Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / MBR Bookwatch

MBR Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 5 May 2024 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Dangers of Automation in Airliners: Accidents Waiting to Happen
Jack J. Hersch
Air World
c/o Casemate Publishers
9781526798275, $28.95, PB, 288pp

Synopsis: Automation in aviation can be a lifesaver, expertly guiding a plane and its passengers through stormy weather to a safe landing. Or it can be deadly -- crashing an aircraft and killing all on board in the mistaken belief that it is doing the right thing.

Lawrence Sperry invented the autopilot just ten years after the Wright brothers' first flight in 1903. But progress was slow for the next three decades. Then came the end of the Second World War and the jet age. That's when the real trouble began.

Aviation automation has been pushed to its limits, with pilots increasingly relying on it. Autopilot, autothrottle, autoland, flight management systems, air data systems, inertial guidance systems. All these systems are only as good as their inputs which, incredibly, can go rogue. Even the automation itself is subject to unpredictable failure. Can automation account for every possible eventuality?

And what of the pilots? They began flight training with their hands on the throttle and yoke, and feet on the rudder pedals. Then they reached the pinnacle of their careers (airline pilot) and suddenly they were going hours without touching the controls other than for a few minutes on takeoff and landing. Are their skills eroding? Is their training sufficient to meet the demands of today's planes?

With the publication of "The Dangers of Automation in Airliners: Accidents Waiting to Happen", Jack Hersch delves deeply into these questions. As a fully engaged reader, you will be in the cockpits of the two doomed Boeing 737 MAXs, the Airbus A330 lost over the South Atlantic, and the Bombardier Q400 that stalled over Buffalo. You will discover exactly why a Boeing 777 smacked into a seawall, missing the runway on a beautiful summer morning. And you will watch pilots battling (sometimes winning and sometimes not) against automation run amok.

"The Dangers of Automation in Airliners: Accidents Waiting to Happen" also investigates the human factors at work. You will learn why pilots might overlook warnings or ignore cockpit alarms. You will observe automation failing to alert aircrews of what they crucially need to know while fighting to save their planes and their passengers.

Ironically, the future of safe air travel and the economics of air line companies depends on automation.

Critique: "The Dangers of Automation in Airliners: Accidents Waiting to Happen" is critically important reading for anyone associated with the airline industry whether they are in manufacturing, operations, or simply passengers on the plane. Highly contemporary, timely and offering a cogent and relevant examination of the subject in light of recent and bizzare events surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX from blowing out a door in flight and the loss of wheel on take-off, to missing bolts revealing shoddy manufacturing with potentially lethal consequences, "The Dangers of Automation in Airliners: Accidents Waiting to Happen" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Commercial Aviation and Air Travel collections. Originally published in hardcover by Air World (2020), it should be noted that "The Dangers of Automation in Airliners: Accidents Waiting to Happen" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Jack Hersch ( is a journalist and expert in the field of distressed and bankrupt companies. He has served as a public company board member, and has guest-lectured in the business schools of M.I.T., U.S.C., and U.C. Berkeley, among others. He is also the author of "Death March Escape" winner of the 2019 Spirit of Anne Frank Human Writes Award.

The Rise of the Algorithms: How YouTube and TikTok Conquered the World
John M. Jordan
Penn State University Press
9780271096926, $99.95, HC, 232pp

Synopsis: The meteoric rise of online video is reshaping the competition for human attention. With the publication of "The Rise of the Algorithms: How YouTube and TikTok Conquered the World", John M. Jordan argues that this new technology has changed the way we interact with others, our relationships with public institutions, and our very own behaviors and psyches.

In tracing the origins and evolution of online video, Jordan examines the mechanics (and the ethical stakes) of online video platforms, especially YouTube and TikTok but also others, such as Twitch.

Tracing the use of algorithms pioneered by Facebook and Google and so successfully exploited by TikTok's corporate parent, ByteDance, Jordan shows how these platforms now engineer human behavior -- with consequences for culture, politics, and identity.

Jordan argues that we are at an inflection point. Until now we have proved, as a society, ill-prepared or unwilling to address such problems as the power of digital platforms, the personal cost of viral celebrity, the invasion of privacy, and the proliferation of disinformation. "The Rise of the Algorithms" combines this urgent assessment with a clear-eyed discussion of present challenges and recommendations for reclaiming our online futures.

A valuable resource for understanding the transformations that have been and will be brought by YouTube, TikTok, and similar platforms, Jordan's timely study is a vital work for anyone who uses the internet and especially for policy makers, technologists, communication and media specialists, and researchers who have a direct hand in determining the future of our online world.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and Conclusion, twelve pages of Notes, a thirty-two page Bibliography, and a three page Index, "The Rise of the Algorithms: How YouTube and TikTok Conquered the World" is a timely and high value contribution to our current national dialogue with respect to how social media is impacting individuals and society as a whole. Articulate, insightful, thought-provoking, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Rise of the Algorithms" is unreservedly recommended as a prized pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Advanced Communications Technology and Social Media collections and supplemental Communications/Media Studies curriculum lists. It should be noted for students, academia, political activists, governmental policy makers, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Rise of the Algorithms" is also readily available from the Penn State University Press in a paperback edition (9780271096933, $24.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note: John M. Jordan directs the professional doctoral program at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. In addition to previously teaching at Harvard and Penn State, he also spent ten years in industry, including roles as Director of Internet Research at the Ernst & Young Center for Business Innovation and a principal in the Office of the Chief Technologist at Capgemini. He is also the author of seven books, including Robots and 3D Printing.

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

Debunking Teenagers
Daphne Adler
Independently Published
9798857322079, $19.99

Debunking Teenagers: 200 Research-Based Parenting Strategies To Help Your Adolescent Successfully Navigate The "Tempteen" Years addresses the special challenges of parenting teens. These are created by a combination of struggles for maturity, social influences, and a parent's conundrums over navigating world influences and messages to help a teen grow.

More than a pat survey of such influences, Debunking Teenagers reveals the nuts and bolts of not only social and political perceptions and how these are formed and guided, but the kinds of approaches to parenting that encourage dialogue over conflict.

Examples of such approaches include discussions of dominant male roles in victimization processes, how to identify behavioral problems early on and how to get appropriate help, and monitoring social and online activities for early warning signs of issues.

At each step of the way, Adler includes instructions for "digging deeper" into underlying issues, offering take-aways that address character and promote improvements in physical appearance and mental health. Of particular strength and note are the insights on how parents can utilize controversy, conflict, and alternative tools to foster and further more effective communications with teens.

These guidelines and examples will prove invaluable; especially to parents who receive plenty of idealistic admonitions, but little practical advice that hones in on the actual process of fostering better relationships. The surveys of what doesn't work (and why) are just as important as insights about what does work paired with alternative choices to traditional thinking about as common an issue as the family dinner.

An added bonus is the wealth of footnoted references that point the way to research-based information. These serve as both support for Adler's contentions and tools for additional reading, should parents want to delve into the source materials supporting her contentions.

The result will be considered, by many parents, to be not just a guideline, but a godsend.

Debunking Teenagers should not only be included in libraries strong in parenting guides, but should ideally be made a key part of any parenting discussion group and given to adults working with teens to help foster better ways of introducing teens to adulthood.

Jeffrey Dunn
Izzard Ink Publishing
9781642280975, $17.95 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Wildcat: An Appalachian Romance is a literary story of love and loss set against the backdrop of the Rust Belt, where a retired teacher returns to his hometown with a vision of renovating the Hotel Wildcat. His journey home reveals transformations he'd never expected, calling into question the possibility of a mine-driven community entering the new age world, carrying its baggage of explosions, anguish, and company town pain with it.

Just as Wildcat harbors its own ghosts of the past, so the catastrophic changes that rocked the narrator's world in his senior year return to haunt him as he and the community try to escape the darkness of historical precedent to enter a new era against all odds and influences.

Jeffrey Dunn creates a compelling narrative as seen through the eyes of a character that discovers the pull of the past tugs on not just memories, but heartstrings.

Lured back by the town's magical changes and promise, the teacher also finds himself in a transformative romance that takes past experience and gives it a new twist while injecting some of the darkness of those experiences into his new life.

As he surveys choices and loves of the past, motivating factors for escape come into play to slowly reveal why he left in the first place - and why he returned:

"It was quiet, spooky quiet, so quiet, in fact, that after the moving truck drove away, it felt like a cemetery, and then I thought that all post - World War II housing plans must be cemeteries, too. It wasn't a pleasant thought, this belief that I was born and still lived in a cemetery. I knew right then and there that I needed to find a way out."

Jeffrey Dunn builds the town's past and present carefully, piece by piece, as events swerve from mills and dams to failures in human endeavors that affect the protagonist and everyone around him. History is woven into these events with such an adept touch that readers absorb this atmosphere with a seamless interplay of people and perceptions. These lend nicely to character reactions to their world's pain and promises.

Dunn's novel will be perfect for readers seeking stories about community transformation processes, the seepage of past events into present-day attempts to change, and the Appalachian environment.

Libraries will want to recommend this novel to anyone seeking a story set in the Rust Belt where dreams and reality coalesce to bring new realizations about the past, present, and possible futures.

Feral Maril and Her Little Brother Carol
Leslie Tall Manning
Independently Published
9780960017775, $14.99 Paperback/$4.99 ebook

In Feral Maril and Her Little Brother Carol, Marilyn has her hands full. Her mother is in prison, leaving her to shuffle through the foster system with younger, mentally challenged brother Carol in tow. Vague childhood memories of someone called the Tan Man lead her to dream that finding him will result in a better place, but before she can do so, her ex-con father shows up and is granted custody.

Now Marilyn faces a dangerous predator bent on getting rid of Carol so he can have her to himself.

As fraught with danger and heartache as her childhood and adolescence are, Marilyn harbors the survival traits of being a stubborn, positive, creative thinker. The plan she hatches could save them both.

Marilyn's journey through the South in search of her brother and a place to call home is replete with warmth and insights alongside a special observational sense of environment which marks Marilyn's ability to assess people and places alike:

"Looking at my surroundings, I questioned where the mini-bus picked him up, since it didn't seem like there'd be a safe place to stand with all the sticker bushes and smell of fox pee, and water moccasins that could mosey up from one of the nearby tributaries."

Readers don't just follow Marilyn's journey. They come to love her, cheering for her efforts and feeling sorrow when new challenges arise to further complicate her young life.

Leslie Tall Manning's story is grimly realistic in its portrait of childhood abuse and adversity. This may serve as a trigger for readers who harbor the scars of trauma from their own lives. Her ability to delve into Marilyn's influences and explore how her character emerges intact from all these confrontations creates a gripping story that is hard to predict, put down, or pigeonhole.

Manning presents Marilyn as not a young hero, but a person struggling with emerging strengths and character flaws that influence her choices and actions. Revelations may be as overt and hard-hitting as reflections on freedom and independence, or as subtle as Tan Man's real meaning, and how different relationships formed between strangers become guideposts in their lives.

The result is especially recommended for book clubs and libraries seeking stories about coming-of-age experiences which incorporate threads of growth (from physical to attitude adjustments) into their sagas in a rich, powerful manner that will appeal to mature teens to adults.

Becoming Modigliani
Henri Colt M.D.
Rake Press
9781959185000, $24.99 (Paperback), $14.99 (eBook), $ 27.99 (Hardcover)

Becoming Modigliani comes from a physician and traveler who largely writes medical texts; but here he tackles the life and medical challenges of Jewish-Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, who died at age thirty-five of tuberculosis meningitis.

The combination of medical, cultural, and artistic inquiry cannot be beat; especially coming from a doctor with credentials in medicine. This enhances the survey of art, adding the effect of STIs, alcoholism, war, and health decline on psychological and artistic endeavors.

Readers might anticipate that prior familiarity with Modigliani, his world of the early 1900s art community in Europe, and medical challenges of the times would be necessary. Not so. Dr. Colt provides background in all these areas while paving the way for readers to discover the underlying influences and impacts of disease on achievement, psyche, and art.

Numerous footnoted references to research are testimony to the avidly studious nature of this story, which surveys everything from Modigliani's muses, love, and temperament to the changing social and political world around him. Of special interest are passages that link Modigliani's experiences and perceptions to the greater world and the medical and health issues that permeated both:

"If we are to believe some of the anecdotes about Modigliani, he was increasingly prone to rowdiness, public displays of anger, refusals to seek help and apparent drunkenness. He was prone to mood swings even as a child, and may have been highly sensitive or vulnerable to deep emotions. Unknowingly, he may have turned to mind-altering substances as a form of self-medication and only later began to suffer from their adverse consequences. Modern scientists debate the adverse effects of alcohol and cannabis on mental health and personality, including, for example, the potential for cannabis to increase the risk of early psychosis, especially if used by adolescents and young adults."

Also especially notable are passages which review and consider Modigliani as representative of his times and the medical issues which permeated them. This is why art lovers, history buffs, scholars, and healthcare and social sciences readers alike will find much to appreciate in this biography. It links history, art, and medicine in an unusual manner to enlighten readers about the roots of inspiration, artistic creation, and life.

The process of artistic creation is documented in a precise, analytical manner that takes the physician's eye for diagnosis and interpretation to new levels, always rooting these inspections firmly in Modi's world and art:

"In some paintings, the eyes are a soft, light blue-gray. In others, only one eye is darkened. "With one eye you look out at the world," Modi told Leopold Survage in 1918, "with the other you look in at yourself." We can only wonder whether Modi was fully aware of the negative turns his life could take as an adult, even as he became an increasingly accomplished visual artist."

Art and medical libraries alike will find this journey unique and important, and will want to choose Becoming Modigliani for not only collections rich in art biographies and explorations, but for reading groups interested in the intersection and impact of health on artistic ambition.

Blood and Verse
Chris McAuley and Jeff Oliver
Cosby Media Productions
9798888962244, $19.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

Blood and Verse provides Dracula fans, dark poetry followers, and history buffs with a re-envisioning of the Dracula mythos and its aftermath that coalesces powerful poetry with equally powerful imagery.

The intersection of the fictional classic, nonfiction (elements of such added for value and expansive understanding), and rich visuals and word images creates a deeper plunge into the mythology and figures of Stoker's original, translating them to new depths of realization and experience for modern readers.

Fans of horror and gothic literature may find the format of this exploration to be unusual - but any challenge experienced in the reading is worth the effort of absorbing literary devices that may lay outside the usual milieu of the horror genre enthusiast. Prose and poetry marry as the reflections of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing's journal intersect with searches for truth.

The verse itself, rhyming and pointed, assumes a dark countenance of observation married with reflective experience to bring readers intimately into the quandaries and puzzles the investigator faces:

"This entry will be much different than the ones I've quilled before.
The nurses restrained him once more.
I'm now going to document his habits.
He's sleeping now and has a disgruntled snore.
It's ear-piercingly loud.
It has a very high-pitched sound."

Even more stark and startling are passages which capture the psychological underpinnings of legend and psychological revelation:

"Dracula consumed blood for corruption.
Blood selfishly served his needs.
He created the monster inside of him when he bowed to the darkest of Kings.
He opened the gates when he drank from that skull.
He fell violently to his knees.
In exchange for his soul, he died for revenge.
Then received everything he could ever need."

The story's progression unfolds a myriad blend of insights that both adds to and increases the horror component as readers follow in the footsteps of an investigation into Dracula that even Stoker may not have envisioned.

The result is both literary and entertaining: a bloody, thought-provoking marriage of form, history, legend, and literary device that will be especially welcomed by libraries seeking additions to horror collections that operate outside the usual box of terror.

Broken (Book 1 of the Young Hellions Series)
Braxton A. Cosby
Cosby Media Productions
9798885262743, $24.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paperback/$3.99 eBook

Broken is set in 2035. Humanity has largely succeeded in pulverizing itself (and all life on the planet) out of existence. This is the aftermath, where Keesa Donovan and her younger brother Kiran, having lost everything, eke out their lives in a slave pod in Georgia.

The usual teen angst about coming-of-age issues (including romance) is tempered by an equally confusing confrontation with latent ESP abilities and visions of the future. These lead Kessa on a quest to find her new place in this damaged world.

At this point, it should be noted that Broken introduces the Young Hellions series. Keesa's powerful struggles over her identity and place coincide with her bid for freedom as discovery after discovery places her at odds with her environment, as well as her destiny:

"'Unless you haven't been paying attention, I don't really care about my life,' I shout.
'And that's what makes you so special, Keesa, doesn't it?' Cress asks as he walks toward me. I freeze at his words. 'At least, that's what you think. But you see, I know that you don't really believe that. I know you'd rather live than die. Why else would you care so much about your family?'"

The vivid immediacy of this future world, its devastating legacy and struggles for revitalization and survival, and Keesa's growing self-empowerment as a young Black woman destined for greater things than slavery and subjugation makes for a thoroughly engrossing story. The saga is powered by ambition and destiny, and teen readers of fantasy and sci-fi will find this thought-provokingly revealing.

The aftermath of the world-wide nuclear war also receives intriguing social analysis, here, elevating the story above and beyond those which focus on survival or political efforts alone.

The interpersonal relationships Keesa develops in the course of her quest for answers add further deep dimensions of influence into her story:

"You be the fire! Tell them to hold on just a little longer. They have to. You have to! Because if no one else does, if no one else ever told you so, I believe in you."

The resulting story of nuclear war survivors, leadership, and ideological and physical struggles takes a giant step away from many competing genre reads, leading followers far from the mundane and into arenas of resistance, resilience, and unity.

Libraries seeking post-apocalyptic fiction that operates as strongly on a level of social and psychological inquiry as it does in the physical elements of survival and discovery will find Broken a compelling collection addition.

Infinity 7: War of Gods
Braxton A. Cosby and Keshawn Dodds
Cosby Media Productions
9798888962169, $22.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paperback/$4.99 eBook

Infinity 7: War of Gods feels like it opens midway into the action ("I accept your surrender," the towering, green mountain humanoid said as the crunching sound of cervical vertebrae waned inside the vice grip of his right gloved hand."), but its opening lines merely serve to capture reader attention as its following paragraphs reveal the setting and lead-up to this defeat.

It also should be noted, at this point, that Infinity 7: War of Gods is the follow-up to Infinity 7: Gods Among Men and marks the conclusion of an 18-book (and 5-comic Dark Spores) series of stories, and will best be imbibed by prior fans of the rich world Braxton A. Cosby and Keshawn Dodds, along with four other authors, have created in this saga, for both appreciation of past events and maximum interest in their ultimate outcome.

While newcomers to the series can slip into its allure with little understanding of the past, it's the avid follower that will embrace the return of characters from previous books, who face the concluding results of their experiences in an unpredictably alluring manner.

From a powerful army of committed men facing their greatest challenge in the Space Pirate Stratus to the countenance and objectives of those who might seem as gods to cultures not as advanced in technology or the finer art of fighting, Infinity 7 creates dialogues and clashes that are thoroughly engrossing:

"You are no god," a random voice boomed from the crowd.

Stratus addressed the crowd. "Am I not? Do gods not possess the power to both give and take life? After what I've done to your pathetic excuse of an army," Stratus paused as a sinister smirk spread across his jaw, "am I not now among the conversation of those you both fear and idolize?"
"We had a deal," another voice erupted."

Flashbacks (such as one from five years prior in Chicago, Illinois) fill in many blanks for newcomers as the events progress, moving from off-planet to Earthly realms as a diverse cast of characters participate in or confront dreams, conflicts, drugs, and Conglomerate makeup and special interests.

The main character, Paladin (shades of Western heroism!) draws together many of these seemingly disparate threads of action and interest as he fulfills his role as leader of the Capes while mourning his lost love and the tattered remains of those he deems family.

There is the classic good versus evil scenario, with Super-Normals confronting the heroes; there are bigger picture intentions about controlling and enslaving not one world, but the universe; and action-packed, vivid scenes draw these interests together in a tangled web of clashing objectives and visions of power and future control.

Cosby and Dodds cultivate a unique form of action that juxtaposes bigger-picture thinking with individual strengths, questions, and objectives. These drive the plot's evolving scenes, creating satisfyingly unpredictable twists and turns that add depth and entertainment value to a story that will attract fans of superhero sci-fi and urban fantasy alike.

While Paladin's objectives sometimes blur the boundaries between individual action and responsibility and group participation, his struggles remain realistic, sometimes flawed, and always engrossing.

Libraries looking for vivid superhero action and scenarios which shift with breathtaking regularity, especially those already in possession of prior Cosby and Dodds productions, will welcome the concluding force that is Infinity 7: War of Gods.

Earth's Last Starfleet (Book 2 of The Third Age Saga)
Daniel Peyton
Cosby Media Productions
9798885262637, $17.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

In Earth's Last Starfleet, Earth's Last Starship Earth (Book 2 of The Third Age Saga), the people of Earth survived an invading force of aliens solely protected by the spacecraft Orlando. As peace descends upon the world and humanity relaxes, hero adventurer Captain Brian Shepard finds that his life has returned to relative normal. And he doesn't like it.

It's time for new adventures and impossible wins. Be careful what you wish for. Adversity arrives in the form of Ko, the former ruler of the Soreth before the fall of Soreth Prime, whose ambition and power threatens not just humanity, but the entire universe.

Perfect. This is just the kind of challenge Brian likes.

The Earth Space Navy has grown since his first battles. He's no longer alone with the crew of the Orlando, assuming the role of Commander over the fleet and learning how to navigate not only space and time to confront Ko's threat and the Fanglerian homeworld, but how to field the power and purposes of an entire fleet of battleships.

Daniel Peyton's story injects a wry sense of underlying humor to Brian's interactions with his crew and his considerations of how he might change the fate of humanity and the universe at large:

"Brian looked back at his first officer. The enemy fleet. Do we have any idea if they're following us?" Braxton smiled. "No, sir. All the ships in our fleet are equipped with advanced sensor dampening devices. While at full tactical alert, the device is automatic. Once we entered hyperlight, they could not follow us. Good, we need some peace right about now."

The technology of the Sorenth before their fall, the puzzle of stopping an impossible weapon that has no 'off' button, and the action-packed scenes mark a military sci-fi story in which technology and problem-solving are as vivid as the action-packed descriptions of war:

"Tactical yelled, "They're firing!" Weapons poured out from the Tol'konian ships and blazed across the shields of the Fengler/Human fleet. Tactical called out, "Shields are holding. They're preparing to fire again." "Fire all weapons!" Braxton ordered. They returned fire with torpedoes and energy weapons. One of the smaller Tol'kon cruisers exploded. Then the enemy fired, and the USS Argentina split in half."

As Earth's last Starfleet faces a battle for survival and Brian finds his taste for adventure tempered by his absence from family, friends, and a peaceful life, forces come together to pose greater challenges, such as an addiction to power that may prove unshakeable even in times of peace.

Libraries and readers seeking a military sci-fi story replete with action juxtaposed with thought-provoking scenarios of power struggles and ultimate impacts on the psyches and ambitions of leaders and followers alike will find Earth's Last Starfleet a standout, offering more depth than most military sci-fi creations.

Legacy of Dragonwand Book VI
Daniel Peyton
Cosby Media Productions
9798888962220, $17.99 Paperback/$4.99 eBook

Legacy of Dragonwand Book VI is a sword-and-sorcery fantasy that joins the Dragonwand series in the capital city of Thendor. Here, The Dark Lady and Baron Thorn pose equal yet disparate perils to the city. These can only be confronted (and possibly resolved) by human/Lord Dragon Markus, who may be the only force capable of protecting the land.

This shapeshifting hero confronts not only evil, but the legacy of his efforts and ambitions as Thendor wavers between vying forces which are bent on control and injecting misery into hearts by tainting them with dark, corrupted magic.

A desperate search for and control of the Heart of Darkness, and a uncommon association between Lord Dragon and his newly discovered great-great grandfather Steffen, places the Dragonwand Core at the heart of both darkness and light. Here, Markus confronts Dragon-creating forces, not one but two disparate forms of evil, and a legacy that tests his ability to be a hero (even though, as a boy Dragon, he is ill equipped to face adversary Korvarsk in battle).

As Steffen, Korvarsk, and Markus find their lives entwined on a far more complex playing field than the usual good-versus-evil confrontation, embracing personal elements of unexpected connections, love, and revelations, young adult and adult fantasy readers alike will fall under its spell. The characterization, setting, and action are huge draws that are well-done and captivating.

Libraries looking at sword-and-sorcery series additions will be especially pleased to note that Legacy of Dragonwand Book VI operates as both a satisfying adjunct to its predecessors and a very accessible stand-alone adventure that leaves the door wide open for more books in the series.

It's Murder, You Betcha
Jeanne Cooney
North Star Press of St. Cloud
9781682011485, $20.00, PB, 360pp

Cozy mystery readers who enjoy a special sense of community and place in their stories will welcome It's Murder, You Betcha, which comes steeped in the culture of the Minnesotan farming town of Hallock.

This second book in the 'It's Murder' series features an ice fishing expedition gone awry when Doris and her sister uncover not fish, but a body. The elderly woman they've treated to the outing is understandably upset, and so Doris becomes involved in the investigation to quell her agitation, only to find that a virtual blizzard of lies, deception, and secrets prove ever more puzzling and involving as her probe progresses.

Jeanne Cooney takes the time to fully present the countenances, relationships, and connections that keep Doris and her associates involved in not only the mystery, but each other and their community:

"The sun reflected off the snow and her wire-rimmed glasses. With her impish expression and whisps of white hair sticking out every which way from beneath her pink knit hat, Rose, who was short and getting shorter all the time, reminded me of a pixie. Or perhaps a leprechaun, considering she had immigrated from Ireland as a child. How she and her family ever ended up settling in the land of Swede and Norwegian Lutherans, I had no clue. Then, she became my mother's best friend and, later, a second mother to Grace and me."

From relationships with sisters and friends to thought-provoking revelations about town matters and personalities, Cooney's descriptions often inject a sense of humor into the story even as they deliver a side dish of insights and possibilities that mystery fans will find revealing:

"'But he died, Grace. He just got murdered. Jeez, sometimes you're...' I let my words fade. What was the point of needling Grace for being... Grace? 'Anyhow,' I tried again, 'Dickerson said that Dot's now too grief stricken to think about anything, including money.' My sister laughed so hard that she almost fell off her chair."

Humor abounds even in succinct phrases ("To take stock of the entire street, Grace rotated her head in Exorcist fashion."), keeping readers absorbed and involved as the story reveals a host of possibilities, confrontations, and surprises.

Fueled by Minnesotan culture and atmosphere and community relationships which are put to the brink of breaking over a murder, It's Murder, You Betcha's special brand of down-home atmosphere, humor, and entanglements makes it a winning choice. It's especially recommended for libraries seeking to expand cozy mystery collections with a strong regional American community focus, and for newcomers and prior readers of Doris and her sister Grace.

You Only Go Extinct Once
Bob Lorentson
Independently Published
9798218262037, $10.99 Paperback/$4.99 eBook

You Only Go Extinct Once: Stuck in the Anthropocene with the Pleistocene Blues Again comes from an environmental scientist who has an especially engaging form of delivery for scientific facts and history, served up with a wicked sense of humor, as is evident in a subtitle which bows to a Bob Dylan song.

Another clue to the readability and fun of this book lies in chapter headings which are anything but scientifically staid ("One Squid to Rule Us All," "In Vegetables We Trust. Or Do We?," and "Can Goat Yoga Save the World?").

Sections divided into 'Plants and Animals' and 'The Humans' make for logical paths of inquiry as fifty essays explore the Anthropocene and human interactions with nature. It exposes many thought-provoking theories and contentions that will especially appeal to any reader who might have thought science and natural history to be dull topics. From the foreword:

"My theory is this: Plants and animals mind their own business, and when threatened, will fight with all the resources at their disposal to remove the threat. Humans mind everyone else's business, and when threatened, will dispose of all the resources they have and increase the threat."

The notably lively close look at what constitutes human beings and both separates them from and connects them to the animal world makes for a survey that grasps the fundamentals of scientific inquiry and entertainment value alike. This book should attract readers as much for its humor as for its interesting science, nature, and timely environmental themes.

You Only Go Extinct Once even delves into the moral and ethical boundaries of a scientific investigation of the natural world, offering many topics suitable for classroom and book reading group debate as it romps through studies, biases, lies and truths, and often ends chapters with hilarity (From "The Evolution of Lying": "I'm sorry, but I have to end this essay prematurely as my pants just caught on fire.")

The result is a special invitation to appreciate the investigations, questions, answers, and quandaries revolving around animal and human lives, environments, and choices and actions.

Libraries, science teachers, and all ages who might ordinarily eschew the dryness of scientific discourses and education will be drawn to this essay collection. It will reach into a wide audience, from teens and teachers to general-interest readers looking for a bit of fun to spice up their scientific education.

In Extremis
Matt Duggan
9781733794336, $24.99

In Extremis provides the second novel in the literary/historical The Rosy Dream series. The tension emerges from the first few paragraphs as, in short order, first-person narrator Jack faces "The collision of random events: murder, seizure, fire" in California. He finds himself in an ambulance, surrounded by fire. And that's just the opening salvo of a journey that carries Jack and his followers through a convergence of events that keep him connected to both the film industry and the ironies of life.

Matt Duggan creates an absorbing interplay of characters and conflicts in this second installment of the ongoing mishaps and revelations of Jack Darmody.

From friend Chris's death, which affects EMT Evan and brings Jack back to his own struggles with mortality twelve years prior upon his good friend Billy Barber's murder, to money-making endeavors, secret probations, and Jack's association with Dr. Jan Thomason ('Doc'), Duggan creates a vivid interplay between characters and shifting jobs and experiences:

"Over the years, all my raven talk opened Doc up. He had his own leviathan chained to the sea floor. But as Nietzsche said, 'He who fights with monsters should be careful, lest he become one himself.' Doc's pain seared itself into his heart. He blinded himself to it. It drove his intense work ethic. His patents, his books, his career. I always joked that he was the real Ubermensch, the Superman. I hadn't added any value to society, but here was Doc."

As a music video project introduces new possibilities for redemption, success, and revised truths, Jack faces the possibility of rejuvenation after a long series of confrontations with self and others.

Libraries and readers seeking a feel of Kerouac's classic 'On the Road', but in a more contemporary romp through California culture, its arts community, and the endeavors of a young man struggling with his potential for success and failure, will find In Extremis builds upon the previous story, but requires no prior familiarity in order to prove a stand-alone winner.

Steeped in California culture and a coming-of-age journey, In Extremis offers a vivid portrait of change that will delight all ages.

Walk the Earth as Brothers
Henry Rozycki
Addison and Highsmith
c/o Histria Books
9781592113866, $29.99 Hardcover/$9.99 eBook

Walk the Earth as Brothers is a novel about two Jewish brothers in Warsaw who, in 1939, face a changing world that tears them apart, leading them on very different paths to survival.

Ian winds up in Paris, where he falls in love but again finds himself fleeing close connections when his life is threatened, sending him away from this woman's embrace and mystery to seeming safety in Casablanca.

Brother Daniel, who winds up in the Siberian Gulag, also finds unexpected romance under adverse conditions and threats to his life. But he, too, faces a similar difficult choice in whether to leave his love for freedom and reunion, or live the rest of his days imprisoned.

The history and fate which affects these two brothers' lives, relationships, and choices are firmly rooted in reality, but the contrasts and similarities between their individual adversity and survival tactics are vividly portrayed with all the passion and fire of fiction.

Each woman teaches her young man new things about the world and how to react to it, as Alicia does for Ian when she poses astute questions about his future:

"You can't be a piece of driftwood anymore, or you will be smashed into a million pieces by the tidal wave that is our world right now."

Ian can't quite make out this bigger picture that he's supposed to be part of, but he learns the hard way as new encounters, friendships, and revelations buffet his world to change his experience and his perception of his place in it:

"'What have you been doing?' Ian asked 'Jerzy.' He rarely went out with them. In his little kit bag, he kept a Bible, and he spent hours silently reading it now. Conversations were rare. Ian was content to give him room, assuming that after running, hiding, changing identities and God knows what else, he now had time to rest, recuperate, and to seek solace from that book, that it was not all random, that whatever one chose to do did have impact on what happened next. Ian was trying to do the same and failing. He wished he'd not grown up so fiercely secular, so he could find the answers he sought in 'Jerzy's' book. Or be like Christophe, asking no questions. Either one would definitely make it easier."

While Walk the Earth as Brothers will prove especially attractive to readers of Jewish history and experience, it would be a shame to limit its audience to Jewish audiences alone. The cultural and political revelations which come to light in the course of each brother's education and progression are worthy of book club and reading group debate - particularly for those interested in World War II scenarios which depart from the usual focuses on survival tactics alone.

Libraries seeking novels about growth, family relationships, transformative life encounters, and the intersection of personal and political struggle will find Walk the Earth as Brothers invigorating and provocative, lending well to discussion and debates about Jewish culture and World War II's different impacts.

Centering Pura Vida
Lily E. Espinoza
Alive Book Publishing
9781631322303, $19.95, PB, 184pp

Many books advocate for placing people of color in positions of power, but Centering Pura Vida comes with a difference: it focuses on what these circumstances actually look like, presenting them in the voices of real-world participants.

Students of color relate their encounters with programs promoting positions of leadership, authority, and inclusion. These case studies illustrate inclusion theories in action, outline problems and solutions, and contrast disparate diversity support programs in colleges.

Lily E. Espinoza was only twenty when she stumbled upon her dream job in a job announcement:

" serve as a Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness at a community college, and then to become a college president. That moment felt magical and exciting, as if sirens had sounded off: TARGET AQUIRED! I saw my future in the crosshairs. I had found what I was meant to do with my life! I knew instantly that I wanted to dedicate myself to working at the community college for my career. I wanted to be someone who made sure that students did not fall through the cracks. I wanted to be that person who makes sure institutional resources were utilized directly on student success efforts. That programs, services, funding, and facilities were geared toward students first."

As she honed her dream and turned it into her daily reality, she also faced the candid realities of working in higher education, confronting the challenges of ideals versus obstacles to enacting them, to improve student lives.

The phrase "pura vida" is prevalent in modern-day Costa Rica. It translates to embracing a simple or pure life. 20 years of Espinoza's experience is represented by this phrase and transmitted by book title, intention, and the illustrations she provides readers who follow in her life goals and consider higher education's transformational opportunities.

Readers expecting a biographical format alone may be surprised by the book's analytical side, which tackles subjects ranging from organizational structure to educational philosophy as Espinoza constructs diversity programs and fosters student awareness and empowerment.

Philosophy, psychology, and organizational theory mingle in a manner that outlines higher education structures, barriers, and opportunities in a way that even readers not involved in educational systems can readily understand.

As she outlines the ideals and realities of the transformation process, readers will gain much knowledge not just about systems and their revision, but the kinds of ideals and actions that make "pura vida" an active participatory possibility (under the right guidance).

Libraries and readers already inundated with books about higher education goals will find many differences in Centering Pura Vida. The title was purposely created to attract attention beyond higher education circles alone, and promises thought-provoking revelations and much fodder for book club and business management discussion groups.

That's why it should be chosen as a mainstay of any collection devoted to considering social change processes, how they look and feel in the real world, and how to make inclusion a living incarnation rather than an idealistic theory.

Victory in Europe
Robert Kofman
Lion Valley Publishing
9781732991040, $17.95 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

Fans of Robert Kofman's World War II historical novel Ike's Journey will appreciate the ongoing saga continued in Victory in Europe, which focuses on Commander Ike Eisenhower's quandaries, decision-making challenges, and headaches. He oversees not only strategies for the course of military engagements, but the head-butting antics of generals Montgomery and Patton, who represent vastly different expertise and opinions of how the war should be fought.

Because the novel picks up neatly where Ike's Journey stopped, Victory in Europe is especially recommended for prior readers, who will appreciate the evolutionary nature of progressive events which continue to challenge President Eisenhower's command and leadership concepts.

As in his previous story, Kofman excels in creating a satisfying contrast between military and political duties and objectives. His ability to personalize these decisions lends an ease and understanding to historical events that highlights the drama with action and psychological insights, whether Eisenhower is tackling generals or promoting his plans to VIP influencers:

"A sea of solemn nodding heads responded to his admonition. The Supreme Commander continued. 'This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. We're going to cross the channel, throw every resource we have into the invasion, and crush Hitler's Atlantic Wall! Overlord must and will end with the Allies firmly ashore in France!' Eisenhower grinned broadly and joked, 'In a few minutes, Hitler will have missed his one and only chance of destroying the entire high command of the Allied forces with a single well-aimed bomb!' The room of VIPs rippled with laughter."

Ulterior motives for various encounters, from stopping Patton to taking risks by psychologically manipulating major players and decision-makers, make for especially thought-provoking reading:

"I don't want to shut down Georgie again. But I also don't want to throw away the opportunity to be on the Rhine while there's still good campaigning weather. While Monty's plan is undoubtedly born out of his massive ego to stay in the spotlight and steal the show from Patton, I like how it uses the paratroopers as a force multiplier. I feel like I have coins burning in my pocket with those paratroopers sitting idle back in England. I must get them into the fight!"

The result juxtaposes behind-the-scenes insights with military, strategic, and psychological interplays that delve deeper into the heart of World War II experiences and decision-making quandaries than many historical novels achieve.

Libraries and readers who appreciated the tone and development of Ike's Journey are in for a treat here. Victory in Europe offers a rare opportunity for understanding the motivations and choices of major Allied decision-makers and forces in a different light.

This approach also makes Victory in Europe equally highly recommended for book clubs seeking World War II military stories simmering in both action and cat-and-mouse games that operate on many levels. There are many topics which will prove perfect fodder for lively discussions!

A Moonrise in the Fire
Tessia Ives
Silver Raven Press
9798990068704, $13.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

A Moonrise in the Fire is narrated by Talvi, who confesses, from the first line of her narrative, that she "has no powers." In a world where everyone holds abilities, this is a serious lack that translates to no choices, either.

Talvi finds purpose and a sense of strength in being the keeper of Starstone Temple in her forest town - but even this task threatens to vanish when a dangerous stranger arrives on her doorstep to threaten what little she has.

Caelan is as attractive as he is mysterious, so Talvi finds herself confronting not just the threat to her childhood love and the absence of the Elemental forces within her that every other person holds, but traversing three realms in a quest that concurrently involves struggling with this Fire Elemental's dangerous draw.

Romance, wilderness environments, and the attraction of power and love grasp reader attention with compelling dilemmas spiced by romance and danger alike. Talvi's struggles thus emerge to embrace far bigger-picture thinking than her singular life's ambitions.

Tessia Ives creates a likeable and realistic character in Talvi, presenting her as flawed hero whose world is shaken as much by the presence of new potential as the contrasting absence of her own powers.

How she gains empowerment, finds love, heals self and those around her, and learns to navigate realms, gigantic creatures, and new possibilities makes for a vivid story.

Events are further enhanced by Ives's attention to atmospheric descriptions and in-depth character development, which takes the time to build a realistic, memorable series of dilemmas and opportunities into Talvi's life and growth process.

The result holds more weight than many fantasy romances, but pays its readers amply for their efforts, via satisfying twists and turns and compelling scenes that go beyond the simpler approaches of too many genre reads.

Libraries and readers seeking fantasy romances that operate on a bigger playing field than that of love and attraction alone will find the quest and psychological insights of A Moonrise in the Fire set it above and beyond the typical genre read, creating many vivid hours of immersive adventure that readers will welcome as they explore Talvi's world alongside her.

Insecticide: A Republican Romance
Douglas Robinson
Atmosphere Press
9798891321960, $19.99/$9.99 ebook

Insecticide: A Republican Romance pairs the efforts of author Douglas Robinson with researcher Bill Kaul in a novel that holds the drama of fiction laced with the overlay feel of nonfiction. Documents and events are paired in a manner that suggests Robinson is writing about a real world. In a manner of speaking, he is.

He's created an alternate history in which W. Averell "Dogsbody" Harriman convinced Prescott Bush to set up a new Republic of Texas in 1931. And that's not the only difference that sets this milieu apart from what really happened. It's best that readers who imbibe here already know their American history, because this knowledge will lend appreciation to Robinson's special blend of political, social, and sci-fi scenarios, which move from that history to cloning, giant insects, and more.

Who is Prescott Bush, and why is fifty-something James Quincey Percival IV (who has worked for Harriman Investments for half a decade) both indebted to him and questioning the man's integrity and countenance? As the story unfolds, political and social satire mingles with the developments in Texas to reveal "danger and opportunity" with fire ants, freak electrical storms, supporting character revelations, and more:

"'Boys, boys,' I say, feeling very uncular. 'Come on. Enough already. We're not here to make policy. We're the mouthpieces of the people who make policy. Settle down for crikey's sake.' After they leave, I jot down some notes on their remarks to pass on to Henry. He should know what his people are saying about him."

Robinson constructs an intriguing, thought provoking set of scenarios, clashes, and possible and impossible encounters that revolve around George ("Poppy") and other characters. They discover their lives are set on a course of ironic and odd changes, whether it be condom movements, the Church's problem with insects, the challenges facing the President of the Republic of Texas (George), and more.

This will especially delight readers who appreciate intricate blends of satire, history, speculative events, and sci-fi social scenarios in their literature; especially those attracted to works which challenge pat categorization.

Libraries that choose Insecticide: A Republican Romance for its different form of political and social observation will find it easy to recommend to book clubs seeking out-of-the-box thinking and scenarios that lend to discussion and laughter in equal measure.

Collapse Years
Damir Salkovic
The Mad Duck Coalition
9781956389203, $15.00

Collapse Years is a fictional exploration of societal collapse, ghosts, and governments and families in disarray. It opens with the story 'Hantu', in which Arjani observes a ghostly dragon from her position in a refugee camp, which her family huddles in as the world around them collapses.

The sea has overrun their island, forcing them onto the mainland, where circumstances feel little better than the calamity they escaped, from a place which they once called home.

In this story, Hantu are awakened by these series of disasters:

"The sea rages and its waves eat people's homes. When there is turmoil, hantu are released. Ghosts with one foot in this world and the other in the next."

As fear, magic, and transformation take place even during these end times, Arjani finds the courage to escape the pharma camp to head into unknown new worlds and opportunities.

The next story, 'Carriers', explores the quarantine guards, bureaucratic chaos, and idiocy that impacts Myung-soo's changing world.

As events unfold, readers are treated to a vision of a collapsing society duly reported on by an aspiring on-scene witness who strives to achieve notoriety and success even as humanity devolves. His dream is that:

"...the Big Media Companies would descend on his feed like vultures, fighting tooth and nail over his photos, showering him in royalties."

His world of feast or famine rests solely on his ability to report disasters in a compelling manner. His ambition rests on a social and political disaster that could arm his photojournalism with passion and success:

"The last of the known infected had been penned into the Red Zone, a pre-Unification military base repurposed into the nation's largest viral containment camp. There they awaited recovery, or death, or the increasingly elusive cure, well-provi-sioned and isolated, guarded by soldiers and cared for by teams of medics. Through all of Myung-soo's research and reporting in the Itaewon bars, no source, government or otherwise, could confirm the number of detainees, or which units were still at their posts, or the names of pharma transnationals operating inside the Red Zone. No photojournalist had ever set foot within its gates. It was pristine source material, and Myung-soo was determined to carve it out for his own."

Perhaps the greatest strength of the interlinked stories reflecting the newly structured human world in Collapse Years lies in their ability to examine the nature and costs of survival, and what it means to stay human under impossible conditions.

Libraries and readers seeking apocalyptic stories that explore and cement the processes of de-evolution of the human spirit will find Collapse Years offers not only powerful observations and voices, but powerful contrasts in ideals of success and survival. These elements make the book a perfect recommendation for book clubs seeking exceptional material for debating end times and new beginnings.

Scout's Honor
John McNellis
Hubbard House
9781736352540, $6.99 eBook/$16.99 Paperback

In Scout's Honor, which opens in 1969, eighteen-year-old Eddie Kawadsky's life has unraveled. His father was killed in Vietnam, his grieving mother abandoned him, and he's homeless and broke, as a result.

That's why the proposal of a seemingly well-meaning neighbor, which comes in the form of a job, sounds inviting. The offer could bring him back on track to fulfilling his dreams of college and achievement.

Unfortunately, the proposal to transport marijuana over the Mexican border places him on the wrong side of the law, and when Roy abandons him too, Eddie finds himself on the lam and out of options.

Forced to assume a new identity to hide from authorities and others, Eddie works hard to craft the life of success and achievement that he's always dreamed of, while navigating the ongoing impacts of staying hidden and preserving his new identity against all odds.

Will anyone ever forgive him his trespasses and subterfuge? How can Eddie restore honor to his life without threatening everything he's worked for?

John McNellis creates a powerful "world of sighs" as he follows disparate characters who each search for stability and honor in their own ways; both independently and through their life-changing interactions with one another.

Not quite a thriller, skirting the edges of romance (but filled with psychological transformative experiences that send the protagonist on a moral and ethical journey just when everything he's wanted is within his grasp), McNellis grows a story replete with moments of revelation and insights:

"His youthful absolutes had long since been stripped away, but he'd retained one certainty: Margaret would leave him if she knew. Maybe he could justify everything else, but not his wretched decision..."

Readers expecting another story of Vietnam's impact, creating and maintaining a false identity, or navigating love under conditions of searching for redemption and honor will find Scout's Honor doesn't neatly fit into any singular category.

As such, the novel will attract audiences interested in tales of discovery and change that move their action with character developments which take many unexpected turns to pose a number of uncommon dilemmas.

What is success? Redefined in Scout's Honor, the novel will attract libraries and readers interested in a reflective piece about evolving, changing relationships and secrets that shine with the overlay of conspiracies and revised definitions of success.

The Emerald Cross
Ken Cruickshank
Glendoveer Press LLC
9781960981134, $16.99 Paperback/$5.99 eBook

Readers who enjoy spirited thrillers replete with military background, experiences, and intrigue will find The Emerald Cross an appealing, notable draw. It features a complex interplay of characters, from wounded ex-Green Beret hero Jamie Morales (who returns home missing an eye and psychically suffering) to a mother whose possession of a valuable emerald cross from a Mexican drug lord poses danger to his entire family.

Drawn into a dangerous game that rivals his armed forces experiences' complexity and the potential for personal disaster, Jamie is forced into a role that taps his military skills in a deadly cat-and-mouse game. This spins a fine yarn of intrigue, deception, and psychological challenge.

Initially, these circumstances would seem to be in the bailiwick of the police, as Jamie seeks to assign them the task he is facing:

"Jamie turned and approached the police chief who'd just arrived. 'Marco Delgado has killed my entire family. I expect authorities or the military to hunt his ass down.'"

But as his pursuit of justice dovetails with a mission of vengeance and confrontation, Jamie moves ever deeper into political confrontations revolving around moles, secrets, and the intersection of Mexican and American special interests.

Spiced with DEA encounters, military skills put to unexpected use in civilian life, and underlying motives that affect not just the ownership of the emerald cross, but the lives of those involved in its management, Ken Cruickshank crafts a series of encounters that are vivid in their complexity and possibilities:

"'Power. Riches. Beautiful women. These are intoxicants to men striving to be the next king of kings in the drug realm,' Washington had once told Jamie. He'd added, 'The cycle won't end in my lifetime. But if the DEA and others don't stand up to them, who will?'"

Cruickshank tempers action with psychological entanglements and revelations, leading thriller readers to more closely examine their own concepts of justice, vengeance, survival and exploitation.

Cultural and artistic revelations permeate the story, adding further layers of intrigue and mystery as the plot evolves.

Libraries will want to recommend The Emerald Cross to patrons interested in military thrillers that revolve around vigilante efforts, PTSD and healing, and the circumstances that drive an ex-hero to pick up the reigns of battle as a civilian to tackle extraordinary opponents and circumstances that buffet both his life and his potential for healing.

Milestone Documents in World History
Eric Cunningham, Editor
Schlager Group
9781961844049, $445 Hardcover/$410 ebook/ Hardcover + Ebook bundle: $490

Milestone Documents in World History: Exploring the Primary Sources That Shaped the World joins a widening set of source material reference books that identify and explore humanity's major documents and their impact.

Weighty in subject and price, the coverage is essential for world history collections seeking an all-in-one synthesis of primary documents which have served as and represent the pillars of human thinking and achievement.

This second edition is the first update in the fifteen years since the original was published, and provides over 40 new entries across four volumes of in-depth reference material.

The cross-section of ancient and modern documents begins in the first volume, which covers 2350 BCE - 943CE with such references as Homer's Iliad, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and writings by Dao De Jing and Confucius. It moves forward in history, juxtaposing major thinkers and documents from around the world.

This cross-cultural slice of world-changing works offers offers high school and college-level students and scholars an especially astute contrast between major thinkers, encouraging references, associations, and discussions which might otherwise prove challenging to assemble.

Volume 2 covers 1019 - 1821 with such classics as the Magna Carta, featured alongside works such as Ibn Battuta's Travels in Asia and Africa.

Each volume synthesizes and condenses a period of history by profiling the greatest thinkers and writers of the times. As notable for its diversity and inclusiveness as it is for its organization, delivery, and opportunities for cross-comparisons of historic documents and events, it also offers scholarly commentary with each primary source. This makes it suitable for students and researchers interested in not just the source materials alone, but a critical analysis of each source and its overall importance in world history.

The scholarship, presentation, contents, and nature of this updated second edition makes Milestone Documents in World History: Exploring the Primary Sources That Shaped the World a top recommendation for any world history collection considering itself to be authoritative and inclusive.

The identification of 'milestone' achievements is outstanding, offering an unprecedented opportunity for study and contrast which is simply unavailable elsewhere.

Family: In Search of Genuine Belonging
Paul Dunion EdD
Atmosphere Press
9798891321113, $17.99

Family: In Search of Genuine Belonging explores an important topic: how family love can fall apart in even the most loving of circles.

"Blessings" of different family structures and dynamics accompany the identification and definitions of families that centers on different incarnations; from "too much family" (with entwined identities that aren't separate) to shame-based families; those dedicated to supporting heroic countenances; and others which require a scapegoat or mascot in order to function.

Each incarnation is treated to Paul Dunion's analytical eye with the idea of exploring how denial, personal truths, chaos, or facades of looking good to those outside family translate to experience tempered by appearance.

Case history examples support these identifications, reinforcing their boundaries and often-unspoken assumptions and rules; but it's the 'blessings' conclusion to each identification which holds the most uplifting opportunities for reconsidering ideals of perfection, survival, adaptation, connection, and, ultimately, love.

Plenty of books on the market already tackle the nature of family relationships and connections. The difference in Family: In Search of Genuine Belonging lies in not just its definitions of family circles, but in its supportive realizations about how each type of family structure can offer new possibilities and blessings:

"Living in the shadows of shame can feel normal.
You don't belong there!
Your parents felt terribly out of control and desperately
employed shame to regain control.
Or they brought to you their own childhood shame
with them, modeling self-loathing.
You don't belong there!
Your essential goodness sits in the recesses of your psyche,
waiting to be reclaimed."

Family: In Search of Genuine Belonging needs to be part of any psychology, family therapy, or group discussion where family bonds and entanglements are of prime interest. It also will enjoy a home in (and is highly recommended for) general-interest libraries interested in self-help titles that proffer important, practical information on the roots and impact of disparate family structures and ideals.

Amy Unbound
Martin Sneider
Jewish Leaders Books
9798989776108, $32.95, HC, 418pp

The protagonist in Amy Unbound fields an unhappy marriage and a successful law career when her story opens, but the new election of Obama as President creates within her newfound idealistic goals of social justice pursuits. These, in turn, give her the impetus to change her personal life, as well.

Sick of the Feldman family dynamics and her husband's always-broken promises, Amy confronts his patronizing, gaslighting ways and leaves for Washington. Her story opens at this point and moves into new possibilities as Josh finds himself, once again, repeating old patterns, feeling stuck:

"Not for the first time would Josh spend a sleepless night alone in their king-sized bed. And not for the first time would he try to figure out if there was any way to get their marriage back on track."

Men and women will readily relate to the story of a powerful woman who grasps the reins of new opportunities while a husband is puzzled that she would do so without him.

The 2009 inauguration of President Obama was a heady time of hope. Martin Sneider both captures this political atmosphere and translates it into the personal decisions men and women faced as a result of these new possibilities for the future.

Where many similar-sounding stories about marital challenge seem to focus on the female's point of view, one special note to Amy Unbound is that the story isn't just about Amy's revelations. Despite the book's title, Martin Sneider takes the time to equally depict an already-strong woman's foray into the unknown, and its impact and concurrent changes on Josh's marriage and life:

"Josh was awakened the next morning by a text ping from his cell phone. From Amy. About time, he thought. He read the seven-word text, and his jaw dropped.
'Will be in D.C. for the foreseeable.'

A seven-word message after 48 hours of separation? He then checked his email inbox. Maybe Amy had sent a lengthier explanation. Nada. Zero. Nothing from Amy. Josh was shocked. What did she mean by 'foreseeable?'"

As events emerge from Amy's increasing involvement in the Chicago Alliance for Social Justice and her political connections in Washington, Josh also begins to move in different circles of family and friends. He finds himself better understanding situations normally on the periphery of his experience, such as his gay brother Rand's life and feelings:

"Rand had some friends over that evening, and Josh found it strange to be the only straight guy in the room. The friends couldn't have been more welcoming. It dawned on Josh, not for the first time, how isolated his brother must have felt to be the only gay guy in a room full of heteros."

Family members don't automatically jump up to support Amy's endeavor. Indeed, her St. Louis visits home spark contentions that further impact Amy's trajectory and her marriage, leading her to more closely examine not just her husband, but her entire family support system and their behaviors towards her.

Even as Josh focuses on how to repair relationship damage (or control it better), Amy stands at a crossroads in her life, facing the promise and mystery of a new relationship. Is it worth jettisoning the remnants of her tattered marriage with Josh, who was her best friend and love for most of her adult life?

Sneider's portrait of not just Amy's side, but the entire family's dance around danger makes for a thought-provoking, moving story. Amy Unbound will reach a wide audience of men and women interested in political, psychological, and social transformation.

Both Amy and Josh are challenged (and changed) by new opportunities and moves. Forced to examine or reexamine their deepest ideals and how they solve or avoid problems, Amy and Josh spin circles around one another - and around the actions and motivations of family members who prove to be both "friend and foe."

The process by which Amy is forced to come full-circle is especially inviting and revealing. This will attract book club discussion groups interested in topics of marriage, strong women who make bids for freedom and empowerment, and men and women who manage to keep love alive despite vast changes, plots, and plans.

Amy Unbound will interest any library looking for novels steeped in social, political, and psychological depth. The characters, entire family, and the outside buffet of political forces on all their worlds is a sterling example of interconnected worlds and cross-purposes depicted at their best.

Jim Tindle
Oxford Book Writers
9781961636705, $19.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

Ridgetown opens (but does not remain) in Blue Ridge, Georgia; where a discussion is taking place about the possibility of overthrowing the U.S. government. Unlikely? Perhaps not.

Conversants Coker and Hatton have just left Blue Ridge on their way to Carthage, North Carolina. They have a strategy in place for enacting change - but tonight they are on a hit mission to take down one who beat them to their goal of shooting up electrical power substations.

Fast forward six months to Los Angeles, California, where the novel's main protagonist, Arsen, is tapped to travel to Blue Ridge to confront and disable a secret militia uprising. Suddenly, Coker and Hatton's involvements and actions make more sense. Or, do they?

Arsen uncovers a rabbit warren of complexity and subterfuge in a mission that leads him to confront militia members one by one. As he does so, he also confronts his own ideals, skillsets, and personal challenges as a cat-and-mouse game forces him to tackle past historical precedent and events and their present-day impacts:

" was as dark as dark can be in that goddamned jungle while we were dug-in waiting for a Viet Cong death squad that had been terrorizing villages in the area. It's amazing at the various emotions wandering through one's mind in a situation like that. You're worried about ever seeing family and friends again, you're worried about taking a bullet right between the eyes, and you're worried about the eight men for whom you're responsible."

James Bond comes to mind with many of Arsen's moves and flamboyant adventures; but Jim Tindle tempers any tendency towards overly enthusiastic encounters with a thought-provoking tone of deeper discovery. This leads to psychological revelations and (literally) explosive changes that challenge all sides involved in the fray of social and political change.

This approach results in a thriller that excels in high-level suspense, surprise insights and revelations, and action delivered with a sense of social and personal inspection. These elements lead readers to care about Arsen's ultimate objectives and experiences, as well as the impact and ideology of those he deals with. Events force him to face the elusive Crimson Fox in a journey that, at times, is surrealistic and always involving.

Libraries and readers seeking thrillers that juxtapose edge-of-your-seat action with involving military and civilian special interests will find Ridgetown an attraction on many different levels to many audiences. It will attract those who enjoy thriller and suspense stories with its surprising twists, as well as others seeking to experience and gain higher-level thinking and psychological depth from their reading.

Mahjong at Mara's
Debra Green
Denouement Press
9798989544905, $19.95 Paperback/$9.95 eBook

Mahjong at Mara's will attract a wide audience of fiction readers, from those who especially appreciate contrasts in cross-generational encounters and relationships to readers of women's and family stories.

Binding these subjects are mahjong experiences which offer opportunities for group get-togethers and dialogues that unfold from the veneer of a game.

A prologue sets the story in 2019, with Giselle and her father driving west thru Pennsylvania. The move is not her choice, but offers the opportunity to get away from a relationship which has become dull and too predictably set in its ways for a young adult:

"She had been frustrated with her relationship with Dante for some time. He had become boring. He wouldn't go into New York with her, go to a movie, a museum, or anywhere else to escape their tiny lives. He liked his. She couldn't breathe. In her mind, she was already at college at Princeton."

Readers then take a step back into the past of 2018, where Lila raises her son Dante and counts him as one of her blessings, despite the difficulty of being a single mom after 9/11 claimed his father.

A cast of supporting characters emerges, from lonely elder Mali Berkowitz to Gladys, a caustic divorcee whom Mali dislikes.

All these forces coalesce around and find comfort in the game of mahjong and interactions with others who participate. An odd sense of mixed community and age ranges become engaged over the shared interest.

Debra Green crafts a fine series of personality interactions, viewpoints, age ranges, and concerns that come to life in Mahjong at Mara's. The game also introduces facets of life that lead to revelations between related and unrelated players, who discover new insights and connections.

Participation not only holds new opportunities, but introduces different challenges to existing friendships both within and outside the circle, as Dante discovers:

"Dante wasn't sure which was more difficult to share with Rashon, that he now occasionally played mahjong with the group of seniors or that twenty bucks an hour was, in fact, his hourly wage."

The result is a warm examination of evolving friendships, some adversity, and transition points of youth that lead to unexpected revelations and interests, from growing love at an advanced age to the changes between young participants who absorb a different world and insights from the mahjong setting.

Libraries and readers seeking a cross-generational exploration of disparate lives and the wisdom to be obtained from their intersection will find Mahjong at Mara's invitingly thought-provoking. It's an excellent choice for book club reading group discussions, from women's groups to fiction readers seeking topics that reflect insights on troubled youth, squabbles and conflicts in friendships, and complicated relationships between seniors and young people.

Broken Hope
Carrie Rubin
Indigo Dot Press
9781958160077, $13.99 Paperback/$4.99 eBook/$12.99 Audiobook

Broken Hope is a medical, psychological "revenge thriller" that rests upon the actions and threat of Dr. Hope Sullivan, who is known by many as an especially compassionate physician, but who also holds a secret agenda that belays any notion of that compassion in action.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, as the saying goes. In this case, Dr. Sullivan's special brand of vigilante service goes beyond moral and ethical boundaries to address her perceived wrongs and make her feel better about her choices... until someone finds out about her deepest secret.

Suddenly, Dr. Sullivan faces a psychological and physical threat that challenges the methods she's employed to find meaning and purpose in her activities. The stalker is relentless in his pursuit, forcing Dr. Sullivan into increasingly deadly scenarios as she struggles with her own viewpoint and mandate and the clash of these interests with a force bent on destroying her.

Carrie Rubin excels in dovetailing personal psychological inspections with the bigger picture of an adversary whose actions and choices are, in actuality, not so very far from the good/bad doctor's approach to life.

She creates an intersection between medical and moral decision-making which poses many intriguing thoughts and moments to readers, embedding the action and thriller components with realistic scenarios of blackmail, revenge, and accompanying dilemmas, from suicide to dangerous discoveries others make about the situation:

"'Hmm?' she asks. 'Do you think I'm guilty of something?' He rasps nothing in reply, unsure if it's a trap or not. Wonders, too, if he has it all wrong. He was wrong about Dr. Sullivan. What if he's wrong about this doctor too? What if his wife's death really was unpreventable? What if his obsessive quest to right an injustice stems only from his inability to accept the fact that Jasmine is gone?"

While the thriller and medical world elements are very strongly presented, supporting tension with background Broken Hope lies beyond the clever cat-and-mouse games which drive the plot.

First-person insights and reflections address issues ranging from charges of negligence to outright criminal intent. There are many vivid scenes of confrontation (such as suicide and overwhelming grief) which may prove triggering to some readers; but these lend authenticity and familiarity to the story, boosting it into realms of greater understanding and reader connection.

The result is a thriller that contains psychological depth and insights on motivation, choice, and impact. Its focus on moral and ethical dilemmas adds philosophical and social twists to the plot, making Broken Hope especially highly recommended for libraries seeing patron interest in medical thrillers that take the time to develop more complex interpersonal and revenge scenarios beyond the usual murder setting.

Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Tickling
Duncan Taub
Independently Published
9798879766431, $14.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Tickling: An International Study will pique the interest of readers interested in tickling in particular and relationships in general. The role of tickling in the lives of some 2,000 women around the world receives close inspection, from its perception as a positive bonding experience to instances of abusive tickling. For at least some relationships, tickling serves an important function.

Taub adopts a tone that marries scholarly research and lively inspection to a topic that is rarely examined and poorly understood. This allows for a dual satisfaction by researchers and general-interest readers alike, who will find the story of tickling both interesting and insightful. In the words of Taub: "...evolution went to a lot of trouble designing a specific ticklishness that separates humans from all other animals, and evolution don't make no junk. If it's not junk, then what's it around for? How common is it? How does it affect us? What's it good for? How is it misused? Are we stuck with something that helped our species 100,000 years ago, but is now just a nuisance? This book does not provide definitive answers to any of these questions, but it gives interesting insights that advance our understanding."

Taub believes that tickling was not previously studied in depth because "tickling research does not advance scientific careers or help secure grants, the driving forces for research." He then explains why he could do this study:

"These reasons, however, were not barriers for a retired researcher. With the resources that have recently been made available on the internet, neither was the cost, which would have been prohibitive until the internet provided easy access to freelancers across the world."

The book based on his research is filled with careful science and fascinating commentary. It will hold up in research-based collections but, more importantly to the general reader, it is a fun read and would be a great topic for a book discussion.

Ten Nobodies (and their somebodies)
Martin Drapkin
Three Towers Press
c/o Henchel Haus Publishing
9781595989819, $16.99 Paperback/$8.99 eBook

Ten Nobodies (and their somebodies) is a novel about disparate personalities and odd characters whose lives intersect. These lives originated in Martin Drapkin's musings about 'nobodies' who served the rich and famous, and how the dovetailing of disparate classes and experiences provided unexpected opportunities for both.

He employs the first person to bring these musings and perspectives to life, beginning with a muse to William Shakespeare, who is an aging sexton and widower when he meets the bard in 1595.

A historical overview documents his mourning before they meet, and a series of enlightening encounters identifies his position as a possible muse and inspirational figure in Shakespeare's life as the story unfolds.

In contrast is the piece about Lewis Carroll and his 'tea party assistant" which introduces not just a different era, but more insights about the role of a friend, muse, and helper:

"I met Mr. Dodgson shortly before Christmas of 1896, backstage after an opening of Alice in Wonderland at the Prince of Wales Theater in London. My insufferable older sister, Evelyn, was playing the lead role and my younger sister, Lily, had the role of the Dormouse. Mr. Dodgson was cooing over Evelyn and telling her how wonderful she was and what a perfect little Alice she'd been and how her performance so put him in mind of the real Alice, his beloved "dream-child," and on and on. It almost made me sick. Yet, I thought, how interesting he appeared: a tall, thin man with white hair, standing quite erect, wearing a black broadcloth cleric's suit, collar turned back, and a white tie. And gentle. So gentle. I'd never seen anyone quite like him before, and was intrigued."

As the stories progress, the roles of aides, maids, fortunetellers, hairstylists, and other kinds of assistants come to light in a survey of famous personalities and the kindred spirits they attracted.

The whimsy, fun, and thought-provoking moments that permeate this work of fiction also offer thought-provoking insights into mentors and their influences. This creates a delightful interplay between characters and perceptions.

Drapkin is especially strong in his ability to capture a sense of the times, creative personalities who were supported by 'nobodies' equally memorable in their approaches to life, and in outlining the ideas and experiences that grew creative personalities and relationships alike.

The result is a fun frolic through disparate lives which receives satisfying contrasts in outlook, experience, and purpose. It's a fictional romp that libraries will find easy to recommend to short story readers looking for something different.

The Clearing
Cassandra J. Kelly
Boyle & Dalton
9781633377769, Hardcover: $26.99/Paperback: $16.99/eBook: $6.99

The Clearing will delight readers seeking an Ohio backdrop to their stories, and also will attract those interested in fictional explorations of the impact of a health crisis on young people in families that already struggle with financial concerns.

Sadie is twelve when her mother's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis introduces grief and angst into her childhood world. She seeks to walk out of this sadness by escaping to the forest outside her home; there to absorb lessons of Appalachian herbal lore which distract her from the pain she cannot escape at home.

When she meets Cali (a feral child) in the woods, the two find their friendship changes each of their lives and perspectives in unexpected ways.

Cassandra J. Kelly documents a family under siege from health and financial crisis - a too-common occurrence in modern times - but cultivates insights, emotions, and viewpoints from the eyes of youths impacted by ongoing health issues.

The story opens with car problems in the middle of nowhere. A sick mother is forced to consider how to solve this dilemma, while the daughter who drives her laments their lack of a cell phone and reflects on her upbringing and life with a sick mother.

The impact of this illness has followed her from school days to the time when she was forced stayed home to care for her mother:

"I found every reason possible to leave class in the middle of the day, and my mom was used to picking me up. I developed an unspoken habit of calling on her infusion days because I knew she needed me just as much as I needed her."

Kelly's focus on adaptations, survival tactics, struggles with mortality and treatments that preserve life but don't guarantee its quality, and the Ohio world that grounds the young protagonist creates a thought-provoking series of events. These follow Sadie's interactions with father Gabe Daniels, her new friend, and her dying mother.

More so than most fictional explorations of death and childhood trauma, The Clearing holds the ability to mark moments of energy-producing encounters which happen alongside the daily grind, embedding life in Sadie's story, with its fluxes between looming death and moments of joy.

The natural world that reflects and supports Sadie's growth is an intrinsic part of the story that keeps the girl on an upward trajectory with new possibilities that don't all center on the sadness and loss of impending death.

Libraries and readers seeking a story about different forms of family, love, support, and the impact of long-term medical crises will find The Clearing a vivid, memorable read that should attract a wide audience.

The Power Paradox
Art McNeese
Independently Published
9798362039103, $9.99 Paperback/$2.99 eBook

The Power Paradox: Winning through Downward Mobility may sound like a business or social survey rather than a spiritual probe of discovery, but its focus on Christian leadership and pastoral services lends it a special value and approach. These will attract Christian audiences interested in issues of strength, weakness, and religious perspectives on power.

From the beginning, Art McNeese injects his exploration with vivid insights linking Christian faith and ideals with psychological and social reflections:

"Think about weakness in your own life. If you're like most people, you may run from vulnerability. You may choose self-reliance over God-reliance. You're tempted to follow the
cultural philosophy of me-first. You automatically assume that revealing your weaknesses to others is a bad thing. But what if weakness is actually your friend? What if there's more to be gained from a position of weakness than a position of strength?"

As McNeese's exploration progresses, readers receive thoughts on life approaches that pair insights and advice with Bible quotes reinforcing his observations:

"Leadership means being part of the secret service. I have a friend who exhibits this quality. He has made millions in his life and gives away most of what he earns to help others. He has developed a special trust designed to resource people in need. I can't imagine how much money he has given away over the years. But he insists on his gifts being anonymous. He refuses to let his generosity be known. Most of us can serve with passion in the event there's some 'payoff' in terms of recognition. But how many of us bring the same enthusiasm to opportunities to serve behind the scenes? Where nobody sees and nobody knows?

1 Peter 2:12: 'Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.'"

These provide spiritual thinkers with concrete examples, reflections, and insights on the processes and incarnation of power (especially in leadership roles; whether they involve church or business).

Readers won't expect allusions to the unexpected, such as the dilemma of a squirrel in the toilet; but these, too, hold lessons in leadership and faith that inject the realities and ironies of daily living with important realizations about identity, fear, and the ultimate solution of turning to faith and God for resolution:

"The only healthy element for a human being is in the grace and will of God. Whenever we forget the grace of God, we find ourselves confused and uncertain. Anytime we try to find our value through others instead of God, we're destined to be intimidated, lost, and terribly frightened."

Christian readers and book clubs (and libraries catering to them) will find The Power Paradox: Winning through Downward Mobility a thought-provoking discourse about faith and power which will prompt many an avid reading circle discussion.

Despite a title which initially feels as though The Power Paradox will appeal primarily to business or political leaders, the discourse is highly recommended to all Christian readers. This audience will find The Power Paradox's insights and reflections on life, faith, and power to be an important intersection of subjects. It's perfect for cultivating a more faith-based perspective about power, shifting roles, and contributions to belief and life.

Where I See You
Catherine Conmy
Blackbeard Books
9798218973551, $16.99 Print/.99 Ebook

In Where I See You, Piper has stormed out of the house. She "lugs her sorrow with every step." It turns out that it's a sorrow of confusion, because the reality is that Piper has a baby she doesn't remember and a life which has been pieced back together from a terrible accident.

Elliot and Piper are engaged when everything changes. Now she wonders where her life has gone, realizing that Elliot has somehow been transformed in her apparent absence from the world.

But, Where I See You isn't just a story of recovery. It's also one of discovery, from a world impacted by technological advances that actually do a grave disservice to the disabled to a relationship similarly impacted. The changes drive the couple in different directions, as each holds increasingly disparate ideals of what life should be.

From the contrasts between urban chaos and rural respite to the moral and ethical challenges in technological advancement's promises and threats, Where I See You turns a dystopian setting into a personal stage for exploring relationships, feelings, and the process of self and the world 'coming undone.'

Another plus of the story is that it shifts viewpoints between Piper and Elliot. This gives the plot added value as these perspectives change.

"We are forced to face the consequences. There is no way to hide this time."

From rituals and reality to a world designed to "...bring attention away..." Piper and Elliot find their relationship conundrums dovetailing with technological, social, and psychological changes that transform their ideals of life, death, and what lies in-between them.

The slow simmer of shifting realities is delivered in bits and pieces. This succeeds in keeping readers engaged, on their toes, and constantly surprised by the directions the plot ultimately takes.

What will life be when a life-changing procedure takes place? More importantly, what will the relationship become?

Catherine Conmy's exquisite interplay of dystopian background, change, and the process of absorbing and entering a new life makes Where I See You a thought-provoking read not only highly recommended for general library collections, but for book clubs seeking a redefinition of and new directions in what constitutes a dystopian scenario.

Alyssa's Wishes
Susan L. Read
Izzard Ink Publishing
9781642281064, $17.95 Paperback/$9.99 eBook

Alyssa's Wishes is a middle grade novel about a girl who follows her artistic talents and dreams into new territory, uncovering novel possibilities in 'magical thinking' that takes away the appearance and predictability of normalcy and injects life with excitement.

The story opens with first-person protagonist Alyssa reflecting that, for her, 'normal' is something that is simply not a part of her life. When she enters school, she is confronted with peers' lives which are definitely not like hers, from her father's idea of ordering pizza every night for a meal to slowly realizing why her father lives such a hermit-like lifestyle.

An art assignment propels her in new directions when Alyssa is encouraged to use art to reflect on her own life and carries this assignment into uncharted territory.

Susan L. Read crafts a story in which a young student is just beginning to confront the incongruities of her life with her father, before disaster strikes and changes her world:

"Everything I understood and loved about my life has been snatched away."

As Alyssa becomes involved in projects that move away from the initial assignment, from educating peers about puppy mills and their impact to transforming her own life, Read's vivid portrayal of these experiences draw attention and attraction while educating readers about many facets of life, love, and survival:

"Puppy mill survivors can have both physical and mental scars from their past experiences, and Poppy definitely has both. But she has made lots of progress in just one week."

When her father begins to confront his own visions of family and his failure to engage with life, Alyssa taps her magical thinking and newfound passions to transform both of their lives.

Alyssa's Wishes is about survival, magical thinking, and the power young people have to change their lives. It will delight middle grader readers and libraries catering to them, who will find this story holds much fodder for reading group discussions.

Avarom and the Black Riders
J.L. Stewart
Atmosphere Press
9798891321809, $22.99 paperback/$32.99 hardcover/$9.99 ebook

Avarom and the Black Riders is a story of pirates, a Red Queen, mystical soldiers, and a target on the back of the Queen's bodyguard Avarom, which invites a host of special interests to pursue him.

Having not just one but multiple adversaries, each with their good reasons for wanting him dead, tests Avarom in unexpected ways that being the Queen's Champion did not portend.

The Black Riders who are after him howl for vengeance, but the real threat comes from within, as Avarom is pitted against them and multiple forces, only to find his own resolution and circumstances demand he place his Queen's transition (after her kingdom was destroyed) above his own struggles for survival.

There's more to the story, however; because his Queen is also his heart's desire, and so his mandate to protect her is more than political or business-driven. A personal mission leads Queen Nakir to invite the aid of a Hellstorm which may be ultimately uncontrollable.

Battles and confrontations mark a story which also injects wry humor into the bigger picture as Avarom's deepest secrets move beyond his Queen's knowledge to inject discovery and surprise into others:

"You must know I mean neither you nor Avarom any harm. I knew you were a force for good before your change, but I just wanted to know if that power had somehow influenced you to waver from your original path. As for Avarom, despite his lineage, I also know he is a force for good to be reckoned with. I also know that the only thing holding his evil side in check is a tune played by a magical flute."

The struggles test Avarom's resolve, his choices, and the perceptions of him by others who question the types of amends he makes for his actions while under the control of his father.

Is Avarom good, or evil? Countenances deceive, inner turmoil clouds judgment, and the motivations of both sides prove that shades of gray operate at all times.

Readers seeking a vivid fantasy adventure that embraces the nature of choice and mercurial definitions of good and evil actions will find Avarom and the Black Riders not only entertaining, but filled with thought-provoking encounters and questions about human nature.

This also makes it highly recommended for fantasy book club discussion circles and libraries seeking recommendations that hold deeper-level thinking about the nature of heroism, love, good, and evil.

Rock & Roll Nightmares: Freeze Frame
Staci Layne Wilson
Excessive Nuance
9781737513988, $16.50 paperback/$4.99 Kindle

Rock & Roll Nightmares: Freeze Frame pairs spooky short stories with hard-hitting images photographed and modeled by Ali Chappell. It will attract horror fans interested in weird, creepy, contemporary vibes and tension.

The stories are steeped in cultural backdrops and references that will delight those already interested in rock and roll culture and gossip. This audience will especially appreciate the chapter headings, which are steeped in often-unexpected humorous music allusions, such as the introductory 'Papa's Got a Brand New Body Bag' or 'She's Got a Ticket to Die.'

Music historian Staci Layne Wilson excels at these kinds of references, employing her art in an unusual manner as horror scenarios come to life with the added value of musical interludes.

Take 'Stake Another Piece of My Heart' for one example. Here, a musician who observes the strong gaze of an audience member and stranger who has come to her performance three nights in a row finds that he is able to communicate with her telepathically.

Mavis has quite a following of fans. What she hasn't earned before is the longing gaze of a predator. Her musical success in Mavis and the Mixed Messages confronts a different form of attraction and interest as she is steeped in the rock and roll lifestyle, but harbors a secret even her most avid fans don't know.

This mystery admirer draws her by his age and his different observational manner:

"Unlike most concertgoers, this man did not mouth the lyrics to her songs or nod his head in time to the music. He didn't even stand up or shake his fist in the air. He just sat there, perched very tall and straight, hands folded in his lap, watching her."

He is destined to draw her attention with something more deadly, as well.

In contrast is 'Saturday Fright Fever,' in which DJ Deshawn Roundtree (aka 'DR Funk') finds himself entrapped with others, such as dancing queen Plum, in a disco nightmare of bondage and horror.

Each story stands out for its different perspective on the rock and roll scene and disparate brands of horror that emerge from concerts, music, and strange attractions.

Rock & Roll Nightmares: Freeze Frame will prove an outstanding recommendation by libraries to any reader interested in the horror genre paired with a heavy dose of contemporary cultural experience. Its ability to maintain different threads of both horror and musical inspection sets it apart from most other approaches to horror writing and atmosphere.

The Verdigris Stories
Mariana Sabino
K+P Press
9781735934624, $16.99 Paperback/$9.00 Kindle

The Verdigris Stories features eleven literary and psychological short stories that excel in diverse characters who share the trait of being outsiders, in some manner.

A world-hopping series of events drives these characters to experience their environments and new possibilities in novel ways.

Take 'Voyageurs', for example, which opens in Dublin with a rainbow's good omen, welcoming Yuri to a place he hopes to reside in for a year. It's a rainy place which his friend Marcello eschews, but Yuri was driven to leave his small village for the unknown at all costs:

"As for their mother, he can only see Milena in jean shorts and Havaianas sandals, as rooted to the village as the mangroves, tsk-tsking him for wanting to see the world. "They'll eat you and spit you out like an olive pit," she said before he left. He answered he had to go, he just had to."

His experiences lead him to re-evaluate his perceptions, life, and future in a thought-provoking story that encourages readers to do the same.

In contrast is 'Inanimate Life', set in Prague and presented in the first person, which solidifies the immediacy of isolation and unexpected potentials for change:

"I was tense, not because of the weather - the helter-skelter I found exciting. It was the dead, you see. Their presence sometimes renders me liable to certain misperceptions. But if I am mistaken, it's only about one or two details. I was expecting a phone call - from the living, which was rare. It had been years since I had a living friend..."

The narrator maintains that "The inanimate are tricksters." As the story unfolds, the nature of this trickery and illusions creates a different, thought-provoking series of insights on painting, life, and portraits affected by the dead and living alike.

Each story is a microcosm of different journeys that take place mentally and environmentally. Each features a narrator or character whose drive to change may be either overt or covert, but is embedded in experiences that emerge to challenge and change perception and connections.

In 'Inanimate Life', that challenge leads to revised insights about the nature of interactions between living and dead - including the narrator, who has a foot in different worlds and an observational style that thwarts his artistic eye in unexpected ways.

Libraries looking for short stories that consider different incarnations of wanderlust and change will find The Verdigris Stories especially recommendable to literary readers seeking thought-provoking reflections that arrive steeped indifferent cultures and lives, as well as book clubs looking for lively discussion topics about the nature of discovery and transformation.

Source of a River
Gary Morse
Independently Published
9798989278305, $21.99 paperback/$9.99 eBook

Readers of literary novels who look for fiction that is immersive (literally) in its review of a life changed by adversity and accident will find Source of a River just the ticket for a solemn venture into survival tactics. It opens with an ice fishing accident that changes the dynamics of an emotional clash between John's parents when he is medically dead, for a time, but is ultimately revived.

Eight-year-old John's return to life does not mitigate the impact or inheritance of family depression, which follows him into adulthood. Twenty years later, he still struggles with his childhood trauma, adult choices, and the influence of women who do not always act in his best interests.

From his involvement in new mental health services for youth to how he rebuilds better connections in a world tested by traumatic experiences and their lasting impact, John's growth impetus comes from various directions. Each forces him to consider the kinds of perspective and attitude changes that can lead to real healing.

Gary Morse's attention to psychological depth and detail creates a riveting story where legacy clashes with alternative options for change. Morse is particularly adept at presenting characters whose lives and backgrounds intersect in unexpected ways to change not only their own futures, but the world around them.

Source of a River may open with contrasting forms of survival efforts, but it ultimately adds issues of faith, new definitions of progress, and relationship evolution based on landscapes and explorations to challenge the characters in different ways.

As older woman and classmate Claire introduces him to gorgeous new environments and opportunities, John finally takes the first steps in walking into a world free of the grasp of past trauma and the influence of self-destructive patterns of reaction. Vivid scenes accompany this sense of discovery:

"John blinked. Startled, he didn't know what to do. He watched her as she blew a second slow breath that fluttered across his cheeks, his nose, his eyes. He closed his eyes, imagining a light caress. He smelled something sweet, like the German wine they had been drinking. Another warm breath swept over his face and down his neck, stirring something inside. The sensation flickered, and then soared, leaping forward, reaching the aching cavity inside him. Warm and light, the sensation rose again, swelling through his chest. His ache, he realized, had given way to a different feeling, something much more alive."

Libraries and readers seeking a literary backdrop replete with psychological and interpersonal growth, seasoned with the environmental changes introduced by new places and perspectives, will welcome Source of a River's exquisite sense of place and transformation.

Not From Here
Leah Lax
Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Publishers Ltd.
9781804680179, $20.99 Paperback/$3.99 eBook

There was a time when the publication of Not From Here: The Song of America would have seamlessly joined a host of immigrant-celebratory, experiential memoirs whose purpose was to reflect one of America's greatest strengths: families that are "not from here" and who participate in society as New Americans making contributions to the nation's psyche; not strangers from elsewhere.

It's a sad note that, today, Leah Lax's exploration in Not From Here has earned her not the acclaim her book so deserves, but cancellation and controversy. That makes its publication actually more valuable, not less, in that its subject, approach, and reflections will fuel insights (perhaps unwelcome, by some) on Jewish influences, psyche, experiences, and the ultimate process of joining the great melting pot of this nation. That's ironic, because in Not From Here, Lax keeps the camera focused outward, asking what is this country where her family once landed, and finds in testimonies of immigrants a raw and revealing portrait of America.

Lax approaches this history and these experiences in the manner of a song unfolding, interviewing others whose roots were "not from here" to reveal and probe their family and life experiences in America. Concurrent threads of musical references and insights into emerging and changing attitudes towards new arrivals to America create often-controversial food for thought that would be ideal for discussion groups interested in how immigration is politicized and how immigrants are dehumanized today.

And yet... there is the music that comes from moving away from one's comfort zone, as Lax did in her interview process for her book.

Like so many, Lax's own family stories were buried, paved over by a focus on the American dream over a heritage that involved flight, hardships, and struggle to get to this country and participate in its democratic processes:

"I was born a grandchild of refugees, but my family never told me our stories; my grandparents' experiences in coming to the United States were intentionally buried in favor of their American Dream. All through my childhood, I wondered, Who are we?"

As she explored others' stories, some of which came from Pakistan (where feudal systems still exist today), Vietnam (where escaping the rising Communist Party involved fielding pirates and hiding gold), and El Salvador, where constant gunfire scared the birds away, Lax considers her own evolving life. She became Ultra-Orthodox as a teen, was married in an arranged marriage at 19, and was thoroughly immersed in Hasidism for many years until she vacated her set course to live openly as a lesbian, and as a writer of both prose and of libretti -- for several prominent composers.

Music is only one of the threads which connect these stories, peoples, and lives. Also intrinsic to Lax's effort is a reflective, celebratory tone of discovery, both of self and family connections, and of this country, which creates thought-provoking movements of transformation as these insights are digested and form startling contrasts between past politics and modern history:

"In the same innocent way that Ali had loved his first wife, he had loved America. That was what I heard in his voice that day - the sound of a jilted lover. Today, I would not expect an FBI agent to politely question Ali over the telephone. Neither would Ali get to use his knowledge, his patriotism, his eloquence, and his considerable integrity to convince an FBI agent of his rights. Instead, faceless ICE agents could pick him up, take him to some undisclosed place where no one could reach him or even find him, charge him on a technicality that just might be fictional, and quite possibly deport him. Our world has already changed."

Controversial? Hell, yes. But insights and arguments surrounding immigrants have always proved hard-hitting and uncomfortable. Readers who choose to experience the discomfort of confronting their own and engrained American prejudices will find a light of positivity and change resonates through these insights and experiences.

The passionate pleas of Lax's writing make it a song of hope as well as revelation:

"Today I wish I could take Ali's love of our country to Americans young and old of every color and gender, to people whose families have forgotten their roots and to those who have just arrived. I would ask every one of them to please, please read how Ali fell in love with America because everyone here feels so free, not afraid of anything." I would say, all of these years after Ali told his story, please tell me what he found here is still true."

So much so - that not only is Not From Here: The Song of America a top recommendation to libraries and readers for its ability to evolve beyond a memory to shake the very foundations of modern belief systems - but for those Texas readers who will find both shocking and educational the insights on Jewish heritage, New American experience, and the ways in which democratic ideals may be challenged from within, built from psyches buffeted by politicized special interests.

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

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

Someone Saw Something
Rick Mofina
9780778305439, $18.99 pbk / $12.99 Kindle

Over the past few years, there is an author, I've recommended more, than any other. The name is, Mofina, Rick Mofina, "Someone Saw Something" his newest, once again delivers the goods of a fantastic suspense thriller. Charlotte Tanner is asked by her stepmom Corina Corado to pick up her son, six-year-old Gabriel at school and walk him home. A simple task, but it drastically changes when Charlotte and Gabriel, enter a park where she is more concerned with a text from a boyfriend, than watching her brother. In a split-second Gabriel disappears. From then on "Someone Saw Something" is a twisting, turning rollercoaster ride, of plot incidents, to the very end. Mofina has once again created a page turner that is rip roaring entertainment.

Watch Where They Hide
Tamron Hall with T. Shawn Taylor
William Morrow
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
97800633037083, $29.00 HC / $14.99 Kindle

Tamron Hall once again draws from her own journalism background, to write the gripping novel "Watch Where They Hide". Jordan Manning is in the Cook County Courthouse courtroom covering a murder case when a defendant decides to represent himself. The judge is questioning him as he violently attacks the public defender. The justice orders the room, cleared, opens "Watch Where They Hide" Jordan Manning was there for the whole unfolding scenario. Later Jordan is contacted by a woman who is desperate to have someone believe her about the disappearance of her sister. The woman conveys that no one seems to be very interested,, in the situation. As Jordan investigates, she finds there are questions about the woman and her sister, that do not add up, as well as Jordan knows the woman is holding something back. Even so something dictates, Jordan see it through. "Watch Where They Hide" is a complicated plot that is a surefire tense thriller.

Kent and Katcha: Espionage, Spycraft, Romance
Rosemary and Larry Mild
Magic Island Literary Works
9798986386409, $14.95 pbk / $3.99 Kindle

Larry and Rosemary Mild once again have a great fiction work in "Kent and Katcha" that takes place in the early 1990's. Kent Brukner, is sent on undercover mission to Russia. He is to pose as a Soviet military person to cripple something at an enemy Army base. During the operation, he meets a British woman, who is also a Russian dissident. The conflicts could not be any more difficult for Kent, as he attempts to complete the task. "Kent and Katcha:" shows this team re comfortable writing fiction or nonfiction equally with books that easily draw in any readers.

The Not Quite Enlightened Sleuth
Verlin Darrow
The Wild Rose Press Inc
9781509254194, $19.99 pbk / $5.99 Kindle

Ivy Lutz goes back home, after receiving the news that her mom is in a coma at a hospital. Ivy, has lived for many years, as a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka cut off from the world for a long time. As she and her sister Jan talk about their moms condition they learn she died, Jan tells Ivy, she believes their stepfather Dennis killed her. A bit later the sisters are told Dennis is dead. Ivy pursues many clues with the help of one of her nieces, to find out what really happened to both her mother and Dennis. "The Not Quite Enlightened Sleuth" is a tightly written character driven mystery tale for anyone looking for a new author to enjoy.

The Dog Sox
Russell Hill
Caravel Books
c/o Pleasure Boat Studio
97815929355747, $15.95 pbk / $8.99 Kindle

It is a new season of America's favorite pastime and time to enjoy the great baseball book "The Dog Sox." To show his love for his girlfriend Ava Belle, Ray Adams buys a baseball team and gives it to her. The players are an interesting group of oddball characters who come together to play the game. You have a pitcher whose drunk father wants to represent him as agent, a 70-year-old Jewish manager, a teacher who is a very good pitcher and other memorable teammates that make "The Dog Sox" a laugh out loud wonderful tribute to the sport.

L. Ron Hubbard Writers Of The Future Volume 40
Edited by Jody Lynn Nye
Galaxy Press
9781619867741, $22.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

L. Ron Hubbard was a visionary in the realm of science fiction by creating the contest a long time ago. "L. Ron Hubbard Writers Of the Future Volume 40" proves that the competition has long lasting legs that continue to grow. The event for writers begun by Hubbard has also brought in more talent to the genre of science fiction than any other source, that continues to be a major force in the genre of science fiction. Other collections continue to be released, of short stories. Unlike them Writers Of the Future has always celebrated new talented authors who have gone on to bigger and better things. Some of the outstanding entries are The Edge of Where My Light Is Cast, A digital cat must find its owner who disappeared. The Imagalisk a man with a disease has a pair of visitors who offer him hope, Five Days Until Sunset A group of people on a new planet find there are over 154 missing There are also nonfiction and fiction writings by Hubbard as well as articles looking back over the forty years by Gregory Benford and Dean Wesly Smith and an article about the other portion of the celebration of Artists of the Future by Bob Eggleton. The gang buster of science fiction short story collections continues to excel with the newest installment of Volume 40.

Who Will Take Care of Me Now? A Story of Resilience, Strength, and Perseverance
Sherry Buckley Brown
Independently Published
9782652256356, $14.99 pbk / $8.99 Kindle

Though I recently reviewed this title I feel it should appear again because the abuse of a spouse or girlfriend needs to change and books like this one can begin to change the culture. "Who Will Take Care of Me Now?" is a personal account of a dark time in one person's life that ends with there is light at the end of the tunnel. Like most families, life for them was nice a father mother and children that had their fair share of things going on. But something in their lives turned into a dark and sinister environment, where there was spousal abuse for some time that ended with the murder of their mother by their father. The siblings were sent to live with others around the country of cousins aunts and uncles. "Who Will Take Care of Me Now?" shows the effect a single devastating act of violence can have on one single family member. The author blamed herself for the death of her mother because she did not do anything to protect her. The reality is, she was a child and in the time there was no place to go, no one to stop the abuse, no counseling, shelters, or anything else. Through the years she was able to eke out a life but so much revolved around the day she saw her mother's blood covered body from the vicious attack committed by her father, who was supposed to be someone she would look up to. Her guilt manifest itself min many disturbing ways of her difficult life. Somehow she was able to turn the tide into a more productive existence. "Who Will Take Care of Me Now?" is an inspirational story of one woman's complicated journey to a better realm through faith, hard work, seeking help of many forms and a belief that she could turn around the negatives that had overwhelmed her for so long and that if she could do it then others can too.

Over The Falls With Gabby And Maddox
Steve Altier
4 Horsemen Publications
c/o IBPA
9781644509227, $15.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle

The Gabby and Maddox series continues with "Over The Falls." This time the kids and their parents are taking a vacation in the area of Niagara Falls. Things are fun, as the family drives from Ohio to enjoy the historic waters. The kids explore many things until they play in barrels that normally are safe. Something happens to cause the drums to steer towards the falls. Steve Altier once again takes readers on a what if something dangerous happens, to a family on a retreat, to one of the most famous attractions, in the country. "Over The Falls With Gabby and Maddox" is fun reading for all ages to enjoy

The Thingamajig
Rilla Alexander
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781534493476, $18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

"The Thingamajig" is an amusing story of someone who lost something to go on a quest to find it. An Elephant lost an item. but also he forgot what it is, so he goes out into the animal community, to ask if any others have found it. Each one he talks to has something else missing, Together they work together to retrieve each item. "The Thingamajig" moves along with interesting characters who try to help each other. with a satisfying ending for all.

The Little Mechanic Book 1
Virginia D'Amico
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
9781987793802, $7.99 pbk

Ten-year-old Ginny Greasy wants to be just like her dad and be a mechanic to fix many different types of cars. She helps him take care of many people on the weekends repairing many different situations. "The Little Mechanic Book I" is also a story of a father and daughter and their close relationship. The fun of "the Little Mechanic Book I" is all the different names of characters like Mrs. Radio, Miss Hubcap, Doris Defrosters, and Mr. Grille are some of them that make "The Little Mechanic Book I" so enjoyable.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

History Is Embarrassing
Karen Chase
CavanKerry Press
9781960327024, $21.95, PB, 264pp

Synopsis: An impressive collection of essays by Karen Chase that are filled with startling directness, fearlessness, and surprise, "History Is Embarrassing" showcases profound reflections and snapshots of the human condition.

In "History is Embarrassing" Karen weaves together threads from life -- a girl suffering from polio, a poet, a Jewish woman, a writer, and a painter. Like Chase, the characters who populate these essays are outsiders (undercover cops, a gay couple in 1500s India, bear poachers, psychiatric patients, and even a president) and a meaningful part of history.

Divided into three parts - histories, pleasures, and horrors, "History Is Embarrassing" is an assortment of thought-provoking essays that are sure to resonate with its readers.

Critique: Inherently fascinating, thought-provoking, and memorable, "History Is Embarrassing" is one of those collections of original essays that will linger in the mind and memorable long after the slender book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. The paperback edition of Karen Chase's "History Is Embarrassing" from CavanKerry Press is a strong pick for community and college/university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "History Is Embarrassing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.00).

Editorial Note: Karen Chase ( is the author of two collections of poems, Kazimierz Square and BEAR as well as Jamali-Kamali, a book-length homoerotic poem, and the memoirs Land of Stone, Polio Boulevard, and FDR On His Houseboat: The Larooco Log, 1924-1926.

Food and Freedom
Sue Van Raes
New World Library
9781608688746, $21.95, PB, 344pp

Synopsis: After working with thousands of clients over two decades, functional nutritionist and food psychology specialist Sue Van Raes knows that food is not just about food. More than ever, our relationship with food highlights other areas of our lives that need our love and attention.

With the publication of "Food and Freedom: Discover Your Personal Recipe to Eat, Think, and Live Well" she presents her eight-step system that combines the latest science and psychology with practical guidance to help anyone learn to cultivate self-trust based on their bodily sensations and organic intelligence.

"Food and Freedom" is a journey to reclaiming your wholeness and experiencing more mindfulness, personal fulfillment, and pleasure with food and in life. A trustworthy guide, "Food and Freedom" is rich with personal memoir, inspiring case studies from clients, soulful teachings, self-study prompts, nourishing recipes, and techniques to support biochemistry, satiation, and metabolic health. It will help you create body compassion and give you the confidence to show up in life as who you truly are, remedy emotional eating, and prosper with embodied self-care.

Critique: A self-help instructional guide for dealing with eating disorders and deleterious body image issues, "Food and Freedom: Discover Your Personal Recipe to Eat, Think, and Live Well" is exceptionally informative, well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Food and Freedom" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Health/Medicine/Dieting collections.

Editorial Note: Sue Van Raes ( is a functional nutritionist, food psychology specialist, and psychospiritual practitioner who works with clients locally, online, remotely, and through her women's wellness, yoga, and nature retreats. Her work has been featured by People, Reader's Digest, Chopra, The Sacred Science, and Livestrong.

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

Arsene Who?: The Story of Wenger's 1998 Double
Ryan Baldi
c/o Octopus Books
9781788404549, $24.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Nobody had heard of Arsene Wenger when he took charge of the Arsenal soccer team in October 1996. 'Arsene Who?' was the headline. Yet within less than two full seasons, he transformed an underperforming side into league and FA Cup winners, in the process playing with breath-taking style, sparking an epoch-defining rivalry with Alex Ferguson and Manchester United and modernizing football in England with his ground-breaking methods.

Built around over 150 exclusive interviews with key players, coaches, staff and opponents, and rich in behind-the-scenes stories, personal accounts of triumph, tragedy, hilarity and heartbreak, "Arsene Who?: The Story of Wenger's 1998 Double" by Ryan Baldi relives Arsenal's rocky road to the 1998 Double and the inception of the Wenger revolution.

It is a portrait of a collection of troubled and ageing stars who bonded with foreign newcomers to achieve immortality. It is a snapshot of a shifting cultural and sporting landscape epitomised by the Gunners' rise. And it is the tale of an unheralded mastermind who guided his team to new heights.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively informative account, "Arsene Who?: The Story of Wenger's 1998 Double" will be of immense interest to fans of English football (soccer). While a very special and highly recommended pick for community and college/university library 20th Century Sports History collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of fans with an interest in soccer coaching that Ryan Baldi's sports history, "Arsene Who?: The Story of Wenger's 1998 Double", is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781788404563, $29.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Ryan Baldi is a professional sports writer, whose work has featured on BBC Sport, The Guardian, The Independent, World Soccer, and FourFourTwo. His most recent book, The Dream Factory: Inside the Make-or-Break World of Football's Academies, was longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. (

Perplexing Paradoxes: Unraveling Enigmas in the World Around Us
George G. Szpiro
Columbia University Press
9780231213769, $35.00, HC, 360pp

Synopsis: Why does it always seem like the elevator is going down when you need to go up? Is it really true that 0.99999... with an infinite number of 9s after the decimal point, is equal to 1? What do tea leaves and river erosion have in common, according to Albert Einstein? Does seeing a bed of red flowers help prove that all ravens are black? Can we make sense of a phrase like "this statement is unprovable"?

Exploring these questions and many more, with the publication of "Perplexing Paradoxes: Unraveling Enigmas in the World Around Us", George G. Szpiro guides his readers through the puzzling world of paradoxes, from Socratic dialogues to the Monty Hall problem.

"Perplexing Paradoxes" presents sixty counterintuitive conundrums drawn from diverse areas of thought -- not only mathematics, statistics, logic, and philosophy but also social science, physics, politics, and religion. Szpiro also offers a brisk history of each paradox, unpacks its inner workings, and considers where one might encounter it in daily life. Ultimately, he argues, paradoxes are not simple brain teasers or abstruse word games - they challenge us to hone our reasoning and become more alert to the flaws in received wisdom and common habits of thought.

Lighthearted, witty, and conversational, "Perplexing Paradoxes" presents sophisticated material in an accessible way for all readers interested in the world's boundless possibilities -- and impossibilities.

Critique: Of immense relevance to readers with an interest in logic, language, mathematics, and the history of philosophy, this edition of "Perplexing Paradoxes: Unraveling Enigmas in the World Around Us" from Columbia University Press is enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and Epilogue, a two page Postscript, ten pages of Bibliographic Notes, and a seven page Index. Exceptionally well written, inherently fascinating, thought-provoking, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Perplexing Paradoxes: Unraveling Enigmas in the World Around Us" by George G. Szpiro is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Contemporary Philosophy collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject tht "Perplexing Paradoxes: Unraveling Enigmas in the World Around Us" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: George Szpiro (Ph.D., Mathematical Economics and Finance, Hebrew University) has for the past thirty years worked as correspondent of the Swiss daily Neue Zurcher Zeitung, which has a readership of 500k. He is also the author of Kepler's Conjecture (John Wiley, 2003), Numbers Rule (Princeton University Press, 2010) and Pricing the Future (Basic Books 2011), among others. (

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

Melted Away
Barbara Drake-Vera
Louisiana State University Press
9780807181522, $29.95, PB, 314pp

Synopsis: A prolific poet as a child, Barbara Drake-Vera loved writing almost as much as she adored her father, a moody postal employee with an elaborate comb-over and a fondness for Mahler. But when her successes sparked his rage, Barbara silenced her voice for years, terrified even to see her name in print. By age forty-nine, she was a professional journalist living in Peru and collaborating with her husband, a Peruvian-born photographer, to report on melting glaciers in the Andes, far from the reach of her father.

"Melted Away: A Memoir of Climate Change and Caregiving in Peru" recounts what happens after Barbara's father is diagnosed with advancing Alzheimer's and she takes him into her home in Lima, beginning a process of self-discovery that uncovers a path toward personal and family healing.

A diverse group of allies support her on this quest: a trio of caregiving women from the provinces, who serve as home-health aides; a mischievous, Cervantes-quoting, nonagenarian suitor; and a stubborn alpaca herder who lives beneath a long-worshipped, life-sustaining Andean glacier now melting from rapid climate change.

Candid, poignant, and deeply researched, "Melted Away" is the true story of how a writer at midlife reclaims her agency, and an ardent plea to care for the planet by embracing collectivism and mutual aid.

Critique: Written with an impressive degree of literary elegance, "Melted Away: A Memoir of Climate Change and Caregiving in Peru" by Barbara Drake-Vera is an extraordinary memoir that will be of particular appreciation for readers with an interest in climatology and environmental science, the country and people of Peru, and the impact of Alzheimer's on complex family relationships. Exceptional and highly recommended for community and college/university library Contemporary Biography/Memoir collections and supplemental Climatology/Climate Change curriculum studies, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Melted Away" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.95).

Editorial Note: Barbara Drake-Vera ( is an award-winning fiction writer and journalist who lives in Gainesville, Florida. From 2007 to 2014, she resided in Peru, where she worked as a field producer for NBC Nightly News and the TODAY Show.

Embracing Queer Family
Nia Chiaramonte & Katie J. Chiaramonte
Broadleaf Books
Tantor Media
9781506490861, $24.95, HC, 219pp

Synopsis: When Nia Chiaramonte came out as a trans woman to her wife Katie, she knew she would be met with a loving response. But she was less sure where this would leave their relationship, their marriage, and their family. Even murkier was what would happen when they began to bring their extended family, friends, and broader community alongside them on their journey of identity formation as a Queer family. They needed a guide for what lay ahead.

Now, drawing on their own experiences as well as their expertise in psychology, spirituality, and family systems, with the publication of "Embracing Queer Family: Learning to Live Authentically in Our Families and Communities", Nia and Katie Chiaramonte offer the tools they wish they'd had for their journey.

"Embracing Queer Family" is a guidebook for Queer families on how to live into their true selves and strengthen their communities through radical love, acceptance, and mutual healing. With hands-on tools for learning and reflection in each chapter, this needed resource tackles issues of inclusion and acceptance and offers practical advice for how individuals and families can honor themselves and find transformation for their whole community through love.

Whether you are a Queer person on the journey of self-awareness, an ally looking for resources, or a family member seeking advice for how to navigate a loved one's coming-out process, "Embracing Queer Family: Learning to Live Authentically in Our Families and Communities" will prove to be an invaluable, instructive, and inspiring resource.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Embracing Queer Family: Learning to Live Authentically in Our Families and Communities" is an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library LGBTQ+ & Parenting collections, as well as supplemental LGBTQ+ Demographics & Gender Sexuality curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "Embracing Queer Family: Learning to Live Authentically in Our Families and Communities" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, 9798874777784, $39.99, CD).

Editorial Note #1: Nia Chiaramonte holds a BA in psychology with a minor in business from the University of Northern Iowa and is currently pursuing her master's degree in business administration. She is the Senior Director of People at LifeStraw in Baltimore, Maryland. Nia spent the first thirty-five years of her life hiding in plain sight, scared to be who she is and scared of what it might cost her. While the cost has been high, the reward of being free has been worth it. She is cofounder of Love in the Face, an organization to help and support other transgender and LGBTQIA+ individuals on their own journeys of self-discovery.

Editorial Note #2: Katie J. Chiaramonte holds a BA in family services from the University of Northern Iowa and is a sendee of The Living School. In addition, she is a certified reproductive doula. After over fifteen years of formal and informal lay ministry in the Christian tradition, Katie has found that love has brought her out into a more spacious place where tradition melts away and all things connect in a wide and endless web.

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

Fifty Ships That Changed the Course of History
Ian Graham
Firefly Books Ltd.
9780228103646, $19.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: "Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History: A Nautical History of the World" is a beautifully illustrated guide to 50 water vessels, each of which played a key role in world history and had a great impact on human civilization.

The author of "Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History", Ian Graham, presents the ships chronologically, beginning with Pharaoh Khufu's solar barge from about 2566 BCE. The chapter includes a photograph of the reconstructed ship, discovered in 1954 near the Great Pyramid. Religious beliefs held that in the afterlife the pharaoh would need a ship to sail the cosmic waters of the sky with the sun god, Ra.

"Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History" closes with another sun-seeking ship 4,000 years later. The epitome of an ocean cruise ship, the MS Allure of the Seas is the biggest passenger ship ever built. An Oasis-class cruise ship, it is a destination in itself, complete with a Central Park-like oasis, 18 decks, 5,492 passengers, and a crew of 2,384.

Between these landmark vessels is a variety of ships used for all of mankind's needs, from hunters searching for food, traders with goods to barter and warriors bent on conquest, to explorers longing to see what lay beyond the horizon. Over time, the first small primitive watercraft evolved into bigger seagoing vessels, shaping our history, culture and civilization along the way.

"Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History" is an attractive and informative reference provides an innovative perspective on maritime and world history.

Critique: A seminal, original, groundbreaking, and inherently fascinating study, "Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History" is enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of a two page bibliography of Further Reading and a four page Index. Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Fifty Ships that Changed the Course of History" is especially and unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Maritime History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Ian Graham is an author with more than 30 years' experience in popular science, technology and history. He has written extensively for magazines and has written and co-written more than 200 books on a wide range of topics, including space exploration, aviation, transport, energy, communications, inventions and military technology. He has a degree in applied physics and a postgraduate diploma in journalism. In 2012 he was the joint winner of the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize and in 2014 he was short listed for the Educational Writers' Award.

Free Time: The History of an Elusive Ideal
Gary S. Cross
NYU Press
9781479813070, $35.00, HC, 352pp

Synopsis: Free time, one of life's most precious things, often feels unfulfilling. But why? And how did leisure activities transition from strolling in the park for hours to "doomscrolling" on social media for thirty minutes?

Today, despite the promise of modern industrialization, many people experience both a scarcity of free time and a disappointment in it. With the publication of "Free Time: The History of an Elusive Ideal", Professor Gary S. Cross offers a broad historical explanation of why our affluent society does not afford more time away from work and why that time is often unsatisfying.

Professor Cross explores the cultural, social, economic, and political history, especially of the past 250 years to understand the roots of our conceptions of free time and its use. By the end of the nineteenth century, a common expectation was that industrial innovations would lead to a progressive reduction of work time and a subsequent rise in free time devoted to self development and social engagement. However, despite significant changes in the early twentieth century, both goals were frustrated, thus leading to the contemporary dilemma.

Professor Cross touches on leisure of all kinds, from peasant festivals and aristocratic pleasure gardens to amusement parks, movie theaters and organized sports to internet surfing, and even the use of alcohol and drugs. This wide-ranging cultural and social history explores the industrial-era origins of our modern obsession with work and productivity, but also the historical efforts to liberate time from work and cultivate free time for culture. Insightful and informative, this book is sure to help you make sense of your own relationship to free time.

Critique: A seminal and ground-breaking study, "Free Time: The History of an Elusive Ideal" is an inherently fascinating and thoughtfully informative history of the concept and practice of 'leisure time', from the earliest recorded societies to our contemporary 'work-from-home' era. Enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of forty-six pages of Notes and a twelve page Index, "Free Time: The History of an Elusive Ideal" will be of particular value for readers with an interest in labor and industrial economic relations and popular culture. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Free Time: The History of an Elusive Ideal" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.25).

Editorial Note: Gary S. Cross ( is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Modern History in the Department of History at Pennsylvania State University and author of Freak Show Legacies and Time and Money: The Making of Consumer Culture.

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

Tucker Plays the Back Nine
Lynn Campion, author
Theodore Waddell, illustrator
Sweetwater Books
c/o Farcountry Press
9780984056057, $18.95, HC, 80pp

Synopsis: Tucker is a golf course dog who returns to play the game of golf again and to share his wisdom and observations about the game and those who play it. Hee is growing older, and his observations have changed over the years. Those keen observations, piercing insights, and oh-so-true critiques are what comprise "Tucker Plays the Back Nine" from start to finish.

Critique: The collaborative work of author/storyteller Lynn Campion and artist/illustrator Theodore Waddell, "Tucker Plays the Back Nine" is a 'must read' pick for anyone who has played (or attempted to play) the game of golf. A fun, funny, and memorable read from start to finish, "Tucker Plays the Back Nine" will prove an immediate and enduringly welcome addition to personal and community library Sports Humor collections.

Editorial Note: Artist Theodore Waddell divides his time between studios in Montana and Idaho. His love for animals is evident in many of his paintings. Lynn Campion is his wife. She is a strong community advocate. She is also a photographer and writer, with two books published about training horses and the sport of rodeo.

City and Campus
John W. Stamper
University of Notre Dame Press
9780268207717, $55.00, HC, 434pp

Synopsis: "City and Campus: An Architectural History of South Bend, Notre Dame, and Saint Mary's" by the late John W. Stamper (1950 - 2022) tells the rich history of a Midwest industrial town and its two academic institutions through the buildings that helped bring these places to life.

In this architectural history, Professor Stamper paints a narrative portrait of South Bend and the campuses of the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College from their founding and earliest settlement in the 1830s through the boom of the Roaring Twenties. Industrialist giants such as the Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company and Oliver Chilled Plow Works invested their wealth into creating some of the city's most important and historically significant buildings.

Famous architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, brought the latest trends in architecture to the heart of South Bend. Stamper also illuminates how Notre Dame's founder and long-time president Father Edward Sorin, C.S.C., recruited other successful architects to craft in stone the foundations of the university and the college at the same time as he built the scholarship. City and Campus provides an engaging and definitive history of how this urban and academic environment emerged on the shores of the St. Joseph River.

Critique: A seminal, inherently fascinating, and meticulous study, Professor John W. Stamper's "City and Campus: An Architectural History of South Bend, Notre Dame, and Saint Mary's" from Notre Dame Press is deftly edited by Benjamin J. Young and features an informative Foreword by Dennis Doordan. Informatively enhanced for the reader's benefit with the inclusion of a fourteen page Bibliography, forty pages of Notes, a four page Index of Images, and an eighteen page Index, "City and Campus: An Architectural History of South Bend, Notre Dame, and Saint Mary's" is a very special addition to personal, professional, and college/university library American Regional Architecture History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for architectural students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "City and Campus" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $43.99).

Editorial Note #1: John W. Stamper (1950 - 2022) served for thirty-eight years on the faculty of the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame. He was the author of Chicago's North Michigan Avenue: Planning and Development, 1900 - 1930 and The Architecture of Roman Temples: The Republic to the Middle Empire.

Editorial Note #2: Benjamin J. Young is a historian of the modern United States who studies the intersection of religion, politics, and the metropolitan built environment. Young is currently a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Notre Dame.

Editorial Note #3: Dennis Doordan is professor emeritus of the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame.

Michael Dunford

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

The Life and Work of Ante Dabro, Australian-Croatian Sculptor
Peter Read
Anthem Press
9781839989926, $49.95, HC, 234pp

Synopsis: Why does a highly skilled and highly trained sculptor, the master of every style and technique, insist on working in the style of the Italian Renaissance? The answer is that to Ante Dabro, every sculpture must speak to humanity, which means that it must be an element of humanity. If it does not, the sculptor has failed. Working with female models throughout his long life, he has sought to portray an essence of femininity, and therefore an essence of humanity.

Ante Dabro believes that the ability to see what other people don't see is a real gift. He says, 'It's like a star wheeling round the earth, fertilising the imagination as it goes.'

With the publication of "The Life and Work of Ante Dabro, Australian-Croatian Sculptor: The Midnight Sea in the Blood), historian and biographer Peter Read explores the different ways Dabro has liberated an essence of humanity by releasing the soul of a human form from its imprisoning substance, whether it be from wood, marble, stone or plaster.

Critique: With the occasional color illustration, "The Life and Work of Ante Dabro, Australian-Croatian Sculptor: The Midnight Sea in the Blood" is a comprehensive biography of a gifted, influential, and acclaimed sculptor who has worked at his art for more than 60 years. A very highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library Artist Biography/Memoir collections, it should be noted that this Anthem Press edition of "The Life and Work of Ante Dabro, Australian-Croatian Sculptor: The Midnight Sea in the Blood " is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $41.41).

Editorial Note #1: Ante Dabro ( is a Croatian-born Australian artist/sculptor and art teacher who has lived and worked in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory since the late 1960s.

Editorial Note #2: Peter Read ( is one of Australia's leading historians. His work encompasses Australian history, Aboriginal history, Chilean history, and place studies.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - A Board Book
Lucasfilm Ltd., author
Al Williamson, illustrator
Abrams Appleseed
c/o Harry N. Abrams
9781419773778, $12.99, Board Book, 30pp

Synopsis: Infants and toddlers will enjoy following the adventures of favorite characters associated with some of the most memorable moments in Star Wars history. On the ice planet Hoth, the Rebels defend their base from Darth Vader and Imperial troops; Luke learns the ways of the Force from Jedi Master Yoda; and danger waits for everyone in Cloud City, where a terrible secret will be revealed.

With art from comics legend Al Williamson, gatefolds, and a cinematic feel, this collector's board book is the perfect gift no matter your generation, for both lifelong Star Wars fans and the littlest Padawans.

Critique: Also available as part of the Collector's Classic Board Book series is the companion board book "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi". In addition to children ages 1-5 and their parents, "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - A Board Book" will prove to be of immense interest to all Star Wars memorabilia collectors.

Editorial Note 1: Lucasfilm Ltd. ( Lucasfilm Ltd. was born out of necessity. Following the release of his debut feature, THX 1138 (1971), filmmaker George Lucas was eager for creative independence. His film was visionary, but limited box office exposure had left American Zoetrope, its production company, with an uncertain future. To support his next projects, Lucas would start his own company away from Hollywood in Northern California -- and the rest is cinematic history.

Editorial Note #2: Alfonso 'Al' Williamson(March 21, 1931 - June 12, 2010) was an American cartoonist, comic book artist and illustrator specializing in adventure, Western, science fiction and fantasy. A legendary comics artist, over a career that lasted more than 50 years, he worked for nearly every major comics publisher, specializing in adventure, western, and science-fiction stories. He is best known for his beloved work on Flash Gordon, Secret Agent Corrigan, and Star Wars, including the 1980s comics adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. His many awards include the Inkwell Awards' Joe Sinnott Hall of Fame and the Eisner Awards' Hall of Fame. Although he passed away in 2020, his style influenced countless artists, and his legacy lives on through his popular works

Paul T. Vogel

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

The Vampire Knitting Club: First in a Paranormal Cozy Mystery Series
Nancy Warren
Ambleside Publishing
9781928145479, $12.99
B07HDBQ7BB, $0.99, ebook, 2018, 262 pages

The Vampire Knitting Club is the typical paranormal cozy with witches and vampires, but not the evil kind. World building is difficult for a writer. The first portion of a fantasy story that is outside of normal reality requires the author to build a world that is relatable to the reader and has a logical framework that holds the story together. Warren is not as smooth a world builder as some writers and it takes a good quarter to third of the tale for the story to flow. But the story is worth working your way past the beginning. The whole idea of a vampire knitting club creates such a fun dichotomy, it is worth the time invested.

Lucy Swift has a bad breakup with her boyfriend and decides to visit her Gran who runs the Cardinal Woolsey's knitting shop in Oxford. She finds the shop closed and the neighbors tell her that her grandmother has died. But things don't add up. Lucy finds evidence of violence and strange things keep happening around her and the shop. She soon discovers that there is a paranormal world existing around her and that she just might be a witch. Murder, vampires, witches and an undead loving grandmother are only the start of her confusion. Lucy must discover why her grandmother was murdered before she is killed herself.

The Vampire Knitting Club is slow starting but well worth reading. It is both fun and thrilling. Even readers, who normally do not like the paranormal cozy tales, should find the story a great escape. The later books in the series are even more fun because the heavy lifting of creating the fantasy world has already been accomplished in the first book.

Trust No One (Mac Davis Thrillers Book 1)
L.J. Breedlove
Self Published
9798223289357 $19.99, paper
B00C50WXVM ebook price: $0.00 US copyright 2013, 354 pages

Trust No One is an action/thriller. The story is typical in the genre but where it excels is the characters. The lead character is Mac Davis an ex-marine turned reporter for a small Seatle newspaper. Another plus is the reasonable logistics in the story. Many actioners tend to ignore that it takes time to travel across the country and imply that travel can happen in the time it takes to turn the page.

Buddies in the marines tend to form strong long-term relations. When one of Mac's marine buddies comes across dangerous information about a powerful rich politician, he contacts the rest of his marine friends and asks them to keep the information safe. People are soon kidnapped and killed and Davis becomes a target. Davis has to stay alive long enough to save his kidnapped friends and make sure they stay safe.

Trust No One is an easy recommendation. It has a nice mystery and plenty of action. The book doesn't push the boundaries in the genre but it is a solid light read. You can easily spend a relaxing weekend enjoying the tale.

S.A. Gorden
Senior Reviewer

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Sins Revealed - Book 5: A Joe Erickson Mystery
Lynn-Steven Johanson
Level Best Books
9781685125950, $16.95 PB, 5.99 Kindle, 246 pages

Synopsis: The city is in shock as Detective Joe Erickson is called to investigate a gruesome scene - a burned-out pickup truck with two charred bodies inside. As the investigation progresses, he determines the victims are a young man and his cousin.

However, the case takes a sinister turn when the investigators find skeletal remains in the backyard of a nearby house. Who would go to such lengths to hide the truth? With more questions than answers, Detective Erickson is determined to uncover the truth behind this mysterious and disturbing case.

Review: Step into the dark and twisted world of Sins Revealed, where the twisted mind of a murderer gradually unravels. Join forces with a relentless detective who stops at nothing to crack the case wide open. Prepare for a gripping tale of mystery, suspense, and unrelenting determination. Dive into the depths of darkness and uncover the chilling truths within the pages.

With masterful storytelling and intricately crafted scenes, Lynn-Steven Johanson, a gifted mystery writer, ensures that his work will captivate you. With masterful storytelling and intricately crafted scenes, Johanson's work will send chills down your spine and set your heart racing with every turn of the page. Dive into the thrilling mysteries penned by this talented author and prepare for a reading experience like no other.

Editorial Note: Sins Revealed is the fifth book in the highly popular Joe Erickson Mystery series. Learn more of the past works by visiting his website:

The Boogie Barn Band
William Nephew & Natalie Neal, co-authors
Karine Makartichan, illustrator
Moving Melodies
9798989779727, $19.99 HC, $2.99 Kindle, 28 pages

Synopsis: Music plays on the farm all across the land. The sound comes from the Boogie Barn, whose tunes attract animals from all over. When you enter the barn, a delightful melody will greet you. All attendees are enjoying The Boogie Band as they are playing their song.

They're up on stage. Reggie is on drums, Hank is playing the bass, Blue is playing the piano, Rocky the Buss is jamming on the guitar, and Jazzmine the Cat sings the words to the tune. Her words bring the music to life.

Step into a world filled with joy and merriment as you join this lively group in bringing life and laughter to the land. The animals themselves can't resist the urge to dance and celebrate, and you're invited to be a part of this magical experience.

Let your spirits soar as you immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and the joy of movement. Be a part of this enchanting journey where every step is a celebration!

Critique: The Boogie Barn Band is a beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the art of music and showcases its unparalleled ability to unite people from all walks of life.

Through vibrant illustrations and captivating storytelling, this book is a testament to the power of music in fostering connections and spreading joy.

William Nephew and Natalie Neal invite you to embark on a musical journey like no other. These talented authors should be commended for writing such a highly entertaining book.

Let the enchanting tunes of The Boogie Barn Band serenade your soul and fill your heart with joy. Take advantage of this harmonious experience - join today and let the music ignite your soul!

Editorial Note: An added bonus is to listen the Boogie Barn Band Song by visiting the following website:

The Well Within: Unlocking Your Personal Power Through Radical Self-Care
Kalia Garrido
Merry Dissonance Press
9781939919694, $17.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 119 pages

Synopsis: Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey that will redefine your existence? Look no further than The Well Within - a beacon of wisdom and enlightenment that promises to revolutionize your perception of life.

This remarkable book delves into five profound life lessons, urging you to delve deep within yourself, choose your battles wisely, radiate positivity, practice self-care, and embrace the extraordinary. Brace yourself for a life-altering conclusion that will unveil a whole new world of possibilities.

Critique: Years of extensive research and personal experiences have contributed to the meticulous distillation of The Well Within. Through years of extensive research and personal experiences, the Well Within team lived, defined, and refined these invaluable categories, paving the way for a journey towards unparalleled success and personal growth.

Kalia Garrido is the author of a life-changing book that can help you unlock your full potential and create positive, lasting change. With her exceptional expertise and proven track record of empowering individuals through self-help and life-changing guidance, Kalia is the perfect source for transformation. She can help you embrace the power of self-discovery and personal growth. Let's embark on this incredible journey of self-improvement and fulfillment together!

How to Surf The Waves: Sensory and Emotional Regulation Curriculum
Tracey DeMaria, OTD, OTR/L
Autism Moving Forward
9798218386313, $27.99 PB 186 pages

Synopsis: Dive into a transformative journey with How to Surf the Waves: A Sensory and Emotional Regulation Curriculum. This revolutionary program is not just another set of rules and guidelines, but a beacon of empowerment for children and the adults who guide them.

By significantly altering from labeling behavior to fostering growth, this curriculum recognizes every child's innate resilience and adaptability. Through the surfing metaphor, participants will embark on a voyage of self-discovery, learning to embrace the ebbs and flows of emotions as natural phenomena.

The curriculum provides evidence-based tools and strategies to help children skillfully navigate the unpredictable waters of life, leading to enhanced personal fulfillment and success. Join us in equipping the next generation with the essential skills to conquer challenges and thrive!

Review: How to Surf The Waves - A Sensory and Emotional Regulation Curriculum offers an innovative curriculum that aims to transform how children with nervous system issues handle their emotions and sensory experiences. Focusing on surfing as a metaphor for navigating life's challenges, this program offers practical tools and strategies to help children regulate their emotions and thrive.

Tracey DeMaria's dedication, expertise, and heartfelt passion shine through every page. This book offers invaluable insights and guidance. It's a testament to Tracey's commitment to helping others, and I am confident that it will positively affect countless lives. Get ready to be inspired and empowered by the wisdom shared in this remarkable work.

Editorial Note: Tracey DeMaria, OTD, OTR, is an accomplished author and occupational therapist with a lifelong dedication to promoting sensory and emotional regulation. Her professional journey began in 1992 at Colorado State University, where she studied occupational therapy. Tracey's passion for helping children and adults play, grow, and flourish led her to work in various clinic and farm-based occupational therapy settings, where she discovered the transformative power of music, animals, and the earth.

Sunny Gale
Jamie Lisa Forbes
Pronghorn Press
9781941052723, $TBA, PB, 340 pages
9781941052730, $TBA, Kindle

Synopsis: Step into the captivating world of Forbes' historical novel where Hannah Brandt, a woman of grit and determination, defies all odds to pursue her passion for rodeo competitions. From humble beginnings in Ohio and Nebraska, Hannah discovers her calling as a bronco rider at 14. As she triumphs in the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo and transforms into the renowned Sunny Gale, her journey unfolds with twists of love, loss, and resilience.

Witness Sunny's meteoric rise to fame alongside her partner Tad Pickering as they dazzle audiences with their daring Roman Riding act. Sunny's unwavering spirit propels her forward through triumphs and tragedies, leaving a trail of inspiration in her wake. Join in celebrating the indomitable spirit of a true pioneer in rodeo whose legacy transcends time and continues to inspire generations.

Critique: Sunny Gale is a captivating rodeo saga bound to leave a lasting impression. This moving and fully realized story takes you on a journey through the rodeo world, filled with unforgettable characters and compelling narratives.

Jamie Lisa Forbes showcases her remarkable storytelling skills, promising readers an unforgettable experience. Prepare to embark on an exhilarating journey as you dive into the captivating world of rodeo, filled with heart-pounding excitement and profound emotions. Get ready for the gripping narrative to sweep you off your feet and be prepared to fully immerse yourself in the magic of Sunny Gale.

The Healers
Michael Tidemann
Northwest Passages
9798865048084, $20.00 PB, $25.00 HB, $4.99, Kindle, 275 pages

Synopsis: In a captivating tale of resilience and determination, follow the journey of Yejide, Abigail, Cecelia, and Yemaya as they navigate through the harsh realities of racism, slavery, and war to emerge as natural healers.

Witness Yejide's unwavering spirit as she overcomes the trauma of being sold into slavery and having her child taken away. Experience Abigail's rediscovery of her African roots amidst the brutality of South Carolina's slave trade. Marvel at Cecelia's mystical healing talents as she finds refuge among the Cherokee after fleeing a plantation. Be inspired by Yemaya's determination to succeed in the face of prejudice, as she ultimately reaches the pinnacle of the medical profession.

These women of color defy all odds, showcasing the indomitable strength and power of the human spirit in the darkest of times.

Critique: Michael Tidemann is not just a writer; he is a maestro orchestrating symphonies of words that resonates with readers across the globe. Witness the triumph of resilient women in The Healers as they overcome adversity and forge their own path towards success.

The character's life challenges will inspire the reader to heal, grow, and thrive. Join in celebrating these remarkable women and their journey towards empowerment.

Editorial Note: Meet Michael Tidemann, a multi-talented individual living in the heart of Estherville, Iowa. By day, he delves into journalism, navigating the intricacies of storytelling with finesse. By night, he transforms into a freelance writer, weaving words into captivating tales that leave readers spellbound.

As if that wasn't impressive enough, Michael also imparts his wisdom as an adjunct college instructor, igniting the passion for writing in aspiring minds. His literary prowess knows no bounds, with his fiction gracing the pages of prestigious publications like THE LONGNECK and BLACK HILLS MONTHLY MAGAZINE. His insightful nonfiction pieces find homes in renowned platforms such as the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE and the DES MOINES REGISTER.

The Mice of Dumpler Jonah's Adventure
Chris Weld, author
Illustrated by Lovely
Independently Published
9798858190356, $5.99 PB, $17.99 HB, $4.99, Kindle, 90 pages

Synopsis: Embark on a thrilling adventure with Jonah as he navigates through moral dilemmas and life-changing decisions in the enchanting city of Dumpler.

In this charming chapter book, readers of all ages will be captivated by Jonah's journey, filled with unexpected twists and turns. Will Jonah remain a mere spectator, or will he step up to the challenge and become the hero his home desperately needs?

Dive into The Adventures of Dumpler City and discover that there is always more to the world than meets the eye!

Critique: The Mice of Dumpler Jonah's Adventure is a delightful tale, tailored for ages 6-9 but appealing to readers of all ages. The stunning illustrations beautifully complement the narrative, enhancing the overall reading experience. Dive into this enchanting story and get ready for an unforgettable journey!

Chris Weld's talent shines through in every character he creates. Get ready to embark on a journey filled with heartwarming moments and delightful storytelling as each character effortlessly propels the story forward. Join in exploring the enchanting world crafted by Chris Weld, where every page is a delightful adventure waiting to be discovered.

Editorial Review: Suggested reading ages 6-9 years old. Part of the The Mice of Dumpler Series.

Lawyers, Dogs, and Money
Tracy Carter
Book Baby Publishers
9798350948592, $18.99 PB, $8.99 Kindle, 355 pages

Synopsis: In a riveting tale of courage and determination, Veronica emerges as a beacon of hope in the face of danger and uncertainty. Her unique blend of dog training skills and a fervent desire to help others propels her into a high-stakes mission to protect Kadri Ilves, a fearless advocate for social justice. As threats against Kadri intensify, Veronica teams up with a Deputy Sheriff from Boulder County to unravel the sinister plot around them.

The stakes are high as Veronica's father delves into Kadri's past, unearthing a trail of legal battles and activism that may have made her a target. With the shadow of the California branch of the Russian Mafia looming over them, Veronica and her team race against time to uncover the truth and protect Kadri from harm.

Join this gripping journey as Veronica navigates through a web of deceit and danger, showcasing the power of determination and compassion in the face of adversity.

Critique: Lawyers, Dogs, and Money is a story of resilience, bravery, and the unwavering bond between humans and their loyal canine companions.

Tracy Carter is a remarkable author who has written a literary gem! Prepare to embark on a thrilling journey alongside a fearless heroine who stands tall against injustice. Dive deep into a world of mystery, intrigue, and heart-pounding suspense. Tracy Carter's book is not just a story; it's an experience waiting to be unraveled!

Editorial Note: Lawyers, Dogs, and Money is the second book in A Veronica Kildare K-9 Mystery Book series. Learn more about this exciting author by visiting her website:

Catharine, Queen of the Tumbling Waters
Cynthia G. Neale
Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company
9781960373021, $18.96 PB, $9.99, Kindle, 268 pages

Synopsis: Step into the extraordinary world of Catharine Montour, a trailblazing figure of the 18th century whose resilience and wisdom defied the norms of her era. Born into the Montour family, renowned for their unique gatherings that brought together a diverse array of individuals, Catharine's upbringing was anything but ordinary.

As the winds of change swept through the nation during the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, Catharine's peaceful existence by a waterfall in New York transformed into a courageous journey of leadership and advocacy for peace. Delve into the inspiring life story of Catharine Montour, a woman who stood tall in the face of adversity and left an indelible mark on history.

Critique: Catharine, Queen of the Tumbling Waters, provides a remarkable historical account that sheds light on the extraordinary journey of a courageous woman navigating a male-dominated society. Delve into the pages of this meticulously researched book to witness the unwavering determination that enabled Catharine to survive and thrive in the face of adversity.

Prepare to be swept away by the captivating narrative of Cynthia G. Neale, an author whose pen weaves tales of resilience and empowerment. Join in on a journey filled with inspiration and hope as we explore the remarkable story of this literary trailblazer.

Get ready to discover a world where courage and determination reign supreme, and every page holds a treasure trove of wisdom waiting to be unraveled. Let Cynthia G. Neale's story serve as a guiding light in your quest for strength and empowerment.

Editorial Note: To discover more books by Cynthia G. Neale, and learn more about this talented writer visit her website:

Daily Soul Bytes: For Living an Inspired Life
Bola Abimbola
Balboa Press
9781982287702, $15.84 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 78pages

Synopsis: Are you ready to delve deep into the depths of your soul and unearth the essence of your being? Introducing Daily Soul Bytes - your compass to navigating the complexities of life and reconnecting with the core of the essence being. In a world filled with chaos, disruptions, and obstacles, this book offers a sanctuary of tranquility where anxiety fades and disconnection disappears.

Let Daily Soul Bytes illuminate the way back to your authentic self, guiding you toward a harmonious fusion of mind, heart, and soul. Embrace this journey of self-discovery and let your inner light shine brighter than ever!

Critique: Daily Soul Bytes emerges as a refreshing oasis of positivity and inspiration in a world where obstacles and struggles seem to be the norm. Like a breath of fresh air, our platform uplifts and enlightens you, offering a daily dose of soulful wisdom to guide you through life's challenges. Join the journey towards finding inner peace and empowerment, one byte at a time.

Bola Abimbola has masterfully crafted a life-changing book. It's filled with wisdom, encouragement, and profound insights that will touch your heart and ignite your spirit. Embrace the opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth through the pages of this extraordinary book. Experience the magic for yourself and let the words of Bola Abimbola leave a lasting impression on your life.

Hounds of Gaia: The Marrower Saga Book One
Sean M. Tirman
Marrower Books
9798989489909, $11.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 282 pages

Synopsis: In the vast expanse of the solar system, Foxhound, the fearless Contractor, navigates through the unknown, chasing down miscreants and embracing the thrill of the chase. But a mysterious prisoner transfer request lands on her lap from a cult starship, piquing her curiosity.

Little does she know this job will unravel a web of secrets and mysteries she never expected. As she delves deeper into the mission, confronting a bone marrow-eating serial killer and an enigmatic orphan girl who mirrors her past, Foxhounds propelled into a journey of self-discovery and reckoning.

However, just as she unravels the threads of her identity, chaos erupts onboard her starship, plunging her into a battle for survival. Will Foxhound emerge from the shadows of her past, or will the darkness consume her? Join this thrilling odyssey through the stars, where every twist reveals a new layer of the enigma that is Foxhound.

Critique: Hounds of Gaia is a world where imagination knows no bounds, where every page is a portal to thrilling adventures and unexpected twists.

Step into a world where imagination knows no bounds and storytelling reaches new heights! Get ready to dive into the captivating universe crafted by the master wordsmith, Sean M. Tirman. His exceptional sci-fi works are not just stories; they are immersive experiences that will challenge your perceptions, ignite your curiosity, and leave you yearning for more.

Embark on a journey like never before and prepare to be spellbound by the magic of words. Join in exploring the endless possibilities of the sci-fi genre with Sean M. Tirman leading the way!

Spring Harvest
Rektok Ross
Ic13 Books
9780988256866, $17.99, PB, 315 pages
9780988256859, $5.99, Kindle

Synopsis: Step into the captivating world of Alix Summerlin as she ventures into a weekend filled with music, fashion, and excitement at the Garlic Groove Music Festival in the charming town of Allium Valley. As Alix and her friends immerse themselves in the festivities, little do they know that a mysterious secret lurks in the shadows, waiting to unravel.

As festival-goers disappear and a mysterious stranger warns Alix of impending danger, she realizes bloodthirsty vampires overrun the town! With chaos around her, Alix must team up with her ex, Logan, and the enigmatic Kade to save Allium Valley from the vampire threat.

Amidst the chaos, trust undergoes testing, secrets get revealed, and Alix finds herself in a deadly game of survival where the world's fate hangs in the balance. Join Alix on this heart-pounding journey as she navigates through a festival like no other, filled with twists, turns, and a sprinkle of romance. Get ready for a fangtastic time at the Garlic Groove Music Festival!

Critique: Spring Harvest is an extraordinary world where the paranormal takes on a new dimension. Brace yourself for an immersive experience filled with unexpected twists and spine-chilling moments to keep you on your seat until the last page.

Dive into the captivating world crafted by the masterful Rektok Ross, where every page is a testament to her unparalleled storytelling prowess. In this book, readers will immerse themselves in a narrative that defies expectations and delivers the elements sorely missing from other titles.

The characters within these pages are not just ink and paper - they are vivid, well-developed beings that breathe life into the story and propel it forward with every turn. Prepare to embark on a literary journey where every word is a brushstroke, painting a masterpiece of emotions and intrigue.

Melody The Unicorn's Big Worry
Subani Maheshwari, author
Noor Alshalabi, illustrator
Stories by Subani
9781737425861, $19.99 HC, 36 pages

Synopsis: Step into the captivating tale of Melody the Unicorn and join her on a journey of overcoming fears and embracing confidence. In this charming tale, Melody's story mirrors every child's anxiety when venturing into the unknown.

Through engaging exercises and heartfelt storytelling, Melody the Unicorn's Big Worry offers a roadmap to conquer worries, silence self-doubt, and nurture unwavering self-assurance. Let the vibrant illustrations and empowering narrative guide young readers through a transformative experience, teaching them to unleash their inner strength and dance through life with courage.

This book transcends age barriers and is a must-have for every household and educational institution, delivering a timeless message of resilience and empowerment. Dive into the world of Melody the Unicorn and watch as fears fade away, making room for boundless confidence to shine.

Critique: Melody The Unicorn's Big Worry is a delightful story is not just for children, but also for adults seeking a heartwarming tale that resonates with the inner child in all of us. Let Melody's journey inspire you to face your worries with courage and optimism.

Enter the enchanting world crafted by Subani Maheshwari, where every page whisper profound life lessons that will resonate with your soul. Brace yourself for a captivating journey filled with wonder, magic, and a touch of brilliance that will linger in your heart long after you turn the last page.

Editorial Note: Recommended reading age 5-8 years.

Suzie Housley, Senior Reviewer

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design