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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 5 May 2016 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Prostitution Narratives
Caroline Norma & Melinda Tankard Resit, editors
Spinifex Press
9781742199863, $29.95, PB, 238pp,

Synopsis: For too long the global sex industry and its vested interests have dominated the prostitution debate repeating the same old line that sex work is just like any job. In large sections of the media, academia, public policy, government and the law, the sex industry has had its way. Little is said of the damage, violation, suffering, and torment of prostitution on the body and the mind, nor of the deaths, suicides and murders that are routine in the sex industry.

"Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade" refutes the lies and debunks the myths spread by the industry through the lived experiences of women who have survived prostitution. These disturbing stories give voice to formerly prostituted women who explain why they entered the sex trade. They bravely and courageously recount their intimate experiences of harm and humiliation at the hands of sex buyers, pimps and traffickers and reveal their escape and emergence as survivors.

Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Caroline Norma (Lecturer in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University) and Canberra author, speaker, commentator, blogger and women's advocate Melinda Tankard Reist, "Prostitution Narratives" documents the reality of prostitution revealing the cost to the lives of women and girls. "Prostitution Narratives" will strengthen and support the global campaign to abolish prostitution, provide solidarity and solace to those who bear its scars and hopefully help women and girls exit this dehumanising industry.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Prostitution Narratives: Stories of Survival in the Sex Trade" is a compelling and exceptional read from beginning to end, making it very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues reference collections. For personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Prostitution Narratives" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.95).

We Were Feminists Once
Andi Zeisler
Public Affairs Books
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York, NY 10107
9781610395892, $26.99, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: Feminism has hit the big time. Once a dirty word brushed away with a grimace, "feminist" has been rebranded as a shiny label sported by movie and pop stars, fashion designers, and multi-hyphenate powerhouses like Beyonce. It drives advertising and marketing campaigns for everything from wireless plans to underwear to perfume, presenting what's long been a movement for social justice as just another consumer choice in a vast market. Individual self-actualization is the goal, shopping more often than not the means, and celebrities the mouthpieces.

But what does it mean when social change becomes a brand identity? Feminism's splashy arrival at the center of today's media and pop-culture marketplace, after all, hasn't offered solutions to the movement's unfinished business. Planned Parenthood is under sustained attack, women are still paid 77 percent (or less) of the man's dollar, and vicious attacks on women, both on- and offline, are utterly routine.

Andi Zeisler, a founding editor of Bitch Media, draws upon her more than twenty years' experience interpreting popular culture in this biting history of how feminism has been co-opted, watered down, and turned into a gyratory media trend. Surveying movies, television, advertising, fashion, and more, Zeisler reveals a media landscape brimming with the language of empowerment, but offering little in the way of transformational change. Witty, fearless, and unflinching, "We Were Feminists Once" is the story of how we let this happen, and how we can amplify feminism's real purpose and power.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched and documented, impressively well written, organized and presented, "We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl(R), the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. A critically important and very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Feminist Studies, Women's Issues, and Contemporary Social Issues collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in feminist issues that "We Were Feminists Once" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

My Picture Perfect Family
Marguerite Elisofon
Central Park Publishers
9781938595042, $14.95, PB, 294pp,

Synopsis: On December 26th, 1990 Marguerite Elisofon gave birth to premature twins: Samantha and Matthew. Marguerite and her husband soon noticed their daughter lagged behind her brother in ways that scared them. Samantha, they learned, was on the autistic spectrum. Most "experts" weren't optimistic about her chances for leading a normal life and prepared the Elisofons for the worst. But Marguerite and her family refused to accept these limitations. Twenty-three challenging years later, Samantha graduated from cum laude from Pace University! "My Picture Perfect Family: What Happens When One Twin Has Autism" is the true story of Marguerite and her family who had to pioneer their own path to accomplish that success against formidable obstacles.

Critique: An inherently compelling, exceptionally well written, instructively candid, and ultimately inspiring personal story, "My Picture Perfect Family: What Happens When One Twin Has Autism" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. For the personal reading lists of anyone who is having to deal with the condition of autism in their own family, it should be noted that "My Picture Perfect Family" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Six Thousand Miles
T. Malone
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781480814387, $30.95, HC, 168pp,

Synopsis: Tia Malone escaped the childhood sexual abuse she endured from family members, fleeing to Hawaii. There she married, started a family, and saw that marriage fail. She began a construction business and was then invited to enter into a business partnership in Upstate New York, six thousand miles from her Hawaiian home. "Six Thousand Miles" is a first-person account of the journey of discovery that Tia took during that period. While in New York, she met a man she called Mr. Boss who inspired desire and awoke in her the need to fulfill herself spiritually and physically. With his help, she found her way to a new perspective as a loving, passionate, and sensual woman, living out sexual fantasies that she had only seen in movies. But Malone and Mr. Boss were soon faced with the cold reality of the difficulties that come with a long-distance relationship, as well as conflicting business and family responsibilities. Together, they struggled with the hardest decision of their lives. "Six Thousand Miles" is a story of one woman's attempt to overcome the demons of her childhood and find fulfillment and empowerment in body, mind, and spirit. Six thousand miles lie between the woman she is, the woman she becomes and the man that helped her change it all forever.

Critique: A thoroughly engaging and absorbing read from beginning to end, "Six Thousand Miles" is a compelling story written by T. Malone with a truly impressive literary talent for keeping the rapt attention of the reader from first page to last. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Six Thousand Miles" is also available in a paperback edition (9781480820821, $13.99) and in a Kindle format ($3.99)

Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach
Barbara E. Gibson
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781482237238, $79.95, PB, 180pp,

Synopsis: "Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach" by Barbara E. Gibson (Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto, and a Senior Scientist at the Bloorview Research Institute at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) is a reexamination the philosophical foundations of rehabilitation, expanding the concept of movement beyond the physical body. Drawing from disability studies, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, cultural studies, and bioethics, this theoretically rigorous yet accessibly styled study: Explores the limitations of biomedicine as the organizing framework of rehabilitation; Evaluates new directions to diversify contemporary rehabilitation practice; Establishes the parameters for a reconfigured ethics of rehabilitation. By embracing multiple ideas of movement (not only physical, but also social, emotional, and political) alternative approaches to rehabilitation are revealed.

Critique: Informative, insightful, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach" is a deftly crafted and impressive work of soundly based scholarship. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, and commentary, "Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach" is especially and highly recommended for professional and academic library Rehabilitation Studies reference collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Rehabilitation: A Post-critical Approach" is also available in a Kindle edition ($63.96).

Clara at Sixty
Yvette Nachmias-Baeu
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781483440897, $19.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: "Clara at Sixty" is the portrait of a woman who, after losing her husband at an age when life begins to contract, returns to the world of fumbling, emotionally confused relationships. The series of mismatches are sometimes passionate and exciting, sometimes funny, but ultimately sad. Still grieving and searching for her identity, marginalized by a society that views women past their prime as socially invisible, she knows she must come to terms with the loss of her husband, the death of too many friends, and the new reality of "being an older woman" in a culture that is youth oriented. Her search to find meaning for the last chapter of her life is universal. It is a struggle that begins at birth and changes over time and circumstance. Clara, in the end, discovers her way forward.

Critique: Unique, extraordinary, impressive, absorbing, and a story that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Clara at Sixty" by Yvette Nachmias-Baeu is strongly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Clara at Sixty" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.49).

Tying the Knot
Rob Green
New Growth Press
1301 Carolina St., Suite L-101, Greensboro, NC 27401
9781942572596, $17.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Advised by both tellers of fairy tales and harbingers of doom, many engaged couples simply don't know what to expect from marriage, so they focus their anxious energies on the wedding day. In the pages of "Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage", Rob Green (a pastor, counselor, and veteran of many premarital counseling sessions), offers soon-to-be-married couples a practical vision of Christ-centered marriage that is realistic, hopeful, and actionable. "Tying the Knot" is a nine-session study that guides couples through such issues as conflict, expectations, communication, finances, and intimacy, and showing how each of these facets can be successfully resolved with Christ at the center of the marriage. Tying the Knot also includes an appendix for mentors, making it easy for a married couple, lay leader, or counselor to lead an engaged couple through the book.

Critique: An invaluable and Christian principles based instructional, "Tying the Knot: A Premarital Guide to a Strong and Lasting Marriage" is impressively well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization, and presentation. Very highly recommended, it should also be noted that "Tying the Knot" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.19).

The Woman's Book of Joy
Eileen Campbell
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573246705, $15.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Women have a great many challenges to deal with in their lives. Among the most ubiquitous of those challenges is self-care. Too often women are focused on caring for others and not themselves. Low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression are all too common when their lives are less fulfilling than they might be. Yet deep within, women have a tremendous resource -- a capacity for real joy that is not dependent on anything external. It is always available, regardless of circumstances. And, when women tap into that deep wellspring of joy, nothing is impossible. "The Woman's Book of Joy: Listen to your Heart, Live with Gratitude, and Find Your Bliss" by Eileen Campbell will encourage and inspire women to care more deeply for themselves and to face life's challenges with courage and joy. It is a practical resource for accessing inner wisdom, enhancing self-esteem, overcoming sorrow, and deepening relationships. Each of the 150 meditations comprising "The Woman's Book of Joy" begins with an inspirational quote, followed by a thoughtful meditation, and concluded with an affirmation. These meditations provide the opportunity to contemplate a wide range of topics, including: Developing awareness; Letting go; Believing in your dreams; Living in the now; Finding your true purpose; Practicing kindness; Being optimistic; Trusting the universe; Appreciating life's blessings.

Critique: Impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "The Woman's Book of Joy: Listen to your Heart, Live with Gratitude, and Find Your Bliss" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in content, organization, and presentation. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Women's Issues reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Woman's Book of Joy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight
Ilene B. Benator
Waldorf Publishing
2140 Hall Johnson Road 102-345, Grapevine, Texas 76051
9781944781415 $16.95

Psychology patients often harbor delusions ... but what if they aren't delusions, and are rooted in reality? Wouldn't a psychiatric ward be a good place to 'stash' someone who has gotten too close to the truth about a real organized plot to take over the world? And what if you were a doctor who stumbled on this truth, only to face the consequences of a dangerous discovery?

Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight revolves around medical student Dan, who has had years to think about the consequences of his choices when he faced a delusional patient during his second year of medical school - and began to believe her.

Therein lay the trap; for as Dan, obsessed about his professional progress, finds his dreams of the future moving in another direction, so he finds that embarking on that course spirals into a situation out of control in contrast to his prior, measured plans for success as a future surgeon.

Finding himself incarcerated on his own psych ward as a result of too much snooping and a growing belief system that doesn't conform to the world he perceives, Dan discovers some unlikely allies in the form of fellow psych patients (shades of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest!) who band together to thwart a conspiracy by a small band of people to take over the world.

Unlike Cuckoo, however, Schizo combines an investigative mystery with a startling social dilemma, placing the patients and their med student leader in the dubious position of being the most powerful people on the planet - and the world's only hope for freedom. (Delightfully ironic: the world's only hope coming from most locked up and feared people in society, the insane.)

Fans of medical thrillers and investigative pieces who appreciate a healthy degree of psychological inspection in their reading will find Schizo a compelling read written on the level of Robin Cook, packed with satisfying twists and solid attention to the details of interactions between psychiatrist and mental illness.

At the end of the tale, one wonders about the fine line between sanity and insanity. The process of crossing that boundary succeeds in crafting ethical dilemmas and impossible situations that inject more than a degree of thought-provoking insights into a realistic action mix that ultimately examines the dilemma of mental illness in America. Highly recommended not just for thriller readers; but any who wanted One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to take the next step.

I Wait For The River
Maryann Russo
Inspiration Pointe Press
Over And Above Press
9780996840668 $12.95

I Wait For The River is a free verse poetry collection of some sixty pages of heartfelt pieces entwining the author's growth process with meditative observations of nature. It's a collection embedded with the quiet passion of Zen. Each poem represents a piece of this evolutionary process, taking seeds of reflection and inspiration and following their outward trajectories through change and transformation.

The progressive journey begins with 'The River', where the author's desire to "wait for the river to wash over me/to carry me" evolves into a fear of the unknown and the desire for a type of change that doesn't bring pain ("I want the river/to carry me with kindness/around the bends...").

From the unfulfilled promises of peaceful nights to attempts to recapture youth's ability to live in the moment ("I want to practice what I knew then/to be in the only moment I can be/with these words/and the rich bounty of space/between words/where the wildflower still waits."), these aren't life passages unique to the author, but moment-by-moment representations of universal experiences.

Perhaps the greatest strength of I Wait For The River lies in its ability to precisely and succinctly capture these turning points in life. Those intersections between instances when possibilities are perceived and pivot points when choices are made come alive under Russo's pen.

Poetry enthusiasts with some background in meditation, Zen, and concepts of gratitude and acknowledgment will especially relish these pieces for their precision, seasonal connections, and, most of all, for their lovely illustrations of a blossoming life.

I Wait For The River is ultimately about how to meet the tumbling uncertainties of a life-carrying river with a sense of purpose, acceptance, and awe: an approach that advocates discovery and embraces change.

Crystalline in its beautiful descriptions, I Wait For The River is a roadmap to greeting the morning, surviving the darkness, and relishing all facets of life.

Mary Maddox
Cantraip Press
Paperback 9781942737049 $13.99
eBook 9781942737056 $3.99

Photographer Day Randall has been living for free in Kelly's condo in a mutually beneficial arrangement that turns into a mystery when Kelly comes home to find that Day has vanished, leaving behind her car and no clue as to her whereabouts. When the police won't help, it's up to Kelly to assume the role of amateur investigator to find out what happened to Day, a bipolar photographer who would be unlikely to just walk away from her world.

The first thing to note about this dark mystery is its realistic attention to the psyche of the bipolar personality. Right from the start, stark observations paint a realistic portrait of Day's persona and her struggles with drugs and sanity: "Day's face froze in panic and then broke into a grin that lifted her eyebrows in exaggerated arches. A mischievous gleam lighted her eyes. A teenage girl lived inside the body of a thirty-eight-year-old woman."

As Kelly probes deeper into matters, what seems to be a possible case of straying turns into something more deadly and dangerous, leading her to investigate shady places and strangers who have discovered threats in Day's photography subjects.

Estranged from her family ("She used to wonder if the hospital had made a mistake and sent her home with the wrong people. She loved her family but was nothing like them. None of them - sister, parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins - cared about art. To them, her career choice seemed bizarre. They would have understood law school or medical school, even running off to Hollywood to be an actor, but art curator? A career without money or glamour.") and mired in a mystery that involves family relationships and bigger pictures, Kelly finds herself not only retracing the steps that might have led Day to disaster, but taking on the dangerous forces that hold a bigger threat.

The cops are helpless. Her parents are far away. There is no support and few options. Kelly's journey seems relentlessly destructive and a host of characters swirl around her world and choices. Can she find solutions to impossible dilemmas? And how do Day's photos and her last, best works keep changing these bigger pictures?

Pair a noir detective story approach with issues of loyalty, family, friendship, politics, and insights into the art world and you have a satisfying story that is hard to put down. Mary Maddox's characters 'pop' with energy and personalities, while her action-packed story remains firmly rooted in reality. What does art have to do with kidnappings and deadly encounters? Maddox is a master at using the art world's atmosphere as a backdrop in a solid mystery that involves a satisfyingly diverse range of characters.

Any interested in superior blends of mystery, thriller, and nonstop action will relish Darkroom's attention to detail and its ability to create an engrossing story that's filled with surprises right up to the end.

A Love Bubbling Inside
Jules Mitchell Bailey
Privately Published
9781530482122 $14.95

Troubles have a way of following even the furthest move away from their origins: so Mercedes discovers when she finds that just because she has left Jamaica doesn't mean that her actions and their consequences haven't followed her into her new life. But then, it's hard to leave beyond the consequences of murder and revenge, and even harder to construct a new life built from the ashes of death.

Her love Greg can't help her: he knows little of her life in Jamaica before his arrival, and nothing about her involvement in murder. And even though much of her secret past has ended, Mercedes can't help wondering how her life would be different if her former fiancee Danny had survived.

But Mercedes is a survivor, and one of her tasks is to learn her place in the new world she has created - and so A Love Bubbling Inside follows that process as she learns to accept her past and respect her own decisions and where they have deposited her in life.

In much the same way that Champion Bubbler brought Caribbean culture to life, so its sequel follows the process of a young immigrant's new life in America, capturing the cultures of Portland and other areas but, more importantly, showing how Bubbler's Caribbean roots influence the nature of her perceptions and choices. Her insights about those close to her are priceless observations of how life works: ("Andre hadn't really changed Momma into the person she became. It was always in her. She was a good person who wanted more for her life, but got derailed and did not have anyone to help her. What Andre gave her was the love and support she needed to make something of her life."), serving to cement her journey through American culture with powerful psychological and philosophical insights.

As contact with Jamaica continues from friends and family and journeys between two countries and her relationship with German husband Greg continues to evolve, Mercedes develops new and unexpected ties to her culture and family and finds within them the strength to not only adapt to a new world, but to discover a unique purpose to her special abilities that will help her move beyond her stormy past and into the hopes of the future.

Replete with mangos, love, and sifting sands of intercultural encounters and changes, A Love Bubbling Inside is especially recommended for prior fans of Champion Bubbler who will appreciate Mercedes' evolutionary process and her slow realization that she can, indeed, change the world. As much as it's a love story, it's also a story of gaining peace, making amends, and finally gaining forgiveness for poor choices of the past. Anyone seeking a novel steeped in Jamaican culture and laced with adventure and self-discovery will find A Love Bubbling Inside offers, through Mercedes, its own wellspring of positive perceptions.

India Charm Offensive
Michael Sobotta
Globerunner Press
9780692718711 $14.99

India Charm Offensive: An Expat Pilot Flies the South Asia Jungle provides the humorous autobiography of a helicopter pilot who flew on government missions in India, and documents the author's first year in India when his culture shock was at its strongest.

Michael Sobotta was no stranger to other cultures: his helicopter work encompassed many countries. But his latest job, transporting Indian paramilitary troopers to remote camps in the jungle, challenges more than his piloting skills and is something quite different than routine passenger and cargo flying.

Sobotta's dreams of flying had never included India ("As a youngster, I never gave a thought to the idea that a backwoods country boy like me would ever set foot in India to fly helicopters. I'm sure there were teachers during my reckless school days who would have been surprised if I even found the country on a map. Goes to show that with the right inspiration and hard work, plus knowing the right people, a guy can get around.") and so his first days in the country are eye-opening and filled with charming, but at times, offensive experiences.

The bureaucratic process that permeates Indian society, shooting incidents and flight regulations, the trials of an ancient land with thousands of gods, and various recipes for personal and professional disaster vie with the tastes, sounds, and colors that is India, involving readers in not just accounts of helicopter aviation or politics, but in Sobotta's immersion in a strange new world.

As he travels around different parts of India, both rural and urban, interacting with its peoples, Sobotta slowly moves beyond colossal cultural differences to a real sense of the country and its incongruities and wonders. Readers along for the ride can expect a journey filled with the turbulence that is India's psyche - but a journey also peppered with revealing and involving encounters that capture India's nuances and flavors.

The result blends adventure with expat experiences in a read that requires little familiarity with either India or helicopters. All that is required is an interest in this exotic country and in a rollicking good read that candidly portrays a series of startling, often hilarious encounters with India's people, politics, and unique world.

A Cyber Affair
Lonz Cook
Elevation Book Publishing
97919439040307 $12.95

What are the behavior patterns common to cyber-dating, and how does meeting online change the sense of adventure and discovery intrinsic to the dating process? Author Lonz Cook researched a number of real-world cyber-dating experiences before writing A Cyber Affair, a fictional story of relationship-building.

From making an impact in a first impression to chat room conversations versus real-world encounters, readers interested in dating and relationships will enjoy the story of Tiffany (a.k.a. 'SanFran Pearl') and how her search for peace and a better life inevitably winds through conflict and challenges the process.

Where can she meet men who are true candidates for her love? Not at work - and apparently, not online, either. As the list of losers grows, she despairs - until an intriguing email leads her cross country and on a different trajectory to connect with the man of her dreams.

A Cyber Affair is a good read for women who have dipped into the world of cyber-dating and online relationships, only to find their ideals thwarted by inconsistencies and illusions. As Tiffany delves through a host of possibilities and disappointments, so readers become involved in her wider world of family, female friends, supportive relationships, and the complexities of love and spirit.

As she more closely examines Manny and his world, two people who have had enough of being single face the challenges of a long-distance relationship and make difficult decisions that will change their lives.

Women especially will find much to like about A Cyber Affair, which deftly captures the emotions and experiences of women and men searching for love in an uncertain dating environment.

The First Lie
Virginia King
Simon & Winter, Inc. (for Celestial Hedgehog)
9780992487058 $3.99 Kindle $15.95 Paperback

Novels steeped in the atmosphere and culture of Hawaii tend to be particularly appealing because they are atmospheric from the start, but the story of Selkie Moon's struggles in the land of paradise when she realizes that someone is trying to kill her makes for a particularly evocative setting and plot.

Perhaps this is because Hawaii's circumstances feel much like the Australian life she escaped from when she fled an abusive home situation: "All by myself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Without a life raft."

Perhaps it's because Selkie is living proof that trouble can strike anywhere, even in a paradise far from home's dangers, showing that even though she's relocated to Hawaii, she's still not immune from menacing forces and the supernatural, which emerge from land and sea alike.

And maybe it's due to a series of visions and near-death encounters that catapult Selkie into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game where this powerful, independent protagonist finds that her footsteps lead directly to lies of the past that hold clues to her future.

Whatever the reason, Selkie and her readers are about to be dragged into the threatening undertows of a mystery that grabs hold and won't let go: qualities that make The First Lie a standout in a genre overloaded with predictable routines and staid characters.

In the black-and-white world of mystery stories, the struggles of characters often present action and scenes that tend to sound alike. But Selkie's choices, confrontations and abilities are anything but common, placing her and her encounters on a different level of tension and drama than most. Selkie struggles to rebuild her life and her own small business, she faces supernatural impossibilities that threaten her with death, and she's on a mission to unravel the ties that bind her to the past and threaten her future.

Wind these subplots into a suspenseful read packed with vivid imagery and surreal encounters and you have a story line that will require from its readers an ability to absorb a dizzying array of events, from mysteries to supernatural intrigue and action.

It should be mentioned that while The First Lie reads like a stand-alone novel, it's actually part of a series. Given the power of this production, which creates a compelling protagonist readers care about more than lightly, it's a treat to anticipate more.

Why is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?
Lama Tsomo
Namchak Publishing
9780990571100 $27.95

Why is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? A Westerner's Introduction and Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Practice applies the ancient traditions of Tibetan Buddhism to modern life through a series of step-by-step instructions and explanations and comes with portable meditation cards, a handy glossary of terms, and foundation lessons from the Namchak Foundation eCourses.

One doesn't expect to find science 'tidbits' peppered into a spiritual treatise, but they are wonderfully present here. Rupert Sheldrake's research into morphic resonance is among the works supporting these Buddhist practices and discoveries.

There are many candid discussions about this process, such as why people get 'stuck' in processing lives and choosing paths, how to block hindering karmic channels, or how to sustain an uninterrupted session of Tranquil Abiding - all aided by color photos throughout.

There's also an unexpected thread of humor that runs through many discussions ("Now you're ready to "assume the position". No, not THAT position!").

More so than almost any other book covering Tibetan Buddhist wisdom and its applications, these are just a few of the methods utilized by Lama Tsomo to make a potentially technical or confusing discussion lively and accessible to her audience. When combined with her powerful, exact messages, which take ethereal philosophy and spirituality and translate them to accessible, compelling, and actionable ideas, readers are in for a real treat.

This book is simply exquisite. It's packed with colorful visual insights, meditative connections, and strategies for mindfulness and change; all wound into a format that is bright, joyful, and hard to put down. It promises to reach readers with a verve and usefulness that exceeds most other discussions of Tibetan Buddhist practices directed to Western audiences, and should be on the shelves of any new age or spirituality collection.

The Fathers We Find
Charles P. Ries
Bad Monk Productions
9780692481387 $14.99

Author Interview:

The Fathers We Find is a saga about the types of fathers, father figures, mentors, and leaders who influence and guide us as we move toward the wider world. These figures who are present throughout the narrative, offer fine insights into the importance of adults on a child's life and growth. It is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys spirited, vivid coming-of-age family sagas, spiced with an overlay of religious upbringing, close knit family, and small town interactions all resting upon the question of who it is that guides us to our best selves.

Readers should anticipate more than a light dose of humor and fun in the process of following Charles Ries's coming of age. They will find his vignettes uplifting and revealing. From mink yards and commercial fishing, to confession services and boyhood pranks gone awry.

It delivers exactly what its subtitle (The Making of a Pleasant, Humble Boy) promises: a memoir about the author, who grew up in Wisconsin on a mink farm whose life evolves from a small town, deeply catholic family, and moves to self-acceptance and a joy-filled life.

It's this drive, and the author's spunk and motivations, which create compelling and fun scenes that alternatively keep readers laughing and lead them to consider the various paths that one can take towards enlightenment. It's not a weighty philosophical piece. Its vignettes are revealing, and fun. It offers a lively blend of nostalgia, delightful characters, and the enjoyable evolution of a precocious boy who is rescued by a sea of family, friends, uncles, priests, and quirky characters who each guide him to a deeper sense of himself.

Song of the Oceanides
J.G. Zymbalist
9781523214037 $25.99

As young adult fantasies flood the market (many offering genre reads that seem all too alike), many a teen seek something different that stands out from the crowd. Song of the Oceanides is that item of choice, making its mark not by the usual sword-and-sorcery approach, but by combining elements of steampunk, timeslip, history, and adding a dash of romance into the mix.

All these elements work wonderfully, but demand an audience of mature teen to adult readers who are willing to read out of the genre box in exchange for a delightfully complex, engrossing romp through worlds that are not quite logical and predictable. Young adults should anticipate a Twilight Zone feel to this emotional piece which tweaks one's heartstrings, causing readers to fall in love with the lives and predicaments of two girls on Mars who are abandoned there, and who must make their way in a strange new world.

The story starts with a bang ("From the moment Emmylou heard the song of the Oceanides, she recognized something godly in the tune. As it resounded all across the desolate shoreline of Blue Hill Bay, she recalled the terrible chorus mysticus ringing all throughout that extinct Martian volcano the day her father went missing down in the magma chamber.") and it's nonstop engagement from that moment on as a handicapped girl who longs for her missing volcanologist father adds much more onto her plate of angst.

The surreal feel of Song of the Oceanides is translated through precise descriptions that simultaneously explain and create setting ("You've no cause to fear the Oceanides. They should never harm a Martian girl like you. Do you know why the Venutians sent them here? Thousands of years ago, up there on that invisible moon orbiting their planet, some or other duchess decided to send the Oceanides as intelligencers. Just in case Venus ever resolves to conquer this world."). The power lies in J.G. Zymbalist's ability to intrigue and immerse readers by crafting protagonists who are living, breathing forces traversing an alien environment.

Mature teens will delight in an approach that binds readers to the concerns and psyches of the characters even as it deftly solidifies the features of this world and the underlying purposes of its various factions. And while Zymbalist's pace is fast, requiring some slower readers to trot to keep up, it's not going to leave many behind in its pursuit of suspense, mystery, and an intriguing series of dilemmas.

A series of riveting scenes involving aliens and a young girl's determination to carry out a mentor's life work come together in a resounding, satisfying clash of action. Can time be changed and obsessions fixed, and can champions emerge from a parent's extraordinary study? The progress and premises of Song of the Oceanides hold no guarantees: to find the answers, mature teens to adults will simply have to hold on for a wild ride.

This Madness of the Heart
Blair Yeatts
9781530824960 $12.99
ASIN: B01DEC2GOS $5.99


Smashwords: ISBN: 9781310169847

Evangelical religion, supernatural forces, and romance seldom collide under a single cover and more often serve as individual topics in genre reads; but This Madness of the Heart combines all three forces and more in a gripping piece that holds the rare ability to grasp and attract reader attention from more than one direction.

Miranda Lamden is a small-town professor of religion in Kentucky, but her real dilemma lies in the fact that she also has a supernatural power that places her squarely in opposition to the evangelical forces at work in her community.

When Jasper Jarboe embarks on a zealous mission to convert her forest home and sanctuary into a glaring commercial Mecca for evangelical purposes, Miranda's probe into supernatural forces are challenged on many levels.

Her research into spiritual congregations doesn't come from an atheist's perspective: even as she holds herself apart for the sake of scholarly inspection, she also feels a connection to community spirit: "I loved my work. No matter how many hours I spent observing people celebrating their faith, their joy always lifted me up - perhaps bearing me on the wings of their prayers. And Appalachian Holiness congregations had to be among my favorites. I loved their lack of pretension, their tolerance of diversity, their unselfconscious enthusiasm. I envied how easily they gave themselves up to spiritual ecstasy. Comparatively, I was a clam, tightly sealed in a riotous bed of wave-swept anemones."

But she'll only go so far: she doesn't agree with religion when it goes awry, threatens everything she loves, and especially when other mountain superstitions and faiths are about to be dominated and overrun through the efforts of one dangerous zealot's mission to destroy competing belief systems.

Mood and setting are exquisitely placed throughout the story ("The winding road seemed to coil through the mountains like the snakes in their dark boxes, and I struggled against the temptation to close my eyes against it and just drift. God, I was tired! Tired like the child I'd once been after a day picking raspberries behind my grandmother's house in the tick-infested brambles of southern Virginia."), and as Miranda becomes involved in helping Djinn, faces political pressures at her college, and crosses the line between personal and professional involvements, her life twists with changes, as well.

This Madness of the Heart circles around a number of disparate forces at odds with each other. Group psychosis, mob mentality, prejudice, scholarly inspection versus emotional involvement, curses and ghosts permeate a plot that moves deftly between opposing forces with the skill of a thriller, the stealth of a cat, and the fine-tuned precision of personalities well developed.

The result is a blend of supernatural thriller, romance, and mystery that will thoroughly engross anyone looking to break free of genre reads with a powerful journey through competing spiritual perspectives.

The Sweet Charm of Distance
Jared Glovsky
Untreed Reads Publishing
9781611878356 $17.00

Once upon a time, two idealistic college students, Jacqueline and Dalton, met at a New Year's Eve party, and their very different trajectories in life resulted in a love affair that should never have happened. What began as a friendship evolved into something else, with nasty consequences for both individuals.

Thirty years later, the fated couple is destined to meet again. One has become the writer he's always needed to be, and the other is a divorcee whose dreams have dissolved under the harsh battering ram of life. Thirty years has also changed the world around them, but the seeds of what they left behind so long ago sprout once again, under different circumstances, and with light dose of baggage from the past that will either cause love to re-blossom or once again poison both their lives.

The Sweet Charm of Distance delicately traces this process of reunion and reinvention with a light hand that doesn't overwhelm readers seeking a romance infused with humor, irony, and the passing of the Baby Boomer generation's dreams.

Perhaps this is because Jared Glovsky uses the first person to get inside each protagonist's head, reviewing their past, their emotions, and their different perceptions of the future.

Dalton's published a book that has launched his career far beyond anything he could have imagined during his days with Jacqueline; while Jacqueline's dreams of saving the world have crashed and burned, and she's not even been able to save herself.

Once again, their trajectories are different. The question is: will they merge this time, or fail once again? There are other questions as well, keeping readers intrigued and on their toes; but the story is light-hearted even as it closely examines epic failures and uncertain successes, and it flows smoothly enough to coax readers along without bashing them over the head with angst and nonstop action.

The pace is a lope to a trot at the most - convincing, easy to keep up with, and slow enough to create compelling characters that are influenced by the events of the last decades.

Where does idealism end and practical, achievable change begin? What would have happened if they had chosen a reckless leap of faith, and how do their decisions change things thirty years later? Do their connections promise lasting love or, once again, only a temporary affair?

Readers of light romance who grew up in a generation fueled by the notion that "all you need is love" will find themselves questioning many beliefs during the course of this engrossing story, which is firmly centered in new possibilities arising, like a Phoenix, from old connections.

Bela's Letters
Jeff Ingber
Privately Published
9780985410025 $3.99 ebook; $15.99 Paper

A major prerequisite for a sweeping historical novel to prove successfully compelling is to take a real-world setting and infuse it with more than just a dramatic retelling of historical fact - and this is the point where many a historical novel fails. When too much drama supersedes individual lives and twists history into something unbelievable and larger than life, the story fails - but Bela's Letters is proof that, under the right pen, history can come alive even when it covers a sweeping eighty years of experience.

Beginning in World War I and focusing on a family living in a small city in the Carpathian Mountains, Bela's Letters offers up a plot centered around family experience as it tells of Bela's family's struggles to survive a changing world and an evolving threat.

In order to properly trace the course of both family and historical events, the saga opens with the author's family tree, a black and white photo of generations of the Ingber family, and a first-person preface that flushes out the novel's setting with a discussion of family connections and Hungarian history. As the author learned details of the Old Country and his family's experiences there, so he became inspired to put these experiences into a novel that would reach out and grip strangers much as his family stories offered him rich traditions, spiritual and emotional revelations, and immersion in a world gone wild.

In the turmoil of political and social changes and betrayal, strong family and blood connections often meant the difference between living and dying. The letters and postcards the family wrote connected them in ways they could not have imagined decades later, and form the foundations of this novel's approach, which celebrates the art of the written word as much as the tenacity of family relationships.

As Holocaust events foreseen by the family come to a head and loss becomes part of daily life, the world of Hungary under Hitler and beyond comes to life, with vintage black and white family photos cementing the images of peoples' lives.

Ultimately it's a universal story of survival and how even the most impossible of circumstances can offer hope, inspiration, and a healthy dose of history chronicling different family members and their individual evolution.

It's all about keeping connections alive - and Bela's Letters provides one way of understanding how the course of these connections came to last a lifetime. Any who would receive a different kind of Holocaust story - one centered on family survival and Hungarian culture and traditions - will find Bela's Letters a riveting read that takes the experiences of several generations and translates them into a powerful, sweeping saga of change.

BoomER Emergency Room Survival Guide for Baby Boomers and Older Folks
Robert Derlet, MD and Joel Cohen, MD
Endless Knot Press
9780996309004 $19.50

BoomER Emergency Room Survival Guide for Baby Boomers and Older Folks is a primer that should be on the bookshelves of not just baby boomers or older adults, but any family member or caregiver. It provides essential, specific information from physicians who document common emergency room issues and how patients can be proactive in handling sudden emergencies and critical care treatment.

Part of this process lies in some basic medical savvy about how to prevent or identify strokes and heart attacks, what to do before help arrives, and how to understand emergency room processes and common problems that can occur in an ER during a health crisis. Patient case histories of both lucky and unfortunate patient experiences illustrate these events and decisions that translate to either success or failure in ER procedures and patient choices.

From abdominal pain and triage methods and cautions to ambulance trauma, hospitalization pros and risks, alternatives to emergency room care, and red flags for frail elders, BoomER methodically covers all the too-common consequences of emergency treatments for elders, providing many tips for surviving the current health care system. The inclusion of when to know if a test is a good idea, when to refuse testing, the impact of accumulated radiation exposure, and more make for cautions that are clearly defined in relation to emergency room care and hospitalization procedures.

Surprising facts - such as how patients can minimize treatment risks merely by being more informed - are included among discussions of emergency room care around the world, management procedures such as how patients are triaged, how to say 'no' to proposed treatments (and when to say 'yes'), and even how to plan ahead for emergency care.

No other patient book provides a specific focus on handling emergency treatment, making BoomER Emergency Room Survival Guide a powerful set of insights not just into the medical system as a whole, but for the one place many an older adult winds up in a powerless condition - unless this book has been consulted already.

BoomER is very highly recommended as an essential consumer guide that nobody should be without.

Piper, Once & Again
Caroline E. Zani
Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
9781942545118 $14.95

Piper is an equine insurance agent living in modern 21st century Massachusetts, but her concerns don't center in one world alone, as she struggles with a life lived in 19th century France. Yes, this is a timeslip novel; and as with the classic Time and Time Again, it's also a romance that crosses time and space in the process of examining two lives and one heart.

"I must have been born in the wrong century again." Destiny opens the story by complaining. Who is Destiny? The first chapters can be confusing as readers wrap their minds around the fact that one Piper is, in fact, living many lives separated by time, and that she's actually several people in one body.

Horses and husbands, love and fortune tellers, and accidents and tragedies that flow back and forth across time take some getting used to, but readers quickly absorb Piper's changing lives (for there is more than one) and the hypnotic circumstances of past life regression and bleed-through between worlds - and that's when the fun really begins.

Scents and memories, characters lost and saved, psychologists that regress the clock of time to enter into other worlds, and horses that run through these worlds: all these facets combine in a riveting combination of ghost story, romance, past life saga, and tragedies re-experienced to make for a tale that's a vivid read, and hard to put down.

If there's any criticism to be made of Piper, it's that the mercurial story demands an elevated level of perception and an appreciation of the idea of past lives from its readers. Those with prior familiarity with timeslip logic and plots will be the biggest enthusiasts of Piper, Once & Again, which wraps its story around a protagonist's powerful experiences and envelopes the reader in not just one life story, but those of numerous characters who walk into other worlds.

It's evocative, it's complex, and ultimately it's nearly impossible to put down, offering up a positive progressive romp through fate, circumstance, tragedy and redemption. Timeslip and ghost story readers will find Piper, Once & Again satisfyingly detailed and wonderfully complex.

Not a Blueprint / It's the Shoe Prints that Matter
Nina Norstrom
WriteLife Publishing
9781939371478, $16.75 (p)
9781939371485, $7.99 (e)

Barnes & Noble (paperback):

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Books A

Not a Blueprint: It's the Shoe Prints that Matter A Journey Through Toxic Relationships achieves what few other books offer, surveying the elements of toxic relationships and people in life which defines 'toxic' actions and tells how to handle them. That it does this with acknowledgement to the hand of God and a nod to the idea that "...that God gives us strong shoes to walk those paths." Makes for a discussion particularly recommended for spiritual self-help readers.

The author knows her subject: toxic relationships at home, at work, and in life nearly destroyed her. She learned from these relationships: "My ultimate lesson in my journey has been that healthy relationships require honesty, compassion, strength, and courage. Given the right mechanisms, these traits make maneuvering through life less stormy."

Her life story unfolds in these pages, from a religious upbringing and the importance of God in her life to her job, family, and friendships. Christian guilt, shame, sin, emotional attachments and parenting are explored with insights into toxic communications, individuals, and - yes - attractions to and between toxic personalities.

Not a Blueprint thus serves a dual purpose, providing Nina Norstrom's autobiography and charting her life's course through toxicity and onto a more positive, supportive path. What's the difference between a 'blueprint' that guides one and the 'shoe print' mentioned in the title? Quite simply, this is a focus on the lasting effects ("shoe prints") which lessons learned from experience leaves on one's psyche and life. The author is quite clear about the difference and God's role in this: " belief is that God gives us strong shoes to walk those paths. If we are willing, we can readily learn to distinguish whether relationships are toxic or nontoxic."

Followers of her footsteps should ideally be spiritually-minded readers who will appreciate the incorporation of God's purposes into discussions of the characteristics that constitute toxic relationships and how to handle or avoid them. Readers with such a background will appreciate the consistent injections of faith into life experiences (a regular thread in the stories), and will appreciate the life lessons Norstrom shares along the way which serve to support that faith: "So, when a person comes into your life, don't question their existence - just embrace their presence. Take it from the Holy Father: they are there for a reason, and we must embrace that moment."

Each lesson provides enlightenment, making for an appealing combination of psychological and spiritual inspection recommended for self-help and Christian readers alike.

Mallast: A Historial Novel
Bob Prevost
RLP Industries
9780984636907 $16.95

The Mallast family's move from Germany to America in 1882 is, in one way, a classic story of immigration involving turbulent times, difficult adjustments, and new paths in life. After an introduction emphasizing that Mallast stems from his family history, Bob Prevost provides a journey through time, opening with the feel of rural central Prussia in 1879 as August Mallast tends the family fires on their tenant farm while musing on his country's progressively dangerous military ideology.

August's life has been changed by battlefield horrors in three wars, already: how can he avoid having his son conscripted into service? It's obvious: the family has to flee their homeland.

Bob Prevost takes the time to fully cover the logical progression of thought, from initial analysis of a country's political, social and military history and its impact on August and his family to their difficult decision to immigrate to a strange new country.

The frugal farming lifestyle the family's cultivated could translate to success in America, and as August follows progressively more bad news and tries to find a route that will allow the family to remain in their homeland, it becomes increasingly evident that this will not work: "Do we stay and endure the possible future treacherous wars with our sons' lives at risk?"

This decision-making process is particularly well detailed, taking into account not just political changes, but the psyches of young men which are often geared to the glories of conflict and battle: "He knew his sons would initially look forward to a perceived glorious adventure with the army, especially since many of their young friends would be part of the big build-up as well."

August's task lies in using his more mature knowledge of war's horrible effects to move his family to a safe place where the drama lies not in battle, but in new opportunities for growth. As they make their choices and moves, these themes rise to the forefront of a plan that brings the family to a new home and some unforeseen challenges.

As the family experiences newfound prospects and change with their new American farm and business ventures, so does its history evolve from one of Old Country hardships to New World opportunity.

The European setting, motivations for major changes, family connections and support systems, and Mallast's family history (the facts are reviewed in a concluding section to the novel) all make for a lovely historical piece that takes a family history and transforms it into a microcosm of immigrant experience.

Any fiction reader who appreciates historical facts and stories of early European immigrant experience will relish this sweeping saga of a family that ultimately recreates their lives and makes decisions that have lasting, positive ramifications for future generations.

The Spy Files
Kenneth Eade
Publisher: TBA
Website/ordering link: TBA

Brent and Angela, an attorney and a FBI agent, are about to solidify their relationship until Brent's latest case lands him in direct opposition to not only the FBI's processes, but the ethical boundaries of his own profession. Suddenly all the solid foundations of his life are called into question: his career, his love, and his friendships - and all over the death of a scientist, which appears to hold sinister implications of a dangerous plot.

Readers who relish courtroom dramas will find much to love in the feisty character of Brent, who willingly goes out of his way to defend an underdog who may be innocent even if it involves spying, ferreting out secrets, and destroying his life and career in the name of justice and pursuing what is right.

It's these dilemmas, injected into courtroom proceedings, which makes The Spy Files such a powerful read: readers simply don't expect that many of Brent's foundations (laid out in prior books) will be shaken up so thoroughly in this story.

Brent is the kind of attorney who goes to bat for the little guy against all odds, and he will even change his life for what he believes to be right. Action is swift as he challenges the forces amassing against him - including his own beloved girlfriend - in the fight for what he believes.

It's these moments of conviction and willingness to not just take risks, but to risk everything, that makes Brent such a likeable character. Eade paints the portrait of a man who is not foolhardy or unbelievable, but real human being who faces ethical and moral challenges and temptations to support the status quo. His uncanny ability to stick to his guns for he believes is right, despite his sorrows, pain, and uncertainties during the process, makes for a riveting read.

Larger, real-world themes of surveillance, government control of public records, privacy challenges, and intrusion on the private lives of citizens are embedded into the story line, offering a contemporary perspective that embraces all of the headline news surrounding Homeland Security activities and citizen rights.

Readers who love vivid courtroom dramas, detective and spy sagas, and a plot immersed in the latest social concerns of modern times will find The Spy Files a spellbinding, highly recommended addition to the ongoing stories of Brent Marks. While no prior familiarity with the series is required for a smooth read of his latest adventures, most newcomers will want to return to the prior, equally powerful books once they absorb the character and concerns of this feisty, involved attorney who moves beyond professional boundaries to set his life and job on the line in the name of justice.

Bound: The Silverton Chronicles
Carmen Fox
Smart Heart Publishing
ASIN: B01CIJVI92 $4.99 Kindle

Florian is a vampire who has hit the big time with business success (a rare position to be in for a member of a werewolf pack) until a female werewolf pads into his life to offer a special challenge with an unusual romance that tests his loyalties and even his true nature.

While Bound: The Silverton Chronicles is best described as an urban fantasy romance, it actually holds much more depth than this genre's usual read. For one thing, Florian's identity isn't based on his successful relationships between different worlds: it's a carefully-honed tightrope walk, and the lines he's so carefully built and trod all his life are about to come apart.

Secondly, Bound: The Silverton Chronicles injects a light dose of humor throughout, engaging readers through a series of fun encounters that are delightfully unexpected additions to a usually-serious genre: "I sucked in a huge breath of helium from the tank. "Why are we doing this again?" I asked in a high-pitched voice. My head spun, but it was totally worth it. Ivy punched me in the arm. "If you could be serious for a second, you'd realize it's necessary. You can't just stomp into another pack and demand they join yours. They need to be schmoozed."

Carmen Fox's approach makes the most of the comic interlude device and adds dimension and fun to a read which sashays around two powerful protagonists who are each determined to get the most out of their very different lives, and who hold different alliances to their packs and their alpha leaders.

As readers absorb the social and political concerns of werewolves, vampires, and their intersections with human worlds, their different psyches and concerns are embellished with lively notes that add creative fun to the story line: "Any excuse to party, and werewolves were first in line at the kegger."

Readers should be prepared to enter a world where all forces exist in the same realm and mingle on the same plane: "The humans treat him like any other, and the kin... He's got fae sending in donations. Trolls are doing his accounts and, on his instruction, helping out other kin with their finances. Gino even has demons working for him." I frowned. "Demons? As in more than one? Demons don't work for anyone, let alone in groups."

By keeping secrets, Flo has endangered the thing he loves the most. It's time for his secrets to end, and the process of unraveling them, love, and werewolf objectives makes for a riveting, fun read that goes beyond the usual portraits of vampires and werewolves to inject a healthy degree of mystery, action, intrigue, and romance into the bigger picture of two very different souls who struggle to unite.

Readers of urban fantasy who look for both romance and rare humor in more complex stories of conflict will love Bound: The Silverton Chronicles, which takes passion and purpose and winds them into a captivating tale holding many different twists as it unravels a complicated truth.

The Proving
Ken Brosky
Amazon Digital Servics
ASIN: B018EQLQ5E $3.49

Almost everyone has experienced the nightmare of being hunted - running across the land in a heart-pounding terror with something close on your heels. Don't look back, or it will get you. But the temptation's there...and so you LOOK....

Ken Brosky's The Proving feels much the same way as it builds heart-stopping terror through a protagonist on a life-threatening run through a forest, compelling its readers to LOOK behind her and face the beast. But the protagonist is running for more than her life alone: it's for the sake of her unborn child and for a message that desperately needs to be transmitted. And her flight is not a drill; it's through a deadly world that hasn't been the same since the alien Specters invaded Earth over a hundred years earlier, treating the planet as a living buffets by devouring any humans who dare to venture out from hiding.

In this world a new order has arisen among the youth, who have formed clans to survive, and who face hard truths and new opportunities in their uncertain futures. In this world, a "Proving" solidifies a young adult's entry into adulthood. Mind you, the protagonists are supposed to be on the cusp of adulthood; but they still very much act like children - possibly due to their circumstances and perhaps because some teens do still act younger than their years even while tackling adult-sized problems.

There are several things to note about The Proving. One is that it's a young adult read, offering a myriad of characters and an absorbing setting reminiscent of The 5th Wave. Think War of the Worlds or The White Mountains, but where the tripods have won. Think of different responsibilities undertaken by each individual within the larger Clan structure, which present obstacles to a new mission that runs directly to the heart of who the Specters are and the logic of their actions.

Another note is that there are five main protagonists who each bring to the table different perspectives on the problems and issues of their world. As action switches between them and grows heated, it's the mature and savvy young adult reader who will find that this is the one adventure that doesn't 'dumb down' its action, but which keeps readers guessing and on their toes to follow changing perspectives and characters.

At times the protagonists sound like children and at times they seem to possess a sense of duty and wisdom well beyond their stated ages. Welcome to young adulthood!

The Proving provides a gripping, involving scenario that offers a number twists and turns (wormholes, a pilgrimage to New Earth, a sense of loss, hope, and struggle; all wound into teen angst) and demands of its readers a willingness to perceive the flexibility in its characters. Only a few other notable sci-fi readers for this age range charges its protagonists with coming-of-age tests similar to The Proving (such was the scenario in The White Mountains, in which three teens undertake the monumental task of changing their alien-infested world.)

Young adults who love scenarios in which teens are tested and move beyond the boundaries of their tests to prove they are not just ready for adulthood, but can supersede many of its mandates to succeed where adults have failed, will relish the complexity and action in The Proving. Set in a world where the hunted can become the hunter, the teens search for answers that have long been buried in despair.

Faces of Grief: Overcoming the Pain of Loss
Veronica Semenova, Ph.D.
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B01CQSGW78 $9.99

Faces of Grief: Overcoming the Pain of Loss comes from a practicing psychologist who works with a range of clients and who has formulated a basic premise about grief: that its progress and pain varies widely depending on a number of factors, from a griever's relationship to the bereaved and unresolved issues to the type of death and family dynamics.

Thus, while many competing books generalize about the process of overcoming grief, there's truly no 'one size fits all' in the matter, and Dr. Semenova's coverage both acknowledges this truth and offers up a range of insights, based on case history examples, that chart different paths to recovery.

Chapters define dissimilar types of grief (anticipatory, disenfranchised, or complicated), explain the challenges facing therapists and patients as they work with each, and contrast myths and realities surrounding the process of experiencing, working through and overcoming grief.

Readers who wonder how to help a grieving relative or friend, those who feel 'stuck' in grief without an explanation as to why, and therapists who work with patients over grief and recovery will all find much useful information in Faces of Grief, which outlines not a singular path, but a variety of responses and options based upon a client's unique background and experiences.

Faces of Grief is a highly recommended discussion for anyone seeking answers to common questions about the process of grieving and recovery.

Chand Svare Ghei
ISBN 9788299868181 (printed) $17.00
ISBN 9788299868198 (e-book) $ 5.99

Short story collections unified by a common theme are typical creations; but what gives Prasvapa its unique flavor isn't its story structures or protagonists, but its ethereal, surrealistic air that contributes an atmosphere of surprise to its dream-like descriptions.

In short, readers expecting linear short stories will find that the strength in Prasvapa lies not in predictability nor even in plot or action, but in creating scenarios that describe and support the concept of "prasvapa" ("consciousness during sleep"). It crafts dark, unpredictable, yet compelling fantasy states that skirt the edge of real scenarios, then dip over into the impossible.

Such is the case with 'An Everyday Adventure', which opens the collection with the story of one woman's sadness about her life and blossoms from a her obsession with her sanctuary/home, where she lives distant from people and their concerns, to a cat who leads her to involve another in her life, transforming her isolated, unchanging world.

Descriptions of these worlds are succinct and precise: "Here, time could be twisted around its regularity at any pace desired, like nothing actually mattered. Pages of a book, a nice cup of homemade herb tea, and the meow of a cat passed into memories without even noticing."

Chand Svare Ghei's special talent lies in the ability to take the smallest of events, moments, and scenes and show how these can twist and convert into new worlds at the blink of an eye. It doesn't take pages of description to craft these gems (these are short productions, after all), and it doesn't take high drama to inject them with a sense of compelling insight.

'The Strife for Water', for example, tackles the simple needs of a child who is taken on a long road trip against his wishes. Ghei's ability to capture the child's inner feelings while in transit is well done ("Reading the latest issue of Donald Duck was out of the question; he could not sit in the front and watch the traffic, and she did not let him play on his harmonica. Was she out of her mind? No candy? He needed candy, he needed distractions, and he needed them now. Music? No, she had forgotten his tunes; boring, ugly melodies sounding out of the speakers, idiotic adult sounds on the radio."), as is the sudden change of events when his mother throws him out of the car and drives away. Left to his own devices, he must satisfy his own needs - which include those most basic: hydration.

As with the other stories, this represents a microcosm of experience, not the usual plot revolving around events, actions, and logical conclusions. The compelling piece lies not in high drama but in everyday circumstances enlarged for examination; much like a small photograph, when enlarged, reveals pieces and facets not seen in its smaller counterpart.

Short story enthusiasts who appreciate approaches that deconstruct simple experiences for their greater meaning, adopting a surreal feel in the process, will love Prasvapa's compellingly unique visions.

The Devil Knows
Janet Holt-Johnstone
Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co., LLC
9781631359668 $19.50

Many historical novels are set in either Europe or America, so it's refreshing to discover that The Devil Knows takes place in neither place, but makes the most of 19th century Canada, London, and Jamaica as it explores a pastor's daughter's encounters in the Canadian wilderness.

With its huge cast of characters, ranging from pastor and daughter to First Nation peoples and others, The Devil Knows could easily have proved a complex, challenging read under a less steady hand; but Janet Holt-Johnstone's ability to capture the sights, sounds, and feelings of her characters makes the setting and story line a breeze to absorb.

Readers inhale deeply and take in the feel of the alien Canadian frontier world Susan has entered ("She trailed red sawdust from her tapered boots and the hem of her petticoats, residue from the canoe's wide-spaced planking. Susan thanked him prettily, then steadied herself and watched Henri and his companion unload, wincing when her carpetbag narrowly missed a ducking in the amber water."), while the logic of why she's undertaking this journey (her mother's recent death leaves her father a single parent, so he must bring her along) is impeccable.

Holt-Johnstone's attention to detail and description is just one of The Devil Know's strong points: "Mosquitoes swarmed around Susan's face, and she waved her bonnet in a futile attempt to discourage them. "Gentlemen," she pleaded, "it will soon be twilight, and we're not yet in our quarters. Father, I'm being eaten alive, and I really do want to unpack and rest."

But don't expect the action to begin and end in this wilderness camp, for other roads beckon, each offering something different, and Susan finds her life a whirlwind of opportunities and adjustments during the cultural changes that take her far from her familiar London society world: "Susan gently placed the packet on the table and stared at it, dazed. Yet another path beckons! A proposal. Oh, yes, I could live in the islands, she thought. Romantic cascading waterfalls, dazzling sands, soaring mountains, exciting people and opportunities to be useful to the children of such an exotic environment. She stood, then paced back and forth in the dim light of the cabin, pausing at her father's bunk and watching him sleep, imagining him serving a very different parish of both black and white souls, and in the evening playing his flute or reading on the broad verandah of a Jamaican manse."

Canada's pioneer days and their challenges are brought to life in a compelling series of events that transform Susan with a series of adventures driven by circumstance, evolution, and perhaps the Devil himself. As bears and romance both loom on her horizon, Susan finds her place in a changing world that embraces both her growing beauty and her missionary zeal for different cultures and peoples.

The juxtaposition and contrasts between these peoples and their lives drives The Devil Knows and makes for a winning frontier story that offers a number of satisfyingly unexpected twists and carries readers along in a tumultuous atmosphere of change, opportunity, and social inspections. It's a feisty, fun saga that historical novel readers will relish.

The Fly Strip
Gwen Banta
Waldorf Publishing
2140 Hall Johnson Road 102-345, Grapevine, Texas 76051
1943847401 $24.95

The Fly Strip opens with a letter written by the angst-laden Weed Clapper, a teen who is on a bus, moving to Indiana to live with an unfamiliar relative. One might anticipate from this that the story will revolve around his struggles with family; but set as it is in the turbulent 60s, when racial issues are turning into hotbeds of contention across the country, it's only logical that Weed's coming of age introduction to adult society will involve more than family strife.

One of the first notable features of The Fly Strip is Weed's wry sense of humor, which captures images of his world with the precision and finely honed finesse of a sharp pair of scissors, snipping out facets of the world he observes with a delightful critical perspective: "I'm looking out the window at nothing but miles of flat land. These may be America's fruited plains, but there isn't a fruit in sight. It's the saddest expanse of nothingness I've ever seen. Even the cows look bored. Midwest farmers should definitely be on alert for a bovine suicide pact."

Under Gwen Banta's hand, protagonists come alive ("I'll be paying, and I'll have a vanilla Coke," I replied...but not too friendly myself. (Honestly, I'm a really nice guy in spite of how this sounds, but my nerves are a bit on edge these days.) "Hmmm, all the other kids order cherry Cokes," Snarls sniffed, like he was the Betty Crocker of fountain drinks."), and the vivid method Weed uses to describe his world is what succeeds in bringing it to life with more than a wry sense of snarky observation.

Carry this nicely-posited sense further than scenery and everyday characters and use it to inspect civil rights issues and social change and it's evident that something special is being finely tuned in The Fly Strip. Think Catcher in the Rye, but with a greater focus on social events. Think To Kill a Mockingbird, but with the mature eye of a seventeen-year-old who still finds his world confusing, but who is able to remark on it with jaded (yet pointed) precision.

As readers pursue The Fly Strip, one thing becomes evident: this is an extraordinary coming-of-age story that successfully links teenage mindsets with outside world influences, creating a host of characters whose concerns and feelings serve as pivot points between daily life and greater concerns.

The humor may not always be for everyone: many times black humor is embedded in the story ("Robert is from Long Island, and he's a lot of fun. He told us that although New Yorkers have the reputation of being a bunch of unfriendly grouches, they're really very social and always show up in large numbers when there's a group shoot-out. That killed us."), but the delightful injection of unexpected moments and the feelings of a soon-to-turn-eighteen boy who just wants to escape the madness growing around him makes for a delightfully personal and engrossing read.

As Weed searches for meaning, love, God, and stands at the pinnacle of success posed on the thin edge of disaster, so readers come to not just understand his world and his life, but to embrace them.

Fans of coming-of-age sagas who look for gritty, realistic reads and, most especially, characters who are determined and believable, will find The Fly Strip a powerful selection, especially recommended for adults of all ages who want a more socially revealing contrast to the classic Catcher in the Rye.

Peace, Love n' Mud
Kraig Geiger
Waldorf Publishing
2140 Hall Johnson Road 102-345, Grapevine, Texas 76051
9781943849413 $24.95

Author Kraig Geiger was only eight when he first caught a glimpse of his future, while in a movie theater, watching the original Woodstock Documentary movie: this event would eventually change the course of his life.

This isn't just the story of a young man's rise to fame in a challenging world; it's a story of serendipity and evolution, it's a love story, and ultimately it's a saga about how the author chose not to wallow under life's slings and arrows, but maintained a tight grip on his creativity by nurturing it to fruition.

On January 4th, 1994, the new word division of Merriam Webster's Dictionary - and on February 14th, 2014, the new word division of The Oxford Dictionary - officially recognized Kraig Geiger (by letters of file citation) for coining the word Contographer (R) (i.e. concert photographer).

In 1996, the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Mr. Geiger an official trademark to use the word Contographer (R) in commerce worldwide. While credited for naming an industry with no prior professional moniker through his unique trademark, Kraig has successfully found the key to distinguishing himself, along with his photographic works of art, from all other photographers and concert photographers worldwide.

Defining the work of a concert photographer as a trade (or a special brand) goes well beyond the normal boundaries of portrait and studio work. However, these are just some of the many aspects and achievements in his life, all documented in his story.

As chapters wind through the decisions involved in taking some leaps of faith to capture memorable experiences and moments on film, as Kraig is not a digital photographer, readers gain a sense of the concert photographer's special challenges behind Geiger's decisions: "I knew that if I didn't take my chances by flying off to New York right away with whatever monies I could scrape together, I'd forfeit any opportunity of photographing the rolling green fields of Winston Farm for the opening phase of my coffee table book, before the place was trample upon by half of a million festival goers."

The 1994 Woodstock Art and Music Fair may be the focal point of his story, but like ripples in a pond, everything evolves steadily outward from the point that he's dropped into this art world.

Just as his family history involves facing many challenges and crafting new beginnings Kraig's life moves relentlessly forward in a trajectory that brings readers along on a rollicking good ride through time, space, emotional challenges, and the artistic evolution of a true artist.

Expect this family history to be supplemented by a healthy dose of philosophical and cathartic reflection ("...if my calculations are correct, between the ages of twenty to sixty, (the most productive years of our lives), including leap-year days - a person only has a grand total of 14,609.4 days to mold and shape themselves into whomever or whatever they'll ultimately become.") Also anticipate a multi-faceted read that in many ways replicates the magic of Woodstock '69 in the very different world of 1994.

Throughout the buildup of this momentous musical celebration, readers are treated to the unvarnished truth about the pros and cons of this historic event: "...there were plenty of people in the Ecology Village protesting against Woodstock '94 for those who felt like the festival had too much of a corporate image, and others thought it should have been re-named Greedstock '94. Personally, I thought those comments were ignorant and way out of line. I mean, so what if Woodstock '94 had a corporate feel? Don't the promoters of this wonderful festival deserve to make money now, and lots of it, especially after the way those same promoters took such a bath financially - the first time around?"

Peace, Love n' Mud contains a multitude of powerful insights and statements about life in general, the author's life, his family relationships, his creative career, his involvement with the Woodstock '94 Music and Art Fair, and an unforeseen romantic connection ties this winning-against-all-odds/ love story into a once in a lifetime experience! Of special note: Kraig Geiger has only read one book in his entire life: The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. Peace, Love n' Mud sends a powerful message of how someone who isn't an avid book reader can not only produce a book, but can craft a vivid saga that is hard to put down.

It must have been written in the stars! The first time Kraig Geiger met Woodstock Ventures founder and promoter John Roberts, in 1997, a strong connection was immediate made. At the conclusion of their first meeting, when asked by Kraig to sign a copy of Young Men With Unlimited Capital, a book about the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair co-written by John Roberts, his best friend and Woodstock Ventures partner Joel Rosenman, and collaborator/editor Robert Pilpel, John wrote this inscription: "To Kraig, We admire your grit!" A few years later (and just before his passing, in 2001), John Roberts wrote the official book preface for Peace, Love n' Mud.

Formed with the passion of an observer, artist, activist and a career Contographer (R), Peace, Love n' Mud isn't just an autobiographical story: it captures the experiences, ideals, and challenges of several generations, making Peace, Love n' Mud a compelling standout read especially recommended for anyone interested in live music, concert photography (or photography, in general) or for those who attended one of the three major Woodstock Music & Art Fairs held in 1969, 1994 and 1999.

So Many Boots, So Little Time
Kalan Chapman Lloyd
Lloyd Words, LLC
9781523744978 $7.99 eBook, $14.99 print, audio $TBA

So Many Boots, So Little Time: The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly,Volume Three provides a fun sequel and romp through the ongoing adventures of sassy Miss Lilly, introduced in prior books, and opens with Miss Lilly facing the unwelcome return of a character from her past. While all this may indicate that readers need to have a prior familiarity with Miss Lilly and her world, it should be advised that newcomers will find themselves on the roller-coaster adventure of her life before they quite know they've gotten on the ride: it's that compelling and that easy to slip into and understand Miss Lilly's world.

And, what a world it is! Miss Lilly is a spicy Southern lady in a small Oklahoma town whose spunky attitude towards life is matched only by a flair for irony and candor: "Drop dead." I told the gutless wonder I once told I'd marry...Van can be charming. A very charming asshole who had cheated on me with his secretary. It had taken me some time to discover that all of Van's supposed charm was just a jacked-up compilation of thin affectations." Dialogue is rich and observations pointed as Miss Lilly faces down flames past and present, cattle rustlers, her career as an attorney, family connections and complications, and much more.

Indeed, readers new to Miss Lilly will find her a sassy kind of woman who is smart, tough, and who does yoga on the side. It's a mixed plate of talent, ambition, and savvy that translates well to an ongoing story of ranch mysteries and struggles with dynamic personalities who attempt to derail her life.

Southern manners, romantic ghosts from the past who keep on chasing her, a life on the run from too many disappointments (only to have them pursue her and show up on her doorstep bringing the baggage of more problems along for the ride), and the impossible search for cattle rustlers and good men all wind into another satisfyingly fun western-themed 'chic lit' novel that is at once sassy, invigorating, and filled with dialogue, guns, mystery and lies, and so much more.

Prior fans will be delighted at the new twists and turns in So Many Boots, So Little Time, which stay true to the character and concerns of Miss Lilly's turbulent life and career, while newcomers who have entered the roller coaster of her life will not only find themselves hanging on for the rollicking ride, but returning to prior books for more adventures.

The Lullaby Illusion
Susan Joyce
Peel Productions
0939217885 $15.99

Autobiographies typically center upon the author's life and experiences, and those which add in drama, travel, and growth insights are all the more stronger for their departure from timelines of events to inject a sense of compelling tension and thriller elements usually found in the better fiction novels.

The Lullaby Illusion is such a memoir; born of the author's decision to take a year off at age 20 and explore the world - a choice which was to blossom into twelve years of journeys through the world, influencing her evolving sense of self.

Given such a topic, it's unusual to have a story begin with an ending: "How odd to have news of his death interrupt my life now. A man I had married and divorced years ago. A man I never felt I knew. A man I last saw - in a Chinese restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany - over 27 years ago. Twenty-seven years? Was it that long ago?"

Perhaps one reason this story sounds so melodic is because Susan Joyce was (in one of her many Renaissance Woman incarnations) a songwriter and lead singer in a country-rock group. This lends a musical feel to a winning review of her relationship with not just a man who was once a big part of her life, but with life itself: "As a child, my days passed as sometimes-here, sometimes-there, but I was always aware of an inner voice as true as anything my eyes delivered. With no television allowed in our home, I tuned into my surroundings, saw and heard things others didn't perceive. My parents called it my "wild imagination."

Memoirs often fail to transmit the magic and drama of changing life events to their readers; but The Lullaby Illusion takes a different approach in assuring that such magic is not just presented, but transmitted to the reader; there to resonate and spread like ripples in water until the course of events becomes compelling and hard to put down.

Whether Joyce is using this magic to explore tragedy or success, it's a powerful voice indeed that allows readers to not just read about a life well lived, but to enter that world and experience that life from the inside out.

Maybe this is due to a wild childhood that encouraged higher goals even before she moved to L.A. and experienced a hectic life that was to careen her into the decision to travel and take a break from the demanding world of work: "For many years, the static of my busy, buzzing life drowned out my intuitive insight. And I lost sight of myself - the self that once listened and trusted a still, small voice. Until Cyprus."

Or perhaps it's because of Joyce's ability to synthesize all these emotions, incoming experiences, and changes into a breathtaking account that inhales the world with a big breath and breaths out life into accounts that sparkle and shine with descriptions designed not just to entertain readers, but immerse them.

There's tragedy, discovery, and change. There's tension, drama, and the unexpected. All the elements of a solid, compelling fiction read are here - but The Lullaby Illusion is nonfiction; it's all true. It's Joyce's world brought to life in a memoir that will prove riveting reading for any who relish autobiographical stories of a spectacular existence well lived, filled with both the richness of paradise and the poignant saga of a perfect world that unravels until it's ready, once again, for a new infusion of meaning and commitment.

Susan J. Berger
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Hardcover ISBN: 9781616334307
Paperback ISBN: 9781933090665
Ebook ISBN: 9781935137542

The second edition of Earthquake, a fine primer for all ages, opens with a simple, eye-catching discussion of why nobody can dig to China, using bright cut-away illustrations of the planet's layers and highlighted 'factoid' sidebars of information to enhance a lively, chatty discussion of earthquake facts.

The first thing to note about Earthquake is that it offers more than its competitors in several areas. Consider its lively but fact-rich focus, which offers clear emphasis where others might bog down in detail: "The points where the plates meet each other are called Faults or Fault lines. A fault is a very dangerous place. When two plates bump each other, Watch out! Bumping causes Earthquakes. Bumping causes Tsunamis."

Another thing to consider is that Earthquake is loaded with a variety of illustrations by accomplished graphic artist Eugene E. Ruble, offering fun cartoon examples and easy charts, and it also is packed with practical information on what to do during an earthquake ("If you are indoors, STAY THERE. Move into a hallway if you can or stand by an inside wall. You can also get under a desk or a table and hang on to it. (It's a roller coaster ride. Remember?)

Some thirty pages cover all facets of earthquakes, from their science and impact to what individuals can do both for their own safety and for other earthquake victims.

The result is a lively and fun picture book that makes for a winning, educational read suitable for both elementary-level leisure readers and students alike.

How the Mighty Fall
E.J. Chadwell
Jaffa Books
9781922061386 $4.00 or $4.19 (on Kobo)


Jaffa Books:


How the Mighty Fall is a Gigi Mirabelli and Harry Burns mystery thriller that is rich in action, drama, and intrigue, which will delight fans of high-octane adventure. The events center around a missing yacht owner who apparently falls overboard during her own party, missing persons expert Gigi, who is recalled from maternity leave for this special, high-profile mystery, and Harry, a talented but psychologically tortured homicide detective whose career is on the ropes.

Part of the attraction of How the Mighty Fall lies in the interactions between these events and individuals: the story opens with a nursing mother's quiet time at home with her infant but quickly explodes into action with the ring of a phone and news that will pull Gigi from her infant's side. (It's a question whether even a chief of police can pull an officer from maternity leave, but the high-profile case demands unusual responses from authorities.)

The first chapter sets the scene of the party tragedy (and reveals that a murder has taken place - no surprises here), the second offers quick insights on Gigi's home and career lives, and the third chapter introduces Harry's role in the investigation. It's pleasing so see how quickly the main protagonists are created and explored, moving along to action which is compellingly complex as two disparate investigators must learn to work together in a case replete with high-profile media involvement.

Threads of ironic humor and angst permeate a story holding various personalities and conflicts, lots of moral and ethical conundrums, and a winding investigative process that keeps readers on their toes - all set against the backdrop of New York City.

The investigators are only human, and thus they come with their faults, including power-tripping plays and head-butting over procedure and undercover methods. The fact that readers don't always like the people being presented in How the Mighty Fall makes this a more realistic read than most mysteries, which tend to create overly simplistic, likeable protagonists. The investigators themselves argue with each other constantly over keeping an open mind and making connections between different cases, which also keeps readers involved.

Conflicts between career and personal life (on Gigi's part) are exceptionally well done, keeping the human element alive and well during the investigative process: "Thinking it his best chance to reach Mirabelli at this ungodly hour, Burns called her on her home phone. He could hear the baby's crying in the background. The cries became louder as Mirabelli cuddled the infant in an effort to quiet her. Burns raised his voice in an effort to be heard over the wailing baby. "Hold on a minute," Mirabelli told Burns, and then she said to her husband, "Paul take the baby, please." Burns heard Mirabelli's husband rant in the background, saying, "You wanted the kid. Don't blame me if you can't do it all. I told you it's all about sequencing. No, you had to have it all. I told you to quit that job. You refused. You're a mother now, so deal with it. Your child comes first..."

As truths are exposed, offering surprises and insights to readers who may not have seen some of them coming, How the Mighty Fall evolves into a gripping saga that's hard to put down. All is not successful, in the end. For a 'turn of the screw' series of adventures and surprises, mystery and thriller audiences are in for a real treat with a story that is well-developed, filled with characters both likeable and annoyingly realistic, and packed with intrigue. Very highly recommended.

The Boundary Stone
Christopher Hassett
CSF Publishing
Paperback ISBN 9781937487850 $14.99
eBook ISBN 9781937487867

Narrative poetry readers well know that many of the true 'classics' of this literary form have not only been written hundreds of years ago, but appear only rarely, compared to other poetic and literary styles. Indeed, the epic narrative poem has largely gone by the wayside in modern times, with the exception of Christopher Hassett's The Boundary Stone, a production some ten years in the making.

The Boundary Stone eventually grew to embrace 300 poems, then was edited back to the structure seen here: 70 poems carefully woven together to form an epic saga about a nomad wandering through the aftermath of an apocalypse.

The narrator stumbles through this smoky world with only a bone lit from its fires for illumination when he comes upon a glass-fused hole in the desert and throws himself down it in despair, presenting shades of "Ozymandias" and Dante in a vivid description that will shake readers to their poetic roots.

Each piece of this vivid collection holds multiple meanings - the flame of the narrator's heart is love, but the flame of his discovery lies in a torched bone reminiscent of humanity itself - both illuminating his path through past, present, and future options.

Descriptions of this blasted landscape are vividly wrought: "The trails through arroyos and those in the hills become/deadpaths of bone and darked plainswood, skeletal saguaros/and sparceoak,/and the peaks above and the towering basalts, where tree/stone and sun and calendar steps, scripted piers, altars of let,/stairglyphs told to temple mouths,/all in the ashfall stood spectral." Through this example (just one tiny segment of a greater whole), readers can gain a sense of just what can be done with the epic narrative poem, which cannot be similarly achieved using a different structure with roots in either other poetry or fiction.

One might anticipate, through this example, that The Boundary Stone will be a complex and challenging read; and that it is - but with the added note that it is accessible, stimulating, and vivid even to those unfamiliar with this style. The caveat here is that The Boundary Stone is not a collection to be read quickly, but a thought-provoking series of images and philosophical reflections best digested a little at a time.

In this ever-faster modern world where "high speed" and "high octane action" are revered, this requirement for reflective, slow, thoughtful reading could prove a challenge for some, but especially in an era where the epic narrative has all but vanished, The Boundary Stone stands out as a rarity in the poetry world.

But, soft! As one descends with the protagonist into the pits of Hell and hope and back up again, a transformation happens. The complex, the challenging, and the thought-provoking become compelling and visionary, while any preconceived obstacles to understanding fall away.

In the end, what is left is a saga of enrichment, discovery, and a new process of "becoming" something different in this strange new world. And what, exactly, is that?

Pursue The Boundary Stone in all its nuances to find out. Fans of the epic poetry narrative and newcomers to the form are in for a real treat, here: but be prepared to descend with the observer in the story into the depths of destruction to arrive at the heart of resurrection.

Crowning Glory -- An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise
Stacy Harshman
Andarina Publishing
9780997368802 $1.99

Crowning Glory -- An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise may initially sound like a psychological self-help read; but in actually it is an unusual memoir based on the author's experiment in wearing a number of wigs in New York City, assuming personas which change as often as hair color in the process of discovering who she is and how appearance changes psyches.

Her idea for this transformation didn't begin overnight with an Internet buying binge: all her life, Stacy Harshman felt defined by her hair ... what it wasn't, and what it could or should have been. What began as a simple acknowledgement of the limitations on her life imposed by her self-image and longing for flowing locks ("... my hair has been my archenemy since seventh grade. There was never enough of it, and what I had was wimpy. It became the root of all my problems. If only my hair were better.") and her investigation of why bitterness had grown to permeate her psyche evolved into a determination to buy not just one wig, but to wear a series of changing wig colors (same style) and analyze changing reactions to her hair.

Her initial experiences after she dons her first wig ("Usually one brother sat in a catatonic daze up front, while the other kept an expressionless post at the back. Every week for two years, they had mumbled "Hi", and had maybe managed sad smiles, but today, it was clear that neither twin recognized me. As I waited for the elevator, they shocked me with their cheery banter, awkward flirting, and giggles. Giggles! On my way out after the lesson, a UPS man offered me the package he was delivering as a gift, two young guys fought for the honor of opening a deli door for me, and one older dude looked back at the wrong moment and ran into a newspaper stand. What the hell was going on?") are dramatic and leads her into an unexpected exploration of the influence of hair in self-image and psychology.

Photos throughout do a terrific job of illustrating these colorful transformations as Harshman tells her story, adding visual impact to an unusual research process that weaves in and out of dating and personal relationships, the reactions of strangers, and how her hair affects all facets of her approach to life; whether it be on the dance floor, in internet cafes, or on the street.

Expect a lively romp through the dating world with plenty of opportunities for exploring the results of Harshman's changes. In the course of conducting these experiments, Harshman finds her own healing path through life, altering her world and finding a different kind of romance in the process.

Any reader who would consider the process and result of self-transformation will find Crowning Glory a lively, pointed story of what it means to change one's image and, consequently, one's life.

The Girl Who Could Read Hearts
Sherry Maysonave
Balboa Press
ISBN: 9781504351119 (sc)
ISBN: 9781504351133 (hc)
ISBN: 9781504351126 (e)

The Girl Who Could Read Hearts opens with six-year-old Kate, who huddles in the safe embrace of a walnut tree in Berkeley, California. At this point, Kate is clueless about her hidden intuitive powers and the presence of an angel on her birthday cake, who is charged with overseeing the evolution of a soul eons old, belaying her latest six-year-old incarnation's physical age.

While the story line focuses on the evolution of Kate's powers and her growing relationship with this angel overseer, it's also a story of parents and others who view her visions as a form of mental illness and who try to help her accordingly.

The Girl Who Could Read Hearts may be directed to young adult audiences, but the first thing to know about Kate and her world is that her ability to 'read' others and effect changes that might not be entirely desirable makes for a compelling tale that many an adult will also want to read.

As events unfold and Kate finds herself caught in a web of self-discovery and self-induced interventions, facing the consequences of her choices as her abilities grow, so readers are drawn into a plot that pairs a story of growing faith and evolving talents with a myriad of social, political and personal conflicts along the way.

Sherry Maysonave's ability to juxtapose inner and outer worlds for a maximum sense of impact and her realistic portrayal of a youngster's world make for satisfying blends of extraordinary and ordinary experiences: "See, you're not such a smarty pants after all. Like you can't even win a game for four-year-olds," Marilla Marzy taunted."

Medical procedures and murder, teen angst and police involvements, eating disorders and intrigue, and interactions with the afterlife push The Girl Who Could Read Hearts into unexpected directions. Readers won't expect to find these themes wound into an overall saga of a girl's awakening abilities; but they are an intrinsic piece of a plot that combines spiritual reflections with social issues, and they make for a complex web of events that succeed in creating a moving, memorable story.

The Girl Who Could Read Hearts is a highly recommended, evocative read for young adult to adult audiences who are interested in stories of evolution, spiritual guidance, and ultimately, hope.

Honor & Roses
Elizabeth Cole
SkySpark Books
9781942316152 (ebook) $4.99
9781942316169 (Print) $17.95


Google Play:

Honor & Roses is Book 1 of the 'Swordcross Knights' series, and a prior reader affection for historical settings (medieval times, in this case) and romance will assure that this novel's events are appreciated by genre readers who will find powerful personalities in the characters of knight Alric and his childhood friend Cecily, who has grown to be a lovely lady promised to another man.

When the two reunite as adults, old flames fire - but Alric's duty is clear: he's to bring her to her wedding; not elope with her. And Cecily's heart has no say in the matter, either. It all feels hopeless and their separate destinies preset, but when life interferes with these plans, placing Cecily in danger, it's Alric to the rescue as both face the dangers of a wild world and their own hearts.

Medieval Britain comes alive in the process of exploring these affairs, which include a supportive cast of characters and a winding story line that is spiced with compelling protagonists and their individual interests.

It should be mentioned that Honor & Roses is a leisure romance read; so readers approaching it as a historical tome might be disappointed. There's a time and place for complexity, but it's not usually desirable in one's leisure choices and Honor & Roses stays true to its intention of gliding over the surface of intricacy to skim the cream off the top of events and bring them to life.

One anticipates the growing connections between these forbidden fruits, and several events that transpire contain an element of predictability - but then, the appeal of many a historical or romance piece lies in just how predictable events will come to pass; and in Honor & Roses there are a few surprising twists readers will find satisfyingly engrossing.

Protagonists display weaknesses and strengths as they face challenges and move through their worlds, but the ultimate result is that they are simply human beings with the same vulnerabilities and sometimes-surprising powers as any human being.

The result is an appealing and lovely read that stays true to medieval times as it portrays the dilemmas and challenges of a relationship that grows between two childhood friends and threatens to change the world. Romance and historical fiction readers will find Honor & Roses an excellent leisure choice.

P.J. O'Dwyer
Black Siren Books
Paper: 9780984899791
Ebook: 9780984899784

Brit, a counter-sniper on the Maryland State police force, is a portrait of PTSD, heroism, and the aftereffects of being a cop who killed during the course of duty. She's on administrative leave, as is usual in an officer shooting; but the lingering aftereffects of trauma follow her as she searches for a peaceful retreat and isolation when an ex-Army Ranger and escaped convict targets her. The trouble is, he's picked the wrong woman - and he doesn't know Brit's background.

The drama begins with a multi-vehicle pile-up and continues when Brit is accosted by a wild mountain man during the course of investigating the wreckage around her. The last thing she's prepared for - even with her professional instincts saturated in a sense of self-preservation - is a wild stranger with a mission.

They both need to heal from their separate traumas, and these gradually emerge as Linger delivers what its name promises: a slow, intense story line that fires its salvo of tension from the first few paragraphs and never lets up.

Even as Brit faces this deadly threat which has unexpectedly emerged from a spectacular crash, her mind is working overtime to ensure her survival against all odds: "There would be no more finagling her freedom. He wanted her for a purpose, all the more reason to start strategizing her escape - or his demise."

When a professional killer faces an opponent without backup, one-on-one, in a situation where the killer holds all the cards and is likely to control the ultimate outcome, what's a woman to do?

As points of view shift between Brit and Colt Rivers, the similarities in their thought processes evolve. Brit's not used to being in a hostage situation; she's usually the one in control (or, at least, the one with the gun and a talent for precision shooting). And when a panic attack hits her at an unexpected moment, the last thing she expects is for Colt to not only recognize her dilemma, but immediately respond to it.

On Colt's side, he's not used to handling women like Brit, who has the fierce instincts of a lion and the vulnerabilities of an injured lamb. Part of what makes Linger so compelling is its believability: Brit quickly comes to determine that many of Colt's habits are ones she'd have used herself, if in the same position - and so she grudgingly admires him even as she fights for freedom.

And when the two hurting souls uncover each other's traumas and connections, they join forces to achieve things together that neither could have done separately.

While this connection develops rather quickly considering the events that threw them together, seemingly on opposing sides, it's deftly explored in a plot that moves rapidly, yet makes sense. Neither expects love to blossom from their broken lives and hearts - but this is a possibility. Also possible is the kind of hurt that never heals, and the collision of two powerful forces that could result in a blinding devastation for all involved.

P.J. O'Dwyer's ability to create a winding story that unexpectedly comes full circle makes for a powerful thriller that will grasp and hold reader attention right up to its end, creating a highly recommended pick for novel and thriller readers alike, especially for those who like a dose of romance added into the thriller mix.

Night People Book 1: Things We Lost in the Night
Larry J. Dunlap
Claremont Village Press
9780990627913 Amazon Kindle eBook
9780990627906 Print Paperback Book
Kindle eBook:
Print Paperback:

Night People is the first of two books that make up "Things We Lost in the Night, A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves," takes place in the 1960s music business in California and Nevada, and tells of a group of friends in a rock band who migrate to California, reunite to make music, and find themselves unexpectedly on the cutting edge of nightclubs and Vegas showrooms - venues entirely outside of their experience as musicians.

From Larry J. Dunlap's early, evolving group of musician friends and why they moved from Indianapolis to California to the opportunity offered by the lure of a nightclub gig, Night People provides a fine autobiography of golden prospects, how these are assessed, and what is involved in a "...clean sweep, [sic] necessary for me to change, to become what everyone here expected of me."

From the monotony of an assembly-line job that offers its own kind of peace (if not a degree of ennui) to the decision to undertake a risky journey to California, there to become embroiled in the music scene springing from counterculture roots like a phoenix from the ashes, Night People does a terrific job of charting the impetus for change, immersions in different kinds of musical atmospheres, evolving relationships between musicians, and a combination of circumstance and drive that keeps Larry J. Dunlap on a fast-paced journey of discovery.

Against the backdrop of 1960s (amidst the military draft, rising political savvy, and marriages lost and found), Dunlap's roller coaster ride through the worlds of music and love involves transformations, departures, and new beginnings.

Readers looking for a great beach read who are interested in sagas of Hollywood and limelight encounters, back rooms, bars and nightclubs, and the progress of a band of musicians who strive for success will find that Night People is a well-written memoir that deftly captures a sense of the 1960s and what it meant to be an aspiring musician during this time of seismic cultural change.

Moonlighting Bride
Deborah Kulish
Privately Published
9781502376763 Paperback: $12.99 ebook: $2.99

Moonlighting Bride's protagonist Jan is a new bride who seems to have it made: she has a good job and a lifestyle with many perks, and now she's snagged the man of her dreams. Or is it the man of her nightmares?

Jan isn't used to the basics of daily living, whether it's budgeting and living within her means or worrying about groceries and bills. Her high standard of living has involved a relatively carefree lifestyle with few money worries, until Rob. Suddenly these are concerns - as is their wildly different financial lifestyles.

It's surprising to note that a moneyed woman in modern times would be so oblique as to not have realized this gaping difference in their lifestyles before marrying, but on the way back from the honeymoon this becomes quickly evident: "Rob looked at Jan. "Do you have any credit cards?" Jan slumped back in the passenger seat not sure how to answer. She turned her head away from Rob and slightly covered her mouth with her hand. "Just a few," she faintly replied. She suddenly realized they hadn't talked much about this area of their personal lives. She tried to remember all the times they were dating how Rob paid for everything, but all she could recall were his beautiful, brown eyes."

Don't most couples at least discuss basic money matters before they jump into marital bliss? ("Jan realized her new husband felt as frustrated as she did at the revelation of differences in their finances.") One wonders that Jan (as well as Rob) has been so captivated by love and lust that the subject never came up, even concerning credit card use.

Be that as it may, it quickly becomes evident why Rob wasn't committed to discussing money matters. And Jan had plenty of warning signs, but chose to ignore them ("She had only seen him this upset on a couple of occasions while they were dating when he would take work related calls. It scared her, his fiery temper. Her friends told her to be careful, because some guys, after they're married, dominate the relationship and become violent.")

While the first few paragraphs of idyllic bliss lead readers to believe they will be pursing a light read, in reality Moonlighting Bride tackles all kinds of serious and thought-provoking issues as Jan's life begins to unravel and the carefree, flighty existence she has led turns into a tense situation.

Lest readers think this is an entirely serious social commentary, it should be mentioned that Moonlighting Bride holds more than a small degree of tongue-in-cheek humor that permeates situations and leads to laughs and fun, as when Jan insists that she hasn't gained any weight: "I won't need a fitting today. When I tried it on the last time it was perfect." "Are you sure?" the sales woman persisted. She looked at the small dress size then looked at Jan's backside again." Light moments permeate the story line and provide much comic relief.

Determined to make her new marriage work, Jan begins a juggling act between leading the kind of lifestyle she's used to and making her new husband happy. It's an impossible dream already; but when she discovers new truths about the consequences of the one time she abandoned caution to impulse, she is tasked with a new objective: survival.

Expect a lot of shopping in Moonlighting Bride, and concerns over a high-maintenance lifestyle - but that's just one of the facets of a read that moves between a light leisure choice and one embedded with deeper issues of domestic violence and money management: "If only I had married a millionaire, Jan thought as she completed the purchase. She resolved to herself that her purchases were justified. This is who she was and marriage wasn't going to change her."

One of the pleasures of Moonlighting Bride is that nothing is what it appears to be. Readers move forward anticipating a certain progression of events, but just when the story line seems to oblige, it takes a complete turn and moves in the opposite direction. While the tone is light and airy at points, it's also a serious investigation of the progression of two personalities after their union, and provides an inviting story that offers no pat personalities or solutions.

The result is an engrossing read with more than light comment on marriage, fortunes, and the collision of two powerful lifestyles.

Andrew C. Branham
Ant Press
9781530519248 $3.99 Kindle; $11.99 Paper

In a world where the sun has become a red giant, resulting in a baked Earth and struggles for the few humans who survive, James and Lexie and their two children face impossible odds; especially when fellow humans rob them and murderers and thieves abound.

Early in the story line, the vastly changed environment has affected the protagonists: "All of the principles he had valued so dearly for the past 40 years of his life were fruitless in a world where three gallons of water could buy you a running car. Fair or unfair, he was a man of God - or had been. Now, he was merely another vigilante tasked with the job of protecting those he loved."

Thirst and water have become overwhelming concerns in this dry world; but where most apocalyptic novels would focus on environmental changes, Parched takes a satisfyingly different turn in exploring how the world's changes have, in turn, transformed the protagonists' psyches: "...the Bible was no longer the ruler of his life; instead, it was but a distant memory. The world had changed - and changed him."

How does one retain principles, ethics, and rules in a world gone wrong? What is there left to fight for when life itself becomes a hopeless struggle? As James finds reason for sanity and humanity in a world gone wild, Lexie finds herself stepping up to help the family, undertaking a road trip to find safety, fueled by the ongoing concerns over water.

Forced to leave their California stronghold, the family moves through a nightmare that has no end - and must redefine and recreate the notion of 'family' in the process of their discoveries.

Parched provides a satisfying focus on human interactions and changes. From the nuclear family structure to changing social and political relationships, its focus on the growing inhumanity of what is left of the world and how this affects individuals is one of the approaches that sets the novel apart from others. Add in a strong message about the power of nature and the devastating effects of climate change and you have a riveting story of not just survival, but environmental degradation.

As the story line progresses and the family faces many challenges, they, too must change and adapt - and that may mean an entirely different perspective and family structure.

Parched holds several surprises; not the least of which is its ultimate direction. Readers used to the typical linear progression of many apocalyptic reads will find something unique and special in Parched: highly recommended for any who want a powerful thriller with a strong environmental message.

Shattered Direction
Edward A. Dreyfus
9781530459216 $19.95

Shattered Direction opens by presenting a practicing clinical psychologist, Dr. Albertson, who is reading up on the pornography business and its effect on those on both sides of the camera. As the article he's reading talks of the victimization of women in the industry, he recalls a client, Harry Moreland, whom he treated in the 1980s and who fell into the world of porn fully cognizant of his choices, reasons, and the dangers involved.

Shattered Direction follows Harry Moreland's downfall and struggles and offers an unusual focus as it reveals the life of a talented young photographer with a dream of making socially relevant documentary films who escapes his dysfunctional family, travels to California, falls into counterculture groups along the way, and finds his passion for "making a difference" waylaid by his move from boudoir studio work to all-out pornography production.

Very powerful ideas are presented early on as Harry moves away from home, crosses the country, falls in with different social groups, and hones his ideas. His evolution and growth is fully explained in a series of events that harkens back to his family influences and the psychological motivations for his entry into this world, and Edward A. Dreyfus uses his own psychology background to provide exceptionally clear rationales for this progression. Especially notable is the attention given to different kinds of alternative living situations without accompanying judgment about their structure or meaning.

All this lends a personal perspective to the story of how even an aware, sensitive individual fully cognizant of his actions and choices can take a wrong turn - and the attention to understanding the processes of such a choice makes Shattered Directions a vivid, compelling read that proves hard to put down.

Under Dreyfus's hand, Harry's motivations are impeccably logical and Harry's conflicts and conundrums as he attempts to follow his career and ethical dreams, only to find both on a different path, are wonderfully presented. The psychology infused throughout the story line is exquisite, and lend power and grace to a wonderfully thought-provoking read.

The psychological detail succeeds in creating a vibrant portrait of how principles become warped even when self-knowledge of actions and their consequences is strong: "I have my own struggles with being in this business. Some days I think I will just quit and go back to Samy's Camera and just sell cameras. On other days I think perhaps I can make a difference by doing better films, not smut. I can save some money and then do what I want to do."

How do one's ideals, in general, become thwarted and changed; and how does one young man struggle with his growing involvement in the porn industry? Where other coverages might lack psychological depth, Shattered Direction offers a vividly precise story line that is firmly based on family and social psychology, creating a finely-tuned and revealing read which will attract any reader who enjoys powerful depth in their stories.

MGTOW Building Wealth and Power: For Single Men Only
Tim Patten
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 9781491787205 (sc), $13.99
ISBN: 9781491787212 (e), $ 3.99

There's a reason why MGTOW Building Wealth and Power is directed to single men, and that's because so many money management books address special audiences, from couples to teens to seniors, but relatively few focus on the special needs of single men nor advocate for their singular interests apart from being coupled. How does this group differ from others? For one thing, single men tend to wield greater assets and monetary strength because many have no family obligations to plan for. Bachelors thus have unequalled opportunities to gain control over their personal freedoms and futures, and many of these opportunities are integrated with money management approaches unique to this approach (labeled here as 'MGTOW', or Men Going Their Own Way, which is actually a worldwide movement).

Inherent in this philosophy is a perception of many of the toxic premises of marriage and living together that result in patterns of domination and repression which extend into financial and work matters. Men struggling with abusive expectations and financial plans that only serve to further entrap them will find much to admire about this book and its tenants, which blends the MGTOW perspective with specific financial approaches that differ widely from conventional thinking. MGTOW is not a membership organization; it's a philosophy about a particular way of life that advocates freedom and inclusiveness. It's not one man's ideal, but a rising global phenomenon that embraces a wide range of ideals. Thus, it should be mentioned that just as MGTOW is not a singular idea; so this book is not just about financial planning. Single male readers receive a combination of lifestyle insights and financial advice that opens with a definition and a history of the relatively new worldwide movement and its basic philosophy. It then reviews the social issues revolving around traditional ideas of masculinity, patriarchy, and paradoxes in traditional relationships. From the high costs of codependence and addiction to learning when to exit an investment, how to handle dating and challenges to self-sufficiency, and how to manage not just money but life, this wide-reaching coverage pairs case history examples with keys to moving beyond the perception that males are workhorses destined to live a life of labor. Any young man who wants to achieve financial security and realize dreams of travel, self-fulfillment and pursuing independence will find much to like about and reflect upon in MGTOW Building Wealth and Power.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Hildegard of Bingen
Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook
Skylight Paths Publishing
Sunset Farms Offices, Route 4
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
9781594735141, $16.99, PB, 240pp,

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179) was a visionary, an abbess, a composer, a dramatist, a poet and a healer. She was also the brilliant and passionate precursor of many of the great women mystics of the Middle Ages. Her body of work is unusually expansive in terms of genre and subject matter for any theologian of her time, and includes powerful descriptions of her visions, advice to influential nobles and royalty, theological correspondence with fellow monastics, liturgical songs, and medical and scientific works.

Hildegard's strong personality and vivid spiritual experiences still speak to readers within the church as well as those who are not formally religious but who have an interest in mysticism, the spiritual life, and feminist and eco-spiritualities, or who are drawn to Hildegard through the arts, particularly her music.

Translated into English with annotations by Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook (an Episcopal priest and a Professor of Practical Theology at Claremont School of Theology, Claremont Lincoln University, as well as the Professor of Anglican studies at Bloy House, the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont), "Hildegard of Bingen: Essential Writings and Chants of a Christian Mystic Annotated & Explained" offers a unique introduction to Hildegard's world and writings, presenting a wide range of her texts grouped by theme, and providing a deeper understanding of this influential spiritual figure than can be single-themed collections. Insightful and instructive annotations provide historical background and place selections within the wider context of Hildegard's understanding of the spiritual life and the natural world.

Critique: The piety, insight, and genius of Hildegard of Bingen transcends her era. This outstanding edition of her writings is very highly recommended for community, seminary, and academic library Christian Studies reference collections. For the personal reading lists of the clergy and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and thought of this iconic figure in Christian history, it should be noted that "Hildegard of Bingen" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

This Is an Uprising
Mark Engler & Paul Engler
Nation Books
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9781568587332, $26.99, HC, 368pp,

Synopsis: From protests around climate change and immigrant rights, to Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, and the Black Lives Matter movement, a new generation of protestors are unleashing strategic nonviolent action and social media to shape public debate and force political change. When mass movements erupt onto our television screens, the media consistently portrays them as being spontaneous and unpredictable. Yet, in this book, Mark and Paul Engler look at the hidden art behind such outbursts of protest, examining core principles that have been used to spark and guide moments of transformative unrest.

With incisive insights from contemporary activists, as well as fresh revelations about the work of groundbreaking figures such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Gene Sharp, and Frances Fox Piven, "This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century" show how people with few resources and little conventional influence are engineering the upheavals that are reshaping contemporary politics.

Nonviolence is usually seen simply as a philosophy or moral code. "This Is an Uprising" shows how it can instead be deployed as a method of political conflict, disruption, and escalation. It argues that if we are always taken by surprise by dramatic outbreaks of revolt, we pass up the chance to truly understand how social transformation happens.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "This Is an Uprising" is a compelling and heartening read from beginning to end and should be a part of every community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues reference collection. For academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject of public protests in the modern era it should be noted that 'This Is an Uprising" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

The 9/11 Terror Cases
Allan A. Ryan
University Press of Kansas
2501 West 15th Street, Lawrence, KS 66049
9780700621323, $45.00, HC, 256pp,

The legal ramifications of the infamous terrorist attacks of 9/11 brought two presidents, Congress, and the Supreme Court into repeated confrontation over the incarceration of hundreds of suspected terrorists and "enemy combatants" at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba. Raised were such legal issues as whether or not these prisoners (including an American citizen) could be held indefinitely without due process of law; did they have the right to seek their release by habeas corpus in US courts; could they be tried in a makeshift military judicial system. With Guantanamo well into its second decade, these questions continue to challenge the three branches of government, each contending with the others, and each invoking the Constitution's separation of powers as well as its checks and balances.

In "The 9/11 Terror Cases: Constitutional Challenges in the War against Al Qaeda", Allan A. Ryan (who teaches the law of war at Harvard University and Boston College Law School; has served as a law clerk to Justice Byron R. White on the US Supreme Court; and was an assistant to the US Solicitor General; and who served as the Director of the Office of Special Investigations in the Department of Justice's Criminal Division) leads his readers through the pertinent cases: Rasul v. Bush and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, both decided by the Supreme Court in 2004; Hamdan v. Bush, decided in 2006; and Boumediene v. Bush, in 2008. An eloquent writer and an expert in military law and constitutional litigation, Ryan is an adept guide through the nuanced complexities of these cases, which rejected the sweeping powers asserted by President Bush and Congress, and upheld the rule of law, even for enemy combatants. In doing so, as we see clearly in Ryan's deft account, the Supreme Court's rulings speak directly to the extent and nature of presidential and congressional prerogative, and to the critical separation and balance of powers in the governing of the United States.

Critique: "The 9/11 Terror Cases" is a crucially important contribution to academic library Contemporary Judicial Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. A scholarly account that refrains from using an excess of legal jargon in order to remain relatively accessible, "The 9/11 Terror Cases" is exhaustively researched and succinctly presented. It should be noted that "The 9/11 Terror Cases" is also available for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject in a paperback edition (9780700621705, $19.95) and in a Kindle format ($11.99).

HBR Guide to Negotiating
Jeff Weiss
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633690769 $19.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Whether you're discussing the terms of a high-stakes deal, forming a key partnership, asking for a raise, or planning a family event, negotiating can be stressful. One person makes a demand, the other concedes a point. In the end, you settle on a subpar solution in the middle - if you come to any agreement at all.

But these discussions don't need to be win-or-lose situations. Written by negotiation expert Jeff Weiss, the HBR Guide to Negotiating provides a disciplined approach to finding a solution that works for everyone involved. Using a seven-part framework, this book delivers tips and advice to move you from a game of concessions and compromises to one of collaboration and creativity, resulting in better outcomes and better working relationships. You'll learn how to:

Prepare for your conversation
Understand everyone's interests
Craft the right message
Work with multiple parties
Disarm aggressive negotiators
Choose the best solution

Critique: Negotiation expert Jeff Weiss (a partner at Vantage Partners, a global consultancy that includes corporate negotiations among its specialties) provides a keen, enlightening, and invaluable guide not only for executives, but also for everyone in today's competitive job market. These tips, tricks, and techniques are especially useful when it's time for any kind of budgetary meeting! An excellent supplementary resource for college business courses or self-study.

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

Basking in The Light
Saylor Storm
Storm Productions
9780578167862, $7.99,

Saylor Storm has always told a great thrilling story but this time "Basking in the Light" is her best suspense tale ever. Ellen Singer is tired of her life without someone to share it with, so she decides to use an online dating service. A short time later she completely disappears from the town she lives in. Her friends and family are concerned but have no way to find her. She not only has gone but there are no clues to what happened to her. FBI agent Arnie Darrow is brought in find out what happened to her. "Basking in the Light" is filled with a complex set of twists and turns that will have readers turning pages to find out the conclusion of the story.

Family Jewels
Stuart Woods
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399174698, $27.00,

Stone Barrington is back with a new suspenseful story that begins when a new client hires him to discourage a man from bothering her. Shortly after taking her case, Stone becomes involved in a series of situations that get more complicated as the story unfolds. "Family Jewels" is another surefire page turner of Stone Barrington fun.

Scott C. Marlowe
Pangea Press
9781530412488, $9.00,

A young girl wanders a deserted stretch of highway in the area of Naples, Florida. A husband and wife try to help by taking her to a safe place where she begins to tell law enforcement a chilling account of creatures she and her family encountered. So begins "Squallies" a novella that tells a dark and sinister tale of a Florida in the 1930's where there have been secret government experiments on an unsuspecting population. "Squallies" is a fast paced narrative of fiction based on some factual material that will have readers wondering if the creatures are real.

John Lutz
Kensington Publishing Corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780786028313, $9.99,

"Slaughter" opens with the killing of a jogger in Central Park and races along with suspects as Detective Frank Quinn tries to identify the suspect while he plays a cat and mouse game with Quinn. Lutz meticulously unfolds his story with suspenseful twists and turns to the final surprising ending. "Slaughter" is a rapid paced thriller by a master of the genre.

House of Robots: Robots Go Wild
James Patterson & Chris Grabenstein
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316284790, $13.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle,

Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez and his family are back in the second installment of the House of Robots series. This time Sammy's world is complicated by a kid who causes problems for Sammy and his robot brother in and out of school. Sammy is not the only one of the family to have problems. His mother is competing against another scientist who tries to show that he can make better robots. He uses devious means to succeed in his goal. Sammy and his friends have their work cut out for them in a fun new story of the Hayes-Rodriguez family. "House of Robots: Robots Go Wild" is fun reading for all ages.

Trish's Team
Dawn Brotherton
Blue Dragon Publishing
9781939696120, $5.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 128pp,

"Trish's Team", part of the Lady Tigers series by Dawn Brotherton, is the first of a new string of books about a young girl's softball team. Trish Murphy plays softball for the Blue Birds but wants to move up to the Lady Tigers. She is so determined to play for the Tigers that she will do anything she can to play on this team. She finds that because she is so fixated on her goal she now is in trouble with her coach, teammates and her parents. "Trish's Team part of the Lady Tigers Series" has different sound messages to children on why there are rules and why they should be followed, as well as interesting characters that help move the story along to a satisfying conclusion.

Tea With The Queen
Charles Lunsford
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478766551, $22.95 HC, $9.99 Kindle,

The idea for "Tea With the Queen" is a good one but the author has too many negatives that detract from the enjoyment of the work. Among them are the over priced edition for a kid's book, the use of words that are over the heads of the readership, and especially the toilet humor that does not belong in a children's book. "Tea With the Queen" could have been a fun title if the author had done a better job of telling the story.

What Was I Thinking? Volume I My Brainy Best Friend
Zac Lange
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9780996849005, $22.95 HC, $9.95 PB, 54pp,

"What Was I Thinking?" teaches kids the importance of having a good brain and how to take care of it. The writing is easy to follow and takes readers on a journey of lessons that include three rules to follow. With artwork that enhances the messages children and parents can learn a lot about being a good person "What Was I Thinking?" is a fine book for all ages but is a bit over priced at $22.95.

Cooking With The Muse
Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla
Tupelo Press
P.O. Box 1767 North Adams, Massachusetts 01247
9781936797684, $32.95, HC, 500pp,

I've read and reviewed many different types of cookbooks thru the years so I had to wonder what separates "Cooking With The Muse" from all the rest? The answer is the authors classify each recipe into the appropriate season of Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer where the food should be prepared. There are many that sound very interesting among them are a casserole that combines sweet potatoes and apples, cakes of sesame crust and garlic Piquillo pepper sauce, Seared Duck with Plum Sauce are some of the mouth watering foods to try. "Cooking With The Muse" is a smorgasbord of delicious cuisine for any occasion all year long.

An American Beer Trail
Zach Stinehour
Outskirts Press Inc
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478768432, $16.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle,

The author decided to travel the country on a motorcycle and check out places that brew beer. What a great idea but he does a poor job of conveying the information to the reader and tells lots of thing that just clutter up the work when he could have had a fun excursion throughout the world of beer in America. For instance he talks about many places that brew their own beer but does not tell anything about the atmosphere or the people in the locations or the taste of the beer. "An American Beer Trail" is not worth the time of anyone who likes beer or wants to know more about different brews in the country.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Johnny Shaw
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Publishing, 276 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10001
9781503952195 $24.95/35.95 CA$/17.54 BPS, Hardcover, 368 pp
9781503950351, $15.95, 20.68 CA$/8.99 BPS, Trade Paperback Original

From the publisher: Andy Destra is a mostly honest cop in the most notoriously corrupt and crime-ridden city in America: Auction City. After discovering explosive information that reveals corruption within the highest levels of the police department, Andy is kicked off the force, framed, and disgraced, left to wage a lonely one-man crusade against conspiracies he can't prove. Andy's investigation plunges him into a blackly comic maelstrom of one-armed gang members, slick pickpockets, criminal syndicates, hired mercenaries, escaped convicts, sewer dwellers, and one sinister ice-cream truck. At the same time, he must contend with a mystery closer to home: the true identity of his parents, his most unshakeable obsession. Understanding their past may be the key to Auction City's future as it teeters on the brink of chaos. If Andy can't solve this case, the Floodgate will fail . . . and his city will burn.

Lest the reader think this is all too over-the-top, earlier this month there was a headline in the New York Times that read "A Surge of Violence in a City of Gangs," datelined Pueblo, Colorado, which we are told has the highest per-capita murder rate in Colorado. Not the fictional Auction City, but it might as well be!

The action takes place in 1986, with occasional flashbacks to 1929 (the first of which starts the book off), none of which flashbacks is more than a few pages long, but which very effectively evoke the period of the first stock market crash and a town devastated by its aftermath. The book has been called, among other things, hilarious, relentless, wicked, gritty, sardonic, and earnest; it is all of these things and more. This was my introduction to this author's work, and it was not quite like anything I'd read before. The 1929-era passages describe what later becomes known as the Flood, when 80% of the town burned, and gives rise to the union of diverse factions which comprise a conglomeration only nominally intended to save the town from itself.

Filled with humor and violence in equal measure, its brilliantly conceived characters include a man named Merlin and a protagonist, Andy, who puts up posters with the photo of the Police Department's Deputy Commissioner under which appear the words "Wanted: Bad Cop." The author tells us: "The only thing coplike about him was his love for baked goods, but even then he preferred a croissant to a doughnut. Maybe he had been meant to be a gendarme." Before he was forced off the Auction City PD he had been a 14-year veteran. "Cop or no cop, Andy Destra never quit."

This is a fascinating novel, and it is recommended.

Thieves Fall Out
Gore Vidal, writing as "Cameron Kay"
Titan Publishing
144 Southwark St., London SE1 OUP, 020-7620-0200
c/o Winterfall LLC, 333 Central Park West, NY, NY 10025
9781783292493, $9.95/12.95 CA$, Paperback, 240 pp.

It had been a long time since I'd read a novel by Gore Vidal (partially due to the fact that he passed away 3-1/2 years ago at age 86). It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to read a novel by this prolific author, thanks to publisher Hard Case Crime, which discovered a lost pulp crime novel written in 1952, unavailable for more than 60 years and never published under his real name. This is a tale of a down-on-his-luck American trying to smuggle an ancient treasure out of Egypt on the eve of a bloody revolution.

From the publisher: It is a pulp yarn through and through, defiantly non-literary (and non-P.C., but then Vidal always was that, with echoes of "Casablanca" in its wartime intrigues and desperate rogues. But it will also hold interest for modern readers for its depiction of Egypt in the throes of a revolution, with the ouster of a corrupt monarch leading to rioting in the streets, bloodshed and chaos.

Peter Wells, 31 years old, born in Salem Oregon, finds himself in Cairo in July, the hottest possible time of the year. He has been robbed by a prostitute and left penniless with nothing except, fortunately, his passport. In quick succession, he meets two beauteous young woman, one French and one German, each of whom quickly has him under her spell, despite warnings against each and a slight unease that they may each cause harm, either directly or indirectly, to him, as well as the mission he is on: to smuggle out of the country a piece of jewelry said to be cursed but worth over $100,000, for a 'commission' of 10%, which he desperately needs. The not-too-far-distant history of one of the women with Nazis, and of the other with the present Egyptian king, in addition to a mysterious hunchback known as Le Mouche, enter into the tale as well.

The novel reads quickly, and the plot is intriguing, neither Peter nor the reader knowing who can be trusted, and certain that each has been telling him nothing but lies. It is a very interesting novel, especially considering its true authorship, and is recommended.

Little Black Lies
Sharon Bolton
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250028594, $25.99 HC, $9.99 Kindle
9781250080677, $16.99, PB, 368 pp.,

The remote Shetland Islands serve as the setting for Sharon Bolton's chilling new standalone novel. When a young boy visiting the islands with his family goes missing, a sense of dread settles on the isolated, tight-knit community. It's the third young child to go missing in as many years. While the previous two were assumed to be accidents, the third disappearance sends an ominous message to everyone on the islands: A killer may be living among them: "The chances of three boys between the ages of seven and three disappearing in three years" cannot explained by coincidence.

The first of three points of view in this novel is that of Catrin Quinn, a marine biologist who has her own form of PTSD after the accidental death of her two sons three years ago, the result of the utter carelessness of her childhood best friend, Rachel, and the ensuing years have seen her emotions go from grief to a determination to seek revenge in an as-yet undetermined way. The events described take place over the space of several days, the most fraught of those on November 3, 1994, when a solar eclipse occurred (although not at the precise time of day that it actually happened, we are told in an author's note). As the book opens, it is approaching the third anniversary of Catrin's boys' deaths, a date of which all and sundry are well aware.

The second p.o.v. is that of former Second Lieutenant Callum Murray, who first came to the Falklands during the 1982 UK war with Argentina in its 74 days of occupation, still suffering from the more severe sort of PTSD resulting in severe panic attacks and flashbacks as a result of that horrific time. And the third and final p.o.v. is that of Rachel, the aforementioned best friend of Catrin, who describes herself as "something of a ghoul on the islands. No one looks at me and doesn't think: woman who killed two kids."

The Falklands are described thusly: "When you're hundreds of miles away from the rest of the world, when news from outside is always too little, too late, then the world you inhabit, however small and sparsely populated, assumes a terrific importance. In the Falkland Islands, everybody knows everybody else's business." There is infidelity and jealousy and suspense aplenty here. The gorgeous writing is particularly vivid in glorious descriptions of the islands and their natural beauty. There is a lot of death in these pages, both the human and animal variety. But the twists and shocking turns of events, and the suspense as the three narrators converge in the local constabulary in the final pages, are well worth reading, and the novel is definitely recommended.

Killing Frost
Ronald Tierney
Severn House
110 E. 59th St., NY, NY 10022
9780727884770, $27.95/36.72 CA$/19.99 BPS, Hardcover, 178 pp.
9781847515834, $17.95/24.76 CA$/12.64 BPS, Paperback, 192 pp.

From the publisher: At seventy-two, Indianapolis PI Deets Shanahan, still reeling from brain surgery, is ready to 'check out'. But Fate has other plans. As he waits for the arrival of a mysterious and insistent new client, he spies her car pull in his driveway. From his window, he sees the lady head for his front door. That's the first time he sees her - - and the last time he sees her alive.

Too many questions. Why did she choose Shanahan? Why was she killed? And what can Deets, in his condition, do about it? Shanahan's obsessive search for answers will uncover a disturbing trail of greed, lies, ambition, family dysfunction and police corruption. Twenty-five years ago, Deets embarked on his first case. This is likely his last; a touching story of age, infirmity - - and love.

I must begin by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Deets is a terrific protagonist, who the author says - and the reader cannot disagree - displays "dogged determination, eyes-wide-open loyalty and protector of those he loved and believed in - - even as age, infirmity and overpowering danger threatens it." The series has been ongoing for 25 years; this is the 11th entry, and the author also says it may be "the last book in the series." Deets is still adjusting to his recent surgery and its after-effects, despite the fact that "other than a couple of bullets over seven decades, he was a healthy human specimen."

I loved the relationship between Deets and Maureen, who he describes as the love of his life. They have never married, and do not live together, but clearly love each other dearly. She also is invaluable in assisting in the investigation into the murder of his almost-client, which he undertakes reluctantly (only because she had been referred by her sister, Jennifer Bailey, an old friend of Deets and a highly respected former Indiana state attorney general, made more unusual by the fact that she was black). Her murder is only the first to occur, leading to an even more complicated mystery.

The author slyly pays tribute to other noted mystery authors, Louise Penny and Megan Abbott among them. Parenthetically, I noted that Deets' physical impairments and limitations are made clear, but not overdone. And his relationship with Maureen, and the love they have for each other, are also made clear and not overdone, something not always easily achieved. Deets methodically continues his investigation, and despite initially lacking any leads or evidence, he ties together all the disparate parts successfully. Or maybe not. (It's not always easy to tell.) But the loose ends are all tied up in very satisfactory fashion.


Checked Out
Elaine Viets
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780451466334, $7.99/10.99 CA$

This is the 14th book in the Dead-End Job Mysteries by Elaine Viets, who also authors the Mystery

Shopper Series which features Josie Marcus. The protagonist in the present novel is Helen Hawthorne, who with her husband and private eye partner, Phil, run Coronado Investigations, in Fort Lauderdale. When Helen is hired to find a missing watercolor by John Singer Sargent whose worth is estimated to be a million dollars due in part to a handwritten note by Clark Gable on the revere side, Helen goes undercover as a library volunteer to try to find the small piece of art, part of a collection donated to the Flora Park Library, which is believed to be tucked into one of the thousands of books which comprise the collection, as have been two other important documents, a birth certificate and a deed to a Tallahassee property. The various characters who people the library and become suspects include the library director, the librarian whose province is the checkout desk, the head of the Friends of the Library, and a benefactor who confuses the library with her own persona, among others. Another mystery arises with an apparent ghost haunting the library.

At the same time, Phil is tasked with his own undercover job, as a gardener at a luxurious home from which the owner's gift to his daughter on her 21st birthday, a very expensive diamond and ruby necklace, has been stolen, as has a golf cart, as to which I suppose one has to be a Floridian to understand. Another colorful group of characters populate this aspect of the story.

Not surprisingly, the author includes references to various authors, mainly but not exclusively those who write mysteries, along with a lot of interesting information not familiar to those of us who are not librarians. There is also a lot of what I found to be somewhat superfluous descriptions of the clothes worn by the library's workers and patrons. Things get more sinister when a fatal hit-and-run incident occurs, the only clue being that the vehicle in question was white, following which nearly every car owned or driven by any of the characters is white, nearly each of these sporting a dent or a ding from one supposedly innocent event or another. The author amps up the suspense as the book nears its conclusion and the solution to the two sets of mysteries. As always, Ms. Viets has provided us with a very entertaining novel. It is a fast read, and one which is recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

An Unlikely Hero
Tierney James
Amazon Digital Services
B00C1GTK6G (paper ISBN 978-1480276031),$1.99 US, copyright 2013, 336 pages

James has written a fun action/adventure with a housewife in the lead role. The narration and action is great. But the story's plotline is fragmented. If you can put aside the jerky plot, you can become immersed in the fun and impossible action.

Tess Scott, a stay-at-home mom, gets into an argument with her husband just before a planned family vacation. She decides to let him handle their three kids alone for the vacation and stay at home to relax. Instead a terrorist mishandles a dirty bomb that was placed in a child's rocket and it lands in her backyard. Federal agents and terrorists both descend on her in a hail of gunfire looking for the bomb. Her life will never be the same.

The story has continuity problems and a fragmented plotline but the narration and action is excellent. When you add in the unusual heroine the story is a recommended action/adventure read. With the quality of narration, the story is better than average but for the purist the fragmented tale will be a problem.

Pretty Witches all in a Row
Lisa Olsen
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781466396449, $12.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 304pp,

Pretty Witches all in a Row is a cozy detective procedural story with a touch of the paranormal.

Detective Sargent Nick Gibson is called to a house fire. Inside they find a murdered young woman and a dirt pentagram. He soon finds out she was a witch and that the other witches in her circle are in danger as well. Annaliese is a witch in her circle and is attracted to Nick. They both need to work together to solve the mystery before the killer gets them.

Pretty Witches all in a Row is an easy recommendation. It is a solid police procedural and a great cozy mystery. The touch of romance between the two lead characters blends in well with the cozy tale and the story has enough twists to keep any reader happy.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Dirt, Sweat, and Diesel
Steven L. Hilty
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826220790 $29.95 hc / $24.48 Kindle

Synopsis: With very few people engaged in agriculture today, it is no surprise that most Americans have little understanding of the challenges that modern farmers face. This book provides readers a glimpse into life on a modern Missouri farm where a variety of grains, grass seed, corn, and cattle are produced. All of the conversations, events, and descriptions are drawn from the author's experience working alongside and observing this father and son family farm operation during the course of a year.

Farming today is technologically complex and requires a broad set of skills that range from soil conservation, animal husbandry, and mechanics to knowledge of financial markets and computer technology. The focus on skills, in addition to the size of the financial risks, and the number of unexpected challenges along the way provides readers with a new perspective and appreciation for modern farm life.

Critique: Family farms are vanishing but not completely gone from modern America, not just yet. Dirt, Sweat, and Diesel: A Family Farm in the Twenty-first Century is edifying, intriguing, and candid about the immense array of demands placed on a modern working farm, as well as the many hats that a farmer has to wear to keep things running. Highly recommended, both for public library collections and casual browsing.

The LDN Book
Linda Elsegood, editor
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
85 North Main Street, Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001
9781603586641, $27.99, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Not to be confused with naloxone or nalmexone., Naltrexone is a drug that reverses the effects of opioids and is used primarily in the management of alcohol dependence and opioid dependence. It is marketed as its hydrochloride salt, naltrexone hydrochloride, under the trade names Revia and Depade. A once-monthly extended-release injectable formulation is marketed under the trade name Vivitrol. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) holds the potential to help millions of people suffering from various autoimmune diseases and cancers, and even autism, chronic fatigue, and depression, find relief. Administered off-label in small daily doses (0.5 to 4.5 mg), this generic drug is extremely affordable and presents few known side effects. So why has it languished in relative medical obscurity?

Compiled and edited by Linda Elsegood (the founder of the LDN Research Trust and who was herself diagnosed with MS in August of 2000, and started LDN therapy in December of 2003, and now has a better quality of life and hope for the future), The LDN Book explains the drug's origins, its primary mechanism, and the latest research from practicing physicians and pharmacists as compiled by Linda Elsegood of The LDN Research Trust, the world's largest LDN charity organization with over 19,000 members worldwide. Featuring ten chapters contributed by medical professionals on LDN's efficacy and two patient-friendly appendices, The LDN Book: How a Little-Known Generic Drug Low Dose Naltrexone Could Revolutionize Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases, Cancer, Autism, Depression, and More is a comprehensive resource for doctors, pharmacists, and patients who want to learn more about how LDN is helping people now, and a clarion call for further research that could help millions more.

Critique: Comprised of ten informed and informative articles by experts in LDN, plus two appendices, thirty-four pages of Notes, a ten page listing of contributors and their credentials, and a thirty-one page Index, "The LDN Book" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Health/Medical reference collections. For medical professionals and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "The LDN Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.39).

White Magic: The Age of Paper
Lothar Muller
c/o Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9780745672533, $25.00, HC, 311pp,

Synopsis: Paper is older than the printing press, and even in its un-printed state it was the great network medium behind the emergence of modern civilization. In the shape of bills, banknotes and accounting books it was indispensable to the economy. As forms and files it was essential to bureaucracy. As letters it became the setting for the invention of the modern soul, and as newsprint it became a stage for politics.

Lothar Muller is editor of the features section of the Suddeutsche Zeitung. He taught general and comparative literature at Berlin Free University and, since 2010, he has been an Honorary Professor at the Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2013 he was awarded the Berlin Prize for Literary Criticism. In "White Magic: The Age of Paper", Muller describes how paper made its way from China through the Arab world to Europe, where it permeated everyday life in a variety of formats from the thirteenth century onwards, and how the paper technology revolution of the nineteenth century paved the way for the creation of the modern daily press. His key witnesses are the works of Rabelais and Grimmelshausen, Balzac and Herman Melville, James Joyce and Paul Valery.

Muller writes not only about books, however: he also writes about pamphlets, playing cards, papercutting and legal pads. We think we understand the Gutenberg era, but we can understand it better when we explore the world that underpinned it -- namely, the paper age. Today, with the proliferation of digital devices, paper may seem to be a residue of the past, but Muller shows that the humble technology of paper is in many ways the most fundamental medium of the modern world.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of an informed and informative Prologue and Epilogue, nine pages of Notes, an eighteen page Bibliography, a one page listing of Image Credits, and an eighteen page Index, "White Magic: The Age of Paper" is a seminal work of impressively researched and documented scholarship. Very strongly recommended as an enduringly valued addition to community and academic library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia and the non-specialist general reader that "White Magic: The Age of Paper" is also available in a paperback edition (9780745672540, $19.95) and in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Early Identification, Palliative Care, and Prevention of Psychotic Disorders in Children and Youth
Mary Nicholes, et al.
Lantern Books
c/o AMHF
9781590565391, $75.00, HC, 96pp,

Synopsis: "Early Identification, Palliative Care, and Prevention of Psychotic Disorders in Children and Youth" is a collaborative effort by Mary Nichols, Suzanne Button, Katherin Hoople, and Laura Lappan. Researched by Astor Services for Children and Families, funded by The American Mental Health Foundation, "Early Identification, Palliative Care, and Prevention of Psychotic Disorders in Children and Youth" presents the significant findings of a two-year study with wider implications and potential applications. Since 1953, Astor Services (formerly The Astor Home for Children) has been providing behavioral and educational services in a caring environment wherein children and their families find strength, healing, hope, and trust. Astor Services serves more than seven-thousand children and families every year in thirty-two locations in the Hudson Valley of New York State and the Bronx.

Critique: A seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "Early Identification, Palliative Care, and Prevention of Psychotic Disorders in Children and Youth" is enhanced with the inclusion of a cast study, two appendices, and a list of references. Very strongly recommended for academic library Psychology/Psychiatry reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academics and professionals, that "Early Identification, Palliative Care, and Prevention of Psychotic Disorders in Children and Youth" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Walking on Art: Explorations in Carpet Design
Deirde Dyson
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500518052, $60.00, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: Deirdre Dyson studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art, and has since exhibited her oil paintings in London and New York. She began designing carpets fourteen years ago, initially for her own home, which she subsequently developed into a successful business. She has a store in London, and in 2013 was the winner of Best Studio Artist Design at the DOMOTEX Carpet Design Awards. In "Walking on Art: Explorations in Carpet Design" she explores contemporary carpet design from a practitioner's viewpoint, describing through techniques and illustrations. Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative foreword by Professor Sir Christopher Frayling contextualizes Dyson's award-winning work within discussions about art and design, "Walking on Art" has Dyson herself reflecting on her long experience of designing exquisite luxury carpets. The chapter "Techniques" introduces the traditional methods that create these carpets including hand knotting, hand tufting, and carving, and how these conventions can be manipulated to create stunning effects. "Process" then explores the steps -- from inspiration to making -- that lie behind any design. These chapters are followed by colorful illustrations of Dyson's personal and extensive collections. Here are fanciful butterfly motifs alongside geometric patterns and floral designs, brought together in one stunning collection.

Critique: Enhanced with 167 superbly reproduced illustrations and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in composition, organization, and presentation, "Walking on Art: Explorations in Carpet Design" is an original, unique, and impressively informative study that is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses
Anna Rosa Robertsdottir
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781623170226, $22.95, PB, 300pp,

Synopsis: Anna Rosa Robertsdottir studied medical herbalism at the College of Phytotherapy in the UK and is a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. In "Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses", she has created a beautifully illustrated, full-color field guide that provides everything necessary to know about the medicinal powers of the 90 native herbs of Iceland -- 85 of which also grow in North America. "Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses" describes the history, uses, harvesting, drying, and storage of the plants, and includes a wealth of detailed instructions for their preparation -- including infusions, decoctions, tinctures, and syrups. Generous color photographs of both the leaves and flowers facilitate plant identification, allowing both amateur and professional herbalists to use the guide to full advantage. A thoroughly user-friendly layout, meticulous research, a wealth of detailed information, and an extensive bibliography make "Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses" an essential, one-of-a-kind reference for anyone interested in the subject. Each individual herb is accompanied by a sidebar describing that plant's Habitat; Parts Used; Harvesting; Constituents; History; Action; Uses; Research; Dosage.

Critique: Authoritatively informed and informative, "Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Herbal Studies reference collections. It should be noted for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "Icelandic Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

Enchanted Lands: Roland and Sabrina Michaud
Roland Michaud & Sabrina Michaud
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791382159, $65.00, HC, 408pp,

Synopsis: In their own eloquent words and stunning photographs, Roland and Sabrina Michaud (both of whom are specialists in Asian photography subjects) narrate a lifetime of travel, adventure, and discovery in the world's most remote regions. Roland and Sabrina Michaud, now in their eighties, have spent most of their lives together exploring Africa and Asia. Their travels have taken them to far-flung places, including Yemen, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. Throughout their journeys Roland and Sabrina photographed and wrote about what they saw. "Enchanted Lands: Roland and Sabrina Michaud" is a breathtaking account of their travels features nearly 500 color images that capture, with sensitivity, curiosity, and delight, the people they met and the landscapes they traversed. Organized into sections that focus on particular regions, the book takes readers to the monasteries and villages of China, the tents of Mongolian nomads, and the black rocks of northern Pakistan. Many of their images are indelible studies of faces: the weathered faces of Kazakhstani men, their heads wrapped in turbans; or the shy veiled face of an Iranian mother nursing her child atop a camel as she travels from summer pastures to the Persian Gulf. Throughout "Enchanted Lands: Roland and Sabrina Michaud" the author photographers provide an eloquent commentary that gives context to their remarkable images and offers their uniquely humane perspective on what it means to encounter incredible beauty, harsh landscapes, and unfamiliar surroundings. Best of all, it describes the pleasures of meeting people whose joys, sorrows, and struggles we all share.

Critique: Blending travelogue commentary with spectacular imagery, "Enchanted Lands: Roland and Sabrina Michaud" is a compelling read that is as informed and informative as it is inherently fascinating and enduringly memorable. "Enchanted Lands: Roland and Sabrina Michaud" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community, and academic library collections.

The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments
Amelia Ruiz
Robert Rose Inc.
120 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 800, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4P 1E2
9780778805304, $24.95, PB, 368pp,

Synopsis: "The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments" by Amelia Ruiz (a cosmetologist, an esthetician and the technical director of Fahle Ecolines, a distributor of natural and organic cosmetics) showcases 175 do it yourself recipes for making Masks, Moisturizers, and Shampoos at home. These beauty-enhancing and soothing cosmetics and treatments use only completely chemical-free ingredients. From aromatic and medicinal plants to flowers, fruits and essential oils, these incredible recipes and lifestyle tips enhance beauty inside and out. The expert step-by-step instructions for preparing all kinds of cosmetics are simple and easy, plus it saves money for any consumer. Knowing what your skin needs and controlling the ingredients in these recipes assures the ultimate in skin pampering. There is also a wealth of information on sunbathing safely with natural products. Even personal perfumes and home cleaning products can be made with essential oils, fruits, plants and other natural products. Amelia Ruiz shows how to enhance personal qualities and through exercise, diet, rest and a life in harmony with our natural biorhythms. Her mantra is "True beauty comes from within, from a natural lifestyle and a healthy and balanced diet".

Critique: Remarkably 'user friendly' and taking a thoroughly holistic approach, "The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments" is profusely illustrated throughout and very highly recommended for women of all ages, and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections.

Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Henry Fielding
Jennifer Preston Wilson & Elizabeth Kraft, editors
Modern Language Association
26 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10004-1789
9781603292238, $40.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: The works of Henry Fielding, though written nearly three hundred years ago, retain their sense of comedy and innovation in the face of tradition, and they easily engage the twenty-first-century student with many aspects of eighteenth-century life: travel, inns, masquerades, political and religious factions, the '45, prisons and the legal system, gender ideals and realities, social class. Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of academicians Jennifer Preston Wilson (Associate Professor of English Literature at Appalachian State University) and Elizabeth Kraft (Professor of English Literature at the University of Georgia), Part 1 of this volume, "Materials," discusses the available editions of Joseph Andrews, Tom Jones, Shamela, Jonathan Wild, and Amelia; suggests useful critical and contextual works for teaching them; and recommends helpful audiovisual and electronic resources. The essays of part 2, "Approaches," demonstrate that many of the methods and models used for one novel--the romance tradition, Fielding's legal and journalistic writing, his techniques as a playwright, the ideas of Machiavelli--can be adapted to others.

Critique: The newest addition to the outstanding series 'Approaches to Teaching World Literature' from the Modern Language Association, "Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Henry Fielding" is enhanced with the inclusion of a four page Notes on Contributors; a two page roster of 'Survey Participants'; a twenty-four page listing of Works Cited; and a twenty-five page Index. An impressively informed and informative compendium of outstanding scholarship, "Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Henry Fielding" is very highly recommended for academic library English Literature Studies collections in general, and Henry Fielding supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Henry Fielding" is also available in a paperback edition (9781603292245, $24.00) and in a Kindle format ($22.80).

Inflection Point
Traci Medford-Rosow
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781941859421, $27.95, HC, 234pp,

Synopsis: Replete with intrigue, "Inflection Point" is the true story of Traci Medford-Rosow and her legal team at Pfizer who found themselves at the epicenter of the decade long, world-wide, multi-billion battle for control over the world's most prescribed pharmaceutical product, Lipitor(R). "Inflection Point" charts the course of the team's courageous effort to protect the company's most prized asset, and the unforeseen personal consequences suffered as a result. In New York, London, Paris, Copenhagen, and Ottawa, from the White House to Wall Street, in boardrooms and courtrooms, in the media and behind closed doors, critical disputes are won and lost in a struggle for survival. "Inflection Point" is a fast-paced, high-stakes combination of legal thriller and memoir. But it is also a cautionary tale posing a question as fundamental as it is critical: Have the efforts to bring affordable medicines to consumers helped to cripple the very industry that invents life-saving drugs in the first place?

Critique: An incredible memoir that is an inherently fascinating read, "Inflection Point" provides a rare insider's look at an aspect of the pharmaceutical industry that is seldom revealed to the public. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Inflection Point" deserves as wide a readership as possible as the issues of public health and the role played by 'big pharmacy' is under increasing controversy and political scrutiny. Simply stated, "Inflection Point" needs to be a part of every community and academic library collection for the benefit of non-specialist general readers and academia alike. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Inflection Point" is also available in a paperback edition (9781941859414, $16.95) and in a Kindle format ($5.99).

Between Rock and a Hard Place
Marty Wingate, author
Read by Erin Bennett
Tantor Media, Inc.
6 Business Park Road, Old Saybrook, CT 06475
9781515903970 $37.99

Synopsis: After her romantic idyll with the debonair Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse culminates in a marriage proposal, Pru Parke sets about arranging their nuptials while diving into a short-term gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. At hand is the authentication of a journal purportedly penned by eighteenth-century botanist and explorer Archibald Menzies. Compared to the chaos of wedding planning, studying the journal is an agreeable task . . . that is, until a search for a missing cat leads to the discovery of a dead body: One of Pru's colleagues has been conked on the head with a rock and dumped from a bridge into the Water of Leith.

Pru can't help wondering if the murder has something to do with the Menzies diary. Is the killer covering up a forgery? Among the police's many suspects are a fallen aristocrat turned furniture maker, Pru's overly solicitous assistant, even Pru herself. Now, in the midst of sheer torture by the likes of flamboyant wedding dress designers and eccentric church organists, Pru must also uncover the work of a sly murderer-unless this bride wants to walk down the aisle in handcuffs.

Critique: Between Rock and Hard Place is the unabridged audiobook rendition of a mystery lover's delight. Pru is a courageous and quick-witted, if somewhat exasperated heroine. A tangled web of intrigue and conflicting motivations criss-crosses this sleuthing adventure. Connoisseurs of the genre will enjoy every minute! 9 CDs, 10.5 hours.

Now and Again
Charlotte Rogan, author
Read by Christine Lakin, et. al.
Hachette Audio
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9781478908845 $30.00

Synopsis: For Maggie Rayburn--wife, mother, and secretary at a munitions plant--life is pleasant, predictable, and, she assumes, secure. When she finds proof of a high-level cover-up on her boss's desk, she impulsively takes it, an act that turns her world, and her worldview, upside down. Propelled by a desire to do good--and also by a newfound taste for excitement--Maggie starts to see injustice everywhere. Soon her bottom drawer is filled with what she calls "evidence," her small town has turned against her, and she must decide how far she will go for the truth.

For Penn Sinclair--Army Captain, Ivy League graduate, and reluctant heir to his family's fortune--a hasty decision has disastrous results. Home from Iraq and eager to atone, he reunites with three survivors to expose the truth about the war. They launch a website that soon has people talking, but the more they expose, the cloudier their mission becomes.

Now and Again is a blazingly original novel about the interconnectedness of lives, the limits of knowledge, and the consequences of doing the right thing.

Critique: Superbly performed by six talented actors and actresses, Now and Again is an unabridged audiobook novel blending elements of suspense, difficult moral quandaries, and rich characterization. Award-nominated author Charlotte Rogan has created a masterpiece that questions what it truly means to do the right thing in a conflicted and complicated world. Captivating to the very end, Now and Again is a choice pick for personal and public library audiobook collections.

Helen Dumont

Laurel's Bookshelf

After Me: Book One of the Unfinished Series
Joyce Scarbrough
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500740221, 12.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 290 pages,

Genre: Young Adult

This first book in a series is an intriguing mix of fantasy and reality, written with the author's signature blend of humor, empathy, believable characters and realistic dialog. The plot drew me in from page one and I could not put this book down!

18-year-old Jada Gayle is emotionally devastated when her best friend dies. Jada is a pretty and popular girl, but all hope and joy die with her friend. She closes herself off from all real emotions, becomes cynical and cold, passing time by assuming fake identities in internet chat rooms. One night she connects with a deadly predator who stalks and kills her. Jada isn't this monster's first victim and won't be his last.

She wakes up in the Afterlife Admissions Office wondering if she's really dead or the target of some purgatorial joke. Jada is neither completely dead nor quite alive and the office manager assures her it's not a joke. She's being sent back to Earth to complete the unfinished business of her life and deal out justice to the pervert who murdered her. Her new life requires a new name - Gwen Stewart. Gwen assumes the persona of a homeless girl in foster care and begins her assignment as a high school student in Miami. Her high school peers are typical teenagers - nerds, jocks, bullies, popular kids and rejects. With her typical sassy, witty sarcasm, she navigates her way through high school's daily routine with no desire to fit in until, to her surprise, Gwen is drawn to captain of the chess team and computer geek, Lew Stanton. How can it be possible that a "walking dead" girl swoons whenever she's around a guy like Lew? Will her interest in this hunky nerd interfere with locating the predator targeting young girls?

The message of this book is positive, strong and pure. Scarbrough weaves this young adult fantasy with heart, spirit and emotional depth. Underlying every page is genuine friendship, recovering from heartbreaking loss, and renewed hope. Highly recommended for young adult readers or anyone who enjoys a story well-told.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Muffin Man
Blake Hoena, author
Luke Flowers, illustrator
Cantata Learning
c/o Capstone
1710 Roe Crest Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003
9781632903648, $25.49,

From the Tangled Tunes series of Cantata Learning, "The Muffin Man" is a delightful storybook/music/CD combo package that sets the scene for the song story about "The Muffin Man," who bakes and sells delicious muffins, and lives on Drury Lane. Bright, comical, stylized illustrations reminiscent of the 50's and 60's decorate each page of treasured song lyrics, encouraging children to imagine the tale themselves as they hear and sing along with the song. A funny brown dog named Cupcake accompanies the Muffin Man throughout his day, cleaning up stray crumbs and spills with hilarious efficiency, and shepherding the baker home from his shop when the day is done. "The Muffin Man" is completed with song lyrics, all verses, musical notation for the song, a glossary, suggested guided reading activities, and a list of related books in a section titled To Learn More. "The Muffin Man" is suitable for children ages 3-8, with interest level of pre-K through grade 3, and reading level 1-3. "The Muffin Man" book and CD is a splendid presentation of a classic rhyming story that reinforces the development of early learning skills, including physical, cognitive, and social and emotional learning.

Another book CD combo set from the Tangled Tunes series that is also very highly recommended is "Rain, Rain, Go Away (978632903600, $25.49)," by Steven Anderson, illustrated by Misa Saburi. This book introduces that familiar nursery rhyme song as follows: "On rainy days you get stuck inside. You can't go out to play. And there are so many fun things to do outside. Sometimes, don't you wish you could tell the rain to go away and it would? To try doing that, turn the page and sing along!" Contrasting sunny and rainy paintings compare the day's different moods and activities, including mother, father, brother, sister, friends, and pets. "Rain, Rain, Go Away" ends with a page of complete song lyrics, a vocal piano song score, an accompanying CD performance of the song, guided reading activities, and a To Learn More section listing related books for children ages 3-8.

Still another Book/CD combo pack from the Tangled Tunes series of Cantata Learning that is very highly recommended is "Home on the Range (9781632903754, $25.49)," by Steven Anderson, illustrated by Maxime Lebrun. Appealing to children ages 3-8, this fun illustrated beloved classic song presents some quirky new twists on the concept of musicians singing on the range. The human musicians are ably amplified and assisted by animals, including deer, antelope, and even a howling coyote! "Home On the Range" is completed by a CD performance of the song, song lyrics, vocal music score, a glossary, guided reading activities, and a To Learn More section listing related books of interest.

Clyde Doesn't Go Outside
Zack Snyder, artist/author
Upper Hand Press
P.O. Box 91179, Bexley, Ohio 43209
9780996439503, $18.00, PB, 42pp,

"Clyde Doesn't Go Outside" is an arresting book of portrait paintings that are accompanied by bizarre but poignant and funny words. It is a perfect marriage of image and narrative. Clyde is a cat that doesn't go outside. Between bouts of napping, "the window is where I reside." Visions that entrance Clyde are mirrored and mocked in window reflected paintings, of a bunny named Boo, a turtle named Tom, a robin named Rhonda, and an escaped anaconda (named Keith). There is also a bat named Betty and a squirrel named Steve (who just never leaves). All the friends are pictured in spooky shadow silhouettes at the end, while Clyde sleeps and dreams. "Clyde Doesn't Go Outside" is both arresting art and refreshing wit in rhyme, wrapped up in one amazing odyssey. Perhaps a touch quirky, a tad eccentric, with shades of the dark side, "Clyde Doesn't Go Outside" will collect its own audience of devoted fans who will look for more adventures of Clyde. "Clyde Doesn't Go Outside" will appeal to adult and some young adult readers.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Militant Around the Clock?
Nikolaos Papadogiannis
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9781782386445, $110.00, HC, 342pp,

Synopsis: During the 1970s, left-wing youth militancy in Greece intensified, especially after the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974. "Militant Around the Clock?: Left-Wing Youth Politics, Leisure, and Sexuality in Post-Dictatorship Greece, 1974-1981" by Nikolaos Papadogiannis (Teaching Fellow at the University of St Andrews School of History) is the first study of the impact of that political activism on the leisure pursuits and sexual behavior of Greek youth, analyzing the cultural politics of left-wing organizations alongside the actual practices of their members. Through an examination of Maoists, Socialists, Euro-Communists, and pro-Soviet groups, "Militant Around the Clock?" demonstrates that left-wing youth in Greece collaborated closely with comrades from both Western and Eastern European countries in developing their political stances. Moreover, young left-wingers in Greece appropriated American cultural products while simultaneously modeling some of their leisure and sexual practices on Soviet society. Still, despite being heavily influenced by cultures outside Greece, left-wing youth played a major role in the reinvention of a Greek "popular tradition". "Militant Around the Clock?" critically interrogates the notion of "sexual revolution" by shedding light on the contradictory sexual transformations in Greece to which young left-wingers contributed.

Critique: Impressively researched, referenced, and documented, "Militant Around the Clock?: Left-Wing Youth Politics, Leisure, and Sexuality in Post-Dictatorship Greece, 1974-1981" is a truly exceptional and deftly presented work of seminal scholarship and very highly recommended for academic library reference collections and Contemporary Greek Political & Social Issues supplemental studies reading lists.

Law In and As Culture
Caroline Joan 'Kay' S. Picart
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
9781611477214, $70.00, HC, 198pp,

Synopsis: There are two oppositional narratives in relation to telling the story of indigenous peoples and minorities in relation to globalization and intellectual property rights. The first, the narrative of Optimism, is a story of the triumphant opening of brave new worlds of commercial integration and cultural inclusion. The second, the narrative of Fear, is a story of the endangerment, mourning, and loss of a traditional culture. While the story of Optimism deploys a rhetoric of commercial mobilization and "innovation", the story of Fear emphasizes the rhetoric of preserving something "pure" and "traditional" that is "dying". Both narratives have compelling rhetorical force, and actually need each other, in order to move their opposing audiences into action. However, as Kay Picart (a scholar-attorney practicing in federal and state appellate criminal law and who publishes peer reviewed journal articles and books principally on law, criminology, sociology, and film) shows in the pages of "Law In and As Culture: Intellectual Property, Minority Rights, and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples", the realities behind these rhetorically framed political parables are more complex than a simple binary.

Hence, "Law In and As Culture" steers a careful path between hope rather than unbounded Optimism, and caution, rather than Fear, in exploring how law functions in and as culture as it contours the landscape of intellectual property rights, as experienced by indigenous peoples and minorities. Picart uses, among a variety of tools derived from law, critical and cultural studies, anthropology and communication, case studies to illustrate this approach. She tracks the fascinating stories of the controversies surrounding the ownership of a Taiwanese folk song; the struggle over control of the Mapuche's traditional land in Chile against the backdrop of Chile's drive towards modernization; the collaboration between the Kani tribe in India and a multinational corporation to patent an anti-fatigue chemical agent; the drive for respect and recognition by Australian Aboriginal artists for their visual expressions of folklore; and the challenges American women of color such as Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham faced in relation to the evolving issues of choreography, improvisation and copyright. "Law In and As Culture" also analyzes the cultural conflicts that result from these encounters between indigenous populations or minorities and majority groups, reflects upon the ways in which these conflicts were negotiated or resolved, both nationally and internationally, and carefully explores proposals to mediate such conflicts.

Critique: An original work of seminal scholarship, ""Law In and As Culture: Intellectual Property, Minority Rights, and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-two pages of Notes, and an eight page Index, "Law In and As Culture" is very highly recommended for inclusion in academic library Legal Studies and Cultural Studies reference collections and university level supplemental curriculum reading lists. It should be noted for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "Law In and As Culture" is also available in a Kindle edition ($66.50).

The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing China
Jacques deLisle, Avery Goldstein, Guobin Yang, editors
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812223514, $49.95, PB, 296pp,

Synopsis: The Internet and social media are pervasive and transformative forces in contemporary China. Nearly half of China's 1.3 billion citizens use the Internet, and tens of millions use Sina Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter or Facebook. Recently, Weixin/Wechat has become another major form of social media. While these services have allowed regular people to share information and opinions as never before, they also have changed the ways in which the Chinese authorities communicate with the people they rule. China's party-state now invests heavily in speaking to Chinese citizens through the Internet and social media, as well as controlling the speech that occurs in that space. At the same time, those authorities are wary of the Internet's ability to undermine the ruling party's power, organize dissent, or foment disorder. Nevertheless, policy debates and public discourse in China now regularly occur online, to an extent unimaginable a decade or two ago, profoundly altering the fabric of China's civil society, legal affairs, internal politics, and foreign relations.

"The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing China" explores the changing relationship between China's cyberspace and its society, politics, legal system, and foreign relations. The chapters focus on three major policy areas - civil society, the roles of law, and the nationalist turn in Chinese foreign policy - and cover topics such as the Internet and authoritarianism, "uncivil society" online, empowerment through new media, civic engagement and digital activism, regulating speech in the age of the Internet, how the Internet affects public opinion, legal cases, and foreign policy, and how new media affects the relationship between Beijing and Chinese people abroad.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled by the team of Jacques deLisle (Stephen A. Cozen Professor of Law, Professor of Political Science, and Deputy Director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania, and Director of the Asia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute), Avery Goldstein (David M. Knott Professor of Global Politics and International Relations, Director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China, and Associate Director of the Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics at the University of Pennsylvania), and Guobin Yang (Associate Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania), "The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing China" is comprised of ten major articles, fifty-two pages of Notes, a six page listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a four page Index. A seminal work of uniformly outstanding scholarship, "The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing China" is an invaluable and strongly recommended addition to professional and academic library Asian Studies, Political Science, and Global Communication Studies reference collections, as well as the personal reading lists of academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in contemporary Chinese culture and social media.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Finding Your Voice
Joel Boggess
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781937879303, $14.99, PB, 160 pages,

Practical Tools and a Passionate Challenge for You to Become True to the Person You Were Meant to Be

In his book "Finding Your Voice: Sort through the Clutter and Discover Clarity, Confidence, and Direction" Joel Boggess, motivational speaker and career coach, describes the steps we process for finding our unique voice. He helps the reader "Sort through the clutter."

Joel weaves themes for developing the enduring qualities of focus, intention, self-discipline, clarity, and confidence as requisites to finding your voice. Throughout the book he uses real-life illustrations from coaching clients, mentors and other life coaches, while integrating personal life experiences.

Joel shares his own story of finding hope in the midst of childhood and adolescent tragedy, misfortune, and heartache. He tells of his struggle with balance after a life threatening accident which led to his immersion into the discipline of the martial arts. He tells how the practice of courtesy, integrity, perseverance, and a determined spirit shaped his character

Joel's writes with a passion. His insights inspire authenticity and empower the reader to take transforming action. He describes how through renewed confidence you can discover the value of love, patience, and gratitude, these coupled with gentleness, kindness, and temperance will direct your full attention to your true self which result in establishing genuine friendships and making an impact in the lives of others.

"Finding Your Voice" is written for anyone who feels out of control, is struggling with self-acceptance, feels stuck in a dead-end career, find themselves in transition, or have come against a roadblock negotiating life changes.

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

Jumpstart Your Customer Service - 10 Jolts to Boost Your Customer Service
Shawn Doyle, and Lauren Anderson
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781397879419, $ 14.99, 140 pages,

Key's to Developing the Right Mindset, Motivation, Commitment, and a Unique Skillset to Serving your Customers and Clients

Shawn Doyle and Lauren Anderson draw from their careers as learning and development professionals to provide the reader with a roadmap for establishing a new mindset on customer service in their book "Jumpstart Your Customer Service - 10 Jolts to Boost Your Customer Service." Both authors understand the importance of team building, communication, and creativity in staff leadership and professional achievement.

Each of the twelve chapters includes: a hands on illustrative story, highly informative illustrations, with tangible proposals and recommendations. Interactive questions add to the readers' understanding and provide application for the foundations and principles, plans, ideas, and attitudes presented.

These key "how to strategies," insights, and methodologies become concrete tools, leading to proposed action steps. The material is concise, informative, useful, well organized, and formatted for ease in reading. Well written quality content with relevant viewpoints, opinions, and guidelines.

"Jumpstart Your Customer Service - 10 Jolts to Boost Your Customer Service" is a practical resource and will benefit business leaders, small business owners, corporate customer service managers, as well as individual employees at every level who have a direct or indirect contact with customers.

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

Happywork - A Business Parable about the Journey to Teamwork, Profit, and Purpose
Chris Reimer
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780780768405316, $15.99, 190 pages,

A Working Plan for Implementing the Human Needs Factor into Reality throughout the Finance and Operational Challenges in Business

Chris Reimer draws from his own experiences as a marketing and communications strategist as the framework of "Happywork - A Business Parable about the Journey to Teamwork, Profit, and Purpose."

Dick Vunorri, president of Vunorri, Inc., an electronics component manufacturer, is on 30 day notice with his bank to come up with a feasible plan to turn his financial position around within 30 days or the bank will have to start foreclosure proceedings. Dick put in a call to Sam Maslow, a freelance consultant specializing in "turning companies around," for help. The wheels were put in motion. Sam had 30 days to produce a viable plan.

Sam began his work by interviewing key department officers. Two of these ended in disaster. An older man from the mail room, Charlie, kept showing up in the lunch room and began offering information on the company and its employees as well as some opinions on the importance of maxims to live by, human relations, and man's basic needs.

Interviews at every level left Sam frustrated, no one would open up. Staff members were intimidated by upper management. They felt harassed and threatened. Vunorri, Inc. was a mess. Sam was getting nowhere. By the end of the third week Charlies' talks begin to make sense.

"Happywork - A Business Parable about the Journey to Teamwork, Profit, and Purpose" has a cast of believable characters and dramatic stimulating dialog. and is a strong fictional platform with an important strategic message. Reimer has written a fast moving compelling story with a dramatic surprise ending.

The book is highly endorsed by industry leaders, recognized business strategists, and media mentors. Highly recommended as must reading for department heads and managers at all levels.

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

Shift Your Brilliance - Harness the Power of You, Inc.
Simon T. Bailey
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768404579, $ 14.99, 160 pages,

Finding Significance - Why Conform? Be Audacious

Award winning author and Leadership Catalyst, Simon T. Bailey challenges his readers to take seven action steps that will help them "shift into drive" and accelerate them on the road to achieving personal success. These seven practical principles are presented in a format which can be restated to become positive affirmations, action steps, or guidelines for writing a personal mission statement.

Bailey helps the reader see and understand things in a new fresh way enabling them to focus energy more effectively through futuristic thinking. I appreciated his openness and honest self-appraisal in the incidents, examples, and illustrations taken from his own life lessons which re-enforce his unique insights and power principles.

"Shift Your Brilliance" came to my attention at a time when I had reached a plateau, an impasse between being liberated from the limitations of my past and a readiness to make a deeper commitment to step out of my comfort zone. I shifted from average to a more meaningful new significance. Simon Bailey provided the impetus and motivation I needed to take a risk, free myself to live my future now by following my heart to "own the moment."

Bailey's writing is innovative with a creative spark that infuses an infectious brilliance in the reader. Highly motivational; a must read for leaders in business, government, education, and in the church community.

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

What are you waiting for? - It's Your Life! Proven Principles for Creating The Life of Your Dreams
Jim Donovan
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781937879341, $14.99, 144 Pages,

Practical Strategies, Ideas, Techniques, and Proven Success Principles Which Enable Astounding Results When Implemented

Personal development professional Jim Donavan is quickly being recognized as an inspiring author, and top notch motivational speaker. His book "What are you waiting for? - It's Your Life! Proven Principles for Creating the Life of Your Dreams" incorporates real life examples, key principles for success, including: self-acceptance, empowering beliefs, developing a positive mental attitude, and a challenge to dream big.

I found the emphasis on recognizing and identifying areas in your life you want to change and the imperatives that can change your circumstances especially important to me personally. These include: Turning negative attitudes to positive, developing an attitude of gratitude, the need to stop blaming others, and turning self-pity and a "poor me" self-talk to positive actions on the road to overcoming seemingly impossible odds.

The suggested exercises in the book are filled with personal application, provocative questions, and suggestions for resolving personal challenges currently being faced.

"What are you waiting for? - It's Your Life!" is for anyone looking for a life filled with peace and purpose, for those looking forward to each new day with a sense of excitement, enthusiasm, and eagerness, for anyone willing to apply Jim Donavan's simple techniques and put these ideas into practice.

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

The Other Side of Heaven - An After Death Experience
Russel A. and Virginia G. Vassallo
Krazy Duck Productions
9780996162210, $26.00, 372 Pages,

A Life and Death Heartwarming Story of Love Threatened by Misunderstanding, Insecurity, and Resentment

In their book "The Other Side of Heaven - An After Death Experience" Russ and Virginia Vassallo provide inspiration and encouragement to readers experiencing suffering and pain that comes with the uncertainty and devastation of losing a loved one and the imminence of death.

Russ' account is reflective and autobiographical; not necessarily chronological, sometimes humorous, often profound, with a lot of insight, and stimulating unanswered questions. Virginia's story ties together some loose ends in an orderly sequence of events and adds a positive perspective on some issues needing resolution or closure while finding purpose to the uncertainties of the relational misunderstanding introduced in Russ's narrative.

As the hours turn to days and the days to weeks, in the hospital, Russ' thoughts turn inward. On more than one occasion his heart stopped, while clinically dead Russ envisions a glimpse of heaven. He tells of conversations with his guardian angel Malcius and with Jesus. He describes heaven as a place of mist, just out of sight, where all the loved ones of God reside, a place of peace and harmony.

In a brutally honest openness Russ relates the indelible imprint of parental neglect and the needless negative input and verbal abuse led to disappointment, insecurity, and a low self-esteem that led to misunderstanding, resentment, and mistrust in his expectations of Virginia's love. He relates the impact of his culture and relives the anguish resulting from resentment and thoughts of vengeance.

Stories of growing up in Newark, of relatives linked to the mafia, of his days as a successful lawyer and bring back wonderful memories of the past which are linked together with recurring themes of a fierce determination for justice, his inability to see his own value, questions as to why he was spared from death and entering heaven, and of finding purpose and solace in the rituals of the church.

"The Other Side of Heaven - An After Death Experience" is a beautiful story of finding love, redemption, and peace; an inspirational journey, filled with encouragement for the reader "homesick" for healing memories of the past.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Voodoo Detective
Ricardo M. Fleshman
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781523952229, $6.99,

I give this book a five star because it really did keep my attention. When a woman disappears and the search begins many mysteries begin to be unveiled. This crime is not your norm but is laced with dark magic and forces that would challenge any one. How do you battle the unknown? Creepy. This read pulls you into the characters both good and bad. You have a mix as you walk this road with Detective Byone. This is a good read that mystery lovers will enjoy and those who like the thrill of the unknown and the dark side will have quite a ride. Good job.

My Prayer for You
Donna Fargo
Blue Mountain Arts
P.O. Box 4549, Boulder, CO 80306
9781598428346, $9.95, 20pgs,

My sister gave this book to me during a time when I was battling illness. I love books like this so I was thrilled. This one is a very tender book . Here are several of the wonderful encouragements that you will find. "Love is the Greatest Teacher" and as you read you will see why Love is the Greatest Teacher. Another is one on realizing how special you are. This is a great book to keep yourself focused on the positive. I really like it.

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

This is a story filled with adventure, it is not slow moving but keeps you pumped up from beginning to end. The characters are really brought to live which is always good in a read. Page turning adventure awaits you, with a great ending. Very well done.

The Body in the Lighthouse: A Faith Fairchild Mystery
Katherine Hall Page
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780380813865, $6.99 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 352pp,

I enjoyed this read because it pulled me into it piece by piece as I read it. The story has action and mystery all wrapped together in one good read. I enjoyed it.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues
Yoji Yamakuse
Stone Bridge Press
1393 Solano Avenue, Suite C, Albany CA 94706
9781611720266, $12.95, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: "Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues" examines, presents and explains the core life concepts and shared values that historically and culturally define the quality of "being Japanese". Among these are reverence, love of nature, group loyalty, hierarchical respect, passion for detail, belief in learning, formality, and acceptance of change. How can Western analogues of these Japanese virtues help us improve our own societies and cultivate inner strength, mindfulness, and long-lasting relationships at home and the workplace? "Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues" is a stimulating exploration of an alternative ethics and humanism is a provocative workbook for "decluttering the spirit".

Critique: Yoji Yamakuse (born in Oita Prefecture, Japan, 1955) has worked for major publishing companies in Tokyo and New York and has been active as a consultant for nearly 100 Japanese and American global firms, focusing on personnel management, staff training, and development of joint projects in cross-cultural environments. He writes with insight, clarity, and instructional accessability in "Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues", making it an indispensable guide and reference for Americans wanting to understand Japanese culture and perspectives. Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues" is very highly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Japaneseness: A Guide to Values and Virtues" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.80).

The Seven Years War
Martin Robson
I. B. Tauris Publishers
9781780765457, $35.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: The Seven Years War (1756-1763) was the first global conflict and became the key factor in creating the British Empire. "The Seven Years War " by Martin Robson (Permanent Visiting Fellow at the Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Exeter) is an historical survey of Britain's maritime strategic, operational and tactical success (and failures), through a wide-ranging history of the Royal Navy's role in the war. By the end of the war in 1763 Britain was by no means a hegemonic power, but it was the only state capable of sustained global power projection on a global scale. Key to Britain's success was political and strategic direction from London, through the war planning of Pitt the Elder and the successful implementation of his policies by a stellar cast of naval and military leaders at an operational and tactical level. "The Seven Years War" highlights the work of some of the key protagonists in the Royal Navy, such as Admiral Hawke whose appreciation of the wider strategic context at Quiberon Bay in 1759 decided the fate of North America, as well as providing insights into the experience of life in the lower decks at this time. "The Seven Years War" ultimately shows that the creation, containment and expansion of the British Empire was made possible by the exercise of maritime power through the Royal Navy.

Critique: A model of outstandingly well researched and documented scholarship, "The Seven Years War" is impressively informative, accessible written, organized and presented, making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library British History collections. Also very highly recommended for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in British Royal Navy History is Martin Robson's definitive work "The Napoleonic Wars" (9781780765440, $35.00 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 256pp).

Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau
Carmen Robertson
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887558108, $27.95, PB, 221pp,

Synopsis: "Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau: Art and the Colonial Narrative in the Canadian Media" by Carmen Robertson (Lakota/Scottish Associate Professor of Art History, University of Regina) examines the complex identities assigned to the late Anishinaabe artist Norval Morrisseau (March 14, 1932 - December 4, 2007, and who also known as Copper Thunderbird). Was he an uneducated aboriginal artist plagued by alcoholism and homelessness? Was Morrisseau a shaman artist who tapped a deep spiritual force? Or was he one of Canada's most significant artists? "Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau" charts both the colonial attitudes and the stereotypes directed at Morrisseau and other Indigenous artists in Canada's national press. Professor Robertson also examines Morrisseau's role in shaping his own image.

An internationally known and award-winning artist from a remote area of northwestern Ontario, Norval Morrisseau founded an art movement developed largely from Indigenous and personal creative elements known as Woodland Art. Still, until his retrospective exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in 2006, many Canadians knew almost nothing about Morrisseau's work. Using discourse analysis methods, Professor Robertson looks at news stories, magazine articles, and film footage that ranges from Morrisseau's first solo exhibition at Toronto's Pollock Gallery in 1962 until his death in 2007 to examine the cultural assumptions that have framed Morrisseau.

Critique: Impressively researched, exceptionally well written documented, informatively and accessibly organized and presented, "Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau: Art and the Colonial Narrative in the Canadian Media" is an outstanding work of seminal scholarship and enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-three pages of Note, a nine page Bibliography, and a six page Index. "Mythologizing Norval Morrisseau" is especially recommended for academic library Indigenous Canadian Studies, Canadian Art History Studies, and Canadian Media Studies reference collections in general, and Norval Morrisseau supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The Meditative Art
Walter S. Melion
Saint Joseph University Press
5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131
9780916101602, $90.00, HC, 442pp,

Synopsis: "The Meditative Art: Studies in Northern Devotional Print, 1550-1625" by Walter S. Melion (Asa Griggs Chandler Professor of Art History, Emory University, Atlanta, Geogria) asks how and why printed images were utilized as instruments of Christian meditation and contemplation. "The Meditative Art" is comprised of an introductory essay on meditative image-making, followed by nine case studies focusing on various prints and print series produced in the Low Countries, that offered templates for visually-based processes of soul-formation anchored in the imitation of Christ. Engraved by such masters as Philips Galle, Hendrick Goltzius, Boetius a Bolswert, and Jan, Hieronymus, and Antoon Wierix, among others, these prints served to mobilize the votary's sensitive and intellective faculties, harnessing them to the task of restoring the soul's likeness to Christ the Word made flesh. The images are seen implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) to allude to an image theory grounded in the mystery of the Incarnation, and in diverse ways of trope the themes of pictorial artifice and imitation. By calling attention to their status as pictorial images, the author argues, these prints claim to be sanctioned by the condition of representability espoused by Christ Himself. In addition to a chapter on the illustrated meditative treatises of Benito Arias Montano, Jeronimo Nadal, and Antonius Sucquet, there are chapters on the prints as catalysts of penitential and communicative self-reformation, as well as on prints as meditative sources of works in other media, such as Otto van Veen's Carrying of the Cross. "The Meditative Art" concludes with an epilogue on the erotic form, function, and meaning of Hendrick Goltzius's celebrated devotional print of the Annunciation.

Critique: Informative, erudite, with flawless reproduced photographic imagery, "The Meditative Art: Studies in Northern Devotional Print, 1550-1625" is a coffee-table size volume that is truly an extraordinary and highly recommended selection for personal, community, seminary, church, and academic library Christian Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

Murder at 42nd Street Library
Con Lehane
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250059958, $25.99, Hardcover, 320 pp,

The author seems to choose protagonists with offbeat professions. In a prior series, the protagonist was a bartender (who appears in a minor role in this novel). Now, in the first in a new series, it is Raymond Ambler, a librarian who is no less a curator of the crime fiction collection in the world-famous 42md Street Library in New York City. It is not clear why the selection, however, since his employment plays no part in his role, although he does interact with a detective to solve crimes.

Apparently the setting is chosen because the various victims are literary individuals, including a best-selling author whose collection of papers is obtained by the library, and the first of several murders takes place in a second floor reading room (the second occurs just outside, in the adjoining Bryant Park), The various suspects are all associated with each other from a time when they taught at an upstate college and are involved some way in reading the papers in preparation for writing a biography of the aforementioned author.

Unfortunately this series gets off to an uneven start, with a convoluted plot and cumbersome writing. In fact, it is questionable whether the reader can even discern which character is the actual murderer. It is an interesting idea for a librarian-protagonist. Perhaps in future additions to the series, we will find Mr. Ambler applying his skills to uncovering clues though the resources of a library, rather than his own intuition, which rarely is explained.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Lehane's writing in the past, we look forward to the next in this new series.

Rain Dogs
Adrian McKinty
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633881303, $15.95, Paperback, 325pp,

The year is 1987. The time of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. And a delegation of businessmen from Finland is visiting Carrickfergus, inspecting empty factories for possible manufacturing of high tech products. While there they visit a castle, and the next day a young female journalist is discovered dead in its courtyard, apparently having jumped from above and committing suicide. Detective Sean Duffy, making his appearance in this 5th entry in the series, is assigned to the case.

Apparently the Castle is locked overnight, and all visitors are made to leave before a heavy iron gate is lowered which prevents entry or egress until it is raised the next morning. The caretaker, who lowers the gate from the inside and lives in a cottage on the premises, swears he inspected the castle for any lingering persons twice, once before lowering the gate and a second time hours later, and found no one. The only conclusion: Either he murdered the reporter or she jumped; a classic "locked room" crime.

It is the second time in his career that Duffy has encountered such an incident, which he feels is a statistical impossibility, so, long after the arrest of the caretaker for murder, he continues to ponder the case and sniff out clues, keeping the file alive. This gives the author the opportunity to exhibit why he is an award-winning writer [most recently, the book has just been nominated for England's prestigious Theakston's Old Peculiar Award], as Duffy and his team progress toward resolving the questions raised as a result of the woman's death. It is a clever plot. Duffy is a remarkable character, made even more appealing in this novel as he grows as a person. It will be most interesting to see how he evolves in any forthcoming installment in the series.

Highly recommended.

Dry Bones
Craig Johnson
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780525426936, $27.95, Hardcover, 306 pp.,
9780143108184, $16.00, Paperback, 352 pp.,

The Walt Longmire [Sheriff of Absaroka County, WY] mysteries are a long-running series (this novel is the 13th), and he is entering his fifth season as a television hero as well. The tales are not only filled with great stories, but words of wisdom, superb descriptions of the Big Sky Country, and odd bits of history and culture, especially of the Cheyenne.

Discovery in a pond of the body of a dead rancher, Danny Lone Elk, leads Walt and his Undersheriff, Victoria Moretti, on a wild and wooly chase involving the largest and most complete T. Rex skeleton ever discovered. The skeleton of the dinosaur, named Jen after the paleontologist who discovered it on Lone Elk's ranch, finds itself in the middle of a controversy between the family, a local museum, the Cheyenne tribe, and the Federal government, each claiming ownership. While Walt goes about trying to solve the cause of Lone Elk's death, he is confronted with a personal tragedy: his son-in-law, a Philadelphia policeman, is shot and killed, leaving his daughter widowed and with a five-month-old baby.

The Longmire novels are not only filled with grand scenery descriptions, but witty banter and deep characterizations. Just one negative comment: I felt that the ending was somehow contrived and part of the solution to the crime didn't ring true. Other than that, it was another excellent entry in the series. And we have a new one just about to appear on our bookshelves shortly [the novella The Highwayman], to which we look forward with great anticipation.


Ted Lewis
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 100003
9781616956462, $14.95, Paperback, 320 pp,

The author died during 1982. But before he passed away, he wrote nine well-received novels, pioneering the British Noir School. Perhaps "Get Carter" was the most well-known, especially after it was made into a movie. "GBH" is a head-scratching story about the destruction of one George Fowler, who ran a highly successful pornographic film empire. It is told in alternating chapters: first set in his home, where he ruled his criminal enterprise, and then in a hide-away home he built in a seaside location.

The reason he is in seclusion is revealed slowly as the plot unfolds and the reader is provided with bits of background. Included in the telling is his deterioration and excessive drinking, giving rise to mounting paranoia. It is a cunningly told tale and as the clues unfold it begins to make more and more sense.

Apparently, the author had written a couple of unsuccessful novels, and his reputation was severely diminished. But when "GBH", which turned out to be his final work, was published, his reputation was reestablished. The novel really deserved five stars, but this reader felt somewhat confused too often to give it that lofty rating. Nevertheless, it is wholeheartedly recommended.

Black Lies, Red Blood
Kjell Eriksson
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY10010
9781250042637, $15.99, Trade Paperback, 311 pp,

Ann Lindell has been portrayed in prior entries in this series as an unhappy person but an excellent detective. In this novel she starts off on cloud nine, having hooked up with Anders Brant in a short but highly satisfactory love affair, only to be disappointed when he takes off on a trip. And soon she learns that he might be involved in a murder inquiry; no one knows how to contact him and he doesn't respond to e-mails.

Meanwhile, Ann becomes obsessed with a different murder, that of a 16-year-old girl, while the rest of the department is involved with the slaying of a homeless man, which in turn is followed by additional killings. And Brant, somehow, has some involvement with all three investigations. Ann keeps mum about knowing Brant and the pressure mounts on her, not only to solve her own case, but somehow to get in contact with her sometime lover and discover the facts about him and his connection with the murders.

This is not an easy novel to read; it is slow reading, and one has to plod through it with all of its complications and permutations, much less the unsatisfactory descriptions of Ann's assorted sex life and other sexual references, many of which appear to be gratuitous. Despite these comments, the author has once again written an excellent crime story, and it is recommended.

Fox is Framed
Lachlan Smith
The Mysterious Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic Publishing
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10001
9780802125042, $15.00, Paperback, 256 pp,

In this, the third novel in the Leo Maxwell series, Leo's older brother, Teddy, obtains a new trial for their father, Lawrence, who has served 21 years in San Quentin for the murder of his wife, Caroline. The basis for the retrial was prosecutorial misconduct, the withholding of evidence from the defense. In the second trial, it is never clearly explained by either the DA or the defense attorney if disclosure originally would have made any difference. However, the new trial allows the author, a practicing attorney, to write a detailed and interesting description of the tactics and planning for a murder trial.

In the new trial, the DA introduces evidence of a "confession" made by Lawrence to a fellow inmate while incarcerated. Soon, however, the snitch is found dead and the specter of Lawrence being charged for the murder looms over the trial. While a brilliant attorney defends Lawrence in court, it remains for Leo to follow up on leads, both large and small.

To give the author his due, he graphically portrays the courtroom scenes realistically, showing how the judge rules with wisdom and fairness, as well as how an attorney goes about probing a witness. He continues the high drama surrounding the Maxwell family found in the previous novels and lays the groundwork for the next addition to the series. A very fast read, and one which is recommended.

Burning Down George Orwell's House
Andrew Ervin
Soho Press
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616956526, $16.00, Paperback, 288 pp,

This introspective debut novel chronicles the ups and downs in the life of Ray Welter, a farm boy who rose to the top of his profession until his inner self caught up with him. Then he tossed it all away in effort to escape everything he had left behind in Chicago: a high-paying advertising job, a wife, and a way of life with which he had increasingly become disenchanted. He takes off to the Scottish Isle of Jura. And rents, for six months (with the last of his funds which he hopes to spend before his wife grabs the money in the divorce settlement), the cottage where George Orwell wrote and finished the satirical novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four."

The inhabitants of Jura are an eccentric bunch, protective of each other and their way of life, especially disdainful of outsiders, tourists and the like. Ray's intrusion sets up many amusing situations. That Inner Hebrides island is known for its single malt scotch, and Ray consumes a prodigious amount in an effort to either lose or find himself. In the meantime, not only does he have to cope with his own troubles but also deal with the foibles and problems arising from the various characters in the community.

The author uses comedy to mask the seriousness of the novel, which deeply probes Ray's thinking, seeking to define the good and bad of his life as he knows it and distilling the results until Ray can reach an inner peace. It is quite an achievement, rarely seen in a first effort. Can Ray reach his nirvana? Read and enjoy the book, which is highly recommended, and find out.

Dominion (Book 3: The Chronicles of the Invaders Trilogy)
John Connolly & Jennifer Ridyard
Emily Bestler Books/Atria
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476757186, $26.00, Hardcover, 439 pp.,

The final volume of the Chronicles trilogy brings to a climax the adventures of two earthling brothers and two young alien girls which began in Conquest and continued in Empire. Paul Kerr and Syl Hellais are reunited and follow separate paths to the end, while younger brother Steven Kerr matures and plays a vital role as well. Meanwhile, Ani, the other Illyri female, remains within the Sisterhood where she learns the truth which Syl learned much earlier, and schemes to take control of the Nairenes from her mentor, the Archmage Syrene.

The major part of this volume is a civil war being raged between Illyrian factions and how the four protagonists cope not only with this conflict, but also with the infestation of the Earth of the Others, spore-like creatures that inhabit bodies, sucking life out of the host and reproducing to further infect additional bodies. As they struggle with their knowledge they must find ways to develop their abilities and make known the truth of what they have learned, much less to save everything before it is destroyed.

While the books were primarily intended for a teenage audience, an adult can also read and enjoy the novel, which is no less a sci-fi fantasy and what is loosely a love story. The trilogy was written by John Connolly, the Irish novelist perhaps best known for the Charlie Parker mysteries, and his partner, Jennifer Ridyard, an accomplished journalist. This is not the first time Mr. Connolly has turned his attention from Charlie Parker to a different type of novel. He also is the author of a trilogy for younger readers and even a modern fairy tale. Dominion, like Empire and Conquest, is recommended.

The Enemy Inside
Steve Martini
c/o HarperCollins
195 Broadway, NY, NY 10007
9780062328939, Hardcover, 374 pp., $27.99
9780062328953, Paperback, 528 pp., $9.99

This novel is a far cry from earlier ones by this author which revolved around excellent courtroom dramas. Instead, this novel featuring defense attorney Paul Madriani is more a thriller with an occasional legal principle thrown in. It all begins when Madriani and his partner, Harry Hinds, take on a client, Alex Ives, at the behest of Paul's daughter. Alex was found unconscious in his car, having crashed into another auto in which a woman who was a partner in a powerful Washington, D.C., law firm died in a fiery blast.

From a simple case of possible vehicular manslaughter the plot develops into a massive conspiracy involving offshore bank numbered accounts, tax avoidance, political corruption, international intrigue and other forms of power plays. It falls to Madriani, at his own personal peril, to unravel all these elements to exonerate his client.

The underlying theme allows the author time and time again to espouse his political views, which add little to the story and more resemble shouts from a soapbox. It is quite a tale, and the reader should be excused if he or she takes much of it with a grain of salt. Of course, the action is non-stop leading up to an abrupt ending, as if the author got tired and just wrapped it all up quickly. Nevertheless, it is suspenseful thriller fiction, just not the type of legal thriller one would have expected from Steve Martini. But it is recommended as an interesting read.

The Sniper and the Wolf
Scott McEwen with Thomas Koloniar
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476787268, $24.99, Hardcover, 385 pp.,
Pocket Books
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476787275, $9.99, 385 pp., 464 pp.,

If the reader enjoys a non-stop action-packed novel, then this one is for you. From the opening to the closing pages Master Chief Gil Shannon, the Navy Seal, is shooting, lobbing grenades and otherwise destroying hundreds of Chechens in his quest to encounter "the Wolf," Sasha Kovalenko, apparently his equal (or superior) as a sniper, and Dokka Umarov, the so-called emir of the Chechen emirate, bent on destroying a pipeline running south from the Ukraine through Turkey which would imperil Western economies.

At the same time, the novel encompasses a plot by malcontents to seize control of the CIA, which of course leads to activity in Washington, Mexico and Cuba, where the insurgents meet with violence at the hands of another agent named Crosswhite. The story brings together elements of high politics (Shannon actually has lunch with President Putin), diplomacy (State Departments, foreign offices, various ambassadors), military logistics, intelligence and terrorists.

If the reader has the stomach for all the violence and killing, then this novel meets all the necessary qualifications. It is non-stop action and black ops of a high order. While it does give insight into the methods and techniques of Navy Seal snipers, the question is whether the reader can absorb it all. Certainly if it is to one's taste, this is an excellently portrayed, exciting thriller, and is recommended on that basis.

Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

English Drama from Everyman to 1660: Performance and Print
Frederick Kiefer
Arizona State University
PO Box 874402, Tempe, AZ 85287-4402
9780866984942, $110.00, HC, 930pp,

Synopsis: Compiled by academician and Renaissance Drama authority Frederick Kiefer, "English Drama from Everyman to 1660: Performance and Print) provides theater professionals and scholars interested in the drama of Shakespeare's era with essential information about the performance and printing history of English plays from Everyman (generally considered the first printed play in English) to the Restoration in 1660. Information about each play is presented in a single arranged alphabetically entry and includes the name of the play, author, date of first production (when known), acting company, and theater. In cases of multiple stagings, each one is recorded. Where documentary evidence is lacking, an estimate of date and auspices is given along with a scholarly source. Information about staging is followed by an account of all the printed editions. This comprehensive study also provides numerous details unique to each play including specific theatrical effects, printed format, illustrations, and more.

Critique: An impressively researched and exceptionally well written, organized and presented reference, and enhanced with the inclusion of an informative introduction, a list of abbreviations, and a 255 page bibliography, "English Drama from Everyman to 1660: Performance and Print" is a critically important, essential, and truly extraordinary addition to professional and academic library English Drama History reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

Speaking Power to Truth
Michael Keren & Richard Hawkins, editor
Athabasca University Press
1200, 10011-109 Street, Edmonton, Canada, AB T5J 3S8
UBC Press (distributor)
2029 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z2
9781771990332, $26.95, PB, 212pp,

Synopsis: Online discourse has created a new media environment for contributions to public life, one that challenges the social significance of the role of public intellectuals -- intellectuals who, whether by choice or by circumstance, offer commentary on issues of the day. The value of such commentary is rooted in the assumption that, by virtue of their training and experience, intellectuals possess knowledge -- that they understand what constitutes knowledge with respect to a particular topic, are able to distinguish it from mere opinion, and are in a position to define its relevance in different contexts. When intellectuals comment on matters of public concern, they are accordingly presumed to speak truth, whether they are writing books or op-ed columns or appearing as guests on radio and television news programs. At the same time, with increasing frequency, discourse on public life is taking place online. This new digital environment is characterized by abundance -- an abundance of speakers, discussion, and access. But has this abundance of discourse, this democratization of knowledge as some describe it, brought with it a corresponding increase in truth?

Casting doubt on the assertion that online discourse, with its proliferation of voices, will somehow yield collective wisdom, Speaking Power to Truth raises concerns that this wealth of digitally enabled commentary is, in fact, too often bereft of the hallmarks of intellectual discourse: an epistemological framework and the provision of evidence to substantiate claims. Instead, the pursuit of truth finds itself in competition with the quest for public reputation, access to influence, and enhanced visibility. But as knowledge is drawn into the orbit of power, and as the line between knowledge and opinion is blurred, what role will the public intellectual play in the promotion and nurturing of democratic processes and goals? In exploring the implications of the digital transition, the contributors to "Speaking Power to Truth: Digital Discourse and the Public Intellectual" provide both empirical evidence of, and philosophical reflection on, the current and future role of the public intellectual in a technologically mediated public sphere.

Critique: Knowledgeably compiled and deftly co-edited by Michael Keren (Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Political Science and the Department of Communication and Culture at the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada ) and Richard Hawkins (Professor in the Science, Technology and Society Program at the University of Calgary, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Innovation Studies (THECIS), and a fellow of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), "Speaking Power to Truth: Digital Discourse and the Public Intellectual" eight erudite and scholarly articles organized into two major sections (Perspectives; Case Studies). Enhanced with an informative introduction (New Challenges to Knowledge in the Public Sphere), a four page list of contributors and their credentials, and a nine page Index, "Speaking Power to Truth" is very highly recommended as a core addition to academic library Digital Media reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For academia and the non-specialist reader with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Speaking Power to Truth" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.46).

Dancing Jacobins
Rafael Sanchez
Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue
University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
9780823263653, $125.00, HC, 393pp,

Synopsis: "Dancing Jacobins: A Venezuelan Genealogy of Latin American Populism" by Rafael Sanchez (Senior Lecturer at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland) traces the populist "monumental governmentality" that began to take shape in Venezuela and other Latin American nations around the time of independence, in response to the insistent return of subaltern populations in the form of crowds. Informed by a Bolivarian political theology, the nation's representatives, or "dancing Jacobins", draw on the repertoire of busts, portraits, and equestrian statues of national heroes scattered across Venezuela in a montage of monuments and dancing -- or universal and particular. To this day, the nervous oscillation between crowds and peoplehood intrinsic to this form of government has inflected the republic's institutions and constructs, which are haunted and imbued from within by the crowds they otherwise set out to mold, enframe, and address.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-six pages of Notes; a twenty page bibliography of Works Cited; and a ten page Index, "Dancing Jacobins: A Venezuelan Genealogy of Latin American Populism" is model of deftly crafted and exceptionally well written, organized and presented scholarship. Very highly recommended for academic library Latin American Studies reference collections, it should be noted for academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Dancing Jacobins" is also available in a paperback edition (9780823263660, $35.00).

Paul T. Vogel

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

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