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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 3 March 2017 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 Taylor's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Power of Off
Nancy Colier
Sounds True
413 South Arthur Avenue, Louisville, CO 80027
9781622037957, $16.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: In just the last twenty years our reliance on technology has rapidly changed how each of us experiences life. And this rate of change is accelerating.

We're facing new issues and difficulties, we're encountering new emotional triggers, and we're relating to each other in new ways. The promise of technology is that it will make our lives easier; yet to realize that promise, we cannot be passive users -- we must bring awareness and mindfulness to our relationships with our devices.

"The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World" explores: How and why today's devices push our buttons so effectively, and what you can do to take back control of your life; Tips for navigating the increasingly complex ways in which technology is affecting our relationships with ourselves, others, and our devices themselves; Self-evaluation tools for bringing greater awareness to your use of technology; Mindfulness practices for helping you interact with your devices in more conscious ways; A 30-day digital detox program to kick-start a new healthier relationship with technology.

"The Power of Off" sounds the call for wakefulness, reminding us that we can use technology in a way that promotes, rather than detracts from, our well-being. "The Power of Off" provides an essential resource for anyone wanting to create a more empowered relationship with technology in the digital age.

Critique: Nancy Colier is a psychotherapist, interfaith minister, author, and veteran mediator who draws upon her years of experience and expertise to write a timely and potentially life-changing self-help instructional guide that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, organization and presentation. While very highly recommended for both community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Power Is Off" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Returning
Rachelle Dekker
Tyndale Fiction
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496402288 $22.99 hc
9781496402295 $15.99 pbk / $8.35 Kindle

Synopsis: Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant's baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they've never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he's ushered the city into a new era of "peace" - one where the Scientist Roth Reynard's Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned - a truth she'll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

Critique: The Returning is the powerful conclusion to the futuristic "Seer" trilogy. Faith and spirituality are a core elements of this story about combating darkness, and finding the will to create a better future. The Returning is highly recommended to both teen and adult connoisseurs of mind-expanding postmodern science fiction. It should be noted for personal reading lists that The Returning is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.35).

Traveling Light
Lynne Branard
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781101989043 $15.00 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: It all starts when Alissa impulsively puts a bid on an abandoned storage unit, only to become the proud new owner of Roger Hart's remains. Two weeks later, she jumps in her car and heads west, thinking that returning the ashes of a dead man might be the first step on her way to a new life. She isn't wrong.

Especially when Blossom, who just graduated from high school, hitches a ride with her to Texas, and Alissa has to get used to letting someone else take the wheel. Posting about their road trip on Facebook, complete with photos of Roger at every stop, Blossom opens Alissa's eyes to the road in front of her - and to how sometimes the best things in life are the ones you never see coming...

Critique: A road trip novel about self-discovery and transformation, Traveling Light invites the reader on an unforgettable tour. Lynne Branard's wry, insightful prose brings these all-too-human characters to vibrant life. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that Traveling Light is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

At Witches' End
Annette Oppenlander
Lodestone Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
9781785354267, $12.95, PB, 312pp,

Synopsis: "At Witches' End" is the third and concluding volume in author Annette Oppenlander's outstanding historical action/adventure trilogy "Escape From The Past". Max 'Nerds' Anderson returns to medieval Germany in the year 1473. It's been two years since his last visit but two years in the Middle Ages is a long, long time. When at last Max finagles a way into Castle Hanstein, his old friend, Bero, is less than pleased to see him, Lady Clara is near death and Juliana, his old flame, is not meeting his eyes. Can Max sway his friends, help rescue another gamer and stay out of Schwarzburg's clutches? And will he ultimately stop Dr. Stuler's evil computer game?

Critique: Annette Oppenlander has a genuine flair for original and compelling storytelling and as with the first two volumes, "At Witches' End" will keep the readers rapt attention from cover to cover. Unfailingly entertaining from beginning to end, and also available in a Kindle format ($5.38), "At Witches' End" is unreservedly recommended.

Alexandra the Great
Deb Aronson
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613736456, $18.99, HC, 176pp,

Synopsis: When a little foal with a white upside-down exclamation point on her forehead was born one morning in Kentucky, the heart of America's horse racing region, problems mounted quickly. Rejected by her mother, the filly would need to be accepted and nursed by another mare. As she grew, the tall, knock-kneed girl remained skinny and scruffy, with paltry muscles. Considered an "ugly duckling," she was unsuitable as a champion racehorse, her owner proclaimed, and must be sold. But two days before the sale, an examination revealed a medical condition - now she was impossible to sell! What would become of this problem filly?

"Alexandra the Great" tells one of the greatest underdog tales in American sports -- the story of Rachel Alexandra, who grew up to become one of the most remarkable racehorses in history. Alexandra's owners, veterinarian, beloved jockey Calvin Borel, and more, Alexandra the Great gives readers an exciting and emotional look at both the humans and horses who pour their hearts and souls into the world of Thoroughbred training and racing.

Critique: Especially recommended for children ages 9 to 13, "Alexandra the Great: The Story of the Record-Breaking Filly Who Ruled the Racetrack" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to elementary school and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Alexandra the Great" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Blowback '07
Brian Meehl
MCP Books
9781635051865 $17.95 hc
9781635051858 $12.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Clashing teenage twins Arky and Iris have one thing in common: an ancient musical instrument left to them by their mother. When Iris plays the strangely curved woodwind, the trouble begins; Arky's friend, Matt, the school's star quarterback, disappears. Transported to 1907 and the Carlisle Indian School, Matt is forced to play football for Coach Pop Warner as the Carlisle ''Redmen'' revolutionize Ivy League football. Matt's struggle to ''play his way home'' is complicated when he falls in love with an Indian girl. Meanwhile, Arky and Iris discover a cache of secrets that might bring Matt back, and lead to the ultimate rescue: their mother, trapped in the past.

Critique: A deftly crafted and original time-travel novel by a master of this science fiction subgenre, "Blowback '07: When the Only Way Forward Is Back" by Brian Meehl is unreservedly recommended, especially for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all young and dedicated science fiction time-travel enthusiasts that "Blowback '07" is also available in a paperback edition (9781635051858, $12.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Path
Michael Puett & Christine Gross-Loh
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476777832, $24.99, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: "The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life" is the collaborative work of Michael Puett (the Walter C. Klein Professor of Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Chair of the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University) and journalist Christine Gross-Loh who has a PhD from Harvard University in East Asian history) challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish.

These astonishing teachings studied in "The Path" emerged some two thousand years ago through the work of a succession of Chinese scholars exploring how humans can improve themselves and their society. These counterintuitive ideas range from: Good relationships come not from being sincere and authentic, but from the rituals we perform within them; Influence comes not from wielding power but from holding back; Excellence comes from what we choose to do, not our natural abilities; A good life emerges not from planning it out, but through training ourselves to respond well to small moments; Transformation comes not from looking within for a true self, but from creating conditions that produce new possibilities.

"The Path" unexpectedly upends everything we are told in the Judeao/Christian West about how to lead a good life. Above all, unlike most studies on the subject, its most radical idea is that there is no path to follow in the first place -- just a journey we create anew at every moment by seeing and doing things differently. Sometimes voices from the past can offer possibilities for thinking afresh about the future.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking, extraordinarily well written, organized and presented, "The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Chinese Philosophy collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Path" is also available in a paperback edition (9781476777849, $16.00) and in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Touch No One
Joseph Hirsch
Black Rose Writing
1612968279, $17.95

Billed as a 'cyberpunk mystery', Touch No One is no simple genre read, but hosts a satisfyingly powerful blend of detective mystery investigation, futuristic settings, vividly evocative descriptions, and a story line that is supercharged with atmosphere and action. It's everything one could wish for in an edgy and powerful read, which excels in its sense of place and character: "I stood before my wall-length window, which looked out onto the Casino Node. The town was a kitschy nightmare collision of columns, arches, and pilasters that would have called to mind great ancient empires if it all wasn't offset by neon and undermined by tacky pirate ships, mermaids, and scaled version wonders of the world. The moon was rising above the Statue of Liberty in the distance as she bore her eternal light for the hopeless gamblers below."

Bots that are servants and best friends, currency that is 'dark', human enhancements that change the very nature of casual interactions, let alone investigative processes ("She subvoc'd something to my enhanced reality mod, and I accepted the incoming. I was pretty sure she didn't come to the steps of Muscovite Med to give me a virus or to spoof me for her own ends."), and an attention to detail creates a gritty, personable and compelling detective protagonist on the cusp of one of his most challenging confrontations. All these lend to a story line where the unexpected and the original are woven into every line.

The cyberpunk genre typically focuses on a high-tech society rich in technological advancements embedded into the very nature of human reality; but Touch No One takes this concept and its science a step further in seamlessly integrating them into a gumshoe detective's investigations.

Readers should anticipate vivid lingo that can give pause for thought without losing its audience: "I couldn't tell if we had just waded into a forest of coincidences or if he was playing mind games, if he knew what I knew but was just waiting to goad or guilt me into acknowledging it. "The Grand Poobah himself and one of his Cyborgis Yeltsins land in the middle of Kunstler Park, do a quick extraction, and then they ghost."

Metallic arms, Babel translators, and haunting images ("The ship was aloft, floating toward white volutes of cloud that looked like smoke blown from the lungs of a sky god.") permeate a story line that twists and turns with the intricacy of a thriller spiced with high-tech wonders.

The style and nature of Touch No One is that of intricacy, not ease. For that reason this cyberpunk masterpiece is highly recommended not for the casual sci-fi reader unfamiliar with the genre or seeking easy an adventure story; but for the cyberpunk enthusiast who wants a superior production steeped in the devices of detective and sci-fi, holding the kind of technological overlay that is at once delightful and thought-provoking - and very highly recommended as an outstanding, visionary production.

Her Other Family
Edward Dreyfous
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9780692826829, $14.95,

Marianna Bolton is a few years shy of thirty, happily married, and secure in the knowledge that she is adopted, until a TV reality show encourages her to locate her biological father, only to find out that she has a large, very different kind of family on the other side of the country.

What prompts a 'good girl' to consider dark behaviors under different conditions? Did Marianna have this dark side to her psyche before; or did it develop in response to her encounters with her 'other family' and their very different values? More importantly: once she lets the beast out, can she return to her old life, if she so chooses?

In some ways Her Other Family is a real surprise as Marianna takes a nearly 180-degree turn in the course of her life and in her personality. As the story line progresses, readers learn that what has initially seemed the structure and focus of her life actually has been only part of her persona.

The transition from building one kind of character into a personality facing some of the biggest changes of her life is well done, leading readers through an unexpected series of choices as Marianna's history and rationales are slowly revealed.

Readers who enjoy psychological depth to their novels and who appreciate receiving many unpredictable twists not just in a story line, but in a protagonist's psyche, will find Her Other Family a well-done, powerful tale that excels in the kind of psychological depth that's hard to find in a typical novel of a young woman's changing path and choices in life.

Lucy Finds a Home
Rolynda Tassan
RiverRidge Publishing
9780998331805, $8.99,

Lucy puts her paws on her basket and views an amazing world just outside of hers, and so she scampers over the side and enters a forest where she embarks on a search for home, encountering many new animals and strange things.

Lucy Finds a Home is a fun picture book story of a little kitten who samples a variety of homes in the course of her quest, finding that each forest animal's abode holds something both alluring and dismaying.

Each animal is generous, but as their homes ultimately fail to appeal to her, Lucy begins to despair when tragedy hits and spirals her into danger. Will she ever find a place she can call her own?

Cute, full-color, large-size drawings by Bryce Westervelt of very simple, appealing animals accompany simple, heart-warming story line based on the real 'Lucy,' who is part of the author's family, providing young picture book readers and their read-aloud parents with a simple saga of a kitten discovering its place in the world.

The very young will find it a charming, gentle animal story with a message about where 'home' really is located.

BOB The Industrial Diamond Murder
J.M. Mutter
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781543013610 $11.99 pbk / $6.99 Kindle

At 2 a.m. the thugs find a teacher and work him over for not making interest payments on his gambling debt, dumping him in front of the E.R. after threatening him with further retribution if he doesn't quickly find a way to come up with the cash. How can he? But, then - how can he not?

Thus opens the dilemma posed in BOB The Industrial Diamond Murder, which immediately segues into the first day of a new assignment at Strella, an industrial diamond firm where consulting team manager Bob stumbles upon a dead business executive.

Magically, the entire firm seems to have disappeared into a 'critical' Executive Committee meeting. Circumstantial deduction would have it that the meeting members knew who did it. Bob can't prove that, but his team is put directly in the line of fire to solve the murder and he enters a world where he is out of his league and inexperienced, his reputation and his life on the line in more ways than one.

Bob has been floundering in both his career and personal life for some time. Perhaps a murder investigation is just what he needs to get back on track, and maybe company politics and interactions are about to get far more exciting than what a consultant usually encounters. As Bob becomes more personally involved with both the murder and his team members, explores a new romantic relationship, and probes ever deeper into the structure and subterfuge going on at Strella, he and his team make some startling discoveries that provide unexpected insights into not just the murder, but business operations and connections to the D.C netherworld of intelligence agencies and contractors.

Who actually controls the investigation, who holds the key to its success, and the threat that evolves from Bob and his team's relentless pursuit of the truth makes for a multi-faceted, winding story of espionage, duplicity and danger that embraces industrial diamonds, local politics, the complicated milieu of D.C., and black agencies and dark firms alike.

What do cars, transit systems, industrial interactions, murder, women and Bob have in common? The setting and progression of BOB The Industrial Diamond Murder are quite different than either the usual murder mystery or business novel and will attract audiences from both genres with its exquisitely complicated, twisting plot which is both unpredictable and compelling.

Joseph is Dead
D. Paul Schulz
Joseph is Dead Ministries
9780692818510, $9.99

Countless studies, analysis, religious inspections and Biblical insights have helped readers understand a wide range of aspects of Jesus' life and times, so it's surprising to note a rather large omission in the literature surrounding Jesus: his family.

D. Paul Schulz's Joseph is Dead remedies this gap in knowledge with a focus on some rather startling facts: "Jesus had a family, too, and its members were influential people in the Gospels. Inexplicably, they are mostly ignored by Bible expositors. It seems no one has noticed that one side of His family embraced Him, and the other side completely rejected Him. Jesus had twelve apostles, including three sets of brothers, yet His own brothers were not among them."

What happened to create these situations, and truths about his family makeup and their influence and participation in his life and crucifixion, make for a powerful analysis that is a 'must' for Christians who would better understand the relationships between Jesus' family on earth and his family in heaven.

From the fact that Mary was Jesus' only pure-blooded relative and that Joseph vanished from the Gospels after Jesus begin his ministry to God's understanding of family relationships and their impact ("God understands that family members do not always see eye to eye. Even Jesus didn't take it upon Himself to preach to His kin until the proper time for His ministry. He knew that His rejection by His hometown was not about Him, but about them. When the time comes for us to speak difficult truth to those who are familiar with us, if we experience rejection, we can be comforted by Jesus' example. It's not about us, so we can choose not to take it personally. We are to avoid drama, not embrace it. It's critical that believers know God's priority for them is not to preach to others, but to love Him."), chapters use Scripture to draw important links between Jesus' ministry, his families on Earth and in Heaven, and issues of family honor as Jesus continued his special mission.

What is unexpected in this scholarly study is the depth of psychological depth and insight which compliments Christian history and considerations of Jesus' life: "Jesus had four brothers, and they did nothing because of fear of being associated with Jesus. They resisted God's call and wanted their life to be expedient. Jesus wanted His brothers to follow Him because of His deity, not because they could ride His coattails and make life easier for Him. The moment of truth had come. Do they stand with their mother and believe her story and the miracles Jesus had performed, or do they try not to inflame a bad situation and stay invisible? God will wipe out their illusion of His will, as He does for many believers who trust in their perceptions. They hoped that Jesus would be accepted and their family honor would finally be realized in Nazareth."

This approach elevates Joseph is Dead beyond a religious inspection alone to include elements of psychological analysis and understanding as the account moves from a consideration of Jesus' family relationships and their interactions to the evolution of dysfunctional teachings of the times (and different biblical interpretations of events today) that stray from God and Jesus' original intentions.

Joseph is Dead combines a scholarly tone with insights that directly link Biblical passages and messages to contemporary life issues and Christian concerns: "My intention is not to make things up, but to help believers connect the reality of who these people were and the glorious grace Jesus rains on them. I have come to understand that my words are worthless unless they have some attachment to what matters, which is why it's important that we get closer to what actually happened in the resurrection, so it will power our life with His grace."

With its publishing date coinciding with Easter and the special importance of this date to Christians, there is no better book to read for Easter than Joseph is Dead, a sweeping story of family relationships, political and social struggle, and death and redemption that embodies the central message of Christian faith as it surveys pieces of the Scripture that create a very different story line than those commonly analyzed, ultimately considering family actions, interactions, and the lasting promise of God and his son.

The Lies They Tell
Tuvia Tenenbom
Gefen Publishing
9789652299116, $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

In some ways, The Lies They Tell seems another cross-country travelogue, presenting Tuvia Tenenbom's travels through America to take the pulse of the nation's people - but given the timing of this publication and the national disconnect between peoples across the country, his examination could not have arrived at a better time.

The Lies They Tell is more than a travelogue of places adventures: it's a close inspection of American media, mental illness, stark differences between black ghettos and gated white communities, and the types of disconnects between not just classes, but different groups of people.

Even more important to note: it's an intense encounter with these enclaves and encampments because Tenenbom does more than just observe: he engages. One wouldn't think that an award-winning journalist with advanced degrees, honors, and a political column would be open to making the kind of journey that brings him into contact with robbers, skinheads, rednecks and drug dealers. That he was often a participant in their rituals also adds a level of depth and revelation no dispassionate journalistic approach could have achieved.

The author moves far from his comfort zone in the interests of probing the origins of a wide range of belief systems and approaches to life as he asks questions about the dangers America faces, and their origins.

From college students and politicians to crime lords and the racism of Jewish peoples, The Lies They Tell is a powerful and lively survey of what makes America a diverse and passionate a force in the world. It's recommended as a 'must read' for any who would begin to understand the schisms that divide our country today and their impact on the global community.

Very highly recommended for political and social issues readers alike, The Lies They Tell will captivate general-interest audiences with its impression of a light travel piece, but then will amaze with its questions and insights.

The Future of Democracy
Steve Zolno
Regent Press
9781587903717, $19.95 pbk / $8.69 Kindle

The Future of Democracy: Lessons from the Past and Present to Guide Us on Our Path Forward appears in its third updated edition to examine the foundations of democracy, its development throughout human history in various societies, and how it can be either strengthened or weakened. The timing for publishing this third updated edition couldn't have been better in the aftermath of America's latest elections, which have renewed interest in many Americans over the democratic and voting process.

This is not to say that most Americans don't know about democratic principles: these are taught in school beginning at a very early age. But, for many, interest peters out as home, financial, health and family concerns take center stage over the years following graduation. When events spark a renewed interest in this process and its history, then The Future of Democracy should be high on one's reading list.

More so than most competing discussions, it synthesizes centuries of democratic principles and experiences into a lively history that is both readable and scholarly. While synthesizing a sweeping history from 6000 BC to modern times into a single, accessible volume might seem a daunting (or even impossible) goal, Steve Zolno achieves this with an inviting discussion of rules honed, lessons learned, reasons behind periods of stability and instability in democratic countries, and the lasting impact of revolutions.

This sets the stage for a contemporary examination of the foundations of and enactment processes of basic democracy, juxtaposing the effects of international economic and political forces, rules of power distribution and engagement, the presence or absence of democracy in various societies around the world, and differences between U.S. viewpoints and models and those of other nations.

Under Steve Zolno's hand, democracy is viewed as not just a political process, but a social process, as well. It's the added focus on the social impact of political institutions and applications that keep The Future of Democracy an unexpectedly lively production (unexpected because so many competing books about democracy tend to be dry, challenging reads).

Steve Zolno holds a Bachelors Degree in Social Science and a Masters in Educational Psychology, and is a management consultant, as well. Perhaps it's this background that lends so well to a discussion that is especially accessible to lay audiences who might not ordinarily choose a political history and discussion of democracy were it not for recent events, and who will find The Future of Democracy especially accessible: a recommended read whether the viewer is looking for a refresher course, an introduction, or a renewed connection between political and social perspectives.

The Game Changer
Dave Droge
MVO Productions
9781519088086 $14.95

Can a teenage daughter's blossoming career and life affect and change her father's downward spiral? Can her ideals turn him from a company doctor accused of corruption to someone with a greater purpose in life?

The Game Changer asks these questions and more as it tells of Henk van Wijnen-Swarttouw, whose self-made life and questionable ethics go awry and spiral into public attention just as his daughter graduates high school, begins a sabbatical, and uses her newfound freedom between schools to craft both her art and her ideals, bringing father Henk along for the ride.

As if this weren't challenge enough, Julia becomes embroiled in an affair and a psychiatrist enters the picture, determined to break any unhealthy bonds between father and daughter. Issues of art, obsession, and social revolution coalesce into an explosive set of encounters that change all characters in unexpected ways.

Readers should be aware that The Game Changer is no light story: juggling four underlying themes in one novel is no easy task, and under a different pen, the result could have been chaos. But as Dave Droge offers subplot after subplot and deftly ties together the strings of disparate lives, purposes, and perceptions, the psychology of a world outwardly affected by burglaries and intrigue (and inwardly motivated by ego, greed, and struggles to survive) makes for a winding, compelling atmosphere that leads readers to wonder where it's going, and to delight in the routes it chooses.

The foundations of this saga are solid, and The Game Changer's complexity and evolution make it a recommended novel for those who enjoy their psychology complex and their social issues realistic, with a dash of intrigue thrown in for good measure.

Weaving Man
Tove Foss Ford
Eirdon Books
9780998154909 $6.99

The enigmatic Menders (he actually has many names, but this is his primary one) lives on the planet Eirdon. He's an assassin who is very, very good at his profession. Summoned to the queen's chambers, he anticipates commendation and reward of the coveted position of Court Assassin; but instead he is assigned to guard and train a newborn princess - a babysitting role which seems vastly below his abilities and contrary to his goal of becoming the greatest assassin who ever lived.

Viewing his career as over and his 'reward' as exile, Menders is angry and confused and deems his job unworthy of his special abilities. But guarding and guiding the child proves to be more than challenging because Princess Katrin is no ordinary child, and it soon becomes evident that the role she's prophesied to play in the kingdom is one that will require every ounce of his abilities if she's to live to grow into her own special powers.

Weaving Man is no simple, linear read but features a host of characters who hold their own strengths, flawed personas, and confusion about their roles in their kingdom. Menders has never failed a mission in his many assignments - but this, his most important position yet, is about to challenge everything he knows. Tove Foss Ford weaves a delicate plot and series of events to both highlight the challenges and enlighten readers about the emotional processes each character goes through to achieve their goals.

In effect, assassin Menders has become an instant and unwilling father. As he faces injury and possible blindness, madness, nightmares and waking dreams, his world coalesces around his duty to Katrin and his special function of keeping her safe. As years go by, the atmosphere of the kingdom is deftly honed and refined, and readers drawn into Menders' story and Katrin's coming of age will find that the looming prophecy and maelstrom of danger that descends upon the world makes for a compelling read.

Part of the reason for this strength lies in Ford's ability to easily juxtapose emotional reactions and logical rationales and thought processes with an attention to environment that gets right down to the smoke, dust, and unwashed bodies of this kingdom. Readers receive an extra dimension of reality as they experience its tastes, smells, and textures; and they become involved in the reason why Katrin's people only live in and know about a small section of the greater planet they reside on. Readers should thus expect a good degree of attention to detail which may belay staccato action in favor of lengthy description at points; but all to good purpose.

The result is a multi-faceted story that goes beyond palace politics, re-careering, a child's coming of age, or a distant queen/mother to create a complex world of evolving purposes and ever-present dangers.

Fans of Patrick Rothfus will find much the same attention to slowly building superior characters, setting, and story in an approach that bodes well for the potential of more books in the series.

The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel
Erin Bomboy
Curtain Call Press
9780998483030 $17.95
9780998483047 $3.99/Free with Kindle Unlimited

The Winner: A Ballroom Dance Novel takes place during one of the most prestigious ballroom dance competitions in the U.S. and profiles two former co-workers and friends who face more than dancing prowess in a contest that tests their morals and ethics as well as their resiliencies.

Chapters alternate between Nina and Carly's lives and perspectives as the competition and its temptations unfold. The technique of dual narrators and viewpoints emphasizes the disparate lives and approaches to the competition and paves the way for an evocative, absorbing consideration of the different ways men and people in positions of power control women and those who rely on them for emotional and professional support.

These underlying themes take the ballroom competition scenario and place it more than a cut above the usual story of dancers striving for success, considering the fundamentals of ambition, achievement, and the contrasts in experience between a young, budding dancer on the cusp of her career and an older one who is about to participate in her last professional competition.

One might expect that a prior affinity for dancing in general and ballroom dance in particular would lend to an appreciation of this story; but in fact The Winner holds no prerequisites to prove educational, enjoyable, and engrossing.

Women who love dance stories will be the primary audience of The Winner, but it holds potential to reach beyond the "leisure beach read" audience. By having the focus on not just dance's demanding routines, exercise, and hard work but on each dancer's ethical and personal dilemmas, The Winner evolves into a winding saga of dance partnerships and human relationships where everyone has a lot to win or lose: "Knowing the weight of Trey's burden intensified my role in the partnership. If I wasn't good enough, then a whole lot of people lost. And they were going to lose a lot more than a shiny medal."

The Piece: A Contemporary Ballet Novel
Erin Bomboy
Curtain Call Press
9780998483009 $14.95
9780998483016 $3.99/Free with Kindle Unlimited

Author Erin Bomboy trained as a classical ballet dancer before entering the field of competitive ballroom dancing, so the scenarios and feel of these different dancer's worlds are realistically portrayed and vividly alive in a manner no outside author could achieve in both this ballet novel, The Piece, and her ballroom dancing story The Winner.

The Piece provides many details on behind-the-scenes ballet dancing challenges which range from eating disorders to impossibly grueling dance training and routines: issues outlined in many ballet novels and well familiar to any aspiring ballet dancer who undertakes the profession.

But the focus on young Elinor's efforts to be a winning dancer despite the fact that she doesn't hold the skills to be a star juxtaposes nicely with her emotional growth as she learns better control of not just her body, but her feelings and interactions with others.

From the opening paragraph, the young dancer's love/hate relationship with ballet is strikingly outlined: "I measured time by the color of my leotards. In ballet, the days were interchangeable: class before rehearsal with only performances to liven up the monotony. To create beauty, I committed to boredom, finding pleasure in doing the same thing over and over until it matched an ideal that didn't exist."

Where other dance novels would observe the progression of training and present chapters as a series of grand jetes leaping towards the final conclusion, The Piece takes its time to explore characters, motivations, and dance challenges in a manner designed to appeal to both newcomers to the dance floor and those already well versed in its demands.

Elinor is a "shattered angel" who is in love with a married man: a move that is headed for disaster on more than one level, and she toys with failure as she makes choices that involve a gentler form of self-inflicted 'cutting' with a very controlled, conscious purpose in mind: "I wasn't going to carve words into my skin or burn myself. Life was too long for such permanence. I didn't want to do anything that would worry others, their whispered conversations and gentle interventions a precursor to a regimen of drugs that would render me fat and docile."

Readers who anticipate a gentle story of evolving ballet prowess and the world of ballet pressures will find many unexpected facets in The Piece, which crafts a captivating story of a young dancer's love for a sad, manipulative, angry man, reasons for abuse, and her rationale for staying: "Love was supposed to be like dancing. Transcendence through the pain and pleasure of passion."

Can Elinor evolve her true artistic talents in the face of such a relationship? The Piece is a powerful blend of dance and love that is a compellingly vivid story highly recommended for romance readers seeking more depth from their stories than most romance genre novels offer.

Tessa Stone
Passions Publications
9780692826218 $12.99 for print and $5.99 for ebook

Odyssey Greene's erotic experience opens a romance that centers upon her dreams and the reality of relationship with her husband, so in a matter of a few pages readers learn a lot about a passionate Christian woman whose submissive attitude limits her life and options even as it provides stability and a home. Though she has a say in decisions, her husband has the final word in their lives - and she knows how to get much of what she wants despite this disparity in their relationship.

They love each other, they have a young child, and yet Julius is angry, violent, and frightening, too many times. All this is about to change even as Odyssey struggles to make their eight-year marriage continue to work while asking herself why she chooses to stay with him.

The foundation has been laid for an illicit affair when a sexy lieutenant enters her life and provides her with options and attention she's not experienced before; but what about her strong moral and ethical sentiments? At what point does personal salvation and pleasure override family commitment even when the choices seem clear?

As Odyssey fine-tunes her rising feelings, her husband's abusive actions force her to realize that her choices and options aren't as concrete as she'd thought, and readers become immersed in the story of how a woman begins to emerge from a centrifuge of abuse that has slowly consumed her life: " she stood there looking at her husband, at the man she laid up with day in and day out for the last eight years of her life, a feeling so true, so powerful and real came over her and she began chuckling. "I hate you."

A final proofreading or better editing will undoubtedly make many of these otherwise-striking sentences seamless in this work in progress ("I hate you." She said shaking her head."), but the overall result is a fine saga of passion, growth, revelation and mortal and ethical challenges that lead a committed family woman to question her future course of action in both romance and family ties.

As Odyssey moves from devoted wife to consider other options, Tessa Stone clearly outlines the logical course of this growth process and successfully navigates her story beyond that of a passionate affair and into a carefully considered account filled with psychological depth and detail, making Illicit a recommendation for romance readers seeking both spicy scenes and thought-provoking, life-changing stories of already-strong women on the cusp of transformation.

The Man Who Sent the SOS
Paul Amirault
Bear Notch Road Press
ISBN 9780997570403 $22.95
e-ISBN 9780997570410 $ 9.95

Paul Amirault was a man obsessed with history (the Titanic's history, to be specific), but his spiritual memoir takes the form of contrasting 'memories' between the author and one "Jack", and so the result is a far more revealing and thought-provoking a blend of genres than one might expect from a tale of events affecting the sinking of the great ship.

From the start, The Man Who Sent the SOS is a vivid, unusual read that opens with a skinny-dipping episode among children which gives the author a startling vision of a sinking ship. It was an experience quickly forgotten; but the ghostly ship vision returned years later, and its haunting impact could not be set aside as it appears " such stunning detail, I could actually make out the rivets."

"Jack", in contrast, is on the Titanic, experiencing every moment of its sinking and the culture that the ship's crew and passengers embody. As the story moves from his childhood to the decisions that led him to the Titanic, readers gain a feel for the peoples and interactions of the times.

Under another hand it would have been all too easy for these changing narrators to be confusing; but Amirault clearly labels each chapter's narrator, place, and time; and thus it's easy to move between the decades and different approaches.

From the Titanic's trappings and physical features (including the Marconigraph and hydraulic tube) to past-life regressions, hypnotherapists, questions of belief and reality, and a startling journey backwards in time, The Man Who Sent the SOS will sail beyond new age audiences to intrigue readers of Titanic history, memoirs, and scientific and historical investigations.

It's an amazing journey that ultimately comes full circle, it offers some startling new ideas and revelations on many levels, and thus The Man Who Sent the SOS is especially, highly recommended reading for a wide audience interested in historically-based stories that move in unique directions.

Wall Street Kitchen
Victor Chiu
Victor Chiu, Publisher
ISBN: 9780994911506 (hardback) $22.99
ISBN: 9780994911513 (paperback) $14.99
ISBN: 9780994911520 (ebook) $ 9.99

Wall Street Kitchen: The Recipe Behind a Housewife's 1,000% Stock Return is quite a departure from the usual business or financial advice book for several reasons.

It comes not from a financial advisor or professional investor, but from a housewife who gained do-it-yourself knowledge and a winning stock strategy, then dished it up to her family along with her good home cooking. Son Victor Chiu absorbed her "ten commandments of investing" and the basics she learned about stocks, and presents her secret recipes for success alongside some of her most notable dishes.

Readers should anticipate an unusually homespun, modest discussion that doesn't diminish the fact that Chiu's mother has become independently wealthy through her winning approach.

Mom began her career with a Dell laptop given to her so she could watch Korean dramas. If this fact makes it seem like her approach will be simple, be advised that there's nothing magic about her formula for success. Any reader who absorbs lessons from Wall Street Kitchen can easily duplicate her success.

The tone is decidedly chatty and casual here, so business readers who want impersonal approaches would be advised to look elsewhere. Chiu literally invites readers to sit around the family table with a cup of Oolong tea while learning about his family's immigrant experiences and roots, so there's more transpiring here than business alone.

The savvy reader will immediately understand that personal connections are part of what makes a business work, and will find that Chiu's seemingly casual approach to his subject belays a deeper perspective that is more inviting and revealing than formulas alone could offer.

As he gives the details of his mother's investments and their logic, his mother adds her clarifications in italicized print throughout. The gems begin to coalesce into concrete observations based on the history of stock markets and how investors make meaningful choices (and money) in them: "I went back as far as I possibly could and found that through every recession, no matter how big, no matter how small, the markets always emerged triumphantly. Can you follow me on this train of thought? Markets have always existed for two reasons. They exist to fund projects companies want to undertake. And they exist to create wealth for stockholders like you and me. If companies ever stopped wanting to do things, markets would no longer exist, because it would not be much of a market with only shareholders offering investment funds to nobody."

There are many, many stock market books in print; but most are weighty, potentially confusing affairs that offer little appeal to ordinary individuals with modest to no prior familiarity with the stock market. By adding a more personal tone to the discussion of serious financial options, Wall Street Kitchen opens the dining room door to everyday people and lures them in with recipes for financial success that touch upon such important topics as how to tell facts from opinions in financial news reports, how to recognize and ignore wishful thinking or panic impulses, and how to find and apply solid data during the investment process.

A Table Against Mine Enemies
Larry M. Goldstein
Gefen Publishing House
9789652298966 $29.95

A Table Against Mine Enemies: Israel on the Lawfare Front provides a focus on a new military weapon, law, and offers an intriguing survey of how legal actions and international legal processes can become an effective way of voicing and reinforcing military objectives. At the forefront of this new weapon is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; but if readers anticipate that A Table Against Mine Enemies will be about courtroom proceedings alone, they'd be mistaken.

The book explores the stories of soldiers in the Israeli, UK and US armies and the efforts of international courts to provide pointed and personal observations of the relationships between legal and battlefield conflicts. Examples of 'lawfare' range from disputed territories and blockades and their management and attacks to computer attacks, the differences between traditional war and lawfare, and how law determines the development and deployment of unmanned fighters.

Perhaps even more importantly, specific discussions relating to the use and misuse of law in military operations and battlefield choices make for thought-provoking ethical, moral, and strategic observations that use the four fundamental laws of legal war to consider the revolutionary nature of this new weapon and its impact.

While the focus here is upon Israel and its regional conflicts as they pertain to lawfare, A Table Against Mine Enemies holds far-reaching implications and information essential to anyone interested in military and legal connections and affairs, and should not be limited to Middle East studies alone. Readers of military affairs and ethics will find it equally compelling, with personal stories cementing the impact and effects of lawfare both on and off the battlefield.

The Beat on Ruby's Street
Jenna Zark
Dragon Moon Press
9781988256184 $13.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Barnes & Noble:


It's 1958, and preteen Ruby lives in Greenwich Village with her Beat Generation artist parents when she's grabbed off the streets on her way to a Kerouac poetry reading by police who think she's trying to steal fruit from a fruit cart. Things quickly go downhill, even though Ruby had the best intentions, and the sassy girl finds herself suddenly leading a very different life.

Ruby has always held high ideals, gained from her parents ("I guess you could say we're trying to break out of the old world and start a new one. But that's not something you can explain to a social worker or policeman. They think the old world is just fine."), but now these ideals have to live, thrive, and grow far from their familiar comfort zone origins.

As Ruby and her friends challenge authority, face the consequences of their ideals and determination, and juggle social norms with revolutionary thinking and perceptions, readers are brought into the sentiments and political and social struggles of this bygone world through Ruby's first-person observations.

What makes The Beat on Ruby's Street a standout from many is its attention to capturing the dual and conflicting atmosphere of Beat Generation idealists and their clashes with traditional thinking patterns. Characters on both sides are clearly portrayed, along with how they perceive the world and the reasons behind their actions and choices. These disparate sides weave nicely into Ruby's evolving sense of herself and her place in each of these worlds.

From her urgent need to see Nell-mom and Gary Daddy-o married to her changed relationship with her parents and her new living situation, Ruby not only defies the norm, but everything that's expected of her from both beat and traditional societies.

These are the facets that make The Beat on Ruby's Street a compelling read for preteen through adult readers. The story of a sassy, determined young protagonist who re-creates her world against all odds makes for an absorbing, vivid story that's hard to put down.

It's Only Money and It Grows on Trees!
Cara MacMillan, MBA
Halcyon Consulting Publication
9780993986314 $11.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

It's Only Money and It Grows on Trees! represents economics wrapped in a different cloak: that of a 139-page introductory story for kids that goes far beyond a discussion of financial planning and moves deftly into the realms of underlying attitudes about scarcity, austerity, hoarding, and social responsibility.

The tone and approach of It's Only Money eschews the usual historical and economic treatise on money's evolution to adopt a satisfyingly different dialogue that uses a storytelling format to help all ages understand the foundations of money and the psychology behind its acquisition and use.

The setting for this story is a classroom where a teacher encourages students to learn about money basics. Chapters juxtapose lofty ideals about money with down-to-earth observations from young characters who learn about the evolution of financial systems through a survey that excels in adopting a realistic, chatty tone as it explores interactions between young students: "Amal spoke up. "Gandhi teaches us that wealth is responsibility. We may pursue wealth, but we must do so with the right values. Greed is wrong. It's like what David said - we must develop ourselves to develop our wealth." "So, why does he look like such a dork?" asked Sean."

From human rights issues and ways in which those from different cultures and religions are taught about money to dissimilar family approaches to borrowing and managing finances, students interact in an unexpectedly personal manner in this story, injecting the human element and social concerns into the bigger picture of money management choices.

Where other books would depersonalize this process, Cara MacMillan excels in returning the personal elements of interaction, lifestyle contrasts, and social interaction into a subject that too often is presented as a cut-and-dry series of dispassionate formulas and theories. In short: the human piece of the financial equation is returned to center field.

The underlying wisdom (that how money is perceived translates to making different choices in how it's used) draws important (and too seldom seen) connections between financial and worldly wisdom. In contrasting student viewpoints and different perceptions about the use of money, MacMillan provides much food for thought in a survey that can be used for personal pursuit as well as classroom discussion.

While It's Only Money is directed to elementary readers and above, many an adult will want to pursue it for its clear connections between money and human lives, its simple explanations of financial terms and approaches that are too often overly complex in adult discussions, and for its satisfying injection of moral and ethical considerations surrounding money. All these include facets make It's Only Money a unique standout highly recommended for all ages: a well-rounded, financially savvy book that's sorely needed in today's world.

A Quarter-Million Steps
Anthony Paustian, PhD
BookPress Publishing
9780996442893 $19.95

A Quarter-Million Steps: Creativity, Imagination and Leading Transformative Change blends business and success stories from the Apollo Moon Program with insights from the author's own life. The result is a bigger-picture survey of what types of actions make for lasting changes and create foundational principles. The book offers an encouraging set of tools for setting and reaching goals.

At first this may sound like many other inspirational approaches, but A Quarter-Million Steps holds an important difference in that it focuses on more than tools, telling how to craft and stay true to a mindset that embraces and creates them.

Personal conversations with astronauts who traveled to the Moon contribute to an analysis of these steps towards greater achievement and how they were accomplished, covering many pitfalls along the way, such as how literal thinking can lead to incorrect perceptions (yet, is encouraged by the facts and rules taught in schools and emphasized throughout life).

A new set of rules and approaches to critical and constructive thinking are advocated and outlined, with chapters emphasizing that ideas "...aren't static; they require continuous imagineering...think of it as the daily pursuit of perfection." Where other books lightly touch upon this ideal, A Quarter-Million Steps shows how to take steps to continuously improve thinking processes to make important connections between new ideas and new opportunities.

Formulas for daily activity, the "purple people eaters" of ongoing distraction in life, how poor (and smart) decisions are made, and numerous examples from NASA achievements, various businesses, and psychological principles, such as how to understand and assess personal bias, adds to a book that goes beyond a light inspirational read to delve into the nuts and bolts of fine-tuning creative processes.

A Quarter-Million Steps is highly recommended not just for business or self-help readers, but for artists, thinkers, creators and inventors, and any who want to place themselves in these categories.

Rites of Heirdron
Newland Moon
PO Box 2586, McDonough, GA 30253
9780998409009 $12.00

Rites of Heirdron is Book 1 of a powerful fantasy telling of a prince betrayed, a planet laid to waste, and a series of political alliances and special interests that don't bode well for the world. It's a recommended pick for readers of military sci-fi and stories that embrace interplanetary conflicts and political systems.

A young bastard prince is tasked with putting together clues about how his world has been broken and how a shattered people can be put back together again - but like Humpty Dumpty, the task seems impossible, with pieces widely scattered and no clear template for restoration in sight.

If this sounds like a typical one-dimensional fantasy, be advised that Rites of Heirdron is far more complex than a simple plot overview could provide; and this is because it juxtaposes many different concerns and interests as well as different methods of problem-solving and viewing the world.

What happens when left-brain thinking, for example, encounters information beyond its ability to analyze? The clash between linear beliefs and thinking processes and the type of perception that comes from accepting a bit of magic and psychic influence on the world makes for one of the many engrossing sub-plots in Rites of Heirdron: "In most cases, the pursuit of knowledge is paramount. However, in dealings of faith, trust in those who've come before you. Greater men have forfeited their lives pursuing that which is forbidden. Your analytical mind is in conflict with your faith."

Another facet (picking just one of many) is the prince's love for a special woman who is one of many in his harem: an unusual love which defies the rules. The story of their evolving romance is just one of the threads that links the story with diverse pieces of personal and political intrigue.
No light affair, Rites of Heirdron's dual focus on changing worlds and hearts moves deftly from personal to political realms, incorporates a quest that could change everything, and tasks its characters with growth and purpose beyond their familiar upbringings. It's a recommended pick for readers who like their sci-fi spiced with more than light romance, but who want that romance wrapped in the heavier cloak of sacrifice, duty, and life-changing decisions.

The Atheist and the Parrotfish
Richard Barager
Evolved Publishing LLC
9781622530410 $16.95 pbk / $3.99 ebook

The Atheist and the Parrotfish is difficult to neatly categorize and changes its perspective in a delightful manner; much in the nature of the parrotfish in real life, whose development involves several dramatic changes in color.

For twice-divorced kidney specialist Cullen, this involves life-changing moves in his relationships with people and with God. Enter his cross-dressing transplant patient Ennis, who suddenly begins to exhibit the characteristics and persona of his female organ donor, displaying a knowledge only she could have known.

Suddenly Cullen's world is challenged by more than angst and alienation as it's presented with proof of a soul's existence and all the religious challenges and realizations that comes with such proof, leading Cullen himself to move from atheism to a form of parrotfish behavior at one of the biggest pivot points in his life.

As Ennis confronts his alternate transgender personality and inherited soul, he and Cullen move on parallel paths of self-discovery and catastrophic enlightenment that challenge any potential for peace and bring both to the crushing edge of insanity.

One striking aspect of Richard Barager's novel is its delicate ability to weave medical intrigue with the tone of a Robin Cook thriller into the bigger picture of social and religious inspection. His characters consider miracles, personal transformation, and sexual revelations as concurrent pieces of a process that stymies not just their personal growth, but the foundations of their set belief systems.

As events spiral beyond their control, readers are introduced to a questioning process that challenges them to consider the disparate paths of personal change and the possibilities of medical and religious realms intersecting in unusual ways. All these facets, especially the winding commentary on transgender identity and evidence of a soul, could easily have become confusing, especially when given an added shot of intrigue and the elements of a medical mystery; but under Barager's pen the logic of events and the evolution of personalities and new beliefs are impeccably drawn, and fascinating.

This is not to say that The Atheist and the Parrotfish is an undemanding read: in fact, it demands of its readers a level of flexibility that involves different considerations of God and medicine. Those who enjoy a mix of medical thriller, social inspection, and an ethical and moral conundrum will find this that The Atheist and the Parrotfish pairs all these elements with powerful psychological insights that lead readers to become unexpectedly moved by the plights affecting two very different lives.

The Atheist and the Parrotfish is especially recommended for readers of medical thrillers who demand an extra level of spiritual and moral inquiry from their fiction reading.

The Hospitalist
Michael Weisberg, MD
Rebreca Publishing
9781483419978 $17.99 pbk / $1.99 Kindle

Although The Hospitalist is fiction, its premise and tension offers much food for thought about the modern healthcare system as it combines a social commentary with insights on how doctors become thwarted by medical systems.

Diagnostic challenges, a schizophrenic patient who is only one of a number of ticking time bombs, the rigors of being an overworked gastroenterologist, and doctors who never really take care of patients are all powerfully presented in a medical novel that satirizes medical practices, insurance processes, dreams corrupted by the medical field, and more.

One of the unexpected pleasures in The Hospitalist is that its back cover blurb suggests a Robin Cook-style thriller and medical mystery; yet readers who enter the story anticipating action and entertainment will instead find the action takes place on a different level than a thriller usually offers, with the entertainment quickly turning into a social inspection of the medical system and how physicians and patients navigate its complex corridors.

There's suspense, humor, numerous characters and special interest groups, pointed commentary, and powerful reflections on work, ethics, and choice throughout the story line. As Aaron faces the temptation to return to being a healer without all the financial and political pressures of being a physician, he asks and faces some hard questions about doctors, patients, and their regulated environments.

Anyone with an interest in the medical community will find The Hospitalist a different kind of read that doesn't dilute its impact with casual tension, but probes for the deeper cancer at the heart of organizational processes. By choosing a fictional format, The Hospitalist makes far more of an impact in exploring these various pressures and the real-world special interests affecting a wide range of doctors, patients, and those who interact with them.

The Grandfather Paradox
Steven Burgauer
Battleground Press
Print: 9781542454476 $14.95
Ebook: 9781370872497 $ 2.99

The Grandfather Paradox begins with mutiny aboard the spaceship Tachyon, where Captain Andu Nehrengel finds himself stranded on a dangerous planet filled with fierce beasts and strange women, alone for the first time in his world-hopping explorations.

Gone is the comfort of technology, and newly present are mysteries that eventually lead him on a time-travel odyssey back to 19th century Earth, accompanied by a beautiful companion charged with finding her own heritage and place in an unfamiliar land and time.

As the two confront a time before electricity and a place where forces are gathering to battle, each discovers a new challenge. For Andu, this involves the special uncertainties of affecting his own past and its possible impact on his future. It even means encountering Samuel Clemons (Mark Twain) and revealing information about his impossible circumstances.

His clone companion Alpha (newly renamed Margaret, for this world) faces different choices: love, commitment, and a journey that takes her far from the one man who knows who she really is.

Fans of time travel odysseys will find some different twists and facets to The Grandfather Paradox, which begins as a sci-fi space opera with a mutiny and challenges to survival on an alien world, evolves into a time-jumping leap into Earth's past, and then centers around historical facts and flavors ranging from riverboat journeys to war. Where other time-travel novels would focus on the journey into the past and the efforts of characters to return to their futures, The Grandfather Paradox offers much more satisfying details about the history and challenges of the times and the conundrums revolving around romance, paradox, and lifestyle choices.

By mid-book, readers have moved far from the sci-fi alien world setting. While this might disappoint those who anticipated a predictable time-travel novel, readers who seek more complex and changing scenarios and who read both sci-fi and time-travel literature will appreciate The Grandfather Paradox's unusual complexity and appeal as it moves between three very different worlds.

Readers who want more historical detail than a casual time-travel adventure usually provides, and who want their time-jumping action to begin with an interplanetary encounter, will find The Grandfather Paradox a delightful read with several unexpected twists and turns that takes the main theme of time travel and adds more to the story than most timeslip novels would offer.

Natalie's Dilemma
Susan Fleet
Music and Mayhem Press
9780984723591 $15.00

Amazon link:

Natalie's Dilemma is the seventh book in the Frank Renzi series, and though prior familiarity with the characters and scenarios of the other books will lend an easy familiarity to this continuing story, this is not a prerequisite in order for newcomers to find it accessible and involving.

New Orleans Detective Frank Renzi is recovering from the death of a fellow investigator, former boss and cherished friend. At the same time, in Venice, Natalie thinks she has escaped her criminal past at last. A Mafia-organized diamond heist and the kidnapping of a young child leads an agent to forcefully engage her services as a spy, with the child's life hanging in the balance. Natalie and Frank both confront some difficult choices. Renzi faces the conflicts involved in apprehending Natalie, while she in turn realizes that if she flees to save herself, a child will die.

Readers will find that, like the other books in the series, the gritty atmosphere of place and a murder investigation come vividly to life through Frank's gruff demeanor and perceptions: "Feigning innocence, Ace said he had no clue why they had any interest in him. Frank told him to cut the shit and tell them where King Rock was. Ace claimed he hadn't seen him for weeks. They searched the apartment, found nothing to indicate King Rock had been there, and drove back to New Orleans. Because Rocket Man had fed him a load of crap."

Natalie presents quite a different character and situation. The descriptions of her tightrope walk between a savvy small child and danger deftly capture her experiences and the dangerous path she walks: "Colors were harmless enough, but others might not be. She wanted to talk to Pak Lam and formulate an escape plan, but not in front of Bianca. She sat on one of the easy chairs, took the iPhone out of her purse and composed a text. New plan is good, but guard is posted at the door. She hit send. "What are you doing?" Bianca said in Italian, pointing at the iPhone. "Sending a note to my friend." "That man at the store where I ate my ice cream?" The words chilled her. Bianca was far too observant."

It's no easy task taking two very different characters, settings, and atmospheres and weaving them together, but Susan Fleet has done it before in her prior books, and in Natalie's Dilemma she poses an especially well-done story line that successfully intersperses the emotions and perspectives of individuals who each face the different, challenging implications of their actions.

In a way, Natalie's Dilemma is also Frank's dilemma; for their seemingly disparate choices pose similar quandaries. With its sporadic gun battles, cat-and-mouse games, themes of rescue and entrapment operating on different emotional and physical levels, and a series of murders and narrow escapes, Natalie's Dilemma will delight fans of intrigue and thrillers, and is especially recommended for audiences who seek added special flavor of ethical dilemmas in the course of their crime read.

Harold Lewis Longaker
Napoleon Avenue Publishing
9780997961706 $29.95

Many books have focused on the nature and enactment of equality to the point that its counterpart, inequality, is bereft of analysis. Inequality: Darwinian Evolution and Disparity in the Wealth of Nations fills a gap in the literature by focusing on how cultural diversity and evolutionary processes have led to imbalances and imperfections, and discusses the path to becoming rich and how organisms and economics coalesce during the journey to wealth.

Chapters stress that the concept of human equality is itself false, and devote attention to creating a Darwinian evolutionary model that emphasizes this fact. The first prerequisite readers should thus have for a full appreciation of Harold Lewis Longaker's book is a prior basic working knowledge of Darwinian logic and perspectives. Such a background will lend a fuller appreciation as to why Inequality represents such a revolutionary reconsideration in contrast to traditional social and economic analyses and ideas of wealth.

The concept that wealth is a biologically adaptive evolutionary process may seem strange to most; but as Longaker makes his points and draws connections between biological, economic and social processes, readers gain insights based on combination of analysis of transition points, the world human history of making a living, and a better understanding of relationships between labor, status, and the notion of a sociobiological entity's origins and connections to culture.

It should be advised that Inequality: Darwinian Evolution and Disparity in the Wealth of Nations is not a light approach for a general-interest reader, but a scholarly, multidisciplinary inquiry suitable for college-level readers interested in better understanding the influences on institutional transitions and concepts of acquiring and managing wealth.

By applying modern evolutionary theory - a concept too often limited to the sciences - to factors of social change, influence, economics, and individual choice, Longaker offers the opportunity for a closer inspection not of ideals but of natural processes. Because this perspective is pointed, valuable, and weighty, it requires many hours of slow and thoughtful pursuit.

Inequality: Darwinian Evolution and Disparity in the Wealth of Nations is highly recommended reading for college-level audiences who would apply Darwinian principles beyond scientific processes, and who seek a greater, wider-ranging understanding of the concepts of equality and inequality and how they operate at both the sociological and economic levels in communities, individual lives, and society as a whole.

The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959)
David J. Castello
Werewolf Publishing
9781483578620 $17.99 paper/$2.99 Kindle

The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959) tells of twenty-one-year-old U.S. Army combat medic Steven, who escapes death during World War Two after he discovers an immortality formula during the liberation of a concentration camp.

He begins consuming the formula, finds that his aging process has been halted, and then realizes that all his dreams are possible - forever. The formula also endows him with supernatural powers and special talents as well as the terrible burden of prophetic visions of the future. These lead him on a religious journey to discover the truth about the celestial origins of Jesus and Steven's own evolving role as a possible second messiah.

With so many events and subplots taking place, it's difficult to easily categorize The Diary of an Immortal. Readers move from the legacy of World War II and Hitler's experiments to a scenario in which Steven is transformed and given a new mission in life in a saga replete with political overtones, spiritual insights, and elements of new age thinking, fantasy, and horror.

Most political, social, and romantic scenarios in life are dictated by the promise of "as long we live." But Steven's life is now endless - and so are possibilities and dilemmas, as a result. With immortality a certainty, wherein lies in the meaning in a life without death?

Under another hand, some of the juxtapositions of history, social commentary, and spiritual and personal parts could have received a more casual coverage. One of the points to note in David J. Castello's novel is its attention to detail, which may stymie readers who expect nonstop action and an ongoing focus over the science and challenges of immortality versus the underlying history that created this scenario.

Readers who enjoy depth, however, will appreciate the injection of detail that explains the moral dilemmas Steven newly faces as an immortal.

This caution aside, The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959) is a powerful story of a man grappling with immortality, presenting a progression of characters who each find their lives and values challenged by an encounter with Steven and the possibilities of an immortality option that revises and eliminates death from life's bigger picture.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Ask More
Frank Sesno
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814436714 $25.00 hc / $8.16 Kindle

Synopsis: What hidden skill links successful people in all walks of life? What helps them make smart decisions? The answer is surprisingly simple: They know how to ask the right questions at the right time.

Questions help us break down barriers, discover secrets, solve puzzles, and imagine new ways of doing things. But few of us know how to question in a methodical way. Emmy-award-winning journalist and media expert Frank Sesno aims to change that with Ask More.

From questions that cement relationships, to those that help us plan for the future, each chapter in Ask More explores a different type of inquiry. By the end of the book, you'll know what to ask and when, what you should listen for, and what you can expect as the outcome.

Critique: Emmy Award-winning journalist Frank Sesno presents Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change, an excellent, assertive charge to make the world a better place by asking the right questions, and seeking better answers. Chapters examine the value of questions as everything from a diagnostic tool, to a form of empathy, a means of entertainment, a source of creativity, a foundation of science, and much more. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Ask More is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.16).

Understanding Multiculturalism
Johannes Feichtinger & Gary B. Cohen
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781782382645, $120.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: Multiculturalism has long been linked to calls for tolerance of cultural diversity, but today many observers are subjecting the concept to close scrutiny. After the political upheavals of 1968, the commitment to multiculturalism was perceived as a liberal manifesto, but in the post-9/11 era, it is under attack for its relativizing, particularist, and essentializing implications.

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Johannes Feichtinger (a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and who teaches history at the University of Vienna) and Gary B. Cohen (Professor of Modern Central European history at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities) "Understanding Multiculturalism: The Habsburg Central European Experience" is comprised of nine major essays offering a nuanced analysis of the multifaceted cultural experience of Central Europe under the late Habsburg monarchy and beyond.

The contributors examine how culturally coded social spaces can be described and understood historically without adopting categories formerly employed to justify the definition and separation of groups into nations, ethnicities, or homogeneous cultures. As we consider the issues of multiculturalism today, "Understanding Multiculturalism" offers new approaches to understanding multiculturalism in Central Europe freed of the effects of politically exploited concepts of social spaces.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a twenty-four page Bibliography, a four page listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a nine page Index, "Understanding Multiculturalism: The Habsburg Central European Experience" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to college and university library collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that Understanding Multiculturalism" is also available in a paperback edition (9781785333446, $34.95).

Drop the Rock--The Ripple Effect
Fred H.
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
9781616496005, $14.95, PB, 120pp,

Synopsis: Fred H. has been in recovery for more than 40 years. He is a popular international speaker on the Big Book and the principles of the Twelve Steps. In "Drop the Rock - The Ripple Effect" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to provide multiple perspectives from people successfully working a Twelve Step Program, showing Step 10 as a key to a sober life free of fear and resentment and filled with serenity and gratitude.

"When Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects" was first published in 1999, it quickly became the standard resource for working Steps 6 and 7, two of the most challenging of the Twelve Steps for many people in recovery. Learning what it means to fully surrender character defects frees you to make amends with Steps 8 and 9, realize the Big Book's "Promises", and move on to Step 10.

In this new follow-up resource, Fred H. explores what he calls "the ripple effect" that can be created by using Step 10 to practice Steps 6 and 7 every day and avoid picking up "the rock" again.

Critique: Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Drop the Rock--The Ripple Effect" is an extraordinary informational and inspirational resource for anyone seeking to deal with any form of addiction through a Twelve Step program. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Drop the Rock--The Ripple Effect" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future
James Olson
Origin Press
PO Box 151117, San Rafael, CA 94915
9781579830519, $19.95 pbk / $7.96 Kindle,

Synopsis: Our brains have numerous functioning parts, all of which serve us at any one moment. But decades of research reveal the existence of two basic brain "operating systems" -- two fundamental ways in which the whole brain processes incoming information. Because of this phenomenon of brain dominance, most of us tend to favor the input of either our "dualistic" left-brain (which focuses on parts instead of wholes) or our holistic right hemisphere. This means that typically only half of our innate intelligence informs our thinking?and since the left-brain operating system dominates most males, our culture has itself become left-brain dominant.

In "How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future: Why Left Hemisphere Dominance Has Brought Humanity to the Brink of Disaster and How We Can Think Our Way to Peace and Healing", James Olson (an integral philosopher whose wide-ranging studies have included management, economics, politics, engineering, art, religion, psychology, neuro-linguistic programming, and neuroscience) explores this left-brain bias in our civilization, revealing it to be the root cause for centuries of war, racism, and political polarization -- and eons of misunderstanding between the sexes.

While most of our technological and scientific progress is driven by left-brain thinking, the great advances to come will require that we consciously harness both sides of our brain to greatly improve our cognition. Award-winning author James Olson goes on to explain how we can achieve greater internal harmony between the two operating systems of the brain (both as individuals and as a culture) thus showing us how ad why thinking with our whole brains will lead us to peace and to the ultimate healing of our relationships and our world.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future: Why Left Hemisphere Dominance Has Brought Humanity to the Brink of Disaster and How We Can Think Our Way to Peace and Healing" is exceptionally well organized and presented making it a very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Psychology/Neuroscience collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.96).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

This Was A Man
Jeffrey Archer
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250061638, $28.99,

Sadly the Jeffrey Archer series "The Clifton Chronicles" has come to an end with "This Was A Man" the seventh and final novel. Happily the story moves along with solid writing, wonderful characters readers already are familiar with, and a rousing emotional conclusion. It isn't often you find a series that delights as much as "The Clifton Chronicles" with every single title. It is sad to see the series end but as they say "All good things must come to an end." "This Was A Man" is a welcome addition to the saga that was begun in "Only Time Will Tell."

Big Law
Ron Liebman
Blue Rider Press
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781101982990, $26.00,

Carney Blake works for a major law firm, takes a case that just could get him disbarred from being able to practice. As "Big Law" opens he and his brother are waiting for a verdict to come in that could affect his whole professional life. Charges have been filed by another attorney for improprieties . "Big Law" is also a very tightly drawn character study of how Carney deals with several family problems. "Big Law" moves very quickly to a final satisfying ending. Ron Liebman has told a great legal thriller and it would be great to see more books coming from this first class legal thriller writer in the future.

If This Goes Wrong
Edited by Hank Davis
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471
9781476782027, $7.99,

There are 15 wonderful short stories by some of the all time best science fiction writers to ever write. They include some of the modern masters of long ago who show why their works continue to find new audiences to enjoy them. Some of the authors are Robert A. Heinlein, Fritz Libber, Fredrick Brown, and Gordon R. Dickson are a few of the ones to make note of. Also there is one by the actor Alan Akin that shows another side of this talented performer. Hank Davis has impeccable taste and "If This Goes Wrong" shows once again why.

Murder She Wrote Design For Murder
Jessica Fletcher, Donald Bain & Rene Paley-Bain
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451477828, $7.99,

Jessica Fletcher is attending a fashion show when one of the models on the runway collapses and dies. Later another model mysteriously dies. Jessica begins to find many things that lead her to the killer. "Murder She Wrote" has always been a fun series and "Design For Murder" is another great addition to the sleuthing fun.

I'll Be Damned
Eric Braden With Lindsay Harrison
Dey Street Books
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062476111, $26.99

For 37 years Eric Braden has played Victor Newman on "The Young and The Restless" Now, he tells all in a new expose that reveals a lot about the actor and many other unknown facts about his life and the many roles he has played thru the years. He is gracious to fellow cast members, modest about himself, and a shining example of what an emigrant to this country can accomplish if they set their mind to work hard and achieve. Some of the interesting things he reveals are why he changed his name to Eric Braden, movies he worked in, stars who gave him advice, how he realized he had something special in the role of Victor Newman and why he decided to be an actor. Fans of the show and the actor will not want to miss "I'll Be Damned"

Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission
Bret Baier
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780062569035, $28.99

Bret Baier "Three Days In January" takes readers behind the farewell speech of President Dwight Eisenhower 3 days before the inauguration of President John Kennedy. "Three Days In January" is so much more than just the revelation of the president's address. It is also a detailed account of a president who often times has been overlooked for his many accomplishments in his two term presidency. Baier brings to life a man who represented many of the best aspects of someone who was in public service as well as one of the finest generals the country has ever seen. Baier also shows several faults the man had that gives a full picture of one of the best people to ever be in public life. "Three Days In January" is a revealing expose of a better time in the country's history where politicians were able to come together and get things done.

Word of Mouse
James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Joe Sutphin, illustrator
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316349567, $13.99

Isaiah is a blue mouse who lives in a lab testing center along with many other mice. Through a fluke he is able to escape the center. Along the way he has a series of adventures and meets a lot of other animals and humans. Later he is determined to find out what happened to the rest of his family so he returns to the center to help them escape as well. "Word of Mouse" is a fun story filled with many interesting characters with a story that moves along to its final fun ending.

The Lilac Princess
Wanda Luthman
Xulon Press
2301 Lucien Way, Suite 415, Maitland, FL 32751
978149412254, $10.99,

What do you do when you have everything at your fingertips? In some case you could get bored. Such is the case with Princess Dreama who wants something more in her life but not sure what. She goes on a quest to find something better than being a princess. She begins to learn about herself and those around her that teaches her to appreciate what she has. "The Lilac Princess" is a wonderful tale of learning what's important in life and how to value it. Adults and kids will both love this charming fairy tale.

The Secret Project
Jonah Winter and Jenette Winter
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481469135 $17.99,

"The Secret Project" begins with an element of mystery but soon is very obvious to adults what the project is. Told in an easy style the authors take children through one of the most secret programs the U. S. federal government ever conducted. Through prose and beautiful artwork the endeavor is revealed to its final shattering ending. "The Secret Project" is a cautionary story to children showing what the federal government is capable of.

Marion Coste
Illustrated By Cissy Gray
University of Hawaii Press
2840 Kolowalu Street, Honolulu, HI 96822
9780824815073 $16.99,

"Honu" details the life cycle of one particular sea turtle that is known to live in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The author takes readers behind the scenes in an easy to follow and understand style that all ages can read and enjoy. "Honu" is for anyone who wants to know about the state of Hawaii with beautiful artwork that adds to the writing.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

In a Strange City
Laura Lippman
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062403261, $14.99/18.50 CA$, Paperback, 432 pp.

From the publisher: For the past fifty years on the birth date of Edgar Allan Poe, a person wearing a cloak has placed three roses and a half bottle of cognac on the writer's gravesite. PI Tess Monaghan has never witnessed the event. But when John P. Kennedy, an eccentric antiques dealer, asks her to uncover the identity of the caped visitor, who he believes has duped him with the sale of an inauthentic antique, Tess decides to hold vigil on the night the cloaked stranger is expected to make an appearance. But the custom takes on a bizarre, fatal twist when two cloaked figures arrive. The imitator leaves his tribute and then makes his escape...after shooting the first visitor. Warning bells tell Tess to steer clear of this case. But when roses and cognac appear on her doorstep, Tess's curiosity is piqued. She soon discovers that John P. Kennedy has vanished into thin air and much of what he told her was questionable. Then the identity of the shooting victim comes to light, and all clues seem to point to the possibility he was the target of a hate crime. But Tess isn't convinced. What was his connection to the decades-long Edgar Allan Poe tradition and to the killer? When more cryptic clues are left at her home, Tess realizes that someone is watching her every move...someone who's bent on killing again.

Originally published in hardcover in 2001, I just caught up with this one, the 6th of what is now 12 in the Tess Monaghan series. Tess is a former reporter and now private investigator in her early thirties. The Strange City of the title is Baltimore, and the reader learns many fascinating things, if some a bit strange, about the city, its environs, and its denizens. I was sufficiently intrigued about the history of "The Poe Toaster" that I checked it out on Wikipedia, and it a fascinating tale of over seven decades, apparently ending in 2009. (It is stated that it is "a beautiful tradition the entire city loves.") The author certainly piques the reader's interest in its history, and the murder mystery here spikes that interest all the more.

I didn't know much of Poe (said to have "invented the detective story") other than the books by him I'd read, like almost every mystery book lover. I apparently had that in common with Tess, here "learning a little more of his work, about which she was woefully ignorant, and his life, about which she knew even less," but the minutiae served up here is fascinating, starting with a quote even before the first page: "Lo! Death has reared himself a throne in a strange city, lying alone..." Tess, with help from her boyfriend, Crow, and their greyhound, Esskay, is assisted in their investigation by Daniel Clary, a young librarian who is a self-confessed "Poe buff" and a fascinating character, as are all of Ms. Lippman's creations, notably Fuzzy Iglehart and Gretchen O'Brien, fellow p.i., with homophobia raising its ugly head along the way. I loved the writing, e.g., when she is holding a suspect at gunpoint, she muses that she wished "her experience at bluffing was based on more than card games with her family." I must admit that by the run-up to the end of the tale, very suspenseful as it is, I found myself somewhat confused in trying to keep the various suspects straight in my head, with numerous characters having been introduced along the way. Despite that reservation, the novel is recommended.

The Second Life of Nick Mason
Steve Hamilton
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 100114
9780399574320, 26.00, Hardcover, 304 pp.
9780399574344, $16.00, Paperback, 320 pp.

From the publisher: A career criminal from Chicago's South Side, Nick Mason got his start stealing cars and quickly graduated to safe-cracking and armed robbery. But he left that life behind when he met and married his wife and settled down with her and their young daughter - until an old friend offered him a job he couldn't refuse. That fateful night at the harbor landed him in prison with a 25-to-life sentence and little hope of seeing his wife or daughter ever again. When Nick is offered a deal allowing his release twenty years ahead of schedule, he takes it without hesitation or fully realizing the consequences. Once outside, Nick steps into a glamorous life with a five-million-dollar condo, a new car, ten grand in cash every month, and a beautiful roommate. But while he's returned to society, he's still a prisoner, bound to the promise he made behind bars: whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, Nick must answer it and follow whatever order he is given. It's the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind serving a double-life term who still runs an empire from his prison cell. Whatever Darius Cole needs him to be - - a problem solver, bodyguard, thief, or assassin - - Nick Mason must be that man. Forced to commit increasingly dangerous crimes and relentlessly hunted by the detective who brought him to justice in the past, Nick finds himself in a secret war between Cole and an elite force of Chicago's dirty cops. Desperate to go straight and rebuild his life with his daughter and ex-wife, Nick will ultimately have to risk everything - - his family, his sanity, and even his life - - to finally break free.

How does Nick resolve this second life he is now forced to live? The manner in which he does so is revealed in this fascinating novel by Steve Hamilton, and the suspenseful way he accomplishes it is typical of what we have come to expect from this author, in this newest page-turner, just the first in a new series. It goes against anything Nick had believed in: Although admittedly involved with several kinds of illegal acts, he had never - and believed he never could - taken another man's life. But after five years and twenty-eight days in prison, and with the hope of re-starting his life with his beloved Gina and their little girl, he would do almost anything. The book opens with quotes from two very different sources: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Bruce Springsteen. But expect the unexpected from this wonderful author. I was delighted to learn that the next book in the series, Exit Strategy, will be published by Putnam in May, and I can't wait to read it! The Second Life of Nick Mason is, you will have guessed, highly recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

Paul D. Parks
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Timeless Skies Publishing
B012M3QMG8, 9780991473540, $2.99, ebook, 184 pages

Vortex is an action suspense. It is a well written story full of action with one flaw. The protagonist of the tale repeats the same mistake over and over again. The dichotomy of an adequately intelligent protagonist who consciously walks into a dangerous situation and stumbles out of it and then repeats the sequence through to the end of the tale doesn't match up with the rest of the story.

Zach Tanner is wounded in Afghanistan. While in the war, he and his buddies decide to bring something for themselves back home. When he gets out of the hospital, he finds the stolen loot missing but no one believes he didn't keep the loot for himself. Before his former buddies kill him, he must find out what has happened.

Vortex is a very well written suspense with a near fatal plotline flaw. The average reader will not notice the failure of Zach to learn. The intense well written action masks the lack of character development. But for the critical reader the story is average. Novices will find the tale excellent. With the reasonable price, the story is recommended as a weekend read for the suspense reader.

Andrea Domanski
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B00IOU4NR4, 9781495982477, $4.99, ebook, 268 pages

Crossfire is a story written in the style that today would be considered a narrative version of a graphic novel. This style of action/adventure would have filled the shelves just a few decades ago. The e-market has permitted this type of storytelling to resurge.

Marrisa Colson receives, from her absentee mother, a package on her eighteenth birthday and discovers the she is an Amazon princess tasked with fighting in a war between the Greek gods on earth. She has only months to learn what she needs to defend herself before facing Aries' champion on earth.

Crossfire is a light action supernatural fantasy with a female fighting heroine. It is pure escapist fun and doesn't pretend to be anything else. It is an easy recommendation for anyone wanting to relax from the world.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

"No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar"
Mark A. Smith & Wade Sokolosky
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611212860, $29.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: General William T. Sherman's 1865 Carolinas Campaign has remained a relatively obscure aspect of the American Civil War, largely because it was overshadowed by the Army of Northern Virginia's final battles against the Army of the Potomac. A careful, impartial, detailed examination of Sherman's army and its many accomplishments, career military officers and Civil War historians Mark A. Smith and Wade Sokolosky bring a much needed restoration of perspective with the publication of "No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar": Sherman's Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, March 1865".

Smith and Sokolosky dedicate their professional training and research and writing abilities to the critical days of March 11-16, 1865 -- the overlooked run-up to the seminal Battle of Bentonville (March 19-21, 1865). They begin with the capture of Fayetteville and the demolition of the arsenal there, before chronicling the two-day Battle of Averasboro in more detail than any other study. At Averasboro, Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee's Confederates conducted a well-planned and brilliantly executed defense-in-depth that held Sherman's juggernaut in check for two days. With his objective accomplished, Hardee disengaged and marched to concentrate his corps with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston for what would become Bentonville.

This completely revised and updated edition of "No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar" is based upon extensive archival and firsthand research. It includes new original maps, orders of battle, abundant illustrations, and a detailed driving and walking tour for dedicated battlefield enthusiasts.

Critique; Impressively researched, exceptionally informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, ""No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar": Sherman's Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, March 1865" is an extraordinary and critically important contribution to community and academic library American Civil War History collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that ""No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar": Sherman's Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro, March 1865" is also available in a Kindle format ($17.97).

How Change Happens
Duncan Green
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780198785392, $27.95, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: Human society is full of would-be "change agents," a restless mix of campaigners, lobbyists, and officials, both individuals and organizations, set on transforming the world. They want to improve public services, reform laws and regulations, guarantee human rights, get a fairer deal for those on the sharp end, achieve greater recognition for any number of issues, or simply be treated with respect.

Striking then, why so many universities lack programs for social activists, to which students can turn for advice and inspiration. Instead, scholarly discussions of change are fragmented with few conversations crossing disciplinary boundaries, rarely making it onto the radar of those actively seeking change.

"How Change Happens" bridges the gap between academia and practice, bringing together the best research from a range of academic disciplines and the evolving practical understanding of activists to explore the topic of social and political change. Drawing on many first-hand examples from the global experience of Oxfam, one of the world's largest social justice NGOs, as well as author Duncan Green's own insights from studying and working on international development, this erudite study tests ideas on how change happens and offers the latest thinking on what works to achieve progressive change.

Critique: Duncan Green is Oxfam Great Britain's Senior Strategic Adviser. He also teaches on international development at the London School of Economics, where he is a Professor in Practice. His study, "How Change Happens" is a potential game changer for the way in which institutions of higher learning can impact the cultures, societies, and governments in which they function. Enhanced with the inclusion of a ten page Index, "How Change Happens" is a thoughtful and thought-provoking read that should be a part of every community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "How Change Happens" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633882096 $15.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: When the Jarrett Creek Fire Department is called to douse a blaze on the outskirts of town, they discover a grisly scene: five black young people have been murdered. Newly elected Chief of Police Samuel Craddock, just back from a stint in the Air Force, finds himself an outsider in the investigation headed by the Texas Highway Patrol. He takes an immediate dislike to John Sutherland, a racist trooper

Craddock's fears are realized when Sutherland arrests Truly Bennett, a young black man whom Craddock knows and respects. Sutherland cites dubious evidence that points to Bennett, and Craddock uncovers facts leading in another direction. When Sutherland refuses to relent, Craddock is faced with a choice that will define him as a lawman - either let the highway patrol have its way, or take on a separate investigation himself.

Critique: Award-winning author Terry Shames has crafted yet another intensely compelling Samuel Craddock mystery. Gritty and suspenseful, An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock transfixes the reader's attention to the very end. Highly recommended for connoisseurs of the genre! It should be noted for personal reading lists that An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

The Handy Communication Answer Book
Lauren Sergy
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578595877, $21.95, PB, 416pp,

Synopsis: Communication is a subject that fascinates and frustrates people. It varies by context, audience, purpose, and form. From speeches to body language, from legalese and technical writing to how the Internet changed everything, "The Handy Communication Answer Book" is informative book brings the intricacies of speaking, writing, listening, and reading into focus through its well-researched answers to nearly 800 common communication questions, such as What are some common barriers to communication? How did early radio affect American politics? What was Aristotle's influence on rhetoric? How should I deal with a social media troll? How can I stop saying things like "um" and "ah"? How can I project authority without being overbearing? How can I better communicate up the corporate ladder? What cliches and common gaffes are easily avoided?

Critique: Lauren Sergy is a professional speaker, writer, coach, and trainer on public speaking, communications, rhetoric, and critical thinking, as well as a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers. In "The Handy Communication Answer Book" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to create an impressively informed and informative compendium of information, illustrations, and examples of all the diverse forms communication takes place in our contemporary society and culture. Exceptionally 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Handy Communication Answer Book" is especially recommended for personal, school, and community library collections.

Rama God: In The Beginning
Vidya Wati
only RAMA only
9781945739224, $19.99, HC, 126pp,

Synopsis: A question as old as the human race is 'Who am I?'

Ms. Vidya Wati, a saintly person from India, delivers in this, and her other forthcoming books, a wondrous blend of wisdom and devotion, which bring hope to us in the complex world we live in. She spent her whole life breathing and living the very same sublime theme-rooted in Vedanta and Indian mysticism-that she presents in her works.

In "Rama God: In The Beginning", Ms. Wati writes of Tulsidas, a medieval saint from India, who probes the nature of the Self and talk of God Rama -- laying bare those esoteric truths that have been ever so closely wrapped in that same worldly night where alas most of us are found to abide.

The question is put: 'Where do I truly bide?' Where the head is void and quiet the heart reposed, where the world like a hollow murmur rings, where mute forever abides the voice: that is my home -- tells the saint.

The saint attempts to tell us of the "other" -- that realm from where joys and sorrows turn back, return away, from where every single thought runs away.

'Who am I?'--ask I. The holy sweet inflowing, which is consciousness, which is bliss, which will forever abide - that singularity of awareness, the purity of simply being: that is me -- tells the saint.

Whither dwells my happiness? Beyond shadows dark and sunlight sheen; ere where the lengthening traces of shades, interweave; where all existence blooms, bathed just in the field of lights, that holy light, of calm delight: that is of me, and is from me -- proclaims the saint.

Vedanta, a philosophical subject otherwise considered very weighty on the mind, is explained simply and easy here; and you will find the dry theme of Vedanta stir up feelings of sweet euphoria within you at times.

Critique: Especially commended to the attention of both students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Hinduism, "Rama God: In The Beginning" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rama God: In The Beginning" is also available in a paperback edition (9781945739217, $14.00).

Can Xue
Open Letter Books
c/o University of Rochester
Lattimore Hall 411, Box 270082, Rochester, NY 14627
9781940953540, $16.95, PB, 470pp,

Synopsis: "Frontier" by Can Xue opens with the story of Liujin, a young woman heading out on her own to create her own life in Pebble Town, a somewhat surreal place at the base of Snow Mountain where wolves roam the streets and certain enlightened individuals can see and enter a paradisiacal garden.

Exploring life in this city (or in the frontier) through the viewpoint of a dozen different characters, some simple, some profound, Can Xue's latest novel attempts to unify the grand opposites of life -- barbarism and civilization, the spiritual and the material, the mundane and the sublime, beauty and death, Eastern and Western cultures.

Can Xue is a pseudonym meaning "dirty snow, leftover snow." She learned English on her own and has written books on Borges, Shakespeare, and Dante. Her publications in English include The Embroidered Shoes, Five Spice Street, Vertical Motion, and The Last Lover, which won the 2015 Best Translated Book Award for Fiction.

Critique: Aptly translated into English for an American readership by Karen Gernant (Professor $merita of Chinese history at Southern Oregon University) in collaboration with Chen Zeping (Professor of Chinese Linguistics at Fujian Teachers' University), "Frontier" is an extraordinary and deftly crafted novel that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Frontier" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Banged-Up Heart
Shirley Melis
Terra Nova Books
33 Alondra Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508
9781938288708, $19.95, PB, 300pp,

Synopsis: When her husband of thirty years dies suddenly, Shirley Melis is convinced she will never find another man like Joe. Then she meets John, a younger man who tells her during their first conversation that he has lived for many years with a rare but manageable cancer. She is swept off her feet in a whirlwind courtship, and within months, made brave by the early death of a friend's husband, she asks him to marry her! What follows is a year-long odyssey of travel and a growing erotic and creative partnership?until a mysterious bump on John's forehead proves to be one of several tumors in his brain and spine. The nine months that follow are filled with a life-threatening infection, three brain surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. Two years and one week after their wedding, John dies at the age of fifty-nine.

More than just a love story or a memoir of mourning, Banged-Up Heart comes down solidly on the side of life. It takes you deep inside an ordinary woman, her deeply felt grief butting up against her desire for more than companionship: passion, sexual fulfillment, and self-realization. It bears eloquent witness to the wild trust it takes to fall madly in love and risk profound loss?a second time. Ultimately, it shows that it is possible to dance with a banged-up heart.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively candid, and ultimately inspiring, "Banged-Up Heart: Dancing With Love and Loss" by Shirley Melis presents an intimate and clear-eyed account of finding love late and losing it early -- as well as the strength it takes to fall madly in love a second time, be forced to relinquish that love too soon, and yet choose to love again. A truly extraordinary memoir, "Banged-Up Heart" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary American Biography collections.

Chocolat: From the Cocoa Bean to the Chocolate Bar
Pierre Marcolini, author
Marie Pierre Morel, photographer
300 Park Avenue South, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10010
9780847859283, $40.00, HC, 384pp,

Synopsis: Pierre Marcolini is one of the world's foremost artisanal chocolatiers and has won numerous awards. In 1995, he was crowned World Pastry Champion, and opened his first shop in Brussels. Since then, he has expanded to twenty-eight outlets in Belgium, Japan, France, England, Luxembourg, Monaco, and Kuwait.

As Belgium's foremost practitioner of the art of fine chocolate making, Marcolini shares his passion and his knowledge in the pages of "Chocolat: From the Cocoa Bean to the Chocolate Bar". Marcolini's confections have been acclaimed as the world's most delectable chocolate creations, and this culinary volume is a delicious immersion into the world of fine chocolate and a tribute to its majesty.

In "Chocolat: From the Cocoa Bean to the Chocolate Bar" Marcolini reveals the trade secrets of the art of fine chocolate making including learning how to roast, grind, and temper the chocolate at home just like the professionals and master all aspects of chocolate making. His recipes run the gamut of chocolate possibilities from irresistible creamy sauces, to decadent pastries, bars, truffles, and even a smattering of savory dishes.

Critique: A beautiful compendium to browse through, all the featured recipes are beautifully presented and gorgeously photographed. Thoroughly 'kitchen cook friendly' in organization and presentation, "Chocolat: From the Cocoa Bean to the Chocolate Bar" is enthusiastically recommended and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, family, and community library cookbook collections.

The Endometriosis Health and Diet Program
Andrew S. Cook & Danielle Cook
Robert Rose Inc.
120 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 800, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4P 1E2
9780778805625, $24.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus (endometrium) grows outside it. Most often this is on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissue around the uterus and ovaries; however, in rare cases it may also occur in other parts of the body. Endometriosis can have a profound impact on a woman's quality of life, and it affects the lives of 6 to 10 percent of women worldwide.

"The Endometriosis Health and Diet Program: Get Your Life Back" Dr. Andrew S. Cook (Founder and Director of the Vital Health Institute) and Danielle Cook (who has a Master's Degree in Nutrition and Food Science, and has a diverse background in the field of nutrition) is timely instructional volume that will dispel the myths surrounding endometriosis and provide scientifically based recommendations that are easy to understand and follow. It offers recommendations on treating root causes rather than just symptoms -- it's a comprehensive, integrative program for treating endometriosis and serves as a starting point for building an individualized program. The plan is deep in scope but easy to understand and follow -- and includes 100 endometriosis relevant recipes.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Endometriosis Health and Diet Program" will prove to be an invaluable tool in helping to treat and manage endometriosis -- making it essential reading for anyone suffering from endometriosis or have a loved one who does. "The Endometriosis Health and Diet Program" is an essential, cored addition to community and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Endometriosis supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Helen Dumont

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Truths of Tula: A Muse and Her Artist
Dianna Cates Dunn, author/artist
DCD Design
Satiama Writers Resource
9780692649411 $18.99

"The Truths of Tula" is a soul-enlightening book of paintings and musings about a muse, a very specific individual but also Everywoman sort of muse, who chose to manifest to the amazing and talented artist/ author, Diana Cates Dunn. Twenty colored reproductions of paintings of the muse Tula are included, done in acrylic/collage on canvas. Each page of reproductions is embellished with a facing page of a central inspiration or idea, expanded into a guided meditation suggestion or life narrative. The reader/viewer is gently invited to share the offerings of the muse, Tula, and to discover its individual application to her/his own life. "The Truths of Tula" is a very sensitive, introspective sharing of a great artist's sequence of visions. The lack of facial features of the individual painted as Tula encourages and allows many different individuals to identify with the muse, Tula. The amazing artwork is inviting, sensitive, vibrant, and compelling. "The Truths of Tula" is almost a visual guide or artistic journal lighting a pathway to leading a richer, fuller life, fully sourced in the Now. The award winning author artist has created a lovely book to showcase her thoughts and visions for everyone.

Holy Spirit Mystifying Scriptures
Carol Pitts, author/illustrator with quotations from King James Version of the Bible
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781503558540 $21.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle

"Holy Spirit Mystifying Scriptures" is a collection of digital art impressions based upon quotations from the KJV of the Holy Bible. The artist's graphic, digital art interpretations of the quoted scriptures are partially explained or narrated by the artist, but further interpretation is left to the reader, to perhaps inspire contemplation and prayer. Bright primary colors and dazzling images contain both abstract and more recognizable forms and shapes. The art work is fresh and invigorating. The text and quotations from KJV need further editing and spell checking for greater clarity, accuracy and understanding. But the images are fresh and arresting, offering another window into understanding of the scriptures. If "Holy Spirit Mystifying Scriptures" is read with a KJV Bible in hand, the scriptures' content and language can be verified and better understood with reference to the artwork.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Joseph: Portraits through the Ages
Alan T. Levenson
Jewish Publication Society
2100 Arch Street, 2nd floor, Philadelphia PA 19103-1399
9780827612501, $32.95, HC, 312pp,

Synopsis: "Joseph: Portraits through the Ages" by Alan T. Levenson (Schusterman/Josey Professor of Jewish History at the University of Oklahoma) is the complex and dramatic story of Joseph, which is arguably the most sustained narrative in Genesis.

Many call it a literary masterpiece and a story of great depth that can be read on many levels. In a lucid and engaging style, Professor Levenson brings the voices of Philo, Josephus, Midrash, and medieval commentators, as well as a wide range of modern scholars, into dialogue about this complex biblical figure.

Professor Levenson explores such questions as: Why did Joseph's brothers hate him so? What is achieved by Joseph's ups and downs on the path to extraordinary success? Why didn't Joseph tell his father he was alive and ruling Egypt? What was Joseph like as a husband and father? Was Joseph just or cruel in testing his brothers' characters?

Professor Levenson deftly shows how an unbroken chain of interpretive traditions, mainly literary but also artistic, have added to the depth of this fascinating and unique biblical character.

Critique: Deftly written, exceptionally well organized and presented, impressively informative, "Joseph: Portraits through the Ages" is an extraordinary work of biblical scholarship and unreservedly recommended, especially for community, college, and university Judaic Studies & Biblical Studies collections. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Joseph: Portraits through the Ages" is also available in a Kindle format ($18.12).

Self-Portrait with Dogwood
Christopher Merrill
Trinity University Press
One Trinity Place, San Antonio, TX 78212-7200
9781595348098, $15.95, PB, 264pp,

Synopsis: In the course of researching dogwood trees, poet and essayist Christopher Merrill realized that a number of formative moments in his life had some connection to the tree named (according to one writer) because its fruit was not fit for a dog. As he approached his sixtieth birthday, Merrill began to compose a self-portrait alongside this tree whose lifespan is comparable to a human's and that, from an early age, he's regarded as a talisman.

Dogwoods have never been far from Merrill's view at significant moments throughout his life, helping to shape his understanding of place in the great chain of being; entwined in his experience is the conviction that our relationship to the natural world is central to our walk in the sun. The feeling of a connection to nature has become more acute as his life has taken him to distant corners of the earth, often to war zones where he has witnessed not only humankind's propensity for violence and evil but also the enduring power of connections that can be forged across languages, borders, and politics. Dogwoods teach us persistence humility and wonder.

"Self-Portrait with Dogwood" is no ordinary memoir, but rather the work of a traveler who has crisscrossed the country and the globe in search of ways to make sense of his time here. Merrill provides new ways of thinking about personal history, the environment, politics, faith, and the power of the written word. In his descriptions of places far and near, many outside of the average American's purview, ranging from a besieged city in Bosnia, to a hidden path in a Taiwanese park, to Tolstoy's country house in Russia, to a castle in Slovakia, to a blossoming dogwood at daybreak in Seattle, the reader's understanding of the world will flourish as well.

Critique: "Self-Portrait with Dogwood" reveals Christopher Merrill as a master of the English language and as having a genuine flair for consistently engaging his readers with observations that are as informed and informative as they are thoughtful and thought-provoking. The result is a compendium of a life's story that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Self-Portrait with Dogwood" is also available in a Kindle format ($15.15).

The Story of Dan Bright
Dan Bright & Justin Nobel
University of New Orleans Press
2000 Lakeshore Drive Liberal Arts Building, Room 138, New Orleans, LA 70148
9781608011247, $18.95, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: Everybody knows New Orleans, but nobody knows this New Orleans. At sixteen years old, Dan Bright was the head of a New Orleans drug empire. As his operation grew, it was only a matter of time before he attracted the attention of the criminal justice system, which would stop at nothing, including framing Dan for murder, to get him off the streets.

Dan's capital murder trial lasted only one day. The District Attorney's office used false testimony and fabricated evidence to lead the jury to their ultimate conclusion: Daniel Bright was guilty and deserved the death penalty.

"The Story of Dan Bright: Crime, Corruption, and Injustice in the Crescent City" is an incredibly true story that unflinchingly shows the injustice of the legal system, as well as the base corruption on display at Angola prison, where Dan spent ten years fighting his wrongful conviction and struggling for a right supposedly guaranteed to all Americans: a fair trial.

Critique: Dan Bright spent nine years in prison, four of them on death row, before his sentence was overturned in 2004. With the assistance of journalist, author and blogger Justin Nobel, Dan's personal story is an inherently compelling read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Story of Dan Bright: Crime, Corruption, and Injustice in the Crescent City" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

The Healing Creed - God's Promises for Your Healing Breakthrough
Becky Dvorak
Destiny Image Publishers Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768410990, $15.99, 186 pages

Foundational Truths which Demonstrate the Healing Power of Jesus, Jehovah Rapha

Prophetic healing evangelist, Bible teacher, and author, Becky Dvorak, combines practical teaching and stirring testimonies of supernatural healing in her book, "The Healing Creed - God's Promises for Your Healing Breakthrough." This book will equip the reader to apply, appropriate, activate, and stand firm on the healing promises of God.

You will:

Learn ten steps that will renew your faith and help you to believe again

Discover who you are in Christ and how to step out in faith

Gain a better understanding of Jesus, as our righteousness, our sanctifier, our redeemer, and our healer

Recognize the enemy's tactics and clear up the confusion of faulty theology

Be inspired by stories of healing, deliverance, and wholeness, that will elevate your faith to a whole new level

Restore the message of hope to those who are sick and hurting, spiritually, mentally, or physically.

Dvorak is passionate about her message of healing, which is based on a solid foundation of Biblical truths. Her practical insights will strengthen and inspire you to new heights of faith as you live in the manifestation of God's presence and dare to take the first step toward your "Healing Breakthrough" today.

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

Unshaken - Standing Strong in Uncertain Times
Jeanne Nigro
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768409994, $15.99, 188 pages

Experiencing an Unfathomable Closeness to God in Perilous Times

Honest and open about her personal struggles as a victim of fear, when faced with the uncertainty of these perilous times, Jean Nigro tells her story of experiencing intimacy with God, in "Unshaken - Standing Strong in Uncertain Times." Readers are challenged to consider the question: How can we make a difference in this turbulent world today until Jesus Returns?

Nigro is passionate about her message of discovering joy in the presence of the Lord. She describes how our service for God, our activities, and our relationships are all meant to be the result of an overflow of focusing on our main purpose in life, growing in intimacy with God."

Jeanne uses the analogy of a football game to depict the use of offensive steps and defensive strategies to break free from anything that would block this intimacy. She reveals God's action plan for the Millennium, and provides important and profound insights into the Old Testament prophecies regarding the role and significance of the feasts of Israel in our worship. Other features of the book include: Practical guidelines for battling spiritual warfare and important concepts on the importance of concentrating on truths already known rather than the questions of the unknown.

"Unshaken" is highly endorsed by well-known Christian leaders as: powerful, relevant, practical and fulfilling. Nigro's writing is insightful in content, articulate in delivery, and fascinating in discovery. The format of the book grabs the reader's attention, insures retention, and results in resolution, and action.

"Unshaken" is highly recommend for anyone inundated by fear as a result of the political and social instability of today's world, and are looking for a better understanding of God's plan for the future.

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

Love Our Vets - Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD
Welby O'Brien
Deep River Books
PO Box 310, Sisters, OR 97759
9781940269597, $15.99, 224 pages

Comfort, Encouragement, and Practical Help - Answers for the Hard Questions Faced by Families Impacted by PTSD

As the wife of a disabled veteran Welby O'Brien understands what it means to experience the day to day struggles faced by those living with loved ones plagued by PTSD. "Love Our Vets" is written to provide relief, practical help and support for these families.

The book is divided into three parts: Reaffirm, replenish, and reflect. Additional features include a valuable group discussion guide, help for times of transition and vicarious trauma.

Part one uses a question and answer format to addresses sixty-four hard questions, topics based on issues and concerns from a number of people who share from their heart actual issues they are facing or have experienced in the pastThe questions address topics and concerns, such as: Dealing with misconceptions and stigmas, symptoms to watch for, dealing with frustration, anger and rage, family relationships, problems in the workplace, and many more.

Part Two addresses the subject of replenishing yourself; depleted of energy, tired, exhausted, and facing burn out, you need to be nurtured. O'Brien introduces a list of twenty-one needs you may be experiencing. These are presented in a survey format that will help you recognize personal areas of stress in your life. O'brien provides specific suggestions and tools to help through these hard times.

Part Three is made up of reflections from the lives of many who are dealing with PTSD. O'Brien writes realistically from her experiences as a caregiver, offering encouragement through heartfelt feelings of hope. She speaks of her personal faith and the importance of prayer. She provides the reader with insightful keys for building a spiritual foundation for finding, inner strength, and healing.

Timely, relevant, and important - Highly recommended.

The Art of Presentation - Your Competitive Edge
Ray H. Hull, PhD and Jim Stovall
Sound Wisdom Books
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978193787987, $21.95, 192 pages

A Look at the Elements Involved in Effective Presentations

Ray H. Hull, PhD and Jim Stovall collaborate in "The Art of Presentation - Your Competitive Edge" to provide the reader with a distinctive balance of step by step instruction and compelling illustrative stories that reinforce the essentials involved in effective presentations.

The authors help the reader learn and develop skills of communication that will result in a freshness and individuality to the manner and style of the readers presentations, will hone their effectiveness, and encourage them to become more accomplished platform speakers.

Other tips the authors suggest include: practice your skills by placing yourself in situations that provide opportunities to improve your effectiveness, discover your strengths, determine your brand, and filter your media presentation for" accuracy, bias, and perspective."

Stovall uses the examples of Paul Harvey, Zig Ziegler, Will James, and others with inimitable presentation skills to demonstrate the art of crafting visual images as powerful "as great movies. The perfecting of this capability, the use of humor, and well placed emotional stories will insure powerful, memorable presentations.

"The Art of Presentation - Your Competitive Edge" will resonate with anyone concerned about their building self- confidence while improving their delivery and enhancing their stage presence.

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

Dr. Huntley's Recipe for Optimum Health - A Nutritional Approach to Overall Wellness and Detoxification of the Body
Elizabeth Huntley, PhD.
Robert D. Reed Publishers
PO Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411
9781944297145 $12.95 pbk / $6.99 Kindle

Taking Charge of Your Health - Dietary Guidelines for Optimal Health

In her book "Dr. Huntley's Recipe for Optimum Health - A Nutritional Approach to Overall Wellness and Detoxification of the Body," nutritionist, Dr. Elizabeth Huntley introduces the reader to a dietary plan that includes underlying principles and dietary guidelines designed to produce optimum results for preserving all possible nutrients from the foods we eat.

Huntley includes tools and tips that will enable the reader to better understand the truth about their body and the cause and relationship of our heavily polluted environment; she highlights the electromagnetic and radiant pollutants in the atmosphere as a contributor to the many chronic diseases prevalent today.

High on the list of important steps we can take to reduce and minimize the adverse impact and danger of these threats to health include: recognize and adopt the practice of using pure water, eat high quality food with a balance of natural nutritional supplements, take responsibility for your environment, and for those in highly populated areas, install an air filtration system.

Dr. Huntley has included a full section of recipes with tips for preparation. These recipes include foods in several categories: basic foods, salads and dressing, seasonings, and sweets. She also offers suggestions for substituting ingredients that will turn grandma's mouthwatering sweets into "lick smacking good" healthy desserts.

"Dr. Huntley's Recipe for Optimum Health - A Nutritional Approach to Overall Wellness and Detoxification of the Body" is an important addition to every homemaker's personal library.

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

Set Yourself Free - Live the Life you Were Meant to Live!
Jean Walters
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411
9781944297039, $15.95, 256 pages

A Transformational Journey - Principles from the Life, Teaching and Example of Jesus

In her book "Set Yourself Free - Live the Life you Were Meant to Live," transformational coach, Jean Walters integrates principles from the life of Jesus, his teaching, and example to guide the reader into a spiritual journey of "surrender, love, and healing."

Through stories of people who struggled for answers and turned their difficulties into opportunities; Walters weaves insight into a spiritual consciousness that frees from negativitya, sets in motion the law of attraction, which results in an action plan that leads to reaching goals. Walters dynamic teaching, can enable you the reader to overcome the negative results of fear, improve self-worth, turn desire to motivation, and provide a sense of personal security, made possible through your relationship with God.

I found the self-assessment questions and tools for freeing oneself from fear especially helpful and the process for change challenging. The stories of faith and the freeing power of the Gospel illustrate the importance of the disciplining the mind positively to our body and the resulting relationship to our physical health.

"Set Yourself Free - Live the Life you Were Meant to Live" is or anyone looking for life change. Jean Walters provides the reader with and an eleven step process, suggested tools and affirmations for freeing yourself self-doubt on a transformational journey to change that will result in a "new you."

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

Waiting for Wonder - Learning to Live on God's Timeline
Marlo Schalesky
Abingdon Press
P. O. Box 280988, Nashville, TN 37228
9781501820106, $16.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle, 212 pages,

Sarah's Barrenness in Light of God's promised Blessing

In her book "Waiting for Wonder - Learning to Live on God's Timeline," Marlo Schalesky takes the reader on Saria's journey from the shame, guilt and pain of barrenness, through years of dryness, the promise of a new start, a new dream, and a new life. And then the disappointment of living in Canaan as a foreigner and sojourner; Sarai questioned the promise but remained faithful to the only true God, Elohim. Abram's fear and deceit in Egypt led to more shame for Sarai - and then the promise restored. Sarai waited. The promise of a son - in her old age, hope restored. More detours, more dryness, more shame, and finally - a son, Isaac, Elohim fulfilled the promised blessing. Faith rewarded.

Marlo is a gifted communicator with spiritual insight. She blends the key elements of the story with a keen sense of Biblical application and relational theology. Marlo's writing is thoughtful, warm, sensitive, and down-to-earth. Sarai's story reads like a novel.

"Waiting for Wonder" is written for reader's searching for hope in the midst of disappointment, doubt, crisis, and heartbreak, looking for signs of hope of promise and purpose restored; to experience the deep indescribable joy of freedom, redemption, and the promise God's faithfulness for a fruitful future.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

All Things LBI: Faves - History - Legends - Lore
Ray Fisk & Leslee Ganss
Down the Shore Publishing
PO Box 100, West Creek, NJ 08092
9781593221065, $17.95, HC, 183pp,

Synopsis: Long Beach Island is an 18-mile-long New Jersey sandbar with a rich history and family attachments that can go back generations. There is so much that is timeless and true about this Island. Although the experiences and feelings are different for everyone, one fact can not be denied: the emotional connection to LBI is real and deep and as permanent as a tattoo. It is a bond.

Enhanced with the inclusion of 480 photographs and images, "All Things LBI: Faves - History - Legends - Lore" celebrates this bond with observations, moments past and present, cultural vignettes, memories and delights.

Breezily organized into sections including: ''The Beach and All That Makes It So'', ''All Things Bayside',' ''Weather, Storms, and Shipwrecks", "All Things LBI" also includes natural history, town legends and landmarks, remember -- when nostalgia, and the special quality of the off-season. Long-time locals will recognize much; new visitors will be clued-in; young and old will relate. Charming, evocative and keenly worded, this inclusive -- not exclusive (because no one really wants to keep it to themselves) -- jam-packed gift book captures the real Long Beach Island.

"All Things LBI" also includes blank note pages at the end for readers to record their own favorite LBI things.

Critique: An exceptional combination of informative history and tour guide, "All Things LBI: Faves - History - Legends - Lore" is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative read from cover to cover -- making it very highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Regional American History collections.

Release Your Inner Roman
Jerry Toner
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781468313703, $24.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Release Your Inner Roman: A Treatise by Marcus Sidonius Falx" by Jerry Toner (Fellow and Director of Studies in Classics at Churchill College, Cambridge) is the Roman nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx's instructional guide on how to improve every aspect of your barbarian life. Outlining the personal characteristics that have made the Romans the most successful people in history, Falx shows how you too can learn from their example.

"Release Your Inner Roman" shows the ways in which Romans approach their work and how they boost their career prospects. He explains how to control your emotions, especially when involved in the difficult process of conquering others. It covers the delicate subject of managing your love-life, choosing a suitable wife, and then maintaining control over your family. Supported by practical wisdom, "Release Your Inner Roman" shows how to raise yourself up in society, how to enjoy the good life, and how to keep the gods on your side.

Up to now most barbarians have had to settle for marveling at the Romans' achievements. This guide from one of its leading aristocrats lets you into the secrets of Rome's success. Based on a wealth of original sources, "Release Your Inner Roman" lets us understand just why the Romans won the greatest empire the world has ever known.

Critique: A simply riveting and entertaining read from cover to cover, "Release Your Inner Roman: A Treatise by Marcus Sidonius Falx" is an extraordinary, unique, and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Release Your Inner Roman' is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

All Dreams on Deck
Jeremy Cage
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626343382, $19.95, HC, 184pp,

Synopsis: "All Dreams on Deck: Charting the Course for Your Life and Work" by Jeremy Cage will help his readers articulate their most important dreams in work and life and will then give them a practical approach for realizing those dreams, including engaging, real-life examples.

President of the Cage Group, Jeremy begins with the premise that there is no such thing as work-life balance. There is only life balance -- of which work is an important part. With this as the foundation, he guides the reader through a simple and actionable approach to determining the most important components of life (the Grab Bags in a personal LifeBoat) then charts the course to making all the dreams in that LifeBoat a reality.

Having lived and worked in nine countries, Jeremy has used his approach to help thousands of executives, managers, and their teams unleash their potential. He has also realized his own dreams by taking a sixteen-month sabbatical to sail around the world with his family before returning to the US to launch several new companies and entrepreneurial enterprises.

In "All Dreams on Deck", Jeremy avoids theoretical mumbo jumbo and presents compelling, real-life examples of how to dream specifically, get highly intentional about those dreams, plan and prepare well -- then summon the courage to set sail.

Critique: Impressively 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "All Dreams on Deck: Charting the Course for Your Life and Work" is extraordinary, effective, practical, inspiring, and a highly recommended addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "All Dreams on Deck" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

Breakdown: An AlexDelaware Novel
Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345541406, $28.95/37.95 CA$, Hardcover, 350 pp.
9780345541420, $9.99, Paperback, 416 pp.

An obsession about a long-ago examination of a five-year-old boy leads Dr. Alex Delaware and his detective friend and associate, Lt. Milo Sturgis into investigating a series of bizarre murders. Originally, Alex was asked by a psychiatrist buddy to judge whether the child was sufficiently cared for by his mother, who was under treatment.

At the time, it was determined everything was OK, but now, five years later, the mother is found dead by poisoning. Then, three additional murders occur in nearby locations, similarly the result of poisoning, leading Alex and Milo in a wild investigation. Only the apparent question of whether all are related has to be answered, but there are more surprises in store.

As is customary in the series, Dr. Delaware's professional training always comes to bear, as does Sturgis' detective skills. As the pair work to reach a conclusion, the author brings it home with an unusual denouement.


The Killers Are Coming: A Ken Sligo Mystery
Jack Bludis
Bold Venture Press
2726 NW 104th Ave., #105, Sunrise FL 33322
9781541096776, $14.95, Paperback, 250 pp.

'Killers' is a throwback to the old-fashioned, hard-boiled PI noir genre told in the first person. Ken Sligo returns home to Baltimore from overseas at the end of WW II and has no wish to go to work in the family business operating a butcher shop in a local market. Instead, his estranged brother arranges an introduction to a local bail bondsman (and possibly a low-level gangster) and he becomes a private eye tracing bail skippers.

Then one day, he is asked to follow a woman dancer at a local theater, reporting on who she sees, talks to and any other activities. This assignment leads Sligo far from the original purpose as the trail becomes more convoluted. Also complicating his life is his pending testimony in a murder trial of one of the men working for the bondsman. Naturally, Sligo's testimony is unwanted either by his erstwhile employer, or by the accused.

Having lived in Baltimore for a time, I found it nostalgic to read about the city, and especially the notorious East Baltimore Street which housed the seedier elements of the burg, including bars, burlesque houses and strip joints. For those who enjoy this type of novel, it is an excellent example of light reading, with some aspects of a Mickey Spillane mystery, especially the violence and sex, and is recommended.

What You Break
Reed Farrel Coleman
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 1004
9780399173042, $27.00, Hardcover, 357 pp.

Michael Connolly has Los Angeles, Ian Rankin Edinburgh, Laura Lippman Baltimore; the late Robert Parker Boston; Tim Hallinan Bangkok. Others write about localities they know. And Reed Farrel Coleman not only lives in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, but takes us on a guided tour, in this novel featuring his somewhat flawed ex-cop Gus Murphy, still suffering after the death of his 20-year-old son, John Jr. Gus, divorced after the death blew up his marriage, lives and works at a second-rate motel, driving a van to and from MacArthur airport and a LIRR station, picking up and dropping off passengers to and from the Paragon and providing security services in exchange for a free room.

The night bellman, Slava, who had once saved Gus's life, is a close friend. When his friend's past catches up with him and his life is threatened Gus is faced with a dilemma: sacrifice his friend or attempt to help him. Meanwhile, another of Gus's friends, the ex-priest Bill Kilkenny, asks him to take on finding out why wealthy Miceh Spears' granddaughter was murdered. The two plots move along simultaneously along the highways and byways stretching from Queens County and Brooklyn right across Long Island.

Coleman even delves into the social and economic differences between various localities, with the Long Island Expressway sort of dividing north (white and wealthy) and south (for the most part poorer) and how enclaves protect the richer from others. The novel takes a penetrating look at Gus, his personality and psyche, his assets and flaws.

A good read, the novel is recommended.

A Midsummer's Equation
Keigo Higashino
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780250027924, $25.99, Hardcover, 358 pp.
9781250145420, $15.99, Paperback, 368 pp.

In "The Devotion of Suspect X," the author created not only a first-class, original crime novel, but a singular character: a physicist, Manabu Yukawa, dubbed Dr. Galileo, who turned out to be an excellent amateur detective. In this sequel, he applies the same scientific logic in helping to solve a murder, although the police believed the death to be an accident.

The new novel is a twisted tale full of unexpected turns in the plot. It begins with the visit of a fifth-grade young man to a seaside resort on the Japanese coast, to a dilapidated inn run by his uncle and aunt, where he befriends Yukawa, who takes him under his wing, teaching the boy about various scientific principles and helping him with his homework. At the same inn a retired Tokyo homicide detective checks in and is soon discovered dead, presumably after a fall onto rocks lining the coast.

The story is far from a simple murder mystery and has its roots in the past. The plot is full of surprises. As was its predecessor, "A Midsummer's Equation" is distinguished not only by the scientific content as applied to the case, but the moralistic conclusions as well. Once again Higashino has written a clever tale that is deep and satisfying, and highly recommended.

Midnight Sun
Jo Nesbo
Translated from the Norwegian by Neil Smith
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780804172578, $15.00, Paperback, 288 pp.

This short noir tale examines the life of Jon Hansen, who sold hash for a living in Oslo before becoming an employee of the largest drug lord, the Fisherman, as a fixer, one who collects outstanding debts and even murders people when necessary. It seems to ask the question whether such an evil man has any redeeming qualities and can be saved.

On Jon's very first assignment as a fixer he couldn't pull the trigger. Instead he accepts a bribe, half of what the victim stole from the Fisherman along with a sizable amount of drugs, and fled Oslo to the northernmost portion of Norway near the Arctic Circle in an effort to avoid his employer's clutches, knowing his efforts would probably be unsuccessful since the Fisherman never stops looking until he sees the body. In the little town he meets a woman immersed deeply in her religion and befriends her son, who he tells him his name is Ulf. He hides in a cabin far from town with a rifle that the woman lends him.

Written in the spare language Mr. Nesbo has shown in previous novels, and excellently translated, Hansen is placed in a variety of situations each illustrating a test of sorts as to his real traits, until he finally sees the light. Having never really experienced love, except for a daughter who died at an extremely young age, can Hansen find the emotion? It is a simple question in an unadorned story that captures one's heart, and it is highly recommended.

Innocent Graves
Peter Robinson
William Morrow
10 E. 53rd St., NY,NY 10022
9780062431202, $14.99, Paperback, 389 pp.

There is little that Detective Inspector Alan Banks has not seen in this long-running Peter Robinson series, but this novel probably includes more suspects in what appears to be a serial murder mystery of teen age girls than any previous entry. And probably more red herrings to throw the reader off as well.

The first girl, a bright blonde attending a posh, exclusive girl's school, is the daughter of a titled, wealthy head of a large company. Her body is found in a churchyard she uses as a shortcut home at the end of the school day. Dead of strangulation, the body is left in such a state as to hint at a sexual homicide. Later a second teenager is found in a similar state. A suspect is arrested and brought to trial, only to be found not guilty by the jury. Banks and his team have their work cut out for them after what was initially thought to be an easy solve. And it is not for the lack of additional suspects, a specialty of the author.

The plot unfolds bit by bit, as Banks moves forward to the ultimate conclusion. The courtroom segment, somewhat unusual for its day-to-day detail, demonstrates a degree of legal expertise previously not shown in the series. The portrayal of the attorneys' examinations and cross-examinations are particularly well done.


Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Local Food Revolution
Michael Brownlee
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781623170004, $24.95, PB, 456pp,

Synopsis: Michael Brownlee has long been a catalyst in the process of food localization in Colorado, working to ignite, inspire, guide, and empower those who are facing the challenges and opportunities of localizing our food supply. He is the cofounder of nonprofit Local Food Shift Group.

Demonstrating that humanity faces an imminent and prolonged global food crisis, Michael Brownlee draws upon his many years of experience and expertise to issue a clarion call and manifesto for a revolutionary movement to localize the global food supply in "The Local Food Revolution: How Humanity Will Feed Itself in Uncertain Times".

He lays out a practical guide for those who hope to navigate the challenging process of shaping the local or regional food system, providing a roadmap for embarking on the process of righting the profoundly unsustainable and already-failing global industrialized food system.

Written to inform, inspire, and empower anyone, ranging from farmers or ranchers, community gardeners, aspiring food entrepreneurs, and supply chain venturers, to commercial food buyers, restaurateurs, investors, community food activists, non-profit agencies, policy makers, or local government leaders (basically anyone who hopes to be a catalyst for change), The Local Food Revolution" provides a blueprint for economic action, with specific suggestions that make the process more conscious and deliberate.

By sharing the strategies that have proven successful, Brownlee charts a practical path forward while indicating approaches that otherwise might be invisible and unexplored. Stories and interviews illustrate how food localization is happening on the ground and in the field. Essays and thought-pieces explore some of the challenging ethical, moral, economic, and social dilemmas and thresholds that might arise as the local food shift develops.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "The Local Food Revolution: How Humanity Will Feed Itself in Uncertain Times" is an extraordinary and timely study. Enhanced with the inclusion of eight illustrations, a fourteen page listing of Resources, sixteen pages of Notes, and a twelve page Index, "The Local Food Revolution is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Local Food Revolution" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.99).

American Individualism
Herbert Hoover
Hoover Press
c/o Hoover Institution
434 Galvez Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
9780817920159, $6.95, PB, 100pp,

Synopsis: In late 1921, then secretary of commerce Herbert Hoover decided to distill from his experiences a coherent understanding of the American experiment he cherished. The result was the 1922 book American Individualism. In it, Hoover expounded and vigorously defended what has come to be called American exceptionalism: the set of beliefs and values that still makes America unique.

Hoover argued that America can make steady, sure progress if we preserve our individualism, preserve and stimulate the initiative of our people, insist on and maintain the safeguards to equality of opportunity, and honor service as a part of our national character. American Individualism asserts that equal opportunity for individuals to develop their abilities is "the sole source of progress" and the fundamental impulse behind American civilization for three (and now four) centuries.

More than ninety years have passed since "American Individualism" was first published; it is clear, in retrospect, that the volume was partly motivated by the political controversies of the time. But "American Individualism" is not simply a product of a dim and receding past. To a considerable degree the ideological battles of Hoover's era are the battles of our own, and the interpretations we make of our past (particularly the years between 1921 and 1933) will mold our perspective on the crises of the present.

Critique: It can be arguably stated that Herbert Hoover is one of our most underappreciated Presidents, a man whose political and philosophical legacy was effectively suppressed by the advent of the Great Depression. Now brought back into print for a new generation of appreciative readers, "American Individualism" is very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Political Science collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "American Individualism" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).

Psychotherapy East & West
Alan Watts
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608684564, $14.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 - 16 November 1973) was a British philosopher, writer, a speaker, and a counterculture icon best known as an interpreter and promoter of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience.

Originally published in 1961, "Psychotherapy East & West " has become a classic work in Watts demonstrated his deep understanding of both Western psychotherapy and the Eastern spiritual philosophies of Buddhism, Taoism, Vedanta, and Yoga.

Watts examines the problem of humans in a seemingly hostile universe in ways that questioned the social norms and illusions that bind and constrict modern humans. Marking a groundbreaking synthesis, Watts asserted that the powerful insights of Freud and Jung, which had, indeed, brought psychiatry close to the edge of liberation, could, if melded with the hitherto secret wisdom of the Eastern traditions, free people from their battles with the self.

When psychotherapy merely helps us adjust to social norms, Watts argued, it falls short of true liberation, while Eastern philosophy seeks our natural relation to the cosmos.

Critique: As relevant, thoughtful and thought-provoking today as it was more than fifty years ago, "Psychotherapy East & West " is very highly recommended to a new generation of appreciative readers. While "Psychotherapy East & West" continues to be very highly recommended for both community and academic library Philosophy & Psychology collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers that "Psychotherapy East & West" is a also available in a Kindle format ($9.26).

Paul T. Vogel

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