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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 6 June 2019 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Binford's Bookshelf

The Forest
William J. Pomeroy
University of the Philippines Press
9789715426350, $10.00

"Whoever enters the forest leaves behind the open world." William Pomeroy wrote these words in April, 1950, and it would be nearly two years before he and his wife, Celia, would see the open world again.

In 1944 Pomeroy was part of the American invasion force led by Douglas MacArthur to free the Philippines from the Japanese. After the war, Pomeroy went back and took classes at the University of Philippines, where he met his true love Celia Mariano, a member of the communist party's central committee. Together, in 1950, they joined the Huks.

Short for Hukbalahap, which is short for Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan, translated as Army of National Liberation, the Huks had been an active independence resistance since the days of Spanish colonialism. They helped the American army during the Spanish-American war, after which they fought the Americans until about 1912. They resurrected during the Japanese occupation, helped the Americans defeat the Japanese, then fought the Americans again.

The subtitle of "The Forest" is "A Personal Record of the Huk Guerrilla Struggle in the Philippines." That is an appropriate subtitle, as is the main title. By personifying the forest, it becomes both a beneficial protector as well as a malevolent monster. The Huks relied on the forest as protection from the military, also for some of their food, clothing and all of their shelter. They built their camps according to the abundance of anahaw, a plant with fan-shaped leaves they used for the roof of their huts. Their favorite food was ubod, basically hearts-of-palm, supplemented by an occasional deer or wild pig and rice. On the troublesome side, for one thing there were the basil. It's a caterpillar, but "unlike any soft fuzzy innocent creature that anyone ever saw in a garden. For this is an inch of horror, every hair of it a thread of agony upon the skin." The air was full of them on sunny days; they dropped from the upper branches and hung by spider-web like threads. In the rainy season, there were leeches, that somehow found their way to the skin and sucked blood, and armies of marching, biting red ants. There was also the constant, ferocious rain storms during the rainy season, which Pomeroy describes as like a banshee, the wind and the rain playing the "agony of its passage on a hundred shrill keys."

There were few details about the military campaigns of the Huks, except for an occasional ambush and defensive skirmishes when the army found their way into the forest. The major battle was an extensive operation that included about 400 guerrillas, numerous trucks they borrowed from the farmers, and a town called Santa Cruz. They attacked from opposite sides of the town, overran the police station, killed the police and informants, looted the stores of unsympathetic businesses, then cleared out. It was a successful battle, the Huks losing only three of their own, but it unleashed the Philippine army.

By this time, China had "fallen" to Mao Tse-tung; the Huks became one of the enemies in the American cold war. Advisors, equipment, all sorts of military hardware, were arranged for the Philippines. The Huks were no longer safe in their hideout, which was only about 40 miles from Manila as the crow flies. They were chased from one camp to another, often having to pack and run during a heavy rain. It became for the Huks a parallel flight to Mao's "long march." Harassed by soldiers on the ground and planes in the air, the camps had to split into smaller and smaller groups, going their separate ways deeper into the forest and higher into the mountains. The team Pomeroy was assigned to went for three weeks without food, climbing steep ridges, down the other side, fording rivers, overcome with fatigue and weakness from lack of nourishment, all of this during the worst part of the rainy season. They finally reached a relatively safe base in a northern province, Bulacan.

Why did this rag-tag guerrilla group do what they did? They convinced themselves that it was all for the freedom and independence of the Philippines, coupled with the ideology and dogma of communism. They had tried political reform by forming a party called the Democratic Alliance, six of their representatives were elected to office in the election of 1946, all of them were ousted from their seats in the government. However, Philippine history is the real key to their determination. The Spanish set up an elite group of landowners to rule their colony. After the Spanish-American war, all through the years of American colonialism, during the Japanese occupation, with the election of the Liberal Party after the war, these same landholders were the backbone of Philippine politics. They are still there today, with about 60 families controlling the wealth of the country. Add to that a trade bill, The Bell Act, sponsored by an American senator. It specifically prohibited Filipinos from doing business with any competitor of the United States, meaning they could not develop their own industrial base, meaning that the feudal system started by Spain would continue. Under those conditions, communism must have seemed like a worthwhile alternative.

Did the average Huk soldier know about these political and economic currents? After all, they were mostly poorly educated peasants and farmers, yet they got plenty of education during their "entertainment" sessions in their camps. Once in a while everybody would gather in a central large hut, with security men posted to guard against a surprise attack. The entertainment was patriotic songs, stories told about revolutionary heroes of the Philippines, together with "fiery" speeches about imperialism, foreign domination, the evils of the Philippine oligarchy. When it is Pomeroy's turn to talk, he reminds the crowd that as an American, he is familiar with their fight, because Americans also had to fight for their independence with the help of foreigners who crossed the sea.

Doubtful thoughts crossed his mind from time to time. These thoughts became especially acute during their long march to the north, in a "slow sinking beneath moss and leaves and the wet drip of rain... That I should be here in the Philippine forest with a Filipina wife by whom I lie on the ground in wet muddy clothes and feel it wholly logical, raises no question or probing of reason...This sense of oneness with the oppressed, the hunted and the undaunted, is my identity."

Pomeroy writes with an eloquent style that often waxes poetic. His descriptions of the forest are haunting, the personalities of his comrades are colorful, even the measures taken to enforce discipline in the ranks are told with sympathy and understanding. A scramble down the side of a ravine paints a picture of desperation coupled with fear, in words that force the reader into the moment. Joy is expressed when they are victorious in the "contest of endurance."

A cautionary note should be added. By the end of the story, it is pretty clear that the people who pay a heavy price are the peasants whom the Huks are supposed to be fighting for. The liberation from foreign domination, the heavy toll charged by the landowners, there is a cost when the locals are bombarded and burned out of their homes. Reminiscent of the American experience in Indochina, when the daily news featured huts on fire and sandal-wearing farmers fleeing for their lives, it is worth debating whether the Huks were on the right track, although they tried and failed at using politics to push their agenda.

William Pomeroy, after his life in the forest, followed by ten years of imprisonment in the Philippines, continued writing about guerrilla warfare, progressive issues like apartheid in South Africa and neo-colonialism in the Philippines. I would hope that these later works would include an index, which would have helped while I was reading "The Forest" and while writing this review. He does include a glossary of acronyms, words related to the structure of the Hukbalahap, translations of the frequent Tagalog words, as well as descriptions of the local cuisine. He remained married to Celia, with whom he eventually settled in England.

Paul Binford, Senior Reviewer

Cowper's Bookshelf

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse with Patrick Egan
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757321931 $14.95 pbk / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: After a life-threatening accident stopped her completely in her tracks a few years ago, author Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse and her family came to truly understand that we are all one event from a lifestyle change. Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter clearly illustrated the importance of this when she said: "There are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers; those who currently are caregivers; those who will be caregivers; and those who will need caregivers." While some people choose to take care of loved ones after they can no longer take care of themselves, many others must do so for a myriad of other reasons, often financial. It can be a crisis situation, such as an accident, or the long-term effects of aging. In any case, the days are often long and draining, both for the family caregiver and the paid professional, and the choices to be made are often confusing, difficult, and daunting.

In this illuminating book filled with practical, easily implementable advice, Wegscheider-Cruse helps readers sort through the puzzle that forms the caregiving world. Chapter topics include: identifying the roles of caregivers; how to deal with burnout; finding ways to compartmentalize and separate without guilt; using technology to make life easier; building bridges through teamwork; downsizing; and navigating end-of-life issues. Most importantly, the book offers readers a deep toolkit of invaluable suggestions for navigating tough issues with positivity and optimism. It is also the first book to provide stories from the perspective of not just the caregiver, but the caree, thus enabling caregivers to better understand their fears and feelings. The result is a positive, unified approach to care.

Critique: Caregiving: Hope and Health for Caregiving Families is a resource of sympathy, encouragement, and practical, tested advise for anyone tasked with the responsibility of caregiving, including but not limited to caring for incapacitated family members. Chapters discuss how to deal with burnout, working through grief and anger, downsizing to accommodate the responsibility of caregiving, and much more. Highly recommended, especially for public library collections and any individual or family tasked with caregiving. "Keep all medications (dosage amount and times) posted in the room of the caree. This list should be visible to all family members, emergency transport, hospital emergency rooms, or urgent care... It needs to be updated each time there is a change in medication, and copies should be given to the people who would be involved in 'first call for help.'" It should be noted for personal reading lists that Caregiving is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

The Center of the Universe
Ria Voros
Kids Can Press
9781525300387, $18.99, HC, 512pp,

Synopsis: Grace Carter's mother (the celebrity news anchor GG Carter) is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace (an aspiring astrophysicist) is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits.

Then one day GG is just gone! Suddenly disappeared! Cameras descend on their house, news shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace's family struggles to find a new rhythm as they wait for answers.

While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG's disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school's golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother's long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted or did she leave? And if she left, why?

Critique: A deftly crafted mystery blended with themes of astronomy, astrophysics, a mother-daughter relationship, the phenomena of celebrity, young love and bonded friendship, "The Center of the Universe" by Ria Voros is an extraordinary, entertaining, and unreservedly recommended addition to community and school YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Center of the Universe" is also available in a digital book format ($4.99).

The Silence Between Us
Alison Gervais
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780310766162, $17.99, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Moving halfway across the country to Colorado right before senior year isn't Maya's idea of a good time. Leaving behind Pratt School for the Deaf where she's been a student for years only to attend a hearing school is even worse. Maya has dreams of breaking into the medical field and is determined to get the grades and a college degree to match, and she's never considered being Deaf a disability. But her teachers and classmates at Engelmann High don't seem to share her optimism.

And then there's Beau Watson, Engelmann's student body president and overachiever. Maya suspects Beau's got a hidden agenda when he starts learning ASL to converse with her, but she also can't deny it's nice to sign with someone amongst all the lip reading she has to do with her hearing teachers and classmates. Maya has always been told that Deaf/hearing relationships never work, and yet she can't help but be drawn to Beau as they spend more and more time together.

But as much Maya and Beau genuinely start to feel for one another, there are unmistakable differences in their worlds. When Maya passes up a chance to receive a cochlear implant, Beau doesn't understand why Maya wouldn't want to hear again. Maya is hurt Beau would want her to be anything but who she is -- she's always been proud to be Deaf, something Beau won't ever be able to understand. Maya has to figure out whether bridging that gap between the Deaf and hearing worlds will be worth it, or if staying true to herself matters more.

Critique: A unique and deftly written novel showcasing a strong deaf character and how she deals with all that her situation entails, "The Silence Between Us" is a compelling and thoroughly entertaining read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for both community and school library collections for young readers, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Silence Between Us" is also available in a digital format (Kindle, $7.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781974962921, $19.99, CD).

The Real Education of TJ Crowley
Grant Overstake
Grain Valley Publishing
9781732304741, $25.99, HC, 364pp,

Synopsis: It's the summer of 1968. The nation is divided and on edge over Civil Rights and the war in Vietnam. Even Walter Cronkite seems confused about what's going on. The slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sparked violent protests coast-to-coast, including Wichita, Kansas, a segregated city where, due to racial discrimination, blacks have been forced to live in one Zip Code until now.

Home-schooled in his whiteness, thirteen-year-old TJ Crowley thinks he knows everything about black people. Not that he's experienced anything about them firsthand. Everything he knows about them and the ugly names he flings, he learned from his half-crazed mom. She flips out whenever she sees a black person. And lately, she's been flipping out all the time.

For TJ Crowley, it's been a bummer of a summer. With his father away from home and his brother gone off to fight in Vietnam, TJ and his mom are all alone in their house on the hill just one street away from the racial dividing line. When the nightly curfew kicks-in, their doors are locked tight. While his fearful mom drinks her worries away, TJ watches from the living room window as firebombs light the sky.

Despite everything, TJ is excited about going to Brooks Junior High where he plans to be a sports star. But he's worried about the 7th Grade because, with forced integration, black students will be bused over the dividing line to join him. He's also worried about his dorky best friend, Eric, who wears tie-dye and let his hair grow past his collar like a dang hippie.

At thirteen, TJ thinks he knows all there is to know, until the doorbell rings one day and The Real Education of TJ Crowley truly begins.

Critique: "The Real Education of TJ Crowley" is a deftly crafted, thought-provoking, and solidly entertaining work of historical by Grant Overstake about two American families with different pigmentation of skin who find themselves living side-by-side after the new Fair Housing law makes it a crime to discriminate against people of color. While unreservedly recommended for both school and community library YA fiction collections for young readers, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Real Education of TJ Crowley" is also available in a paperback edition (9781732304703, $14.99).

Be the Light that You Are
Debra Landwehr Engle
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781571748492, $15.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: In "Be the Light that You Are: Ten Simple Ways to Transform Your World with Love", author Debra Engle inspires her readers to put their spiritual practice in action -- and gives them concrete ways to do it.

In a time of highly charged political and emotional issues, "Be the Light that You Are" is simple guide that helps readers move from bitterness and divisiveness to true peace as it outlines ten steps for extending the light within, including: Claim your unique gifts; Foster self-love; Meet others without judgment; Ask for help; Rise above the battlefield; Take the path of forgiveness.

Inspired by A Course in Miracles and other spiritual teachings, "Be the Light that You Are" provides a simple path to help readers live with kindness, decency, and authenticity in troubled times.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, thoughtful and thought provoking, aspirational and real world practical, "Be the Light that You Are: Ten Simple Ways to Transform Your World with Love" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Be the Light that You Are" is also available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781974941889, $26.99, CD).

Ray Gun: The Bible of Music and Style
Marvin Soctt Jarrett
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9780847863150, $65.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: Founded in 1992, Ray Gun was the only magazine wherein a die-hard culture seeker could find information on alternative music and the street-inspired style that really mattered. Punk rock had torn pop music to shreds and created a hunger for an original lifestyle beyond mainstream culture, and Ray Gun was its graphic chronicler: across its pages blasted a visual feast made up of era-defining artists such as Sonic Youth or Iggy Pop, music-inspired art, and a complete redefinition of sartorial style. The magazine's original art director, David Carson, and his peers who followed, created an entirely new visual culture that shattered the limitations of graphic design.

Ray Gun was as radical as the lifestyle it reported on, deeply committed to visually representing an alternative culture as a new way of seeing and being in the world. With over 200 full-color photographs, "Ray Gun: The Bible of Music and Style" gathers the most outrageous pages from the magazine that helped to shape the '90s. This epic anthology features exclusive photographs and articles on rock legends such as R.E.M., Henry Rollins, Jane's Addiction, The Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., U2, Marilyn Manson, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam, Bjork, Morrissey, PJ Harvey, Beastie Boys, Soundgarden, Beck and an exclusive interview with David Bowie.

Critique: Compiled and written by Marvin Scott Jarrett (who is a celebrated creative force in the worlds of publishing, film, and television, as well as founder of Ray Gun and Nylon) "Ray Gun: The Bible of Music and Style" features commentaries by Liz Phair (who is a legendary alt-rock goddess); Wayne Coyne (who is the frontman of The Flaming Lips); Dean Kuipers (who is an arts and environmental writer); and Steven Heller (who is an art director and co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts). The result is an profusely illustrated volume that is unreserved recommended for personal, community, and academic library Contemporary American Popular Culture collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Summer of Dead Birds
Ali Liebegott
Amethyst Editions
c/o The Feminist Press
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781936932504, $17.95, PB, 104pp,

Synopsis: Ali Liebegott is reeling from a fresh, painful divorce. She wallows in grief and over assigns meaning to everyday circumstance, clinging to an aging Dalmatian and obsessing over dead birds. Going through the motions of teaching and walking her dog, she eventually decides to hit the road: Ali and Rorschach at the Center of the World.

An autobiographical novel-in-verse, "The Summer of Dead Birds" is a chronicle of mourning and survival, documenting depression and picking apart failed intimacy. But Ali Liebegott's poetry is laced with compassion, for herself and the reader and the world, as she learns to balance the sting of death with the tender strangeness of life.

Critique: An engaging, entertainingly thoughtful, and wonderfully entertaining read from cover to cover, Ali Liebegott's "The Summer of Dead Birds", with its unusual poetry/novel format is a literary gem by an author with a genuine flair for originality and a unique storytelling style. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction & Poetry collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Summer of Dead Birds" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.55).

Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living
Thomas Lynch
Westminster John Knox Press
100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202-1396
9780664264918, $18.00, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living" is about death and the meaning of living in the form of a collection of writings about "what comes next" by funeral director, essayist and poet Thomas Lynch.

Lynch has an uncanny knack for writing about death in ways that are never morbid, always thoughtful, often humorous, and quite moving. From his account of riding in the hearse at the funeral of poet laureate Seamus Heaney, to his recounting of the funeral for a young child in the 1800s, to his compelling essay about his own mortality, Lynch always finds ways to make sense of senseless things, as he ponders what will come next.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, informatively insightful and inherently fascinating, "Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living" is one of those books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Death & Dying collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal studies that "Whence and Whither: On Lives and Living" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.95).

Editorial Note: Thomas Lynch is a funeral director and writer whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times, and Harper's, among others. He is the author of five collections of poems and four books of essays, including "The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade", which was nominated for the National Book Award in 1997. He lives in Milford, Michigan, and Moveen, County Clare, Ireland.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Intrinsic Self
Dennis Portnoy
Sunbow Publishing
9780578445526, $17.95

The Intrinsic Self: How Defining Yourself And Your Worth By Your Achievements And Usefulness Is Undermining Your Happiness And Serenity is about redefining self-worth outside of achievements and social and family expectations, and should be required reading for anyone seeking to develop self-affirmation rather than defining success by the standards of others.

Through identifying and challenging core assumptions about life and one's role in it to developing better boundaries and coping methods for stress, Dennis Portnoy's thirty-some years as a psychotherapist lends to wisdom gained not just from life experience, but from many of the shared struggles and journeys of his clients.

From choosing to pursue excellence over perfectionism (there is a difference!) to the unique challenges and pressures men face with equating their self-esteem with their performance when they are taught to equate their self-esteem with physical strengths and abilities, The Intrinsic Self goes beyond simply increasing self-esteem - it reveals how the very ways that we define ourselves is often the source of our unhappiness. It probes the foundations of life pursuits gone awry, suggests remedies for the dysfunctional or false perceptions that thwart who we are rather than what we do in self-worth/recognizing our true value, and tackles common erroneous core assumptions that develop from both childhood and adult experience.

Case history examples permeate Portnoy's words of wisdom, linking psychological, philosophical, and social objectives to real-life experience.

Many books seek to help readers develop authenticity and inner resilience and strength and build a more purposeful life.

The Intrinsic Self provides a focus in keeping with these goals, but delves deeper into psychological and personal growth process to pinpoint common misperceptions stemming even from altruism and apparent success.

Unhappiness comes from many levels and in different forms. The Intrinsic Self offers the kinds of insights that promote self-examination and growth. It's a highly recommended pick for anyone who would consider embracing different values, tackling long-held assumptions and redefining core purposes and reframing how we define ourselves and measure success.

"St. Clive:" An Eastern Orthodox Author Looks Back at C.S. Lewis
C.J.S. Hayward
C.J.S. Hayward Publications
9781794669956 $9.99 Kindle / $49.99 paperback (homepage) (paperback) (kindle)

"St. Clive:" An Eastern Orthodox Author Looks Back at C.S. Lewis adopts an unusual perspective because most examinations of the spirituality of C.S. Lewis come from Western spiritual perspectives, and few adopt the approach of C.J.S. Hayward, who opens his book with a Lewis-type series of letters to a guardian angel, The Angelic Letters: a Heavenly analogue to The Screwtape Letters. The book is even more distinctive in reflecting back on Lewis from a perspective meant to be thoroughly Orthodox.

Readers might anticipate a dry analytical style typical of too many Lewis analysis and assessments, but Hayward includes a wry sense of observational humor, evident in the first lines of his survey where a reflection on scholarly footnote traditions ventures into comedic cultural inspection: "As it is now solidly established practice to add an a footnote skittishly defending one's own choices regarding "gendered pronouns," I would like to quote a couple of tweets. In response to a fellow user tweeting, "Nobody is safe in today's society, man. It's like walking on eggshells constantly. Someone will be offended, will be out to get you. It's exhausting... and, I think somewhat that social media is to blame," Titania McGrath coolly answered, "The phrase 'walking on eggshells' is a microaggression against vegans. Reported and blocked. [Emoji depicting a white woman tending to her nails.]"

This said, Lewis was a huge influence on Hayward's Evangelical upbringing and religious perspectives and the starting point to his "pilgrimage from Narnia" (as one of his poems is titled) into Orthodoxy. St. Clive is not to be considered another scholarly inspection rehashing familiar spiritual pathways, but a unique compilation of Lewis-like reflections steeped in Orthodox beliefs and inspections for everyday readers. It produces a compilation of pieces that attempt to sound like Lewis himself, but which are original works meant to directly address these reflections and beliefs. This book is exciting, almost as if a hitherto unknown book of original works by C.S. Lewis had suddenly come to light.

The writings are presented in four sections that hold distinctly different tones and objectives. The first "...quotes him, builds on him, and challenges him to draw conclusions he may not have liked." The second focuses more on Hayward's writings and style, but with a nod to Lewis' influence. The third section addresses Lewis' affection for the book The Consolation of Philosophy and offers perspectives from Hayward on how its ideas and Lewis's expand different aspects of spiritual reflection; while the fourth section offers bibliographic keys to further pieces in the Lewis/Hayward tradition for newcomers who may be piqued by this collection's lively inspections, and who want more insights from other sources.

As far as the core concerns themselves, "St. Clive" is a masterful venture into the traditions of the Orthodox Church and its relationship to mysticism. It provides a lively set of discourses considering such varied topics as using technology in ways that are genuinely helpful and the notion that science is just one of the "winnowing forks" available for denoting pathways beneficial to mankind (natural selection being yet another; especially as it applies to diet choices).

By now it should be evident that a series of dichotomies exist surrounding this effort, which is 'neither fish nor fowl' but a delightful compendium of reflections that represent something new. It's not a scholarly work per se, but its language will appeal to many in the scholarly community (particularly since any discussions of Lewis usually embrace this community more or less exclusively). It's also not an attempt to channel Lewis' approach and tone, though these reflective pieces are certainly reminiscent of C.S. Lewis. And it's not a singular examination of spiritual perspectives, but offers a wider-ranging series of discussions that defy pat categorization.

Indeed, this is one of the unique aspects of "St. Clive." What other treatise holds the ability to reach lay and scholarly audiences alike, creates a wider-ranging series of connections between his works and similar writings, and expands upon many concepts with an astute hand to spiritual, philosophical, and social reflection?

None: and this not only sets "St. Clive:" An Eastern Orthodox Author Looks Back at C.S. Lewis apart from any other considerations, but makes it accessible to a lay audience that might have only a minimal familiarity with Lewis or the Orthodox Way.

The Definition of Experience
Jim Adameit
Independently Published
9781733850308 Kindle Direct Publishing
9781733850315 Smashwords $4.99

The Definition of Experience: Inside the Contract Electronics Manufacturing Services Industry blends thriller and business (financial and technology) fiction genres in a hard-hitting, racy, action-packed story that belays the usual staid development focus of a business novel. This succeeds in adding rich insights on the sales and manufacturing sector's process to expand the usual thriller focus into something more complex and educational.

A manufacturing supplier is pressed to reduce his prices to his customer to help keep them competitive in the marketplace, but ongoing challenges to business success keep Dan Gamble (the story's protagonist), and others on their toes. When a top-level decision maker betrays his best employee, everything changes.

Unlike many business novels, Jim Adameit also takes time to build interpersonal relationships into the bigger picture of these business challenges, as when Dan reflects on the price tag of his demanding career: "The trip was familiar. Dan had made it dozens of times over the past few years. His mind began to wander, thinking about Lori back home and how his travel and work schedule affected her. How it seemed like all Dan did was work. There was no such thing as him being caught up, instead just varying levels of being behind."

Also a departure from the usual business novel focus on the rise or fall of a venture, The Definition of Experience's thriller components are on par with such authors as Crichton and Finder, cultivating the realistic atmosphere of a business milieu while adding a dash of intrigue and mystery into the story line. The result is a wider-ranging examination that moves from business to personal circles and back again.

Brian, Declan, and Dan navigate uncertain agreements and business decisions, each facing the promise of embarking on a different kind of venture. What does a new life created by the Witness Protection Program for Ralph have to do with these efforts? And what happens when expense-cutting decisions lead to questionable actions over sensitive company financial information and the notion that the end justifies the means?

This survey of choices, consequences, and lasting ramifications gives readers a solid thriller well steeped in the global contract electronics manufacturing industry in particular and international business ventures in general. (Lest readers unfamiliar with this sector wonder at its relevance, this is the same global industry that produces ubiquitous devices, such as iPhones, laptop and desktop computers, precision medical equipment and military hardware - which affects ALL of us.)

Business novel readers typically receive stories firmly rooted in particular industry ambitions. This thriller is broader in scope than most, adding intrigue above and beyond the business world of the electronics manufacturing industry alone. This gives it a fuller flavor to make it a vivid, realistic read for general-interest thriller readers who may harbor minimal interest in the typical business novel, but who will relish the story's focus on corporate espionage, situational ethics, high-level manipulation - all presented with clever, entertaining plot twists. Can a business that is at once legit and illegal be salvaged?

The Definition of Experience represents a solid meld of the business novel and thriller genres. It is highly recommended reading for those seeking something satisfyingly different: a story fueled by the decision-making challenges and personal ambitions of a group of would-be successful businessmen who toe a fine line between disaster and achievement.

White Boy
Tom Graves
The Devault-Graves Agency, LLC
9781942531319, $18.99, Print
9781942531326, $9.99, eBook

White Boy is a memoir of Memphis racism and family relationships and provides an unusually sharp inspection of how prejudice permeated the author's family and how his choices and relationships challenged the status quo. It's highly recommended reading for anyone interested in not just a social inspection of racism in the South, but how racist attitudes permeate family interactions to surface in the most casual of everyday situations.

To get a sense of Tom Graves' approach and presentation, consider his hard-hitting introduction, which succinctly captures the atmosphere of his childhood roots: "This being Memphis, however, the racism is complex, ironic, and like Einstein's concept of time seems to fold in on itself. In my childhood the world seemed to be divided two ways: by gender and by race. There were men and there were women, and there were white people and there were black people. And that was all there was to it. I was only vaguely aware that there were others who fell outside those parameters. This state of affairs seemed logical to me. God created man and woman and he intended for them to have children, to be fruitful and multiply as the book said. People grew up, got old, died, and went to heaven, or if they were bad to that other place. And for reasons we didn't really understand, he created white people to show black people how they should properly live. That white people were superior to black people didn't even need suggestion. That fact - along with the word 'nigger' - was in the very air we breathed in Memphis in the '50s and '60s."

Then look at how Graves integrates his family experience with this social overlay of expectation: "I've not-so-jokingly told friends I was the white sheep of my family. Both sides of my extended family had an over-abundance of piety, bigotry, militarism, and an abiding love for the losing side in the War Between the States. I saw my share of Confederate flags growing up. I scandalized my family by rejecting nearly everything they believed in and prayed to. I openly disavowed the Confederacy and told my relatives I would have fought on the Union side, which is true. Not only was slavery an abomination, but for dirt farmers of the South to take up arms against their country to fight at the behest of profiteering plantation owners to me is the height of patriotic misdirection and proof of the effectiveness of propaganda when it is drilled into the masses. My relatives were not amused. Not all of them disowned me, however."

As White Boy reviews the author's life and times, a hard-hitting memoir evolves that captures not just a singular life experience, but the milieu, history, and psychology of several generations of Memphis residents.

It's a relatively easy task to follow the course of prejudice in this country, but a far more complex endeavor to trace its specific presence in family and community relationships. With the personal overlay linked to historical fact, the logic, evolution, and attitudes of racism become much more personal than political.

Graves does a particularly notable job of following prejudice in not just his own family, but the Memphis City school system. These eye-opening stories will raise eyebrows not just due to their facts, but for their insights on race and gender differences alike.

The result is a powerful memoir that takes one man's life experiences, confrontations, and choices to craft a Memphis-centric story that holds universal connotations for anyone interested in how racism both evolves and can be challenged and ultimately changed.

No collection strong in Southern history and culture should be without this hard-hitting, candid memoir that asks hard questions and prompts readers to consider the roots of their own family prejudices.

Lynne's Last Christmas: A Battle With Dementia
Donald Hricik
Independently Published
9781790751402, $5.38, Paper, $2.99, Kindle

Lynne's Last Christmas: A Battle With Dementia is the very personal story of Donald Hricik's struggles through four years of his wife's severe dementia, but it's important to note that most of this story was written within a few weeks of his wife's death.

Therefore, Hricik offers a personal memoir from hindsight, capturing the progression of Lynne's disease and the impact it made on their family and lives.

His introduction questions whether these personal experiences will be relevant to audiences outside immediate family - but they will be, because many are going through the same experiences and questions as this family faces as Lynne's dementia progresses.

Hricik succeeds in capturing not only Lynne's slow decline, but the vibrant parts of her personality and interests that contributed to her life, from her hope and faith to her knack for conversing with others and her highest priority in life: her family.

He also makes comments that offer pointers for others who either are confronting dementia or living lives without its presence, such as his observation that "If I had promised her to see the world after I retired, we would never have traveled anywhere. Lynne passed away one month before my planned retirement date."

Another valuable part of this physician's story of his wife's downhill spiral comes from his documentation of early symptoms that preceded her dementia diagnosis: hair loss, loss of appetite, and a tendency towards repetitiveness that her husband first attributed to a family trait.

As the family edges towards a diagnosis that holds little hope for recovery, readers receive information on testing processes and impacts of each progressive stage of dementia's relentless attacks. And as readers absorb the progression of Lynne's dementia, they become better educated about early warning signs, symptoms, and management choices at each stage of the disease.

Plenty of memoirs and books about dementia document patient and family experiences. Few hold the day-by-day assessments and impact of the disease as viewed by a husband and physician who finds even his skills tested by a deadly prognosis.

Lynne's Last Christmas: A Battle With Dementia should be at the top of any reading list for families facing such a diagnosis, who want a candid survey of what living with dementia really means.

The Nothing Within
Andy Giesler
Humble Quill
9781733567640, Paperback Edition
9781733567619, Hardcover Edition
9781733567626, eBook Edition - MOBI
9781733567633, eBook Edition - EPUB

The Nothing Within is set in 2161 in the American Midwest, several centuries after a biotech disaster, The Reckoning, has rendered humanity almost extinct, replacing it with the chimera, which has also largely become extinct - until now.

Root of Surecreek is a young woman of Amish descent who witnesses the rise of the chimera in this post-apocalyptic world. It should be noted that her first-person story opens with a unique voice that readers will find compelling: "My name is Root. I was seventeen when I first heard the voice no one else could hear. I feared I might have the Nothing within me. But by the time my village burned me alive in the Pit? Well, gracious. By then, we was all pretty sure."

Juxtaposed with Root's experience are words and history from The Reckoning that brought humanity to this point. Andy Giesler does an outstanding job of outlining the events of the past with the same attention to drama that he created in Root's introduction. Captivated by Root's description, which segues neatly into a third-person narration of Lee and Morton's desperate and dangerous decision on how to save the human race, readers of dystopian fiction will find The Nothing Within nearly impossible to put down.

That's because each character is carefully crafted, descriptions set the scenes using a minimum of verbiage and powerful action words, and absorbing individual conflicts and dilemmas draw readers into the greater story: "This is our fault. You and me. We bought our own bullshit. All the safeties, all the controls. We were wrong." He left that hanging. Almost a question. "True," she agreed after a pause. "Your plan could go wrong. Mine could, too. Maybe everybody will die no matter what we choose. Everybody who's still human, anyway."

Chapter headings are also uniquely crafted to draw readers through Root's story (i.e. 'When I Was Twenty: My Wondrous Mistakes'), as is a narrative voice which enlivens in an almost casual, yet vivid, observational style. The story of the politics and processes of a much-changed world come to life: "If I cared to, I could imagine the village Elders saying, "Well, golly. With Deborah going along, they don't hardly need but one runner. They're more than safe in her strong and capable hands." But just as easy, I could also imagine them saying, "Well, golly. If Outcasts or wolves or a chimera was to take our least able runner, or our valuable but frustrating woodsmith, or his downright troublesome know what? Sometimes misfortune hides a blessing. Let's see what Grandmother Root decides."

As stories and narrators entwine, readers will be delighted by the fresh, original take of this end-of-the-world saga, and will find The Nothing Within and its progression unexpectedly original, refreshingly revealing, and a standout compared to the usual dystopian exploration.

From Peasant to Emperor: the Life of Liu Bang
Victor Cunrui Xiong
Airiti Press
9789866286711, $15.00 Paper, $9.99 Kindle

From Peasant to Emperor: the Life of Liu Bang is a novel about a peasant who sets out to conquer the world even though he's only a few years shy of fifty (ancient, for his Han China era).

Readers with a prior interest in Chinese history will find that the fictional overlay that Professor Victor Cunrui Xiong brings characters and events to life by no means belays his solid research into the history and politics of the Han era. This story is steeped in and backed by these well-researched facts, but rather than choosing the dryer methodical presentation of nonfiction, Xiong's fictional choice adds the kind of drama that brings events to life for modern readers.

As descriptions follow Liu Bang's rise to power, they deftly follow not just physical confrontations, but the psychological assessments that must be cultivated in order to understand his various enemies and maintain his position of power.

History and politics are about lives, ambitions, struggles, and achievements. Too often, the human facets of these quests become lost in the focus on facts, dates, statistics, and research. From Peasant to Emperor returns the human element back into the story, opening up Chinese history even for casual readers who may have a prior interest, but little familiarity with Han-era events.

Professor Xiong not only conducts his own research into ancient records, but draws links between Han China history and Western events, helping Western readers understand the subtler nuances of Liu Bang's perceptions, astute analysis, and social and political choices.

Machiavelli's The Prince created a portrait of an unscrupulous politician's viewpoint of the world. Victor Cunrui Xiong's historical novel is a similar classic examination of authority and rule from a Chinese perspective, and should be a 'must read' not just for fiction readers interested in Chinese history; but for nonfiction bookworms who will find absorbing this portrait of how one man succeeds in changing the course of Chinese history and culture in ancient times.

Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy
R. Scott Boyer
9781633937451, $18.95, Paper, $26.95, Hardcover, $7.19, Kindle

Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy is the first book in a projected series for young adult fantasy/thriller readers, introducing the thriller genre to a younger audience than usual. Bobby is kidnapped and taken to the Jade Academy in Tibet, where monks encourage him to access his potent inner metaphysical powers.

However, monks aren't the only ones in control of his life. Bobby discovers that other forces are at work within the Academy. Their plans are to use the research and efforts of the monks to create a new breed of metaphysically-powered superhumans.

As Bobby uncovers plots and subplots and comes to realize that his abduction is part of a whirlwind of conspiracies and lies, he finds himself entering physical and mental realms he never knew existed; from an "underground Bermuda Triangle" filled with relics representing the strengths of various cultures to monks who have dedicated their lives to uncovering the truth behind legendary secrets.

At the center of this whirlwind of intrigue is Bobby and his abilities and investigations. This draws the reader into an unusual blend of fantasy and thriller that evolves into a battlefield set in dreamscapes beyond Bobby's ability to control.

The balanced blend of fantasy and action is superb, as is R. Scott Boyer's ability to juxtapose discovery, tension, and struggle. Even young adults who may have only light familiarity with either fantasy or thriller genres will find Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy fast-paced and thoroughly absorbing, making it a top pick for collections seeking genre-busting, action-packed adventure stories ala Indiana Jones.

M. Chelyk
Independently Published
9781797437880, $9.99 Paper, $2.99, Kindle

Raindrop blends thriller and romance genres with a deft hand, but it's also important to note that this is a literary work filled with compelling, evocative descriptions as it tells of a shy, deaf mute college girl who hides herself in library work, and Chris, who falls in love at the first sight of her.

Chris is largely used to "living in his mind" as a writer and dreamer. The last thing he expected was to fall in love with a vision of damaged loveliness. The last thing he wanted was for something extraordinary to break into his carefully-ordered world and objectives. It was always his biggest desire to tell his stories. Now it's his biggest desire to explore hers.

He's been a "lucky dreamer" in his life, becoming rich with a best-selling novel and a blockbuster movie. Now he's about to enter and explore Sofia's very different course, with less predictable results and a steeper learning curve than he's ever encountered before.

On many levels, Raindrop is an unexpected work of art. From how Chris confronts the fact that gaining access to Sofia may be filled with obstacles as simple as not having a library card to his need to become proficient in a whole new language (signing) just to talk to her, Chris's journey is anything but predictable or ordinary.

Readers gain entry, through his eyes, into the world of the deaf and its many challenges. Money certainly can't buy love, as Chris continually discovers when he keeps getting in trouble with Sofia over actions he believes to be supportive and altruistic.

Driven by Sofia's compelling effect on him, Chris discovers within himself a courage and perception of which he'd never imagined himself capable. Lessons about loneliness, signing's potential issues, courage, and resilience in the face of adversity enter into this romantic thriller to not just engage readers on not an entertainment level, but to educate them about many of the concerns of the deaf community.

Love makes people do crazy things. Chris is no longer the wealthy dreamer he was when he met Sofia. And his relationship with her powers a tense account of confrontation and danger which provides a delightful literary touch, making Raindrop highly recommended for anyone looking for an evocative, thought-provoking story that is more than a cut above most novels.

Stronger Than the Storm
Debbie Mura
Independently Published
9781792302312, $16.95, Paper, $4.95, ebook

Teen Lacey Freshet and her friends have lived at the Jersey shore all their lives, immersed in a world that replete with the usual angst and teen concerns. This milieu pales in comparison to true disaster when Hurricane Sandy takes apart not only a famous New Jersey roller coaster and beach community, but everything stable and familiar in their lives.

Mura excels at capturing the 'before and after' environment of physical and mental connections and changes experienced by an entire community. The initial chapters of Stronger Than the Storm capture a survival attitude about another storm's arrival and a sense of distain, held by some, for those who would flee its might: "This wind's been crazy. I was at ShopRite this afternoon, and the parking signs were slamming against the blacktop and then popping back up." "That's why you weren't around when the fire department came through announcing a voluntary evacuation," Polly Freshet said. "Exactly," Laura Peterson said. "You should have seen people packing up their cars and heading out like a bunch of Okies," Lacey said."

In the face of what happens next, this attitude changes vastly as the community's heart is destroyed in an unprecedented disaster. The fact that Debbie Mura is a New Jersey local lends to her ability to capture what other fictional accounts of the disaster often miss: the real attitudes and challenges of the Jersey shore community both before and after the storm.
What also makes this story exceptionally powerful is the juxtaposition between naturally self-centered teen interests and a disaster which forces them to reach beyond their prejudices and interests to interact with their community's survival and rebuilding efforts. As they and their families face a vastly changed world and goals in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, young adults are treated to a story that goes beyond survival and individual interests alone.

Lacey's family's much-changed concerns are captured both in major confrontations and small moments such as these: "Very funny," her mother had said that day and shoved her nose back into some FEMA or insurance paperwork. Too bad, Lacey had thought, we were kind of having fun there for a minute. It's like we never have a minute to just talk and joke around."

Proceeds from Debbie Mura's novel are being donated to real-world communities affected by the storm (The People's Pantry, Toms River, And Helping Hands, The Food Pantry At Brookdale Community College). The connections between these relief agencies and efforts and the fictional challenges faced by Lacey and her friends are well drawn in a coming of age story about surviving an unprecedented natural disaster.

A final proofread and editing job would have made this story a more even read, but the grammatical snafus peppered throughout are minor and don't detract from Stronger Than the Storm's underlying power and meaning.

Anyone seeking a teen read that offers a perspective of natural disaster from a young survivor's point of view will find

Stronger Than the Storm an inviting saga of change and recovery.

The Serpent's Game
A.C. Frieden
Avendia Publishing
9780974793443, $10.99, Paper, $3.99, Kindle

The Serpent's Game is the second book in the Jonathan Brooks series and follows the New Orleans maritime lawyer who has been set adrift by failures in his life and career. Now he also faces Hurricane Katrina, with no choice left but to await the storm of the century amid the ruins of his world.

As if this wasn't enough to spark an interest in his story, A.C. Frieden adds a murder mystery paired with international intrigue into the plot, which surges from New Orleans to Central America as Jonathan follows a trail of espionage and crime that lead from his home to Russia, North Korea, Cuba, and beyond anything he's ever faced before.

Frieden holds a special ability to pack as much drama and tension into a few sentences as possible, both setting the stage for events to follow and crafting an atmosphere that is darkly compelling and nearly impossible to put down: "Silence is a lethal tune - Satan's anthem for those souls so bruised by this ruthless world that its steady carriage of melancholy and anger sends the mind into near-paralysis. Jonathan Brooks understood this too well. To him, silence was a ruse, oversold as peace. Hyped as longed-for solace. This morbid tune brought only maddening echoes of failed love, his soul bled dry by Linda's caustic slurs lobbed from afar."

This ability to cram as much atmosphere, history, and description in as little verbiage as possible is part of what makes The Serpent's Game so compelling. Not one word is wasted in the effort, which means that the hard-hitting, informational, atmospheric descriptions are hard to put down.

Readers who look for not just action-packed thrillers but emotional characters will find just the ticket in The Serpent's Game because the protagonist struggles with his life on many different levels, and solving mysteries is not the first and foremost passion in his world.

As events unfold, this quiet drama is supplemented by political intrigue that at times feels so complex that a better grasp of world affairs would seem a requirement for the successful appreciation of just how much historical and political detail Frieden uses in his story. Not to worry: the interrelationships and intrigue swirling around the protagonist is explained, and no prior knowledge is needed in order to appreciate either the connections between nations and individuals or the progression of events that keeps Jonathan facing life-or-death situations.

From the politics and challenges of natural disaster to the same facets reflected in political forces and special interests, Frieden keeps his characters alive and logical, his readers engaged in their actions and the consequences of their choices, and the story filled with twists and turns to keep everything on track as readers try to guess the outcome.

Fans of political thrillers and disaster recovery stories who enjoy intrigue and mystery will find The Serpent's Game both satisfyingly complex and psychologically well-detailed, probing the roots of conflict both in the world and in Jonathan's own heart.

The River Rat Murders
Frank L. Gertcher
Wind Grass Hill Books
9780983575443, $29.95

The River Rat Murders is a different kind of murder mystery set in Prohibition times Indiana and focuses on Madame Caroline Case, who becomes an amateur sleuth after her friend Alec is murdered. Caroline's exploits are introduced as Volume 1 of her diary in this book. Her story is told in first-person, using Caroline's own voice to capture her observations and latest adventures.

She and her "girls" form The River Rat Detective Agency and go where no man can follow, solving a string of murders that have stumped local authorities.

Under another hand, this premise might have formed a singular focus on a given murder or investigative process; but Frank L. Gertcher is a retired senior scientist with a penchant for historical detail; and so Caroline's sleuthing is firmly rooted in the backdrop of an evolving gang war between Al Capone and those involved in black market booze.

Readers who like their sleuthing tales centered in real-life history will enthusiastically embrace The River Rat Murders for its exceptional ability to wind a murder mystery's superior tension and plot development into facts about the times.

The setting, too, appears unusually vivid and realistic. Perhaps this is because Gertcher was born and raised in Indiana, and is well aware, on a personal level, of its milieu and social circles, on more than one level.

Given the vivid presentation of these adventures, one might suspect that Caroline is a real figure. Not so: but the environment she operates in certainly is; and it's brought to realistic, compelling life. The story includes Caroline's consideration of moving into legitimate business circles, her foray into romance, challenging encounters with the law and criminals alike, and the pursuit of an elusive figure who turns out to literally be under their noses.

The River Rat Murders is at once compelling, historically well detailed, and hard to put down.

Solve the Divorce Dilemma
Sonia Frontera
Coventina House
9781733569521, $6.99 Ebook
9781733569538, $12.99, Paperback

Solve the Divorce Dilemma: Do You Keep Your Husband or Do You Post Him on Craigslist?: Get Clear, Get Strong and Get Off the Fence. A Roadmap to Freedom ... Sister's Guides to Empowered Living, Book 1 may sound like a whimsically accessible read, but the sense of fun in the subtitle is actually an invitation to enter a serious exploration that provides women with keys to assessing the viability and potential of their own marriages.

Sonia Frontera maintains that divorce, while an option, should be approached with an active awareness of underlying attitudes about relationships that may have contributed to stagnation or dangerous situations. Readers are encouraged to self-analyze their marriage's dynamics and their own attitudes. This approach requires a strong ability to self-assess and a desire to consider changes not only within the relationship, but in one's choices, attitudes, and decisions.

Solve the Divorce Dilemma is not a pro- or anti-divorce treatise, but one which encourages readers to enter this analysis with eyes wide open. One might argue that this approach is best utilized with the aid of a licensed therapist, but Frontera's book is meant to supplement professional help; not replace it. Think of it as a self-study workbook of exercises and tools that can be utilized either at home or with the assistance of a professional.

The processes of getting clear, getting strong, and perhaps getting out are outlined in chapters that cover everything from the fallout from social programming and its impact on womens' lives to what constitutes awareness, and how to cultivate it on many levels.

Women who have traditionally led unexamined lives will be surprised at many of these insights, while those committed to real self-examination and change will be the best beneficiaries of a book that guides them through common pitfalls and obstacles to paths that lead in a more positive direction.

Another important facet of Solve the Divorce Dilemma lies in its many important daily insights, from missing or ignoring red flags about caustic behaviors in relationships to weighing the consequences of divorce and possible regret over decisions leading to it. In order to mitigate such regrets, it's important for women to assess all reasonable opportunities for change within the relationship as well as outside of it (abusive situations being the exception to this rule).

From cultivating forgiveness to approaching one's spouse with a request for divorce and handling the fallout from different kinds of reactions, Solve the Divorce Dilemma covers the entire emotional process. It is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in making lasting changes in their psyches and lives. These keys to change go beyond a singular relationship to probe how to make choices, react to adversity, and, ultimately, envision freedom and self-love.

The Library of Secrets: The Giant Mistake
Zoe Penn
Planet Zoe d.o.o.
9789533570259, $16.99, Hardcover
9789533570266, $9.99, Paperback

It's been said that books open portals to other worlds, but in The Library of Secrets: The Giant Mistake, twelve-year-old Sophia and her younger brother Mark discover this to be a literal truth when a book they check out of the library brings them to the world of Almation.

As is typical in interdimensional or time travel experiences, the children become trapped in this world and must search for the way home. Unique to this story, however (and one strength that sets it apart from similar scenarios) is Zoe Penn's focus on the greater life lessons embedded in these puzzle-solving attempts.

From learning when and how to take risks and assess their consequences and impact to accepting responsibility for making big mistakes, saying goodbye, and following clues that seem to lead straight into further danger, The Library of Secrets reads like an Indiana Jones story for a younger audience, but embeds life lessons into its action.

From dark hallways and diamonds to jungle caves, hidden keys that promise to unlock freedom, and motivational speeches from talking monkeys, Sophie and her brother embark on a journey to reveal the truth as well as riches.

Advanced elementary to middle-grade readers who like their adventure stories packed with action and puzzles will relish this read, but adults who oversee or assign the book will especially appreciate the underlying messages it holds and the insights that it provides about growth, courage, responsibility, and determination.

The Library of Secrets: The Giant Mistake provides solid characterization, fast-paced action, and a logical series of progressive questions and answers, all wrapped up in an engrossing adventure that will keep advanced elementary to middle grade readers on their toes and thoroughly engaged.

High Flying
Kaylin McFarren
Independently Published
9781091374799, $12.95
B07QYH3CD4, $3.99

Imagine an adrenaline junkie (addicted to heart-stopping challenges and potentially life-threatening activities) who discovers the lure of flying. Skylar Haines isn't just addicted to passion: she makes choices that involve cutting herself, trying to get a handle on the darkness of her past and in her soul.

When a near-miss at an air show sends her literally into a spiral, she flies outside of herself and into the past in a surprise move that changes an introduction that sounds like an exploration of bipolar disorder into a rare opportunity to change a past which has not just influenced but destroyed her life.

It should be advised that High Flying is not a 'timeslip' story, per se. Kaylin McFarren crafts a close inspection of a young woman flying on the edge of disaster, then adds a fantasy element in which Skylar has the opportunity to change everything if she accepts the greatest dare in her life.

From an unexpected friendship opportunity to new revelations about past, present, and future and the choices she has over her life and matters of the heart ("She looked down at the faded scars on her arms, reminding herself that despite everything that had happened in her life, she would never regret what she had done in the future, only the things she didn't do in the past...when she had the chance."), this hard-hitting story begins with anger, self-destruction and responses to murder; then evolves into a psychological inspection that follows Skylar to new heights of development.

She may be the last person in the world to save anyone outside of herself, but as purpose supercharges her life and lends her unprecedented strength, so Skylar discovers the paths that ultimately lead to redemption, healing, and solving a puzzle that has changed everything.

The result is a timeslip-style tale that is nicely steeped in psychological introspection. High Flying is particularly highly recommended for readers who like to follow their characters on the evolutionary path towards better life choices.

Winds Across Beringia
Benjamin H. Barnette
Publisher: TBA
Website/Ordering Link: TBA

Fans of Ice Age prehistoric fiction settings ala Jean Auel's 'Earth's Children' series will relish the setting and events in Winds Across Beringia, which is set in the last Ice Age on a narrow channel connecting Alaska with Siberia.

Mammoth hunter Harjo sets off on an arduous journey to the country of the Sea Mammal Hunting folk where he meets Onna, who was taken captive from an unfamiliar country. As in Auel's story, the girl is fair-skinned and of a quite different, foreign ancestry than everyone around her. Unlike Auel's titles, however, this is as much a story of Harjo's evolution and romance as it is about this unusual stranger, and focuses on his choices, experiences, and adventures as they embark on a journey together.

While in some ways Winds Across Beringia's setting gives a nod to Auel's influence, readers receive far more historical references (and accuracy) from this survey. The novel opens with nonfiction notes setting the background for these times and what is known about them; so while the characters are entirely fictional, the author's attention to detail creates a fitting exploration of real peoples, how they survived, and how they lived, and comes from many years of his personal research on the times.

Benjamin H. Barnette's employment of this information-filled introduction (and later appendices of details on the animals, plants, and birds referenced in the story, that he believes would have lived in the Beringia area) makes for a satisfying juxtaposition of fact and fiction, placing said facts in easily-accessible sections that can be referenced quickly. This results in a fictional story that is unimpeded by too much factual detail; yet remains supported by solid research.

As for the tale itself, readers should expect a quest story as filled with psychological inspection as adventure that stems from encounters with environment, prejudices, and other peoples. The Ice Age world comes to life under Barnette's hand, while the emotional connections between characters keep readers engaged.

Environmental escriptions are very nicely done and capture the setting on more than one level as the two struggle to survive: "Harjo had told Onna that the caribou sense of smell was very keen as are so many animals of the steppe, but caribou do not have intelligent vision. "I believe they see about as good as we do," he said, "but they do not have smart vision. They are easily fooled. Hunters can employ unsophisticated disguises and approach with the wind, well within killing range of the herd. You and I would see them and easily recognize them as hunters, but the caribou do not."

Better editing or a final proofread by a qualified editor would have caught the grammatical and punctuation issues lightly peppered throughout, but the story line and history are impeccable, making Winds Across Beringia a superior read that is especially highly recommended for fans of prehistoric fictional adventure stories.

Dreamscape Adventures, Inc.
C.A. Gray
Wanderlust Publishing
9781092121354, $9.99, Paper, $3.99, Kindle

Dreamscape Adventures, Inc. questions the nature of reality and dreams, but couches these inquiries into an investigative piece that revolves around an insurance attorney who addresses a new company's need for liability insurance. Luke Darringer has everything he could have asked for in life, but these acquisitions turn into nightmares as he investigates a company that offers to make people's dreams come true.

As he and his administrative assistant Charlotte discover that Dreamscape's activities embed a glitch that threatens their lives, readers are brought into a world that demands much from its rich clientele; including possibility forfeiting everything.

Part of what makes Dreamscape Adventures, Inc. so engrossing is that the initial predicament of its protagonist is realistically portrayed. Luke's workaholic traits have led to his setting aside a venture he used to love - rock climbing - in favor of less appealing exercise that he dutifully performs, instead. Dreamscape offers him an opportunity return to this passion, but it comes with a big price.

As Luke's passion turns into a nightmare, he finds himself facing his deepest psychological challenges in a story that recreates a reality that too easily embraces death.

In this scenario, Luke is responsible for saving everyone. In this case, 'everyone' is not only himself and his assistant, but an autistic boy.

Another deeply evocative part of the tale lies in Luke's confrontation with his own limitations and failures. Dreamscape's latest adventure tests him on many levels, ties into his past failings, and tests his entrepreneurial spirit as he finds himself grappling with a liability nightmare.

As events unfold, Luke contemplates the wisdom of guaranteeing liability for a company where dreams can turn so horribly dangerous. His trusty assistant Charlotte, long his most reliable, brutally honest companion, may not support his perspective or company any longer. And what he ultimately gets out of his role with the group navigating the Dreamscape environment may change his life forever.

The satisfying mix of intrigue, interpersonal relationships, psychological challenges, and insights into love make for a fast-paced, multifaceted blend of thriller and fantasy which is strong in magical realism and one man's surprising investigation of a company's surreal offering which leads him to also probe his own life's challenges and his choices.

Thriller, fantasy, mystery and romance readers will find Dreamscape Adventures, Inc. powerfully absorbing. It's filled with just the right blend of action, intrigue, and interpersonal inspection to keep attention firmly in place right up to a surprising conclusion.

Why Do They Hate Us?: Making Peace with the Muslim World
Steve Slocum
Top Reads Publishing, LLC
9780998683867, $18.99, Paperback
9780998683874, $8.99, Ebook

There perhaps could have been no better timing for the appearance of Why Do They Hate Us?: Making Peace with the Muslim World than in these modern times, because there are so many Western misperceptions about Muslims that it takes an entire book about the roots and fallacies of hate to even begin to understand a peaceful resolution.

Other books address Muslim relationships around the world, but Steve Slocum here focuses on everyday Muslim lives over extremists who often make the headline news. He probes the attitudes, beliefs, religion and culture of Muslim believers in an effort to understand and address basic misconceptions whether they are about jihad, Sharia law, or the role of women in Muslim circles.

Background history and politics are provided, but the heart of Why Do They Hate Us? lies in chapters which examine everyday Islamic teachings and practices, then point out the political events and choices that have created extremists, fostering their activities and resulting in a damning smear of the Muslim community as a whole.

As fallacies and misconceptions build on all sides, Slocum points out not just errors but the lasting impacts of prejudice and misunderstandings. The roots of radical Islamist terrorism are probed with some surprising results that will cause readers to think about how unrest leads to radicalization and why foreign intervention in local affairs and injustice has fostered and furthered extremist attitudes that Muslims are accused of supporting in their own communities, from their own faith and beliefs.

Such fear can only be overcome not by fighting, but by talking. Slocum encourages a broader acceptance and understanding of Muslims through face-to-face interactions between all faiths. He supports this in his own book by juxtaposing historical and political examination with stories of Muslim individuals and his own experiences from his time in Kazakhstan.

Islamophobia is a present and rising force in the West. Why Do They Hate Us? takes a stand against this prejudice by advocating a different approach to not just tolerating Muslims, but getting to know them on a personal level. In this case, familiarity does not breed contempt. It leads to a level of understanding that holds the possibility of rippling from individual experience into society-wide sentiments and real, lasting changes.

Why Do They Hate Us? should be in the collection of any library strong in Muslim topics, prejudice, faith, or social issues. It stands out from the crowd in offering a powerful blend of historical, political, and personal perspectives on a very complex issue, indeed.

A.J. Gentile
Independently Published
9781091935310, $2.99

Ezekiel Blackbird is under the gun in more ways than one. He's a fresh law school student trying to start his own practice, he is newly employed by Alex, a defendant facing the charge of murdering a Hollywood actress at a party, and he is well over his head in more ways than one.

As Ezekiel probes events surrounding the party's tragic outcome and his client's involvement, he uncovers clues that not only indicate Alex's innocence, but test his loyalties and ability to be an effective criminal defense attorney.

The first thing to note about Blackbird is that it offers a satisfying probe of Zeke's personal life as well as his professional challenges. These facets keep the plot multifaceted as it flows through events, choices, and consequences on more than one level.

Zeke's love life is a mess, he's under pressure and threats from more than one angle, and he questions his own integrity and objectives even when he faces a kidnapper who removes him from a restaurant date or causes him to drop the ball with his client.

Another strong note to Blackbird is that events aren't always related from Blackbird's viewpoint. Readers enjoy the juxtaposition of proceedings from Victor's viewpoint, as well, which allows a dual-pane examination of both sides of the same coin as Zeke confronts one of the biggest criminal cases and puzzles in his career, which evolves from what he had perceived as an unsatisfying introductory case in his new practice.

Can Zeke absorb the kinds of life lessons that will lead him to become a better criminal attorney even as he fights for his own life and that of his client? Blackbird is an engrossingly changing read that tests readers' own ability to presume innocence or guilt. The cliffhanger conclusion promises more to those who find Zeke, Lexi, and others an engrossing set of characters.

Sherry V. Ostroff
Independently Published
9781090763723, $13.99, paper, $8.99, ebook

Caledonia opens in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1696 and tells of the uncertain fate of 15 year-old Jewess Anna Issac, who is slated to marry a Frenchman that her spiteful brother has selected for her. Her choices are to either embark on an unhappy relationship or run away with a Scottish Highlander, an action which will lead her into a world filled with prejudice against Jews.

This story isn't just about Anna, however: it's about two very different women - one modern; one from the past - whose lives become connected when an old key and a safe deposit box's contents lead Hanna, whose father died in the 9/11 events, to uncover Anna Duncan's role in the creation of Scotland's only colony.

A family heirloom handed down for decades, a mysterious object that reveals a nearly-forgotten history, and Anna and Hanna's involvements in family animosity and Scottish history make for an intriguing story.

Part of what contributes to Caledonia's unique approach is that this adventure is rooted in facts and geography. It's evident from the peppering of references throughout that Sherry V. Ostroff has not only done her research into ancient times, but has a personal familiarity with the geography, peoples, and politics of present-day Scotland.

This lends an authoritative and evocative structure to a tale that embeds compelling descriptions into a story replete with two womens' connections, aspirations, and struggles.

Lest readers think that such history might be dry, it should be advised that there are quirky and fun references throughout which provide delightfully light moments as serious romance, confrontations, and thriller elements are juxtaposed with real facts: "Believe it or not, the sausage plays a part in the history of the Inquisition. Once the Inquisition arrived in Portugal, Jews were given a choice of expulsion or conversion. Those who converted were forced to prove their devotion to their new religion. That included the Portuguese custom that all housewives hang their freshly stuffed pork sausages in the communal smokehouse. Any who were identified as Conversos were scrutinized to make sure they did as well. So they wouldn't go against their religious dietary laws, the hidden Jews secretly stuffed the sausage with duck, chicken, or veal. In this way, they could join in the custom and go undetected. Ironically, later the Portuguese Christians liked the Jewish recipe better, and they adopted it. You can now find the sausage in certain areas of Portugal, especially in the city of Mirandela, in the northern part of the country."

These elements set Caledonia apart from and above many timeslip or historical mystery reads, creating a compelling saga that is infused with Scottish history and culture, yet not so heavy on the brogue dialect as to prove confusing.

As Anna faces an epic journey to New York, a separation that tugs at her heartstrings, the possibility of a new family, and the ship Caledonia, which carries her to new worlds and a great loss, readers will be thoroughly immersed in a saga that shifts in time and place, introduces many differing viewpoints from a cast of believable characters, and documents the birth of a colony as Jews escape the Spanish Inquisition and seek refuge in Scotland.

Fans of historical novels and romance will find Caledonia exquisitely compelling.

Out of the Fire and into the Pan
Shannon O'Leary
Shannon O'Leary, Publisher
9780648445609, $18.00

Out of the Fire and into the Pan is a sequel to The Blood on My Hands and will especially be appreciated by prior fans who enjoyed Shannon O'Leary's first memoir of how she survived a violent childhood in 1960s and 70s Australia. Out of the Fire and into the Pan continues the story as she moves into adulthood and finds ways to reconcile her life choices with her traumatic past.

Oftentimes, memoirs pack childhood and adult experiences under one cover. By separating these into two books, Shannon O'Leary provides the focus and detail lacking in similar-sounding accounts of recovery from childhood trauma, allowing for a closer inspection not just of events, but the process of coming to terms with them.

One notable aspect Out of the Fire and into the Pan is that O'Leary's father is an expert at gaslighting techniques. From a beloved dog's disappearance and his insinuation that the pet's safe return could be linked to behavioral changes on the part of his adult children to ongoing family connections as everyone attempts to achieve their own sense of peace and healing from the past, Out of the Fire and into the Pan does an outstanding job of charting not just changing relationships, but the quagmire of dysfunction that threatens them all.

In some ways, Out of the Fire and into the Pan offers hope. In others, it deftly pinpoints the types of reactions, social snafus, and insecurities that linger in heart and action long after the trauma has passed ("Why can't I just laugh sexual encounters off like everyone else?").

Against the backdrop of dysfunction, reaction, choices that lead to relationships with those who are neither compassionate nor kind, and self-examination ("I was still trying to comprehend why I behaved the way I did, living in the shadow of shame and trying to avoid little scenes of humiliation...") is the story of emerging from a cocoon of hurt and blossoming into something entirely different than an injured victim, against impossible odds.

Out of the Fire and into the Pan is more than just one woman's autobiography. It's an engrossing story of change, choice, and the lasting impacts of these behaviors. Its ability to capture moments of transition and their ongoing impact makes for a heady read that is not all sugar and spice, but filled with enlightening moments that hold valuable lessons for anyone struggling with the aftermath of childhood trauma.

Warrior Won
Meryl Davids Landau
Alignment Publishing Co.
9781936586486, $17.00

Lorna Crawford is a happy married mother pregnant with her second child. She has everything one could wish for in life, including a spiritual foundation rooted in yoga and mindful behavior. All this is shaken when she discovers that something may be wrong with her unborn child.

Warrior Won is a powerful novel about adversity, but it doesn't take the usual psychological inspection approach of similar-sounding novels. Instead, it embarks on a spiritual path that follows Lorna as her already-strong beliefs are shaken by a revelation that changes everything.

Meryl Davids Landau dubs her story "mindful women's fiction" and, with that title, creates a subgenre of books on mindfulness that tend to be largely nonfiction and certainly not rooted in women's lives.

Having Lorna already be a practitioner of yoga and mindfulness techniques rather than a newcomer who stumbles into them through adversity (which is actually the plot of Landau's first book featuring Lorna, Downward Dog, Upward Fog) lends to a situation that is more thought-provoking and revealing, especially since Lorna uses not one but a variety of techniques to address her crisis and work through it. Landau thus creates a novel that surveys how all these techniques work under duress, painting a realistic story of a woman under siege who must call upon all her carefully-tuned resources to confront a dire situation indeed.

There are many powerful women leading the mindful thinking movement, but this book is one of the first to use the vehicle of fiction and the backdrop of life-or-death adversity to thoroughly explore how these techniques actually work in the real world beyond any idealistic vision of their applications and strengths.

One might anticipate a depressing examination from all this, but a surprising note is that this story of extreme adversity actually supports an uplifting atmosphere based on Lorna's search for the kinds of answers that help energize her body and mind.

Her explorations impart a moment-by-moment sense of how she mindfully approaches life: "I cock my head, thinking about the blood test. Then I catch myself. I have wandered from experience into the land of thought. Not even a thought about the present, but anxiety about what might come. Stay in the moment, I remind myself."

Warrior Won is one of the strongest spiritual women's fiction pieces to appear in recent years. It is unabashedly and highly recommended for a range of women, from casual chic lit leisure readers to those from all walks of faith who like spiritual-based fiction. It successfully creates its own supportive fiction subgenre of mindful approaches to life in the course of exploring Lorna's ongoing ability to recognize amazing gifts in life in the face of a brutal health crisis.

No Bears Allowed
Lydia Lukidis
Blue Whale Press
9780981493893, $16.99, hardcover
9781732893504, $10.99, paperback

Rabbit is timid about most things in life, but he's most afraid of bears. They are big, scary, violent creatures, and there are many warnings about encountering one.

Rabbit knows plenty about bears and their big, pointy teeth and sharp claws. After all: he's read all about them and thinks he already knows everything important.
But, nothing can prepare him for the reality of encountering one in the woods, and for the very different circumstances that challenge everything he believes. As Rabbit gets to know one real Bear, he discovers the roots of prejudice and changes his mind about generalizations.

These excellent revelations encourage kids to face their fears and think about not just the reality of danger, but different personalities and choices involved in interacting with the world with notions that don't stem from personal experience.

Tara J. Hannon's whimsical, fun, colorful drawings enhance a fine picture book story highly recommended for either independent pursuit by ages 4-7, or read-aloud pleasure.

The Sustainable Endowment
James E. Demmert
New Insights Press
9780999580141, $24.95, Hardcover
9780999580189, $14.95, Trade paper
9780999580158, $14.95, Kindle eBook

The Sustainable Endowment: 10 Principles to Make Your Foundation or Nonprofit Last for Decades is a specialty business title covering foundation and charity endowment investment processes. It is highly recommended for business collections and individuals who have an interest in the structure and investment growth of endowment monies.

Nonprofit executives receive a primer that assumes a certain level of authority and familiarity with the nonprofit world. This includes a detailed discussion of setting up a nonprofit from the ground up, from selecting an effective board of directors and supportive staff to committee development, to the basics of writing the two key documents nonprofits should have for legal compliance - the Spending Policy and Investment Policy Statement.

The Sustainable Endowment then details the nuts and bolts of long-term investment strategies from a wealth manager and founder of wealth-management firm, Main Street Research, who sports some 30 years of experience successfully advising nonprofits on endowment-building procedures.

At each step of the discussion, James E. Demmert focuses on the critical choices specific to the nonprofit culture, supporting his introductory intention: "The core of this book is about how nonprofits can learn to invest their endowment to maximize profitable results while limiting their risk."

The book is no light review of investment principles. It outlines many major pitfalls nonprofit executives need to understand in order to carefully assess financial markets and invest to keep their ships afloat. Demmert warns about the consequences of bad investing: "In addition to the loss of growth in value or income in a down market or during a recovery, the math gets even uglier when nonprofits need to make withdrawals during that time to use in their operations or to fund their causes. Each time you withdraw, you reduce your capital base - and that creates a "double whammy." Furthermore, the effect of taking capital away from your portfolio while it is in a downward trend or in recovery mode adds tremendous pressure on the percentage of market increase you now require to attain the full recapture of your original investment amount."

Charts are peppered throughout the book to provide support for the analysis and recommendations, along with textual explanations about historical approaches to investment management versus the needs of modern nonprofits. Demmert offers many insights specific to economic trends that impact nonprofit endowments.

Even more important, The Sustainable Endowment juxtaposes its recommendations with supporting statistics, historical precedent, and examples of investment fallacies and truths. This creates a powerful connection between "Smart" investing savvy and the specific concerns of nonprofits to remain sustainable to achieve their laudatory missions.

With its core of seven basics of investment management geared to the structure, purposes, and special requirements of the nonprofit, The Sustainable Endowment creates a clear blueprint for executive success and is a top recommendation for any business reference library where nonprofit leaders are patrons and readers.

Crowning Glory: River's Journey
Taylor Thompson
Bright Blacklight Publishing
9780982240045, $15.00, Print
9780982240052, eBook

Crowning Glory: River's Journey is a novel that centers around River, a girl who grows up in a small town in Texas in the 1950s. As an adult black woman who has survived a heritage of oppression and gender inequality, she faces racism, bigotry, and challenges with romance and culture.

That's a lot to pack into one story; but Taylor Thompson excels in crafting a story of how a girl evolves into a woman who takes charge of her life and removes herself from the status of a victim. This focus drives a story that is replete with strong observations as River copes with many relationship challenges: "River still feels as if she's performing a balancing act that's about to collapse, juggling Adam, Alpha, and Daryl who, at any moment, will come crashing down on her."

This sense of struggling to maintain balance and sanity while moving forward with building a stronger identity than childhood has prepared her for keeps River's journey a positive one. Readers learn how adversity and strife can lead to both pluses and minuses in developing strength, resiliency, determination, and growth.

As Crowning Glory follows River from childhood to becoming an adult who manages many different kinds of relationships simultaneously (some socially accepted; others less so), readers receive a story that comments on violence, recovery, socially acceptable and unacceptable perspectives, and romantic triangles and entanglements that pose constant dilemmas and challenges to all involved.

In a way, River's uncertain path to recovery and identity lies in not just her choices, but the people that come into her world either through circumstance or deliberate choice. Against the backdrop of the Crowning Glory building in Chicago there evolves hope for a better life. This powers the story through River's struggles and captures her pain and pleasure at different levels.

Through River's eyes (and those of Adam, Alpha and Daryl, as well), readers are provided a journey through sexual discovery, social and cultural challenges, and the process of awakening which probes adversity and response on all the characters' parts.

The result is a story at once powerfully thought-provoking and attractive to leisure readers, who will find River's world firmly rooted in the real struggles of her times and places.

Fiction readers seeking uplifting stories of awakening, struggle, and ultimate rebirth will find Crowning Glory: River's Journey both enlightening and engrossing.

Campus Confidential
Sid Stark
Helia Press
9780999168998, $10.99, Paper, $3.99, Kindle

"They say knowledge is power. Those people must never have gotten a PhD." This wry observation introduces protagonist Doctor Rowena Halley, who has had the unfortunate luck to receive her doctorate at a time when jobs for PhDs are at a minimum.

Unlike most, she lucks out and accepts a one-semester teaching position at a New Jersey school. Despite her fortune in finding a job at all, Rowena embarks on a chaotic journey as she confronts prejudice against Russians, interdepartmental bickering, the pressure of family to settle down with a husband, and an ex-boyfriend in trouble with the Russian government.

From changing Russian-American relationships on both personal and political levels to Rowena's confrontation with a blackmailer, drugs, and the results of crippling student loans that enslave students before they've even made money, Sid Stark successfully captures a realistic slice of life as campus life, politics, and student and professor angst are viewed through Rowena's eyes.

Rowena has developed a talent for talking her way out of trouble, but even she may not be up to the challenges that stem from Russian and American interactions and the collisions their special interests create on campus.

Rowena starts off wanting to save the world, but it feels like she's doing anything but. Can her goals come full circle to change harsh realities well embedded into social and political systems?

Campus Confidential is a witty, thought-provoking romp through not only academia, but the halls of political and social strife. As the story documents Rowena's struggles over career, idealism, and student and faculty special interests, it creates a charming blend of academic inspection and social commentary that weaves an engrossing personal perspective into a blend of social observation and evolving romance.

Female readers who like their protagonists professional and divided in loyalties will relish Rowena's dilemmas and evolutionary process.

The Real Farmer in the Dell
Sandra Sutter
Clear Fork Publishing
9781946101884, $17.99

The Real Farmer in the Dell excels in lovely color illustrations as it redoes a classic children's rhyme with an exciting new twist.

The song begins as usual, but is quickly halted by a savvy little mouse who knows the truth. As the mouse points out the lies in practically every sentence of the song (the farmer didn't actually live in a dell: he was a rancher who lived on a ranch out West), young readers and their read-aloud parents are treated to a rollicking rhyme that relates the "real story" ("The rancher on the range./The rancher on the range./Off to the rodeo,/the rancher on the range.").

As the tale progresses, kids receive an enlightening saga that not only places ranchers in a different light, but explores gender roles. Each panel explodes the original piece, but offers a substitute that is not just thought-provoking, but cheerful and fun.

The new cast of characters and a slew of animals all have a fun time and this enthusiasm is translated well by artists Chantelle Thorne and Burgen Thorne, whose drawings are an intrinsic part of what makes this redo so compelling.

It's rare to find the pairing of artist and writer so solid and effective, but The Real Farmer in the Dell achieves this and more with a remake on a classic which successfully confronts stereotypes and allows girls and boys to realize both the strength and fun in being more flexible and empowered.

The Real Farmer in the Dell is a top recommendation: a witty, original, thought-provoking survey of how gender roles can be enthusiastically expanded for the benefit of all.

A Thread So Fine
Susan Welch
Faodail Publishing
9781733848510, $3.99, Ebook
9781733848503, $16.99, Paperback

Sisters Shannon and Eliza have a history of relying on each other in the face of a distant mother and fragile family connections. Throughout childhood, life is better together than apart: "If Shannon had been with her sister, they'd have walked arm-in-arm straight through campus across the street and into the house they'd lived in since birth, chatting like two birds on a wire, and Shannon would never have met the boy with a tilted grin and a mess of curly black hair who showed up in front of her while the unlit cigarette still hung between her fingers."

As adults, things change as Shannon and Eliza develop different goals for their lives, and as physical and mental challenges drive them apart.

The connections that lend to their closeness and separation alike are considered in A Thread So Fine, a compelling saga that reveals not only the roots of these connected lives and the tenacity of dreams and goals, but the ability of sibling survival connections to continue past childhood.

As romances, politics, and trauma arise for each sister, patterns of the past threaten to overwhelm and separate their connections: "Eliza pulled the receiver away from her face and brought it to her chest, her mind reeling. Again, Fa was asking her to bury her needs in the shadow of Shannon's trauma. Again, pushed aside by Shannon's neediness."

Can the ties that bind prove changeable rather than breakable? Some things never change, and readers who undertake the journey of this evolving relationship between two sisters from childhood to adulthood will find that A Thread So Fine lassos the heart with stories of close connections tested by life's progression.

Readers of women's fiction who especially enjoy stories of sister relationships will relish this engrossing saga of change and survival.

Reality 2048 - Watching Big Mother
Derek Cressman
Poplar Leaf Press
9781733956710, $9.84, Ebook, $19.84, Paperback, $24.95, Hardcover

Reality 2048 - Watching Big Mother is a dystopian thriller set in Los Angeles in the not-so-distant future, protagonist Vera faces the dilemma of personal ennui. Bombarded by advertising and high drama from high technology, Vera one day decides to distance herself from these devices and their crippling allure, only to discover a hidden layer of possibilities that recharges her energy and purpose.

Readers might expect Reality 2048 to be a novel of personal achievement and realizations, but it's actually more of a social and political commentary. It personalizes both as it reveals Vera's hollow feelings about life on the carefully regulated, ad-driven Magnificent Estates in her LuxureLife suites, which should mark one of the pinnacles of success - but doesn't.

When reality itself seems like one big promotional tagline, what is left of the world? Derek Cressman explores not only the nature of political purpose, but the perils of predictability and regulation as he surveys Vera's life and its transformation.

One of the strong points of the story is Cressman's ability to pinpoint exact moments in the process of this change where Vera realizes that her choices have been limited, and are being used by the very technology that promises her entertainment and an over dramatized form of reality: "For weeks, Vera had wanted to pull up the meditation video she had initially found in her MyndScreen search. She hadn't done it because she was worried that repeated views would be more likely to trigger a metadata point. Maybe guided meditation would give her greater relief than she'd been able to achieve on her own. This antique item was not connected in any way to MyndScreen transmissions. Vera began playing a Big Mother Gets Real episode in another MyndScreen window so that she could safely consider the purchase. Chase had said that the key to avoiding SpeidrWeb tracking was to keep the Mynd-Screen occupied. She imagined that maintaining a regular pattern of purchasing would also keep her data looking normal."

Concepts of global connectivity, technology's manipulation of the masses, and ideas and ideals about who controls individual purpose in this near-future all hold powerful messages for contemporary audiences. When propaganda is carefully controlled and streamed directly into the brain, what happens to true freedom of choice?

Readers are presented with an absorbing, compelling plot that closely considers the nature of personal and political power, rebellion, and options. As Vera progresses deeper into uncontrolled territory, she uncovers plots, purposes, and manufactured blocks designed to thwart true democracy even as they purport to represent its apex.

The result is an involving, compelling read made all the more so by its strong connections to evolutionary processes of recent years, as much as by its revealing message to future generations. When reality TV becomes the stuff of not just entertainment but perceptions of reality itself, whence freedom?

Reality 2048 - Watching Big Mother may be a dystopian thriller, but it shouldn't be limited to these audiences. Social issues and technology fiction readers will find plenty of shock and awe in Cressman's revealing portent of a possible social form of attack on a democratic, free, truly choice-driven life.

End Times
Michael McCord
Publisher: TBA
Website/Ordering Link: TBA

End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America comes from a political journalist whose previous 2013 political satire The Execution Channel foresaw Trump's rise. End Times again toes the line between reality and dystopian fantasy as it continues the saga, following the rise of the white-run, corporate-ruled entity Real America, Inc.

The appearance of a good-sized glossary of terms right at the beginning may dismay readers who might anticipate that this read will be weighty and challenging; but in reality the only test will come from a compelling, too-realistic dystopian America which encourages them to think not just about end times, but about how they began and are perpetuated by forces at all levels of society.

Many elements in End Times set it apart from similar-sounding dystopian novels. One is its wry sense of wicked humor, which injects a toga-wearing Emperor for Life into the picture, documenting the rise of this new nation's sentiments and atrocities through news reports ("An editorial in the Bowie-owned Galt Street Journal praised the Galt's Gulch 2 project as a "win-win" maneuver for the emerging nation of Real America, Inc. The editorial hailed the legal plunder as validation that the Galtian Imperatives "work as an efficient, well-oiled machine by proving that unrestrained greed and self-interest are virtues never to be doubted. We salute the Emper Bowie's innovation of forcing moocher-liberals pay for the entire project. We can find no finer example of self-enriching double-dealing." The editorial added the guaranteed success of Galt's Gulch 2 showed that "zero-risk Super Duper Profit Capitalism was awesome" and proved "beyond a shadow of doubt that Real America is indeed the promised land with shining new free labor policies. By comparison, Old USA is an unimaginative, gutless, overregulated, and overtaxed burden to humanity.") and successfully capturing both the irony and poignancy of a nation gone over the edge.

At one time, years ago, the world depicted in End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America might have seemed an fantasy scenario entirely. However, today there are enough roots in real events transpiring daily to make this story both hilarious and chilling: a fete that would not have been possible just a short time ago. As plunderer politicians, bullying businesses, the licensed crime of politics, and slave-labor kickback schemes take hold in this Real America Inc., readers receive a chilling glimpse of a possible future that could not have seemed so likely only a few years ago.

Michael McCord's ability to capture not only these changes but extrapolate them to their most outrageous and morally reprehensible outcomes is exquisite.

McCord creates more than a cast of characters that participate in a personality cult: he injects elements of a thriller, dystopian observation, political commentary and social conflict between the Liberal Moochers and agents of Real America Inc., adding the question: "Who can possibly understand the value of things these crazy days?"

There's plenty to engage the reader, here, from psychics to Russians and treachery in an environment where betrayal is the rule of thumb for daily survival. All these facets make End Times: More Great Adventures in Real America a standout in the genre of dystopian fiction, and one especially and highly recommended for readers who like their futuristic stories believable and replete with powerful social and political messages.

End Times is an extraordinary, balanced blend of wry humor and pointed political observation that will attract not just fans of satirical fiction or sci-fi, but those with a special interest in social and political science.

Author Your Life: How One Writer Changed Her Life through the Power of Storytelling, and How You Can, Too
Lara Zielin
Sparklepen Industries
9781791984090, $7.99, ebook, $12.99, paperback

Author Your Life: How One Writer Changed Her Life through the Power of Storytelling, and How You Can, Too comes from the author of six published books, who well knows the power of the written word. Writing not only led to literary success, but that same power was used to turn around her life. Lara Zielin captures and recounts that approach in a book that advises a much wider audience on how to apply storytelling techniques to make life changes.

The story begins with Zielin's introduction to an episode of Spooked, which told the story of a mural that mirrored and altered reality. The epiphany she arrived at (that "...something about the mural had impacted reality for Jane and Ted. The artist's creation of the saloon scene had, in some way, brought forth that art into actual real life. The fabric of time and space had been altered that night...because of a painting. Art is powerful. It changes hearts and minds all the time. I get that. But this was the first time I had considered whether art could literally change the course of things - if it was powerful enough to create an entirely new reality that we humans could actually experience.") transformed her own life, and is shared in this guide.

Zielin's story is about improving one's life through a specific storytelling technique. You don't have to be a great writer: even affirmations or scraps of thought can work, for this process. The only story that's being improved is a personal one.

Chapters apply these personal revelations to bigger-picture thinking. Take the reflections on political anguish for one example of how a personal process can hold broader implications for social change: "I could see the political anger taking down close friends, who were becoming rage monsters, building walls, screaming into the void, and destroying themselves in the process. I realized that in order to be the most effective in the fight for the values and beliefs I had, I couldn't meet angry hate with angry hate. I couldn't wait for major political wrongs to be righted until I told my heart it was okay to stop being bitter."

The interconnected process of writing and growing is explored, along with the links between both: "True health and body acceptance will fuel relationships, while the inability to love and accept ourselves will disconnect us and distance us from others. This makes it critical for us to write a better story for ourselves in this area, because without healing, we risk damaging friendships, marriages, and any of our most precious relationships. To try and heal this area, I wrote a lot in Lara's Life about how connected Rob and I felt to one another."

As her story unfolds, Zielin makes a strong case for crafting a better story. Her book draws exact connections between the storytelling process and the trials that come from trying to revise and revamp life's stories and pursuits.

The result is a powerful key to personal success. Author Your Life outlines common obstacles, revised approaches to handling them, and the efforts of recreating what life is and what it should be for each individual pursuer.

The Hero's Journey never stops. By putting pen to paper and tapping into one's true voice, potential becomes reality. Author Your Life is a powerful key to change that should be on the reading lists of anyone interested in the cathartic experience and potentials of the link between self-examination and storytelling.

The Reluctant General
Herb Sennett
CIF Publications
9780997023152, $3.99, Kindle

Readers of Biblical fiction will find The Reluctant General just the ticket for a novel that stays true to ancient history as depicted by the Bible, yet extrapolates enough to fill in personalities, motives, and issues of the times. The setting and customs are historically accurate, but events surrounding Deborah, the lead judge of Israel, and Barack (a farmer who organized an army of 10,000 farmers against the most experienced, successful army of the times, the Canaanites) contribute fictional drama to a gripping saga that is hard to put down.

Both Barak and Deborah must face their own self-limiting perceptions and fears in order to move away from inherent comfort zones to become reluctant leaders under impossible conditions.

For Deborah, this translates to trying to convince her people to become involved in a war most perceive as unwinnable. To Barak, this means an even greater stretch as he evolves from farmer to warrior/politician.

When powerful military commander Sisera exercises his might to force the Jewish people to not only pay heavy taxes to a foreign king, but to offer up their own people as sacrifices to that king's god, Ba'al, rebellion (however impossible it may feel) seems the only path to freedom - even if it leads to genocide.

The Reluctant General documents the main characters as they struggle with personal and political choices far outside their experience. This creates a spellbinding story that moves beyond historical precedent and statistics to bring readers right into the daily lives of the early tribes of Israel: "How can I lead them into a battle from which I know they may not return?" he said more to himself than to Deborah. Then he looked up at her and asked, "Will you be accompanying the army?" She shook her head side to side and smiled. "There is no place on the battle field for a woman. I am no warrior." "The men will feel comforted if you are with them." "The men?" Deborah asked with a knowing look on her face. "Yes. And me. I will feel better if you come along." "I cannot provide faith for you," Deborah chided. "I'm not asking you to provide faith, I'm asking for the calming assurance of your presence." "All you need is the presence of the Almighty Jehovah." Barak's face dropped. "If you are there, I and the men will know that God is there."

Herb Sennett excels in cultivating this ongoing sense of personal dilemma, growth, and conflicted choices in the face of military and political changes. This helps drive both the religious force of the story and its psychological depth, lending it a realistic, compelling atmosphere that brings a complex world and situation to life.

Some readers might presume that a profound familiarity with the Judges section of the Bible is a prerequisite to appreciating what Herb Sennett has crafted with The Reluctant General, but another pleasure of the story is that it really requires little prior knowledge of the Bible at any special level.

Students of the Bible and historical novel readers with a special interest in ancient times will both relish a vivid story that brings to life not only early Israel, but the peoples who find themselves struggling with both faith and nearly impossible situations.

This approach makes for a very highly recommended saga that injects just enough drama to contrast the very real feel and facts of Biblical times with spiritual dilemmas.

Stealing Home
Ron Seybold
Skin Horse Press
9780985506730, $12.99, Paper, $5.99, ebook

Stealing Home: A Father, a Son, and the Road to the Perfect Game documents an eleven-day road trip the author undertook with his Little League son, Nicky. It was not a trip to support his son's ambitions, but one to thwart the prospect of less than stellar parenting which he'd inherited from a father who committed suicide along with his relationship with Nicky's mother, which resulted in divorce.

On one level, Stealing Home is the perfect father/son road trip of adventure as the two share different experiences outside their comfort zones and solidify a bond that goes beyond parental support. On another level, it's about finding home: those roots, connections, and interpersonal methods of communication that move beyond the sofa and television set and into real life's shared experiences.

This kind of road trip is nicely documented, from the early structure of their interactions ("Whenever I talked with Nicky after days of not seeing him, our safe talk was about sports. Baseball became our glue by 1994, alongside a thicket of memorized dialogue from the Simpsons episodes, lines we traded back and forth as if they were baseball cards. I would tape the shows on Sundays after he'd left, so we could rewatch together on his weeknight visit. "I had no idea a father could be so important to a child's behavior," Homer would say, a line we'd repeat with snickers. Unsure what to say to my son at times, I'd fall back on TV's smartest comedy.") to changes in communications that a baseball game can bring to observers and participants alike: "Nicky shifted in his seat and marked down another strike. Ballgames get slow. The scorebook always gave us something to do while we watched, waiting for something to happen. Baseball is best when things are close and the game slows down, everyone waiting for a mistake like a home run pitch or some batter fanning on a bases-loaded strikeout. I chose a baseball trip because of the time to talk that's built into every game."

If Stealing Home had narrowed its focus to father and son alone, that would have been a shame, in many ways. The meat of any family expose lies in tracing intergenerational patterns, and Seybold does a fantastic job of integrating his experiences with his father and their connections through baseball, moments which are very different scenarios than what he more mindfully cultivates with his son.

This background is also well detailed and is thought-provoking: "I'd watch the passions run across his face as I often did when he challenged me, the evil I would search out in his looks while we fought with words and worse. I looked out on the field as Bill Freehan, one of the heroes of that championship 1968 Tiger team, crouched behind the plate. The first few innings would draw nothing good from Dad but his shouts when two Indians struck out to wrap up an inning. He'd grouse about the Tiger pitcher Mickey Lolich - another Series hero and still wearing a gut like Dad once did - coughing up homers. There was a kind of quiet between us that I mistook for peace. There were no marks of age on his face, his chin bearing that tight-trimmed goatee that he sprouted as I turned into a combative teenager. That peace I imagined coming off Dad was different than his belly laughs at Shecky Green's standup on the Dean Martin summer show. That absence of rage, the moments of his silence and long sighs, were marks of losses to come."

As road trip and baseball observations and metaphors permeate a jaunty yet introspective story of an evolving relationship between father and son, readers receive unexpected treats that move far beyond the physical journey and into the finer art of sharing not just love, but life.

Descriptions are always grounded in more than one facet of the story and are winning explorations of exactly what these revised connections look like, and how they are cemented by spending quality time together: "What is this Dead Head bus of which you speak?" I said, playing at changing the subject. Another line from the scripts of the Simpsons, where there was wisdom to inform any circumstance. Or a wisecrack to wrap around it. A couple of cans of soda later from the rest stop's machine, we pulled away, riding behind a micro-bus. As we passed it, Nicky waved and toasted the Dead Heads, leaning out the window with his soda can. He'd already blasted through seven Goosebumps books and was taking his rightful place as a fellow traveler, not just my playmate."

Stealing Home deserves a spot in any good parenting collection. It will especially appeal to male readers seeking enlightenment and ideas for their own approaches to fatherhood. The book's backdrop of baseball lends to a rare accessibility for men who usually don't consider parenting books to be engrossing reading.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

3D Printing: An Introduction
Stephanie Torta & Jonathan Torta
Mercury Learning
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781683922094, $49.95, PB, 370pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative project of Stephanie and Jonathan Torta, "3D Printing: An Introduction" is specifically designed as a comprehensive introduction to the field of 3D printing. It includes an overview of 3D printing technology in industry, education, and the exploding area of Do-It-Yourself.

"3D Printing" also contains a detailed look at the common 3D printers, materials, and software. Using full-color images throughout, the book guides you on setting up your own printer and performing calibration tasks, including descriptions of printing methods, best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and how to finish a completed project.

Divided into three parts, Part 1 of "3D Printing" covers a brief history and evolution of 3D printers, along with their use in industry and in personal consumer use. Part 2 deals with the set up and use of a common 3D printer, from initial hardware and material calibration and safety, to how the software functions work, and how to acquire 3D objects to print. It then showcases three different projects from start to finish. Part 3 concentrates on buying your own printer, the common features of personal 3D printers, and includes sections for the adventurous on post-market modifications.

Companion files are included with videos, applications, and examples of 3D printing. Of special note is the inclusion of review questions, discussion/essay questions, and "Applying What You've Learned" in every chapter.

Critique: An ideal introductory textbook on the technology of 3D printing by two experts in this specialized field, "3D Printing: An Introduction is impressively well organized and presented. Profusely illustrated throughout, "3D Printing: An Introduction" is unreservedly recommended for professional, community, corporate, and academic library 3D technology collections and supplemental studies curriculums. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "3D Printing: An Introduction" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $29.95).

Superhero Ethics
Travis Smith
Templeton Press
300 Conshohocken State Road, Suite 670, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
9781599474540, $24.95, HC, 190pp,

Synopsis: Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives. Although these outlandish figures in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one's character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Professor Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of "Superhero Ethics", a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.

"Superhero Ethics" address a number of contemporary issues of how we should live including: How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine); How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern): What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man); Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic); Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Professor Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you'll find on a splash page or the silver screen -- an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you'll be thinking about long after it's over.

Critique: Superheros are no longer restricted to comic books but have long science branched out to other medias including radio, television and block buster movies. A fascinating, thought-provoking, insightful study that will hold particular interest and relevance for all dedicated comic book superhero fans "Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save the World; Which One Do We Need Most Now?" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Contemporary Ethics & Philosophy collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Superhero Ethics" is also available in a paperback edition (9781599475660, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.54).

Editorial Note: Travis Smith received his PhD from Harvard University and is Associate Professor of Political Science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine.

Nature: Collaborations in Design
Matilda McQuaid, et al.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9781942303237, $40.00, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Designers today are striving to transform our relationship with the natural world. Although humans are intrinsically linked to nature, our actions have frayed this relationship, forcing designers to think more intentionally and to consider the impact of every design decision, from an artifact's manufacture and use to its obsolescence. As a result, designers are aligning with biologists, engineers, agriculturists, environmentalists and many other specialists to design a more harmonious and regenerative future. Based on these new partnerships, designers are asking different questions and anticipating future challenges, which not only change the design process, but also what design means.

"Nature: Collaborations in Design" (a companion to an exhibition titled Nature at the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, which is co-organized with Cube design museum) includes over 65 international projects from the fields of architecture, product design, landscape design, fashion, interactive and communication design, and material research.

More than 300 compelling and exquisite photographs, illustrations and content from data visualizations illustrate seven essays, which explain and explore designers' strategies around understanding, simulating, salvaging, facilitating, augmenting, remediating and nurturing nature. Four conversations between scientists and designers delve into topics related to synthetic biology, scientific versus design lexicon and recent shifts in the meaning of nature with a glossary illuminating scientific, technological and theoretical concepts and processes invoked by the designers.

Individual projects include" DnA_Design and Architecture's Bamboo Theater; Open Agriculture Initiative's Personal Food Computers; Warka Water's Warka Water Tower; Sam Van Aken's Tree of 40 Fruit; the ODIN's DIY Bacterial Gene Engineering CRISPR Kit; Michael Strano and Sheila Kennedy's Nanobionic Light-Emitting Plants; MASS Design Group's Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture; Stamen Design's Metagenomic Data Visualization for the Banfield Lab; Modern Meadow's Zoa; Cave Architects' Anthropocene Museum and Kim Albrecht's Visualizing the Cosmic Web.

Critique: A fascinating, informative, engaging, thoughtful and thought-provoking volume of seminal and original volume, "Nature: Collaborations in Design" will prove to be an enduringly valued and appreciated addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

Last Seen
Rick Mofina
www.Harlequin com
9780778310998, $9.99

Rick Mofina has always presented a great tale but, "Last Seen" is by far his best ever. Beginning from the first page "Last Seen" roars along to its final pages with the reader glued for the entire story. Longer than his other novels, a person would think it would get bogged down, instead Mofina takes the reader on a thrill ride that never let's go until the last sentence. A husband, wife and their son go to a carnival for a day of fun. Shortly into one of the rides the son disappears. The husband and wife are shattered as the police, come into the case of what happened to their child. Many secrets of the parents are revealed, as they search for their lost child. "Last Seen" is a chilling account of a parent's worst nightmare that is a first-class thriller for anyone who is looking for a page turner.

Playing With Fire
Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9781101884362, $9.99

"Playing With Fire" is a great stand-alone novel that is more than a thriller. Gerritsen has written a multi layered story that has two plot lines that intertwine at the end. One is a horror type of thriller that is a mystery that appears to be a child who is at times out of control while the other goes back to WWII showing one of the darkest times in the history of Italy. Gerritsen masterfully tells "Playing With Fire" with believable characters, swift writing and a pace that will keep readers glued from the first page all the way to the end. But "Playing With Fire" is much more than just a great novel. It is very timely today as we see more and more antisemitism and hate of other groups in our country is becoming more common. We could all learn many lessons from "Playing With Fire" on how we should treat other people

Paper Ghosts
Julia Heaberlin
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
9780804178044, $9.99

A lesson many new writers have not learned is you have to capture the reader from the first sentence. "Paper Ghosts" certainly did so for me with this first line. "When she was twelve, my sister fell into a grave." With that opening I was captivated to read further into this deeply complicated story that is a chilling tale of someone obsessed with finding out the truth of who murdered her sister. The plot races along with fascinating characters with prose that holds the attention all the way through. "Paper Ghosts" is a chilling tale that is a page turner pleaser.

Women of Futures Past
Edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781476781617, $16.00, www,

"Women of Futures Past is one of the finest collections of science fiction stories ever assembled. No fan of the genre can afford to miss the great lineup of authors who fill the pages of this great collection. Some of the heavy hitters are Andre Norton, Ann McCaffrey, Leigh Brackett, Nancy Kress, Ursula K. Le Guin, are just a few of the writers who have stories here. Many of them have appeared elsewhere but this is the first time they have all been together in the same collection. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has impeccable taste with "Women of Futures Past."

Star Trek The Original Series The Captain's Oath
Christopher L. Bennett
Gallery Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781982113292, $16,00

Bennett takes readers back to when Kirk first took over as captain, of the Enterprise after Christopher Pike. Though the novel has completely rewritten the universe of Trek, it is a wonderful addition to the series, as the story races along with familiar characters, that is still a fun read even though, it's out of the timeline of the original series. Trek fans are sure to enjoy the novel anyway.

Everybody Has A Book Inside Of Them How To Bring It Out
Ann Marie Sabath
Career Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser LLC
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781632651693, $16.95,

So often I hear from people who say, "I could write a book." The problem is they never do, for whatever reason. Ann Marie Sabath teaches folks, how to begin the journey to become a published writer. She points out that we all have the potential to be an author but, need to be taught certain skills to move toward that endeavor. Her writing is clear and easy to follow while, other established authors reinforce all of her points. "Everybody Has A Book Inside Of Them," is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to cross over from being a reader to a published author.

Stephonisms My Thoughts My Words, and My Experiences
Stephon Williams
Habu LDT Publishing
9780578407531, $9.99,

Williams who is a motivational speaker presents many statements on many facets of life that he has learned throughout his life to help people move through theirs. He has a very interesting take on things that though simply said has a lot of underlying significance to all of us to profit from. Here is one example "Just because you haven't found your purpose doesn't mean you don't have one." Stephonisms My Thoughts, My Words, and My Experiences is a great tool for people to gain insight into themselves and others around them to lead a better life.

Poodles & Doodles Poems about Dogs
Leslie C. Halpern
Cautious Optimist Publishing
9780999376348, $7.97,

Utilizing the art form of poetry, Leslie C. Halpern shows why canines, are still best friends with humans. She details many interesting situations with witty pieces, that will have dog owners cherish their animals even more as they can relate to the words put forth in "Poodles & Doodles Readers will want to read aloud from "Poodles & Doodles," to their dogs the words to enjoy over and over again.

Spark of the Night Crystaline Light
LaQuincia West
Edwards Media Group Inc.
9781632651693, $7.95,

"Spark of the Night Crystaline Light" is a very well told fantasy novel that takes readers along for a great ride into the pathway of a kingdom for a wonderful time to a very dark one. Told with wonderful story telling magic the novel moves along with interesting characters and situations until the fascination conclusion. What sets "Spark of the Night Crystaline Light" apart from other novels is the author published this fine work at the age of fifteen. "Spark of the Night Crystaline Light" is for anyone who loves a fun fantasy novel by an up and coming writer.

Franky The Thirsty Flamingo
Written by Wanda Luthaman
Illustrated by Mara Reltsma
Lilacs in Literature
9780998195841, $6.99,

Franky is back, and this time he is in search of the perfect water source. Luthaman, tells the story once again with subtle messages that all of us should follow to stay healthy. Franky is a fun character that once again is enhanced with the beautiful artwork of Mar Reltsma whose work compliments the story that is fun to read. "Franky The Thirsty Flamingo" is another great story for all ages to enjoy.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

Freaky Days (A Mystic Caravan Mystery Book 1)
Amanda M. Lee
Amazon Digital Services LLC
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
B01681RIHC, $3.99, ebook, 294 pages
9781511710206, paper

Freaky Days is an in-your-face adventure comedy about a traveling carnival show filled with paranormals, who police paranormal criminals, in the various towns across the country that they travel through. Its strength and its weakness are the sexual double entendres that fill the pages of the story.

Poet Parker is a Romani fortuneteller who manages the day to day activities of the Mystic Caravan Circus. She is thrown for a loop when the owner of the circus hires Kade Denton as the head of security. The biggest problem is that she can't tell Kade that the circus is filled with parnormals. She has to keep Kade from the animal cages because they are empty. The circus animals are shape shifters. The nymphs have problems controlling their magic. The... But the biggest problem is that Poet is romantically attracted to Kade.

Poet tries to hold everything together until someone starts attacking members of the circus. How is she going to stop the attacks while still keeping Kade in the dark about the magic all around them? And how can she keep the hot sexual attraction between herself and Kade from blowing everything up?

Freaky Days is a fun story. If you can handle the continual sexual word play and jokes, it is a good comedy. It is recommended to adults who like sexual burlesque with their paranormal adventure story.

Pushing Brilliance: (Kyle Achilles, Book 1)
Tim Tigner
Amazon Digital Services LLC
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
B01H9DSUAW, $3.99, ebook, 397 pages
9781535060233, paper

Pushing Brilliance is a great action suspense tale with a very heavy dose of mystery. Unlike many contemporary suspense stories Tigner tries to keep the action within real world space and time even if he pushes the limits of believability. The only weakness is that he puts in a few too many life and death situations. The story could use a few pages here and there for the reader to catch their breath.

Ex-CIA agent and former Olympic biathlete and current mountain climber Kyle Achilles is traveling with his parents, brother and his brother's fiancee on the family's yacht. Kyle meets a girl and stays the night at a hotel. While he is at the hotel his parents and brother die from carbon dioxide poisoning. He is immediately arrested for their murders. His frame-up is nearly perfect and the police and district attorney refuse to look beyond him as the killer. Kyle escapes from prison and with his brother's fiancee starts an international investigation in order to find out who killed his parents and brother.

Pushing Brilliance is an easy recommendation. It is a well written and plotted story that anyone who enjoys action, suspense and mysteries will enjoy. It wouldn't be a surprise if sometime in the future the story will be bought by a movie studio and made into a film.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Lee Friedlander: Signs
Lee Friedlander
Fraenkel Gallery
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9781881337485, $75.00, HC, 120pp,

Synopsis: For more than five decades, Lee Friedlander has repeatedly been drawn to the signs that inscribe the American landscape ranging from hand-lettered ads, to storefront windows, to massive billboards. Incorporating these markings with precision and sly humor, Friedlander's photographs record a kind of found poetry of desire and commerce.

Focusing on one of the artist's key motifs, "Lee Friedlander: Signs" presents a cacophony of wheat-paste posters, Coca-Cola ads, prices for milk, road signs, stop signs, neon lights, movie marquees and graffiti. The book collects 144 photographs made in New York and other places across the US, and features self-portraits, street photographs and work from series including The American Monument and America by Car, among others. Illegible or plainspoken, crude or whimsical, Friedlander's signs are an unselfconscious portrait of modern life.

Born in 1934, Lee Friedlander began photographing in 1948 at the age of 14. Among his many monographs are Sticks and Stones, Self-Portrait, Letters from the People, Cherry Blossom Time in Japan and At Work, among others. His work was included in the influential 1967 exhibition New Documents at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by John Szarkowski. Among the most important living photographers, Friedlander is in the collections of museums around the world.

Critique: A superbly produced, coffee-table sized volume of some of Lee Friedlander's best work to date, "Lee Friedlander: Signs" is especially recommended for personal and professional American Photography collections, and would make an enduringly valued Memorial Fund acquisition for community, college, and university library collections.

A Socialist Defector
Victor Grossman & Stephen Wechsler
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583677384, $23.00, PB, 352pp,

Synopsis: The circumstances that impelled Victor Grossman, a U.S. Army draftee stationed in Europe, to flee a military prison sentence were the icy pressures of the McCarthy Era. Grossman - a.k.a. Steve Wechsler, a committed leftist since his years at Harvard and, briefly, as a factory worker - left his barracks in Bavaria one August day in 1952, and, in a panic, swam across the Danube River from the Austrian U.S. Zone to the Soviet Zone. Fate - i.e., the Soviets - landed him in East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic. There he remained, observer and participant, husband and father, as he watched the rise and successes, the travails, and the eventual demise of the GDR socialist experiment.

A Socialist Defector is the story, told in rare, personal detail, of an activist and writer who grew up in the U.S. free-market economy; spent thirty-eight years in the GDR's nationally owned, centrally administered economy; and continues to survive, given whatever the market can bear in today's united Germany.

Having been a freelance journalist and traveling lecturer (and the only person in the world to hold diplomas from both Harvard and the Karl Marx University) Grossman is able to offer insightful, often ironic, reflections and reminiscences, comparing the good and bad sides of life in all three of the societies he has known. His account focuses especially on the socialism he saw and lived - the GDR's goals and achievements, its repressive measures and stupidities - which, he argues, offers lessons now in our search for solutions to the grave problems facing our world. This is a fascinating and unique historical narrative; political analysis told with jokes, personal anecdotes, and without bombast.

Critique: A fascinating, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, and uniquely personal perspective on the Cold War, "A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee" is an absorbing and memorable read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Socialist Defector" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.22).

Editorial Note: Victor Grossman, born Stephen Wechsler, a New York red-diaper baby of the 1930s, joined the Communist Party as a Harvard student. Fleeing the U.S. Army during the McCarthy Era, he swam the Danube River to the Soviet Zone of Austria and was sent to East Germany. There, he studied journalism and became a freelance writer and popular speaker. He was pardoned by the U.S. Army in 1994 and, in 2003, published an autobiography, "Crossing the River: A Memoir of the American Left, the Cold War, and Life in East Germany".

A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra
Kenneth J. M. Maclean
Marvelous Spirit Press
c/o Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615994304, $62.95, HC, 252pp,

Synopsis: For those who can appreciate the beauty of numbers and their relationships geometry can be an exciting subject., Now in a revised and expanded second edition, "A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra: With an Introduction to the Phi Ratio" by Kenneth J. M. Maclean contains a meticulous geometric investigation of the 5 Platonic Solids and 5 other important polyhedra, as well as reference charts for each solid.

Poly (many) hedron (face) means "many faces." Polyhedra are 3 dimensional figures with 4 or more faces, or sides. These polyhedra are reflections of Nature herself, and a study of them provides insight into the way the world is structured. Nature is not only beautiful, but highly intelligent. As you explore the polyhedra in this book, this will become apparent over and over again.

"A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra" also contains a geometric explanation of the Phi Ratio and Fibonacci series, and a detailed analysis of the pentagon, which forms the basis for many of these solids. The pentagon is composed entirely of Phi relationships, and is integral to a proper understanding of sacred geometry.

With over 140 full-color illustrations, "A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra" is an ideal textbook for teachers and students of geometry alike -- and a 'must' for anyone who is serious about sacred geometry.

"A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra" requires a knowledge of simple algebra and elementary trigonometry and the ability to appreciate nature's own logic.

Critique: Expertly organized and presented, "A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra: With an Introduction to the Phi Ratio" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Mathematics & Geometry collections. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest n the subject that "A Geometric Analysis of the Platonic Solids and Other Semi-Regular Polyhedra: With an Introduction to the Phi Ratio" is also available in a paperback edition ( 9781615994298, $47.95).

Understanding Numbers
Marianne Freiberger & Rachel Thomas
White Lion Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781781318157, $15.00, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: Mathematics is an indispensable tool for life and the foundation for our science and our technology.

From the systems that underpin our newsfeeds, through to the data analysis that informs our health and financial decisions, to the algorithms that power how we search online -- mathematics is fundamentally at the heart of how our modern world functions.

In 20 dip-in lessons, "Understanding Numbers: Simplify Life's Mathematics. Decode the World Around You" by Rachel Thomas and Marianne Freiberger (who are the editors of Plus magazine, which publishes articles from the world's top mathematicians and science writers on topics as diverse as art, medicine, cosmology and sport) explains how and why mathematics fuels our world and arms its readers with the knowledge to make wiser choices in all areas of the life.

Ideal for the non-specialist general reader, "Understanding Numbers" will help them to: Make sense of health statistics; Understand the mathematics behind political voting systems; Get to grips with how online search tools work; Discover how mathematics can create the perfect city; and more!

Critique: A vital, invaluable, informative, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' volume, "Understanding Numbers" is a particularly and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-students with an interest in the subject that "Understanding Numbers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.88).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Elusive Equity, Empathy, and Empowerment
Pandora B. Angel, MD
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480868250, $30.95, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: Dr. Pandora B. Angel was a practicing physician for thirty years. She spent twenty-three of those years as an emergency physician at a university medical center and an affiliated hospital.

In "Elusive Equity, Empathy, and Empowerment: One Woman s Journey Through the Challenges of Gender Bias in the Early Twenty-First Century" Dr. Angel shares the challenges she faced as a female emergency physician in what is still perceived as a male profession. Addressing the gender bias and inequality she experienced while striving for and achieving a career in medicine, her memoir addresses workforce power and control, double standards, gender bias, discrimination, the boys' club, harassment, contrived narratives for predetermined goals, retaliation, disregard for objective data, and misconceptions.

Through thoughtful vignettes, lessons, and appendices, "Elusive Equity, Empathy, and Empowerment" explores the persistent culture of inequity in the workplace from Dr. Angel's perspective as a female physician in a male-dominated field. Teaching tools and lessons are provided at the end of each chapter to stimulate wider discussions of inequality, harassment, bias, and discrimination that still occur.

Critique: An impressive and valued contribution to our on-going national discussion with respect to gender equality in the work place in general, and the field of medicine in particular, "Elusive Equity, Empathy, and Empowerment: One Woman s Journey Through the Challenges of Gender Bias in the Early Twenty-First Century" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Social Issues collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Elusive Equity, Empathy, and Empowerment" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480868267, $12.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Jane Austen and Comedy
Erin M. Goss, editor
Bucknell University Press
Bucknell University
1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg, PA 17837
9781684480784, $99.90, HC, 218pp,

Synopsis: Complied and edited by Erin M. Goss (Associate Professor of English at Clemson University in South Carolina), "Jane Austen and Comedy" takes for granted two related notions. First, Jane Austen's books are funny; they induce laughter, and that laughter is worth attending to for a variety of reasons. Second, Jane Austen's books are comedies, understandable both through the generic form that ends in marriage after the potential hilarity of romantic adversity and through a more general promise of wish fulfillment.

In bringing together Austen and comedy, which are both often dismissed as superfluous or irrelevant to a contemporary world, this collection of eight informed and informative essays directs attention to the ways we laugh, the ways that Austen may make us do so, and the ways that our laughter is conditioned by the form in which Austen writes: comedy.

"Jane Austen and Comedy" invites reflection not only on her inclusion of laughter and humor, the comic, jokes, wit, and all the other topics that can so readily be grouped under the broad umbrella that is comedy, but also on the idea or form of comedy itself, and on the way that this form may govern our thinking about many things outside the realm of Austen's work.

Critique: An impressive compilation of erudite, thoughtful and thought-provoking essays, "Jane Austen and Comedy" is a seminal work of extraordinary scholarship -- and one that is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library literary collections in general, and Jane Austin supplemental curriculum studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Jane Austen and Comedy" is also available in a paperback edition (9781684480777, $34.950 and in a digital book format (Kindle, $33.20).

Future Proofed
Natalia Peart
Scrivener Books
9781949165104, $16.95, PB, 188pp,

Synopsis: These times of constant change and disruption are a continuing source of culture shock. But while the times have changed and continue to change dramatically, we do not have new rules for how to succeed in our new world. With its unique blend of strong storytelling "Future Proofed: How to Navigate Disruptive Change, Find Calm in Chaos, and Succeed in Work & Life" by Natalia Peart is both a personal journey account and a step-by-step practical guide specifically tailored to these fast-changing times.

Drawing from her own research and consulting practice and the latest in business, neuroscience, psychology, and design thinking, Dr. Peart presents a new paradigm and step-by-step pathway for thriving in fast-moving times that includes: Navigating the new road we all must travel; Building career confidence, whether you are working for yourself or someone else, by shifting from just finding your next job to creating a playbook and system for your success; Achieving peace of mind by increasing your own financial safety and security; Mastering the one constant in life (change) by building the mental fitness you need to thrive regardless of what's happening around you; Developing a success lifestyle by effectively using your time, energy, and attention to live a life that is satisfying and meaningful to you; Leveraging your success to impact our world.

Critique: An invaluable and thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of expert commentary, sage advice, technical insights, deftly crafted suggestions, and 'real world practical' advice, "Future Proofed: How to Navigate Disruptive Change, Find Calm in Chaos, and Succeed in Work & Life" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Future Proofed" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.19).

Editorial Note: Having earned her B.A. with Honors in Psychology from Brown University, her PhD. in Clinical/Community Psychology from the University of Maryland, and completed her Clinical Internship at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Natalia Peart is a psychologist who has spent more than 25 years helping people and organizations achieve professional and personal success. In her various roles as a clinical psychologist, working for companies such as Gallup and the Corporate Executive Board as a Fortune 1000 leadership and performance consultant, as a Chief Officer for a foundation, the President/CEO of a nonprofit organization and as an executive and personal consultant, she has always been driven by a desire to solve tough problems. Dr. Natalia's distinctive career path and varied experiences have uniquely positioned her as a leading change expert for both people and organizations. The Founder and CEO of the Catalyst Innovation Group, LLC, Dr. Peart has been featured in various media outlets including FOX, Wall St. Journal, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Elite Daily, Thrive Global, Dr. Drew Pinsky Midday Live, Small Business Advocate Radio Show, and Women's Watch CBS Radio Network. She has also served on the Federal Reserve Board, 10th District.

When Eagles Soar
Candia Sanders
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781725974500, $16.95, PB, 212pp,

Synopsis: "When Eagles Soar: From Diagnosis to Death to Open Dialogue" by Candia Sanders is a powerful story of resilience with optimistic chapters exploring expansive spiritual concepts. The short sections couple personal narrative and cosmic perceptions with clear examples for dealing with stress reader's can utilize in their own lives. It is a conversation about being a caregiver, the journey of letting go of the physical, and life after death.

"When Eagles Soar" also explores why animals don't live as long as people, how to experience happiness under duress, absolute trust, anger as a motivator, inflammatory foods, perception is everything, what if there is better way to communicate with the divine beyond prayers, heaven and beyond, are a few examples of the many topics discussed.

Candia inspires a deeper investigation into self reflection and exploration of higher truths and expanded concepts of spirituality through everyday living. Candia had communication with the Other Side - Heaven, regularly through signs, symbols and direct conversations with her husband and dad after their passing, confirming that eternal relationships can live on forever, and healing through grief is only part of the equation.

"When Eagles Soar" is a chronicle through Candia's underlying optimism that, no matter how a situation is perceived, there are still sparks of happiness, moments of joy and laughter, and twenty-four hours can represent a lifetime. This is an intensely personal story that captures events, experiences and hours while sharing encouragement and positivism that are the heart of "When Eagles Soar".

Critique: An inherently fascinating, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, Candia Sanders' "When Eagles Soar: From Diagnosis to Death to Open Dialogue" is an extraordinary, life-enhancing, insightfully challenging books that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Eagles Soar" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Walking Rocket, Missing Matt
Christine LeLaurin Ratcliff
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9780359271429, $17.40, PB, 40pp,

Synopsis: "Walking Rocket, Missing Matt" brings together musings by Christine LeLaurin Ratcliff on a wide assortment of topics that had attracted her interest over a number of years. Many of her reflections arose during walks with her beloved beagle, Rocket. Others evolved as her way of coping with the untimely loss of her beloved brother, Matt. The rest are random reflections.

Frequent walks with Rocket allowed her to soak in the calm, but eclectic and ever-changing environment, their strides giving way to observations about the world around them. Connections would form between the natural spaces they inhabited and her emotional responses to them.

Bits and pieces of this collection appeared previously as social media postings. Friends appreciated the quirky observations of current events that would often arise from Rocket's sojourns in his rural neighborhood with his faithful companion. Some even came to anticipate what might arise from walks following certain particularly noteworthy occasions, and eagerly awaited the next "Walking Rocket" installment.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking read, "Walking Rocket, Missing Matt" is an extraordinary and highly recommended little volume that will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to personal reading lists and community library collections.

Empathy Deficit Disorder
Jacqueline Acho & Eva Basilion
Acho & Basilion Publisher
9781732436404, $12.95, PB, 242pp,

Synopsis: Our country is divided in so many ways, with a growing chasm between men and women as evidences by the #METOO and other movements. The nightly news is consistently discouraging. Emotional and physical toxicity is at an all-time high. We all feel it in some shape or form, and so many of us are struggling with how to keep our children protected from it all. The problem is we're suffering from an empathy deficit disorder.

But the really good news in "Empathy Deficit Disorder: Healing from Our Mix-ups About Work, Home, and Sex" by Jacqueline Acho and Eva Basilion is that there's a way out. That healing starts with re-examining our modern myths about how we work, what "quality time" at home really means, and why the age-old battle of the sexes persists. That we can't continue down the path of least resistance. That what we all need is to carve a new and better way for ourselves.

"Empathy Deficit Disorder" address such disturbingly common issues as: The fact that 70% of people say they are disengaged at work; The rise in anxiety and depression in children; The lack of women in leadership; as well as so many more headline-dominating crises!

The core and underlying issue is not about gender, it's about nurturing empathy in our children and ourselves so we can help shape and mold happier, healthier, more productive communities and societies. We can all start valuing caring (and especially parenting) in a way that helps us reprioritize how we spend our time, grow the superpower of affective empathy in children and adults, and heal our empathy deficit disorder.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Empathy Deficit Disorder: Healing from Our Mix-ups About Work, Home, and Sex" is a critically timely, thoughtful, and 'real world practical' study that is ideal for the non-specialist general readers seeking to improve the emotional and orderly quality of their lives with respect to dealing with the increasing levels of stress and anxiety that are imposed upon us in these troubled times. While highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Empathy Deficit Disorder" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

The Beiging of America
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, SeanFrederick Forbes, Tara Betts, editors
2Leaf Press
PO Box 4378, Grand Central Station, New York, NY, 10163-4378
9781940939544, $24.99, PB, 286pp,

Synopsis: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Cathy J. Schlund-Vials (who is a mixed-race Cambodian and white American. She holds a Joint Appointment as professor in the Department of English and the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut), SeanFrederick Forbes (who is a mixed race Afro-Latino and the series editor of 2Leaf Press' 2LP Explorations in Diversity), and Tara Betts (who is a mixed-race award-winning poet, author and scholar of African American and white French descent), "The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century", takes on "race matters" and considers them through the firsthand accounts of mixed race people in the United States.

This unique collection consists of contributions by 39 poets, writers, teachers, professors, artists and activists, whose personal narratives articulate the complexities of interracial life. "The Beiging of America" was prompted by cultural critic/scholar Hua Hsu, who contemplated the changing face and race of U.S. demographics in his 2009 The Atlantic article provocatively titled "The End of White America." In it, Hsu acknowledged "steadily ascending rates of interracial marriage" that undergirded assertions about the "beiging of America".

"The Beiging of America" is an absorbing and thought-provoking collection of stories that explore racial identity, alienation, with people often forced to choose between races and cultures in their search for self-identity. While underscoring the complexity of the mixed-race experience, these unadorned voices offer a genuine, poignant, enlightening and empowering message to all readers.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century" is an inherently compelling read and a valued contribution to our on-going national discussion over America's changing demographics. While an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Beiging of America" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Helen Dumont

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Your Light: A Musical Storybook
Jillian Aversa, author
Marina Lezcano, illustrator
Independently Published
9781793498854 $9.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 29pp,

"Your Light: A Musical Storybook" is a beautiful illustrated bedtime story and lullaby that was originally written by the Jillian Aversa to be shared with her baby.

Charmingly illustrated by Marina Lezcano, the lovely poetic lines of the story are the lullaby lyrics of the song, available at It is meant to be an enriched bonding/sharing experience between adult and child.

The song and story are greatly enriched by sung music and beautiful illustrations that show a white baby bunny and his mother, being slowly soothed to sleep under silver moonlight. The baby bunny sees a special star that helps remind her of all the love shared with her mother. The bunny drifts away with her special star, secure in knowing that her dreams will never take her away from her mother's love.

Enchanting is a word that fits "Your Light," both the book, the images, and the haunting song.

Say NO to Bullying
Lakeisha Laney Hankerson, author
Ja'Nessa Hankerson, author
Palmetto Publishing Group
9781641111911, $12.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 43pp,

"Say NO to Bullying" is the true story of bullying as experienced by one of the authors, an eleven year old girl, and her mother.

Ja'Nessa Elise was a tall, African American girl who was teased and bullied about her height and other things. The bullying made her sad and hurt, and she wanted to cry and stop going to school. Then she got mad and scared at the same time. She told her parents what was happening at school and how it made her feel. Her parents talked to her teacher and he had the bullies apologize to Ja'Nessa and write her a note saying they were sorry.

Ja'Nessa shared her experiences of dealing with being bullied with her friends, and they learned to stand up to their bullies too. Ja'Nessa later became friends with some of the students who were bullying her, they learned to appreciate her! Also, she used her trait of tallness to become a successful model, a happy ending for all.

"Say NO to Bullying" continues to define and explain four types of bullying: verbal bullying, social bullying, cyber bullying, and physical bullying. It is believed that 1 out of 5 students experiences bullying while in school, from elementary school all the way to college. Readers are encouraged to tell a teacher, parents, or any adult they trust about being bullied. They are also encouraged to write a letter describing the bullying and place it quietly on the teacher's desk, if they are scared to tell it in person.

Students are cautioned not to get in a physical fight. Always, students are encouraged to tell their parents of bullying behavior or other problems at school.

Finally, the end of bullying is kindness, and guidance counselors and teachers and others can help students learn to be kind and considerate instead of bullying. Final pages are structured as discussion questions to ponder and answer about bullying behavior experiences.

"Say NO to Bullying" is an excellent resource for kids and their parents and teachers who need help in dealing with bullying behavior.

Senor Smarty Pantaloons and the Mystery of the Missing Teachers
Regina Davis and Carolyn Royer Spencer, authors
Carolyn Royer Spencer, illustrator
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456745578 $17.59

"Senor Smarty Pantaloons and the Mystery of the Missing Teachers" is a gripping tale of the disappearance of dedicated elementary teachers Mrs. Sheepshank, Mr. Muttonmouth, Mrs. Lana Lambo, and Miss Myrtle Merino at Foxaloon Elementary School, where Ms. Foxanna Powerpaws is the principal. All the students are wondering what had happened to their favorite teachers. Senor Smarty Pantaloons, the school's robotic computer helped the students' search for the four missing teachers. He answered some of their concerns as follows: "Opinions don't count because opinions aren't facts...... However it's a fact that foxes eat sheep. Sheep are their prey." Student know it all Nolton asked his grandfather, Cool G. Daddy Big Dwayne what happened to the four missing teachers, if the principal did not eat them.

Nolton's grandfather suggested that Miss Powerpaws may have put the four older teachers out to pasture because they made extra jellybeans, which she wanted to use for (allegedly) a robotic computer like Senor Smarty Pantaloons. He further suggested that the four missing teachers had to be working someplace else, if the students wnated to find them. Sure enough a search was organized, and the four teachers were found where they had been put out to pasture after exchanging their wool for food at Crotchety Crow's Knitting Nook. The teachers missed their students and cried that they couldn't return to school until they found a missing book, ruler, and keys. Luckily the missing items were found by Senor Smarty Pantaloons and the teachers were allowed to return to Foxaloon Elementary School after spring break.

The animal characters are movingly portrayed in the unusual crayon -style illustrations in this tongue in cheek mystery which will have great appeal for elementary students, as well as stimulation of imagination and creativity.

Another title from this award winning (Pacific Book Review, Four Star review) series which is also highly recommended is "Lord Computesalot, Ruler of Aurora Bullyalis and His Secret Quest to End Bullying (9781481711630, $20.99)," by Regina Davis and Carolyn Royer Spencer, illustrated by Carolyn Royer Spencer.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

A Day in the Life
Rajani Kanth
Austin Macauley Publishers
9781787109896, $13.95, PB, 220pp,

Synopsis: "A Day in the Life" by Ranjani Kanth chronicles a short, yet tumultuous, day in the life of our wayward protagonist. Lightly, side-stepping the usual pitfalls of everyday life, unmindful of his own peripatetic passage, from irony, to pathos, to temptation, he perseveres through his journey to a climactic end, rather like an earnest pilgrim en route to salvation.

A post-modernist romance, a love story, of an unlicensed, defiant love that will not accept boundaries, "A Day in the Life" is a kind of parable for our impossible times: for what ails him is what would inflect us all if we could only see the world we have built through his disintermediated, distempered eyes.

Critique: With a deftly written and thoroughly reader engaging approach to his distinctive narrative storytelling style, with "A Day in the Life" author Ranjani Kanth reveals a genuine flair for originality and the expert crafting of memorable characters embedded in an inherently fascinating and original story that will keep the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Day in the Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.66).

Hangdog Days
Jeff Smoot
Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781680512328, $21.95, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: In "Hangdog Days: Conflict, Change, and the Race for 5.14", Jeff Smoot vividly chronicles the era when rock climbing exploded in popularity, attracting a new generation of talented climbers eager to reach new heights via harder routes and faster ascents. This contentious, often entertaining period gave rise to sport climbing, climbing gyms, and competitive climbing -- indelibly transforming the sport.

Smoot was one of those brash young climbers, and informatively traces the development of traditional climbing "rules," enforced first through peer pressure, then later through intimidation and sabotage. In the late '70s, several climbers began introducing new tactics including "hangdogging," hanging on gear to practice moves, that the old guard considered cheating. As more climbers broke ranks with traditional style, the new gymnastic approach pushed the limits of climbing from 5.12 to 5.13. When French climber Jean-Baptiste Tribout ascended To Bolt or Not to Be, 5.14a, at Smith Rock in 1986, he cracked a barrier many people had considered impenetrable.

In this lively, fast-paced history that is enriched with insightful firsthand experience, Smoot focuses on the climbing achievements of three of the era's superstars: John Bachar, Todd Skinner, and Alan Watts, while not neglecting the likes of Ray Jardine, Lynn Hill, Mark Hudon, Tony Yaniro, and Peter Croft. "Hangdog Days" deftly brings to life the characters and events of this raucous, revolutionary time in rock climbing, exploring.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, thoroughly engaging in organization and presentation, "Hangdog Days: Conflict, Change, and the Race for 5.14" is an extraordinary and unique sports history that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hangdog Days" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.71).

Editorial Note: Jeff Smoot has always lived close to his outdoor passion, from writing for climbing magazines to researching and writing guidebooks, to serving on Seattle's Camp Long Advisory Council, which supports outdoor education and opportunities for disadvantaged and underserved youth. He is the founder of Camp Long's annual Mountain Fest, celebrating Seattle's rich climbing history and culture. A semi-retired attorney currently living in Seattle, he has served as Chair of the Washington State Bar Association Law Clerk Board and is a regular speaker at legal education seminars.

Brendan Kelly, author
Paul Hansuld, editor
Brendan Kelly Publishing Inc.
9781999019105, $19.95, PB, 656pp,

Synopsis: Since the time of Homer in 700 BC, people have recognized that individuals differ in their ability to solve problems, deal with abstraction, and learn new ideas. We call this multi-faceted ability intelligence. Yet, some people who seem to have limited intellectual capacity become billionaires, while "brainiacs" who graduate summa cum laude in the greatest universities sometimes fizzle into an unfulfilled potential as they voyage through life. What is this enigmatic quality (most cherished of all human characteristics) that we call intelligence?

"Intelligence: Where We Were, Where We Are & Where We're Going" by Professor Brendan Kelly takes us on a three-part journey from the evolution of human cognition in its earliest manifestation as instinct, through its later acquisition of rational thought, and to its culmination in a silicon-based incarnation as artificial intelligence. Insights into this faculty that has brought our species to the top of the food chain, and also to the brink of atomic suicide, are gleaned from observations of the dynamic tension between our instinctive and rational cognitive states.

This tension is explored in a variety of contexts from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the current tribal conflict manifest in the global quest for the American dream, the economic class wars, and the increasing polarization that is intensifying as we approach the 2020 election in America.

In this penetrating look at intelligence, Professor Kelly runs afoul of social norms, exposing how political correctness often undermines its original intent. As an unfiltered rational attack on the unquestioning acceptance of dogma, "Intelligence" will threaten anyone who seeks the comfort of unchallenged beliefs. However, the intrepid reader will find lots of humor, and cause for reflection as we observe our species through a story line involving four college friends who journey together through six decades of life.

Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a two page Appendices, forty-four pages of Notes and References, a three page list of Acknowledgments, a four page Glossary, a one page List of Tables, and a twenty-four page Index, "Intelligence: Where We Were, Where We Are, & Where We're Going" is an extraordinary and seminal work of meticulously presented scholarship and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Intelligence: Where We Were, Where We Are, & Where We're Going" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Aloha Rodeo
David Wolman & Julian Smith
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062836007, $27.99, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: In August 1908, three unknown riders arrived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, their hats adorned with wildflowers, to compete in the world's greatest rodeo. Steer-roping virtuoso Ikua Purdy and his cousins Jack Low and Archie Ka'au'a had traveled 4,200 miles from Hawaii, of all places, to test themselves against the toughest riders in the West. Dismissed by whites, who considered themselves the only true cowboys, the native Hawaiians would astonish the country, returning home champions - and American legends.

An unforgettable human drama set against the rough-knuckled frontier, David Wolman and Julian Smith's Aloha Rodeo unspools the fascinating and little-known true story of the Hawaiian cowboys, or paniolo, whose 1908 adventure upended the conventional history of the American West.

What few understood when the three paniolo rode into Cheyenne is that the Hawaiians were no underdogs. They were the product of a deeply engrained cattle culture that was twice as old as that of the Great Plains, for Hawaiians had been chasing cattle over the islands' rugged volcanic slopes and through thick tropical forests since the late 1700s.

Tracing the life story of Purdy and his cousins, Wolman and Smith delve into the dual histories of ranching and cowboys in the islands, and the meteoric rise and sudden fall of Cheyenne, "Holy City of the Cow". At the turn of the twentieth century, larger-than-life personalities like "Buffalo Bill" Cody and Theodore Roosevelt capitalized on a national obsession with the Wild West and helped transform Cheyenne's annual Frontier Days celebration into an unparalleled rodeo spectacle, the "Daddy of 'em All."

The hopes of all Hawaii rode on the three riders' shoulders during those dusty days in August 1908. The U.S. had forcibly annexed the islands just a decade earlier. The young Hawaiians brought the pride of a people struggling to preserve their cultural identity and anxious about their future under the rule of overlords an ocean away. In Cheyenne, they didn't just astound the locals; they also overturned simplistic thinking about cattle country, the binary narrative of "cowboys versus Indians," and the very concept of the Wild West. Blending sport and history, while exploring questions of identity, imperialism, and race, "Aloha Rodeo" spotlights an overlooked and riveting chapter in the saga of the American West.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, deftly crafted history, impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Aloha Rodeo: Three Hawaiian Cowboys, the World's Greatest Rodeo, and a Hidden History of the American West" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library American History collections in general, and Hawaiian history supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Aloha Rodeo" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982656232, $29.99, CD).

Editorial Note: David Wolman is a contributing editor at Wired. He has written for such publications as Outside, Mother Jones, Newsweek, Discover, Forbes, and Salon, and his work appeared in Best American Science Writing 2009. A graduate of Stanford University's journalism program, he now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he received a 2011 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship. He is the author of A Left-Hand Turn around the World and Righting the Mother Tongue.

Julian Smith is an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in Outside, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Wired, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He is the author of guidebooks to El Salvador, Ecuador, Virginia, and the southwestern United States, and he has been honored by the Society of American Travel Writers for writing the best guidebook of the year.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

The Bible by Jesus The Complete Old and New Testament
Elmer Towns
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978076844341, $59.99, 1704 Pages

A Paraphrase, Complete Old and New Testaments, Transforming, Life Changing

The Bible by Jesus is a paraphrase of the Bible using the words and perspective of

Jesus translated from the intent of the original writers into contemporary Language thought by thought. From the first day of creation, through to the Apostle John's last Amen and final benediction of Revelation it's all here as told by Jesus.

Reading "The Bible by Jesus" is an extraordinary and uniquely personal and intimate experience. I felt I was in the Garden of Eden, in the evening breeze, walking

with Adam and Even as the Lord Himself spoke with them, with Moses as he approached the Holy ground of the burning bush, and with David through every trial and triumph as he took delight in the worship of God, as he became recognized as a "man after God's own heart."

I saw myself sitting with Nicodemus as Jesus explained the need to be born again. Step by step I imagined myself walking with Jesus as He called his disciples, "Follow Me." I became eager to answer His call with them.

"The Bible by Jesus: Featuring the Complete Old and New Testament is an authoritative paraphrase which creates a fresh, intimate experience with God through His Word: I encourage you to read the pages of "The Bible by Jesus." Enjoy the intimacy of His presence.

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

Prayers Declarations and Strategies For Shifting Atmospheres
Dawn De Silva
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P.O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768418897, $14.99, 230 pages

Each of the 90 days reading in Dawna De Silva's book "Prayers Declarations &

Strategies for Shifting Atmospheres" incorporates a Scripture passage, a brief commentary, a sample prayer and a suggested declaration forming a strategy for Ninety combating spiritual warfare.

Over the last 30 - 45 days I have been blessed, challenged and strengthened as I read, meditated on the suggested prayer and declaration. I was then able to personalize the results to formulate my application and strategy.

Dawna's depth of spiritual understanding, passion, and faith are apparent in

her writing.

"Prayers Declarations & Strategies" is critical devotional reading for those actively enlisted in contending with Satan in Spiritual warfare.

Flowing in the Supernatural
Greg Mohr
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768446630, $16.99, 228 pages

Guidelines in Understanding the Theology of the Holy Spirit

"Flowing in the Supernatural" will resonate with Christians seeking a higher degree in their understanding of God's Word, the character of Jesus, and the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.

Author, speaker, and Christian educator, Greg Mohr presents essential guidelines and instructions on:

Operating in the gifts of the Spirit

Edification and Order

Revelation and Faith

Taking Authority

The Prophetic Word

The Role of Women in the Church

Spiritual Growth

Greg sheds light on the revelation and illumination of the Spirit and goes on to warn of the abuse of gifts with real-life examples which illustrate; Biblical confrontation, the unfamiliar and the unbiblical, becoming familiar with the gifts of working of miracles and the appropriate use of these gifts.

These basic guidelines help the reader better understand the character of Jesus and the Theology of the Holy Spirit. The teaching although presented from a Pentecostal and Charismatic viewpoint is vital for Christian pastors and leaders in all of all denominations. Mohr's writing is practical, well balanced, life empowering and Biblical based.

"Flowing in the Supernatural" is equally essential as a primer for anyone new to understanding the gifts of the Holy Spirit as well as mature Christians operating in and already exercising their spiritual gifts in ministry.

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

Glory Warfare
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768443257, $16.99, 222 pages

Spiritual Warfare, Charismatic/Pentecostal, Prayer

In her book "Glory Warfare" Rebecca Greenwood equips the reader to:

Victoriously engage in spiritual warfare

Triumph over Satan

Take the mystery out of spiritual warfare

Build up their faith - grow spiritually

Rebecca is transparent in her writing. She writes from personal experiences, real-life stories and the testimonies of those impacted by the principles, practices and Biblical concepts embraced, in her revelatory teaching.

Dramatic, picturesque word choice transports the reader to the ancient Iberian Peninsula traveling the historic Templar Trail across France, Spain, and Portugal, strategizing with her team asking God to lead them to visit critical locations along the way for prayer impact and reveal opportunities. This same visual writing technique brings Bible examples alive in a way that contemporary applications can be clarified for the reader. Rebecca has a truly unique gift for storytelling.

Her quotes from spiritual giants like Reese Howells, Paul Bilheimer, Ruth Ward Heflin, Leonard Ravenhill, and John Bevere add credence to Rebecca's insight into teaching on agonizing in prayer and interceding for revival with passion. I gained a new understanding and a deeper appreciation for the power and authority we have in prayer.

"Glory Warfare - How the presence of God Empowers You to Destroy the Works of Darkness" is written for all fervent intercessors: seasoned prayer warriors, a new generation of prayer warriors, and for all those future generations of warriors yet to come.

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

Supernaturally Prophetic
John Veal
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978078446333, $15.99, 152 Pages

Spiritual Growth, Christian Life, Charismatic, a Prophetic Guidebook

Dr. John Veal encourages the Christian reader to unlock their prophetic DNA in his book "Supernaturally Prophetic - A Practical Guide for Prophetic People." Dr. Veal's humor and inimitable preaching style are evident in his writing, entertaining, poignant, and heart-stirring.

The content of the book is divided into five parts:

Part 1 - Who can Prophecy

Part 2 - Prophecy 101

Part 3 - The Prophet

Part 4 - True Prophetic Houses

Part 5 - Confessions, Prayers, and Prophetic Words

"Supernaturally Prophetic" is practical, timely, riveting and profound. Dr. Veal is articulate - his conclusions and applications are relevant. He brings a fresh awareness and clarity to teaching in the area of the supernaturally prophetic.

The book has been thoroughly researched, well documented, and is backed by years of implementation and experience.

Dr. Veal is the pastor of Enduring Faith Christian Center, a widely known conference speaker, and prophetic trainer. Dr. Veal is passionate about demystifying, training and equipping his reader in their understanding of the ministry of prophecy in contemporary society.

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

A Vision of Hope for the End Times - Why I Want to Be Left Behind
R. Loren Sandford
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768445664, $16.99, 200 pages

Fresh Insights on Popular End Times Concepts

Chapter one of R. Loren Sanford's new book "A Vision of Hope for the End Times - Why I Want to Be Left Behind" provides definitions applicable to the themes of prophecy, apocalyptic, the rapture, the great tribulation, and pre and post millennialism interpretations.

Sanford has a strong commitment to the truth of the Word of God and to responsible scholarship rooted in cultural background, linguistics, and textual contents. He sheds new light on and fresh insights into popular end-time concepts; the Mark of the Beast, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and other prophetic themes.

A careful look at the Millennialism's three views is summarized; the origin, the leaders and the misconceptions presented. A careful chart depicting the Apostle John's revelation presents an excellent view of the 7 Seals Broken, one event refracted four ways.

Sanford's writing is straightforward, illuminating, and relevant. He is careful to make clear that the interpretation of these prophecies are not conditions of man's salvation nor as core values of the faith giving a reason for division among believers.

Whatever your position Sanford's "A Vision of Hope for the End Times - Why I Want to Be Left Behind" will be a challenge to "preach a victorious gospel in keeping with the resurrection."

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

I Am Jesus: Let's Change the World
Elmer L. Towns
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768449860, $14.99, 154 pages

Life Transforming - Inner World - Surrounding World - A Mission Field

"I Am Jesus: Let's Change the World" follows the approach of "The Bible by Jesus" from the perspective of Jesus with Him as the narrator. This approach encourages the reader to be drawn into the presence of Jesus in the conversational style which makes the scriptures come alive in a new way.

The book is divided into two parts: The Exponential Church and Exceptional Follower. Both sections are made up of important approaches to "changing the world." The first section introduces steps the church can take to become world changers. The second part of the book presents Jesus' challenge to the individual to become world changers by committing themselves to His great commission to change the world making disciples in all nations. 50 daily devotionals challenge the Christian to take action. Jesus encourages the church and his followers to:

Grow in the knowledge of the Scriptures

Grow in doctrinal understanding

Grow in wisdom of divine growth principles

Grow exponentially

Grow socially

The daily devotions challenge the reader in ways that will make them become exponential members of the church. Daily patterns of prayers help to formulate worship, surrender, and intercession.

"I Am Jesus: Let's Change the World" challenges the reader to follow the example of the New Testament Berean Christians actions of:

Being Yielded

Being Intentional

Doing Word by Word Bible Study

Following a routine of Bible Study

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

Let's Talk - 50 Daily Devotionals
Elmer Towns
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310 Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768449884, $14.95, 92 pages

I Am Jesus: Let's Change the World

How can I change the world? The message of salvation (Good News) is powerful (Romans 1:16). Transforming your life is powerful. That's because I came to change your life. First, I change your inner world, your desires, attitudes, motives, and love. You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Then second, I can change your surrounding world, your family, your work, your hobbies, your entertainment, even your language, and habits. The second world involves your church, home, school and place of employment. Then, third, I want to change the world out there. Let's evangelize lost people in your neighborhood a new church plan the mission field. You can change the world either marginally or widely. Let Me use you to change the world.

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

Giants, Fallen Angels and the Return of the Nephilim
Dennis Lindsay
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA, 17257
9780768444179, $18.99, 278 Page

Biblical Prophecy, Demonic Plot of Engineering Genetic Hybrids, Israel and the Middle EasIn his book "Giants, Fallen Angels and the Return of the Nephilim" Dr. Dennis G. Lindsey brings light on "the sons of God" as described in the book of Genesis.

The book is divided into three parts:

1. Giants

2. Angels

3. Nephilim

In recent years science fiction and fantasy writers have created a following of young readers absorbed with superheroes who have unique god-like powers. More recently they have added vampires, giants, fallen angels, and the Nephilim.

Dr. Lindsey discusses the implications of how the current trend in fiction plays an important place in Biblical Prophecies from a personal and global perspective; especially as it relates to the Nation of Israel as God's chosen people.

Lindsey's writing is absorbing, well researched and documented. I enjoyed the numerous photos depicting visual insights into his book. Dr. Dennis Lindsay is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Christ for the Nations, Inc., a worldwide missions organization and Bible Institute.

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

Awakening Your Prophetic Voice - Identity through Prophetic Encounters with the Holy Spirit
Betsy Jacobs
Destiny Image Publisher's Inc.
P. O Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978768418781, $16.99, 174 pages

Prophetic Words, Encounters, Discernment, and Spiritual Growth

"Awakening Your Prophetic Voice" is an invitation to experience God's mercy, love, and joy first hand; to discover your identity through knowing God and hearing His voice.

As I reflect on the benefits of reading Betsy Jacobs "Awakening Your Prophetic Voice." I recall the many similarities of seeking intimacy with God through performance, of the influence of the doctrines of men, and falling for the tactics of Satan. I was deeply moved by her testimony of the miraculous encounter with God that turned her life around.

Betsy defines our prophetic nature as "any desire to grow in the prophetic is a desire to know God and experience being known by Him." Betsy's writing draws the reader in; she is open, comfortable telling her story and is excited about sharing the "deeper realms of intimacy with God." Betsy is creatively articulate. She uses humor, has a great understanding of the elements of the story, and the gift of teaching.

The book is divided into two sections. In the first section, Betsy shares the story of her encounters with God. These stories are filled with expectancy, anticipation, and revelation.

The second section is made up of devotional exercises and activities with built-in listening moments, including:

Scripture passages

Insights on digging deeper

Listening moments

Profound questions to consider

Opportunity for journaling personal responses and reflections

"Awakening Your Prophetic Voice - Identity through Prophetic Encounters with the Holy Spirit" is life transforming - powerful.

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

Ignite your passion Chart your Course Own Your Life
Dave Yarnes
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768417746, $16.99, 192 pages

Significant Principles and Guidelines for Maximizing your Perspective, Potential, and Purpose

In his book "Ignite your passion Chart, your Course, Own Your Life" Dave Yarnes addresses practical principles that will be new to many, a reminder to others already on the path to a fulfilling life, and significant affirmation for readers at every stage of life.

This distinct success formula features personal stories which provide insight and vision for committing to integrity, helping you, the reader, to establish, launch and realize a plan for accomplishing your unique goals.

"The Circle of the Spirit" concept has given me a new perspective and understanding of the need for a holistic outlook, for realizing a deeper fulfillment, and a more intensified spiritual connection with God. I have found new freedom, less anxiety, a more grateful spirit and an ever increasing sense of God's love and His presence in my life.

Entrepreneurs, business leaders, life coaches, and career advisors highly recommend the book to their leadership staff and clients.

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

Woman Thou Art Loosed! Classic Edition: Healing the Wounds of the Past
T. D. Jakes
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
97807684504149, $16.99, 238 pages

Women's Issues, Spiritual Growth, Hope and Healing, Freedom and Deliverance, Wholeness and Empowerment, Personal Growth

Bestselling author Bishop T. D. Jakes is known for his television ministry The Potter's Touch, Grammy award-winning music as well as hit movies, and for authoring more than forty books.

This edition of T. D. Jakes book "Woman Thou Art Loosed" includes the original edition as well as the workbook by the same name, an interactive study guide filled with profound questions for reflection and activation. The questions are designed to help the reader find complete healing and deliverance through their study of the book. The book is an important resource for individual reading and study or can be used effectively in a small group setting.

A gifted communicator, Jake's writing is stimulating, practical, and inspiring. His solid teaching and spiritual insight offer resolutions for personal struggles and comfort in adversity. Jakes offers counsel and deliverance to women faced with matters of abuse, shame and guilt, condemnation, self-esteem, and the myriad of confusing issues women face today.

"Woman Thou Art Loosed! Classic Edition: Healing the Wounds of the Past" offers life-transforming wisdom for inner healing and empowerment for spiritual growth. Although written for women the book can be an important and insightful resource for men as well; to encourage and better understand their fiance, wife, or daughter.

Highly recommended.

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

The Agenda of Angels
Kevin L. Zadai
Destiny Image Publishers
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768449822, $16.99 222 pages

An Instruction Manual to understanding Angelology, Demonology, Spiritual Maturity, and Discernment

Kevin Zadai introduces the reader to new insight into the realm of angels and their impact on the on our lives today in his book "The Agenda of Angels." Kevin's book is not only a study on the doctrine of angelology but is also a handbook or manual on how to function within the unseen realm of the spirit.

Although I am familiar with the examples of angel appearance to Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the Old Testament prophets and Net Testament Apostles, I have never done an in depth study on the realm of angels and partnering with them in everyday life and ministry.

I read Kevin's writing with interest, an open mind, and expectancy as I explored new revelation, angel visitations, activations, and impartation. I also prayed for spiritual discernment.

Kevin relates his experiences in the angelic realm with conviction, authenticity, and an authoritative voice with a sense of urgency.

"The Agenda of Angels" is timely, relevant, and a critical issue for Christians in these times of uncertainty and turbulent conflict in our world today.

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

The Bible Based Dictionary of Prophetic Symbols - Bridging the Gap between Revelation and Application
Dr. Joe Ibojie
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768443394, $16.99 304 pages

Meticulous Research, Brilliant Presentation, Diligent Editing Inspiring Dedication

"The Bible-Based Dictionary of Prophetic Symbols" is much more than an ordinary dictionary; it is a masterwork, the most comprehensive work of its kind. An important feature of this revised and expanded edition is the inclusion of an augmented version of the Dictionary of Dream Symbols.

The format is well designed; a combination of practical advice and ministry experience. The book is divided into four parts:

An Illustrated Bible-Based Dictionary of Prophetic Symbols and Symbolic Actions

Gleaning from Bible Symbolism

Common Bible and Prophetic Terms

Other Symbolic Overtones.

Dr. Ibojie's work is based on the premise that God speaks to man today but not all in the same way. He speaks through dreams and visions, in a clear language, or in parables.

"The Bible-Based Dictionary of Prophetic Symbols" is an exhaustive collection of Biblical and prophetic terms in one authoritative volume. The meticulous research, brilliant presentation and the inspiring dedication of the author combine to make this a tremendously significant authoritative study tool.

I plan to keep my copy readily available in my library for ready-reference.

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

Everyday Angels
Charity Virkler Kayembe and Joe Brock
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768442755, $16.99, 288 Pages

Thought Provoking, Foundational, New Perspective on Angelic Ministry

Chari Virkler Kayembe and Joe Brock collaborate in the book "Everyday Angels." They share dramatic testimonies and stories of spiritual warfare and international exploits in the angelic realm.

The authors inspire the reader to listen for God's voice, receive visions, and to experience encounters with angels. They provide Biblical evidence that provides a model for God-given insight on how to discern, experience, and operate within the angelic and supernatural realms. I have a clearer picture of partnering with angels to accomplish God's purposes.

Each chapter closes with a "What about you?" section made up of thought-provoking potentially life-changing questions which stimulate action.

A first reading of "Everyday Angels" will introduce the reader to the principles of engaging angels into daily life. All subsequent readings will help a concerned reader put into practice those principles while taking the first step into positioning themselves "for victory, miracles, and divine intervention."

As I reflect on Charity and Joe's experiences in the angelic realm, I am confident that whatever the Lord has in store for me in days to come, I can know with confidence "no aspect of my life is outside of God's care and protection."

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

Discerning and Destroying the Works of Satan: Your Deliverance Guide to Total Freedom
Kathy DeGraw
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768443348, $16.99, 256 pages

Deliverance, Spiritual Warfare, Spiritual Growth, Healing, Prayer

"Discerning and Destroying the Works of Satan - Your Deliverance Guide to Total Freedom" is a guidebook for individuals seeking deliverance and receiving and maintaining freedom.

Step by step Kathy leads the reader through the essential actions which lead to finding deliverance and freedom.

Although Kathy's writing is straightforward and relatively easy to understand, it is not a book to be skimmed over lightly. Each of the Five Parts build on each other and need to be personalized, implemented, and incorporated in a lifestyle of receiving deliverance, releasing deliverance, and manifesting deliverance.

Part five encourages the reader to become a part of a deliverance team or to form a deliverance team. You will want to personalize the answers to probing questions, the declarations, and the vital inner healing principles.

Every element throughout the book is worthy of your close attention, guidelines adopted and thoroughly understood.

Practiced deliverance team members leaders can assimilate the material quickly; others will want to read aloud and personally carefully claim the suggested declarations, and incorporate the spiritual suggested spiritual weapons to discern and destroy the diversions and tactics of Satan, who is trying to keep you from maintaining your deliverance and freedom.

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

The Prophetic & Healing Power of Your Words
Becky Dvorak
Destiny Image Publishers Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17258
9780768443295, $ 16.99, 272 pages

Spiritual Growth, Prayer, Healing, and the Miraculous

In her book "The Prophetic & Healing Power of Your Words" Becky Dvorak introduces the reader to the model of creating atmospheres for healing through using faith-filled words. Becky provides a supernatural toolbox for activating the prophetic gifts.

The book is made up of three parts:

1. The Foundation Power of Words

2. Wielding the Sword of the Spirit

3. A Plan of Action

Scripture promises, words of instruction and stories of miraculous answers to prayers fill the pages of each of the 18 chapters.

Suggested group discussions questions stimulate interaction that reinforce each the chapter's content as well as introducing issues for further observation. These features can also be profitable for personal reflection.

I particularly appreciated the format of the book, designed with the reader in mind.

Organized with a topical emphasis

Highlighted important truths

Charts and lists for a more profound retention rate

Frequent word checkups

Suggested declarations of faith

"The Prophetic & Healing Power of Your Words" is a book you will want to read and reread often.

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

The Trading Floors of Heaven: Where Lost Blessings are Restored, and Kingdom Destiny is Fulfilled
Beverley Watkins & Robert Henderson
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17297
9780768419085, $16.99, 214 Pages

Sovereignty of God, Lucifer, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Spiritual Warfare, Prayer

Although I have read and studied Robert Henderson's Curriculum Series on the Courts of Heaven the idea of the Trading Floors of Heaven is a new concept for me. I now find his collaboration with Beverley Watkins in "The Trading Floors of Heaven: Where Lost Blessings are Restored and Kingdom Destiny is Fulfilled" of real interest.

The authors have given me new insights into the Sovereignty of God in allowing Satan or Lucifer to roam the earth in an attempt to rob man of promised kingdom blessings and family destinies. The principles introduced in their book will empower the reader to break these demonic trading cycles.

The book is filled with exhortation, instruction, prayers, and scripture illustrating the dynamics of trading in the heavenly realms. In addition to powerful suggested prayers throughout the book, the final chapter of the book provides additional more specific prayers for accessing the trading floors of heaven.

Authors Beverley Watkins and Robert Henderson are recognized as Global Apostolic leaders.

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

The Solutions Oriented Leader - Results
Dr. Rick Goodman
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781640950658, $24.95, 208 pages

Transformational Leadership, and Teambuilding Formulas and Systems

A quick review of the endorsements of Dr. Rick Goodman's book "The Solutions Oriented Leader" and I knew I had a winner in my hands. However, during a time crunch, the book took a prominent place on my "in-process line-up."

A few days later, a quick review of the preface, introduction, and table of contents confirmed the earlier conclusion - a real adventure in reading ahead.

A quick scan preview of 190 pages and an extensive index took me back to chapter one, paragraph one and I soon became deeply engrossed in Dr. Goodman's well-tested strategies and proven principles for improving business management and organization behavior and teambuilding efforts, and on my way to becoming a solutions-oriented team leader.

In his writing Dr. Goodman uses a combination of common sense, extraordinary insight, real-life stories, and practical steps for effectiveness in:

Team building


Employee Retention


Engagement Surveys

And Much, Much More

Dr. Goodman is an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker on leadership management, and organizational behavior.

A Complimentary Copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The expressions expressed are my own.

Your Success Starts Here
Earl Nightingale
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781640950849, $15.99, 160 pages

Finding Purpose, Fulfillment, Happiness, and Abundance

Step by step, Earl Nightingale provides the reader with concepts and principles to finding success and what it is that make people successful.

Recently while having my new glasses adjusted for more comfortable reading, the young technician noted the book I had with me. "Are you reading Earl Nightingale?" He asked with interest.

He went on to tell respectively how his father read Nightingale's books in the 1980s, and that he, himself, was currently listening to a series of U-Tube tapes from Nightingale's writings.

I smiled, remembering how I too in the 1980s was applying Nightingale's principles to finding inner purpose, the benefits of personal initiative, and maximizing my potential.

Today almost 40 years later I can confirm how, goal setting, and making the most of my opportunities have helped me become the person I am today; enjoying retirement, still building relationships, finding purpose, fulfillment, and abundance by practicing the principles reiterated in Earl Knightdale's formula for success in his book "Your Success Starts Here."

I can highly recommend this book to readers willing to set goals to find purpose, and live their dream.

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

Patient Heal Thyself - A Remarkable Health Program Combining Ancient Wisdom with Groundbreaking Clinical Research
Jordan Rubin
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17297
9780768443523, $17.95, 352 Pages

Healthy Physical Fitness, Secrets of Health and Longevity LifeStyles

I have been diagnosed to have four chronic illnesses: high blood pressure, diabetes, a heart issue, and Barret's esophagus. Recently my primary care physician referred me to a dietician. As a result of this, I have been reminded of the need for a balanced diet, exercise, and a positive outlook on life.

Jordan Rubin's book Patient Heal Thyself - A Remarkable Health Program Combining Ancient Wisdom with Groundbreaking Clinical Research came to my attention at just the right time.

I was inspired by Jordan's healing journey and the remarkable discoveries he made when he combined ancient wisdom with clinical research. I was also encouraged by the "comeback stories" and dramatic natural healing stories included in the narrative.

I am determined to combine the in-depth nutritional understanding I have grasped from The Maker's Diet Healing Program and healing protocols to establish a program to provide my body with the dietary tools I needed to overcome my chronic illnesses.

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

Goals - How to Get the Most Out of Your Life
Zig Ziglar
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978640950900, $24.95

A Step by Step, Day by Day Formula for Accomplishing Your Goals

I began to follow Zig Ziglar's career in the earlier 1980s. Ziglar was fast becoming a household name, known for his books and seminars with a life improvement emphasis promoting the energy of change.

As I put his principles into practice, my dreams and life goals began to move forward. As I look back over my career, I recognize the impact of Ziegler's influence on my life.

Eighteen months ago, my wife of 62 years passed away. Although I was devastated by the loss, I set a goal for the next year - a goal I did not attain. I wish I had the benefit of Goals - How to Get the Most of Your Life at that point.

Today encouraged by Zig's writing, I am excited about using his Nine Steps to Setting Goals.

Today I am setting long-range, ongoing goals in areas of the physical, social, spiritual, and family. I plan to follow his step by step instructions for establishing and reaching goals, maintaining a quality of life, new motivation, and higher energy.

I can highly recommend Zig Ziglar's Goals - How to Get the Most Out of Your Life.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Starting & Building a Nonprofit: A Practical Guide
Peri H. Pakroo, J.D.
Nolo Press
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413325997, $34.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Partly because of the current national political climate, the increasingly urgent need to address social, economic, and infrastructure needs, more people than ever are committing themselves to serving their communities and changing the world through creating and joining nonprofit organizations to advocate for and work in behalf of those issues.

Whether seeking to protect the environment, support the arts, or help people in need, understanding how to set up a solid nonprofit organization is a great foundation for being as effective as possible. With practical advice, legal information, tips, and step-by-step instructions, and now in a fully updated and expanded eighth edition, "Starting & Building a Nonprofit: A Practical Guide" is an essential, step-by-step guide will help get a nonprofit organization up and running -- and keep it going!

"Starting & Building a Nonprofit: A Practical Guide" covers such fundamental issues as: Developing a strategic plan and budget; Recruiting and managing board members, volunteers, and staff; Market a non-profit organization to a targeted audience; Raising money including traditional methods and crowd-funding; Building a website, using social media strategically, and avoiding copyright troubles; Adopting policies that are legally sound; and so much more!

Whether aspiring to start up a nonprofit or are already 'in the trenches', "Starting & Building a Nonprofit: A Practical Guide" will help any organization make a real difference in the world in this age of social media.

Critique: While especially recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted that "Starting & Building a Nonprofit: A Practical Guide" also provides access to the web site where the forms in this instruction manual can be instantly downloaded, where the reader can stay current with legal updates related to its content, and have access to in-depth profiles of non-profit thematically appropriate lawyers. It should also be noted for personal reading lists that "Starting & Building a Nonprofit: A Practical Guide" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.84).

Jack Kerouac and the Traditions of Classic and Modern Haiku
Yoshinobu Hakutani
Lexington Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781498558273, $95.00, HC, 222pp,

Synopsis: "Jack Kerouac and the Traditions of Classic and Modern Haiku" by Yoshinobu Hakutani (Professor of English and University Distinguished Scholar at Kent State University) is a reading of the haiku collected in Jack Kerouac's "Book of Haikus", which was originally edited by Regina Weinreich in 2003 and one of the two largest collections of English haiku.

"Above all," Kerouac wrote in his journal, "a Haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and makes a little picture and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi Pastorella."

Before trying his hand at composing haiku, Kerouac learned, as did Wright, the theory and technique of haiku from R. H. Blyth, the most influential haiku scholar and critic. Most of Kerouac's haiku reflect eastern philosophies (Confucianism, Buddhist ontology, and Zen), as do classic haiku.

A son of devout French Canadian Catholic parents, the young Kerouac was impressed with Christian doctrine, but later was inspired by Buddhism. In his haiku Kerouc conflates Christian doctrine of mercy with that of Buddhism. Classic haiku taught Kerouac that not only must human beings treat their fellow human beings with respect and compassion, but they must also treat nonhuman beings such as animals, insects, plants, and flowers as their equals.

Many of Kerouac's haiku can be read as modern haiku for the technique of beat poetics he applied. All in all, Kerouac's haiku express the world view that human beings are not at the center of the universe.

Critique: An impressively erudite and informative study of a particular aspect of Jack Keouac's extraordinary literary work, "Jack Kerouac and the Traditions of Classic and Modern Haiku" is a truly exceptional and unreservedly recommended addition to college and university library Literary Studies & Haiku Poetry Studies collections in general, and Jack Kerouac supplemental curriculum reading lists in particular.

Long Road from Quito
Tony Hiss
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268105334, $28.00, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: David Gaus is the co-founder, with his mentor Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., of Andean Health and Development (AHD), of an organization dedicated to supporting health initiatives in South America. Tony Hiss traces the trajectory of Gaus's life from an accounting undergraduate to a medical doctor committed to bringing modern medicine to poor, rural communities in Ecuador.

When he began his medical practice in 1996, the best strategy in these areas consisted of providing preventive measures combined with rudimentary clinical services. Gaus, however, realized he had to take on a much more sweeping approach to best serve sick people in the countryside, who would have to take a five-hour truck ride to Quito and the nearest hospital. He decided to bring the hospital to the patients. He has now done so twice, building two top-of-the-line hospitals in Pedro Vicente Maldonado and Santo Domingo, Ecuador. The hospitals, staffed only by Ecuadorians, train local doctors through a Family Medicine residency program, and are financially self-sustaining.

His work with AHD is recognized as a model for the rest of Latin America, and AHD has grown into a major player in global health, frequently partnering with the World Health Organization and other international agencies. With a charming, conversational style that's a pleasure to read, Hiss shows how Gaus's vision and determination led to these accomplishments, in a story with equal parts interest for Notre Dame readers, health practitioners, medical anthropologists, Latin American students and scholars, and the general public.

Critique: "Long Road from Quito: Transforming Health Care in Rural Latin America" by Tony Hiss is an extraordinary combination of biography and medical history. Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an informative Foreword by Lou Nanni and the biographer David Caus' Afterword, along with a eleven page Index, "Long Road from Quito" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Latin American Medical History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Long Road from Quito" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Tony Hiss is an author, lecturer, and consultant on restoring America's cities and landscapes. He is the author of thirteen books, including The Experience of Place, The View from Alger's Window, and In Motion: The Experience of Travel. Hiss was a staff writer at the New Yorker for more than thirty years, and since then has been a visiting scholar at New York University.

Frame of Mind
Antonia Tricarico
Akashic Books
232 Third Street, #A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9781617757198, $32.95, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: In the late 1990s bands like Fugazi, Branch Manager, the Make-Up, Deep Lust, Quix*o*tic, Lungfish, Spirit Caravan, Scaramouche, Stinking Lizaveta, and many more were active in and around the underground music scene in Washington, DC. While those bands went on a hiatus or dissolved over the years, others inspired by them have formed, including Dead Meadow, Motorcycle Wars, the Evens, and Weird War. In "Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington, DC, and Beyond, 1997 - 2017", all of these groups appear in over 200 powerful and evocative photos by Antonia Tricarico.

In addition to DC's homegrown offerings, "Frame of Mind" also features photos of other seminal and like-minded groups that passed through the city, such as the Melvins, the Ex (from the Netherlands), Uzeda (from Italy), Joan Jett, Shellac, Babes in Toyland, the Julie Ruin, L7, and Alice Bag.

"Frame of Mind" visually captures underground music through both photos and essay commentaries. While the photos include musicians of all genders, the essays are all written by women: Joan Jett, Amy Farina, Tara Jane O'Neil, Alice Bag, Allison Wolfe, Donita Sparks, Lori Barbero, and more. If women are the underground of the underground, let "Frame of Mind" be a wake-up call for future generations to start their own awe-inspiring bands.

Critique: Of special interest to personal, community, and academic library American Popular Culture, Underground Music, and Contemporary Photography collections and supplemental studies lists, "Frame of Mind: Punk Photos and Essays from Washington, DC, and Beyond, 1997 - 2017" is unique and highly recommended.

Vatican II Exposed as Counterfeit Catholicism
Fr. Francisco Radecki, CMRI
Fr. Dominic Radecki, CMRI
St. Joseph's Media
PO Box 1896, Wayne, MI 48184-0186
9780988274440, $49.99HC, 809pp,

Synopsis: Fr. Francisco Radecki, CMRI is the pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Wayne, Michigan. He is the co-founder of St. Joseph's Media, a publisher that has presence in 80 countries. This is his seventh book. His twin brother, Fr. Dominic Radecki, CMRI is the pastor of Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newhall, California. Together they have created a definitive study of Vatican II.

Seven years in the writing, exhaustively researched and utilizing all available primary sources, "Vatican II Exposed as Counterfeit Catholicism" is comprehensive volume that clearly and methodically explains the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the Second Vatican Council.

Though many believe that the liturgical and doctrinal changes implemented after Vatican II came about spontaneously, this insightful study shows that the changes were well planned, had their roots in the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation and gained momentum as time progressed. Even though numerous popes strenuously and repeatedly condemned the cunning heretics who adhered to these false beliefs.

"Vatican II Exposed as Counterfeit Catholicism" reveals how others worked diligently together for decades to form a new religion. This definitive study also contains biographies of all the major players at Vatican II, a thorough historical analysis of each Session of Vatican II and its 16 Documents, a thorough study of the Tridentine Latin Mass and the New Mass as well as the pre and post Vatican II Sacraments. The biographies of Pope Pius XII and the six Vatican II era popes are also included.

The authors deftly analyze how the changes have negatively affected the faith of millions of people worldwide and continue to do so.

Critique: A work of extraordinary and iconoclastic detail, "Vatican II Exposed as Counterfeit Catholicism" is worthy of serious study and an unreservedly recommended addition to clergy, seminary and academic library Roman Catholicism collections, as well as the personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Supervising Police Employees in the Twenty-First Century
Gerald W. Garner
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398092757, $36.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: To carry out their wide array of vital duties law enforcement supervisors require a whole toolbox of complex skills. "Supervising Police Employees in the Twenty-First Century: A Problem-Solving Manual for Law Enforcement Leaders" is a comprehensive handbook that was created with the purpose of supplying or, where already present, strengthening those skills.

Assembled by Gerald W. Garners, a veteran police chief who served 15 years as a first-line supervisor, "Supervising Police Employees in the Twenty-First Century" provides practical how-to advice for confronting and mastering the multiple challenges of the first-line supervisor's life.

"Supervising Police Employees in the Twenty-First Century" contains the information needed to succeed as decision-maker, tactician, trainer, counselor, disciplinarian, and officer safety expert. It will help supervisors to accurately to evaluate employees job performance, serve as an integral part of the leadership team, and lead officers to deliver exceptional customer service. It will, in sum, serve as a true handbook for leadership success.

Critique: Comprehensive, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'user friendly' in presentation, and highly recommended for professional, community and academic library collections, "Supervising Police Employees in the Twenty-First Century: A Problem-Solving Manual for Law Enforcement Leaders" should be considered mandatory reading for anyone charged with supervisory responsibilities in the field of law enforcement, be it on a local, state, or national level.

The Nuremberg Trials
Alexander Zvyagintsev, author
Christopher Culver, translator
Glagoslav Publications
9781784379865, $29.50, PB, 432pp,

Synopsis: Postwar Nuremberg is set to host a historically unprecedented trial of the leaders of the defeated Third Reich. The whole world is awaiting a just verdict, but it is here where Soviet counterintelligence must wage a secret war against forces that seek to prevent that from happening at any cost.

Nuremberg, having been nearly wiped from the face of the earth during the harsh fighting, becomes an arena for ruthless struggles in both hidden and overt operations. Nazis are still operating underground, spies weave their intrigues, politicians and diplomats make bargains, and movie stars dazzle the public. The enormous efforts led by the USSR's chief prosecutor Roman Rudenko to expose the Nazi atrocities are threatened.

It is here where counterintelligence officer Major Denis Rebrov must operate: he has been tasked with a matter of special state importance. But in this old imperial city, the ruins of which are home to people who would do anything for a pack of cigarettes or a loaf of bread, where revelations about unimaginable crimes come out daily, Rebrov meets Princess Irina Kurakina, born to an aristocratic family of Russian emigres.

The pages of this novel abound with real historical figures. Besides the USSR chief prosecutor Rudenko and his American analogue Robert Jackson, readers will be introduced to Nazi bosses Goering, Ribbentrop, Hess and Kaltenbrunner, film stars Olga Chekhov (Hitler's favorite actress) and Marlene Dietrich, as well as the "great leader" Stalin and his closest companions Molotov, Beria and Vyshinsky.

The Nuremberg Trials is based upon real facts that were hitherto unknown and details that the author, who spent many years studying the trials, learned from participants and witnesses.

Critique: Deftly translated from Russian into English by Christopher Culver, and published with the support of the Russian Institute for Literary Translation, "The Nuremberg Trials" is an extraordinary and deftly written novel by an author who has build his narrative on a solid foundation of meticulous research. The result is an inherently engaging read from beginning to end, and a fact-based work of fiction that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Nuremberg Trials" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices
Ian A. Baker
Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620559123, $40.00, HC, 292pp,

Synopsis: Tibetan yoga is the hidden treasure at the heart of the Tibetan Tantric Buddhist tradition: a spiritual and physical practice that seeks an expanded experience of the human body and its energetic and cognitive potential. "Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices" is pioneering and highly illustrated overview in which Ian A. Baker introduces the core principles and practices of Tibetan yoga alongside historical illustrations of the movements and beautiful, full-color works of Himalayan art, never before published.

Richly illustrated with contemporary ethnographic photography of Tibetan yoga practitioners and rare works of Himalayan art, including Tibetan thangka paintings, murals from the Dalai Lama's once-secret meditation chamber in Lhasa, and images of yogic practice from historical practice manuals and medical treatises, "Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices" is groundbreaking book that reveals Tibetan yoga's ultimate expression of the interconnectedness of all existence.

Critique: Expertly and knowledgeably written, featuring illustrated step-by-step instructions, that are thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Tibetan Yoga: Principles and Practices" is a complete and comprehensive introduction to the performance and philosophy of Tibetan Yoga -- making it an unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, collection, and university library collections.

Information at Work
Katriina Bystrom, Jannica Heinstrom, Ian Ruthven
Facet Publishing
9781783302765, $238.00, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: Today society is universally characterized by quick technological developments and constant changes to our information environments. One of the biggest changes has been in and on our workplace environments where technological developments have automated work processes that were previously done by manual labor whilst new professions and work tasks have emerged in response to new methods of creating, sharing and using information.

"Information at Work: Information Management in the Workplace" provides a comprehensive account of information in the modern workplace. It includes a set of chapters examining and reviewing the major concepts within workplace information, from over-arching themes of information cultures and ecologies, to strategic concerns of information management and governance, and to detailed accounts of questions and current debates.

"Information at Work" will be particularly useful and relevant reading for researchers in the fields of Information Science and Information Management, as well as students on related courses. It is also suitable to be used as an introductory text for those working in allied fields such as Management and Business Studies.

Critique: Comprised of seven major articles by experts in the field, "Information at Work: Information Management in the Workplace" is an extraordinary body of collective scholarship that will prove to be an enduringly valued and core addition to corporate, college, and university library Information Management collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, information technologists, corporate executives, government policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Information at Work" is also available in a paperback edition (9781783302758, $69.95).

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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