalities transforms into a powerful bond. Together, they navigate the complexities of the community, their shared environmental passions, and an undeniable chemistry.

However, just as their love story blooms, the impending end of Kate's contract looms, threatening to unravel everything they've painstakingly built. Sand, Sea, Second Chances is a poignant tale of love, personal growth, and the beauty of unexpected beginnings.

Critique: Sand, Sea, Second Chances has captured my heart with its beautiful portrayal of romance and second chances. This heartfelt book deserves to thrive, inspiring readers with its touching story.

Catherine Michaels is an exceptional author. Her captivating story has resonated with my heart. As a passionate fan of romance novels, I found myself instantly drawn to the pages of her book, which beautifully evoked memories of my first romance.

Michaels' writing style has a unique charm that effortlessly transports readers to a world filled with love, nostalgia, and heartfelt emotions. Thank you, Catherine Michaels, for sharing your talent and passion with the literary world!

The Night Bazaar London: Ten Wishes of Forbidden Wishes and Dangerous Desires
(Book 3 of The Night Bazaar Series)
Lenore Hart
Northampton House Press
9781950668229, $19.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 360pp

Synopsis: Embark into an enchanting realm of the Night Bazaar, a place shrouded in mystery and allure, where the secrets of 19th-century London come alive in its third volume.

In this anthology series, enigmatic Madame Vera takes the lead, inviting you to explore a hidden marketplace where rare and occult items are traded. Delve into the ten linked short stories penned by talented authors, each weaving a tapestry of eerie and fantastical British tales.

From encounters with legendary figures like Sherlock Holmes to glimpses of Queen Anne Boleyn, this journey promises an adventure. Uncover the forbidden wares, curious services, and rare objects that only exist within the mysterious confines of the Night Bazaar, a fleeting market that materializes in the city for just one week before vanishing into the shadows of history.

Experience a captivating adventure through time and space at the Night Bazaar, where curses, spells, and unsuspecting individuals intricately weave together in a web of intrigue. Dare to explore and experience a world where the extraordinary meets the ordinary in a mesmerizing blend of darkness and fantasy.

Critique: The Night Bazar London is a world where words weave wonders and stories sparkle like gems. This is not just a book; it's a treasure trove of literary delights waiting to be explored.

Lenore Hart is a fantastic author who has created a literary masterpiece that captivates readers from the very first page. Her impeccable selection of settings and endearing characters will fascinate you and warm your heart. Enter the world she has crafted and prepare to be enchanted!

Welcome To The Enchanted Forest (Book One)
Rebecca Himmel Glassman
Independently Published
9798989781805, $21.99, HC, 188pp
9798989781812, $14.99, PB, $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Immerse yourself in the whimsical world of the Enchanted Forest, a place where the trees share their secrets and the stars paint the sky with vibrant hues. Follow the journey of Rose and her sisters as they navigate the challenges of growing up in a less-than-ideal environment, only to discover solace and wonder in the depths of the forest. Experience the bond that forms between the girls and their newfound animal companions as they embark on an adventure brimming with magic and mystery.

As the story unfolds, meet Drew, a young soul yearning for connection and purpose. Join him on a journey of self-discovery and friendship, guided by an unlikely companion from his past. Together, they explore the enchanted realms of the forest, where every twist and turn reveals a new enchanting surprise.

Experience the power of resilience, friendship, and the magic within each of us. Let the Enchanted Forest captivate your imagination and warm your heart, reminding you that magic and friendship can light the way even in the darkest times.

Critique: Welcome To The Enchanted Forest invites you to witness the extraordinary journey of self-discovery and connection. Let this enchanting tale ignite your spirit and remind you of the limitless power within you.

Rebecca Himmel Glassman is an exceptional author dedicated to providing the best literary experience for her readers. Her beautifully illustrated cover invites the reader to explore a mystical adventure. The book captivates your heart and soul with enchanting narratives, and each page holds a spellbinding surprise.

Growing The Money Tree for Kids
Alpesh Parmar, Keya Parmar, and Tvisha Parmar, authors
Remesh Ram, illustrator
Money Tree Books
9798989517510, $19.99, HC, 160pp
9798989517503, $13.99, PB
9798989517527, $8.99, Kindle

Synopsis: Growing the Money Tree for Kids is a captivating book. This educational masterpiece equips young minds with essential money management skills and the basics of investing, paving the way for a prosperous financial future.

Through interactive stories and enjoyable activities, children will learn concepts like savings, budgeting, and investments. With kid-friendly language and relatable examples, this book ensures that financial education is understandable and thrilling.

From practical saving tips to engaging illustrations and interactive quizzes, this book is the perfect tool to plant the seeds of financial success early in any child's life.

Critique: Growing The Money Tree for Kids is an essential step towards ensuring a stable and prosperous future. At the core of fostering financial independence lies the crucial task of instilling money management principles in our youth.

Venture into the world of financial literacy with Alpesh Parmar's enlightening book, designed to sow the seeds of financial acumen in young minds.

By arming our children with the tools to conquer the financial frontier, we pave the way for a future brimming with prosperity and smart choices. Join this transformative journey towards securing a brighter tomorrow for our youth. I feel this book is worthy of being incorporated into any school library.

Editorial Review: Recommended ages 8-12 years old.

My Father's Suitcase: A story of family secrets, abuse, betrayal - and breaking free
Mary Garden
Justitia Books
9798884991361, $22.52 PB, 280pp
97806468396 7, $8.00 Kindle

Synopsis: Embark on a unique and poignant journey through Mary Garden's captivating memoir. Unravel the intricate layers of resilience, survival, and hope that she weaves amidst the shadows of family violence.

In this deeply personal narrative, Mary bravely navigates the troubled waters of her relationship with her late sister, Anna, shedding light on the complexities of intergenerational trauma and the weight of buried family secrets.

Through her heartfelt storytelling, Mary shares her experiences of growing up in New Zealand and later in Australia. Her narrative offers solace and understanding to those who have grappled with similar challenges, making her story universally relevant.

Discover the power of resilience, the pain of loss, and the enduring hope that shines through Mary's compelling tale of survival.

Critique: My Father's Suitcase is a captivating reading experience that will tug at your heartstrings. Mary is a resilient heroine who navigates through life's challenges with grace and strength. Her heartwarming resolve in the face of each obstacle will inspire and uplift.

Experience this emotional journey and discover the power of resilience and hope within the pages of the heartfelt book. This book will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Marguerite, Misty and Me
Susan Friedland, author
Bonnie Shields, illustrator
Saddle Seeks Horse Press
9781732710559, $25.69 PB, $10.99 Kindle, 274pp

Synopsis: Embark on a captivating journey alongside Friedland as she unravels the hidden history of Marguerite, a literary icon and Newbery Medal recipient. From the serene waters of Chincoteague Island to the depths of an archive in Minnesota, Friedland's quest leads her to unexpected encounters and profound revelations.

Join her as she forges deep connections with like-minded Misty enthusiasts and has the privilege of meeting some of Marguerite's closest associates. Through a dreamlike excursion on a Chincoteague Pony, Friedland not only sheds light on the legacy of Marguerite Henry, but also celebrates the profound bond between humans and horses.

Immerse yourself in this enchanting narrative that pays homage to Chincoteague Ponies, horses worldwide, and the unwavering passion of those who cherish them. Susan Friedland's enduring love for horses, a love that has shaped her from her childhood days spent galloping on a hobby horse to her present-day endeavors as an avid equestrian blogger, shines brightly.

Critique: Marguerite, Misty, and Me is a captivating biography that delves into the life of an extraordinary woman. Filled with heartwarming anecdotes, uplifting moments, and a thorough exploration of her journey, this book is a tribute to the remarkable spirit of a truly inspirational individual.

Susan Friedland's exceptional writing skills, shines through on every page of this outstanding book, create a vivid and tranquil setting that will transport you to a world of wonder and imagination. Get ready to embark on a captivating journey through the pages of this extraordinary book!

Model Wave: Romance, Boats, & Bad Business in the Northwoods
(The Backyard Model Mysteries, Book Two)
T.K. Sheffield
Making Hay Press
B0D2JD7NNC, $4.99, Kindle, 324 pages

Synopsis: Step into the cozy world of Model Wave, a book where romance, suspense, and intrigue intertwine in a funny tale that will leave you laughing as you uncover the hidden truths in the Wisconsin Northwoods.

Former fashion model Mel Tower embarks on a vacation that takes a dark turn when a mysterious death occurs on a mega-pontoon. With more questions than answers, Mel must navigate the land of brandy old-fashioneds and fish fries to uncover the truth behind the sinister events around her.

As she delves deeper into the Northwoods mystery, Mel must confront a killer who may lurk in the shadows, evading detection like the legendary hodag of the Northwoods. Will Mel be able to preserve her budding romance and untangle the secrets hidden within the Northwoods in this laugh-out-loud beach read of mystery?

Critique: Enter the pine-tree-and-lake vacation world of Model Wave, where murder, intrigue, and humor intertwine in a delightful read. This comic cozy mystery will keep you rolling on the edge of your seat; it's like taking a boat ride with a drink in your hand, while storms and other watercraft approach. Prepare to be swept away; it's a summer vacation in a book. Model Wave is a funny boating mystery with a dash of romance, and it will make you want to visit Wisconsin, rent a pontoon, and then have dinner at a supper club!

Editorial Note: This is the second book in the award-winning Backyard Model Mysteries. Model Suspect, the first book in The Backyard Model Mysteries, received an RWA Excellence in Mystery, a Royal Dragonfly, a Southwest Writer's Award, and Shelf Unbound magazine recognized it as a Top 100 Notable Indie.

Beneath Autumn Leaves
Lizbeth J
Alegria Ink Publishing LLC.
9798989607402, $17.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 268pp

Synopsis: In a captivating tale of resilience and redemption, Autumn Evans' journey back to Maplewood is not just a physical return, but a courageous step towards reclaiming her identity and finding solace amidst a tumultuous past.

Battling with the demons of her abusive relationship, Autumn grapples with a myriad of emotions - from love and fear to heartbreak and hope. The scars of her trauma manifest in unexpected ways, making her quest for self-discovery even more challenging.

Amidst the shadows of her past looms Mason, a haunting figure who threatens to unravel the fragile threads of Autumn's healing. His presence reignites painful memories and forces Autumn to confront the deep-seated wounds that once tore her world.

However, amidst the darkness, a beacon of light emerges as Emmett Miller. Emmett becomes a source of comfort and understanding as their paths intertwine, showing Autumn that forgiveness, though arduous, is a pathway to liberation. Their burgeoning love becomes a testament to the transformative power of healing and the resilience of the human spirit.

As Autumn navigates the complexities of her heart, she must confront her fears and past and ultimately decide whether she can embrace love once more. In this poignant tale of second chances and self-discovery, Autumn's journey serves as a testament to the enduring strength of the human heart and the unwavering power of love to heal even the deepest of wounds.

Critique: Beneath Autumn Leaves, presents a resilient heroine who is navigating through the shadows of her past and trying to embrace a brighter future. This gripping tale delves deep into the complexities of human emotions, weaving a narrative that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you rooting for the protagonist's transformation.

Lizbeth J is an exceptional author. Each word she pens is a masterpiece that will tug at your heartstrings and ignite your imagination. Join this literary journey filled with love, courage, and hope.

Get ready to embark on an emotional rollercoaster that will leave you breathless and inspired. Don't miss out on this unforgettable story that will linger in your soul far beyond the last page turned!

J.K. Kelly
JK Kelly Consulting, LLC
9781736359280, $12.95, 370 pages

Synopsis: Get ready for an adrenaline-fueled ride with Switchback, the highly anticipated sequel to the riveting Deadly Driver. Join Bryce Winters as he faces his most formidable challenge, navigating a treacherous path of betrayal and redemption.

As a malevolent conspiracy shatters his life, he must rely on a blend of familiar comrades and fresh faces to unearth the truth and reclaim what was stolen from him. Brimming with pulse-pounding action and unforeseen turns.

Critique: Switchback promises to keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Don't miss this gripping tale of courage, loyalty, and the ultimate quest for justice.

J.K. Kelly is an exceptional author whose words dance on the page like never before! With a touch of magic and a sprinkle of brilliance, J.K. Kelly weaves simply irresistible tales. Prepare to embark on an unforgettable literary journey that will leave you craving more.

Editorial Review: Visit the author's website to learn more about other exciting titles, which are

I'd Rather Be Dead Than Deaf: A Young Woman's Journey With Liver Cancer
E. Adrienne Wilson, author
Andrea Wilson Woods, editor
Blue Faery
9798989552405, $29.99, $56.58, HB 442 pages

Synopsis: Step into the vibrant world of a poetic prodigy, where every stroke of the pen and brush tells a story of love, loss, and eternal dreams. Adrienne Wilson's journal is not just a diary; it's a masterpiece that captures the essence of a soulful artist.

Let her words dance, and hear colors speak as we honor the life and creativity of a remarkable individual whose voice continues to resonate, painting the world with beauty and grace. Join in celebrating Adrienne Wilson, where her art whispers, but her legacy, a testament to the power of creativity, echoes eternally.

Critique: I'd Rather Be Dead Than Deaf is a poignant and powerful book encapsulating a meaningful message. This emotional reading experience celebrates the life of a remarkable soul who departed from this world too soon.

Enter a realm where words dance, emotions soar, and thoughts ignite - E. Adrienne Wilson's literary prowess knows no bounds! Get ready to embark on a journey of enlightenment, inspiration, and pure literary magic.

Brace yourself to be swept away by the sheer brilliance that awaits within the pages of this exceptional author's work. Prepare for a journey that will deeply move you, profoundly inspire you, and enlighten you like you've ever experienced!

Tiffany Brittany Brooke: Rumpleville Chronicles
Cevin Soling, author
Justo Borrero, illustrator
Spectacle Films Inc.
9780976777199, $19.57, HB, 46 pages

Synopsis: Lights, camera, action! Step into the glitz and glam of Hollywood with Tiffany Brittany Brookes as she chases her dreams in Tinseltown. But wait, there's a twist! A chance encounter with a mysterious man sets off a chain of events that will rock her world.

Get ready for a rollercoaster ride of drama, passion, and unexpected turns as Tiffany navigates the difficulties of the entertainment industry.

Critique: Tiffany Brittany Brooke is a book that navigates the glamorous yet challenging world of Hollywood. Determined to shine bright like a star, Tiffany faces hurdles and setbacks that will test her resilience and determination. Will she overcome the obstacles and make her mark in the entertainment industry?

Cevin Soling is a remarkable author. Tiffany is a fierce heroine who dares to defy the odds and conquer the glitzy realm of Hollywood. Through the pages of this captivating book, witness Tiffany's unwavering resolve and unyielding spirit as she faces daunting challenges that threaten to derail her dreams.

Join this journey filled with setbacks and trials that will test her strength and determination to the core. Experience the raw emotion, the gripping tension, and the ultimate triumph of a woman who refuses to be silenced by adversity.

Tayvie's Story
Mim Eichmann
Living Springs Publishers
9781953686374, $5.99 Kindle, 355 pages

Synopsis: Tayvie Jackson, a young girl who faced unimaginable challenges but emerged with resilience and determination. Fleeing from a hostile shopkeeper, with her comatose mother and a language barrier to overcome, Tayvie's journey is one of survival and strength.

Through the hardships of the Depression and the Jim Crow era, she found solace in her passion for jazz singing. However, her path took a dark turn when she innocently signed a contract in 1938, leading her into a web of distorted allegations and a troubling relationship with Dr. Joseph Goebbels.

Critique: Tayvie's Story is a profound reading experience that will touch your heart and soul. Through the pages, you will witness the raw depiction of hardships during the depression era, igniting a newfound empathy and understanding within you that you never knew existed.

Mim Eichmann is a talented author whose latest book is a true testament to her exceptional writing skills. Her descriptive words take the readers on a journey to WWII in Paris and Berlin. Similar titles often overlook many facets of this era. Prepare to be captivated by the interesting characters she has brought to life within the pages of this literary gem. Get ready for a reading experience that will touch your heart and stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

Editorial Note: Discover more fascinating titles from this talented author by visiting her website:

Never There
Nicole Loughan
Little Spot for Stories
9798990248304, $5.99 Kindle, $12.99 PB, $25.37 HB, 219 pages

Synopsis: In a whirlwind of events, Michelle's mundane life takes an unexpected turn as she embarks on a quest to uncover the truth behind the long-lost town of Cedar Rapids.

With her past haunting her and a mysterious disappearance at hand, Michelle finds herself at the center of a puzzling enigma that could change everything she thought she knew.

Join her and her quirky companions as they navigate twists and turns, unraveling secrets that threaten to shatter the very fabric of their memories. Will they uncover the dark truth hidden in the heart of Cedar Rapids, or will the town's secrets consume them all?

Prepare for a journey filled with suspense, nostalgia, and the heartwarming power of friendship in this gripping tale of mystery and betrayal.

Critique: Dive into the captivating world of Never There, where every page is a thrilling journey filled with unexpected twists, turns, and a myriad of mysteries waiting to be unraveled.

Nicole Loughan is a talented author who has written a captivating book. She expertly crafted this exhilarating experience that will keep you hooked from the first page until the last, filled with suspense and excitement.

Get ready to be on the edge of your seat as you embark on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and thrills within the pages of this extraordinary book.

Caring for Self & Others - Transforming Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and Soul Loss
David R. Kopacz, MD
Creative Courage Press
9781959921028, $26.99, PB, 304 pages
9781959921035, $12.99, Kindle

Synopsis: Are you feeling burned out or disconnected lately? Fear not, as Caring for Self & Others by David R. Kopacz, MD, is here to guide you on a transformative journey toward reigniting your passion for helping others.

This revolutionary book serves as a guide for healthcare professionals who are dealing with burnout and compassion fatigue. It shows them how to regain a sense of compassion and prioritize taking care of themselves.

Join this soul-nourishing adventure and unlock the ten dimensions of being fully human - because when we care for ourselves, we can better care for others.

Critique: Caring for Self & Others is a comprehensive guide that offers 32 transformative practices and meditations to nurture your body, mind, and spirit. Whether you seek to cultivate self-awareness, combat burnout, or find solace in times of suffering, this book provides a diverse range of techniques, from reflective journaling to creative expression, to support your growth journey.

Dr. David R. Kopacz's book is a beacon of hope for healthcare workers grappling with burnout and fatigue. Drawing upon his extensive medical background, Dr. Kopacz offers a refreshing perspective on addressing the challenges faced by those in the healthcare industry.

In a world still reeling from the aftershocks of the pandemic, this book serves as a guiding light for individuals seeking to rejuvenate their passion and purpose in their noble profession. Join in welcoming this invaluable resource that promises to inspire, uplift, and empower all who turn its pages.

Michael Cox
Publisher: TBA
ISBN: TBA Price: TBA Page Count: 353 Pages

Montecito may be known for its wealthy inhabitants, but for Hollis Crawford, it's a place of disappointment and failure. After losing his third job in five years and being escorted out of his office like a criminal, Hollis feels his life is dead. However, his fate takes a strange turn when he enters his children's school late for a performance.

From that moment on, Hollis is thrown into a world of intrigue, betrayal, lust, and suspense that he never imagined. Follow his journey into the unknown as he navigates through his new reality's unpredictable twists and turns.

Montecito is a captivating and thrilling story that explores the dark underbelly of a seemingly perfect community. It's a novel that keeps readers hooked from start to finish.

Michael Cox showcases the immense promise of this smooth, professional, and highly competent writer. Readers are fully immersed in life most can only imagine, experiencing unimaginable highs and hellish lows. The realistic details, down to the most mundane yet hypnotic minutiae, bring this world beyond the fast lane to life in a truly gripping way.

Diminishing Horizons
Douglas C. Atkins
A15 Publishing
9781970155211, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 162 pages

Synopsis: Diminishing Horizons transports you into a realm where it stretches the boundaries of reality to their limits.

This engaging collection of science fiction short stories explores a variety of future possibilities, including exciting murder mysteries on Phobos, peaceful utopian societies, and revolutionary inventions that defy the laws of physics.

Two of the stories, Richland and Here We Go Again, have earned Honorable Mentions in the esteemed L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest, ensuring a reading journey that is both imaginative and intellectually stimulating. Embrace the unknown and embark on an adventure through the realm of possibility with Diminishing Horizons.

Critique: Diminishing Horizons is a must-read addition to your sci-fi library. Embark on an extraordinary journey through the realms of science fiction with this remarkable anthology.

Douglas C. Atkins has mastered the realm of Science Fiction writing. With a masterful pen and boundless imagination, Atkins has curated a selection of stories that are sure to captivate and enthrall readers. Each page is a testament to his unparalleled skill and dedication to providing nothing but the best for his audience.

Dive into this collection and embark on a journey through worlds crafted with precision and creativity, as Douglas C. Atkins sets a new standard in Science Fiction literature

Light of Wings
Sarah Kotchian
University of New Mexico Press
9780826365972, $18.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 144 pages

Synopsis: In this haunting collection, Kotchian weaves a tapestry of emotions, from elegy to celebration, inviting us to ponder our fragile yet enduring bond with the natural world.

Each poem in Light of Wings is a guiding light, illuminating the path through global challenges and personal struggles, from climate crises to battles with illness. Throughout this emotional odyssey, the poems serve as reminders of the strength of community, the solace of solitude, and the breathtaking beauty of resilience.

Critique: Light of Wings (a part of the Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series from the University of New Mexico Press) is a magnificent book whose words offer a powerful message. Each poem within this collection has been crafted to penetrate deep into the soul, igniting a spark of inspiration, uplifting the spirit, and guiding the reader through moments of darkness.

Sarah Kotchian, the maestro of poetic artistry, invites us into a world where words dance and emotions speak volumes, a realm where each line is a brushstroke painting on the canvas of the soul. As you delve into her enchanting collection, prepare to be captivated, mesmerized, and ultimately transformed.

Editorial note: Sarah Kotchian ( is the award-winning author of Camino and an artist and long-distance hiker. Her work has received a Pushcart Prize nomination and has appeared in numerous journals, such as Flyway, Split Rock Review, Stoneboat Literary Journal, High Shelf Press, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Tulip Tree Review, Persimmon Tree, Bosque Journal, and ABQ inPrint.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

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

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