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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 3 March 2016 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Confidence Effect
Grace Killelea
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814436417 $23.00 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Every day, talented, hardworking women are passed over for promotions. While it's easy to blame a corporate culture that favors men, seasoned executive Grace Killelea identifies another culprit: a surprising disparity in confidence. Men are prone to overestimate their abilities, while women too often sell themselves short. "The Confidence Effect "helps women speak out, take risks, and assume leadership positions with assurance. The book moves beyond research and statistics to focus on what's really important: how women can become more confident, one step at a time. Practical strategies show how to turn job competency into the kind of authentic confidence that gets noticed. Women learn to practice the Four Rs of Success--relationships, reputation, results, and resilience--dipping in for tips and tools on how to: Build circles of influence - Seize opportunities they normally avoid - Leverage and promote their skills - Cultivate executive presence - Use data compellingly - Bounce back from setbacks - And more With this powerful new book, women everywhere will find the confidence they need to step off the sidelines onto the playing field--and claim the success they deserve.

Critique: Even though The Confidence Effect is written especially for women, career-focused men can also benefit from its wisdom - especially men who have felt pressured all their lives to stay quiet and keep their heads down. Lack of confidence erodes opportunities for promotion, networking, and positive customer relationships. The Confidence Effect is filled with tips, tricks, techniques, and strategies for self-improvement, honing social skills, avoiding pitfalls and much more. Highly recommended!

Touching Bellies, Touching Lives
Judy Gabriel
Waveland Press, Inc.
4180 IL Route 83, Suite 101, Long Grove, IL 60047-9580
9781478627104, $23.95, PB, 197pp,

Synopsis: In "Touching Bellies, Touching Lives: Midwives of Southern Mexico Tell Their Stories", Judy Gabriel gives humble, authentic voice to the personal experiences and practices of scores of traditional midwives in rural Mexico. The midwives talk about their childhoods, marriages, losses, rituals, and techniques. The rich narratives describe childbirth before modern medicine redefined it. Intended to engage, enrich, and inspire, Gabriel's work tells of the women who received generations of babies into their hands when knowledge about childbirth came from women's bodies, from instinct, from dreams, and from other women. The stories unfold in the context of high-intervention obstetrics and soaring Cesarean rates, a world that often degrades women and violates the sanctity of birth.

Critique: An informed and informative body of deftly presented scholarship throughout, "Touching Bellies, Touching Lives: Midwives of Southern Mexico Tell Their Stories" will prove to be of special interest for academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Mesoamerican culture with respect to midwifery. Very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Touching Bellies, Touching Lives: Midwives of Southern Mexico Tell Their Stories" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.70). Also strongly recommended from Waveland Press is: "Two Years with a Midwife in Mali" (9781577664352, $20.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle) and "Birth in Four Cultures: A Crosscultural Investigation of Childbirth in Yucatan, Holland, Sweden, and the United States: Fourth Edition (9780881337174, $24.95 PB, $17.40 Kindle).

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids
Todd Cartmell
Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802413871, $12.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Whether you find parenting intuitive or impossible, we could all use a hand here and there. Let child psychologist and father Todd Cartmell walk you through the nuts and bolts of healthy, effective parenting in "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids". Using examples from his home and 20 years of professional practice, Todd gives eight essential and practical tools to help you: Maintain a healthy relationship with your child; Develop a nurturing home culture; Correct behavior in lasting ways Designed for busy parents, "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids" breaks each tool into five short chapters that include a summary tip and application questions. Use even half of the tools in your parenting, and your family dynamics will thrive. Your relationship with your child will be built on love and trust, providing you with fertile ground for planting God's wisdom in their heart, and ultimately, seeing them flourish.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids" is thoroughly 'parent friendly' in tone, commentary, and application. Very highly recommended for community library Parenting Skills instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Meet the New You
Elisa Pulliam
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601427946, $14.99, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: As women, we are constantly evaluating ourselves. Am I enough? Why can't I change this certain thing about myself? Should I be doing more? We long for real, deep, lasting change - but we don't know how to begin. In "Meet the New You: A 21-Day Plan for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change", Elisa Pulliam empowers women to take charge of their own life transformation by engaging in a meaningful relationship with God and His Word. Each chapter gives practical and interactive ways to address some of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of permanent change. Through stories, biblical application, personality assessments, thought-provoking questions, and life-coaching principles, "Meet the New You" helps women: understand who they are; cultivate a vision for who they want to become; recognize what holds them back; and determine the steps necessary to put new, practical habits into action. It's time to discover who you really are and how you can live life differently. It's time to meet the new you!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Meet the New You: A 21-Day Plan for Embracing Fresh Attitudes and Focused Habits for Real Life Change" is thoroughly 'reader friendly', practical, and readily applicable, making it very highly recommended for personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections. It should be noted that "Meet the New Your" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Switching Sides
Marilyn Bos
Winks Books
PO Box 1827, North Mankato, MN 56002
9781938237195, $8.95, 380pp,

Synopsis: While searching for a young wayward music student, PI Wendy Winkworth, who was hired by two self-promoting violin professors concerned about their missing daughter and her violin prodigy of a boyfriend, is assaulted by a savage police sergeant with his own agenda. Escaping bruised and battered, she seeks refuge with the two teens who seem headed for tragedy. With the vengeful cop in hot pursuit, Wendy is about to learn what truth and justice really mean.

Critique: The third novel in the outstanding 'Winks Trilogy' by Marilyn Bos, "Switching Sides" is a wonderfully entertaining read from beginning to end. As deftly creative as the first two volume "The Stray Pitch" and "Bubbles, Roses, and Rump", "Switching Sides" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

Affirmations for Family Caregivers
Harriet Hodgson
c/o BQB Publishing
9781608081462, $10.95, PB, 120pp,

Synopsis: Harriet Hodgson has cared for three generation of family members-her mother, husband, and twin grandchildren. The affirmations comprising "Affirmations for Family Caregivers" come from Harriet's eighteen years of caregiving experience, with more years to come. In 2013 her husband's aorta dissected and he had three emergency operations. Surgeons managed to save her husband's life, but he suffered a spinal stroke during the last operation, and his legs are paralyzed. Hodgson is his caregiver and, when she needed a boost, she started writing affirmations. Once she started, Hodgson couldn't stop writing them, and a few dozen grew into the hundreds in this collection. "Affirmations are a form of self-care", Hodgson explains. "Reading an affirmation in the morning can set the tone for your caregiving day."

Critique: Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance writer for 37+ years, is the author of 35 books, and thousands of print/ Internet articles. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. She is also a contributing writer for The Caregiver Space website, Open to Hope Foundation website, and The Grief Toolbox website. An affirmation is the act or an instance of affirming; state of being affirmed; the assertion that something exists or is true; something that is affirmed; a statement or proposition that is declared to be true; and the confirmation or ratification of the truth or validity of a prior judgment, decision, etc. "Affirmations for Family Caregivers" is an inherently thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful and inspiring, comforting and supportive collection of single sentence affirmations that are very highly recommended for both senior center, community, and academic library collections. For the personal reading lists, especially for anyone involved in providing care for a loved one, it should be noted that "Affirmations for Family Caregivers" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.49).

Sonya Hastings
America Star Books
PO Box 184, Fredick, MD 21705-0184
9781681762647, $19.95, PB, 162pp,

Synopsis: Katy, a successful ghostwriter, finds herself possessed by an Earth Bound Spirit, who asks that she help him, bringing the man who killed him to justice. The two embark on a journey to reveal the hidden truth and vindicate his death, setting him free of his earthy conflict so that he may now cross over into 'The Light." But Katy's ghost will not be leaving her. This decision comes at a high cost. He is no longer welcome in Heaven...

Critique: Exceptionally well written and an utterly entertaining read from beginning to end, it is all the author, Sonya Hastings, is all the more impressive considering that "Ghostwriter" is her debut as a novelist. A unique and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists, "Ghostwriter" would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections.

Ship Captain's Daughter
Ann M. Lewis
Wisconsin Historical Society Press
816 State Street, Madison, WI 53575
9780870207303, $14.95, PB, 112pp,

Synopsis: Ann Lewis's childhood was marked by an unusual rhythm. Each year the thawing and freezing of the Great Lakes signaled the beginning and end of the shipping season, months of waiting that were punctuated by brief trips to various ports to meet her father, the captain. With lively storytelling and vivid details, Lewis captures the unusual life of shipping families whose days and weeks revolved around the shipping industry on the Great Lakes in the pages of "Ship Captain's Daughter: Growing Up on the Great Lakes". She paints an intriguing and affectionate portrait of her father, a talented pianist whose summer job aboard an ore freighter led him to a life on the water. Working his way up from deckhand to ship captain, Willis Michler became the master of thirteen ships over a span of twenty-eight years. From the age of twelve, Ann accompanied the captain to the ports of Milwaukee, Chicago, Toledo, and Cleveland on the lower Great Lakes. She describes sailing through stormy weather and starry nights, visiting the engine room, dining at the captain's table, and wheeling the block-long ship with her father in the pilot house. Through her mother's stories and remarks, Lewis also reveals insights into the trials and rewards of being a ship captain's wife. "Ship Captain's Daughter" is enhanced by the author's vintage snapshots, depicting this bygone lifestyle.

Critique: A nostalgic and deftly crafted personal memoir, "Ship Captain's Daughter: Growing Up on the Great Lakes" is a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ship Captain's Daughter" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Rescuing Jesus
Deborah Jian Lee
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807033470, $26.95, HC, 296pp,

Synopsis: Deborah Jian Lee left the evangelical world because she was frustrated by its conservative politics. But over the years she stayed close to those in the movement, and she has come to realize that evangelical culture and politics are changing, and changing fast. Friends had stopped voting based on wedge issues. Believers of color were changing church demographics and political interests. Women were rising in the ranks despite familiar sermons about female submission. LGBTQ Christians were coming out, staying in the church, and leading ministries.

What Lee came to find is that most of what we think we know about evangelicals is wrong, or is well on its way to becoming dated. In "Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism", she ventures into the world of progressive evangelicalism and tells the stories of the young women and men at the forefront of a movement that could change both the face and the substance of religion in the United States.

Generational changes and the shifting racial make-up of evangelicals are transforming the movement and pushing it in a more progressive direction. A young and diverse array of people on this leading edge of progressive evangelicalism (LGBTQ and straight; white, black, Asian, Hispanic, and indigenous) are working together to wrest political power away from conservatives. Today's young evangelicals are more likely than their elders to accept same-sex marriage, more inclined to think of "pro-life" issues as being about supporting society's disenfranchised, and more accepting of equality between men and women.

With empathy, journalistic rigor, and powerful storytelling, Lee unpacks the diverse and complex strands of this movement, including just what it means for the rest of us. Given the clout that evangelicals still hold in national politics, Lee argues, this movement is important not only for the future of evangelicalism but also for the future of our country.

Critique: "Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism" is a compelling, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking read. Very highly recommended for non-specialist general readers with an interest in evangelical Christianity, contemporary politics, and the steadily changing demographics of American society, "Rescuing Jesus" is very highly recommended. Appropriate and commended to both community and academic library Christian Studies and Contemporary American Political Science studies, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rescuing Jesus" is also available in a paperback edition (9780807075074, $20.00) and in a Kindle format ($25.99).

Teaching Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, OWL LD, and Dyscalculia
Virginia W. Berninger & Beverly J. Wolf
Brookes Publishing Company
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
9781598578942, $44.95, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: How can classroom teachers provide effective instruction for students with learning disabilities while meeting the needs of all students? The newly updated and expanded second edition of "Teaching Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, OWL LD, and Dyscalculia" provides K - 12 educators research-based answers. "Teaching Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, OWL LD, and Dyscalculia" is the first teacher training text to cover all four learning disabilities that require differentiated instruction: dysgraphia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, and oral and written language learning disability (OWL LD). "Teaching Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, OWL LD, and Dyscalculia" prepares educators to deliver explicit and engaging instruction customized to the needs of their students. Critical insights from diverse fields blend with lessons learned from actual teaching experience, making this an ideal preservice text and a great in-service professional development tool. "Teaching Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, OWL LD, and Dyscalculia" features strengthened instruction with current research findings from many fields including genetics, neuroscience, linguistics, and education; will enable teachers to help all students (including students with specific learning disabilities) develop oral and written language skills and proficiency with math concepts and problem solving; utilizes differentiated instruction to organize their classrooms, routines, and lesson plans; uncovers both the why and the how of differentiated instruction, so they can adapt their teaching techniques as needed; meets Common Core State Standards while addressing the learning needs of individual students; applies a specific instructional framework that helps students overcome working memory inefficiencies and related problems; and creates a positive learning environment that promotes intellectual engagement and social emotional development. Of special note is a timely new chapter on using technology for accommodations and explicit instruction.

Critique: Exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Teaching Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, OWL LD, and Dyscalculia" by Virginia W. Berninger, (Professor and Research Affiliate, Educational Psychology, Center on Human Development and Disability, University of Washington) and Beverly J. Wolf (Director, Slingerland Institute for Literacy, Bellevue, Washington) will prove an invaluable reference for teachers with integrated classes of both regular and special needs students. Offering a complete course of instruction, "Teaching Students with Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, OWL LD, and Dyscalculia" is very highly recommended for college and university library Educational Studies, Language Arts, and Literacy reference collections.

Nostalgia: When Are We Ever at Home?
Barbara Cassin, author
Pascale-Anne Brault, translator
Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue, University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
9780823269501, $75.00, HC, 96pp,

Synopsis: Written by Barbara Cassin (Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and President of the Board of the Collège International de Philosophie). Translated into English by Pascale-Anne Brault (Professor of French at DePaul University). Featuring an informative Foreword by Souleymane Bachir Diagne i(Professor of French and Philosophy at Columbia University). "Nostalgia: When Are We Ever at Home?" makes claims on us both as individuals and as members of a political community. In "Nostalgia", Barbara Cassin provides an eloquent and sophisticated treatment of exile and of desire for a homeland, while showing how it has been possible for many to reimagine home in terms of language rather than territory. Moving from Homer's and Virgil's foundational accounts of nostalgia to the exilic writings of Hannah Arendt, Cassin revisits the dangerous implications of nostalgia for land and homeland, thinking them anew through questions of exile and language. Ultimately, Cassin shows how contemporary philosophy opens up the political stakes of rootedness and uprootedness, belonging and foreignness, helping us to reimagine our relations to others in a global and plurilingual world.

Critique: A deftly crafted and eloquent study presented in four major sections (Of Corsican Hospitality; Odysseus and the Day of Return; Aeneas: From Nostalgia to Exile; Arendt: To Have One's Language for a Homeland), "Nostalgia: When Are We Ever at Home?" is enhanced with the inclusion of an extensive section of Notes. Very highly recommended for college and university library Philosophy & Classical Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Nostalgia: When Are We Ever at Home?" is also available in a paperback edition (9780823269518, $19.00, 78pp).

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die
Marianne Jones
Word Alive Press
131 Cordite Road, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3W 1S1
9781486611164, $12.99, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: As a child, Linda Stewardson suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her stepfather. After a particularly vicious attack, Linda was left for dead only to be revived in the hospital. Betrayed by the adults who should have protected her, she turned to life on the streets. Linda believed she had no value, until a life-changing encounter with Christ gave her a reason for living. "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" shows that there is no pain too great or darkness too deep for God's love to transform. Today Linda Stewardson is a wife and mother and a volunteer with the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is the recipient of the 2004 Courage to Come Back Award from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and has appeared on 100 Huntley Street.

Critique: Inspiring, courageous, candid, "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" is one of those rarely encountered personal stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community library biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Girl Who Wouldn't Die" is also available in a kindle edition ($6.99).

From the House by the Seashore
Pati Adams
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781490885339, $37.95, HC, 302pp,

Synopsis: Did you ever think that someone you trusted would change your life? High school had opened my eyes to a world of self-indulgent drinking and drug use. After graduation, working my way to nowhere, I got married, had children, and wanted desperately to lead a normal life. But I was living a lie. I had no idea what was happening to me. I felt like there were days I was losing my mind, but why? I wanted to be a good wife and mother, but my self-centeredness was shutting them out. It was my time all the time. That world became my life and my family was being left out. I was slowly slipping away, and my life's ship was sinking fast. Then I found someone that loved me just the way I was and always forgave me; someone I needed my whole life and finally He was here. He changed my heart and my way of thinking. So as you read through each page of my personal story as set out in the pages of "From the House by the Seashore", you may see your life mirroring mine, and you just might find what you are looking for!

Critique: Engaging, absorbing, and deftly presented from first page to last, "From the House by the Seashore" is a compelling and candidly personal that is very highly recommended for community library Contemporary American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "From the House by the Seashore" is also available in a paperback edition (9781490885315, $22.95) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).

The Angel's Lamp
Ashby Jones
Top Hat Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785352232, $19.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: "The Angel's Lamp" by Ashby Jones is a novel set in war-torn Ireland just after the Easter Rising, and centers around a love affair between Johnny Flynn, an Irish-bred, English staff-sergeant in charge of the rebellion's soon-to-be executed leaders, and Nora Connolly, the firebrand daughter of James Connolly, the uprising's charismatic leader. Johnny meets Nora while standing guard over her soon-to-be executed father and is struck by her determination to take the fight to the British. But then, unknown to Nora and under the threat of death Johnny is unexpectedly summoned to serve on the firing squad that executes Connolly. Ridden with guilt after the execution and feeling a traitor to his heritage given all he has seen and done, Johnny deserts the British Army, joins the ragtag Irish rebels, and soon crosses paths with Nora. The story that follows culminates in an fiery emotional conflict between Johnny and Nora that pits the possibilities of love against the unyielding obstacles to forgiveness.

Critique: A terrifically entertaining read from first page to last, "The Angel's Lamp" clearly marks author Ashby Jones as an accomplished and gifted novelist of the first order. Strongly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Angel's Lamp" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.49).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Clarence Olgibee
Alan S. Kessler
Black Rose Writing
P.O. Box 1540, Castroville, TX 78009
9781612966601, $21.95,

Life in a small, windblown Texas town holds many dead ends. Surrounded by a windblown desert with prejudices hardened by environment and attitude, many of the town's residents are caught in a circle of events that embraces racism, political strife, and dark psychological pressures.

All these come to life in Clarence Olgibee, a hard-hitting novel that pulls no punches in either its description of racial violence between blacks and whites or in its exploration of the multi-faceted world of Afro-American teen Clarence Olgibee.

From its very first chapter, it's evident that Clarence Olgibee will be no easy read; but that's not just because of its descriptions of violence. Its focus on the underlying psychological and social pressures that lead to the inevitable results of prejudice, fear, and even murder require thoughtful contemplation from its readers placing it a notch above other novels about racial strife.

Clarence Olgibee's characters are complex, and nothing in its story line progresses on a linear, predictable path. Thus the themes of rising white supremacist movements, choices in involvement or disengagement, and how "all this black white stuff" becomes complicated makes Clarence Olgibee more than a conventional assessment of the many routes prejudice can take.

One protagonist is a perfect example of this complexity: Jimmy is in prison for life, serving time for watching two of his friends murder a black man. But his story doesn't end there: prison is only one of the many dark times in his life, and the place where he becomes indoctrinated in the white supremacist church. And the man who introduced him to this world was once the best friend of Afro-American teen Clarence Olgibee. How does such a friendship change so drastically?

Clarence Olgibee's timeline shifts back to 1954 and a world in which a white supremacy church rose to power, embraced the white man, and influenced the future of teen Clarence, who tries to escape his world's growing dangers. The fluid story brings the evolution of racial issues to life through the eyes of different protagonists who each find their lives altered by the choices available to them.

Kessler adds plenty of detail to his story above and beyond the focus on racial discord, always with an eye to probing the bigger picture and the origins of attitudes that ultimately entrap and limit individual options. A thirty-year legacy is covered, during which even minor characters find that their evolving perspectives are tied to a movement that becomes larger and more out of control than anything they could have imagined.

Though Clarence Olgibee is about the maelstrom that revolves around Olgibee's life, the real story (told through the experiences of a variety of protagonists) is one of how right and wrong decisions are made, for better or for worse. It's no easy task to juxtapose the lives and influences of a range of protagonists over a sweeping period of time; and there's no simple approach to following the evolutionary process of prejudice as it evolves from singular events to become a sweeping social movement.

This is accomplished through a constant inquiry process ("Do you have a choice?") which considers opportunities to quit, evolve, turn back, or move forward, creating a powerful reach that sifts through past, present, and future impacts with a clear eye to examining how choices are made and how changes evolve, whether personally or, on a broader scale, in society as a whole.

Readers seeking a novel exploring various facets of racism's interactions, ideals, and evolution will find Clarence Olgibee a precise, thought-provoking examination of lives and worlds in flux in America from the 1950s to modern times.

Rise of the Good Wolf
Kelly Pellatt
Good Wolf Publishing
9780994875808, $10.66 PB, $4.99 Kindle

Rise of the Good Wolf: Releasing our Self into our Truth is recommended for new age and self-help readers alike, and delves into the concept of the 'True Self' and how connections with this self are created. Because this involves a good degree of self-examination and techniques designed to dissolve common barriers to success, Rise of the Good Wolf is recommended reading for those who want to confront obstacles in their lives as they search for inner enlightenment and better understanding.

There's a common anticipation that such an approach could threaten the self (and others) by uncovering and revealing false truths. In fact, Rise of the Good Wolf points out that there's far more danger involved in not tackling and dealing with these illusions. Regrets and barriers to intimacy don't stem from exposing life stories so much as keeping them hidden.

The process of identifying (and then sharing) these fears, misguided choices, and poor decisions results in better bonds and a type of clarity that not only leads to inner truth, but stronger connections with the world. Rise of the Good Wolf teaches how to work through adversity to uncover one's own unique inner purpose, then explores how to best share these discoveries with others.

Many self-inspection books focus developing self-awareness; but the satisfying (and wider-ranging) approach presented in Rise of the Good Wolf embraces the notion of how to incorporate wisdom from others. Those who strive for such connections will readily understand one of the basic foundations of this title ("We choose which wolf to feed.").

Time is sacred. Choices throughout life center upon how to spend time well, and how to make relationships a priority over self-limiting insecurities. The 'how' piece often escapes readers who have studied personal transformation, but who lack the tools to enact specific changes. Those who partake of Rise of the Good Wolf 's closer examination of adversity, however, will find it holds many keys to nurturing the 'good wolf' within.

Self-help readers interested in honing the kinds of skills that cultivate inner love and then sharing discoveries to ultimately influence the world will find Rise of the Good Wolf presents a powerful approach for cultivating new self-awareness and contributing to the overall well-being of society as a whole.

The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd
Ian Kingsley Publishing
9781786106896, $14.95,

As most fiction writers know, characters don't typically spring from an author's pen to page as full-blown concepts: they evolve, like a sculpture from a piece of clay, as the story moves on. This wasn't the case, however, for author Ian Kingsley as he wrote The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd. His protagonist, Jen, 'built herself' and poured from his pen already developed as a strong and humorous lead character with whom the reader can readily empathize: one filled with zest and always ready to confront new situations. Kingsley's other characters are equally interesting and well-drawn, and the English country estate where the mystery is set sounds gorgeous. There is even a romantic angle.

From its first paragraph, The Grave Concerns draws readers in with a flash and a bang: "I plan to start with a murder. That should get me noticed. I'm after headlines and television news. Or, to put it more bluntly: fame. Maybe you think murder is too dangerous for a girl, but I'm dangerous as well. There are dangerous girls in the army; I'm a dangerous girl in civvy-street. Are you shocked? Well, hang on! You'll guess where I'm going with this when I tell you I was once a journalist and now I'm a television presenter. Actually, all I'm really talking about is crafting a dramatic expose of a murderer. So, you see, I'm quite a nice person, really."

Jen's job in freelance television involves creating lead stories, conducting interviews, and cultivating a nose for trouble. It's the latter that drives Jen into a dangerous situation, even though her job largely consists of developing wildlife and documentary pieces and educational works.

All this is about to change as she confronts something far more sinister. Her troubled past comes back to haunt her and she discovers that her talents and instincts may be no match for her adversaries: "I might not attack him, as Ami had predicted, but I could rise to a little scream in his ear. But that was not to be; he'd already headed for the door - he has a nose for trouble."

As Jen's secrets and lack of credentials are exposed, threatening everything she's built, she finds herself recreating a new life through alternate avenues that bring her into contact with different experiences and individuals: "Did I like the job I had created for myself? I didn't like the thought of making it rough for Digby, but some justice for Toma had to be achieved...

Can a TV reporter who has invented her career path solve murders that have baffled the police? What happens when she truly has to face down a murderer and confront her own ethics by possibly destroying a man's carefully-built facade of a life that he, too, has reinvented in a creative manner?

Murder mystery and thriller readers will relish The Grave Concerns of Jennifer Lloyd. The feisty and conflicted world of Jen and how she chooses to navigate her obstacles makes for a powerful, compelling read that's hard to put down.

Moon Talk
Wade Stevenson
BlazeVOX Books
9781609642488, $16.00,

Moon Talk provides just what its title promises: a chatty, short treatise about the moon - but readers anticipating a scientific discussion might be surprised to discover it offers something different, using a poem/lullaby to explore a poet's wistful observations of lunar moods and his efforts to describe and capture the moon's elusive, enchanting nature.

As free verse juxtaposes science with emotional connections in over fifty pages of lyrical examination, it becomes evident that an appreciation for Moon Talk should, ideally, come from fans of literature as well as science; because the presentation incorporates both.

In choosing such an approach, Moon Talk takes the risk of being 'neither fish nor fowl': poets looking for free verse structure alone may feel stymied when, after fifty pages, the poem is complimented by a section of analysis, while those anticipating a scientific discussion of moon facts will find the long poem format a pleasant surprise; especially if they hold a prior affinity for verse.

But the beauty of this kind of multi-faceted creation is that the 'moon poem' becomes something more than lovely imagery. After creating his story, Stevenson surveys the poetry techniques used to describe the moon, from why hyphenation is a good choice at one point to how different verbs alter the meaning and perception of their subject ("what is clear is that the moon, recognizing the poet for who he is (a poet, capable of being receptive to the moon) has a powerful desire to pull the poet into the mystery of its own being.").

As Stevenson's discussion moves beyond poetic structure to examine the tools of language and the poet's choices in using these devices, so Moon Talk takes an evolutionary path as it examines how meaning is imparted through the poem's style. Teachers of poetry and English should consider Moon Talk's inclusion in any classroom discussion about verse because, more so than most, it uses an accessible and universally appealing topic (the moon) to demonstrate how these choices are made:

"The poet's tools are his words. Some philosophers believe that words, the ability to conceptualize what we feel into language, are what separate us from animals. Certainly some animals, such as dolphins, are said to have a language of their own and to be able to communicate through sounds. But to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, no animal has the ability to talk about the moon in the same way that our poet does."

Concluding with snippets from other literary observations of the moon, Moon Talk quite simply provides a powerful example of form, usage, poetic license, and interactions between poet/writer and audience. By taking one (long) poem and deconstructing it line by line, Moon Talk achieves what few other literary studies provide: a thorough, in-depth consideration of the poet's toolbox.

Anyone studying the art and craft of poetry in general and free verse in particular would do well to start here. Moon Talk is especially recommended for poets, students, and classrooms studying creative writing and the evolution of meaningful free verse.

Adventures from the Ghetto to the Mainstream
William Lord
Adventures from the Ghetto, Publisher
9780996663601, $16.95

Imagine being born in the ghettos of Harlem, where gang life and struggle is a part of daily life. Imagine holding greater ambitions than one's surroundings. Then imagine defying these early influences and their familiar paths in favor of something not just greater, but something completely beyond anything well-known.

Adventures from the Ghetto to the Mainstream: Living on the Cutting Edge of the Civil and Human Rights Movement is autobiography at its best and charts the course of this process as author William Lord strives for knowledge and greater goals than his surroundings can offer.

In the process of extending his reach into unfamiliar waters, Lord encounters incongruities and cultural and social prejudices from a wide range of sources and moves from ghetto life to marriage and a growing involvement in civil rights issues. His journey traces an epidemic of obstacles against people of color in this country and his process of confronting these barriers to achievement (both personally and then politically), depicting the efforts of a man who overcomes challenges using diverse approaches at different times in his life.

It's important to note the time frame of this exploration: Lord was born in the 1930s in the Great Depression and grew up in a family of five children. Fortunate enough to experience love and support from within and outside the family (even from a female friend of the family whose husband was an abusive racist), Lord moves through poverty a bit more privileged than some of his peers. He comes to observe the nature and effects of racism on more than one level in his home and community, and personally confronts racism in the South and the horrors of lynching and segregation.

One important feature to note in Adventures from the Ghetto to the Mainstream is that this is a progressive journey. As the author grows, assimilates his surroundings, reflects its messages, and chooses those he will accept or reject, readers are brought along for a ride through not just racial issues in America from the Depression years forward, but one man's growing determination not to give in to repressive forces: "No one was doing anything illegal that might warrant police presence. It was just another attempt to intimidate me, put me in my place, and make me vulnerable for extortion. Unfortunately, they selected the wrong guy to try to make a victim."

As he makes a name for himself in academia and business worlds, he never forgets his roots and makes candid observations about many of the real sources of violence in the black community: "As I was having pleasure enjoying my family's activities, I became accustomed to anticipating the next tragedy. In most cases, these tragedies were perpetrated by the people we pay to serve and protect the citizenry - the police. To quote Dr. Cornel West of Princeton University, "You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people."

As the "epidemic of injustices" continues to blossom, his voice of reason joins others in documenting these circumstances and the rise of civil rights activism. Thus autobiography swells from personal saga to a social and political journey, carrying readers with the strength of Lord's life and convictions to see how racism may be tackled even from the ghetto, and how many of its greatest challenges have paved positive paths for future generations: "I hope the reader can see that adventures from the ghetto to the mainstream, including poverty, joy, sadness, tragedy, progress, and accomplishment, can be achieved if you persist in doing what you believe."

Readers seeking a personal approach to the effects of racism and how individuals combat it will find much to relish in Adventures from the Ghetto to the Mainstream.

Tangents Between God
Regan Vasconcellos
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
ASIN: B019CWA3L2 $3.99

Themes of God and suicide, despair and hope, unexpected humor, and thought-provoking philosophy run through Tangents Between God, which is as much a dialogue between reader and author as it is about the author and his life. But if a typical autobiographical reflection is anticipated, be advised that Tangents Between God holds much more than the usual life story.

Its chapters probe the heart of angst, self-examination, a life lived with vigor and variety, and the uncertain reflections of one who might seem to 'have it all', but who actually searches for more meaning than a lightly lived life of leisure would entail.

Here lies the heart of existential angst: in revealing and appreciating the juxtaposition of pain and pleasure and the intersection where both meet, Tangents Between God provides insights using surrealistic and sensual reflections. Some might call them 'rants' - and perhaps they'd be correct. Others would deem these writings both introspective and analytical and this, too, is one of the collection's strengths.

Many times the author boards planes and takes journeys to escape the past and what is familiar, bringing readers along on a globe-trotting series of escapades that are, in turn, frightening, funny, dangerous, and daring.

Passages describing this progress are exquisitely sharp and sometimes painful, like touching a fine shard of glass: "The army took care of me because we suited each other in that fine madness." The more particular English teacher might say that descriptions tend to be lengthy and cross over the line of run-on sentences at times; but here, in this place that is Tangents Between God, they serve as dialogues to link images, impressions, and movements between relationships with institutions, women, and self.

Perhaps the author himself says it best when explaining, at one point, that he cannot provide a vicarious experience for the reader just by exploring the apexes and low points of his life: "Life to be enjoyed has to be lived with the right perspective, and in order to get that perspective we just have to live it and hopefully the perspective will come along the way. No man can climb a mountain vicariously for another."

If the heart of autobiography lies in that vicarious experience, then be advised: Tangents Between God may utilize some of the trappings of autobiography (personal experience, life encounters) as its foundation, but it's more of a road map, touching upon points that brought meaning and purpose to Vasconcellos's own life journey.

At once wrenching and revealing, Tangents Between God is not for the leisure reader and not for those who would read about a linear life, but for those who look for written words that sparkle and shine in their examination of self, society, and the meaning (or its absence) of life. Add surreal descriptions and sometimes-exotic locales and you have a series of encounters that juxtapose experience with insight in a dramatic, absorbing manner recommended for any with an interest in vivid literary and philosophical self-inspection.

The Aviator's Last Words
Oliver Ezra Hatley
Welcome Tree Press
9780997022902 (ebook) $3.99
Available at and

The Aviator's Last Words, the first book in the Adventures of Beatrice the Little Green Girl, a multicultural series, opens not with a bang but with the swell of the sea and a group of friends who observe that, someday, the fierce waves that surround their island home in the South Pacific might destroy it. With climate change Tuvalu is one of the "canaries in the coal mine." Its people struggle daily with forces that would have them abandon their island home. Hopefully, before that time, they will find the legendary treasure the island is supposed to hold, and Beatrice will solve the mysteries in her own life.

Flooding always follows a cyclone on Tuvalu's islands and Beatrice has experienced weather threats all her young life; but even as it brings destruction (which the islanders are used to), it also brings the children hope that the changing seas and shores will uncover an artifact from an American pilot who once lived on the island when Tuvaluans had to temporarily vacate their home during World War II.

Tuvalu's culture and setting come alive as Beatrice explores her island and its mysteries, from banana plantations, TeNamo lagoon and coconut palms to meals of flying fish and a potatolike vegetable called a pulaka. From interactions between island family and friends to a long journey to America, Beatrice finds her world expands when new information is revealed about a treasure she's unearthed in a puddle.

Her research and investigative process is compelling and young readers will avidly follow how she uncovers clues about her find and makes some startling connections far from home.

Can ancient peoples - and ghosts - come to life? Can Beatrice uncover the clues that solve her peculiar and unsettling mystery? A delightful saga blends a girl's journey with her attempts to discover a strange and wonderful truth, creating a story filled with quirky encounters that take her far from the simplicity of her island roots.

Advanced elementary to middle school readers will find The Aviator's Last Words holds all the elements of a satisfying mystery, set against the backdrop of climate change and personal challenges.

The Malevolent Twin
Mary Sage Nguyen
Mary Sage Nguyen, Publisher
Paperback ISBN: 9780996256100, $4.99
Ebook ISBN: 9780996256124, $0.99
ASIN: B00W0IV964,

Avery Tran is a normal teenage girl, with a difference: she has kept her imaginary friend from childhood, Venice . But when the two begin to fight, Avery comes to suspect that her imaginary friend is something more deadly. When she engages the services of an exorcist and a psychic, she is forced to realize that her 'evil twin' is a force that is capable of using Avery's body to exact revenge.

Clues to the real origins of Avery's problems are revealed in the prologue to The Malevolent Twin; but the heart of the story lies in how Avery chooses to deal with something so close to her, and with issues of control and tragedy.

As nightmares turn into gruesome reality (it should be mentioned that graphic violence is part of the plot), Avery struggles with a force that increasingly takes over her body and mind and forces her to do terrible things. Can she guide the growing tide of violence into an arena of justice and good? And why does Venice insist that Avery be her friend?

Bad dreams, suppressed memories, seeming proof that Venice is not a demon but something more ... as Avery probes deeper, she uncovers some horrifying truths about her past, Venice's world, and the dangers that threaten everything and everyone around her.

While The Malevolent Twin might seem directed to a teen audience, it's the mature reader capable of absorbing a horror story laced with violence who will best appreciate the mystery and danger in a plot surrounding a teen who faces an unusual threat.

As events wind towards a terrible conclusion, the truth about twins good and evil begins to emerge through not just Avery's experiences, but those of other twins. Readers who believe they know where the story is heading will be intrigued and delighted by a changing story line that holds many surprises.

Events leave the door open for a sequel, but offer a satisfying conclusion to the immediate problem using a dramatic twist that mature teen to adult horror readers will find absorbing and surprising.

What She Knew
Nadine Galinsky Feldman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781514879221, $11.99 (paperback), $2.99 (ebook)

Liz is a successful Wall Street broker with a perfect life: a fast-paced but glamorous job, a fine boyfriend, and an upper Manhattan lifestyle. All this is threatened by the financial crisis of 2008-2009, during which her boss demands a level of impossible performance to beat the stock market.

And so Liz becomes involved in dubious financial affairs that explode when illegal schemes and her role in them are exposed. Add a family crisis on the opposite coast which pulls her in two directions and Liz's carefully-built life comes crashing down, along with Wall Street.

Plenty of stories have revolved around Wall Street challenges and loss, but the difference in What She Knew lies in an approach that creates a strong, successful female protagonist and tests her abilities and power with a series of life-changing events.

Faced with the challenge of turning her back on her family versus her career, Liz chafes at the demands her family brings as she teeters on the cusp of business disaster, and feels her choices are clear. Or, are they? As Liz ponders her future, the aunt who raised her, and the lifestyle she's fought for and achieved, she faces her own midlife crisis in re-identifying what is important in her life and what it has cost her to survive. Liz's discoveries about her aunt create new family bonds even as she admits that not knowing everything holds its own equally-powerful connections. Has her drive to succeed become a flight from everything she's truly loved in life?

It's time to confront the truth, once and for all, and Liz's journey to achieve this knowledge intersects neatly with the new challenges to everything she's worked for in this gripping, thought-provoking read about business, family, and love.

Readers who enjoy stories of powerful women who continue to evolve in their lives, work and psyche will relish the many questions raised in What She Knew, which will lend to especially strong book talk points for book clubs as well as food for thought for readers of women's fiction.

Hard-Boiled Anxiety
Karen Huston Karydes
Secant Publishing
P.O. Box 79, Salisbury, MD 21803
9780990938064, $24.95,

Hard-Boiled Anxiety: The Freudian Desires of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, and Their Detectives is especially recommended for fans of detective fiction who appreciate psychological analysis. Three selected classic noir novelists and their characters are surveyed, using Freudian analysis to examine how the particular perspectives and struggles of each author translated into different fictional detective story approaches.

It's important to note that Hard-Boiled Anxiety is no light discussion, providing an in-depth analysis of not just the mental conditions of these genre writers, but how these states of mind translated to their creation of remarkable fictional protagonists. Re-reading their works from this different perspective involves a close inspection of not only each author's writings, but consideration of their life experiences and psyches, requiring both critical skills and an appreciation for history and psychology. Readers with more than a casual familiarity with the noir detective format will thus find Hard-Boiled Anxiety the perfect approach to better understanding these connections.

From alcoholism to unresolved family struggles, each of these writers utilized their characters and detective plots in different ways to express and explore their fractured families, sexual orientations, anger, and beliefs, ultimately producing noir works that were to define a genre with their blend of problem-solving and gumshoe sleuthing.

Readers of noir detective fiction (especially college-level readers analyzing the genre) will find Hard-Boiled Anxiety a key to better understanding not just the choices involved in the literary approaches of these three top detective writers, but the underlying psychology affecting the genre as a whole. All this makes Hard-Boiled Anxiety highly recommended as a thought-provoking analytical accompaniment that should be required reading for any serious study of noir detective fiction.

Paradise Hacked
Alex Siegel
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B019SJS000, $2.99

Paradise Hacked is Book Two of the 'First Circle Club' series, but prior familiarity with the first book is not a requirement in order to appreciate this supernatural detective story which involves investigators from a First Circle Club (with members from Heaven and Hell) in a real puzzle involving the strangely rearranged body of a murder victim.

Detective Thomas Haymaker of the Chicago Police Department barely has a chance to ascertain that his victim was somehow roasted before federal forces move in and extract the body, claiming jurisdiction on the Detective's own turf.

But there's more going on than military conspiracies and a high-tech accident, and Haymaker isn't actually at the helm of the investigation: the Club is. What they will uncover is a mystery that seems impossible to solve, even for their special abilities.

When Virgil and his team probe further, they encounter professional criminals, struggle to maintain the appearance of normalcy despite the hellfire trapped in their demonic flesh (which doesn't require eating or even breathing), and probe government agents, dangerous research goals, and mysteries that could challenge Heaven itself.

Was the murder victim involved in a secret plan to sneak into Heaven? What happens when a ride to visit Heaven goes awry? Virgil is about to find out, and his discoveries confront angels, demons, unholy alliances, and God's own purposes.

The juxtaposition of detectives from heaven and hell, special forces activities on Earth, and a world filled with intrigue will especially delight detective story enthusiasts seeking something different in their mystery reading. There's nothing quite like a marriage between Heaven, Hell and Earth to present extraordinary situations; and having these disparate interests join forces to solve a mystery that somehow eludes even supernatural abilities results in an involving, gripping read.

Transformed: San Francisco
Suzanne Falter & Jack Harvey
New Heights Publishing
9780996998109, $12.99 PB, $0.99 Kindle

It quickly becomes evident that Book One of the 'Charley and Electra' series is anything but a typical thriller, because its characters are quirky, different, and steeped in San Francisco culture and characters.

Take CIA informant Charley McElroy, for example. He's no ordinary spy, but is a female-to-male transsexual who is unemployed because of tax evasion. His partner Electra (nee Pamela Delacroix), a Manhattan socialite who is now a dominatrix, has just arrived in San Francisco and has already been labeled as a 'Society Dom'. She also is seeks new beginnings - and is not doing a good job with her restart. Their chance meeting at a social gathering throws them together when they stumble upon a plot to attack San Francisco's counterculture. Joined by a lesbian police officer, the trio is placed in danger.

That's just the beginning of events that unfold in Transformed: San Francisco, however, because a big part of its delight lies not just in an unusual cast of characters with very different perspectives and special interests, but in a story line that is thoroughly steeped in the modern culture of San Francisco, from its coffee shops and street bicyclists to its ethnic neighborhoods.

As with any superior read, the characters are icing on a bigger 'cake' consisting of wonderfully-written plots and subplots, enhancing a story line filled with satisfying, unexpected twists and turns laced with the culture and atmosphere of San Francisco. There is no linear path of logical events, and that keeps readers on their toes in throughout this gripping thriller.

This reviewer is a City native, and observes that San Francisco's cultural nuances could not have been better captured. From a dangerous fundamentalist movement with plots and plans to individuals who each face their own very different struggles, Transformed: San Francisco is engrossing, intriguing, and embraces not only different lifestyles, but different classes and their choices: "For a moment, Electra thought about fleeing. She could, of course, just slip away and disappear. She could go to L.A. or the Bahamas or somewhere in Europe. She didn't have to be a dominatrix. Maybe no one would even know her in the Bahamas. But then what would she do? Sit around all day in sunfilled gardens, sipping Chardonnay, reading, and browsing catalogs like any other woman of her class?"

Detective and thriller readers seeking something edgy, compelling, and vividly realistic, incorporating an authentic San Francisco cultural milieu, will find Transformed: San Francisco fits the bill for an engrossing read that incorporates many thought-provoking insights into transgendered experiences and the surprises in relationships that are anything but predictable.

Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo
Michael Pronko
Raked Gravel Press
9781942410089, Kindle: $3.99
9781942410119, Paper: $10.99

Michael Pronko's short stories about Japan's culture and oddities are the next best thing to a visit, but don't expect a travelogue, here. The pleasure of Motions and Moments (as in his other writings) lies not in the usual 'things to go/places to see/I was there' approach, but in an attention to cultural dichotomies and a depth of detail that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Take the opening, for example, with begins with a note about its glossary. One might be surprised that information explaining the glossary's importance prefaces the collection, but in fact this is key to enjoying the work, and shouldn't be skipped over lightly, because: "All Japanese words that work better in Japanese have been given in italicized Roman alphabet form, called romaji. The reader can flip back to the glossary to find those, or read on and experience the confusion of being in Tokyo. Check the back for the fun words, the crucial ones and sometimes the strange."

Tokyo living doesn't just involve a light dose of inconsistency. It embraces it. Pronko outlines this right away, letting readers know that they should be prepared for a production less linear and predictable than the usual treatise on Japanese culture: "True to Tokyo's inconsistency, I sometimes use some English, like "cell phone," in the essay on cell phones. But at other times, I put in keitai, short for keitai denwa, which means cell phone. English speaking friends and I rarely use the English word because that little object is so central to Tokyo life. A little inconsistency never hurt anyone, I figure, and anyway, Tokyoites switch terms whenever they feel like it, dropping a little English in here, taking it out there. Inconsistency is part of life here - or maybe its only consistency."

This collection is in keeping with Pronko's other exquisite essays about Japan, so prior fans will be thrilled, while newcomers need have no previous familiarity in order to see how he captures the subtler nuances of Japanese living with crystal clarity.

From Tokyo's own peculiar brand of cell phone addiction and how it differs from other countries to the bigger picture connecting Tokyoite decisions with how the rest of the world functions, insights are thought-provoking reflections of the particular choices this modern world makes, and their impact: "But if you see a teensy photo of a bowl of ramen before you eat it, will it taste any better? There is only so much information a screen can deliver. Tokyo screen size means urban experiences become pre-planned. Checking online beforehand deflates all sense of surprise. Tokyoites start to divide between the virtual planners with expectations cooked up online and the adventurers who plunge into the unplanned and take the consequences."

From the city's unusual undercurrents of silence compared with the din of other urban cities in Asia ("Tokyo life goes on largely unspoken. I could get by just fine for weeks and weeks without saying much of anything to anyone. Shopping, eating, entertainment, almost everything can be accomplished without once uttering a single word, as if the entire city is set up for monks.") to symphonies of sound, taste, and a marathon feel in which life seems to move faster and faster, nobody captures the feel of Tokyo quite like Pronko.

His writings aren't just designed to 'show and tell', but to dissect the psyche and heartbeat of a city to pinpoint its unique culture, from business rituals and formalities to intersections where Tokyoites relax.

Anyone with an interest in Japanese culture in general and Tokyo in particular must acquire Motions and Moments. More so than almost any other treatment, it captures the nuances Westerners find puzzling about Japan and translates them into digestible, vivid insights no visitor should be without.

Alien Mysteries: The Earthling
Robert Kriete
Robert Kriete, Publisher
9780997034707, $13.00

A man goes missing in the desert for nearly a week. Just when all is presumed lost, he turns up none the worse for wear and is even healthy and hardy. What has happened to Dr. Maxwell Fairmont? It's an extraordinary experience that defies all his scientific training and which will change and challenge his life.

Alien Mysteries: The Earthling is a different kind of alien abduction story; in part because its main protagonist is an engineer whose training directly conflicts with his experiences. More so than most alien encounter sagas, the story line injects a healthy degree of science into its fictional coverage, so readers delighted by the presence of "hard science" in their novels and sci-fi adventures will relish these devices in Alien Mysteries: The Earthling, recognizing that this is part of what sets Kriete's story apart from similar-sounding plots.

What is the real source of miracles, and when does alien intervention make sense? As the story unfolds, scientific details back fantastic concepts to create many thought-provoking moments: "Is that what happened to people claiming to have had cancer or another incurable disease that disappeared out of the blue, Doc? All verified by doctors? They said that it must have been a miracle. Were you or some of your colleagues responsible?" "What do you think, Max?" As when Max first met him, Doc had a twinkle in his huge eyes that hinted at his amusement, since the aliens didn't have the muscles in their faces to smile or laugh. Max then knew the answer."

Audiences interested in hard science tend to not be the same readers as those who enjoy alien abduction stories. Perhaps this is because the latter genre tends to be adventure-oriented and too often eschews science in favor of the psychological drama surrounding extraterrestrial scenarios.

But Alien Mysteries: The Earthling is not your typical alien encounter read, and thus it will draw neatly from more scientific circles while keeping the thriller/adventure leisure reader thoroughly engaged. As Max's story takes unexpected turns and results in escape and unusual alien alliances, readers surge along for a wild ride through time and the fabric of space itself.

While those anticipating a lighter treatment might chafe at the scientific passages, a wider audience will find that its depth and detail adds satisfying complexity to the story, making Alien Mysteries: The Earthling a recommendation not just for fans of alien abduction sagas, but for any who would appreciate the unique blend of science and thriller that Robert Kriete cultivates.

More Collected Couteau: Essays and Interviews
Rob Couteau
Dominantstar Publishing
9780996688819, $24.95,

The 'Renaissance Man' is a multi-faceted individual whose fingers are in just about every pie you could imagine, fostering a variety of abilities and mastering many quite well. His expertise is wide-ranging and there's seemingly no limit to his subject, as is demonstrated in More Collected Couteau: Essays and Interviews, which gathers Couteau's insights and encounters with a diverse range of individuals.

More Collected Couteau is divided neatly into two segments. The first section of essays probes the anniversary of the publication of Tropic of Cancer, the pain and anguish of writer Hubert Selby, and the lasting impact of countercultural icon Jack Kerouac with equal aplomb and vivid imagery.

It doesn't matter if you haven't heard of his subject before, either: take Hubert Selby, for example. Couteau's analysis is striking and revealing: "... the reader is a victim of the greatest and most inhuman assault of all. No matter how monstrous or horrific his depictions of abject brutality are, Selby always ups the ante and makes them worse, pushing the limits until, by the end of the tale, he manages to rape our imagination once again, to puncture yet another hole in our innocence."

The joy of reading Couteau's works lies as much in his penetrating, crystalline language as it does in the works or figures being examined, and so readers receive a wide-ranging treat that examines victims, vengeance, mortality and immortality through an inspection process that educates even those unfamiliar with the subject: "Selby once said: "There is no light in my stories, so the reader is forced to turn to his own inner light" to make it through this journey. I now realize this is only partially true. The great beacon in his demonic oeuvre is that of the artfully crafted line and the immense vision of wholeness and transcendence that lurks behind it. Selby's empathy is there, omnipresent, even while recording the darkest hues of black. The utmost depravity is portrayed with the noblest verse."

After proving his prowess at the essay form, he turns to the heart of the collection: its interviews. These range from discussions with Albert Hoffman (activist and the discoverer of LSD) to interviews with literary figures such as historian and cultural commentator Robert Roper or poet Christopher Sawyer-Laucanno.

One of the pleasures in this collection is that readers needn't have prior familiarity with the writers' works. Couteau provides that familiarity by the structure of his interview questions, which probe the foundation beliefs of each figure: "The first time I read your wonderful biography, I was struck by how supportive Cummings's father was. After all, he even paid Estlin to write The Enormous Room. And I was very thrown off by that. I always thought that artists are supposed to have a contentious relationship with their fathers!"

From the possibility that Nabokov suffered unconscious doubts about his own value that led him to insist that the world acknowledge him as a genius to the underlying patriotism of counterculture icons who were commonly seen as rebels ("Ginsberg continually affirmed that, essentially, Jack had always been a sort of patriotic American," says Sawyer-Laucanno. "This had never not been part of who he was. It was patriotic to get into an automobile made in Detroit and drive across the country ..."), both essays and interviews are designed to make readers think about underlying psychology, social perceptions, and cultural change.

Readers seeking not just a literary presentation but a lively analysis of selected wordsmiths and their lives and influences must add More Collected Couteau to their reading lists. It's a powerful presentation that offers much insight and food for thought, and which should find its way into many a college classroom as well.

Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu
Alexander Marmer
Partridge Singapore
Softcover: 9781482854978, $21.56
Hardcover: 9781482854985, $39.57
eBook: 9781482855050, $ 3.99

Michael Doyle is about to tackle the greatest mystery of modern times: the Great Pyramid at Giza. Many have sought to uncover its mysteries, and all have failed; but Michael's journey to Egypt to view the pyramids takes an unexpected turn that's about to send him on a path no other explorer has followed before.

The known facts about the Great Pyramid of Giza are delicately woven into a thriller that weaves romance and intrigue into its historical mystery. An opening explanation of three known facts about the pyramid, Pharaoh Cheops, and the Medjay (desert tribesmen turned professional warriors) set the stage for events to follow and clarify facts from fiction.

How can an under-thirty-year-old software engineer with no previous archaeological or historical experience in Egypt accomplish what no other before him has achieved? As events move back and forth between a Medjay assassin who will stop at nothing to solve an ancient mystery and a man about to enjoy a long-awaited Egyptian vacation, there's intrigue at every step and mystery woven into history from the first page onward.

As a cast of characters from different countries and with different interests come on board, the novel rides smoothly through the roller-coaster ups and downs of danger and confrontations at nearly every turn. Alexander Marmer is a master at building suspense and taking seemingly-obvious paths and giving them quick twists so that they lead to entirely unexpected directions.

It would have been all too easy to have a confusing story line given the expanding characters, special interests and events, but Marmer cultivates an exquisite ability to create a realistic, historically accurate mystery that creates much intrigue with no confusion. What skills could a software engineer bring to the table of an ancient mystery that has confounded historians and archaeologists for millennia? That's just one of the many delightful questions in Four Ways to Pharaoh Khufu, which is anything but predictable.

This powerful read will delight fans of historical mysteries and Egyptian settings; especially those who have absorbed enough of the latter to believe there're few approaches left to surprise them. Look again!

Raised By Wolves
CJ Rogers
9781610056199, $16.95

Not many people can say they literally lived among wolves: there're a relative handful of people in the world who can claim such a feat. But for author CJ Rogers, wolves embraced her as part of their pack and gave her a sense of identity, belonging, and love, and so since 1992 her life has revolved around her wolf brethren.

Raised By Wolves isn't a saga of a childhood spent in the forest with wild animals, as one might initially expect from the title. Nor is it about studying wolf behavior from afar, as most scientific approaches would offer. The author decided that in order to truly understand wolves, one has to spend a great deal of time with them, and so she embarked on a venture deemed difficult (if not impossible) by many.

In 1992 wolves largely resided in remote areas, and living with wolves in the wild was problematic at best. In order for her to achieve her goals, the wolves would have to come to her habitat - and so they did. Because they could not adapt to her human life, she entered their world - and Raised By Wolves explores this process with an unusual focus on "captive" wolves given the choice to remain with her or return to the wild at any given moment.

This first-person exploration adopts a day-by-day approach in showing how wolf/human interactions take place and what can be learned from them. Rogers' communication with the wolves is uncanny at times. Her interpretations of their language are based on observation and close interactions and offer much insight on wolf packs.

All this is narrated in a lyrical blend of human and wolf perceptions: "Wolves are inseparable from the forces and features of nature. Wolves normally mate for life, remain dedicated to their children and families, and firmly respect the etiquette and order of their society. This society is designed to reflect and obey nature's wisdom, living in accordance with the delicate predator-prey balance, the

population control that nature needs. The wolves honor nature in other ways too. Wolves interact with their world in a way that expresses curiosity without exploitation, inventiveness without interference, and anyone who has ever known or really watched wolves knows these animals are perhaps the most gleeful creatures on earth."

If at times it seems that Rogers is "putting human words in wolves' mouths", it's only part of the process of interpreting their world. At other times her interactions offer insights on values systems and provides a philosophical focus: "I did my best to communicate to the wolves that if they killed something I expected them to eat it - we didn't want a death to go to waste."

Ultimately, Raised By Wolves goes where few other wolf studies attempt in examining a bonding relationship between wild creature and human that goes beyond dispassionate observation and research. Readers with a special interest in the spiritual, environmental, and psychological world of wolves will find it a special blend of autobiography and natural history, examining the psyches, myths, and miracles that surround the wolf and his encounters with humans.

Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill: A Memoir
Garfield "Garry" Whyte
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781514628928, $27.00 Paperback, $3.99 Kindle

Nostalgia from: A City Set Upon a Hill: A Memoir is centered around one of the oldest all-boys boarding schools in Jamaica, established in 1856 and the author's high school for seven years. But this boarding school story transcends autobiography and even school memoir to offer a nostalgia piece especially inviting to anyone who knows Jamaica or boarding schools well, and is filled with accounts of what it meant to spend seven years in the Munro College high school environment.

Color photos of the school grounds accompany the author's memories of the school's appearance, teachers, its place in the city, and its inviting environment.

From how the school's relative isolation fostered a community spirit that led to unique educational opportunities and interactions to how boys from many different backgrounds came to engage one another and learn, descriptions are especially powerful when they reveal the roots of this process: "There was no computer room or computer lab, like what exists in high schools today, but we had something much better: Bull Sessions. Who said boys don't gossip? These bull sessions were the most interesting idle-talk sessions I ever knew. They were always fun. Amusement 101. Amusement guaranteed. Just think about what topics were up for discussion. Anything and everything that the minds of idle boys could conceive of were chatted and laughed about. One of the most interesting features of these bull sessions was that many times, the same topics were discussed repeatedly, but from different perspectives, the reason being that many times, there just weren't enough newsbreak items up for discussion. What I admired about bull sessions was that no special invitation was required; it was impromptu in its purest form."

One might not expected footnoted references from a memoir, but Garfield Whyte's choice of this scholarly approach adds information to the discussion without interrupting its progression. The footnotes explain terminology, slang, and cultural references at the end of the book while readers are able to enjoy a dialogue that flows smoothly.

From the lifelong friendships that evolved from the school's special environment to field trips, pranks, hierarchies of culture and boarding school teachers and life, this light read comes steeped in the flavor and culture of a childhood in Jamaica and will attract a wide audience, from those interested in the island's life to readers who enjoy school days stories, this is a lively and personal examination of a special school and a special era which comes alive with Whyte's observations.

Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall
Aaron Safronoff
Neoglyphic Entertainment
307 Orchard City Drive, Suite 206, Campbell, California 95008
9781944606008, $12.99,

In a world covered by oceans, with forests that float atop them, blight is a world-changing event that could extinguish life from the entire planet. Into such a world the headstrong Barra is born, but only her late father's journal gives any indication that the world so familiar to her now is not the same lush, light-infused world her father once knew.

Barra's urge to know more about her father is overwhelming and leads her into forbidden territory, and the more she knows, the clearer her quest and purpose become. It's a search that cannot be done alone and so, much in the manner of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, three friends join together to embark on an unexpected journey of both self-discovery and greater, world-changing possibilities.

Gorgeous full-page color drawings capture this fantasy world, from the clawed and tailed characters who inhabit Cerulean and who reside in living boughs of wood to a young Listlespur's attempt to know more of her heritage and its meaning. These gorgeous color drawings are supplemented by smaller black and white images peppered throughout and lend Sunborn Rising a powerful visual impact that compliments both specific scenes and the overall feel of the world and inhabitants of Cerulean, which are just as powerfully wrapped in compelling written imagery: "The world's slow inhale after the buckle, the expansion of the Cerulean Ocean, was already beginning. Steadily, the trees were moving apart. By morning the Loft would be open again, and the Arboreals would wake up from their dreams to begin another dimly lit day."

All the trappings are here for a fully satisfying middle- to high-school leisure fantasy read, but it would be a shame to limit Sunborn Rising to teens alone. Many an adult will find Barra's tasks and growth equally compelling, and will discover the young protagonists are well-developed, appealing, and purposeful as they confront dangers and more closely examine a situation that holds high potential for disaster.

Sunborn Rising is thus a top read for any who enjoy stories driven by the discoveries, determination and achievements of young protagonists who reach out from their safe worlds to question, examine, and ultimately draw closer to what they truly love and value.

Chadi B. Ghaith
9781610057035, $14.95

What if the historical figure of Adam has not been properly acknowledged as the powerful incarnation of faith that it represents? What if the 'here and now', rather than an afterlife or a bid for heaven, is what life's all about? Take these concepts and weave them into a compelling story of one man's unique and shining example in an egotistical human world to uncover some of the nuggets of wisdom contained in the powerful saga Mimadamos.

A "spiritual but not religious" focus would reflect the ideal reader able to appreciate the shining examples in Mimadamos ("Spirit and matter are not enemies, as the religious and the scientific traditions would like you to believe. Matter is spirit solidified to let you dream yourself real, and spirit is matter liquefied to save you from the reel of your own dream! They are married for all eternity. That marriage was made flesh in the first man, Adam."). The story that ultimately embraces the idea of living a joyful and effective life on Earth rather than tailoring it for a type of holiness that reaches beyond Adam and well into the unknowable.

Chadi B. Ghaith's warning is clear from the start: "...don't exhaust your definite now for an indefinite tomorrow." With this in mind, readers embark on a spiritual roller coaster that examines the basic tenants of belief, destiny, fate, and the meaning of life itself: "What had to happen had to play out. It could not be hurried or slowed. There was a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. The mind could travel distances into the past and future, but something about the present seemed to force its machinations no matter what."

Mimadamos is a quest involving self-examination and thus it holds much spiritual and philosophical reflection that provides its readers with more food for thought than the usual fictional quest offers.

The characters are Destiny, Fate, and others. The setting embraces the vast Lands of Sophistication, and in this fantastic world, Mimadamos is a girlhood abode surrounded by the Forget Lands where Destiny grew up.

From blind chiefs drunk on ignorance and arrogance to young Choice's decision to leave Mimadamos and a father strong enough to let his family go, the separation mysterious and secretive, a host of characters come together to pose questions that readers will find intriguing even as they reflect the confusion Choice faces in the world.

Legends and history, the origins of fate and purpose, and disturbances in space and time all weave very different versions of religion, myth, and Biblical events.

A prior appreciation for and basic knowledge of Gnostic faith would lend to an appreciation of Mimadamos, but it's not a requirement. Many a newcomer to Gnostic beliefs will find this fictional story compelling, driven by metaphor and lovely poetic imagery throughout.

The Rival
Benjamin von Seeger
BVS Publishing
9781401780817, $14.95

Readers interested in global business concepts will want to read The Rival: Play the Game, Own the Hustle, Power in Competition, Longevity in Collaboration. It's a business book with a basic message: that small-time entrepreneurs can play on the same field as the 'big boys', especially if they understand the nature of global competition and its rules.

In probing the nature and outcome of global business success, The Rival holds additional and unexpected benefits by presenting a game plan than can apply equally well to personal life.

Take the approach of making business personal, for example. The Rival's chapter on approaches that meld business with personal relationships is based on the author's successful techniques and shows how he repeatedly crafted opportunities and settings that made strong impressions and opened doors. This process involves not a light degree of psychological as well as business savvy: there's a fine line between intimidation and aggression, for example. Knowing this definition (and when to wield the proper amount of force tempered with respect) is one of the many keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

As chapters wind through the mechanics of everything from business relationships and their care and feeding to knowing one's product and competition, they provide a set of powerful, personal connections between business environments and how to inject a compelling personality and creativity into the mix.

The result is a primer that doesn't just outline strategy, but reaches to the heart of why a particular strategy is a good or a bad idea. In this, The Rival succeeds where other business books fail.

By outlining a mix of common sense and 'insider' business savvy and cementing the entire process with personal experience, The Rival holds the potential to reach beyond its intended business readers with successful methods of handling life. Psychology and business students alike will find The Rival direct, lively, and packed with concrete information.

The Power Flux
Ben Scott Craig
c/o CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781522795711, eBook: $0.99, Print: $11.69

Alex Shepherd is out to change the world ... only the process of such a vast change will certainly begin with the crumbling of established civilization. Thus begins the dystopian story The Power Flux, which doesn't hold an EMT pulse as the instigator of change (as its title and so many competitors pose), but poses a new solar power source that could bring prosperity to not a select few, but everyone.

Free, unlimited power does not come without its price, though: particularly for those who have a vested interest in profiting from old models of keeping power resources firmly in the hands but of companies and political structures.

Alex's position at the heart of an anti-oil movement that finally holds the capability of offering something radically successful (and free to all) places him in the perfect role as both instigator of change and observer of what transpires around him, and this role is deftly translated into a fast-paced scenario filled with personal and political struggle.

In this near-future world, there are individuals with extraordinary sensory powers that aren't recognized by most of humanity. America has been divided into territories and is in a fragile state. State governments have collapsed, there have been three Oil Panics, the environment and society continue to deteriorate, terrorism is rampant, and thus the time is ripe for vast changes.

Politics, pulse guns, and dangerous encounters stalk Alex's band of companions and introduce readers to a world not entirely unlike our own. Alex determines to change the social and political structure, and loyal members of his group place their lives on the line for a greater cause. Driven by the desire to build a better world for his daughter (among other motivators), Alex is in the unique position of working against impossible odds to turn a dying world into a living, more effective future.

One might expect some of the physical and political struggles throughout The Power Flux, but it's important to note that matters of heart and spirit are not neglected in the process of describing the sweeping changes embracing all: "Plenty of horrible things happen to kids too," I reply and dip my hand into the glassy pond. This motion sends subtle ripples racing outward in an expanding and dissipating crescent on the surface of the water. "Not energetically. It's not the same." Jessie reaches his hand down to the water. He holds it flat above the calming surface of the water. "Physically, yes, bad things still happen, but our energetic bodies don't fully develop or open to the harsh realities until early adulthood."

Dystopian novels all too frequently take predictable paths, but the special pleasure of this story lies in its attention to building believable worlds, protagonists, goals, and bigger pictures. Add a fast-paced story line and an ending that wraps everything up while leaving the door ajar for further possibilities and you have a compelling, thought-provoking adventure that takes dark trends and adds hope, change, and love into the mix.

It's a powerful cocktail of emotion and action, and is highly recommended for fans of dystopian fiction looking for something more vivid, political, and unpredictable than most genre reads can offer.

The Sins of Soldiers
S J Hardman Lea
Troubador Publishing Ltd.
9781785890185, $4.99,

It's 1916, and American reporter Anson is embedded undercover in a British infantry regiment on the Western Front, awaiting action. Anson's experience of life in the trenches isn't what he had expected: the realities of war aren't cut and dried and the relationships between soldiers vary from sadistic and cruel to divisive.

Part of Anson's job is to provide candid reports of these realities and part of it involves staying hidden; for if his true purposes are uncovered, he'll be killed by those around him.

The last thing he expects under such conditions is romance - but he meets Beatrice when the battalion is on leave from the front, and a dangerous association begins, involving a lovely woman already engaged to a soldier who has attracted the dangerous attention of a psychopathic leader.

There are many surprises in this historical novel, but first and foremost is its attention to varied and stormy relationships among the troops on the battlefield: something often glossed over in World War I accounts in favor of battle strategies and descriptions of war.

The Sins of Soldiers examines the reality of what it meant to be engaged in warfare during World War I, and this reveals diverse personalities of soldiers and commanders, the possibilities in relationships that aren't related to battlefield encounters, and the struggles of a reporter who hides his deception in favor of a greater good: providing candid insider accounts of what's really going on behind the lines.

Despite his sense of purpose, Anson is not always determined and comfortable with his choices: "I smiled at the pair of them, but inside I was angry with myself. All it took was the admiration of a beautiful woman to make me feel like the worst sort of crook. At that moment, I came close to packing the whole thing in and settling for being a simple soldier."

As Anson inspects his feelings and questions his role, readers are carried into both a romance and an evolving conundrum: "One part of me was still feeling drugged by the effect of being so close to her. Another was trying to work out whether she had any idea of what she was doing to me. The third part was feeling ashamed. Maybe that's the condition of undeclared lovers the world over - confused, guilty and hopeful all at once. But they were all new sensations to me and I didn't know how to explain any of them."

Readers expecting the usual World War I story of military encounters, battles, and strategies will find The Sins of Soldiers operates on a satisfyingly different level than most, offering soul-searching insights and experiences that take the events of the war and move them into new emotional heights.

The result is a story packed with living, breathing protagonists whose choices and quandaries are far more wide-ranging than a military novel along could bring, making The Sins of Soldiers especially recommended for any who would understand the changing worldviews and inconvenient truths that overseas battles bring with them. It's truly a memorial to the missing and to what memory chooses to preserve, years later.

Gag Rule
Edward A. Dreyfus
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781519681713, $19.95,

Dolores has a perfect life: nice husband, home, two children. They are both teachers and their lives seem ideal only until husband Lawrence is accused of being a sexual predator - and then everything changes.

Gag Rule is about this process and these changes, and focuses on how Dolores' world is turned upside down. Based on real-life circumstances (which have been fictionalized here), Gag Rule comes across as riveting and engrossing perhaps because of these foundations in reality, which discuss silences either self-imposed or dictated by the outside world.

As events progress, Dolores finds more than her perception of her husband and their lives in jeopardy. Also at issue is who she has become in the course of a satisfied marriage that has seemed a dream come true.
It should be mentioned that there's no surprise about the outcome of Lawrence's guilt or innocence. This is provided in the very first chapter, which should indicate that the actual process is not really about Lawrence's actions, but their impact on his wife. It's also about Dolores' choices, which have framed (and too often limited) not just her role in their relationship, but her entire personality.

Many of these psychological insights are set up in that initial chapter ("Dolores smiled back, covering the hurt she felt at his implied suggestion that she could be easily replaced.

Such was the nature of their relationship. She knew that he needed to preen and be stroked. The world revolved around him. He always pumped himself up and expected the world to the same."), but its how Dolores works through the tumultuous processes of change in her life that really makes Gag Rule shine.

Dreyfus is at his best when depicting the stark contrasts of this seemingly-idyllic life: "Lawrence drove home, convertible top down, feeling on top of the world. He was achieving the kind of recognition he believed he deserved. He was an award-winning music teacher, respected by his peers, adored by his students, and had a picture-perfect, lovely family of two children and a wife. He felt as though his star was rising. Dolores, by contrast, felt overwhelmed, depressed, and lonely. She felt as though she had full responsibility for maintaining the home, parenting the children, doing the grocery shopping and meal preparation, and all of the myriad details required of a primary homemaker - plus the added responsibility of being a full-time teacher. In effect, Dolores had two full time jobs..."

Under his hand, Gag Rule becomes not a novel of legal process, as might be anticipated; but a story of how marital experiences diverge and how narcissism leads to disaster on all sides. It's not just about guilt or innocence: it's about the psychology of unraveling and rebirth. Gag Rule is driven by change and self-realization and is a powerful recommendation for readers who would move beyond the prospect of a sexual predator in a marriage to examine the underlying influences and subtle cycles of abuse.

Bridges McCall, Inc.
9781634911450, $17.95

Unification: Love, Adventure & Awakening Found in the Mystical Expansion is a new age story of mind expansion and awakening and explores the concept of The Unification: the process of this enlightenment.

Set in changing timelines from ancient eras to 2035, the novel provides an adventure story that selects individuals who are products of rich cultural backgrounds who are on the path of solving greater mysteries than those of their worlds, and provides thought-provoking accounts of spiritual and psychic change.

Crisp, clear, and precise are the journeys of protagonists and connections between past, present, and future. The sense of self represented in conversations, explorations, and interpersonal reflections, along with a metaphysical and spiritual focus, binds the changing events and characters using powerful connections.

From scientific research to why humans always wind up in trouble when they try to pair spiritual objectives with fast or profitable outcomes, these protagonists investigate self-healing research, unrealized potential, and the nature of truth, reality, and innocence in present and past worlds.

Of necessity there's a lot of dialogue, philosophy, and spiritual reflection along the way; so readers anticipating a light new age read should likely look elsewhere. Though the story line is alluring and engrossing, Unification is anything but (and is not intended as) a light read, offering the rare opportunity to absorb spiritual concepts in a pairing of fictional mystical and physical journeys.

Unification is a recommendation for new age readers who would receive a novel that holds not just entertainment value, but virtually commands a self-inspection and reflection process through a slow read of eye-opening concepts and wisdom.

The Sons of Mars
Christopher Jackson
9781452348063, $TBA,

Research scientist Darien holds a secret that has been passed down in his family. It's about a gift that he and his mother share which revolves around his mother's special abilities, from her seemingly-impossible long life span to her extraordinary healing.

Alienated from his mother by a woman who pretends to love him, Darien soon finds himself far from his roots and involved in a research lab's treatment for the dying which promises not just immortality, but youth.

When his research attracts the attention of a dangerous cult headed by a charismatic, beloved leader, Darien finds himself with few resources as kidnapping, torture, and death threaten him.

A host of special interests, a satisfyingly convoluted series of events that pits Darien against everything familiar in his life, and a killer who cannot be outsmarted drive a fine blend of technological super science, mystery and intrigue. Add a touch of romance to the thriller and you have a story line filled with fine twists and turns which considers the consequences of creating and marketing a cure for death.

It should be noted that minor punctuation errors peppered throughout occasionally interrupt the story's progression ("Let me put it this way said Alice, as long as I have a desire to live then I will live." and "...when she wasn't sleeping with men, she was out spending Darien hard earned money.").

That note aside, The Sons of Mars is a good thriller and is recommended reading for any who enjoy a blend of high-tech possibilities and special interests confrontations over how to wield an unusual and powerful new option to transform humanity.

Angel Rock Leap
Ellen Weisberg
Waldorf Publishing
2140 Hall Johnson Road, #102-345, Grapevine, Texas 76051
9781943849871, $16.95,

Nineteen-year-old Sarah has just crashed and burned, flunking out of college, and returns to her home town in quest of answers that are not quickly forthcoming in this story of the lasting effects of being a victim. Her first impulse is to blame somebody else for her failure, but it seems there's nobody who can be blamed but herself - or, is there?

Angel Rock Leap is about how life passions become lost in a sea of 'practical' decisions, of how trauma holds lasting ramifications as victims repeat self-defeating patterns and attitudes, and of how recovery is gained.

Readers follow Sarah's return home and learn what it takes to make new memories out of bad experiences and how to juggle the survival instinct and an impulse to run away with the purpose of confronting one's past in order to change the present and future.

Readers follow the evolution of Sarah's growth, absorbing passages that deftly display logic and emotional processes: "Too many people are making me feel like not a day has gone by since I last saw them," I said. "And that would be OK if things didn't completely suck... the last time I saw them."

Sarah has let men and women hurt her throughout her life. It's time for a different way of communicating, confronting, and (ultimately) healing from her wounds. But how?

Angel Rock Leap becomes not just a scene from the past, but a place where old acquaintances come together to examine connections that were dangerous, destructive, or divisive. As Sarah uncovers the routes to different choices in her life, readers will find themselves immersed in her emotional roller coaster ride which ultimately lends perspective and insight into the process of forming better interpersonal connections.

Angel Rock Leap wraps a diverse selection of themes (alienation, bullying, and how victims turn tables to become something greater than their pain) into its story, and is a strong recommendation for fiction readers seeking emotional stories of protagonists who hover at the intersections of life-changing events and decisions.

TGIT - Thank Goodness It's T-Ball Day
Kevin Christofora
9780986349324, $12.99

TGIT - Thank Goodness It's T-Ball Day adds to a blossoming and appealing picture book series for kids ages 4-6, and provides a blend of baseball insights and fun, first-person experiences through the eyes of a young player and his friends.

Bright color illustrations throughout capture the excitement of T-Ball Day, with guys, gals, and coaches interacting as the team conducts warm-up exercises, absorb some basic lessons of baseball conduct ("You should always stand sideways, so that you aim better."), and learn simple concepts intrinsic to the game's success.

The delight about this style and presentation is that neither parents nor readers need have any prior knowledge of baseball. Educational activities and discussions are geared to bare-bones beginners and present tips in a lively series of vignettes that blend real coaching techniques with a fun, interactive format inviting kids to participate.

The result is a cheerful, lively story that mixes the drama of fiction with the practical side of baseball experience. It's perfect for newcomers to the sport and for adults looking to get their child involved in a team effort.

The Eclipsing of Sirus C: A Dryden Universe Novel
Daniel B. Hunt
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491771549, $15.95,

At first glance it would seem that the 'Dryden Universe' mentioned in the subtitle of The Eclipsing of Sirus C would require a prior familiarity with this setting (developed by the artists' group The Dryden Experiment and made available for general writers' use), but in reality, no prior knowledge is required.

In this future world a Major embarks on a special mission to offer her hacker brother an opportunity to reverse his desertion sentence (punishable by death) and help their cause. Her team is tasked with stealing a rare technology by hacking into an alien supercomputer, and Rafe's skills could be the key to their success.

Impossible as both missions sound, things are about to get a lot more complicated, because alien technology is anything but predictable and the forces brought to life in the course of their efforts are complex, embracing singularities, changing universes, manipulation on a cosmic scale no human as ever attempted, and a newfound understanding of what arises in its place when a complex system dies.

By now it should be evident that there are several prerequisites for a thorough enjoyment of The Eclipsing of Sirus C: among them, affection for military and hard sci-fi. There's much in the way of military sci-fi on the current market but, sadly, increasingly fewer hard sci-fi reads which embrace scientific foundations in the course of presenting an adventure.

That The Eclipsing of Sirus C provides both in a riveting, changing saga is a tribute to one of its strengths: its ability to blend protagonist interests, special missions, and powerfully believable futuristic encounters and to add plenty of life and intrigue into this mix with an action-packed series of encounters.

Don't expect complex psychology and depth in Daniel Hunt's protagonists, though. Readers seeking deep emotional connections might find themselves with more action than detailed insights into anything more than the cursory motivations and emotions of protagonists.

Hunt's intention isn't to provide gripping characters nor even to explain the technology involved. Instead, he builds a universe powered with just enough science and psychology to involve readers and then adds plenty of gripping twists and unexpected moments to bring the thriller portions to life.

The result is especially recommended for sci-fi readers looking for a solid, good adventure read powered by a group's special goal of saving not just their people, but possibly the universe.

Rude Boy USA
Victoria Bolton
Hairummat Books
c/o CreateSpace
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781518754333, $10.99 Paperback, $0.99 Kindle

Fans of novels about mob action and organized crime, especially those which include historical facts within their story lines, will relish Rude Boy USA, which is set in the 1960s and revolves around a New York City gang, Chimera, which attracts the attention of a top organized crime family.

As the group evolves into a crime syndicate run by four leaders, murder, sex, and struggle assume new levels of reality and insight in a thriller thoroughly grounded in a diverse variety of characters and special interests. Many social issues are also examined from different perspectives, from the fluid relationships between men and women to questions of race and heritage that ultimately dictate attitudes and choices in life ("...Passing can only get you so far," she said. "I don't care about what anybody thinks. I do it because it gets me ahead. It's hard out there. I know what I am, and that's all I care about. I mean, they may look like nice people, they may seem nice and tolerant and understanding of who you are, but when they get angry at you for whatever reason - when she gets mad - her white hood comes out.").

From men who sleep with different women without loving any of them to emotional, racial, and gang obligations that take precedence over all else, Rude Boy USA constantly provides a smooth interaction between protagonists with different perspectives on life and its values in a thriller marked with nonstop confrontations. Be forewarned: this process includes sex, violence, drugs, and crime (it would not be a proper crime story without these elements).

Love, betrayal, friendships, and gang connections all simmer beneath the atmosphere of the 1960s in New York City, making for a riveting, highly recommended read especially recommended for fans of historical novels or mob stories.

Kayla and the Chocolate Tree
AnnaMarie Squailia
Mascot Books
560 Herndon Parkway #120, Herndon, Virginia 20170
9780980043129, $14.95

Kayla's discovery of a chocolate tree when she follows a butterfly's progress through a crack in the fence begins an adventure in which she faces an insurmountable problem: she's too short to reach the tree's riches.

Jumping, climbing up on rocks, and other strategies don't work, but when she drags home, discouraged and defeated, her wise mother provides some additional insights about perseverance and roads to success.

In the process of considering her options, Kayla discovers new methods of creative brainstorming over her dilemma and makes some amazing discoveries about the magical chocolate tree.

Many positive messages are embedded in the course of the story ("You don't fail until you stop trying.") that provide elementary-grade chapter book readers with inspiration.

Lovely color drawings by Katrina Gidewell accompany a story which ends with sample exercises and questions that encourage parent/child debates about attitudes, perseverance, and generosity.

Although Kayla and the Chocolate Tree isn't structured as a read-aloud book, parents and kids who pursue it together will find it holds many opportunities for dialogues about the foundations of success, failure, creative thinking, and developing solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems, making it a highly recommended pick for parents who seek to impart some life-encouraging wisdom to their kids.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Medici
Paul Strathern
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781605989662 $28.95

Synopsis: A dazzling history of the modest family that rose to become one of the most powerful in Europe, The Medici is a remarkably modern story of power, money, and ambition. Against the background of an age that saw the rebirth of ancient and classical learning Paul Strathern explores the intensely dramatic rise and fall of the Medici family in Florence, as well as the Italian Renaissance which they did so much to sponsor and encourage.

Strathern also follows the lives of many of the great Renaissance artists with whom the Medici had dealings, including Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello; as well as scientists like Galileo and Pico della Mirandola; and the fortunes of those members of the Medici family who achieved success away from Florence, including the two Medici popes and Catherine de' Medicis, who became Queen of France and played a major role in that country through three turbulent reigns.

Critique: The Medici: Power, Money, and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance brings the intrigue and power dynamics of medieval history alive to scholars and lay readers alike. Occasional black-and-white photographs and a handful of illustrations enrich this in-depth biography of the Medici family, which also takes pains to accurately describe the society of the time. Heavily researched, utterly fascinating, and enhanced with a list of sources and an index, The Medici is highly recommended for both public and college library world history collections.

Divine Vengeance
D. W. Koons
Bygone Era Books
7665 E. Eastman Avneue, #B101, Denver, CO 80231
9781941072332, $19.95, PB, 462pp,

Synopsis: The distance from honor to vengeance is just one heartbeat. Johan seeks glory. Raimon seeks faith. Both find love in Guilelma's arms, but only death and depravity in Simon de Montfort's wake. When they join forces, it is for a common goal: to exact retribution for Montfort's brutality. Set in southern France in the early 1200s, "Divine Vengeance" follows the Holy Crusade against the Cathars, a sect whose beliefs did not align with Rome, as viewed through the eyes of a soldier and a monk. This rich history is the backdrop for a compelling story of two men who unknowingly love the same woman and yet become comrades against a common enemy: Simon de Montfort, the Church's sadistic crusader.

Critique: Exceptionally well written from beginning to end, and with great attention to the accuracy of historical detail, "Divine Vengeance" by D. W. Koons reveals the author to be a consummately skilled novelist of the first order. A true page-turner of an entertainment, "Divine Vengeance" is enthusiastically recommended for both community and academic library Historical Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Divine Vengeance" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Checkmate Citadel
Robert Adrian
Cambrian Park LLC
PO Box 24352, San Jose, CA 95154
9780990610427, $14.99, 380pp,

Synopsis: Ageless astronaut Sam Austin and the settlers of the planet Citadel have a problem. Former US President Courtney Harrington might be disgraced and convicted of war crimes, but she remains a threat to the newly independent settlers. Harrington's looking for the means to gain amnesty for the crimes she committed in "Target Citadel", and she thinks the very aliens that almost wiped out Citadel offer the chance she needs. If she can secure advanced alien tech for human use, she's confident she'll walk free. Of course, nothing comes without a price and the aliens most definitely want something in return. Harrington's horrific deal offers up human beings as sacrificial lab rats. Caught up in the deposed president's plot is Sara Albretti, former transport captain and Citadel settler. In the skies beyond Citadel's star system, the long conflict between Harrington and Austin comes to a deadly conclusion. At stake is the future of Citadel - and possibly all of humanity. The next chapter in Robert Adrian's outstanding 'Citadel" series, "Checkmate Citadel" continues Sam Austin's remarkable journey from astronaut to founding father of humanity's newest home -- a home under threat from alien and human alike.

Critique: Another terrifically entertaining science fiction novel from a consummate master of the genre, Robert Adrian's "Checkmate Citadel" is very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction action/adventure collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Checkmate Citadel" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love
Neil Cole
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718032869, $15.99, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Today's world needs a revolution. But not a violent one. We've had plenty of those. We need a revolution that changes hearts and minds. Jesus didn't come to earth just to change your Sunday morning routine. He came to change your life every day and in every way. In this country Right and Left are growing farther apart each week. Liberal politicians and conservatives are in a moral and political take-no-prisoners civil war. And the expanding divide is evident, not just in politics, but also in the arts, education, business, journalism, science, technology, social services, the military, and even in the faith community. Today's emerging generation is fed up with an unengaged, judgmental Christianity that is afraid to get its hands dirty with real change but is more than willing to shout at the decaying world from a distance. We simply must take a different stance in this world if we want to make a difference and now is the time. But what is that stance? And how do we revolutionize our world as Christians?

As author Neil Cole (Founder and Executive Director of Church Multiplication Associates, an organization that has helped catalyze the start of more than a thousand churches around the world) dramatically points out, it's all about "One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love". It's a revolution of love! Grounded in the love found in the new covenant, "One Thing" passionately calls the church back to its true spiritual roots and provides tangible examples of how that was done in the past and how we can do it today. "One Thing" offers an alternative that is biblical, effective, subversive, and loving all at the same time. That one thing is the love generated by being with Jesus, focused upon Jesus, and letting Jesus leak out in our lives. Jesus was all about transformation and change. He was a revolutionary of the heart, and as his followers, we must bring that radical revolution to our world.

Critique: Simply stated, "One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love" is one of those compelling and life-changing reads that is appropriately and enthusiastically recommended to the attention of all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted that "One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership
Tom Salonek
Agate B2
c/o Agate Publishing
1328 Greenleaf Street, Evanston, IL 60202
9781572841963, $14.00, PB, 168pp,

Synopsis: More than half of all small businesses fail within the first five years. Starting and running a small business is hard work, and many entrepreneurs feel they must do whatever it takes to succeed, at the expense of their family, friends, and health. Yet, if done correctly, small-business ownership can (and should) balance profitable operations with personal fulfillment. It is this balance that is actually the secret to success. In "The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership" author Tom Salonek (Founder and CEO of Intertech, a Minnesota-based technology consulting and training firm), shares his secrets to business success in the form of 100 concise, nuts-and-bolts lessons for achieving the ideal work-life balance for maximum success. Written in clear, direct prose, these lessons are packed with actionable ideas and practical advice for using communication, collaboration, and technology to help small-business owners cultivate the best qualities not only in themselves, but in their employees as well. Of special note is the inclusion of access to a plethora of downloadable online resources, including checklists, worksheets, templates, and more, that will help to effectively implement the ideas presented in the pages of "The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership".

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership" is an ideal instructional guide and reference for anyone having managerial or ownership responsibilities for a small business enterprise of any kind. Simply stated, "The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership" should be a part of every community, corporate, and academic library Business Management instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Sinister Urge
Joel McIver
Backbeat Books
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
33 Plymouth Street, Suite 302, Montclair, NJ 07042-2677
9781617136160, $29.99, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: "Sinister Urge: The Life and Times of Rob Zombie" by Joel McIver is the first in-depth, career-spanning biography of heavy-metal musician and film maker Rob Zombie. Born Robert Cummings in 1965, Zombie is now as well known for his movies as he is for his music, which he has released and performed both as a solo artist and as part of his early band White Zombie. In both fields, he imbues his art with the vivid sense of macabre theater that has thrilled his millions of disciples since he and his band first emerged with Soul-Crusher in 1987. Although he has sold millions of albums and generated many more millions of dollars at the box office, Zombie has never taken the easy option or the predictable route. Indeed, while the music industry and many of his peers have fallen to their knees in the last decade or so, Zombie has found a new edge, his work undiluted by success or middle age. Drawing on original research and new interviews with band mates and associates, "Sinister Urge" takes a detailed look at Zombie's challenging oeuvre, offering close analysis of his albums and films alongside tales of his life and work on and offstage.

Critique: A "must read" for the legions of Rob Zombie fans, "Sinister Urge: The Life and Times of Rob Zombie" is an impressively well written, organized and presented biography that is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography and Contemporary American Musicians collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Sinister Urge" is also available in a Kindle edition ($23.04).

Murder City
Michael Arntfield
Suite 300, 990 Fort St., Victoria, BC, Canada, V8V 3K2
9781460261811, $34.99, HC, 360pp,

Synopsis: London, Ontario was for many years an unrivalled breeding ground of depravity, villainy, and a very high body count. In its coming to inherit the unwanted distinction of being the serial killer capital of not just Canada, but apparently also the rest of the world during this dark age in the city's sordid history, the crimes seen in London over this quarter-century period remain unparalleled and for the most part unsolved. From the earliest documented case of homicidal copycatting in Canada, to the fact that at any given time up to six serial killers were operating at once in the deceivingly serene "Forest City," London was once a place that on the surface presented a veneer of normality when beneath that surface dark things would whisper and stir. Through it all, a lone detective would go on to spend the rest of his life fighting against impossible odds to protect the city against a tidal wave of violence that few ever saw coming, and which to this day even fewer choose to remember. With his death in 2011, he took these demons to his grave with him but with a twist-a time capsule hidden in his basement, and which he intended to one day be opened. Contained inside: a secret cache of his diaries, reports, photographs, and hunches that might allow a new generation of sleuths to pick up where he left off, carry on his fight, and ultimately bring the killers to justice-killers that in many cases are still out there. "Murder City" is an explosive study over fifty years in the making, and is the underbelly history of London, Ontario as never told before. Stranger than fiction, tragic, ironic, horrifying, yet also inspiring, "Murder City" is the true story of one city under siege, and a singular expose that marks a game changer for the true crime genre.

Critique: Impressively well written and exceptionally well organized and presented for beginning to end, "Murder City" is a compellingly informed and informative work that is an inherently fascinating read throughout. Truly unique and highly recommended for community and academic library Criminology and Canadian History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Murder City" is also available in a paperback edition (9781460261828, $24.99) and in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

Mars, Inc. The Billionaire's Club
Ben Bova
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781476780665, $7.99,

"Mars, Inc. The Billionaire's Club" blasts off in a realistic plot that is a first class science fiction thrill ride. Art Thrasher a very wealthy man, has a very low opinion of anything that government does. He decides that private enterprise can do a much better job of sending a manned mission to Mars than NASA. He decides to enlist the aid of several billionaires to fund a private mission to the red planet. Along the way he has to deal with sabotage of the mission, government red tape, finding a launch site and lots more in a wonderful story of the near future. Bova is one of the best writers of science fiction and "Mars, Inc. The Billionaire's Club" is a perfect example of why.

Dr Paul Bearer's Creature Feature
Roger L Boyes Jr.
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481986076, $14.95,

When you think of hosts of bad B horror movies most people think of Elvira. But there was another person who introduced for so many years on several TV stations in the country that was just as popular in many circles as Elvira. That person was Dr. Paul Bearer. The character was the genius of radio disk jockey Dick Bennick who was on many different stations throughout the nation. Roger L. Boyes Jr. tells the story of both Bennick and how Dr. Paul Bearer became so popular as well as a lot of trivia about the movies, the hosts of these kinds of shows, and lots more in a fun filled excursion into a darker realm of television history. No fan of grade B movies should miss "Dr. Paul Bearer's Creature Feature."

I Only Quote From the Best Revisiting Hollywood's Golden Age
Compilation and Noted by Candie Graham
With Dedication by Ernest Borgnine
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9780578164434, $19.95,

The author has a great idea in collecting many of the great lines in films from the years of 1939 to 1959 that are often overlooked. Many of these films still have life on TCM that helps them to find many new viewers. Films of this day had certain restrictions but they hold up even today and Miss Graham has done a wonderful job of collecting over 500 lines from so many of these older films. She also keeps alive the actors names like Melvin Douglas, Greta Garbo, Ernest Borgnine, and many others. Each listing includes the name of the film, the year and the company that made the movie. Movie buffs of all ages will enjoy reliving the golden age of movie making with "I Only Quote From the Best-Revisiting Hollywood's Golden Age."

Andy & Don The Making of a Friendship and A Classic American TV Show
Daniel de Vise
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
978147647736, $26.00,

Daniel de Vise brother in law to Don Knotts, tells the most detailed account of the lives of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts in "Andy & Don The Making of a Friendship and A Classic American TV Show. We learn about the two men where they both came from, what they were like before they got into comedy, their first big breaks, when they first worked together. Later there is much more revealed about the Andy Griffith Show than ever before. We learn why Don left the show but came back for several guest appearances, why Andy decided to end the show and how there were several spin-off series. But the book does not end there because it is not just about the show but also both men's careers throughout the rest of their lives. Andy struggled until he got "Matlock" while Don worked in many films and other TV shows including "Three's Company" At times there are some negatives that are very surprising about Andy Griffith but the book is a very revealing look at two men who worked together to make the series "The Andy Griffith Show" the classic that it is today. Fans of both actors will not want to miss this one.

The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book Revised and Updated Edition
Vince Waldron with a forward by Dick Van Dyke
Chicago Review Press
814 N. Franklin St, Chicago, IL 60610
9781569768396, $18.95

"The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book" was a great book about the series. Now this expanded edition tells all there is to know and more about one of the greatest hits of television that many can watch on Nick at Nite, TVLand, Me TV, or just about any station in the country. There are episode guides, stories about the show, bios on the stars and newly added features including what happened to the actors after the show left the air, and a detailed account of the reunion show "The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited." This new version is better than ever and no fan of the series should miss. "The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book Revised and Updated Edition" is the perfect companion for viewers to enjoy the recently released Blue Ray versions of "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

The Great Heinlein Mystery Science Fiction, Innovation and Naval Technology
Edward M. Wysocki, Jr.
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781477410202, $24.95,

The question is did a fictional device that Heinlein wrote about in an early work influence naval technology of World War II? Starting with that premise, author Edward M. Wysocki, Jr. in "The Great Heinlein Mystery Science Fiction, Innovation and Naval Technology takes the reader on a journey to find the answer and solve the mystery. First appearances are often deceiving as is the case here, because it seems that this will be a boring piece meant for academia. Instead the author has a very easy style of writing that takes the reader into the world of science fiction of that era while exposing little known facts about other writers in the genre. "The Great Heinlein Mystery Science Fiction, Innovation and Naval Technology" is an excursion into the universe of science fiction.

41 A Portrait Of My Father
George W. Bush
Crown Publishing Group
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553447781, $25.00,

"41 A Portrait Of My Father" is unique because it is one former president writing about another one who is also his father. The Adams father and son are the only other time in the country's history that a father and son have both served as president, but there is no book by John Quincy Adams about his dad. George Herbert Walker Bush is revealed to be a very caring, principled, honorable person who represents the best image of a former public official. On another level the author details what he has learned from his dad about life and politics... Also revealed are many unknown things about Barbara Bush that add to the enjoyment of this expose of George W. Bush's parents You do not have to be political to like "41 Portrait Of My Father."

Origins of Golf
Scott Marlowe
Pangea Press
9781493560745, $15.00,

"Origins of Golf" is a total departure from what Marlowe is most well known. Usually Marlowe's books have been about strange creatures like Big Foot. Now he traces the beginnings of golf and shows that every major culture has had some form of the modern game. He shows how Polo and other sports have been an influence to the popular sport. Marlowe's writing is easy to follow and he poses many different scenarios for anyone to understand. "Origins of Golf" is a fun excursion into the many facets of this hobby so many like to play. No fan of this pastime should miss "Origins of Golf."

JD's Baseball Game
Stacey Hamm
Illustrated by Elena Stebakov
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781304925718, $13.99,

JD a nice little dragon is worried about not doing well in the baseball game he and his teammates are playing. His coach takes him aside telling him to do the best he can. JD is now so stressed and worried that he will fail the other members of his team. The tension mounts as he has the count of two strikes against him. Poor JD is worried that he will strike out. "JD's Baseball Game" includes a message to kids and adults that in order to succeed you must keep trying, and is a very nice book for readers of all ages to read and enjoy.

Case of the Missing Pearl Earring
Stacey Hamm
Illustrated by Elena Stebakov
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781312838857, $10.00,

JD, the dragon character from "JD's Baseball Game" is back in a novel that is for a bit older audience. Now he is at home solving mysteries for family members. He loves to read true detective magazines and takes what he learns from them to help his family members find things that have been missing from the house. He must find his mother's missing earrings and he has several suspects that could be the culprit. "Case of the Missing Pearl Earring" is an amusing read for all ages to enjoy at the antics of JD, the dragon and his friends.

Polly and Her Pigtails
Written by Debra Sue Latiolais
Illustrated by Mark Wayne Adams
Monkey Puzzle Books
25050 Riding Plaza Suite 130-636, south Riding, Virginia 20152
9780989050500, $16.95,

Polly is a young girl who loves nice dresses and her pigtails that are a trademark of who she is. One day a bully in school plays a mean trick on her by putting ink on the ends of them. Poll is heartbroken when she realizes she can not get the ink out of her hair. She is crushed and wants the bully to suffer the consequences for his actions. There are a lot of positives that emerge from the nasty situation that was caused by the bully about a person's self image. Though the story takes place in the 1930s it is as timely today as ever. For many readers who may not understand some of the things that take place there is a page that explains many of the things involved and there is another one for parents on how to build a child's self esteem. "Polly and Her Pigtails" is an easy read for all ages that is enhanced by the delightful artwork of Mark Wayne Adams.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

The Stranger
Harlan Coben
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451414137, $9.99, Paperback, 480 pp

From the publisher - no spoilers here:

"The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world. Adam Price has a lot to lose: A comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life." He introduces himself thusly: "I'm the stranger. The stranger with important knowledge," or "the stranger who reveals truth." And proceeds to destroy, or end, lives with his information, whatever it is, different in each instance.

This scene is repeated in several of those anonymous settings mentioned above, each time devastating the person on the receiving end. (For a different take, the author offers a [very apt] quote from T.S. Eliot: "Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger. Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions. There is one who remembers the way to your door: Life you may evade, but Death you shall not."

Once the Stranger imparts his information to his mostly unwilling listener, there is no way one can put that genie back in the bottle, or unring that bell, or whatever other cliche one may choose. The unwavering theme of the novel is "secrets and lies," and once exposed, there is no going back. As one character says to another: "How far would you go to protect your family? You'd never hurt anyone, I'd never hurt anyone. But if someone threatens your family, if it means saving your child . . ." But we are reminded that "People will do anything to keep their secrets. Even kill."

The name of the stranger is not revealed to the reader until more than half-way through the book.

In trademark Coben fashion, the author has given us another suspense-filled novel, one that, incidentally, was just nominated for the Hammett Prize!

It would appear that Dutton is bringing out the author's next thriller, "Fool Me Once," on March 22, 2016, and I for one can't wait!

Highly recommended.

Killer Instinct
Zoe Sharp
Felony and Mayhem Press
174 W. 4th St., Suite. 261, NY, NY 10014
9781631940743, $14.95, Paperback, 330 pp

Having read Zoe Sharp's eighth book in the Charlie Fox series, "Fourth Day," I had the additional pleasure of reading the very first book in the series, "Killer Instinct." In fact, this was the first novel published by Zoe Sharp, in 2001. It is a fascinating look at the introduction of this protagonist, two years after she was "asked to leave" the British Army after a traumatic incident that left her physically and emotionally scarred

Now twenty-five years old, Zoe teaches self-defense to classes of women, many of them victims of abuse and residents of a Women's Refuge. Shockingly, within a short time frame, two such residents are raped and murdered, with no clue as to the perpetrator. Not yet the proficient "close protection" operative she will become, Zoe is nonetheless very capable, using the skills learned in the Army though still without the Killer Instinct of the title.

Zoe also takes on a part-time job as part of the security staff at the New Adelphi Club, in nearby Morecambe, quite taken with its charismatic owner, but finds it more challenging than anticipated, in unexpected ways. When there is a third killing, Zoe becomes convinced that there is a connection to the club, if not to the rape/murders as well.

Just as compulsively readable as the later entries in the series, nonetheless I felt this book slightly weaker in two respects: The foreshadowing which ends the first two chapters, as well as the fact that I found myself at least a bit ahead of the protagonist, with the unsettling feeling of waiting for her to catch up. This is a small quibble, and the book is recommended.

The Buried
Brett Battles
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781508746942, $14.95, Paperback, 332 pp

[This book is self-published, and can be ordered through Amazon, B&N or from the author,]

This newest entry in the Jonathan Quinn series brings back many of the usual cast of characters: Nate, Quinn's mentee and now an elite cleaner himself (the job entailing discreetly cleaning up crime scenes and the occasional body after the always possible bloodshed); their colleague, Daeng; and of course Orlando, the love of Quinn's life, an Asian woman, a brilliant computer hacker with a 12-year-old son and now nearing the end of her pregnancy with her and Quinn's baby; and Helen Cho, described as "head of a growing network of government [and quasi-government] security and intelligence agencies" and now a client of Quinn and his team.

From the publisher (no spoilers): Everything on the job is going as expected. The target has been dealt with, and all that's left to do is remove the body. But a surprise is waiting for Quinn and Nate, one that completely changes their mission. Then when the client who gave them their new orders disappears, they find themselves on their own, with a human asset holding a dark secret that several parties are interested in obtaining, by force if necessary. To keep the asset alive, the two cleaners must stay on the run, but even that doesn't guarantee success. Because no matter how closely a secret is guarded, if enough people want it, it won't stay buried forever.

Just as I wasn't originally familiar with the description of Quinn and Nate as "cleaners," here we are introduced to characters referred to variously as "the assassin" and "the hunters," which would seem self-explanatory. All are very well trained and good at what they do (one of them considers himself "the number one hunter in the world"), leaving several bodies in their wake.

As Mr. Battles always does with the thrillers in this series, he takes the reader to various places around the US, primarily cities in and around the Pacific northwest and then down the coast to California; San Francisco; New York City; Kansas; the Washington DC area; Virginia; Texas; Chicago; and even Berlin, each places where the "good guys" and "bad guys" are chasing each other and the asset referred to above. A bit hard to follow at times, but no matter. The suspense, at which the author is a master, builds consistently, and he wraps everything up very satisfactorily.

Mr. Battles' next book, The Destroyer, book 2 in his Rewinder series, just came out in January, and it will be near the top of my TBR/R pile shortly. This one, as you might have guessed, is recommended.

Double Switch
T.T. Monday
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385539951, $25.95, Hardcover, 240 pp

The book is equal parts mystery and baseball. Johnny Adcock is a terrific protagonist. He is a no-longer-young baseball player, 36 to be exact, fourteen years in the big leagues, his assigned role to come into a game in the eighth inning, primarily to face left-handed hitters (as he is a southpaw himself), and retire them (working, as he says, ten minutes a night). Divorced and with a teenage daughter, he plays for the fictional San Jose Bay Dogs. In the opening pages, Johnny meets a woman with the unlikely name of Tiff Tate, who apparently has a following as a sports stylist - who knew? In effect she does makeovers on sports figures, upgrading their image, including hair, body ink, clothing and the like. We are told that "Her work is legendary, lucrative, and highly confidential."

Johnny's side job, so to speak, is as an investigator for friends and colleagues, which primarily involves cheating spouses, for which he charges no fee; he says that "an empty bullpen is the closest thing I have to an office," seeing it as his job down the road after he retires from baseball. Tiff asks him for help with regard to a Colorado Rockies rookie outfielder who is as well known for his escape from Cuba as for his power at the plate. She says that he is being blackmailed by the Venezuelans who smuggled him out of Cuba, and are apparently holding his family at gunpoint in Havana as collateral.

At some point, dead bodies start to pile up, and Johnny's sideline brings him into danger that he never anticipated. There is much about the less glowing aspects of the sport, with its history of steroids and humongous salaries. There are tidbits such as that the Coors Field equivalent of a no-hitter is four runs on eight hits, and Johnny pitching to a power hitter who is facing the possibility of leaving "a runner in scoring position against a thirty-six-year-old finesse pitcher who makes a fraction of his salary." Oh, and to the uninitiated, the eponymous 'double switch' is a "maneuver that allows a manager to change two players at once and swap heir places in the batting order."

Timing is everything, they say, and my reading of this novel on the eve of the new baseball season couldn't have been more perfectly timed. It is a good mystery, with just the right amount of humor, and lots of terrific baseball lore and references. And I even learned a new word: callipygian! Of course, the final scene has Johnny coming into a critical game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. One doesn't have to be a baseball addict to enjoy the novel (although, to be fair and in the spirit of full disclosure, I am exactly that). This is an entertaining book, on any level, and it is recommended.

What Lies Behind
J.T. Ellison
Harlequin/MIRA Books
225 Duncan Mill Rd., Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780778316503, $24.95/27.95 CA$, Hardcover, 395 pp
9780778317647, $7.99/9.99 CA$, Paperback, 448 pp

Dr. Samantha ("Sam") Owens has begun an entirely new phase of her life as a first-year medical school professor in the forensic pathology department at Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C., quite a departure from her former position as Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Tennessee. She has chosen her new job despite having been offered one as special consultant for the FBI, not without misgivings, although this time around she is acting in just that capacity at the behest of her friend, John Baldwin. Sam has been working on a cold case, a series of killings over a 20-year-period which seem to have no connection except that each female victim was from the same hometown of New Orleans, dubbed the Hometown Killer. As the title suggests, the challenge is to find "what lies behind" all the violence.

As in the prior series entries, the book is replete with fascinating and well-drawn characters in Sam's life, both professional and personal. As the book opens, her "newly-minted homicide detective" friend, Darren Fletcher, asks her to look over the evidence at what is at first blush thought to be a murder/suicide, a crime of passion. What at first seems a "simple case of domestic dispute had turned into an international intrigue and a possible bioterror attack in less than twelve hours." The body count rises, and very quickly. As the title suggests, the challenge is to find "what lies behind" all the violence. Then there is her boyfriend, Xander Whitfield, "a man who has carried a gun by his side day and night for over 18 years," now on assignment as a close protection detail with his partner, nickname "Chalk," both quite expert at what they do, which very early on in the job calls upon Xander to shoot and kill an assassin who appears ready to kill their client ("a world leader in oil and gas, mining and the like") as he disembarks from a plane at a New Jersey airport. There are different story lines presented, all of which seem to converge towards the end of the novel.

I loved the reference to the author's other series protagonist, Taylor Jackson, a homicide lieutenant in Nashville engaged to the aforementioned John Baldwin. The novel is well-written, with the story taking place over little more than a day, just about the time it took me to read this intriguing, fast-paced tale. Recommended.

Reykjavik Nights
Arnaldur Indridason
Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave.,NY, NY 10010
9781250048424, $25.99, Hardcover, 294 pp

From the publisher: In this stunning prequel to his critically acclaimed Inspector Erlendur books and the tenth volume in the series, Erlendur is a young and inexperienced detective walking beat on the streets in Reykjavik, encountering routine traffic accidents, theft, domestic violence, contraband - - and an unexplained death. When a tramp he met regularly on the night shift is found drowned in a ditch, no one seems to car. But his fate haunts Erlendur and drags him inexorably into the strange and dark underworld of his.

Erlendur knew that in the year that had elapsed since the man, whose name was Hannibal, drowned Reykjavik CID had uncovered no evidence of suspicious circumstances. Yet he was also aware that the death of a homeless man had not been high priority." At around the same time as the death of the tramp, a 19-year-old girl goes missing. And not long before that a young woman who had gone out for a few drinks with friends had disappeared and never been found either. "Stories of people going missing held a particular fascination for Erlendur . . . The missing left a series of unanswered questions behind them. . . No one else was asking questions about this man who had drowned like a stray dog." And so he goes on his own investigation into these particular disappearances. "The more details Erlendur uncovered about Hannibal's case, the more his curiosity grew." Now 28 years old, he finds himself "wondering if his decision to join the police had been precipitated by his fascination with stories like theirs. . . This fixation of his with disappearances - - with the phenomenon itself, the fates of those who were never heard of again and the sufferings of those left behind to mourn."

The title derives from Erlendur's musings about Reykjavik nights, "so strangely sunny and bright, yet in another sense so dark and desperate." And his investigation leads to unexpected lines of inquiry, at one point tying into one of the other "disappearances." There is a large cast of characters, all very well drawn. We are given a window into the path Erlendur's career with the police will take, as at the end of the book the results of his unsanctioned investigations so impress the top brass that he is invited by his superior to "get in touch if you're interested in doing more of this kind of sleuthing." And he thinks "how good it would be to shed his uniform." Especially so since for the first time he is thinking of settling down with Halldora, his "significant other." Wonderfully well-written, and a definite sign of what is to come from this author, the novel is highly recommended.

The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books/Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633881204, $15.95/17.00 CA$, Paperback, 225 pp

Samuel Craddock is the Acting Police Chief for Jarrett Creek, Texas. The former Chief had died a while ago, and Craddock was hired after the town went bankrupt and they convinced him to return to the job he had had years ago, filling in at the mayor's request until the town, now bankrupt, can afford to hire someone else. He is widowed and somewhat older than your usual top cop; he had been chief years back, now and for the past few months filling in at the mayor's request until the town, now bankrupt, can afford to hire someone else. But this is 'his town,' and like most of the townspeople, he cares about the people who live there.

As the novel begins, apparently most people in town are angry and horrified when Winona ("Nonie" to all) Blake returns home from a mental institution where she has spent the last 20 years. Within a week of her return, Nonie is murdered. Chief Craddock thinks the only possible suspects are members of her tightlipped family. Ever since Nonie tried to kill her sister when she was fourteen and was sent away to the institution, the family has kept to itself. Clues are scarce, and Craddock is stumped. So he checks with therapists at the mental hospital to see whether they can add anything useful to his investigation. But he discovers that Nonie was released ten years ago. Now Craddock has to find out where she has been all that time, and soon finds himself dealing with layers of deception and secrets and, in the midst of it all, a new deputy, one Maria Trevino, sent by the sheriff to beef up security in the small Texas town.

Just in case Craddock isn't busy enough trying to solve a murder, someone is apparently sneaking into the yards of the flower growers in the community and cutting their best flowers.

This is the 5th book by this author, the 2nd in the series that I have read, and is just as delightful as its predecessor, A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge. Ms. Shames captures the small town atmosphere and the inhabitants of Jarrett Creek in a very convincing way. The investigation takes several unexpected turns. The twists and turns in the murder investigation prompt Craddock at one point to say that he feels as if he'd been in a rabbit hole, and has the reader feeling somewhat the same. But the author wraps up the investigation, and the novel, in a wholly satisfying manner, and left this reader waiting impatiently for the next in the series. The novel was just the thing for this time of year, when one [or this reader at least] prefers to avoid the dark and graphic (the people of Jarrett Creek and Bobtail are delightful), and it is recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

West of Vermillion
C.M. Curtis
KWYM Publishing
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781502422538, B00LTM9VTO, $0.99, 297 pages

West of Vermillion reads like a copy of the classic western -- that is both its strength and its weakness. Most contemporary westerns are missing the depth and character of the classic horse opera but this story has that. The weakness is that for those who have already read numerous classic horse operas it is noticeable that this is a copy -- a very good copy but a copy.

A boom town is born in the mountains and Tom Satterfield is a founder. West of Vermillion is a story about the boom town. The story is focused on the rancher/businessman Tom Satterfield. Crooks, villains, strong, weak, good, bad and those in-between populate the characters in the story. There are numerous side tales that speak to the character of the people populating the town. They both fill in the tale and distract from the main storyline.

This is an easy recommendation for those interested in finding a good quality western to read. It doesn't have the raw strength and focus of a Louis L'Amour western but is a much stronger horse opera than your typical contemporary western. For the price you can't go wrong with the book.

Island Shifters (An Oath of Blood) Book 1
Valerie Zambito
Amazon Digital Services
9780615495033, B0063EONHS, $0.99 US 373 pages

Island Shifters is a fantasy tale about a world filled with magic. A war between wizards has occurred hundreds of years before the story takes place. The world is split and the wizard who has saved most of it has made a pack with the less magical people for the descendants of magic to form a guard to protect the land from the rogue magicians who still want to conquer it. Five youths are tasked with finishing the battle but first they must discover their powers and survive the overwhelming assault by the rebel wizards in search of complete power over the world.

Island Shifters is an enjoyable fantasy with many strengths but it falls into the trap too many authors fall into. Zambito has created the too powerful villain. The villain dominates the story while the heroes seem to only survive to permit the story to continue. If you are looking for a fast in-your-face fantasy action story and are willing to not look too deeply into the plot, you will have a fun time. For the reasonable price there is little reason not to pick it up for a vacation read.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low
Don Nix
Mojo Triangle Books
c/o Sartoris Literary Group
PO Box 4185, Brandon, MS 39047
9781941644409, $19.95, PB, 238pp,

Synopsis: Memphis blues and rock legend Don Nix writes about a long career that involved close associations with Joe Cocker, Leon Russell, George Harrison, Freddie King, Furry Lewis, John Mayall, and many others in the pages of "Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low". When Nix began his career, he was still in high school. Over time his band, the Mark-Keys, evolved into Booker T. and the MGs. As a producer and musician Nix worked with Freddie King, Furry Lewis, Lonnie Mack, Albert King, Delaney, Bonnie and Friends, the Staple Singers, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and many others. He was asked by Beatle George Harrison to organize the 1971 Bangladesh Concert at Madison Square Garden. Nix's stories of living at George Harrison's mansion in England make for exciting reading. In 1971 Nix organized a touring band named the Alabama State Troupers, featuring Wayne Perkins, Clayton Ivey, Fred Prouty, bluesman Furry Lewis, singer Jeanie Green and the Mount Zion Band and Choir. Their music was a brilliant mix of southern rock and roll, blues and gospel.

Critique: An absolute "must" for all Don Nix fans, "Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low" is packed with background stories from cover to cover. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Music History collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.95).

Death of a Nurse
M.C. Beaton, author
Read by Graeme Malcolm
Hachette Audio
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781478960843 $30.00

Synopsis: James Harrison has recently moved to a restored hunting lodge in Sutherland with his gorgeous private nurse Gloria Dainty. When Hamish visits Mr. Harrison to welcome him to the neighborhood, the old man treats him very rudely. Gloria apologizes for her employer's behavior, and Hamish takes the plunge and invites her out for dinner. On the appointed evening, Hamish waits for Gloria at the restaurant. And waits. Gloria never shows up. Four days later, Gloria's body washes up on the beach near Braikie. Now without a date and without his former policeman Dick Fraser (who left the force to buy a bakery), Hamish must find out who killed the beautiful new resident of Sutherland, and why, before the murderer strikes again....

Critique: Superbly performed by Broadway actor Graeme Malcolm, Death of a Nurse: A Hamish Macbeth Mystery is a chilling, unabridged murder mystery audiobook about Police Sergeant Hamish Macbeth's hunt to track down a murderer. Set amid the idyllic Sutherland seaside, Death of a Nurse is an intricate and suspenseful detective story, sure to please connoisseurs of the genre.

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens
Larry Alex Taunton
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718022174, $22.99, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: At the time of his death, Christopher Hitchens was the most notorious atheist in the world. And yet, all was not as it seemed. "Nobody is not a divided self, of course", he once told an interviewer, "but I think it's rather strong in my case". Hitchens was a man of many contradictions: a Marxist in youth who longed for acceptance among the social elites; a peacenik who revered the military; a champion of the Left who was nonetheless pro-life, pro-war-on-terror, and after 9/11 something of a neocon; and while he railed against God on stage, he maintained meaningful - though largely hidden from public view - friendships with evangelical Christians like Francis Collins, Douglas Wilson, and the author Larry Alex Taunton.

In "The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist", Larry Alex Taunton (Founder and Executive Director of Fixed Point Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the public defense of the Christian faith)_offers a very personal perspective of one of our most interesting and most misunderstood public figures. Writing with genuine compassion and without compromise, Taunton traces Hitchens's spiritual and intellectual development from his decision as a teenager to reject belief in God to his rise to prominence as one of the so-called "Four Horsemen" of the New Atheism. While Hitchens was, in the minds of many Christians, Public Enemy Number One, away from the lights and the cameras a warm friendship flourished between Hitchens and the author; a friendship that culminated in not one, but two lengthy road trips where, after Hitchens's diagnosis of esophageal cancer, they studied the Bible together. "The Faith of Christopher Hitchens" gives us a candid glimpse into the inner life of this intriguing, sometimes maddening, and unexpectedly vulnerable man.

Critique: A compelling and absorbing read from beginning to end, "The Faith of Christopher Hitchens: The Restless Soul of the World's Most Notorious Atheist" is an extraordinary account of an extraordinary man. Very highly recommended, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Faith of Christopher Hitchens" is also available in a kindle edition ($14.99) and in an MP3 CD format ($19.99).

Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War
Marina Cattaruzza & Stefan Dyroff, editors
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9780857457387, $75.00, HC, 226pp,

Synopsis: A few years after the Nazis came to power in Germany, an alliance of states and nationalistic movements formed, revolving around the German axis. That alliance, the states involved, and the interplay between their territorial aims and those of Germany during the interwar period and World War II are at the core of "Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War: Goals, Expectations, Practices", a collaboratively compiled and edited study by Marina Cattaruzza (Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Bern) and Stefan Dyroff (Lecturer and Research Rellow at the Department of Contemporary History at the University of Bern), with the added assistance of German historian Dieter Langewiesche (who formerly served as the Professor of Modern History at the University of Hamburg). This "territorial revisionism" came to include all manner of politics and military measures that attempted to change existing borders. Taking into account not just interethnic relations but also the motivations of states and nationalizing ethnocratic ruling elites, "Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War" reconceptualizes the history of East Central Europe during World War II. In so doing, it presents a clearer understanding of some of the central topics in the history of the War itself and offers an alternative to standard German accounts of the period 1933-1945 and East European nation-states' histories.

Critique: An impressive work of original and documented scholarship, "Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War: Goals, Expectations, Practices" provides an insightful history of a previously overlooked aspect of German expansionism as a specifically intended outcome of the Nazi government and military forces of World War II. A remarkably informed and informative study, "Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War" is very highly recommended for academic library 20th Century European History collections. For academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject matter presented in "Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War", it should be noted for personal reading lists that this study is also available in a paperback edition (9781782389200, $29.95) and in a Kindle format ($26.70).

Getting Beyond Better
Roger L. Martin & Sally r. Osberg
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633690684, $30.00, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively written by Roger L. Martin (former dean of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management) and Sally R. Osberg (Skoll Foundation President and CEO ), "Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works" describes how social entrepreneurs target systems that exist in a stable but unjust equilibrium and transform them into entirely new, superior, and sustainable equilibria. All of these leaders (call them disrupters, visionaries, or change makers) develop, build, and scale their solutions in ways that bring about the truly revolutionary change that makes the world a fairer and better place.

"Getting Beyond Better" begins with a probing and useful theory of social entrepreneurship, moving through history to illuminate what it is, how it works, and the nature of its role in modern society. "Getting Beyond Better" then sets out a framework for understanding how successful social entrepreneurs actually go about producing transformative change. There are four key stages: understanding the world; envisioning a new future; building a model for change; and scaling the solution. With both depth and nuance, "Getting Beyond Better" offers rich examples and personal stories, as well as shares lessons and tools invaluable to anyone who aspires to drive positive change, whatever the context.

"Getting Beyond Better" sets forth a bold new framework, demonstrating how and why meaningful change actually happens in the world and providing concrete lessons and a practical model for businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals who seek to transform our world for good.

Critique: "Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works" is impressively well written, organized and presented from beginning to end. Of special note is the inclusion of a Foreword by Arianna Huffington (founder of the Huffington Post). Of interest to academia and general readers alike, "Getting Beyond Better" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Getting Beyond Better" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.33).

God-Provoking Democrat
Fergus Whelan
New Island
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781848404601, $16.99, PB, 308pp,

Synopsis: Born into the Anglo-Irish landowning class of Down (Killyleagh Castle), Archibald Hamilton Rowan (1751-1832) led a colorful life. Heavily influenced by the celebrated radical John Jebb at Cambridge, Rowan made waves throughout his career, weathering the wrath of his own class as he championed the causes of the poor and oppressed. Of a passionate disposition, he was involved in several duels, was denounced by the military for shooting dead tradesmen in Dublin for bull-baiting, and, as a young man, was liable to getting into 'scrapes with married women'. Indeed, Marie Antoinette was so taken by his good looks that she sent him a ring. Rowan was a founding member of the United Irish Society. Imprisoned in 1794, he managed to escape in a fishing vessel to France. He endured 11 years of hardship in France, Germany, and America before his tenacious wife Sarah Dawson managed to secure him a pardon and he returned to Ireland in 1806. His revolutionary activities, treasonable plots with spies, prison escape, and the efforts of the authorities to entrap and hang him, are such that his life story is one of exceptional adventure. However, it is much more. Archibald Hamilton Rowan's world view was influenced by a liberal religious and intellectual tradition of the New Light Presbyterians. "God-Provoking Democrat" gives an account of the post-rebellion trauma within Presbyterianism and Rowan's dramatic defiant stand in defense of New Light principles. In conclusion, "God-Provoking Democrat" traces the evolution of liberal Presbyterian opinion as they pondered their defeat in 1798 and sought new ways of pursuing the old goals of religious freedom and political democracy.

Critique: Impressively researched, documented, informed and informative, "God-Provoking Democrat: The Remarkable Life of Archibald Hamilton Rowan" is a compelling, exceptionally well written, instructive, and entertaining read that is especially and enthusiastically recommended for both community and academic library Irish Biography, Irish Studies, and Irish History collections. For the personal reading lists of academicians and non-specialist general readers, it should be noted that "God-Provoking Democrat" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

The Man Who Drew Triangles
Haraldur Erlendsson & Keith Hagenbach
Cosmic Egg Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785351471, $29.95, PB, 504pp,

Synopsis: Olaf, a 27-year-old Icelander, arrives in England on June 8th 2011 convinced he has been sent on a spiritual quest which involves scaling Scafell on Midsummer Night. Immediately arousing the suspicion of the authorities, he finds himself sectioned. He becomes a patient of Patricia, a 40-year-old psychiatrist from Co Mayo, who in the aftermath of an acrimonious divorce is struggling to cope with a manipulative medical director, an excessive caseload, disturbed teenage son Colm and a painful estrangement from daughter Caitlin. Patricia slowly unearth's Olaf's history of traumatic loss, including the death of his father during childhood, and the recent, unexplained disappearance of his young son. While Olaf appears steeped in esoteric knowledge and wisdom and enjoys a profound connection to nature, he lays claim to supernatural gifts and powers which Patricia concludes are largely illusory. She feels compelled to reconsider her views, however, when it becomes clear that the interactions with this young patient coincide with a series of significant and positive changes in her own attitude to and experience of life...

Critique: A deftly crafted, emotionally and psychologically complex, thoroughly absorbing and highly entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Man Who Drew Triangles" is very strongly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Man Who Drew Triangles" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Dorothy Day: Love in Action
Patrick Jordan
The Liturgical Press
2950 Saint John's Road, PO Box 7500
Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814637036, $12.95, PB, 144pp,

Synopsis: By any measure, Dorothy Day lived a fascinating life. She was a journalist, activist, single mother, convert, Catholic laywoman, and co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. A lifelong radical who took the gospels at their word, Dorothy Day lived among the poor as one of them, challenging both church and state to build a better world for all people. Steeped in prayer, the liturgy, and the spiritual life, she was jailed repeatedly for protesting poverty, injustice, and war. Through it all, she created a sense of community and remained down-to-earth and humanly approachable. To have known Dorothy Day was to have experienced not only her charm and humanity, but the purposefulness of her life. In "Dorothy Day: Love in Action" by Patrick Jordan (who knew her personally) conveys some of the hallmarks of Day's fascinating life and the spirit her adventure inspires.

Critique: Presenting an impressive, compelling, and exceptional life story, "Dorothy Day: Love in Action" is very highly recommended reading, especially to all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation. Part of the outstanding People of God series from The Liturgical Press, "Dorothy Day: Love in Action" is an especially appropriate acquisition for seminary and church library collections within the Roman Catholic community.

Repair Your Life
Marjorie McKinnon
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615992737, $31.95, PB, 210pp,

Synopsis: In "REPAIR Your Life: A Program for Recovery from Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse", by Marjorie McKinnon offers an effective, practical, life transforming, Six-Stage Program for abuse survivors. McKinnon shows how to: Recognize and accept your adult problems stemming from childhood sexual abuse; Enter into a commitment to transform your life; Process your issues with tools and techniques that will enable you to become healthy; Awareness to discover reality as you gather and assemble the pieces of the broken puzzle your life became; Provide insight into the complete picture helps you begin to return to what you were prior to being sexually violated; and recover the natural rhythm you had before the incest happened, the blueprint that is the essence of your true nature, becoming who you really are.

Critique: Informative, candid, factual, pragmatic, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "REPAIR Your Life: A Program for Recovery from Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "REPAIR Your Life: A Program for Recovery from Incest & Childhood Sexual Abuse" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.95).

A Mysterious Life and Calling
Reverend Mrs. Charlotte S. Riley, author
Crystal J Lucky, editor
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299306748, $24.95, PB, 152pp,

Synopsis: Preacher, teacher, and postmistress, Charlotte Levy Riley was an African-American woman who was born into slavery but became a popular evangelist after emancipation. Although several nineteenth-century accounts by black preaching women in the northern states are known, this is the first discovery of such a memoir in the South. Born in 1839 in Charleston, South Carolina, Riley was taught to read, write, and sew despite laws forbidding black literacy. Raised a Presbyterian, she writes of her conversion at age fourteen to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church, embracing its ecstatic worship and led by her own spiritual visions. Her memoir is revelatory on many counts, including life in urban Charleston before and after emancipation, her work as a preacher at multiracial revivals, the rise of African American civil servants in the Reconstruction era, and her education and development as a licensed female minister in a patriarchal church. Crystal J. Lucky, who discovered Riley's forgotten book in the library archives at Wilberforce University in Ohio, provides an introduction and notes on events, society, and religious practice in the antebellum era and during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and places "A Mysterious Life and Calling: From Slavery to Ministry in South Carolina" in the context of other spiritual autobiographies and slave narratives.

Critique: A true 'time-lost' classic fortuitously discovered brought into print for the benefit of present and future generations of readers with an interest in a true-life account of slavery and emancipation as lived by a most remarkable woman in equally remarkable times, "A Mysterious Life and Calling: From Slavery to Ministry in South Carolina" is an informative and compelling read from beginning to end. A critically important and very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Black Studies, 19th American History, and 19th Century American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Mysterious Life and Calling" is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.49).

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Lauret Savoy
Counterpoint Press
1919 Fifth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-1916
9781619025738, $25.00, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: Sand and stone are Earth's fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy (Professor of Environmental Studies and Geology at Mount Holyoke College) learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent's past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her, paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land, all of which lie largely eroded and lost.

"Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape" is a provocative and powerful mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, in which Professor Savoy explores how the country's still unfolding history, and ideas of "race", have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from "Indian Territory" and the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, "Trace" grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.

In distinctive and illuminating prose that is attentive to the rhythms of language and landscapes, Professor Savoy weaves together human stories of migration, silence, and displacement, as epic as the continent they survey, with uplifted mountains, braided streams, and eroded canyons.

Critique: Impressively and consistently well written, organized, and presented from beginning to end, "Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape" is a unique work that will prove to be a fully absorbing and informative read from first page to last. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers that "Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape" is also available in a paperback edition (9781619028258, $16.95) and in a Kindle format ($10.99).

Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21 Century
Nimue Brown, editor
Moon Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781782797838, $14.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: What does it mean to live as a Pagan in this uncertain world of climate change, economic hardship and worldwide social injustice? What does it mean to hold nature as sacred when ravaging the land is commonplace? How do we live our Paganism in our families and homes, our communities and countries? Pagans are stepping up in all kinds of ways. Compiled and edited by Nimue Brown, "Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21 Century" is a Moon Books community project, sharing the energy and inspiration of people who are making a difference at whatever level makes sense to them. "Pagan Planet" is a volume of contributors representing a grass-roots source of energy, 'walking their talk', and share the tales of individual men and women who are, by a vast array of means, engaged with being the change they wish to see in the world.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and full absorbing read that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Pagan Planet: Being, Believing & Belonging in the 21 Century" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For members of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in a contemporary pagan approach to environmental and social issues of our time, it should be noted that "Pagan Planet" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.51).

The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend
Katarina Bivald
Sourcebooks landmark
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9780606374361, $29.40, Library Binding, 400pp,

Synopsis: Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy's funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor there's not much else to do in a dying small town that's almost beyond repair. You certainly wouldn't open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in change. You'd need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy's house is full of them), and customers. The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel's own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thoughts.

Critique: "The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend" is a heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers. All the more impressive when considering that this is author Katarina Bivald's debut as a novelist, "The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend" is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us. An extraordinary, original, and entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend" is very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. For the personal reading lists of booklovers everywhere it should be noted that "The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend" is also available in a paperback edition (9781492623441, $16.99); in a Kindle format ($9.00); and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Random House Audio, 9780147526052, $45.00).

Finding More on the Mat
Michelle Berman Marchildon
Hohm Press
PO Box 4410, Chino Valley, AZ 86323
9781935387947, $19.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Practicing yoga is an invitation to live up to our potential as human beings. So our mat becomes a catalyst for transformation. When we assume a yoga pose, it is not necessarily the shape of the body that counts. Rather, it is a chance to create an offering of the highest intention in our hearts. Practicing becomes our path, as we grow not just older, but better, wiser and stronger. We become so much more, both for ourselves and for those we love, every time we surrender to something greater, like Grace. Grace is in many ways reflective of the attitude we bring to the mat. It is the difference between a yoga practice that leaves you radically transformed and an exercise class. It's the difference between feeling full of hope and potential, or feeling like a schmuck. Our attitude creates the distinction between growing better, wiser and stronger on the mat, or afraid that we're going to die every time we bend over. "Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga" by Michelle Berman Marchildon is more than a personal story of discovery, it is also a kind of do-it-yourself blueprint for other yoga practitioners and students to achieve insight and fulfillment through yoga.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga" is an inherently informative and absorbing read from beginning to end, making it very highly recommended read for all who practice yoga, as well as an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library yoga instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Finding More on the Mat" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.49).

The Art of Risk
Kayt Sukel
National Geographic Press
101 West 104th Street, Suite 8, New York, NY 10025
9781426214721, $25.00, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: "The Art of Risk: The New Science of Courage, Caution, and Chance" by Kayt Sukel address such questions as: Are risk-takers born or made? Why are some more willing to go out on a limb (so to speak) than others? How do we weigh the value of opportunities large or small that may have the potential to change the course of our lives?; and more. Drawing upon and applying the latest research in neuroscience and psychology to compelling real-world situations "The Art of Risk" builds upon a portfolio of work that has appeared in such publications as Scientific American, Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, and more, as "The Art of Risk" offers an in-depth look at risk-taking and its role in the many facets of life that resonates on a personal level. Smart, progressive, and truly enlightening, "The Art of Risk" blends riveting case studies and hard-hitting science to explore risk-taking and how it impacts decision-making in work, play, love, and life, providing insight in understanding individual behavior and furthering personal success.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized, and presented from beginning to end, "The Art of Risk: The New Science of Courage, Caution, and Chance" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Showcasing a body of work that will be of immense interest to academia and the non-specialist general reader alike, "The Art of Risk" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Art of Risk" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Strengths Based Parenting
Mary Reckmeyer
Gallup Press
9781595621009, $24.99, HC, 352pp,

Synopsis: "Strengths Based Parenting: Developing Your Children's Innate Talents" by Mary Reckmeyer (Executive Director of Gallup's Donald O. Clifton Child Development Center in Omaha, Nebraska" is specifically written for parents wanting help their kids make the most of their talents -- and to help those same parents make the most of their own talents so they can be truly effective mothers and fathers. "Strengths Based Parenting" features access codes for two strengths assessments: one for parents and one for children. "Strengths Based Parenting " is replete with illustrative stories, practical examples and expert advice as well as a strengths assessment access code for parents and one for kids, so parents can take the first step to discovering their own innate talents and those of their children. Grounded in decades of Gallup research on strengths psychology "Strengths Based Parenting" shows how to uncover a child's (and the parent's) top talents.

Critique: As thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation as it is informed and informative in content, "Strengths Based Parenting" is very highly recommended for community library Parenting Skills reference collections and is a "must" for new and expecting parents in particular. For personal parental reading lists it should be noted that "Strengths Based Parenting" is also available in a Kindle edition ($22.99)

You Are Your Own Best Medicine
Frederic Saldmann, M.D.
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620554296, $14.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "You Are Your Own Best Medicine: A Doctor's Advice on the Body's Natural Healing Powers", Dr. Frederic Saldman (a physician at the hospitals of Paris and a recognized expert in cardiology, nutrition, and hygiene) offers simple do-it-yourself home remedies for better health and healing. Dr. Saldman also verifies the common sense of folk medicine with the latest medical research; reveals easy steps to boost immunity and address common ailments like allergies, sleep disorders, cardiovascular problems, sexual dysfunction, and excess weight; explains how to reduce your risk of cancer, heart attack, and Alzheimer's; and reveals how the human body's natural healing powers and address common ailments like allergies, sleep disorders, cardiovascular problems, sexual dysfunction, and excess weight. Of special note is learning from Dr. Saldman how washing your hands helps your mood; why hitting snooze on your alarm makes you tired; how pistachios are more effective than Viagra; simple acupressure tricks to relieve cramps, congestion, and other acute conditions; how dark chocolate helps you lose weight; which sleep position increases your risk of cancer; the role of gut flora and probiotics in alleviating asthma; how kissing boosts the immune system and helps wounds heal faster; the importance of replacing your pillow regularly; and so much, more . Then Dr. Saldmann goes on to explain how reducing your calorie intake by 30% each day can increase your life expectancy by 20 percent; how 30 minutes of exercise a day reduces your risk of cancer, Alzheimer's, and cardiovascular disease by 40 percent; how to combat the harmful effects of electromagnetic fields (which are now implicated in insomnia as well as the onset of certain diseases); and how to overcome constipation and get a flat stomach in the process.

Critique: Informed and informative, "You Are Your Own Best Medicine: A Doctor's Advice on the Body's Natural Healing Powers" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it an ideal reference and resource for non-specialist general readers with an interest in their personal health. Simply stated, "You Are Your Own Best Medicine" should be a part of every community and academic library Health/Medicine reference collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "You Are Your Own Best Medicine" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.05).

She Weeps Each Time You're Born
Quan Barry
Vintage Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780804171304, $16.00, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: In Vietnam in 1972, under a full moon, and on the banks of the Song Ma River, a baby girl is pulled out of her dead mother's grave. This is Rabbit, who is born with the ability to speak with the dead. She will flee from her destroyed village with a makeshift family thrown together by war. As Rabbit channels the voices of the dead, their chorus reconstructs the turbulent history of a nation, from the days of French Indochina and the World War II rubber plantations to the chaos of postwar reunification. Radiant, lyrical, and deeply moving, "She Weeps Each Time You're Born" is the unforgettable story of one woman's struggle to unearth the true history of Vietnam while also carving out a place for herself within it.

Critique: Impressively well written by a gifted novelist of the first order, Quan Barry's "She Weeps Each Time You're Born" is very highly recommended reading. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "She Weeps Each Time You're Born" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99). Community and academic libraries should acquire "She Weeps Each Time You're Born" in it's hard cover edition published by Pantheon (9780307911773, $24.95).

The Corporeal Imagination
Patricia Cox Miller
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812241426, $49.95, HC, 978-0812241426

Synopsis: With few exceptions, the scholarship on religion in late antiquity has emphasized its tendencies toward transcendence, abstraction, and spirit at the expense of matter. In "The Corporeal Imagination: Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity", Patricia Cox Miller (the W. Earl Ledden Professor of Religion, Emerita, at Syracuse University) argues instead that ancient Christianity took a material turn between the fourth and seventh centuries. During this period, Professor Miller contends, there occurred a major shift in the ways in which the human being was oriented in relation to the divine, a shift that reconfigured the relationship between materiality and meaning in a positive direction. "The Corporeal Imagination" is a groundbreaking investigation into the theological poetics of material substance in late ancient Christian texts. From hagiographies to literary descriptions of sacred paintings to treatises on relics and theurgy, Professor Miller examines a wide variety of ancient texts to reveal how Christian writers increasingly described the matter of the world as invested with divine power. By appealing to the reader's sensory imagination, Christian texts endowed phenomena like relics, saints' bodies in hagiography, and saints' presence in icons with a visual and tactile presence. "The Corporeal Imagination" draws on a variety of contemporary theoretical models to elucidate the significance of all these materials in ancient religious life and imagination.

Critique: Informed and informative theological scholarship at its best, "The Corporeal Imagination: Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity" is very highly recommended for pastoral, seminary and academic library Christian Studies reference collections and supplemental curriculum studies list. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Corporeal Imagination" is also available in a paperback edition (9780812223552, $24.95).

Parent Engagement in Early Learning
Julie Powers
Redleaf Press
10 Yorkton Court, St. Paul, MN 55117-1065
9781605544380, $29.95, PB, 184pp,

Synopsis: Julie Powers has worked with children, families, educators, and communities for over forty years. She started preschool programs at the Dodge Nature Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, an inclusion-based program for Catalina Foothills School District in Tucson, Arizona, and was a consultant for the Air Force Child Development Centers. She has taught at colleges across the country and is currently an associate professor of early childhood education at University of Hawaii Maui College. Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition of her instructional guide "Parent Engagement in Early Learning: Strategies for Working with Families" she brings to life real scenarios that care providers face in today's world. We know parent engagement is important for a child's success, but how do you turn parent-provider relationships into partnerships? "Parent Engagement in Early Learning" will show just how to improve parent-teacher communication, deal with family issues and special complications, and how to work with the modern family.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in commentary, organization and presentation, "Parent Engagement in Early Learning: Strategies for Working with Families" is very highly recommended for academic library Professional Development and Parent Participation reference collections and supplemental studies curriculums. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Parent Engagement in Early Learning" is also available in a Kindle edition ($20.99).

Helen Dumont

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Extraordinary Suzy Wright
Teri Kanefield, author
Abrams Books for Young Readers
115 W. 18th Street, Floor 6, New York, NY 10011
9781419718663, $19.95,

The biography of a little known Quaker woman poet and political activist, "The Extraordinary Suzy Wright: A Colonial Woman on the Frontier" tells the life story of an unusual Colonial woman of Pennsylvania, Susanna Wright (1697-1784). Colorfully illustrated with prints, paintings, maps and documents of the era, "The Extraordinary Suzy Wright" begins with the perilous ship journey of Suzy and her family from England to America in 1714, when she was 16. Despite great hardship and danger, her family brought her and her siblings to Pennsylvania in search of religious freedom. A literate and well educated young woman, Susanna read Italian, Latin, English, and also spoke French. Suzy became a well liked and respected young woman among influential men of Pennsylvania, including James Logan (chief justice, mayor of Philadelphia, acting governor) and Isaac Norris, a councilman and member of the Assembly. Unlike many Colonial women, Suzy never married, telling a friend, Hannah Griffitts, that she chose to remain single to "keep my dear liberty as long as I can." Suzy wrote many beautiful descriptive poems about her new home throughout her life, which are quoted in red lettering throughout the narrative. Eventually Suzy lived in a two story stone house near Wrights' ferry, built through combined efforts of indentured servants and other colonials. Because of her excellent education, she was able to assist Samuel Blunston, first clerk of court, in writing the needed letters and documents to get court business done. Her father eventually operated a ferry crossing in a settlement known as Wright's Ferry. Despite hardships and a rogue lawless influence, the family prospered. Suzy went on to become an accomplished herbalist, growing and distributing medicines to friends, Indians, and neighbors. Political adviser, lawyer, activist, and advocate for the Indians are only a few of the areas of accomplishment for Suzy Wright. Friend and correspondent of Benjamin Franklin, Suzy played a sizeable role in the emerging plans for governance in the Pennsylvania area. Like some others, Suzy became a Quaker in support of the American Revolution in 1776, at the age of 79. This was reflected in her correspondence, 30 some of which remains a part of history. She also remained adamantly pacifist. Putting together surviving letters, poems, pamphlets, and other pieces of history help to define the life and accomplishments of "The Extraordinary Suzy Wright." Her biography ends with a distinct pointing towards the role of Quakers as Abolitionists in the upcoming issues of slavery. Evidence indicates that eventually, the home Suzy lived in, built for her by her brother James, became a famous station on the Underground Railroad. The biography excerpts a famous quote from Douglas Gwyn, a Quaker historian: "They came to do good and they did very well." "The Extraordinary Suzy Wright" ends with an enlightening Author's Note, further Notes, and a Bibliography. This excellent resource and commentary on the life of a "little-known but meritorious woman" provides fascinating study for readers age 12 and older studying women's history in Colonial America.

President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House
Demi, author/illustrator
Wisdom Tales
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781937786502, $16.95,

Just in time for February, the month of President's birthdays, "President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House" is released by Wisdom Tales for the pleasure and education of children age 6 and up. Each page of this colorful, informative juvenile biography contains a paragraph of narrative, colored illustrations of figures representing Lincoln and his friends and family and the world he lived in, and a sidebar of a related quotation attributed to Abraham Lincoln or other contemporary, such as: "Upon the subject of education... I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in (A. L.)." Many fascinating events and highlights of President Lincoln's life are incorporated, as well as some lesser known deeds and accomplishments. Lincoln's amazing education, growth, and attainment of the Presidency in time to guide the United States through the terrible Civil War, issue the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), give the Gettysburg Address (November 8, 1864), and support the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery on January 31, 1865. Shortly after the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9, 1865, Lincoln was tragically shot and killed by a disgruntled actor named John Wilkes Booth. He died at the age of 56 on April 15, 1854. His funeral train traveled from Washington D.C. to Illinois for burial, stopping for the visitation of 8-10 million people along the way. In 1922, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was dedicated to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. It is visited by over 6 million people each year. This excellent biography of Abraham Lincoln is completed with a map of the United States in 1861 showing Union states, Union territories, and Confederate states, the text of the Gettysburg Address, a biographical timeline of the life of President Lincoln, and fascinating facts and famous quotes from Abraham Lincoln. "President Lincoln: From Log Cabin to White House" is an accurate, interesting, authentic recounting of the biography of perhaps the most famous president of the United States for young readers age 6 and up.

The Battle of the Vegetables
Matthieu Sylvander, author
Perceval Barrier, illustrator
Clarion Books
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
9780544359420, $15.99,

"The Battle of the Vegetables" is an unusual little cartoon collection of short stories with leeks, carrots, and other vegetables for main characters. Full of quirky humor, expressive cartoons, and wily herbivores stalking the hapless vegetables, these slightly adult vegetable tales definitely "grow on" the reader. Whether the intended audience is adult, young adult, or younger, some laughter is in store for any discerning reader. Beginning with "Leeks," a tale of a hungry cow pretending to be one of Santa's reindeer, following with a tale of naieve carrots who are charmed into a rabbit warren for future consumption, and ending with a star-crossed love tale of Romeo ( leek) and Juliette (a carrot), these short sophisticated veggie tales have more than one moral and message to deliver. The morals, or lessons, are expressed by a human character in the last tale, "Mixed Vegetables:" "Violence is not the answer. There's no point in trying to grow fast. Take your time. In the vegetable garden, everything winds up as soup." The limited palette color cartoons in tones of green, orange, and white add to the bite of spicy humor of every expressive line. For a refreshing change of pace, enjoy reading "The Battle of the Vegetables," you won't be sorry. This reviewer hasn't laughed so hard since the days of Walt Kelly and the characters of the Okefenokee swamp strip of Pogo and Albert.

Leslie A. Susskind, author
Tanja Tadic, illustrator
Good Manners Kids Stuff Press
9780985703288, $9.99,

"Wish" is a charming series of expressive one-word portraits that trace the delicate life cycle of a dandelion in the eyes of a child. Simply illustrated with bright colors, outdoor scenes, and a tiny tracing of a face on the dandelion seed hairs, "Wish" is a voyage of precise images, tersely conveyed in such narrative words as, "Wish," "Whoosh," "Whee," "Flutter," "Fly," and so on through out the dandelion's full life cycle until another dandelion grow, flowers, turns to white haired seeds, and is blown by a child with another wish. "Wish" is a magical story that will be loved by young children, who will also respond to the invitation to wonder at the amazement and beauty of life and change in "Wish."

The Newbies: Bible Alphabets A-Z
Barbara Denise Hendricks, author
Cory C. Hendricks, illustrator
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452517391, $20.95

"The Newbies: Bible Alphabets A-Z" is a creative children's alphabet book based on Bible verses, written in both English and Spanish. Written as part of a series created by the owner of Broader Horizons Childcare & Development Inc., "The Newbies: Bible Alphabets A-Z" presents an attractive children's book to teach the alphabet and Bible verses simultaneously, in both English and Spanish. Hand colored illustrations and warmly casual photo clips decorate each page. Every letter is given an example word which is briefly quoted in an embedded partial Bible verse, illuminated by the illustration or photo. An example is "Nn ... Nation....'An Holy Nation...' Exodus 19:6 KJV". In Spanish, 'Nn...Nacion...'Una Nacion Santa...' Exodo 19:6 KJV." This original Bible alphabet book is a compact gift to help teach young children the alphabet, the Bible, and English and Spanish. Simply but effectively presented, the Newbies series will have appeal for young children and their parents.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

You Can Have An Amazing Memory
Dominic O'Brien
Watkins Media Limited
9781907486975 $16.95 pbk

Synopsis: Dominic O'Brien is legendary for winning the World Memory Championship eight times and for outwitting the casinos of Las Vegas to win a fortune at blackjack. His success is based on brilliant techniques that he has developed and refined over the years - in particular, the Journey Method and the Dominic System. Here, for the first time, Dominic lets you right into the heart of his inner world of memory mastery. Learn how to build your memory at your own pace and take yourself to heights of attainment you never thought were possible. Follow his brain-boosting techniques as a warm-up and then move on to the advanced stuff - recalling dozens of digits with ease, wiping the floor with your opponents at cards, and driving the route from Land's End to John O'Groats without the aid of a satnav or road atlas - that's right, boys, you need never ask for directions again! The memory isn't like a muscle - its capacity is infinite. Turn your brain into a portable super-powered computer with this life-changing self-help book.

Critique: An accessible memory-improvement guide for readers of all backgrounds, You Can Have An Amazing Memory lives up to its title with tip, tricks, and techniques. You Can Have An Amazing Memory is a practical resource for test-taking students, skill-honing professionals, promotion-seeking social networkers, even hobbyists who enjoy memory-intensive games such as chess. Highly recommended!

Raymond B. Flannery Jr.
American Mental Health Foundation
128 Second Place, Brooklyn, NY 11231-4102
9781590565247, $125.00, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: Shootings. Stabbings. Rapes. Acts of terror. All too many of us thing that these can t happen wherever we might happen to live, work and play. But they do. However, are these truly random events? Can this violence ever be stopped? Can it be prevented? Can we at least reduce the risk? "Violence: Why People Do Bad Things, with Strategies to Reduce that Risk" probes the subject through key chapters revised as necessary to bring the subject up to the minute drawn from the previous books by Raymond Flannery (Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard medical School, and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School). Professor Flannery is among those at the forefront, studying the effects of violence and posttraumatic stress disorder. The information here highlights the significant findings in this research, over the past quarter-century, on the topics of psychological trauma, PTSD, and its victims. Professor Flannery's intent and purpose in publishing "Violence" is to reduce suffering and save lives.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Violence: Why People Do Bad Things, with Strategies to Reduce that Risk" is a compellingly thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Violence: Why People Do Bad Things, with Strategies to Reduce that Risk" is also available in a paperback edition (9781590565377, $15.00) and in a Kindle format ($6.99).

Historical Archaeology of Arkansas
Carl G. Drexler, editor
The University of Tennessee Press
110 Conference Center UT, Knoxville, TN 37996
9781621901822, $49.95, HC, 228pp,

Synopsis: Arkansas's diverse geography, spanning the Ozark Mountains, densely forested Timberlands, and Mississippi River Delta, and its complex Native American and Euro American history belie the inattentive historical treatment the Natural State has thus far received by scholars. Often disparaged as a cultural and intellectual backwater (and perhaps best known for President Bill Clinton and Wal-Mart) this overly simplified image of Arkansas shadows a state rich in historic significance and the archaeological record. Carl G. Drexler (the Archeological Survey's station archeologist for southwest Arkansas and a research assistant professor with the University of Arkansas) correct this bias with the publication of "Historical Archaeology of Arkansas: A Hidden Diversity". Comprising nine essays that range from Civil War sites to the Ozark Mountains to the nineteenth-century Jewish community, Professor Drexler and his contributors present an Arkansas unknown to all but those dedicated individuals working to publicize the state's hidden diversity. The research presented herein depicts a strong state and federal commitment to documenting Arkansas's history, perhaps unmatched by any other state in America, and the success of public archaeology through the efforts of the Arkansas Archaeological Survey. The "Historical Archaeology of Arkansas" not only showcases the natural beauty and rich history of Arkansas, but it also serves as a primer for historical inquiry for other state and federal organizations looking to bolster their own programs.

Critique: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "Historical Archaeology of Arkansas: A Hidden Diversity" is comprised of nine informed and informative contributions that range from Leslie C. Stewart-Abernathy's 'Colonel Mustard and the Dog with the Crock in the Basement: The Power of Things in Places in Antebellum Arkansas'; to Eric Probesting's 'Uncovering the Past: The Lewis Log Home and Its Place in Ozark History; to David M. Markus' 'The Archaeology of Judaism, Slavery and Assimilation' on the Antebellum Frontier. Enhanced with illustrations consisting of figures and tables, an informative introduction (Arkansas Historical Archaeology through Time), and a five page Index, "Historical Archaeology of Arkansas" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of Arkansas that "Historical Archaeology of Arkansas" is also available in a PDF format ($49.95).

I Like God: A Novel
Jeff Yager & Skye Bynes
Hannacroix Creek Books
1127 High Ridge Road, #110, Stamford, CT 06905
9781938998164, $29.95, HC, 314pp,

Synopsis: Joey Taylor jokingly starts a public page for "God" on FaceSpace and forgets about it when he goes off the grid from social media. Four years later, he returns to the page to find that it has over 30 million "likes". When Joey discovers the immense power and responsibility that comes with this incredible online audience at his disposal, the former pizza delivery driver develops a God complex of his own. Joey's newfound fame on FaceSpace takes a turn nobody could ever see coming.

Critique: "I Like God: A Novel" is one of those impressively written works of fiction that reveals something of what could really come to pass in today's social media dominated popular culture. A ripping great read from beginning to end, "I Like God: A Novel" is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "I Like God: A Novel" is also available in a paperback edition (9781938998157, $16.95) and in a Kindle format ($6.99).

Race in Mind: Critical Essays
Paul Spickard
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268041489, $39.00, PB, 408pp,

Synopsis: "Race in Mind" by Paul Spickard (Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara) presents fourteen critical essays on race and mixed race by one of America's most prolific and influential ethnic studies scholars. Collected in one volume are all of Professor Spickard's theoretical writings over the past two decades. Ten of the articles have been revised and updated from previous publications. Four appear here for the first time. Professor Spickard's work embraces three overarching themes: race as biology versus race as something constructed by social and political relationships; race as a phenomenon that exists not just in the United States, but in every part of the world, and even in the relationships between nations; and the question of racial multiplicity. These essays analyze how race affects people's lives and relationships in all settings, from the United States to Great Britain and from Hawaii to Chinese Central Asia. They contemplate the racial positions in various societies of people called Black and people called White, of Asians and Pacific Islanders, and especially of those people whose racial ancestries and identifications are multiple. Here for the first time are Spickard's trenchant analyses of the creation of race in the South Pacific, of DNA testing for racial ancestry, and of the meaning of multiplicity in the age of Barack Obama.

Critique: Erudite, insightful, challenging, informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Race in Mind: Critical Essays" is an impressive body of impressively presented and reasoned scholarship on the subject of race that is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library collections.

Between the World and Us
Petar Divjak
Diviacchi Promotions, Inc.
9780692582916, $19.99, PB, 102pp,

Synopsis: "Between the World and Us: A Workingman's Response to "Between the World and Me" by Petar Divjak is a workingman's response to Ta-Nehisi Coates book "Between the World and Me" (Spiegel & Grau, 9780812993547, $24.00 HC, $12.99 Kindle, 176pp). "Between the World and Us" is written as an essay letter from a father to a son warning him about the temptation to use racism as a means of survival in life. It analyzes the Coates' book as being an example of modern day "bullshit" about racism that serves more to promote racism by its nonsense categories than to diminish it. "Between the World and Us" goes on to argue that polemics on racism miss the true fight as being one of an economic struggle between working and ruling classes of society. "Between the World and Us" argues further that for an individual not only to defeat the temptation to be a racist individually but to go on to establish a social normative basis to make it an evil requires a realization of Despair in life and then the will to overcome this Despair by accepting a "Slave Morality".

Critique: An exceptionally well reasoned critique that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Between the World and Us: A Workingman's Response to "Between the World and Me" is a rewarding and a challenging read that is very highly recommended. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Between the World and Us" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Forged in Battle
Jan Breytenbach
Protea Boekhuis
c/o Casemate
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781485300441, $23.00, PB, 207pp,

Synopsis: 1975, the 32nd Battalion was formed in great secrecy from a group of badly trained, ill-disciplined remnants of the Angolan guerrilla movement. In "Forged in Battle" by Colonel Jan Breytenbach, the FNLA founding commander and a former Recce, tells of the birth and early history of this elite "Buffalo" Battalion led by South African officers. He turned these unwanted orphans from the Angolan guerrilla war into one of the most respected and feared units to fight in Angola. His method was a simple one. He instilled in his soldiers a total commitment and loyalty to the unit, rather than to a country or cause. Nicknamed Os Terriveis (the Terrible Ones), they became one of the best counter-insurgency forces in the SADF. "Forged in Battle" follows the birth and growth of 32nd Battalion from former enemies and terrorists into decorated soldiers.

Critique: An inherently riveting account, "Forged in Battle" is a compelling read from first page to last. Exceptionally well written, informed and informative, "Forged in Battle" is a strongly recommended addition to community and academic library 20th Century Military History collections, as well as the personal reading lists of military history buffs.

The Marketing Revolution in Politics
Bruce I. Newman
Rotman / UTP Publishing
c/o University of Toronto Press
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4Y 2W8
9781442647992, $32.95, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: In 2008, Barack Obama's presidential campaign used an innovative combination of social media, big data, and micro-targeting to win the White House. In 2012, the campaign did it again, further honing those marketing tools and demonstrating that political marketing is on the cutting edge when it comes to effective branding, advertising, and relationship-building. The challenges facing a presidential campaign may be unique to the political arena, but the creative solutions are not. "The Marketing Revolution in Politics: What Recent U.S. Presidential Campaigns Can Teach Us About Effective Marketing" by Bruce I. Newman (Professor of Marketing and a Wicklander Fellow in Business Ethics in the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University, and founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Political Marketing) shows how recent US presidential campaigns have adopted the latest marketing techniques and how organizations in the for-profit and non-profit sectors can benefit from their example. Distilling the marketing practices of successful political campaigns down into seven key lessons, Professor Newman shows how organizations of any size can apply the same innovative, creative, and cost-effective marketing tactics as today's presidential hopefuls.

Critique: An impressive study of exceptional and original scholarship, "The Marketing Revolution in Politics" is an informative and compelling study of marketing that is remarkably relevant to the 2016 presidential campaigns. Simply stated, "The Marketing Revolution in Politics" should be considered a must-read for political campaign managers, students of marketing and political marketing, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in how presidential campaigns operate in the post-Citizens United world of American politics.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Bronner - A Journey to Understand
Sherri Burgess
New Hope Publishers
P O Box 12065, Birmingham, AL 35202
9781625915009, $16.99, 222 Pages,

Finding Triumph in the Midst of Tragedy

"Bronner - A Journey to Understand" is a memorable, heartwrenching story that will impact the reader and linger in their thoughts long after the books' covers are closed. Sherri Burgess challenges the reader to find triumph in the midst of personal adversity through God's limitless grace.

Life changed for Rick and Sherri Burgess and their family when two and one half year old Bronner drown in the family swimming pool in January of 2008. Devastated, they asked the question, "Why God?"

This is their story of responding to testing, trials, and tragedy. It is a testimony of faith, relinquishment, and ultimate victory as they chose to trust God for a refinement process, as he provided comfort, strength, and healing of the pain and suffering experienced by their loss. Sherri's writing is sensitive, filled with beautiful descriptions of defining moment, inner struggles, and personal victory.

A supplemental interactive reader's guide: a resource for personal growth with life changing questions for application, contemplation, which will lead the reader to pursue a pure heart, manifest by a passion to know the heart of God, The study guide is designed for reader's groups, individual or small group use.

"Bronner - A Journey to Understand" will resonate with every parent and family who has experienced the loss of a child through death.

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

Empowering Young Christians - Developing Bible Based Leadership and Soft Skills
Gary J. Green, PhD
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457540998, $19.99, 190 pages,

Biblical Principles for Christian Teens to Cultivate, Empower, and Embrace -Leadership Skills and Abilities for Success

"Empowering Young Christians - Developing Bible Based Leadership and Soft Skills" is a self-help book for Christian teens to develop a successful life and to fulfill the life that God has planned for them. Dr. Cary Green leads the reader into a self-awareness, communication, and values and priorities within a structure of: Readiness, Relationships, and Results.

Each chapter is filled with practical advice, hands on exercises to help the reader determine their goal, develop their skills, and discover God's guidance for the future. Examples from the Scriptures reveal essential characteristics that will empower the reader in areas of integrity, professionalism, attitudes, balance, synergy, prioritizing, problem solving, and accountability.

The book is organized for ease in reading, in understanding adaptation, and application. The material is presented in ways that make it relevant and age appropriate for contemporary youth.

Dr. Green is an educator, author, speaker, and life skills coach, highly recognized for his teaching and mentoring. In the church setting, Dr. Green has taught and mentored youth in the Sunday School and youth programs.

"Empowering Young Christians" is unquestionably, stimulating, motivational, and inspiring. Highly recommended as "must reading" for teens, their parents, and mentors.

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

Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts, Expanded Edition
Richard Booker
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768409017, $15.99, 220 Pages

Discovering the Significance of Our Christian Roots by Exploring and Celebrating the Biblical Feasts

This expanded edition of Dr. Richard Booker's "Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts" helps the reader understand the importance of Jewish roots impact Christianity and God's plan of redemption, and how these feasts of the Lord are fulfilled in Jesus.

Chapter one introduces the Biblical Jewish calendar and explains the prophetic significance of the Biblical feasts in the overall plan of God. The chapters that follow include an in-depth study of each of the feasts. Chapters include an introduction, historical background and point to Jesus and how he has satisfied each of the individual feasts. Personal study review questions stimulate application, a deeper understanding of the life changing significance each of the seven Biblical feasts. This feature makes the book easily adaptable for individual or group use. The comprehensive chapter endnotes are rich as a source for further reading and study.

Dr. Richard Booker and his wife Peggy are co-founders of the Institute for Hebriaic-Christian studies. They are recognized internationally for their tireless efforts at building relationships between Christians and Jews.

"Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts" is a "treasure find" for anyone on a quest for a greater passion for Christ and to discover and walk in His peace, rest, and resurrection power.

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

The Five Times I Met Myself
James L. Rubart
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781401686116, $19.99, 388 pages,

Life Changing Fiction with an Absorbing Plot and a Powerful Redemptive Message

Award winning author James L. Rubart's gift of communication, creative imagination, teaching skills, and a masterful use of the elements of story bring life to his novel "The Five Times I met myself.

Brock Matthews is on familiar terms with the pressures and tensions that often accompany midlife is faced with the reality of a distancing in his marriage relationship and of a downward spiraling of a successful career.

After a disturbing recurring nightmare Brock, desperately wants to change his life. He opens up to a trusted friend who introduces him to a concept of controlling the sub conscious through a "lucid dreams technique," a creative tool for healing fears, and an effective means of problem solving.

I am fast becoming a fan of James Rubart. I enjoy his fast paced narrative, unexpected plot twists, the fast moving action, his use of conflict and resolution, his strong character development and stimulating dialog. The thought provoking discussion questions included make this an ideal selection for Book Club use and individual personal reflection.

The life changing message of redemption, restoration, and freedom in "The Five Times I Met Myself" offers hope to readers eager to reconnect or stay connected with God.

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

Faithing It - Bringing Purpose Back To Your Life
Cora Jakes Coleman
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407891, $21.99, 230 pages

Growing Up in a Family Fishbowl of World Renowned Ministry Leader

Cora Jakes Coleman tells her inspiring story in, "Faithing It - Bringing Purpose Back to Your Life." It is a story of spiritual and personal growth in the midst of physical pain and emotional upheaval; a testimony of an ashes to beauty spiritual journey.

Coleman draws from her experiences and those of friends as examples to help the reader identify and relate to the "storms of life" they face. She goes on to offer important practical reminders for meeting each problem, head on, by claiming the promises of God for strength, comfort, and guidance. She weaves a theme of rediscovering purpose, order, and balance to uncover anything hindering our God given dream, single-mindedness, influence, and potential.

I enjoyed Coleman's natural conversational style of communication to draw attention to scriptural tenets and her own personal insights on the process of recognizing our weaknesses to focus on finding our identity with Christ, allowing him to put purpose back into our life; with the goal of becoming world changers for Him.

A reader friendly format, a series of group leader outlines, and the inspiring prayers at the end of each chapter insure the reader of: and increase in faith, and an impact on ministry which encourage an honest self-appraisal and a personal quest for finding our divine purpose.

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

Healthy and Free - A Journey to Wellness for Your Body, Soul, and Spirit
Beni Johnson
Destiny Image Publishing, Inc.
P. O. Box 310 Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768407914, $15.99, 206 pages

Guidelines for Healthier Living - The Importance of Physical Exercise, Proper Nutrition, and Spiritual Fitness

"Healthy and Free - A Journey to Wellness for Your Body, Soul, and Spirit" encourages the reader to become more aware of the importance of physical exercise, proper nutrition, and spiritual fitness and introduces a series of practical, proven guideline for healthier living.

The book is also Beni's personal story, a story of struggle and transformation, a story motivated by her passionate love and concern for peoples of the world, who are undernourished, or unaware of the need for and importance of finding and pursuing tools that lead to healthy living.

The importance of soul health is reinforced with Biblical principles and documented examples of how this is a precursor to physical wellness. In her presentation of "Tools for Health" " Beni discusses hydration, the power of sleep, exercise, proper eating, and detoxing for a better life. I found the Q&A section to be of special interest as well as the recipes and the references to essential oils, and nutritional supplements.

The book is thoroughly researched and meticulously documented with chapter end notes and a resource list with websites with recommended product brands, food documentaries, recommending reading, and recommended blogs.

Beni Johnson serves with her husband Bill Johnson as senior pastors of Bethel Church of Redding, California and is highly respected internationally for her role overseeing Bethel's intercessory prayer ministry.

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

Deliver Me from Negative Self-Talk - A Guide to Speaking Faith-Filled Words
Lynn R. Davis
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780798407679, $14.99, 236 pages

Biblical Principles for Replacing Negative Talk with Life Changing Faith Declarations, and Positive Thought Patterns

In this expanded version of "Deliver Me from Negative Self-Talk" Lynn R. Davis adds new and exclusive content in a reader friendly format, using Biblical principles, engaging personal and real life experiences to illustrate and introduce practical steps to help the reader replace negative self-talk with positive thought patterns.

"Faith Declarations" are also included which are designed inspire the reader to practice the process of using positive thought patterns and to increase their faith. Discussion questions are used to encourage the development of critical thinking skills with a clearer focus. The chapter titled "Developing Your Spiritual Self-Talk" succinctly shows the reader how to grow spiritually and to walk in faith.

The final section of the book is made up of thirty-one daily reflections and meditations. A powerful scripture promise provides the reader with the stimulus that "will lift the spirit" encourage clear thinking, and to "embrace" God's unconditional love, grace, and mercy.

Davis writes with a balance of candor, sensitivity and authority. "Deliver Me from Negative Self-Talk" will resonate with Christians desirous of building and growing in faith and those wanting to experience the amazing impact of replacing negative self-talk habits with positive thought patterns.

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

The Principle & Power of Kingdom Citizenship - Keys to Experiencing Heaven on Earth
D. Myles Munroe
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780780768408683, $19.99, 218 pages

A Training Guide for Citizens of the Kingdom of God in the context of the Present Day

In "The Principle & Power of Kingdom Citizenship" Dr. Munroe helps the reader understand the characteristics of a Kingdom, the rights and benefits of citizenship, and the principle of dual citizenship. Dr. Munroe's gifted teaching style empowers and enables the reader to recognize and enter into their rights as citizens of God's kingdom.

Dr. Myles Munroe has a distinctive way for taking a complex concept, breaking it down into bite sized chunks, bisecting and dissecting these into visual word pictures that open to the reader a new understanding of an eternal truth. This book is devoted to exploring the uniqueness of Kingdom citizenship drawing from the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, from the prophecies of Isaiah, and Micah, from the book of Acts and from the writings of the Apostle Paul.

Dr. Munroe presents scriptural truth in a way that illuminates and challenges the reader to accept the responsibility of Kingdom citizenship, to exercise their authority as ambassadors of Christ, and to impact the world around them through the power of the Kingdom of God. This final book written by Dr. Munroe "The Principle & Power of Kingdom Citizenship" is a tribute to his legacy.

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

Real Success - A Handbook for Personal Success and Happiness
Patrick Mather-Pike
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768409758, $14.99, 190 pages,

Attitudes, Paradigms, Success Habits for a Positive Life Change

Patrick Mather-Pike promises to stretch your mind, and expand your awareness through his book "Real Success - A Handbook for Personal Success and Happiness." Part One reveals how defining our thinking, attitudes, and paradigms determine and develop personal success. Part Two offers key to how to develop success habits that will determine your life's outcome and measure of your success and happiness.

Each chapter contains a significant inspirational quote by a highly recognized leader in business, award winning author, or other notable leader in literature, political science, an educator, or life coach. These thought provoking statements evoke a stimulus for the focus of the chapter. Real success exercises provide opportunity for determining action steps, launching goals, time management, as well as establishing core values, self-image, and people skills.

Other features of a book I always find interesting and helpful are the recommended reading lists, and references to other resources. Patrick Mather-Pike has included them as well as access to a complete pdf of the Real Success Exercises.

Patrick Mather-Pike is a network marketing entrepreneur. He has successfully coached people in many countries who have and are achieving success in every area of their life.

"Real Success - A Handbook for Personal Success and Happiness" is an ideal road map for those just starting out on their journey tp success, as well as for those who may have taken a detour on their journey and are ready get back on the road to successful living. Highly recommended

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Pacific Burn: A Thriller
Barry Lancet
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476794884, $25.00 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 368pgs,

l like a story that grabs you in and keeps you going, and this one did that. Death, Murder, Who Done It! Pacific Burn grabs you before you know it. But how deep does it go, who else is involved and why? This book has great characters weaving their way into the storyline slipping in and out and building your questions waiting for answers. It is adventurous but also mysterious, with a drawing story line. It's a good read to cuddle up and enjoy. I think you will like this one.

When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Good Person
Wigu Publishing
P.O. Box 1800, Sun Valley, ID 83353-1800
9781939973047, $12.99, 20 Pages,

This is a great read, it is about two brothers who experience the death of a older man and must go to his funeral. In doing this they talked to and met many of the town people who this friend of there's had helped in so many ways to so many people. They saw how much people loved him for his kindness through the years and they realized what a good person he was. Seeing this and feeling the love for him made these young boys also want to be a good person. It's a great story with a wonderful learning experience. I'm happy to recommend it.

Putter and the Red Car
Kate K. Lund
Privately Published
9780997151626, $12.95, 37pgs,

This is a really fun read. We meet a family and their dog as they are traveling across the Country to live in a new town and a new house. The story is told by the family dog as they travel along. It was cute hearing how the Dog saw things and shared the love and adventure with the family. This is a great book for the whole family to read, it will help them to realize that their Pet is an important part of the family no matter what they are doing. I recommend this highly. The illustrations a are great, as if the story. Recommended.

Pam Grout
Hay House Publishing
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781401945435, $15.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 220pgs,

I really did not have a good idea of what I was going to find when I began this read but I am so thankful that I did. I love reading about Quantum and what I found in this read was partly like that teaching, although it was also somewhat different. Our author takes us through l daily life and gives us some pointers of how to open the door to receive what life wants to give you. I will not try to explain all of that, but I will say that this book will at least shake you up if nothing else. Using the force of energy and the energy around you, you can walk into a better life. This is a great book but if you are like me it will take some time to digest before these tips work, but I'm going to give it a try. I find it very interesting and I think you will as well. If we can better our life, what are we waiting for. Enjoy

Lil Lilly's Bow'thday Present
Kathy Johnson
Headline Books
P O Box 52, Terra Alta, WV 26764
9781882658510, $12.95, 40pgs,

This is a very cute story as Lilly learns how to be happy in life and what is important, which is LOVE. The author lets you move along with Lilly as she learns her lessons. It is full of illustrations that help to bring the story up and center and fully alive. This is a great learning book that is also entertaining. I think you will like this one.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

60 Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure
Robert D. Lesslie, MD
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736963275 $12.99 pbk / $8.25 Kindle

Synopsis: You may have high blood pressure and not even know it. Yet high blood pressure greatly increases your risk for a devastating heart attack or stroke. What can you do to discover whether you're at risk, disarm this silent killer, and increase your chances of enjoying the years you've been given?

In 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure, physician and bestselling author Robert Lesslie provides easy-to-understand, expert advice, including

What your blood pressure numbers mean and what you can do to improve them
The truth about the benefits of exercise, sleep, and stress reduction
How to know if you need medication and if so, which kind

Dr. Lesslie's proven ways to lower your blood pressure show you the steps to take on your way to long-term health and a more vibrant life.

Critique: An accessible, reader-friendly guide, 60 Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure is an invaluable resource for combating one of the most common health problems in America. Although 60 Ways To Lower Your Blood Pressure cannot substitute for the diagnosis, guidance, or treatment of a trained physician, its practical recommendations just might save or improve the quality of one's life. Highly recommended. "Where salt intake is higher, the incidence of hypertension is higher. As further proof of this association, we know that when dietary salt is restricted, blood pressure falls, independent of any other intervention. That's important, and that's why we constantly hear 'cut down on your salt.'"

Eternity at the End of a Rope
Clifford R. Caldwell & Ron DeLord
Sunstone Press
PO Box 2321, Santa Fe, NM 87504-2321
9781632930897, $60.00, HC, 668pp,

Synopsis: From 1819 to the 1923, more than 3,000 souls found their personal ''eternity at the end of a rope'' in Texas. Some earned their way. Others were the victim of mistaken identity, or an act of vigilante justice. Deserved or not, when the hangman's knot is pulled up tight and the black cap snugged down over your head it is too late to plead your case. "Eternity at the End of a Rope: Executions, Lynchings and Vigilante Justice in Texas, 1819-1923" is a remarkable history that begins in 1819 with the first legal hanging in Texas. By 1835 accounts of lynching dotted the records. Although by 1923 legal execution by hanging was discontinued in favor of the electric chair, vigilante justice remained a favorite pastime for some. The accounts of violence are numbing. The cultural and racial implications are profound, and offer a far more accurate, unbiased insight into the tally of African-American and Hispanic victims of mob violence in the Lone Star State than has ever been presented. Many of these deeds were nothing short of morbid theater, worthy of another era. "Eternity at the End of a Rope" is backed up by years of research on the part of historians Clifford R. Caldwell and Ron DeLord who had access to thousands of primary source documents.

Critique: A unique and exceptionally well documented, organized, and presented history, "Eternity at the End of a Rope: Executions, Lynchings and Vigilante Justice in Texas, 1819-1923" is a compelling and highly recommended addition to community and academic library American History collections. Impressively well written and commended to the attention of academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Texas history in general, and the history corporal punishment in particular, it should be noted that "Eternity at the End of a Rope" is also available in a paperback edition (9781632930880, $40.00).

Embers of the Earth
Robert Balmanno
Regent Press
2747 Regent St., Berkeley, CA 94705
9781587903335, $15.95, PB, 344pp,

Synopsis: The Year 519 A.G. After Gaia. Civilization needs a restart. The Gaia-Domes technology-rich, oppressive and fanatical are collapsing. Contending religions and sects roil the planet. Semiliterate primitives, decimated by environmental catastrophe, struggle to comprehend their obscure roots and uncertain prospects. A brilliant youth, groomed for the task from childhood, is sent by the New Rebels on a 12-year odyssey to uncover archives that will enable him to construct a new alphabet and write the Foundation Document for a postlapsarian world. But can he successfully complete the mission without losing his faith, his principles, or his life? Drawing on what Joseph Campbell called the monomyth narrative, "Embers of the Earth" chronicles a future where ecology is destiny, revolutionaries are venerated as goddesses, family secrets have global repercussions, and the reluctant hero is a teller of tales who sparks an underground cultural revival by refusing to tell lies about humankind s past.

Critique: The third volume in author Robert Balmanno's outstanding 'The Blessings of Gaia' series, "Embers of the Earth" is a another carefully crafted science fiction novel by a true master of the genre. Very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of science fiction enthusiasts, as well as community library Science Fiction collections.

The Beef Industry, What They Don't Tell You
John Peirce, DVM
Sunstone Press
PO Box 2321, Santa Fe, NM 87504-2321
9781632930842, $26.95, PB, 230pp,

Synopsis: Whether or not you are a beef consumer, are you satisfied that you know all you should about this product? Usual sources of information might, to a very large degree, not give adequate information about beef. Some of these sources might be biased -- either for or against the product. Beef industry spokesmen and vegetarian advocates often have an ulterior motive to sway you one way or another for a variety of reasons. If you care for your body, if you care for your family, throw off the cloak of not knowing. "The Beef Industry, What They Don't Tell You" by veterinarian John Peirce is your opportunity to discern for yourself the facts regarding beef. It is a story of how, what, when, why and by whom beef is created. Is it really safe? Is it really healthy? Do you want to know more about the terminology of beef? Then "The Beef Industry, What They Don't Tell You" will enable you to know when it comes to beef and beef products, just what you are putting on your plate, or why you are not doing so.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, documented, and presented, "The Beef Industry, What They Don't Tell You" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Beginning with an historical overview of the beef industry from 1655 to the present, "The Beef Industry, What They Don't Tell You" is comprised of chapters on Beef Specifics; Beef Handling Techniques; Your Personal Options Regarding Beef; Your Beef Producers; The Business of Beef; Life of a Calf; Humane Treatment; Nutritive Value of Beef; health Issue Involving Beef - The Harvard Study; Environmental Issues; and Consumer Evolution. Of special note is the Closing statement and an author's Postscript. Simply stated, "The Beef Industry, What They Don't Tell You" is very highly recommended both community and academic library collections, as well to the attention of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the beef industry, in the consumption of beef and human health, and in the environmental and humanitarian issues arising from the ranching and slaughter of cattle.

The Lost Wilderness
Nicholas Guitard
Goose Lane Editions
500 Beverbrook Court, Suite 330, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 5X4
9780864928771, $24.95, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Every summer between 1882 and 1929, naturalist William Francis Ganong traveled through the wilderness of New Brunswick, systematically mapping previously uncharted territories, taking photographs, and documenting observations on the physical geography of the province that laid the foundations for the modern study of New Brunswick's rich natural history. In "The Lost Wilderness: Rediscovering W.F. Ganong's New Brunswick", acclaimed photographer and naturalist Nicholas Guitard retraces many of these journeys, comparing his notes with those recorded by Ganong in handwritten travel journals and published articles and monographs. Richly illustrated with archival maps and photographs made by Ganong alongside the author's own stunning photography, "The Lost Wilderness" finds a New Brunswick both utterly changed and amazingly similar to the wild place Ganong found a century ago. Nicholas Guitard revisits Ganong's explorations and, in a warm and conversational style, illuminates Ganong's contributions to our present geographical knowledge of New Brunswick and traces the effects of millennia of glacial erosion and tectonic upheaval as well as the more recent effects of human settlement and resource exploitation.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and illustrated read, "The Lost Wilderness: Rediscovering W.F. Ganong's New Brunswick" offers a unique perspective that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Lost Wilderness" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Lost Wilderness" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.42).

The Peacekeeper's Wife
Kevin Eze
Amalion Publishing
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9782359260441, $19.95, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: When Issa was sent as one of the several thousands to a peacekeeping mission in the Congo, Malika, his newly wedded wife, watched and waited in helpless horror, as Issa was entangled in someone else's war. As Issa guarded the UN base, barring rebels from raping children and patrolling the borders of a rich-yet-ruined territory, back home in Segol, Malika has felt the weight of separation, descending to a gradual but forceful emotional abyss. Fatimata, her mother-in-law, pained by the absence of a son, has accused Malika of being a witch and has sent her to Bintou, the marabout. The conflict between Malika and Fatimata escalates, drawing fire from their mutual longing. "The Peacekeeper's Wife" deftly captures the human catastrophe of wars and migration in faraway lands, through the excruciating loss and loneliness of estranged families burdened by the separation from loved ones.

Critique: In a story that could well be ripped from today's headlines about the seemingly endless conflicts in Africa, "The Peacekeeper's Wife" is a compelling read from beginning to end and showcase author Kevin Eze as an impressively talented novelist of the first order. "The Peacekeeper's Wife" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections.

When Brothers Dwell in Unity
Stephen Morris
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9780786495177, $45.00, PB, 240,

Synopsis: In Medieval Europe and throughout the rest of the world's Roman Catholic and Christian Orthodox communities, bankers were to be forbidden communion, socially shunned, denied church funerals, and not commemorated during prayers for the dead. Men and women who committed fornication or adultery were forbidden communion for years. Men and women who remarried after divorce or widowhood were to be forbidden communion for years and then only allowed communion on a few holy days and even then only after weeks of sexual abstinence. Men who had sex with other men were to be denied communion for either 7 or 80 days. Penances traditionally attached to heterosexual sins (including remarriage after divorce or widowhood) have always been much more severe than those for a variety of homosexual acts or relationships.

Even so, the Byzantine churches eventually found ways to accommodate sequential marriages and other behavior once stridently condemned. In "When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality" author Stephen Morris (a former priest of the Orthodox Church who served as the Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University) argues that today it is possible for Byzantine Christianity to make pastoral accommodations for gay relationships and same-sex marriage.

What most disturbed monastic leaders was adolescent males being accepted as novices; adult men were considered unable to control their sexual desires for these "beautiful boys." John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople (397-407), virulently denounced homosexuality, but was virtually the only Byzantine cleric to do so and may have only done so because of unresolved guilt following probable sexual abuse as a student.

Critique: "When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality" is an exceptionally well-written, organized and presented theological treatise for both academic and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Christian theology, with respect to the LGBT community. Enriched with the inclusion of four appendices, twenty pages of Chapter Notes, a ten page bibliography, and a fifteen page index, "When Brothers Dwell in Unity" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Christian Studies reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Brothers Dwell in Unity" is also available in a Kindle edition ($29.99).

Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs
Stanley Coren
Hubble & Hattie
9781845848606, $15.99, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: "Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs" by Stanley Coren (Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia) is a rich collection of folklore, mythology, and tall tales concerning dogs, which provide a fascinating insight into the way that humans think about dogs, and our emotional bond to our pets. The various stories include some that are spooky, some that are funny - and some that engage the same part of the mind that we use when reading detective stories, trying to figure out what is going to happen next, or solve a puzzle. The stories comprising "Gods, ghosts and Black Dogs" come from all over the world, and from many different time periods. In these captivating tales you can meet historical figures such as George Washington and Davy Crockett, and mythical beings such as Paul Bunyan, the god Zeus, and the hero Odysseus, and find out how dogs make up part of their stories. Discover how the Dalmatian got his spots, and why Basenjis don't bark. Learn whether there are dogs in heaven, and if the devil might have a dog.

Critique: Informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs" is an inherently fascinating and entertaining read that is especially commended to the attention of all canine enthusiasts. "Gods, Ghosts and Black Dogs" is also very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections.

Fatal Complications
John Benedict
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608091560, $26.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: When a colleague's patient suffers a bizarre reaction in the operating room, Luke Daulton, a newly minted anesthesiologist, volunteers to help. Despite the surgical team's best efforts, the patient succumbs to a rare anesthetic complication. Luke becomes perplexed, even suspicious, over their inability to save the woman. Is it possible that the diagnosis was wrong? Or, worse yet, was the diagnosis faked? Luke even wonders if his boss Dr. Katz is involved. Too busy with the rigors of new job and his pending fatherhood, Luke is forced to put his suspicions on hold. When his wife Kim faces a C-section, his fears are reignited. Could there be a murderer (or murderers) operating in his hospital? Could his wife's obstetrician be involved? When the C-section goes horribly wrong, Luke must launch into action to save his wife and baby and expose a conspiracy he's uncovered in his hospital.

Critique: A terrifically entertaining medical thriller, "Fatal Complications" by novelist John Benedict is highly recommended, especially for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For the personal reading lists of mystery buffs, it should be noted that "Fatal Complications" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Carrying the Black Bag
Tom Hutton, M.D.
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
9780896729544, $27.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: During his thirty-plus years of practicing in West Texas and Minnesota, physician and neurologist Tom Hutton discovered that a doctor's best teachers are often his patients. From these (extra)ordinary individuals, he gained a whole-hearted respect for the resourcefulness, courage, and resilience of the human spirit. Part memoir and part homage to those patients who faced major illness with grace, grit, and dignity, "Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist's Bedside Tales" invites readers to experience what it is like to be a doctor's hands, eyes, and heart. Imagine the joy of witnessing a critically ill five-year-old who, against all odds, claws her way back from a coma and near certain death. Meet a lonely Texas widower with Parkinson's disease who hosts elaborate pinochle parties for a pack of imaginary canines. Step into the surgical booties of the author when he attempts to deliver his own child amid heart-stopping obstetrical complications. Through real-life patient narratives, Hutton shines light on ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges. Moreover, this captivating tale captures the drama of medicine - its mystery, pathos, heroism, sacrifice, and humor. For more than just those working in the healthcare profession, Carrying the Black Bag also shares a behind-the-curtain peek at the rapidly changing American health care system.

Critique: Impressively well written, "Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist's Bedside Tales" is a compelling read that provides unique insights into the 'real world' of practicing medicine. Simply stated, "Carrying the Black Bag" is highly recommended and informative reading, making it exceptionally commended for community and academic library American Biography collections, as well as the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in what responsibilities doctors face in the course of their careers.

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

Season of Fear
Brian Freeman
1290 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10104
9781623657185, $14.99 PB, 448pp,

In the present political climate, a novel that reflects the types of misinformation and downright lies which proliferate would have been welcome. This novel promised an insight into the machinations of political operatives, parties and candidates, but instead turns out to be a murder mystery with a somewhat questionable conclusion.

The book brings back for the second time Cab Bolton, sometime private detective whose mother is a well-known Hollywood star, and friend of Diane Birch, candidate for governor with a secret or two to hide. Ten years earlier, at a political rally, her husband (then a gubernatorial candidate) and two others were murdered. And now, a decade later, history is about to repeat itself. In between, a few more people are killed. The only element of mystery: Is it a right-wing conspiracy or not?

There are some indications of how politicians think and political parties operate, but really these are superficial. The conclusion appeared artificial to this reader, and unlikely. One other criticism: I found the writing at times is too flowery and heavy, slowing this reader down. But over-all, the story progresses well and is recommended.

Grave Consequences
David and Aimee Thurlo
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250029003, $24.99, HC,

Charlie Henry and his sidekick, Gordon, are ex-Special Forces soldiers, now partners in the FOB Pawnshop in Albuquerque, NM, but civilian life hardly is a retiring one for either of them. Trouble seems to find them on a regular basis in this second of a series of action-packed adventure. Mysteries and mischief seem to just walk into their store. In this latest story, it begins when a young woman pawns a valuable Navajo necklace.

Soon three gunmen enter the pawnshop in an attempt to retrieve the bracelet. And a shootout results in one of them dead and another wounded, with Charlie and Gordon none the less for wear, but off and running to find out what prompted the invasion. This leads to a wild goose chase all around the New Mexico city with violence galore until they learn what lies behind they mystery of the bracelet and the death of its creator.

While the plot follows a traditional pattern of a police procedural, and there are plenty of cops involved, with enormous assistance from Charlie and Gordon, the novel really centers on the swashbuckling duo and their antics, rather than detecting clues to solve a crime or murder. And there is plenty of this type of action to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader.


night night, sleep tight
Hallie Ephron
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062117645, $14.99, PB, 320pp,

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

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

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

Death of a Liar
M.C. Beaton
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781455504770, $7.99 PB, 320pp,

All the characteristics which have made the Hamish Macbeth Mystery series enjoyable and popular are once again present in this latest effort: the constant threat to close his beloved police station, Hamish's forlorn love life, the Scottish brogue dialogue throughout the novel, the constant competition with his superiors who steal his thunder when he solves cases, and, of course his pets. There are a couple of challenging mysteries facing Hamish in the plot. First of all is a telephone call he receives from a woman claiming she was raped. It turns out when examined that she was a virgin when examined, but when she calls again saying she was being threatened Hamish ignores the plea, giving the book its title.

The further plot involves a criminal conspiracy which Hamish believes is linked to the death of the woman, who was tortured before she was murdered. The novel revolves around Hamish attempting to solve the mystery despite efforts by his superior to keep him away from the cases and the limelight, and the usual by-play of Hamish and his subordinate. Two previous policemen assigned to him had left to become food workers, one a chef at a local hotel, the other marrying the owner of an Italian restaurant and waiting tables there. Now his latest may become a baker.

The series is great fun, no less excellent mysteries. "Liar" also is very enjoyable, and is recommended.

Game of Mirrors
Andrea Camilleri, author
Stephen Sartarelli, translator
Penguin Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780143123774, $16.00, PB, 271pp,

What makes the Inspector Montalbano novels so enjoyable is the quirky nature not only of the characters but the plots which are filled with a craftiness matching that of the protagonist. And it is no less obvious in this 18th novel than in the preceding ones in this long-running series. It is filled with seemingly unrelated events that only Salvo Montalbano can unravel. It all begins when two bombs explode in front of unoccupied warehouses, causing little damage. Perhaps the bombs were meant to be a warning. But to whom?

Meanwhile there are all sorts of anonymous letters and phone calls with all kinds of misleading information. Then a bullet hole is discovered in the Inspector's car. Meanwhile he becomes entangled in a mystifying affair with a gorgeous neighbor who apparently aims to seduce him. How to unravel it all is left to Montalbano as only he can put it all together.

Once again this book is wonderfully well translated, reflecting the unusual language of some of the characters and the smoothness of the author's writing. There was a subsequent novel in the series, A Beam of Light, published this past September, as well as another, Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories, coming out later this month, and this reader can't wait to pick them up.


The Edge of Dreams
Rhys Bowen
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250052056, $15.99, 308pp,

Molly Sullivan (nee Murphy) can't sit still, even when suffering from cracked ribs and a concussion, sustained when a train on the Ninth Avenue El derails, despite the fact that she now is a mother of a lively year-old boy and has promised to stop being a detective. Regardless of all the impediments, she still has a lively, inquisitive mind, and when a serial killer stumps her husband, Captain Daniel Sullivan, from catching the killer after months of trying, Molly undertakes to uncover a few facts.

The case involves a series of murders of apparently unrelated victims throughout various locations in the city. This gives the author a chance to describe early 20th century New York City, from the borough Brooklyn to the Murray Hill neighborhood, not to mention a very distant memory when there were elevated trans in Little Old New York as Molly, sometimes in pain, travels from scene to scene in an effort to find a link between the victims.

At the same time, another element of the period is introduced to pique the reader's interest. Molly's neighbors and friends, Sid and Gus, have just arrived back from Vienna, Gus having "studied" with Freud and now enamored with the interpretation of dreams (thus the title), and the daughter of two of the victims apparently has a recurring dream which might help solve the crime. Not to mention, Molly also has a recurring dream. But that's another story.

In any event, this novel, the 14th in the series, is not only an excellent crime story, but, as usual, an interesting look at an historical period of what was to become the Big Apple, as well as Molly's development as a character, her relationship with her husband and her growth as a person.


Kill Me, Darling
Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9781783291397, $7.99, 296pp,

Inheriting a mass of unfinished Mickey Spillane manuscripts, Max Allan Collins has undertaken to somehow finish them, completing the work the author left unfinished at his death in 2006. This novel, set in Miami during 1954, begins with Mike Hammer reeling from a four-month-long bender, the result of his secretary/girlfriend having left him with a note effectively saying "so long." A shadow of himself, Mike stops drinking (and smoking), if you can believe it, and drives to Florida to win Velda back.

Instead, he discovers she is hooked up with a notorious gangster. The question, of course, is: Is she acting undercover to expose the person she's playing footsies with, or has she literally become another person. Meanwhile, Mike is sought out by five mafia bosses to kill the man she is living with. Remember, this is Miami in the 1950's, pre-Castro. So there is an element of drug trafficking from Cuba to enliven the plot.

Somehow, some of the elements of a Mike Hammer novel are present in this volume. But on the whole, it just doesn't read like Mickey Spillane. And that is unexpected, because Max Collins has demonstrated an uncanny ability to mimic that original and unique style. He just, somehow, misses here. It still is a good read, however, and is recommended.

The Red Eagles
David Downing
Soho Press
853 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9781616955991, $15.95, PB, 320pp,

The Red Eagles was David Downing's first "real" novel and showed the talent and interest in spies and World War II that later became the popular Station series. While the characters in the series, which took place over more than two decades, were fully developed, those in the earlier effort were more wooden, more like symbols of what they were representing. Nevertheless, here it is, reprinted after having made its first appearance almost three decades ago. And now the author has turned his attention to World War I.

Needless to say, despite the initial criticism, the novel is extremely interesting, based on an imponderable supposition: Stalin demanding development of an atomic bomb, despite the Soviets' inability to develop one for a decade or more, to place it on a par with the United States in a post-war era; and development of a deceitful plot to steal purified U-235 from the United States to make the weapon while implicating the Nazis as the culprits. Of course, this action takes place in 1944, long before the Rosenbergs betrayed the United States by turning over atomic secrets to the Reds.

The plot is well-developed, and the activities of the German and Soviet agents are described in great detail. The tale is inventive and the story is worthy of a writer who has the talent to, and did, develop into a first-rate novelist. On its own, it should be read, especially to see the beginnings of what was to become a more polished effort, and is therefore recommended.

C.J. Box
G. P. Putnam's Sons
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425280157, $9.99, PB, 432pp,

Game Warden Joe Pickett faces two separate situations in this 15th entry in the long-running popular series. One is highly personal; the other is in keeping with his official duties. To begin with, on a routine inspection, Joe discovers the wholesale slaughter of 21 sage grouse in a breeding area. What makes the situation worse is that Washington is contemplating designating the sage grouse as an endangered species. This fact allows the author to introduce a timely topic in keeping with the established nature of the series featuring ecology and the environment, especially the question of weighing the ramifications of such a determination against the economies of the areas affected. Especially Wyoming, where Joe lives and works. The species inhabits hundreds of thousands of acres and by sealing the area off, oil and gas exploration would be shut off. Joe's uncovering of how and why the birds were killed is a deft touch and is typical of the author's finesse.

The bulk of the novel, however, is devoted to the assault of the Pickets' 18-year-old adopted daughter, April, who is found battered and near dead on a county road. Two plot lines run through the book as a result: finding the culprit and bringing him to justice, and whether she will survive the brutal attack.

Then there's Joe's good friend Nate, in jail but soon to be released under onerous terms. And he undergoes his own trial after he is freed, but plays a pivotal role at the end. It's an action-filled novel, full of surprises. This is the second novel in a row to lack the usual vivid descriptions of the geography, climate and weather usually detailed in the series. But this fact is less important than the deep characterizations and twists in the story.


Gathering Prey
John Sandford
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780399168796, $28.95, HC, 407pp,

For those readers who enjoy non-stop violence, this novel more than most will fulfill this interest. Otherwise the book, which is predictable in almost every way, will probably wear out one's interest fairly early on. That is not to say that it is not well-written and - plotted, but it is not constructed at the same level as previous Davenport stories in the series.

The plot is largely written around a group loosely based on the Manson family of great notoriety. It is filled with situations in which victims fall by the wayside, beginning in California and spreading to Minnesota, and then on to Wisconsin and Michigan. Davenport, who is based in Minnesota, expands his effort to the adjoining States in an effort to apprehend the group, whose leader assaulted his daughter while she was attending an event in Wisconsin.

In the past this reader has enjoyed this series, and I felt, unfortunately, that this one was sort of off the beaten track. There are readers who will enjoy the book. And I understand there is another book in the series, Extreme Prey, coming out in late April, and let's hope it will resume a more conventional approach in keeping with the character, who is usually more analytical as an investigator, rather than a hyper-active cowboy.

The Yid
Paul Goldberg
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1800, New York, NY 10010
9781250079039, $26.00, HC, 320pp,

A very different novel is this. Extremely well researched, a flight of fancy, original in form and content. It chronicles the history of Soviet Russia from World War I to the death of Stalin in three acts starring an odd collection of characters ranging from an elderly Yiddish actor to a Yiddish surgeon and a Black Yiddish-speaking American engineer. The novel takes place in a week following a late night attempt to arrest the actor, who turns the tables on the three security personnel by killing them. This was at a time when Stalin was planning a "final solution" to the Jewish "problem," planning to collect the minority population, pack them in cattle cars and ship them out of the Soviet Union. It was also the period during which the so-called "doctor's plot" was in the news: a group of Jewish doctors were arrested and accused of plotting the murder of Soviet officials.

The actor, Solomon Levinson, is soon joined by the surgeon, engineer and others, and conceives a plot to prevent Stalin's massive pogrom by assassinating him, cutting off the head of the serpent. In the intervening days the group debates, remembers the past, trades banter on a variety of subjects, from Shakespeare and Pushkin to anti-Semitism and racism and the broken promises of Socialism. The novel is strewn with Yiddish phrases and poetry (conveniently translated).

For a debut novel, The Yid is most original, a flight of fancy based on reality, filled with excellent dialogue and innovative characters. It has to be read to be appreciated, and it is hoped this suggestion is well taken. Highly recommended.

Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Air Warfare: History, Theory and Practice
Peter Gray
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781780936192, $112.00, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: "Air Warfare: History, Theory and Practice" provides an informed and informative introduction to the theory, history and practice of air warfare past, present, and for the coming decades of the 21st Century. "Air Warfare" delivers an up to date look at the strategy, and historiography of air power, as it explores the theories behind air power and looks at the political, legal and moral dimensions of the application of air power. The topics covered include: Key military strategists and their legacy; Air power's strategic effects; Leadership, management and command; Tactics, technology and operations. "Air Warfare" draws on primary sources including official narratives and published reports, examines key thinkers in the study of air power, and discusses topics such as concepts of warfare as an art or science, cultural perceptions of air power, and the experience of being an airman. With its broad scope and thorough coverage of a range of key topics, "Air Warfare" takes air power beyond the study of individual campaigns, or controversies, providing a multi-disciplinary approach to air power studies.

Critique: A detailed and documented historical analysis, "Air Warfare: History, Theory and Practice" by Peter Gray (RAeS Senior Research Fellow, Air Power Studies, University of Birmingham, UK) is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Enhanced for academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in air warfare with forty-two pages of Note; a twenty-two page Bibliography; and a nineteen page Index, "Air Warfare: History, Theory and Practice" is very strongly recommended for community and academic library Military Aviation History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For the personal reading lists it should be noted that "Air Warfare" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.33).

A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution
Steve Cushion
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583675823 $89.00 hc
9781583675816 $27.00 pbk / $20.52 Kindle

Synopsis: Millions of words have been written about the Cuban Revolution, which, to both its supporters and detractors, is almost universally understood as being won by a small band of guerillas. In this unique and stimulating book, Stephen Cushion turns the conventional wisdom on its head, and argues that the Cuban working class played a much more decisive role in the Revolution's outcome than previously understood. Although the working class was well-organized in the 1950s, it is believed to have been too influenced by corrupt trade union leaders, the Partido Socialist Popular, and a tradition of making primarily economic demands to have offered much support to the guerillas. Cushion contends that the opposite is true, and that significant portions of the Cuban working class launched an underground movement in tandem with the guerillas operating in the mountains.

Developed during five research trips to Cuba under the auspices of the Institute of Cuban History in Havana, this book analyzes a wealth of leaflets, pamphlets, clandestine newspapers, and other agitational material from the 1950s that has never before been systematically examined, along with many interviews with participants themselves. Cushion uncovers widespread militant activity, from illegal strikes to sabotage to armed conflict with the state, all of which culminated in two revolutionary workers' congresses and the largest general strike in Cuban history. He argues that these efforts helped clinch the victory of the revolution, and thus presents a fresh and provocative take on the place of the working class in Cuban history.

Critique: Exhaustively researched, persuasively argued, and enhanced with notes and index, A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution offers a new perspective on a major turning point in Cuban history from retired university lecturer Steve Cushion, Ph.D. A scholarly, in-depth analysis, A Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution is a welcome counterpoint to conventional narratives and especially recommended for college library World History shelves.

Between Cultures
Jerrold Seigel
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812247619, $49.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: Richard Burton (1821-1890). T. E. Lawrence (188-1935). Louis Massignon 1883-1962). Chinua Achebe (1930-2013). Orhan Pamuk (born 1952). The remarkable quintet whose stories make up "Between Cultures: Europe and Its Others in Five Exemplary Lives" by Jerrold Seigel (Kenan Professor of History, Emeritus, at New York University) are all people who, without ever seeking to exit from the ways of life into which they had been born, devoted themselves to exploring a second cultural identity as an intrinsic part of their first.

Richard Burton, the British traveler and writer, sought to experience the inner life of Islam by making the pilgrimage to Mecca in the guise of a Muslim in 1853. T. E. Lawrence, famously known as Lawrence of Arabia, recounted his tortuous ties to the Arab uprising against Turkish rule in his celebrated "Seven Pillars of Wisdom". Louis Massignon was a great, deeply introspective, and profoundly troubled French Catholic scholar of Islam. Chinua Achebe, the celebrated pioneer of modern African literature, lived and wrote from the intersection of Western culture and traditional African life. Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Prize-winning novelist, explored the attraction and repulsion between East and West in his native Turkey.

Professor Seigel considers these five individuals not only for the intrinsic interest of their stories but also for the depth and breadth of their writing on the challenges of creating an intercultural identity, enabling him to analyze their experiences via historical, psychological, and critical approaches. Fascinating in and of themselves, these lives between cultures also highlight the realities faced by many in this age of high mobility and ever-greater global connection and raise questions about what it means for human beings to belong to cultures.

Critique: An impressive work of seminal scholarship, Professor Jerrold Seignel's "Between Cultures: Europe and Its Others in Five Exemplary Lives" is enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and Conclusion (Distance and Belonging); eighteen pages of Notes; and a twelve page Index. "Between Cultures" is a strongly recommended addition to community and academic library collections and will prove to be of immense interest to academia, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the impact and influence of Burton, Lawrence, Massignon, Achebe, and Pamuk on our contemporary and globally connected age. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Between Cultures" is also available in a Kindle edition ($47.45)

The King of Tars
John H. Chandler, editor
Medieval Institute Publications
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI, 49008-5200
9781580442046, $15.00, PB, 102pp,

Synopsis: Edited for modern readers by academician John H. Chandler "The King of Tars", is an early Middle English romance (ca. 1330 or earlier), that emphasizes ideas about race, gender, and religion. "The King of Tars" is a short poem whose purpose is to highlight and celebrate the power of Christianity, and yet it defies classification. It is neither a saint's life or a romance, nor a political drama or a miracle tale; rather it is a story inseminated by all of these genres. As a hagiographic work, its focus on temporal situations, especially political stability and inheritance, distracts the audience from the dream-vision and miracles on which the plot relies; as a romance, its focus on a female protagonist, rather than a male, seems oddly out of place. It is only when the various generic categories are layered together that the poem is best understood. Its role as entertainment is undeniable, but that entertainment thinly veils didactic intent. Many of the effects and plot developments (the transformations, namelessness of the principal characters, and exotic setting in the East) should be read through the lens of religious instruction. An early variant of the Constance tale, whose most famous English versions are told by Gower's Genius in the Confessio Amantis and Chaucer's Man of Law, the poem addresses religious interests through rhetorical trappings that parse, reinforce, educate, and entertain simultaneously.

Critique: The translation being a work of seminal scholarship, "The King of Tars" is enhanced with the inclusion of Explanation Notes; Textual Notes; an Appendix (Variant Readings from the Vernon Manuscript); a Bibliography; and a Glossary. A part of the outstanding Middle English Text Series from Medieval Institute Publications, "The King of Tars" is very highly recommended for academic library Medieval Literature reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Politics of Expertise
Ole Jacob Sending
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
9780472119639, $70.00, HC, 174pp,

Synopsis: Experts dominate all facets of global governance, from accounting practices and antitrust regulations to human rights law and environmental conservation. In "The Politics of Expertise: Competing for Authority in Global Governance", Ole Jacob Sending ( Director of Research at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs) encourages a critical interrogation of the role and power of experts by unveiling the politics of the ongoing competition for authority in global governance. "The Politics of Expertise" draws on insights from sociology, political science, and institutional theory; as well as sends challenges theories centered on particular actors' authority, whether it is the authority of so-called epistemic communities, the moral authority of advocacy groups, or the rational-legal authority of international organizations. Using in-depth and historically oriented case studies of population and peace building, "The Politics of Expertise" demonstrates that authority is not given nor located in any set of particular actors. Rather, continuous competition for recognition as an authority to determine what is to be governed, by whom, and for what purpose shapes global governance in fundamental ways. "The Politics of Expertise" advances a field-based approach, sends highlights the political stakes disguised by the technical language of professionals, and thus opens a broader public debate over the key issues of our time.

Critique: Erudite, informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Politics of Expertise: Competing for Authority in Global Governance" is a critically important contribution to college and university library Contemporary Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for academia and the general reading public that "The Politics of Expertise" is also available in a Kindle edition ($60.00).

Massachusetts Lighthouses and Lightships
Arthur P. Richmond
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
9780764348532, $45.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: "Massachusetts Lighthouses and Lightships" by Arthur P. Richmond showcases more than 800 images of lighthouses and lightships, many of which have never before been published. "Massachusetts Lighthouses and Lightships" includes historic plans that describe the details of these once indispensable aids to navigation, as well as archival and contemporary photos that trace through their history. "Massachusetts Lighthouses and Lightships" covers all the lighthouses and lightships that marked the shores (exclusive of Cape Cod and the Islands) and guided mariners through the challenging waters surrounding Massachusetts. "Massachusetts Lighthouses and Lightships" also explores the interiors of towers, revealing the lantern rooms of rarely-visited lighthouses, and gives fascinating facts about these beacons through their 200-year history.

Critique: Simply stated, "Massachusetts Lighthouses and Lightships" is a "must" for any lighthouse enthusiast's personal library, as well as informed and informative reading for academia as well as non-specialist general readers with interested in New England maritime history. An inherently fascinating and absorbing read from cover to cover, "Massachusetts Lighthouses and Lightships" is highly recommended as an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library American lighthouse reference collection and supplemental studies reading list.

Strike a Poser
Dylan Edward Asher
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
9781457540677, $12.00, PB, 172pp,

Synopsis: Olivia is a professional con artist who is putting together a team for a major score. Along with her current accomplice, Jillian, she figures they'll need two more as they case a millionaire named Jerry Mallore, having followed him to, of all places, the theme park land of Orlando, Florida. Olivia quickly locates an old flame from way back named Jack. An ex-scammer himself, he's long since gone straight, working as a bar manager of an Irish restaurant just outside the wacky theme parks. His uniform involves kilts. She knows he'll be in. Joining up with Jack, and ultimately his younger brother Kip, they set out to get between Jerry and his shady cash transaction. The plan? Savvy. Complex. Borderline ridiculous. But it'll be flat-out brilliant if they can pull it off, creating the ultimate illusion in the land of illusions, and ultimately relieving Jerry of hundreds of thousands of dollars and leaving him, quite literally, not even sure what day it is.

Critique: A riveting read from beginning to end, "Strike a Poser" will have immense appeal for readers who enjoy a well crafted and entertaining novel of surprising plot twists and unexpected turn of events. Dylan Edward Asher is a master storyteller and "Strike a Poser" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Strike a Poser" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99).

The Modern Explorers
Robin Hanbury-Tenison & Robert Twigger, editors
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500516843, $44.95, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Robin Hanbury-Tenison (President of Survival International and who has led expeditions in South America and Borneo) and Robert Twigger (the first person to cross the Egyptian Great Sand Sea on foot), and enhanced with 268 illustrations (including 256 in full color), "The Modern Explorers" profiles thirty-nine modern explorers who have disproved the idea that there is nowhere left to discover and explore. Some are greatly experienced and are celebrated worldwide, while others are young or less well known and just starting to make their mark. Here are challenging and extraordinary expeditions to the remotest parts of the world by explorers from the United States, Australia, China, France, and beyond. Eight thematic sections cover all terrains: Polar, Desert, Rainforest, Mountain, Ocean, River, Under Sea, Under Land, and Lost Worlds. Written mainly by the explorers themselves, the accounts provide a unique insight into what it is actually like to join an expedition, from being dragged through the top of the rainforest canopy in an inflatable raft suspended from a balloon to pedaling a boat across the Pacific to standing on the edge of an erupting volcano. Their stories are supplemented with dramatic expedition photographs, many capturing the moment of discovery or danger.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and informative read from beginning to end, "The Modern Explorers" will prove to be of extraordinary interest to academicians and non-specialist general reader with an interest in the history of exploration. Impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Modern Explorers" is strongly recommended for both community and academic library collections.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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