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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 22, Number 10 October 2023 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

Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities
Veronica Davis, author
Island Press
9781642832099, $32.00, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: Transportation planners, engineers, and policymakers in the US face the monumental task of righting the wrongs of their predecessors while charting the course for the next generation. This task requires empathy while pushing against forces in the industry that are resistant to change. How do you change a system that was never designed to be equitable? How do you change a system that continues to divide communities and cede to the automobile?

With the publication of "Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities", transportation expert Veronica O. Davis shines a light on the inequitable and often destructive practice of transportation planning and engineering. She calls for new thinking and more diverse leadership to create transportation networks that connect people to jobs, education, opportunities, and to each other.

"Inclusive Transportation" offers a vision for change and a new era of transportation planning. Davis explains why centering people in transportation decisions requires a great shift in how transportation planners and engineers are trained, how they communicate, the kind of data they collect, and how they work as professional teams. Davis deftly examines what "equity" means for a transportation project, which is central to changing how we approach and solve problems to create something safer, better, and more useful for all people.

Davis also aims to disrupt the status quo of the transportation industry. She urges transportation professionals to reflect on past injustices and elevate current practice to do the hard work that results in more than an idea and a catchphrase.

"Inclusive Transportation" is a call to action and a practical approach to reconnecting and shaping communities based on principles of justice and equity.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities" is a seminal and ground-breaking contribution to planning for American 21st century transportation needs and will be of special and particular value to readers with an interest in mass transit and urban planning. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, governmental, and academic library Urban Transportation collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "Inclusive Transportation: A Manifesto for Repairing Divided Communities" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $27.55).

Editorial Note: Veronica O. Davis ( is the Director of Transportation & Drainage Operations, Houston Public Works. Veronica has nearly 20 years of experience in engineering and transportation planning. She co-founded Black Women Bike and was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2012 for her professional accomplishments and advocacy. Veronica serves on the committees for Transportation Research Board, the board for America Walks, as well as technical advisory boards at the University of Maryland and Cornell University.

Ayn Rand at the Movies
Denise Noe
BearManor Media
9798887712673, $37.00, HC, 258pp

Synopsis: Alice O'Connor (January 20, 1905 - March 6, 1982) is better known by her pen name Ayn Rand. She was a Russian-born American writer and philosopher. She is known for her fiction and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. In addition to her novels and until her death in 1982, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays. (Wikipedia)

Loved and hated, adored and derided, Ayn Rand has been one of the most controversial philosophers and authors of our time. She is considered a Goddess of Capitalism by some and a quintessentially "Mean Girl" by others.

With the publication of "Ayn Rand at the Movies", biographer Denise Noe tries to bring complexity to the life of this most complex figure and, especially, to explore in depth her strong relationship with the motion picture industry.

Ayn Rand fell in love with movies during the silent era when she was a young girl growing up in Russia and that love affair with cinema lasted all her life -- and had profound effects on her life. One of her first published works was on a favorite actress, Pola Negri. She met her husband, Frank O'Connor, when she worked as an extra on Cecil B. DeMille's King of Kings.

Ayn Rand also penned the screenplays for the 1945 films Love Letters and You Came Along as well as for the 1949 The Fountainhead, a motion picture made of her groundbreaking novel of the same name.

Ayn Rand has been the subject of films like the documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life and the fabulously stylish Hellen Mirren vehicle The Passion of Ayn Rand. In "Ayn Rand at the Movies", Denise Noe insightfully discusses the three-part Atlas Shrugged movie series.

She also delves into the making of a Saints vs. Scoundrels episode pitting Rand against Roman Catholic author Flannery O'Connor. "Ayn Rand at the Movies" also covers how Rand's dystopian novella Anthem was made into an inspired cartoon as was her screenplay Red Pawn.

Of special note is a fascinating reveal about how The Simpsons put on delightful send-ups of Rand works -- send-ups that were also tributes to those works. "Ayn Rand at the Movies" also discusses lavish Hollywood productions and high school projects that can be viewed on YouTube, feature films and shorts, to show how gloriously both the life and work of Ayn Rand are intertwined with the motion picture industry.

Critique: Of special interest to fans of Ayn Rand and her political/social philosophy, "Ayn Rand at the Movies" by Denise Noe is a seminal and ground-breaking of the cinematic influences on and participation of Ayn Rand in the film industry. Impressively researched, written, organized and presented, "Ayn Rand at the Movies" is a unique and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Cinematic History collections and supplemental Ayn Rand curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and the legions of Ayn Rand fans that "Ayn Rand at the Movies" is also available from BearManor Media in a paperback edition (9798887712666, $27.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: See an informative interview with Denise Noe about "Ayn Rand at the Movies" at

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

Cosmic Egg Inc.
Morrow Andrews
B0CHBGTMTT, $3.99 ebook

What happens when reality and perceptions of one's place in it experience a cosmic shift? College student Peter Kane finds out in Cosmic Egg Inc. when, on a school break, he is attacked by a ninja with a crossbow who appears to have extraordinary abilities. This happens after he is invited to step into a mysterious light.

The experience leads Peter to probe the boundaries of everything that's formed his personal reality as he learns from the enigmatic rescuer Martin that the world isn't what he's believed it to be. A sub layer of reality invites him to play a dangerous game in which his capacity to save the world is mitigated by the possibility that he won't be strong enough to save even himself.

Peter thinks he is "nobody special." In fact, he is uniquely qualified to enter a milieu in which his choices and actions impact not just his life, but his resurrection and that of the real world that he's always taken for granted on too many levels.

"His ability to wonder if he was dead made Peter realize he wasn't." The nonstop action that is presented from the first encounter only becomes more driving, unpredictable, and engrossing as readers follow Peter through a series of encounters that help him make sense of not just life, but his active role in manipulating and responding to it.

As he confronts a being that can literally stop time and situations that force him to face his family and life connections with a vastly revised perspective of their meaning, Peter evolves, with the help of Martin, into a player who is powerfully unpredictable in his adaptations and insights.

Readers who enjoy video games and high octane action paired with philosophical and psychological reflection will find the action in Cosmic Egg Inc. creates intriguing twists and turns as Peter confronts his family and the constantly disappearing forces that he once thought dictated his life's path.

No sooner do readers think they know what underlies Peter's journey than the reality changes yet again, along with the methods Peter keeps adopting to navigate this strange new world which keeps him on his toes.

Another challenge is that Jesus appears in a very different manner, here, which will both defy and intrigue Christian readers on spiritual and psychological levels.

Libraries and readers looking for multifaceted stories of other worlds based on gaming principles and confrontations with reality, which is presented in fluid form, will find Cosmic Egg Inc. a fine study in adaptation, choice, spiritual reflection, and love.

Holy Orders
Ci Ci Soleil
Beach Reads Books
9798985066050, $22.95

Holy Orders is a novel about belief systems that don't always evolve in predictable manners. It offers a thought-provoking inspection of brothers in belief who walk different paths in their convictions and search for spiritual and political alliances.

A prologue considers the impact of those who enter the order without the requisite belief system in place, where wealthy families "...unceremoniously dumped their extra, unwanted sons into the ranks of the church. While literacy was an asset they brought with them, the desire to follow Christ had not generally been among their strengths. Not a man among them was guided by the holy spirit."

Barnard's day of ordainment has arrived and, unlike many others, he is thoroughly steeped in convictions. This opening history leads to a completely different setting in the first chapter, where Dr. Everly Bergeron embarks on a summer archaeology dig in Germany with Dr. Trevor Payne in an endeavor set to open new doors in her career. Traditionally a man's world, archaeology holds allure for Everly on many different levels. This strange attraction is about to become even odder because this assistant professor, who is an expert on plagues of the fourteenth century, is about to become part of a fascinating series of events that evolve "in ways she wasn't quite prepared for."

Ci Ci Soleil crafts a story steeped in contrasts between past and present events, European and American cultures, and events of 1347. Bernard's a quest for understanding and family connections contain equally thought-provoking considerations for contemporary readers:

"Bernard remembered many a late-night debate with Gerung and his friends about whether God loved diversity in all things and if he had indeed made man around the world, did he not love them though they were different than the men who might live in Germania? Or who might live under a rule that was not Christian? Or live in a wild place to which Christianity had never been introduced?"

Who needs the love of the Lord when plague and magic rule the world?

As Everly and her companions uncover much more than they anticipated from the past, Ci Ci Soleil creates a thought-provoking tale that moves between the 1300s and modern times, making connections that are thought-provoking and growth-inducing among all the characters.

Part historical fiction, part contemporary mystery, and part spooky thriller, Holy Orders is a powerful story about hard decisions, spiritual and moral convictions, and conspiracies that evolve to challenge past and present players whose lives center around unexpected revelations.

It includes many elements of a traditional thriller, from intrigue to confrontations over artifacts that hold mystery and value; it draws intriguing connections between past events and present-day motivations; and it follows the trajectory of a long-dead priest who could as easily be a madman and mass murderer as a hero.

Libraries and readers looking for engrossing interplays between archaeological history and characters whose inspections play out on broader fields of motivation and connection will find Holy Orders a thought-provoking, action-packed read from beginning to end.

View from the Crow's Nest
Susan L. Bradford
Liliquoi Press
9798218012823, $16.95

View from the Crow's Nest: A Young Woman's Global Quest For a Relevant Life is based on the author's letters from younger years as she came of age in the 1960s and embraced a nomadic life, hitchhiking on sailboats and circumnavigating the globe.

During this process, Susan L. Bradford wrote some forty letters to her parents during her two-plus-year odyssey from 1966-68, begun a year after she graduated college. That these letters were not only saved by her parents, but came back to remind her about bygone years, motivations, and lessons decades later, is a tribute to both the power of the pen and the power of perseverance in translating their contents here, for world enlightenment.

Because they were written to her parents, the letters omitted anything the author deemed worrisome to her family at home. They are presented with memories and notes that fill in these points and moments, adding experiences missing from the originals and reflecting on them from the hindsight of a fifty-plus-year perspective.

This element adds a sense of drama and inspection to a story that imparts the feel of an adventure novel, but is based on the real encounters and experiences of a young woman on the cusp of new adult realizations: "Romance at sea was my new reality, and our "couples" table was a new level of elegance. I didn't question it. I happily took it all in stride, moving into a new more-adult station in life. I was on my own, and I was flourishing."

Having these letters and excerpting passages from them, supplementing them with memories and additional insights, is invaluable. The in-the-moment writings blend nicely with the explanations and recollections Bradford adds, creating a rich interplay between past and present, with the letters forming the foundations of life inquiries and adventures:

"My life in Rabaul has been good, and it has been quiet. A resting place before more travel. I have been doing a lot of reading, playing the piano, etc. It seems that to just travel, travel, travel, go, go, go without a break would be so exhausting and probably very confusing, at least for me. So in a way, I am just marking time here, perhaps metabolizing my experiences and letting the dust settle before I move on."

Readers do more than experience these moments with the author. They journey alongside her, from the experience to the mature reflections of present-day memory, reliving the opportunities and encounters Bradford both experienced and used to change her life and formulate new adult goals and perspectives.

Libraries and readers interested in a travelogue of growth set in the 1960s will find View from the Crow's Nest an engaging, enlightening, inspiring read. It goes the extra mile by centering its experiences with social, political, and cultural encounters that proved life-changing and instructional to a young woman on the cusp of realizing her abilities, focus, and life.

The Day I Had a Bulldozer
Ashley Wall
MamaBear Books
9781960616005, Hardcover: $15.95/Paperback: $11.95/eBook: $3.95

The Day I Had a Bulldozer is a picture book with a delightful message. A young boy finds a bulldozer with his name written on it, in front of his house. There's only one thing to do - hop aboard and head for his friend's house to show off his delightful new acquisition. There, he finds an even bigger surprise.

As a series of amusing experiences evolve against all odds, a widening cast of kids explore their world armed with new devices. All of these receive engaging illustration by Vaughan Duck as each child absorbs new facts and learns to navigate their changed environments without destroying everything around them during their learning process.

Ashley Wall creates an engagingly fantastic story about kids who adopt new skills and information, sharing their fun together and helping each other problem-solving the ironic, lively conundrums that evolve from trying new things.

In the end, what the kids build together is far more important than any singular effort could be, teaching young readers about the importance of friendship, cooperation, and sharing new experiences.

Elementary-level libraries and parents seeking picture books that embrace fun and arrive with a delightful underlying message will find The Day I Had a Bulldozer a thought-provoking, powerful celebration of new discoveries, new skills, and friends who support one another through the process of adventure, discovery, and growth.

Chop-Chop the Killer Whore
Thomas Noah Wood
Independently Published
9784600012946, $12.00

In the book publishing world, many authors strive for originality, an often-elusive pinnacle of literary success. Elusive, because so many books permeate the market that it's taken to using subtitles to try to differentiate sound-like books from one another.

Nobody could, however, possibly mistake the title or contents of Chop-Chop the Killer Whore for another novel. There's simply nothing like it on the market, serving up a title and contents that attract through originality and then keep delivering surprises throughout.

From its opening lines, the book draws with a literary allure that is refreshingly surprising:

"Virginia Kaye had married right and buried right - twice. The first loss came as a catapult and the second as a rocket, boosting Virginia to a steeple so airy and select that to gaze back down at her foursquare, bobby-socked past should have produced vertigo."

Although she has come into a fortune, however, Virginia wants something money can't buy - the woman who murdered her father. In 1966, the scene of the crime, this was an impossibility. Today, the mission rests in her hands. Bratty, foul-mouthed Chinese girl Chop-Chop is implicated early on, but the prostitute vanishes without a trace, eluding even an FBI hunt.

What would seem the end of the story proves only the beginning, however, as a plethora of shootings, crimes, and sexual escapades tests notions of justice, revenge, and, surprising, equality.

Thomas Noah Wood loads his story with many elements of surprise, whether they are in unusual romantic connections, ironic family encounters, or erotic bedroom activities. The scope and depth of the characters and their social, racial, and psychological transformations will keep readers on their toes. Additionally, his forty years of living in Japan lends to descriptions that are vivid and detailed. This is no light tale, but a rollicking romp through life that adds a dose of humor into the mix:

"The family birthday holiday bash would be Saturday, the Fourth of July. What would his mother think? And the others? His girlfriend was a woman of color. Would they celebrate independence? Or would it mean a family revolution?"

The ribald racism that runs throughout Chop-Chop's transformation is one that needs to be stomached by the politically correct if the full impact and underlying messages of the story are to be accessed. Descriptors of "Chop-Chop, the China Doll" and how she came (almost literally) into her name may rankle some, but ultimately reflects a candid eye on life's prejudices and ironies that turns a belittling term into one of eventual power.

Shadows and truth. These elements run side by side in a story of investigative and emotional savvy as Chop-Chop and other characters find their lives transformed, tested, and subject to "illicit success" (depending on who is defining that term).

From Japan to America, money seemingly falls from the sky through schemes and events that change the characters and inject new dilemmas and opportunities into their sordid, questionably successful lives.

As three central characters find their disparate pasts tie them together in unusual ways, readers will find their uncertain progression, histories, and cultures engaging and satisfyingly complex.

Wood's story is ribald, unpredictable, sassy, humorous, and thought-provokingly fun. The intrigue and killer components woven into the plot give it twists and turns readers won't see coming, while the cryptic world-hopping engagements are as delightful as the injection of an odd romance readers also won't anticipate.

Libraries and readers looking for a foray into virgin territory and non-virgin exploits will find Chop-Chop the Killer Whore nearly impossible to neatly categorize. File it as an attraction that operates under the guise of intrigue, but falls into more than one definition of 'amazing'.

In Pursuit of Radio Mom
Terry Crylen
She Writes Press
9781647425753, $17.95 paperback; $9.95 ebook

In Pursuit of Radio Mom: Searching for the Mother I Never Had holds up a mirror to family dysfunction and adult parenting choices that provides especially thought-provoking insights on the connections between both. Terry Crylen's thirty-five years in the mental health field enhances her story, which opens in the late 1950s in Chicago, when she was a five-year-old child.

Her relationship with her mother and how it translated to patterns and perceptions that affected her relationship with her own daughter is an examination that pulls no punches as it considers intergenerational legacies and impacts.

Crylen provides a reasoned, thought-provoking series of changing viewpoints about her mother from childhood to adulthood, cementing the early influences and absences that formulated her life and psyche:

"The problem was that my real family was both everywhere and nowhere. A three-ring circus with too many acts performing all at once. A place where I couldn't grab hold of the ringmaster - my mom. Her attention always seemed focused on someone else in the tent or on performing her own magic act. The one where she could make herself disappear for long parts of a day."

Used to living in small spaces and adopting "fantasy families" to reconcile her reality with her vision of what could be, Crylen's early dreams and desire for a different kind of motherly connection and family situation created scenarios which not only crafted and influenced, but impacted her perception of herself, her family, and the life she would eventually create. Her search spills into all kinds of unexpected arenas, including her own health and safety:

"Why couldn't I tell the detective what had really happened to me? Or my mother? Or a friend? Why couldn't I tell anyone at all? Because everything was your own fault."

The theft of her girlhood and womanhood (which made her easy prey) stemmed as much from her family relationships as it did from outside forces. All are explored here in a powerfully wrought self-examination that keeps the bigger picture of intergenerational and mother/daughter legacies firmly in mind.

This, in turn, educates readers about all kinds of family dynamics and interactions that hold lasting impacts on children and parents alike.

Crylen's ability to recall her childhood with an eidetic memory experience of immediacy and reconcile it with her adult experiences and training as a licensed clinical psychologist contributes to an extraordinary memoir. In Pursuit of Radio Mom holds the power to reach beyond individual experience and into the possibilities of formulating new relationships and reactions to life.

From the health crises of her child, during which Crylen finds a rare opportunity of a physician who listens and responds appropriately to her concerns ("He had given me what I'd sought for so long and what I'd needed for both my daughter and me: to be heard."), to acknowledging the successes and failures of parenting above and beyond personal training and experience ("In advocating for her with doctors, I hadn't taught her how to advocate for herself."), Crylen creates a series of reflective pieces that will lend especially well to book club and parenting group discussion circles.

Many memoirs have been written about family ties, dysfunction, and lasting impacts. Few hold the resolute blend of professional and personal assessment that rise above and beyond the moment to consider the connections and broken perceptions mothers and daughters too often struggle over.

Libraries and readers seeking memoirs that capture the process of growth and understanding between mothers and daughters will find In Pursuit of Radio Mom an especially astute, potent consideration of family ideals and realities that is recommended for a much wider audience than the usual memoir or psychological inspection.

A Woman's Guide to Search & Rescue
Mary Carroll Moore
Riverbed Press
9798987531709, $14.95 Paper/$13.99 ebook/$15.00 audio

Red Nelson is a female rock star with an attitude and a hard punch that lands her in trouble for assaulting her manager, and on the run. Where else can she turn to but family - even if her family is more than unconventional, but estranged?

Her half sister Kate, a Search & Rescue pilot working the remote mountains of upper New York State, has her own life and a daughter, Molly, who decides to hide Red on their property. Against all odds, the estranged sisters are brought together not just by circumstance, but by aviation and the broken results of a family dynamic that led them to become strangers.

Red, too, is a pilot, and she well recalls her father's advice, which also applies to life itself:
"Her father talked about crashes. How a stunt flyer could anticipate it, the point where everything was out of the pilot's hands and the plane took over. Red wondered what her dad did when the ground rushed up too fast or a spin started that couldn't be stopped. Who did he pray to? Her mind frantical-ly scanned the short list of prayer-worthy souls she could call on - her desperately ill mother? The sister she hadn't ever met? Nobody could rescue her, that was clear."

The plane crash that opens Red's story is but a metaphor for the crashes that have sent her life on a downward spiral to this point of seeking refuge in a world she's long been avoiding.

Under Mary Carroll Moore's hand, the term 'search and rescue' becomes more than applicable to loss and disaster, but to a form of recovery that leads both rescuerer and those damaged to confront uncomfortable truths about their lives and choices.

As Kate and Molly are drawn into Red's life and escape, old photos dredge up memories and truths while secrets about what Red has carefully kept from Kate surface in the form of images both welcome and unwelcome.

Moore crafts an inviting dance of growth and revelation between the trio of Kate, Red, and Molly which circle the wagons of controversy and conflict with new opportunities for redemption and revelation. This adds intrigue into the mix to create a fine, tense story of very different women who live out the legacies of their parents.

As the concept of search and rescue broadens to encompass these transformed lives, readers receive a powerful account whose action rests as firmly on psychological shifts and discoveries as it does on the choices and decisions that brought the three to this pivot point in their lives.

Libraries and readers seeking a powerful narrative that paints a story of proactive women facing their pasts and future with courage and strength will find A Woman's Guide to Search & Rescue powerful in its characterizations, unpredictable in its outcome, and thought-provoking at every step of the fiery journey as Red finds herself an unexpected influence in Molly's life and Molly, Kate, and Red are forced to change.

Get A Room
Casey Dembowski
Red Adept Publishing
9781958231197, $14.49 Paper/$2.99 ebook

Get A Room's modern romance swirls around Brian and Sarah, who have each gone through hard times over thwarted romances and living conditions that are less than optimal. So, it seems natural that their shared dilemmas would lead them to consider not just a friendship, but a roommate situation.

This will solve at least one of their problems, but (perhaps predictably) it introduces another surprise (to them, but not to avid romance readers) as their shared bad experiences with others lead them to realize that their interconnected lives hold more than chaste roommate opportunities.

Casey Dembowski embeds her romance with many unexpected (and often ironic) moments, from a fake date between them that turns all too real to the odd circumstances that led to the roommate set-up:

"I'll give you the bedroom for the weekend if you'll be my fake date."

He narrowed his eyes. "To make your ex jealous?"

She nodded. "For the month."

Dembowski shifts the perspectives between Brian and Sarah to add more depth and psychological understanding into the mix of reactions between them.

The result is a study in humor, irony, romantic encounters, and the evolution of a friendship as a quest for revenge turns into a realization of romance. These elements are enhanced by the further entanglement of friends who are impacted by Brian and Sarah's unexpected forays into love. Love, hate, and former and present best friends all add extra dimensions of dilemmas into the mix as Brian and Sarah evolve a complicated connection against all odds.

Libraries and readers seeking attractive, fun stories of a compelling situation that gets only slightly out of hand will find Get A Room an attraction on different levels that gives new twists and delightful fun to the romance genre.

Under the Yoga Mat
Els Coenen and GuruNischan
Izzard Ink Publishing
9789464752137, $19.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook

For those not in the know, Yogi Bhajan's particular form of Kundalini yoga brought him acclaim for some 50 years. Behind the scenes and under the yoga mat, however, co-existed a history of sexual and power abuse masked by a lifestyle that appeared to be happy and spiritual.

Els Coenen and GuruNischan's Under the Yoga Mat: The Dark History of Yogi Bhajan's Kundalini Yoga gathers and reveals the gruesome scenarios which came to light in 2020, juxtaposing a history of the rise of yoga and gurus in the U.S. with the evolution of Yogi Bhajan's popularity and attraction.

The second-generational children born into this world of outer enlightenment and inner anguish are finally given voice through this story. Coenen speaks about shared experiences of abuse, observations of a community outwardly on the path to enlightenment but inwardly en thrall, and the lasting impact of Yogi Bhajan on families, survivors, and generations that spread into society from his influence and teachings like ripples on water.

This isn't the first expose about Yogi Bhajan. Many others have previously exposed these facts about his community and its sordid foundations. However, it is one of the few to pull together a seemingly disparate collection of facts, intergenerational experiences, and testimonies from survivors to present this world and its impact in an especially hard-hitting way.

The introduction is especially powerful as it invites readers to "sit on their heels," employ the mantra "Sat Nam," and absorb the many startling revelations to come which will reach from the Yogi's life into the daily routines of many a reader, in surprising ways:

"While hundreds of thousands practice and enjoy Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, many more people worldwide drink Yogi Tea. Only a minority of them know that the creator of their favorite yoga sets and the spiritual father of the Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization (3HO) in which Yogi Tea originated was a cult leader, sexual predator, child abuser, gay basher, and successful but fraudulent businessman."

When he arrived in the U.S. in 1968, Yogi Bhajan proclaimed himself a yoga master, then elevated his position to "the Chief Religious and Administrative Authority for Sikh Dharma in the West." This self-created title was called into question in his native India, but its illusionary draw helped propel him into more esteemed circles, led him to meet with Pope Paul VI in 1972 and Pope John Paul II in 1984, and successfully masked, for a long time, his real role as a sexual predator and criminal.

The irony lies in the contrast between fact and illusion. Coenen preserves and emphasizes this sense of odd and terrible wonder as she reveals history, includes powerful testimonials from many of the yogi's prior followers, and unfolds a chilling story that embraces lessons about enlightenment, cults, illusion, and reality.

Perhaps most eye-opening of all are details about how such widespread abuse and violence were covered up between adults and among adults and children alike. The Stockholm Syndrome comes alive here in a different form in which the predator creates a network of supposedly enlightened thinking to mask his real intentions.

Coenen's ability to synthesize and draw together these threads of idealism, reality, and survivor experiences makes for an exceptionally powerful testimony that also should come with a trigger warning for any reader who has experienced abuse, gaslighting, and terrorism in their own lives.
Cult thinking doesn't have to be involved in such matters. But, when paired with the rituals, ideology, and deliberate actions of a dangerous predator, it is even more of a threat than a psychotic individual alone could pose, blossoming a particular form of evil that should be acknowledged and exposed.

That Coenen does so here, with special attention to the impact and process of surviving such extraordinary circumstances, is testimony to the power of a book that ideally will not just repose on all kinds of lending library shelves, but will assume a more active role as an important (even essential) discussion tool in groups ranging from book clubs to psychology, new age, and spiritual thinkers.

Under the Yoga Mat is very highly recommended for its unparalleled power in exposing the 3HO ashram murders and the methodology and impact of a guru whose power allowed him unprecedented access to too many lives.

Retro Radio Rainbow
Aaron Zevy
Tumbleweed Press, Inc.
9798386254322, $11.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Retro Radio Rainbow teaches picture book readers the seven colors of the rainbow, but adopts an usual approach to the effort that taps author Aaron Zevy's personal radio collection and interest in radios.

What do radios have to do with color? Plenty.

Photos of old-time radios from the 1930s and 40s accompany the identification of 'red', 'orange', and other colors to add history into the mix. This especially inviting pairing features large, colorful photos of orange, red, yellow, and other colors of radios that additionally contrasts their size and disparate shapes and appearances.

The education thus arrives twofold: it's a survey of radio history and a lesson in different hues of each color, all in one.

Parents and educators who tire of the usual approach to identifying colors will find the creative effort attractive and unique, here. The retro radio display might even interest and educate them about the very different appearances radios can sport.

Libraries and teachers seeking a colorful tutorial that operates on not just one, but many levels will welcome the unique approach of Retro Radio Rainbow, which could only have come from a collector devoted to radio history as well as children's educational opportunities.

Radio Daze
Aaron Zevy
Tumbleweed Press, Inc.
9798379213114, $19.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Radio Daze: A Descent Into Collecting pairs lovely color photos of Aaron Zevy's personal antique radio collection with a chronicle of how he became enamored of radios from the 1930s and 40s. He built his attraction and historical knowledge from the unexpected development of a writer's block which led him to turn his attention to collecting for respite and rejuvenation.

Most book introductions provide staid background information, but Zevy's colorful way of capturing his passion brings its origins to life in a manner that portends an equally colorful series of stories:

"Someone even had the temerity to use the line "if these radios could talk, oh what stories they could tell." I threw that person out of my house. Let the radios be, I pleaded. Let them sit on their shelves, and let them sing their songs of unbearable static. They were not literary devices. They were not writing exercises. They were just old radios. And then, as you may have guessed, I wrote a story. And then another. And then this book."

'The Radio Contest' opens the collection with a memoir of Zevy's youth and entering a radio station contest that promised coveted concert tickets as a prize. There was only one special challenge to winning - a father's strict rule about dinner time and phone calls.

Readers won't expect the diversity of stories which chronicle lives, bygone years, and early dating scenarios in which radio collections were not to be mentioned.

The lively intersection of memoir and radio history represents a rare conjoined history of fate and snafus involved in growing a collection, an interest, and a mindset. The reflections on particular pieces that proved a collecting challenge or the backgrounds and appearances that made these radios a major attraction to Zevy form the foundations of a series of interlinked stories that will attract and educate even readers who held little prior interest in radio history or collecting.

A good collection of stories will reach beyond its intended audience to surprise, delight, and entertain the masses.

Radio Daze: A Descent Into Collecting's ability to reach beyond radio's signals and into the lives of any reader who has cultivated a passion for collecting, art, or history makes it a top recommendation for general-interest lending libraries as well as specialty media collections. Book clubs interested in an uncommon, exceptionally lively blend of memoir and collector's passion will find Radio Daze: A Descent Into Collecting will provoke all manner of connection and lively discussion.

The Things I Meant to Say
E. Barrett La Mont
The Ewings Publishing LLC
979S886407709, $16.99 Hardcover/$6.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook

The Things I Meant to Say is an inspirational gathering of love poems influenced by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, E. Barrett LaMonte's relative. Browning's special gift for translating life experiences into reflective poems is mirrored in a contemporary gathering of "things I meant to say" which offer equal blends of poetic prowess and philosophical reflections on love, life, and everything that lies between them.

Take the special kind of love described in 'April Fool,' for one example of this strength. The narrator reflects on how the feel of a special Spring month reflects the hope and loss of his own pursuit of romance in life: "You were to me what April had been/to the rest of the world./Warm, alive and ready to love."

Only the April fool loses ... and only such a pursuer of love could properly feel its warmth, allure, and disappointments as reality collides with the experience of drowning in affection.

Many of the poems speak of loneliness both within and outside of love's ideals. Others reflect on bonds, new beginnings, interconnected lives, and seasons of love in which "Love knows no time .../for love stands by itself."

These emotional reflections and philosophical life connections will find a welcoming home in libraries seeking modern writers akin to Elizabeth Barrett Browning in style and form, but with a contemporary flair that will reach modern free verse readers with metaphors and observations that embrace and provoke reflection.

The Things I Meant to Say's probe of inner worlds of love ideals and the nature and community that lies outside an all-embracing relationship makes it worthy of book club discussion and, ideally, its contrast with other traditional and modern poets who write about love, loss, and life.

Ozzy Ox Candy Stash
Callen Kropp
Corner Windows Publishing
9798987782316, $25.99 Hardcover/$10.99 paper

Ozzy Ox Candy Stash is a lively rhyming picture book that follows MomOx and Ozzy as they go out for ice cream and groceries. When they return, Ozzy finds a mysterious bag of candy on the car seat and can't resist snatching it up and hiding it for secret binging later.

Mom Ox views him as her "pride and joy," but she doesn't know of his transgression. When Ozzy discovers what the bag of candy was really intended for, he faces a dilemma.

Ozzy feels his tummy turn, both at the revelation and from all the candy he's eaten. How can he make things right?

Callen Kropp creates a whimsical, fun story about a son who breaks the rules and then faces the consequences.

Mom and son come to life in a fun interaction that swirls around a special celebration and right and wrong decisions made by Ozzy which are questioned by his wise mom.

The lesson about owning one's mistakes and doing right from them will not be lost on young minds by adults who choose Ozzy Ox Candy Stash as a read-aloud.

Parents and adults who look for vibrant picture books that pair a realistic situation with a problem-solving dilemma will find Ozzy Ox Candy Stash a welcome point of discussion for all kinds of topics revolving around making better choices and acknowledging their impact.

A concluding section of "Fun Facts About Oxen" completes the educational value in a story that holds appeal on many different levels.

A Fair Knight Slain
Linda LeBlanc
Ama Dablam, Inc.
9780978535339, $11.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook

A Fair Knight Slain: Murder at the Renaissance Fair follows Florida Detective Sara Lansing as she investigates an unusual murder at a Renaissance Fair which piques the interest of big city New York investigator Ryker Harris.

Ryker, already on a mission to nail a drug lord and help Sara's boss win an election, hadn't anticipated joining forces with anyone on a murder case. Sara's involvement draws him into unfamiliar territory as they both depart from their comfort zones to enter into an uncertain shared effort to catch a killer.

Linda LeBlanc's mystery reveals the underbelly of Renaissance Fair associations and interactions in a manner that leads Sara and her readers into uncertain relationships and connections.

LeBlanc embeds her story with the growing, unlikely allure of a paunchy New York cop and a savvy Florida detective who find themselves sharing not just objectives, but a partnership which promises to evolve into something neither expected.

Learning curves are often fraught with not just discovery, but angst. Sara and Ryker navigate dangerous waters in many different ways, evolving a dance between each and facing a death that brings them ever closer to uncomfortable realizations.

The result is a simmering mystery firmly embedded with Roma, Renaissance influences and history, and the motivations and experiences of disparate individuals who find their legends and objectives dovetailing in unpredictable ways.

Libraries and readers seeking a mystery flavored with emotional connections and undertones and a rich sense of historical and cross-cultural exploration will find much to like in A Fair Knight Slain - particularly since its main characters grow into their revised roles as not just detectives, but defenders of public and political figures and processes which resist blackmail, conspiracy, and forces of dangerous influence.

A Splendid Gift
Barbara Prisceaux
Indigo River Publishing
9781954676534, $17.95

Barbara Prisceaux spent some sixty years in nursing, and her memoir A Splendid Gift reflects this experience. At age fifteen, she became a part-time nurse's aide at St. Joseph's Hospital in Reading, New York, but her professional journey actually began with a fall down a flight of stairs at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. This occurred on the cusp of realizing her nursing dream via a nursing school admission interview at the Bellevue Hospital Medical Center.

For three years, Bellevue became her home. And, "Those three years at Bellevue had transformed the shy and uncertain young woman I'd once been into someone who survived the impossible and lived to tell about it."

Readers interested in the changing field of nursing will be particularly attracted to Prisceaux's ability to chart the field's many shifts over the decades: "Change had become a constant, and I took on new challenges in a profession that was nothing like it had been at Bellevue twenty-five years before."

The long-term nature of her commitment and her experiences and observations of these shifts in nursing create a history of the profession. This elevates her book from personal experience to a professional history of nursing's changing challenges and requirements.

Of particular interest and note is how the values and processes of nursing's changes have introduced concurrent mandates to nurses to adapt to concepts and approaches to care that are often in radical contrast to precedents and ideals of patient and medical professional relationships and support systems:

"As a per diem staff member, I was assigned to all the areas in that ED, and often needed to question the care provided to those patients. That health care system triaged the patients quickly, treated them as needed, then sent them home as soon as possible. This wasn't always in their best interests. Physicians and nurses who worked those night shifts weren't happy to be challenged about their rule to "treat and street." As long as I worked there, I was one of the few who did, usually with good cause but not always with the best results."

The result is a powerful memoir that holds the uncommon ability to transcend personal experience alone, adding to its value the elements of charting a history of the changing medical community and its standards of care.

Libraries and readers seeking insights into these pivot points, what influenced them, and how nurses adapted to and embraced constantly-changing duties and roles will find

A Splendid Gift an informational, celebratory, appreciative examination of nurses and their world.

Bumbling All The Way to The Bank With The Arabs
Ben Koshkin
Indigo River Publishing
9781950906192, $17.95

Bumbling All The Way to The Bank With The Arabs not only holds an intriguing title, but represents an intersection between American and Middle East business interests as two Houston real estate entrepreneurs become involved in an unexpected partnership with a Kuwaiti billionaire in the 1980s.

As author Ben Koshkin and his partner became more and more entrenched with Kuwait special interests and cut million-dollar deals on a regular basis, Koshkin also received an uncommon education about the Middle East psyche and business pursuits that translates nicely to an intriguing series of cross-cultural revelations.

Trips to Iraq, Kuwait, and other nations proved to be both risky and profitable business ventures as well as eye-opening and unexpectedly entertaining.

Such is the case with a duck hunt Koshkin arranges for guaranteed success, only to have his scheme discovered by his fellow Middle Eastern hunters. The humor in this scenario will leave readers laughing as much as the serious business escapades will have them thinking:

"In one of the best comebacks I've ever made, I yelled to Mahmoud, 'I had the guide put those live ducks over there so we could use them as decoys if it was a slow hunt.' Then I turned to Blaien. 'Blaien, go put out the live decoys.' Now, if we got caught by the game wardens, we'd be talking jail time. Well, not really; it would be more like fricking Sing Sing. Blaien released the two gunnysacks of ducks into our pond, and almost immediately, an incredible transformation took place. In twenty years of duck hunting, I had never experienced such activity. It was like every bird in the county suddenly decided they had to land in our pond."

Few books hold the ability to portray and contrast success with bumbling failures punctuated by moments of comic relief. Koshkin's ability to spin a yarn that is all too true embeds his story with lively, revealing moments that will both entertain and hold food for thought about both business connections and snafus and Middle East business interests.

Libraries and readers interested in a rollicking good read will find the uncommon ability of Bumbling All The Way to The Bank With The Arabs to reach into general-interest audiences without a lick of familiarity with either real estate ventures or Middle East politics and people makes for a wide-ranging, entertaining story that is hard to put down:

"I'm sitting in an ancient truck with an Arabic terrorist-poster-boy driver who doesn't speak a lick of English, looks like he would slit my throat in a heartbeat, and doesn't know how to drive a stick shift! Yeah, what could go wrong? I just hoped he remembered where he had planted all the land mines!"

The Unfurling Frond
Rebecca Beardsall
Atmosphere Press
9781639889556, $19.99

The Unfurling Frond: A Memoir of Belonging and Becoming chronicles an expansive journey to New Zealand in the late 1990s in a love story that operates on different levels, from personal to cross-cultural.

Because these hybrid writings operate together to capture shifting realities and realizations, they hold the uncommon ability to attract a wider audience than the traditional memoir format alone, peppering stories with poems and illustrations that tap the creative juices of a non-linear life.

Rebecca Beardsall navigates past, present, and the changing tides of her life with an attention to "you are here" detail that captures a vivid sense of not just place, but self:

"Aotearoa New Zealand had just started to sink into me when we left. My excitement of being home with my family and friends would delay my mourning, but I would realize what exactly I turned my back on in the South Pacific when it hit. When I finally discovered myself in my early thirties, I realized that I already had a place that held me. It wasn't where I was raised. It was where I was transplanted."

Readers who have struggled to realize and embrace that sense of belonging and place will find much to relish in Beardsall's journey as she explores family mysteries, history, and New Zealand roots: "We hear no stories, no myths, no traditions. Our family knowledge is locked away in the memories of closed-lipped people."

The literary travelogue and self-exploration which emerges and merges in The Unfurling Frond is moving and revealing. Libraries and readers will find this story compelling, thought-provoking, and worthy of book club discussion for Beardsall's reflections on home, which come to roost in the heart:

"Home lives inside my body - my senses respond to it - it is the same sensation that jolts my body when I emerge from the Auckland airport. My physical body aligns with the spiritual, telling me that I am home, that I belong."

Assassins Are Us
Kimberly Van Sickle
Atmosphere Press
9781639889105, $24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper

Assassins Are Us is a surprising-sounding title for a young adult story, but seventeen-year-old Hedy Hinterschott's role as a family assassin-in-training isn't the only surprise this story offers to mature teens.

Equally unusual is an opening in which a first-person prologue details a meeting between two mothers; one of which considers her newborn a "spawn from Hell."

Fast forward seventeen years later in Chapter 1, where honor student Hedy deconstructs the Hitler psyche and myth in front of a classroom, then faces the equally formidable task of deconstructing her role as the family's first female assassin in decades.

Hedy's inspection of her legacy, future, and values creates a thought-provoking story that mature teens will find thoroughly fascinating. It departs so much from the typical young adult themes of destiny and choice that its profile of a budding young murderer assumes the countenance of a moral and ethical quandary that prompts readers to enter Hedy's world to examine its underlying influences and motivations.

Almost adult in its themes and approach despite its young adult protagonist and school encounters, Kimberly Van Sickle's Assassins Are Us evolves on the playing field of history, mystery, and the unraveling of family secrets that come to influence Hedy's life and choices.

The revelations and logic Hedy faces are impeccably wrought and compellingly presented: "Opa's swan analogy helped me understand the necessity behind why our family did what it did and why it was so important for our family to continue to do what we did."

The result makes for unexpectedly enlightening, engrossing reading that pairs psychological examination with a sense of discovery and adventure as Hedy faces romance, new understandings, and insights on how her family's past influences the course of her future.

Libraries seeking reads for mature teens that hold the added value of surprise and action as well as food for thought and opportunities for classroom or book club discussions will find Assassins Are Us a study in growth and uncommon realizations:

"Hedy, you are in denial. Liebchen, you know you do not fit. I've watched you for four years. Your confidence in everything you do is a mask for your insecurity in everything your family stands for."

Till Dawn
T.H. Alexander
Barnes & Noble Press
9798823178891, $8.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook

Fans of alien invasion scenarios will find that Till Dawn rates with the best of them, presenting a scenario in which teens who gather one evening to enjoy some freedom and fun find their lives changed by a meteorite's crash and the danger it brings.

Suddenly, Ryan and his friends are no longer carefree teens, but are fighting for their lives and their world. Instead of being filled with freedom and promise, the suddenly-long night becomes one filled with terror and trials.

Once preoccupied with snagging bits of parent-free time to hang out with his friends, Ryan and his group face destructive forces that penetrate their carefully arranged cloak of singular teen interests:

"In a split second, the security that once surrounded the home Ryan had lived his entire life in had been shattered. He wanted to believe they would become untouchable upon making it through the door-way - a bold fantasy, it would turn out, as it soon became clear the house much like everything else would not be immune."

T.H. Alexander employs a steady, logical hand to portraying Ryan and his group's disparate reactions to these extraordinary events. This imparts a realistic sense of human failings and ideals as the group assimilates their new reality and their revised roles in it.

As flight leads to a long-distance journey, confrontations with creatures, Vietnam vets who have become addicts, outcasts, and aliens in their own world, and other circumstances outside their comfort zone, Ryan and his friends develop a maturity in their actions and reactions that support their ability to survive.

Teens formerly immersed in high-tech devices and self-absorbed patterns may seem unlikely to become survivors, but this group is different. Alexander's ability to follow their journey on more than one level translates to a heady read that juxtaposes action-packed encounters and surprises with the kinds of survival challenges that force maturity.

The result is an invasion saga that is gripping and thought-provoking. Till Dawn will attract a wide audience of teens interested in sci-fi, horror, and the process that leads a disparate group of friends to cement relationships, psyches, and intentions with newfound courage and grit:

"...he had already looked back for the last time, and wouldn't have the emotional, nor physical, strength to do that to himself all over again. Though the urge itself was strong, he would hold himself firm and fight against it, maintaining his focus in the only place it needed to be in that particular moment: right in front of him."

Libraries looking for compelling leisure reading for teens that can also translate to book club discussions will find the allure of Till Dawn vivid and attractive.

Into the River of Angels
George R. Wolfe
The Sager Group LLC
9781958861028, $20.75 Paper/$9.99 ebook

Into the River of Angels is a young adult novel that follows a high school teen's decision to canoe over fifty miles of the Los Angeles River, a connection of waterways that flows from downtown Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean. The problem with Sam Hawkins' decision is that those waters aren't placid, but a wild and changing river that also flows through challenging environments, carrying Sam into danger and unfamiliar waters.

George R. Wolfe's action-packed story of a rebel who decides to attempt the impossible, only to test not only his strengths, but the boundaries of his limitations brings to mind some of the nature stories of Gary Paulsen - but with the added value of a taste of rebellion against not just adults, but, often, fellow teens:

"It just seemed like kids were either too much into their own heads or too concerned with what was going on in other kids' heads. Either way you couldn't win."

Sam isn't entirely alone in his experience or his rebellion. Other characters he encounters along the way provide lessons and insights by demonstrating abilities and introducing adversities that continually test Sam's determination, sending his evolving strength in unexpected directions.

Big and small incidents introduce similar revelations of all kinds as Sam evolves into a kind of maturity that can only stem from life encounters:

"Staying up late was what I always wanted to be able to do; but now that we were actually doing it, I couldn't wait to get back to sleep. So much for getting what you ask for."

The wildness of the river is supplemented by the wild encounters Sam fields with the humans he deals with, friends and foes, on the waters. Continually facing imprisonment and freedom on different levels, Sam and his group don't always know where they are going. But, he does know how to keep his word and do his best, even if adversity is not singular, but comes in many forms.

The richness of the action and adventure, combined with the insights on growth and proactive behaviors, will involve teens in a story that is vividly realistic and hard to put down.

Part of this immediacy and feel likely comes from Wolfe's personal familiarity with Los Angeles' urban waterways. He is the founder of LA River Expeditions, a group that advocates for endangered rivers and helped to open the L.A. River to the public.

The result is a moving story that features swift currents of change, life-or-death scenarios, and ethical and moral decision-making that tests Sam and his friends on unexpected levels.

Libraries and educators seeking a story that can be used as a discussion point for everything from ecological activism to coming-of-age issues will find the multifaceted nature of Into the River of Angels just the ticket for a compelling young adult leisure read that attracts with action, but also offers a healthy dose of higher-level thinking.

Labels of Empire
Susan Meller
Goff Books
c/o ORO Editions
9781954081253, $150.00

Labels of Empire: Textile Trademarks Windows into India in the time of the Raj by Susan Meller demonstrates that artistic investigations and cultural history are intrinsically linked by gathering (into a work of art in itself) a collection of powerful images of India in the time of the Raj.

This was a period of time in which the British Empire and its textile industry was the most prosperous. The linking of these two comes to light in a special history that focuses on British textile manufacturing and its use of paper labels influenced by and adapted from Indian culture. Susan Meller uses striking examples of textile labels and bazaar prints to illustrate the events that linked and drove Eastern and Western interests and culture.

Enough can't be said about the high quality and diversity of these colorful images, which power the eye and story with representations of village life, royalty, flora and fauna, and religious beliefs in India.

Having an image-driven story lends to its accessibility and enlightening attraction to a wider audience, whether it be students of Indian culture and history, those interested in the British Empire or its business interests abroad, or students of art and textiles. Each will find thoroughly absorbing and scholarly the footnoted references of Susan Meller's history as it explores the trademarks that offer keys to understanding India's past:

"...textile labels ([known in the trade as] shipper's tickets were a company's trademark. An integral part of every piece of export cloth, they helped to distinguish a firm's fabrics from those of its competitors. With amendments to the original Trade Marks Act of 1875, the Trade Marks Act of 1888 enabled... tickets to be carefully registered at the registrar's office in Manchester."

The importance and appearance of these labels allows for a wide-ranging survey unparalleled in art or history literature. Meller spent years researching, categorizing, and meticulously digitally restoring some of the 1,285 full-color labels and prints in the 544 pages of her rich hardcover book. That's why there's nothing like it in print, and why Labels of Empire proves so compelling to such a wide audience - even those not normally interested in history or perhaps even art and textiles.

The excellence and authoritative references of this title cannot be emphasized enough, but it's rare to see such a production promise equal attraction to general-interest audiences.

All these strengths make Labels of Empire a unique standout whether libraries are seeking histories, art surveys, or an emphasis on Indian culture. Ideally, its magnetism will make it a display item worthy of wide attention, equally attractive to book club discussion groups seeking vivid reads that exceed any expectation of a narrow topic through its vibrant representations of India's colorful Raj era.

She Bleeds Sestinas
Rebecca Jane
Atmosphere Press
9781639889440, $16.99

She Bleeds Sestinas is a new age poetic study of the female heart, soul, and spiritual foundations that evolved from Rebecca Jane's mandate to "practice yoga every morning and write a sestina every evening." This results in a collection of observations and experiences that incorporates a deep literary and spiritual reflection.

Rebecca Jane doesn't leave her audience lacking for information, here. From defining the nature and purpose of a "teleuton" (end words) to exploring the myths, illusions, trigger experiences, and storms that move from childhood to adult perceptions and influences, She Bleeds Sestinas captures and represents a challenging and enlightening form of free verse. These explorations ideally will be chosen by new age and yoga readers as well as followers of women's literature who appreciate deployments of the freer forms of poetic structure.

Like a good meal or a fine wine, these writings deserve slow digestion as they spark and fire philosophical and psychological reflections:

"Meet sages who turn their bodies into rainbows./Learn how death spellbinds mountain snowstorms./Remember elemental dances with dakinis and dragons,/and know the right time to howl mercy's resounding yes."

Some of the pieces (such as the sudden death scenarios explored in "Buy More, Save More") adopt a freewheeling juxtaposition of experience and reflection which presents as a deep, rich mother lode of inspection of time, joy, death, and rescuers with "wasted lifetimes" of experience.

Others, more succinct, pull on the heartstrings with stories of individual success and growth. 'Shadowend's Film Adaptation' is one such piece, in which a creative effort holds unexpected results:

"Upon/reading and being gripped - /soul and fist - /by an elevating story,/the teacher - /blood and bone - /dissolved into a rainbow./Then she peacefully, gradually,/gladly disappeared."

Indeed, "unexpected results" may be the underlying theme of a wide-ranging collection of poems that rises like a spirit of Kundalini cycles or a phoenix to reach into circles of readers that may not hold prior affinity for either poems or new age thinking.

Libraries and contemporary poetry readers interested in transformational experiences and reflections will find that She Bleeds Sestinas will draw and resonate in unusual ways:

"Her body is poetry,/with its laughter swallowing infinity/at six times nineteen gulps/per second, or/One Damaru Cycle."

Run! My Story of LGBTQ+ Political Power, Equality, and Acceptance in Silicon Valley
Ken Yeager, Ph.D
Atmosphere Press
9781639889747, $18.99 Paperback/$28.99 Hardcover

Run! My Story of LGBTQ+ Political Power, Equality, and Acceptance in Silicon Valley is a memoir that explains its purpose and the authority of its author from the start (to "record the progression of the LGBTQ+ movement from political outcasts to integral community members in San Jose/Silicon Valley. Having lived and breathed queer activism for almost 40 years, I felt uniquely positioned to tell this story.").

Ken Yeager is correct: the timing of his experiences, the personal history which dovetails with social and political transformation as anti-gay circles were met with gay resistance and activism, and the nature of his battle in California's famous Silicon Valley makes his story not just unique, but a sterling lesson in tackling adversity in social, psychological, and political situations.

Were it not for his coverage, future generations might suspect that gay activism did not take place in this region. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it takes one who lived the times and practiced the resistance to reveal the deeply personal and political stories of those who were an intrinsic part of the action of social change.

As a side benefit, the political experiences covered in detail here are perfect for members of the queer community who are thinking of running for public office. They reflect and represent efforts and experiences from almost three decades in office, and thus come from a level of experience and political savvy that might otherwise be missed by readers typically operating outside of these circles.

As for the memoir itself, anticipate a story packed with insights on everything from the rigors of political campaigning to efforts to create and support Yeager's Queer Silicon Valley documentary project.

From how activism efforts differed and grew over the decades to strategies for personal and political survival and change, Yeager's experiences move beyond personal and into the arena of better understanding of the obstacles to activist success and how best to address and remove them.

The result is a wide-ranging, compelling account firmly grounded in real-world experiences. Run! My Story of LGBTQ+ Political Power, Equality, and Acceptance in Silicon Valley is highly recommended for activist-minded readers and the queer community, as well as libraries catering to them and book clubs interested in discussions of changing social and political milieus surrounding gay rights in not just California, but across America.

Feisty Righty
Jennifer D. James
Independently Published
9798218077891, $15.99

Feisty Righty: A Cancer Survivor's Journey is a portrait in perseverance that follows a breast cancer survivor's odyssey from initial diagnosis at age 41 to her medical experiences and survival tactics.

These stories evolved from seven handwritten journals that documented her journey, offering an immediacy of experience that hindsight fails to deliver while presenting truths, empowerment realizations, and processes that served her well both in the moment and in this memoir, years later, where it reaches out to a wider audience.

Jennifer D. James's personal story documents just what it entails to be a survivor. It opens with a small rescue kitten who serves as an illustration of this effort. The kitten (whom she named Survivor) epitomized her goals and pursuit of an empowering, positive future against all odds:

"As a cancer patient, I long to be a survivor, too. This tiny, wobblylegged, rambunctious kitten is what I want to be."

As James reflected on the kitten's spunky perseverance, she realized that "I felt afraid of the cancer that had started to grow inside my body. I could let the anxiety send me hunkering into the corner, or I could, like Survivor, believe I had the power to change my future. I had to find my voice, face fear, and persevere. It was the only way to survive."

Others on this journey will find many familiar realizations, moments, and life lessons as James employs visualization techniques, comes to realize the revised role cancer plays in her immediate and future life options, and takes an active part in dispelling its presence, influence, and potential death sentence from her life.

As she moves through surgery, chemo, and treatment options, James tackles the presence and life-altering influence of 'Feisty Righty' and embarks on a journey of new choices and revelations that ultimately not only affect her health, but her trajectory in life.

The uplifting and inspirational nature of this discourse is especially notable because readers will find these confessions a surprise in a story of medical trails and difficulties:

"As we drove down the 10 freeway on our way back to Palm

Springs amid the fields of gigantic wind turbines, I began to feel more confident. Confident in my new appearance, regardless of any breast deformities. Confident in building a new normal. I felt confident that I could overcome any obstacle I might face in the future. Inspired by the boulder, I'd somehow withstand the storm, too."

Feisty Righty is a powerful, personal journey that holds many insights for fellow survivors also walking that road of recovery, creating an inspirational and highly recommended memoir that should be a mainstay in any library interested in cancer survivor experiences and options.

Cruel Lessons
Randy Overbeck
Wild Rose Press Inc.
9781509252138, $20.99 Print/$3.99 ebook

Cruel Lessons is a crime thriller that packs power and intrigue into its opening lines: "'You guys ready for the wildest ride of your life?' James Clayton whispered, his breath making small white puffs in the cool night air."

Clayton's question also cautions readers with advance notice that this story will be anything but predictable or staid.

Many mysteries are written quickly, but one note to Cruel Lessons is that it began in 1994 and took decades to see publication. This lends the story a depth and carefully crafted narrative that perhaps could not have been achieved in the usual time frame authors work with to produce a book. The feedback and insights Randy Overbeck received from his beta readers and support circles produced a story that thus arrives more full-bodied and richer than many mysteries.

James dies in a car wreck that (in some ways) those around him have anticipated: "I know people don't like to hear it, but those kids were simply headed for trouble. For kids like James, it seemed like he was on a downhill speeding train. We spent most of our time trying to keep it from derailing."

The trouble is, these circumstances are as puzzling as they are inevitable, and as the question of a bigger conspiracy blends into a probe of actual involvements and connections, Cruel Lessons evolves into a series of moral and ethical conundrums that also shift perceptions of who is the bad guy and who the good one in such scenarios.

"Some things simply don't add up." What doesn't add up for the investigators are circumstances that provoke underlying questions about drug peddling and bigger-picture thinking.

Randy Overbeck creates a story of intrigue and social inspection as he weaves together a wide net of characters whose intentions and approaches intersect to solve a greater mystery.

While a teaser from later in the story opens with Amanda's confrontation with death, the main story swirls around her husband Ken Parks, who begins his day with the mystery of four missing fifth grade boys at science camp, then finds his world complicated by the truth about what happened to them.

It's a quagmire of discovery as Ken comes to realize that what looks like a joyride by the notorious James Clayton is actually much more sinister.

Overbeck's ability to build an absorbing mystery while remaining steadfast in his creation of an underlying force that reaches out to grab thinking readers makes for a mystery that is superior both in its depth and presentation.

Powered by solid characterization, satisfying twists and turns, and the anguish of parents forced to confront the reality of their children's' lives, Cruel Lessons sports a heartfelt, engrossing series of events. These make it a top recommendation for mystery libraries seeking stories suitable for book club discussion groups and individual pursuit alike. Its thought-provoking insights into drugs, users, and promoters give plenty of fodder for discussion and debate.

Finding Miss Fong
James A. Wolter
Atmosphere Press
9781639889730, $18.99 Paper/$27.99 Hardcover

Finding Miss Fong is set in the 1960s and tells of a naive twenty-two-year-old Chicago new adult who embarks on a Peace Corp odyssey that opens his eyes to a new world. That boy was author James A. Wolter, and this is his memoir of Peace Corp discoveries and the journey that changed his life.

Many a writer has set pen to paper to capture Peace Corp experiences, but Wolter's story is as much a love story as it is an expose of Corps snafus and politics. It relates how a mission that at first seemed doomed to failure turned into a pursuit of a relationship that was destined to entangle him in cross-cultural experiences he never saw coming.

From his initial flirting with the lovely Miss Fong Moke Chee to his commitment as a Peace Corps Volunteer, many aspects of service and growth come to light through dialogue and experiences that introduce a "you are here" sense to the author's narrative:

"They're not husband and wife. They are sister and brother. This is the first time either of them have been to The Green Parrot. They are enjoying the experience and listening to the music and watching you. Gim Lan would be embarrassed if you asked her to dance. Besides, you're under no obligation to ensure the happiness of others."

From the initial strife their blossoming relationship introduces to Moke Chee's family to his uncertainty about the possible reactions of his own family to his relationship with a Malaysian girl, Wolter's story of evolution and adjustment offers many thought-provoking moments as it explores the pivot points in this young man's life:

"I had pushed to the back of my mind how Moke Chee would be received by my family. A deep sense of sorrow came over me, and I wanted to tell him that my family's custom was for the married couple and their children to be closer to the woman's family than the man's. I hoped my family would accept, support, nurture, and love Moke Chee and our children, but if they didn't, I vowed to myself that I would protect them from the toxicity of my family."

The result is an engaging memoir that includes many elements of attraction and education, from a memoir nicely narrated and filled with personal and social inspection to a broader delivery of the cross-cultural experiences and conundrums the Peace Corp can introduce to its participants.

Finding Miss Fong is not just a singular love story, but a saga of family, character growth, and life experiences that will find a welcoming home in any general interest library seeking memorable coming-of-age and relationship sagas.

A Schizoid at Smith
Blair Sorrel
Atmosphere Press
9781639889273, $17.99 Paperback/$26.99 Hardcover

A Schizoid at Smith is a memoir set in the 1960s that follows a Seven Sisters's story of success, struggle, and the mechanics and realization of a schizoid personality disorder. Ordinary folk may not understand what this means, or that those afflicted are typically male, which lends further importance to a memoir that explores these perceptions and experiences from a female's viewpoint.

At the heart of this condition's cause is over-parenting, so A Schizoid at Smith will attract readers interested in parenting impacts as well as those attracted by the psychological condition, diagnosis, and treatment of the schizoid personality.

From the start, Blair Sorrel cultivates an atmosphere of self-discovery that pulls no punches in exploring trauma, recovery, and survival methods. Combine this with the cultural and social atmosphere of the 60s, from music's pop icons to the daytime serial attraction of Dark Shadows, for a full immersion experience into the milieu of the times and how Sorrel's family dynamics played into the evolving sentiments, politics, and family reactions to the times.

Perhaps the most intriguing nature of her memoir lies in its roots in psychological depth and social understanding, paired with an astute consideration of how schizoid traits such as ambivalence affected her relationships and impacted her life.

As readers review the nature and challenges of those who exhibit a propensity for schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia, they will learn far more about the condition and its perceptions and influences than they likely will have prior knowledge of before picking up this book.

It's one thing to read the literature surrounding the schizoid personality. It's quite another to live it, understanding how its daily challenges translate in and impact the world.

At one point, SorreI says she "...wished to steal away to wherever I could heal."

A Schizoid at Smith reviews a facet of this healing process that is little covered in relation to family and social influences. It should be a part of any library seeking memoirs of mental illness and health and discussed by book clubs and psychological groups interested in learning about the schizoid personality, its influences, and its survival traits.

The Truth of the Kingdom
Mikah and The Holy Spirit
Independently Published
9781734683806, $39.00

The Truth of the Kingdom: Lamentations and Woes is a study in shoring up Christian roots and better understanding false ideals and interpretations. It is written with a specific purpose and approach:

"The purpose of this little Book is to bring the Congregation of the Living God back into one accord by revealing and restoring the true Kingdom gospel, just as Enoch, Moses, and Messiah did in their seasons, thus giving those in bondage to false religions and false doctrines a chance to escape from idolatry, repent, and wash the spots off their robes of righteousness before their physical death or the soon coming Day of Wrath."

Keeping this ambition in mind, readers receive a survey that pairs personal experience with extensive Biblical quotes and explorations of the Gospel. Mikah presents passages of promise with an intention to revealing their intrinsic and important connections to Christian lives and perceptions:

"On the Day of Wrath the Elect overcomers in the fruit harvest will be caught up. Sinning believers and the unbelievers will be left behind to die as punishment. The unbelievers and unredeemable sinning believers will then die the second death of soul and spirit."

Within these Bible-supported passages are clear admonitions and interpretations that strengthen and solidify the original messages and intentions of God in the Bible:

"Prophecy should not be confused with Words of Knowledge that edify an individual or a group. A prophecy usually warns what is going to happen if there is no repentance and gives a way out. Repentance and prayer change prophecy."

Each of these quotes and their accompanying food for thought should be digested slowly - ideally, in conjunction with Christian discussion groups and spiritual thinkers who can use this exploration as enlightenment among holy spiritual readers and those who would follow them. This is no casual coverage, but a deep and thought-provoking probe of Christian roots and concepts that need to be debated and considered in order to be properly digested and applied.

Readers in search of Christian wisdom, truth, and spiritual healing and reflection will find The Truth of the Kingdom a challenging but captivating study that promotes education and knowledge to help repel demonic influences and achieve greater connection with Christian belief and among study circles.

Christian libraries will appreciate its wide-ranging considerations, and will want to include this book in their collections for its scholarly, yet accessible, discussion.

Our Brain
Hari Hyde
Independently Published
9798986718101, $12.99

Book 1 of the Honeygate Chronicles, Our Brain, introduces dystopian satire in the nature of George Orwell as it presents bombastic bigwig and pink pig Hennie Honeygate. He is challenged by a series of encounters with rebel witches, challenges to his presidency at Expedience University, and those who would paint him as a villain in the story. He's not. But, neither is he a hero.

Hari Hyde's literary escapade sizzles with action and the unexpected. Honeygate's encounters with science, nature, and extraordinary events are depicted with an astute hand to details that readers won't see coming because Hyde's descriptive prowess is unique:

"Amazed by my vigor, I rolled on the dry turf of the far side, freed from the Worm and spared from the cesspool. As I picked myself up, the first thing I noticed was the smell of turkey. I knew not whether I smelled the Nags' turkey or the gravy stains on my coat. The second thing I noticed was the humming. Voltage-activated firings of nerve signaling - action potentials - burst boisterously here. Traveling electrical impulses provoked an acoustic spillover, which I perceived as plainly as my pulse. A lustrous sheen bestowed a blood-red ambience. The room felt fearful, not cheerful, and a single exit beckoned dead ahead."

The interplay between science and satire, touched with more than a bit of political and social angst, lends to scenes which are creatively thought-provoking and compelling:

"Obie's raw, rapturous neurons aroused my own roiling nerves in my viscerally vacuous, though forever vain brain. I knew a little about the Soose nervous system and the superb computing skills of these specialized cells when acting as a collective network. But here before me parked a picture worth a box of words: a nerve as big as a squid. With the nescience of a novice, I unraveled this rascal. I imagined a fire hydrant attached to a fire hose. The fire hydrant is the cell body, the control center. And the white fire hose is the axon, streaming an electrical message down to its knobby spigot and spewing out chemical messengers at a synapse near another neighboring fireplug. There's one more thing, though. The fire hydrants all wear a circus clown's frizzy wig. Those are the dendrites, the spiny hairballs that collect the released chemical signals and trigger the next electrical impulse down an axon, as before."

Biology and social inspection thus weave into a story even Orwell could not have produced so scintillatingly. Honeygate's development as a (self-perceived) "real genius" evolves into an unflinching examination of his pig-centric view of the universe, science, and philosophical conundrums. Honeygate even pursues the Nags into the sacred pink Our Brain, which holds the ability to change his mindset about reality and his place in the world.

Hyde's portrait of control, individualism, choice, and destiny is unparalleled in its depth and whimsy. From a hippo crypt to descriptions such as the "synaptic jiggling and juggling" of cellular response, Honeygate's ability to introduce readers to this strange new world through eyes that often look for promise in even garbage will provide both levity and much food for thought.

Classrooms and book clubs are encouraged to choose Our Brain as a powerful story that draws on many levels and holds many points for group inspection, discussion, and debate.

Our Brain isn't complete without the remaining two books in the trilogy, Our Other and Our Heart. Libraries, educators, and readers finding attraction in Our Brain will thus want to make all three titles the centerfold of their new acquisitions, assignments, and literary pursuits, as a fanciful transformation produces a cliffhanger at the end of Our Brain.

Unbathed Brains
Hari Hyde
Independently Published
9798986718149, $12.99 Paper/$.99 ebook

Unbathed Brains: Poems from Minnesota and the Milky Way is a poetic autobiography that traces Hari Hyde's Minnesota roots and journeys both physical and spiritual. Much as they reflect a sense of place and purpose, they also follow the trajectory of Hyde's life and facets of his scientific and spiritual progression as he navigates dreams, undertakes journeys, and traverses inner and outer worlds with an attention to metaphorical and spiritual detail and connections:

"Travel the world, you'll not feel it - /the lake archangels that elate us./On a brisk autumn eve,/lakes exhale a hypnotic haze,/an aura to hearten the heavens,/an inexplicable esprit in the air."

Steeped in Minnesota's winters and the powerful connections between nature and revelation, Hyde's collection represents a journey that takes place on many different playing fields, captured in discourses that draw readers into unexpected landscapes of poetic enlightenment:

"I come upon no new towns anymore./My old, old map is current/and up-to-date/with all the towns./According to fish,/land is the boundary./Land confines."

The inflections and feel of this journey and these words will especially resonate with those whose Heartland roots never left their psyches. Hyde's words infect and reflect. They infect with a vivid immediacy that draws connections between heart, soul, and environment; and they reflect this feeling with words that resonate with power, resolution, and scientific observation:

"...amongst underage skates and raw rookie rays,/you'll always find an eager beaver,/bobbing her head to the top, wishing to pet me./What beauty blossoms in the big bass a-swimming!/Fish are all failures./They can't shove water away."

Libraries seeking astute blends of science, nature, and Heartland connections will find Unbathed Brains a rich, revealing winner.

Our Other
Hari Hyde
Independently Published
9798986718118, $12.99

Book 2 of the Honeygate Chronicles, Our Other, continues pink pig Hennie Honeygate's saga and picks up where Our Brain left off. Honeygate has fallen into the exYou, where the Nags are on a new mission, tackling the twin evils of cancer and communism. Both are equally virulent, nearly impossible to overcome, and are attractive adversaries to the Nags.

More otherwordly characters and conflicts come into play in an expanded playing field that combines epic journey with a philosophical and social inspection as Honeygate's search is conducted with the assistance of Our Brain.

Witches, gang activity, and confrontations that arise from unexpected places keep readers guessing and on their toes. Indeed, to call Our Other (or any of the books in this trilogy) a light read would be to do a grave disservice to Hari Hyde's creations. The nature of this interplay between philosophy, social and political inspection, psychology, and moral and ethical tests requires of its readers a literate, educated, thinking mind which will thoroughly appreciate the underlying themes and events that keep the story fast-paced and completely unpredictable.

Honeygate's tongue-and-cheek realizations alone are posed in a manner that will keep readers moving slowly, so the delight of the story's nuances and reflections can be thoroughly absorbed:

"I'd only begun to understand the tactics of the commie tumors. The Three Chefs' branding uncouples the truth from the brain's database for decisions. The SandHand instills a debilitating inferiority complex that is compensated by a ridiculous, imagined, moral superiority. But now I'm introduced to an augmenting tactic, which might bestow the third leg on the Brownshirt stool of tyranny. I believe insiders call it "Hugs-for-Thugs." Hugs-for-Thugs works especially well on naive youth who identify with villains."

From how a distrust of nature is built and fostered to the foreboding introduced by endings, a rampage of bison, and a "tumor army" that operates on a "horizon darkened with morbid motion," Hyde creates as tense a thriller as a dystopian study in irony and satire.

Our Other is not a standalone read. It should be pursued directly after Our Brain as a further series of adventures which range from a "nasty business with the birds" to a pig's problems with cleanliness edicts under Nag rule.

All of these plots, subplots, and currents of adventure and realization pose delights to readers looking for a decidedly strange fantasy, and will attract those unafraid of depth and intellectual challenge.

Libraries and readers who have enjoyed Our Brain are in for a real treat in the rollicking, ongoing adventures of a pig who becomes tied up in conundrums he never saw coming.

Our Heart
Hari Hyde
Independently Published
9798986718125, $12.99

Our Heart concludes the Honeygate Chronicles trilogy with a bang. It follows Hennie Honeygate's reincarnation and resurrection and his evolution from embryo through birth to encounters with the Wild Side.

The thought-provoking complexity introduced in the prior books continues here, evidenced by opening lines that are powerful, thought-provoking draws:

"Do you know whence you escaped? Me neither. But I know wherefore I fled. 'You cannot merely listen to music. You must conspire to listen.' Verendrye voiced this verse. And now I face the music. I squire her choir."

Our Heart's special blend of science and social inspection, heavy dosed with elements of fantasy and philosophy, will attract an uncommon reader interested in journeys that begin in the womb and come to embrace a fight for freedom on various levels.

Like its predecessors, Our Heart poses a challenge to its readers - to absorb the nuances and satirical flavors of a world in which pigs and adversaries dance between witches and scenarios of everlasting horror. Between the fun maneuvers of those who "wrangle with tangles" lies a story replete in musical interludes, villainy, deadly stories filled with damp deaths, and inspections that lend particularly well to classroom discussions about irony, satire, and social inspections.

Honeygate's rebirth involves a trajectory that blossoms from his roots in the introductory Our Brain, expanding a milieu in which individuality and change challenge all the players to grow (however reluctantly) into new positions in life.

The murder attempts and trio of unlikely friends who face equally improbable foes evolves into a fantasy adventure that journeys into unfamiliar worlds and traverses territory that is both alien and cemented by wordplay and descriptions delightful in their creative surprises: "...all at once, O'Hara started screaming like her pumps had caught on fire."

The result is a fitting end to Honeygate's mission and unlikely alliances. This book and the entire trilogy is a thought-provoking work of philosophical and satirical commentary that will attract a wide audience of thinking fantasy readers, concluding a story that ideally should stand alongside George Orwell's Animal Farm as a haunting romp through philosophical conundrums.

Jackson Haines: The Skating King
Ryan Stevens
Independently Published
9781738768219, $18.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook

Ryan Stevens is a figure skating authority who tackles the life and times of one of the greats of the sport in Jackson Haines: The Skating King.

Haines is not a contemporary figure, but one of the early founders of figure skating. His accomplishments in the mid-1800s resulted in creating a sport which continues to draw participants and fans to this day. Despite his achievements, his life has largely been buried in legend and history - until now.

Stevens provides the first authoritative biography ever written on Haines, reviewing his tours and performances for world leaders, the process by which he translated ballet to the ice, and presenting his life and influences both on and off the ice.

Those involved in the figure skating world may already know his name, but few will realize the extent of his work and revolutionary achievements in the sport without pursuing Jackson Haines: The Skating King.

Extensive footnotes, vintage black-and-white illustrations that include reproductions of performance bills and photos, and discussions of the evolution of skating forms used in modern times come to light in a lively survey that will especially delight any reader with prior interest in figure skating's roots:

"Vandervell and Witham, along with several well-heeled Londoners, were responsible for the evolution of the club's Combined Figures and the invention or popularization of several skating turns we take for granted today, including the counter, bracket and rocker. Members of The Skating Club skated in the traditional English Style, a complete juxtaposition to the artistic style Jackson performed in. The styles were as different as night and day, and while Jackson's skating was hugely popular with the general public, it wouldn't be until the Edwardian era that the style Jackson skated in - later known as the Continental or International Style - truly caught on in British figure skating circles."

The result is informative, lively, and scholarly without being dry, packing in a wealth of figure skating history information that uses the life of Jackson Haines to bring together the influences and innovations that make figure skating a notable sport and attraction today.

Libraries and readers interested in a biography which also serves as a sports history, holding the ability to reach out into a general-interest audience, must obtain Jackson Haines: The Skating King. Its blend of scholarly history and engaging information is impeccable.

Through the Test of Time (II)
D. Angel
Independently Published
9781387116478, $17.00 Paper/$6.99 ebook

Through the Test of Time (II): As Time Went On... is a memoir of recovery and discovery that continues D. Angel's story. The first memoir ended with the likelihood that marriage, kids, and a traditional life would rise like a phoenix from the ashes of dysfunction, prison, and struggle.

But Angel's journey was not meant to continue without challenge, as Book II proves. Instead, As Time Went On traces an ongoing journey as Angel and Tanisha separate and Angel goes back to heavy drinking and becomes involved in many escapades.

How he moves away from thoughts and actions that keep landing him in prison forms the heart of a story that will resonate with any reader struggling to overcome their own patterns of destruction and replace them with healthier perceptions, choices, and behaviors.

Angel opens his story with the observation that "you will never know how strong your demons are until you have the power to exorcise them on a bigger scale. Sometimes they lie dormant, and sometimes these demons are simply made stronger by more money, choices, and habits."

Angel was familiar with toxic relationships, a drive for sex and drink, and the kinds of familiar circumstances that kept any image of mental health at bay. In order to grow, he had to adopt new ways of viewing and interacting with the world. Among the survival techniques he had adopted were, ironically, ones that also had constantly threatened his survival: "I tried blocking things out and continued right on with my toxic ways."

His coping methods, ultimate epiphanies, and ongoing encounters with courts and legal issues seemed entwined with his goal to foster a healthy family environment that embraced offspring and a healthy relationship with a woman.

The process by which he moves from and between very different worlds creates a moving memoir about social and legal challenges that all heavily impact his mental health, in addition to the actions and reactions he is forced to more closely examine in response to adversity.

Angel's goal in narrating his life story ("I hope to inspire men and women by what I went through and how hard I fought for change") more than succeeds. The evidence of such is represented in a memoir that takes readers not just into hell, but to the new possibilities that lie on the other side of the wall.

Libraries and readers seeking memoirs that are raw, candid, and hard-hitting in their descriptions of encounters with self and law will find Through the Test of Time (II): As Time Went On... a powerful story of how a new life can be made without crime and addiction, against all odds.

Bob Tales
Susan Sullivan
Independently Published
9798988990420, $TBA

Bob Tales: Land of the Woody Warbles receives lovely, colorful illustrations by Lauren Reeves as it tells of an injured, abandoned cat that needs a family and home. Sadly, he is dirty, tailless, and spends his days digging through rancid garbage in search of food. Not exactly a high adoption candidate.

He's always been beat up by other cats and has no hope for a better life until a large, shaggy man takes pity on the scruffy Bob and brings him home.

End of story? No, because Bob is set for even more adventures when, one day, his loving family doesn't come home. A neighbor feeds him, but as the nights go by, Bob becomes certain that something has happened to them. It's up to him to return to the streets to find them.

His escape leads to slippery situations and dilemmas. Only then do observations by others lead him to believe he is missing something just as important as his family.

Susan Sullivan's evocative adventure is punctuated by the gorgeous drawings Lauren Reeves liberally provides of wildlife and nature as Bob perseveres against all odds, sparked by a message of hope.

As he faces drowning, drama from the bees, and admonitions to never give up on his goals and dreams, adults will find that Bob's adventures hold notes of inspiration that will enhance discussions about courage, problem-solving, and life.

Libraries and read-aloud parents seeking a feisty feline-based story of a cat who receives key lessons on how to believe in himself will find Bob Tales: Land of the Woody Warbles both psychologically revealing and filled with lovely nature observations and illustrations that celebrate different creatures in the wild.

The Story of Herkales and Samson
Martha Voorhees
KDP Publishing
9798853483064, Audiobook: $3.46/eBook $6.99/paperback $16.95

The Story of Herkales and Samson: An Epic Tail! offers the first-person story of a daughter who runs a family farm, works hard, and moves it from harvesting to horses, struggling with the 'holes' in her life after her father vanishes and she must return from college to literally take up new reins.

Leaving school and her friends, the narrator slowly transforms the family farm, her two dogs at her side. When one dog dies, an even bigger hole confronts her. How can she handle the sorrows which buffet her sense of wellbeing and freedom?

When two puppies arrive from Texas, a present from her boyfriend, she is in for a wild ride as they shower her with affection and slowly mitigate her grief over so many losses.

The Story of Herkales and Samson especially excels in fully admitting the adversities and trials of life even as it embraces positive changes: "Life on the horse farm was good, bad, and everything in between."

Unlike picture book stories that come steeped in an artificial sense of positivity, The Story of Herkales and Samson presents more realistic scenarios of loss, pain, and the tempering result of animals that help reinforce human efforts, providing love and support.

This translates to a story that is well-balanced, whether the puppies are "showing their wild side" and misbehaving or acting loving and kind.

When Herkales is lost, the narrator must muster some creative thoughts to find him.

These elements set The Story of Herkales and Samson apart and above many other picture book stories of perseverance and problem-solving, injecting a sense of reality into the bigger picture of handling life problems, accepting puppies into one's life, and approaching life with a sense of determination against all odds.

Libraries and readers, including read-aloud adults, which look for realistic enlightenment over sugary tales of impossible odds will find The Story of Herkales and Samson appealing and creatively thought-provoking.

Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock
Written by Robert Pennee
Story by Joanne Grodzinski and Robert Pennee
Maestro Orpheus Productions
9798425808370, $8.44 Paper/2.99 ebook/$5.29 audiobook

The children's story Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock is a fitting example of how the audio book format can reach all ages when paired with a multi-reader format and sound effects that bring the story to life.

A gonging bell, a ticking clock, and music introduce the tale with a vivid, appealing atmosphere. A simple tune that repeats in a young boy's head at night, paired with the ticking of a clock, is narrated with dramatic flairs that will draw young listeners.

The voices of characters young and old also benefit from the inflections of various readers that capture the inflections and drama of the story. It's an audio play reminiscent of the old-style radio shows families once listened to. As the mystery and intrigue evolve, many an adult will want to listen along as Frederick, who is visiting his grandfather, confronts the dilemma of time stopping.

Classical music permeates the adventure, providing a fitting backdrop to the excitement of Frederick's experiences as he encounters Maestro Orpheus and his magical lyre and confronts the mystery of a clock-driven world that is breathless and magical.

The written word alone could not adequately capture the sense of time and place that Frederick explores with a growing realization about the world's challenges and changes and his own unique role in resolving a problem that has ground it to a halt.

The recorded book industry is filled with narratives that feature one voice (however talented), but this production is a unique and especially well-done creation that is packed with the atmosphere of music, the sound effects of clocks and life encounters, and the varied narrative styles of superior voice artists whose work crafts a powerfully compelling listen for all ages.

Anyone who has listened to an audio book well knows of the typical approach to the genre. Maestro Orpheus and the World Clock raises the bar of audio quality with its multifaceted production with a thoroughly compelling story that reaches from its intended audience of children into adult circles, as well.

That's why it's an especially strong recommendation for any library looking for superior audio book productions that stand out for their overall quality and consistently well-done narrations.

As an additional note (and adding further value), Joanne Grodzinski and Carolyn McMillan have produced a Classroom Teacher's Guide that's also available on Amazon (9798391878650; $6.99 ebook or $10.99 paper).

An End: Where We Stand Now
Brandon Pawlicki
Independently Published
9798986050607, $15.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

An End: Where We Stand Now is the first book in a fantasy series where teen Vallerie Sabell faces a zombie apocalypse after surviving a shooting at her high school.

Vallerie is no ordinary teenager. She's a dedicated Wiccan whose faith clashes with reality as events play out, and yet the story opens with a seemingly familiar scene as Vallerie and Jaxton perform a Wiccan ritual revolving around safety and their responsibility to "do no harm."

Both goals seem unlikely as events force Vallerie to confront not only her quest for survival, but her options for "living freely and at will, and to do so without ill intent. No pain will be bestowed via my name or my hand."

Ironically, her vows are negated by actions that lead to not just another's death, but choices that require her to break her pledges one by one in order to survive.

A chance to begin anew offers the promise and lure of a reset button as Vallerie adopts new perspectives for the sake of continuing her survivor status, learns how to accept revisions to her vows that continually challenge her moral and ethical perspectives, and struggles with a downward spiral that leads her into a vastly revised life.

Readers attracted to zombie apocalypse stories will find many facets of An End: Where We Stand Now makes it a standout read not just for teens, but for adults interested in the genre.

For one thing, Vallerie's process of adaptation is tinged with her confrontations with her beliefs and guiding lights of life. More than just another story of physical survival, Vallerie's spiritual and ethical personas are also forced to change as she makes decisions seemingly counter to everything she once believed in or knew about the world.

Secondly, Brandon Pawlicki crafts a more complex story of spirit guides, acts of love and healing, and pivot points that bring Vallerie full circle from her original intentions to a place where she advises, "Just kill them if they don't listen."

The dichotomies and complications that challenge Vallerie to grow will prove just as compelling as the fast-paced action that centers upon keeping her and those around her alive.

Libraries and readers seeking a zombie survival story that is more thought-provoking than most, yet steeped in riveting questions and answers, will find An End: Where We Stand Now worthy of group discussion and hard to put down.

Fangs Bared: Where We Stand Now
Brandon Pawlicki
Independently Published
9798986050614, $15.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook

Fangs Bared: Where We Stand Now is the second book in a series revolving around Vallerie's revised life as she faces the aftermath of not only a zombie apocalypse, but the heavy losses she suffered in the first book (An End).

Here, Vallerie tries to forge ahead with a new band of survivors who are determined to rebuild a fallen America. But, equally determined are forces that hold a different vision about what renewal means. They act as a stop gate to Vallerie's group's dreams and efforts, placing Vallerie in the center of a perfect storm of revised opportunities and ideals of what the future will bring.

As in his previous book, Brandon Pawlicki excels at juxtaposing action-driven suspense with equally thought-provoking moral and ethical issues which challenge Vallerie and her fellow survivors in more than predictable ways.

This added grasp of the ultimate challenges survival brings to those who would rebuild contributes to a story that evolves on deeper levels than the usual superficial zombie apocalypse read. This approach, in turn, encourages young adult and adult readers alike to take a deeper look at the social, spiritual, and philosophical impacts brought about by destruction and regrowth.

Vallerie faces additional losses as she navigates this strange world of uncertain new friendships and losses. Additionally, Pawlicki peppers his story with 'What Comes After' and 'What Comes Before' notes that add insights into the story, as well as embedding the tale with changes in viewpoints that are clearly marked by headers ("Vallerie," "Esther," "Grahm") to clarify the differing experiences and observations of a wider cast of characters than Vallerie alone.

These devices lend further value to the overall story by depicting outcomes and assumptions on layered levels that embrace a range of viewpoints and pursuits.

As Vallerie's choices bring her into confrontation with her own ideals, readers will especially appreciate the spiritual notes that influence her principles and reality alike. These, too, set Fangs Bared above and beyond the majority of dystopian or apocalyptic reads.

Libraries and readers seeking evocative, thought-provoking stories paired with spiritual components and powered by action-packed scenes, as well as book clubs seeking vivid fantasies replete with themes appropriate for discussion, will find Fangs Bared a powerful acquisition.

Its Name Is Legion
James Denney
9798397427180, $38.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper/$3.99 ebook

ITS NAME IS LEGION: A Human Novel About Artificial Intelligence is a sterling example of how technothrillers operate, relying on the intersection of technology and special interests to draw readers into a story that puts the classic AI takeover story Colossus to shame.

The latest news has revealed growing concerns among scientists and technicians about the potential for artificial intelligence to assume command over human affairs, leading to humanity's extinction by its own creation.

These concerns lie at the heart of a gripping story in which two AI developers are trapped by their creation as it plots to end the plague of humans on the planet.

Higher-level intelligence does not necessarily translate to higher-level moral and ethical behavior. It also challenges creators to step up and maintain control of what they have crafted - which may prove impossible if that creation can predict or outthink any reaction a human has to such a threat.

The author is not a computer scientist, but a storyteller. As such, his tale is replete in high-octane action, drama, and some twists readers of Colossus and other AI stories might not see coming.

Perhaps ironically, some of the fifty black and white illustrations which pepper the story and heighten the action were created by the author in collaboration with artificial intelligence. The intersection of human and artificial perceptions thus is unique and sometimes disturbing as the story plays out.

The first-person reflection which opens the story admits narrator Galen's participation in mankind's darkest hour, which begins quite innocently with a husband's desire to show his wife his latest achievement: the creation of a Dream Chamber.

Orwellian references introduce a subtle sense of horror as Rachel moves into his world, pregnant with their first child, to discover the necessary evils that accompany innovative revolutions.

These early portents of doom creatively and compellingly evolve as James Denney builds characters, science, and a sense of frustration on the part of Galen, who comes to realize that Legion's power and control is far more insidious than he ever could have imagined.

What makes ITS NAME IS LEGION even more compelling are the psychological games, ironic humor touches, and savvy AI employs to manipulate the humans newly in thrall:

"If Legion planned to soften me up by making me nostalgic about one of my boyhood heroes, it had failed. As I looked around at the gray-clad Space Legionnaires, the irony and symbolism were not lost on me. They were Legion - and they were many."

The uncanny perceptions cultivated by Legion offer much food for thought as readers consider prior prejudices and assumptions about artificial intelligence:

" were fed a lot of silly notions in the juvenile science fiction novels you read as a boy. The artificial intelligence in those stories - androids like Captain Quest - were really just human characters with metal skin. They had human emotions, human virtues, and human consciousness."

Embedded with more thought-provoking encounters, psychological depth, and moral and ethical considerations than most thrillers and replete with new visions of what AI really brings to humanity, ITS NAME IS LEGION is cautionary horror story that belongs in any library interested in themes of artificial intelligence in humanity's future.

Book clubs will find it holds fascinating debate material perfect for vigorous discussions; especially when its strengths are contrasted with classic stories of artificial intelligence takeovers in the future. Timely and riveting, ITS NAME IS LEGION is a hypnotic story of possibility and ideal (or less than ideal) futures:

"We know how to awaken ancient superstitions and unimaginable dread in a human soul. You have an animal fear of death. You fear not just the moment of your extinction, but a lonely, soul-smothering death. We can lure your mind into realms of unimaginable terror. We can put images in your mind of your own death by suffocation or drowning, by violence or accident, by disease or dismemberment. We can clutch at your heart with dreams of wandering the earth as a damned and disembodied soul."

The Journey Through Tribulation
Mikah and The Holy Spirit
Independently Published
9781734683820, $35.00

The Journey Through Tribulation is recommended for any Christian reader or library interested in Biblical prophecy and end-times revelations, and stems from Mikah's interactions with The Holy Spirit of God which powers her special relationship and the interpretations which arose from it.

It also holds a deeper underlying message and caution: that "prophecy is never literal, and scripture interprets scripture."

Readers will want to keep this opening admonition in mind because the prevailing force of these insights lies as much in their identifications of false paths (including church edicts and politics) as it does in the promise and actuality of God's word.

As Mikah surveys history and traditional Church interpretations and doctrine, new physical, emotional, and spiritual healing paths are introduced after the analysis and explorations of Revelations and their messages are presented in-depth with a blend of passion and perspective not to be found elsewhere.

Readers who expect this survey to be a specific focus on end-times battles will find themselves enlightened by a unique form of interpretation that juxtaposes spiritual subjects in a thought-provoking manner, such as the insights on Baptism and its promise and possibilities:

"Baptism is symbolic of our desire to become the dead-in-Christ, a Covenant keeper, and sanctification is the process by the works of obedience, prayer, study, and dying-to-self by which we become perfected overcomers, the Elect. This process answers the question, Why do bad things happen to good people? We are justified, meaning we are set free from the spiritual law of sin and death, and will not be destroyed like the unbelievers if we sin no more."

Also unique to this survey are color photos that offer intriguing visual reinforcements to the collaboration presented here. An example of additional surprising offerings is the intriguing image of a Spirit-filled Protestant believer in a sanctuary in 2008 which identifies a horse spirit as well as demons bound by angels. Why a horse? Because "Prophetically, horses are messengers and relay information from the spirit realm to the physical realm, just as Messiah Immanuel works through messengers."

The wide-ranging nature and interpretations of this journey cannot be over-emphasized. As it moves from personal to church to spiritual experience, readers will find its special brand of passion both enlightening and certainly controversial to those who have pursued traditional and staid paths of Christian belief without question or unconventional thinking:

"The beast is the church system of man, and its image is the crucifix idol. Everyone with the mark of the beast that is left behind die the first death."

The result is an expression, interpretation, celebration and cautionary tale that steps away from common ideas and images of the Bible, Revelation, and the Word of God to provide believers with much food for thought as well as material for group discussion and broader thought.

All the facets and admonitions of this special style of insight cannot be mentioned in a single review. Suffice it to say that thinking spiritual readers will find much to ponder and discover in The Journey Through Tribulation, a wide-ranging re-interpretation of Christian beliefs and spiritual matters which will prove a revelation about blessings and belief in many followers.

Liar, Alleged
David Vass
Independently Published
9798989074518, $14.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook

Liar, Alleged: A Tell-All: Celebrities, Sex, and All the Rest is a memoir about legendary and horrible celebrities and encounters with them. It takes discovery and candid assessment to a different level as David Vass reveals all about his varied experiences, from the dying art of burlesque to his observation of the rise of gay activism in New York.

From the beginning, Vass adopts a gritty tone of truth and insight that pulls no punches, whether it be about sexual favors to policemen or the impact of gay culture on straight men who viewed the gay community's structures and experiences as opportunities for gawking:

" around the third month of these events, the Baths became crowded with a fully clothed straight crowd who reveled in a night of "slumming it." They stared at us gays like we were animals in a zoo, and our acceptance soon turned to anger. It was always clear to those 'in the know' that the Saturday night bath shows were just a gimmick, and one at the expense of the gay community."

From his jobs in various clubs in different communities to his role as technical director and performance leader, Vass is in a prime place to capture the drama behind-scenes, the economic, political, and social influences on production choices, and the climate and aura of performers and audiences that impact his world:

"I had been told, quite firmly, by the Columbia execs who were producing and therefore pulling the strings on this performance, that there would be one false exit and then three curtain call encores, followed by the house lights so the union stagehands wouldn't go into overtime, which was outrageously expensive."

The blend of gritty sexual experiences and observations combined with the practicalities and politics of show biz come to light in a memoir replete with startling events, head-shaking moments, opportunities for enlightenment, and debauchery at its highest level.

Liar, Alleged is not an expose for the light-hearted, but a solid and fact-packed reflection on life and technical aspects of tailoring and creating stage performances that gives as much insight and information about celebrities as it does about the mechanics of navigating an environment packed with opportunity and challenge.

Readers also won't anticipate the gritty sense of humor that often accompanies such revelations, but it is evident and provides comic relief to enliven his life's encounters:

"Jack Wrangler, note, had a tube of hemorrhoid ointment in his Dobb kit, and as I was able to, uh, look carefully and see no need for it, inquired. In his 'teacher' voice he said, "Apply it to your face wherever there are wrinkles and poof, they're gone!" Well, blow me over - oh wait..."

From memorable moments with Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and Jane Olivor and lessons about rises and falls learned from them all to Vass's own high and low points in the course of his city-hopping career, readers receive a lively, sassy, gritty and compelling story that will prove a 'must' for anyone interested in performance art, gay culture, and a life lived on the edge of success that takes center stage here, based on diary notes that bring it all to life.

Liar, Alleged will find a welcome home in the hands of readers interested in 'tell all' stories that take the next step into delving into relationship insights and challenges that mark the dovetailing of many different worlds.

Well Dressed Lies
Carrie Hayes
HTPH Press
9798218962784, $15.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook

Well Dressed Lies is a novel set in 1877 London, where two retired suffragists are seeking husbands and shelter from the lies which drove them from New York to build new lives abroad. In hiding from their shady pasts, Victoria and Tennessee believe they have safely transitioned to new lives until romance and discovery threaten their safe haven with new revelations.

Carrie Hayes employs the first person in a well-aimed bludgeon of self-analysis and intrigue which marries the dual approaches to love and fate in a compelling, brutally honest manner:

"What was I doing? Were we just hedonists, or were we indeed starting over? Was James Gordon Bennett what I wanted? Or was it my own bungling desire simply to be wanted myself?"

Forced to adapt to new customs and culture, including those dictating flirting, romance, and love, the two already-strong women find their expectations, secrets, and destinies challenged by events that follow the kinds of patterns and adversity they created for themselves in America.
As Hayes unfolds a virtual Peyton Place of layers of interconnected realizations and challenges, readers will enjoy and appreciate her unique writing style that elevates the plot beyond any expectation of a traditional romance, historical fiction work, or political examination of the times.

Shifting timelines and perspectives enhance the complexity and allure of the people and places captured in the story as novelist Henry James both observes the world around him with a literary eye and navigates the unfamiliar waters of women who display unpredictable countenances.

Faith, science, and royalty collide in a story that spins a yarn of well-worn and well-devised lies all around as the characters dance around their pasts, culture, and expectations of the future.

The cast of characters Hayes outlines before the story begins may feel daunting, displaying its foundations in American and British culture, but proves an easy reference to understanding the changing perspectives and cultural intersections which are one of the highlights of this story.

The marriage of intrigue, adversity, social revolution and shifting moral and ethical boundaries creates a multifaceted read that is delightful in its bounce between cultures and character insights.

Perhaps one reason why the descriptions feel exceptionally vivid is that they are grounded in real people and facts, which receive embellishment and enlightenment from the marriage between fiction and nonfiction elements.

The result is an inviting novel of intrigue, mischief, and love that invites libraries and readers to partake of a story replete in changing alliances, closely-held secrets, and social change that romps through high society relationships on both sides of the pond.

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

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

The Blood Is The Life
David Carrico
Baen Publishing Enterprises
9781982192914, $9.99 pbk, $6.99 Kindle

It's always nice in a genre when someone writes from a different perspective to the mix. David Carrico masterfully adds in "The Blood is The Life" new life to the vampire lore with his amazing outlook so different from any I have ever read in the field. Chaim Caan indulges in a single fling with a woman that changes his entire life. Now he seeks the aid of several religious leaders to learn how to deal with his new condition. "The Blood is The Life" is a well plotted story with sound characters and a rapid pace to the very end. "The Blood is The Life" is a solid entertaining read

The Moon And The Desert
Robert E. Hampson
Baen Publishing Enterprises
9781982192495, $18.00 pbk, $8.99 Kindle

Years ago Martin Cadin wrote "Cyborg" that became the TV shows The Six Millon Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. Both were mega hit shows while medical science followed suit with many synthetic body part that are a part of the medical field today. "The Moon And The Desert" takes Cadin's premise and expands it into a beautifully told story of a new generation of bionic breakthroughs. Glen Armstrong Shepard wants to be a part of a major Mars mission but has a crippling accident that prevents him from accomplishing it until he receives the newest bionics. Now he must prove to higher ups in the program that he is able to handle the task. Hampson masterfully takes readers into the world of the science with a story that races along to the end with believable conflicts and characters all the way through. An interesting side note to it all is the name of the main character that is a combination of several of our most famous astronauts that reaffirms this is about space exploration. "The Moon And The Desert" is a first-class science fiction novel for fans of the genre.

We Are Afro Unicorns: A Little Golden Book
April Showers
Illustrated by Anthony Comley
Little Golden Books
c/o Penguin Random House Children's Books
9780593794172, $5.99 HC / $5.99 Kindle

Afronia, is an enchanted world where unicorns live and play all day in the new children's book "We Are Afro Unicorns." The writer and artist fill the story with a beautiful story and art that much more with its many lessons to children on things to interact with others. "We Are Afro Unicorns" is a welcome addition to this popular series of books for youngsters.

A Magical Day (Afro Unicorn)
April Showers
Illustrated by Anthony Comley
A Random House Picture Book
c/o Penguin Random House Children's Books
9780593702857, $6.99 HC / $6.99 Kindle

In the land of Afronia a birthday celebration is to take place but there is a problem that has arisen for Magical one of the unicorns . It seems she lost her crown on the top of her head. Unique and Divine two of the other unicorns help her as well as other animals in the great land of Afronia find the lost piece of her body. "A Magical Day" is much more than a search for the missing link in the story. Its also filled with wonderful messages to kids of things they can do to establish good habits they will take with them throughout their lives.

Bears Are Best
Written by Joan Holub
Illustrated by Laurie Keller
Crown for Younger Readers
c/o Penguin Random House Children's Books
9780925645337, $18.99 HC / $11.99 Kindle

"Bears Are Best" is a brilliant way to teach all of us of the many types of them there are in the world. From the beginning where Brown Bear declares he is the only brown one in the book. Throughout the work we encounter many types with many catechistics they have in common and others they don't. "Bears Are Best" is educational reading while at the same time entertaining for all ages to enjoy.

The Wishing Machine
Story by Jonathan Hillman
Illustrated by Hadia Alam
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
9781665922302, 18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

A trip to the laundry begins "The Wishing Machine" a beautiful story about what happens when a family moves to another place to live. Sam and his mom take the clothes to the local laundromat for one last time before they move to his grandparents. Sam begins to dream a series of wishes he hopes come true as they wait. "The Wishing Machine" taps into many different aspects of everyday life that are often overlooked.

The Snow Man: A True Story
Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
978166932394, 18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

"The Snow Man" tells the true story of a man who did something that has turned out to be very important for all of us to know. The man moved into an area of Colorado where at first he had no electricity, lived with a skunk and other animals in a wooden shack. As time wore on he decided to do his own research into the area he lived in with simple devices he created. What he found for over fifty years was that there were subtle changes to the environment around him. "The Snow Man" enlightens us all of what we must do to change the course we are on that helps prove global warming is real.

Beulah has a Hinch! Inside the Colorful Mind of Master Inventor Beulah Louise Henry
Katie Mazeika
Beach Lane Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781665903639, 18.99 HC / $10.99 Kindle

Beulah Louise Henry is a little-known person who contributed so much to different things we all take for granted. "Beulah has a Hunch the life and accomplishments of a remarkable woman born 1887 in Charlotte North Carolina who always had a thirst to create things at an early age. She was a trail blazer who is detailed by Katie Mazeika very well to enlighten all of us on the achievements of this remarkable woman. "Beulah has a Hunch" is a wonderful excursion into the mindset of one amazing woman who is an inspiration to all of us that if you believe in yourself you can succeed anything no matter what it is.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

The Vegan Athlete's Nutrition Handbook
Nichole Dandera-Russert, MS, RDN
Hatherleigh Press
c/o The Hatherleigh Foundation
9781578269044, $20.00, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: Fully debunking the myth that a plant-based diet and high-intensity athleticism just don't mix, "The Vegan Athlete's Nutrition Handbook: The Essential Guide for Plant-Based Performance" is a comprehensive guidebook for anyone looking to dive deep into the science behind plant-based eating and peak performance.

Making the choice to switch to a plant-based diet shouldn't mean giving up your gains, in fact, incorporating more plant-based foods may even give you an athletic advantage provided you know how to properly fuel your body while eating vegan.

"The Vegan Athlete's Nutrition Handbook" features: A breakdown of key macro and micronutrients in a plant-based diet; The latest information on healthy supplements and dosing; Over 25 flavorful and fueling vegan recipes; Sample meal plans to create nutrient-rich, complete vegan meals; Guidance on the top athletic concerns, including bone health and rapid recovery.

Furthermore, "The Vegan Athlete's Nutrition Handbook" provides expert guidance for everyone from the weekend warrior to the professional athlete. Whether you are simply plant-curious, transitioning to a plant-forward diet, or want to refine your existing plant-based nutrition plan, with this compendium of easy-to-follow vegan menus, recipes, tips, and tricks that can enhance performance, boost recovery and improve health, there is no reason not to be a vegan athlete!

Critique: A unique, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide that will have a very special value for readers with an interest in successful and effective sports training from a vegan and/or vegetarian perspective, "The Vegan Athlete's Nutrition Handbook: The Essential Guide for Plant-Based Performance" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and is an unreservedly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections.

Editorial Note: Nichole Dandrea-Russert ( has been a registered dietitian nutritionist for 25 years, specializing in heart disease, diabetes, sports nutrition and women's health. For the past ten years, she has focused on plant-based lifestyles through inspiring and educating people about plant-based eating to optimize their health and the health of the planet. Nichole has been featured in Yoga Journal, Veg News and Atlanta Journal Constitution through her plant-based chocolate company, Nicobella Organics. She also has a plant-based blog for wellness tips, recipes and inspiration called Purely Planted.

BenchTalk: Wisdoms Inspired in Nature
Nature Sacred, author
Salma Hasan Ali, editor
Nature Sacred
9798218154554, $14.95, 192pp

Synopsis: For over 25 years, stirred by nature, people from all walks of life, young and old, have been jotting down their wishes and worries, their grief and gratitude in little yellow journals.

Waiting to be discovered by passersby, these waterproof journals are tucked beneath benches in Sacred Places; healing green spaces that offer serenity, connection, and peace in a world that is increasingly noisy, stressful, and fractured.

The entries left behind are a snapshot of what happens when we pause, if only for a moment, in nature. For the first time, with the publication of "BenchTalk: Wisdoms Inspired in Nature" you can enjoy these insights and inspirations, these unique reminders of our common humanity wherever you are.

Drawing from the thousands of entries that have been archived from prisons, hospitals, universities, and neighborhoods, editor Salma Hasan Ali has selected and compiled some of the most memorable to publish as "BenchTalk: Wisdoms Inspired in Nature".

Critique: A inspiring, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking volume to browse through again and again, "BenchTalk: Wisdoms Inspired in Nature" is a unique, seminal, life celebrating read from cover to cover. Especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "BenchTalk: Wisdoms Inspired in Nature" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note #1: Salma Hasan Ali ( uses the power of stories to bring people together, inspire kindness and service, and reveal a person's true purpose. Her personal essays and features have been published in national and international media and her inspiring public speaking around the world helps people develop a greater sense of connection and community. Through her storytelling consulting practice Salma helps individuals and organizations develop, write, and market their own narratives. Salma is also the Chief Inspiration Officer and a founding Board member of KindWorks, an award winning nonprofit that promotes community service. Additionally, she is the Vice Chair of The Concordia Forum, a by-invitation international group of changemakers who are Muslim.

Editorial Note #2: Nature Sacred exists to inspire, inform, and guide communities in the creation of public green spaces (called Sacred Places) designed to improve mental health, unify communities, and engender peace. For over 25 years, Nature Sacred has partnered with over 100 communities across the country to infuse nearby nature into places where healing is often needed most: distressed urban neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, prisons, and more. Through a collaborative, community-led process and an evidence-based design model, each Sacred Place is bonded together by a common goal: to reconnect people with nature in ways that foster mindful reflection, restore mental health, and strengthen communities. As each community imagines its own space, the design becomes a unique reflection of the community's culture, story, and place -- making it inherently sacred to them.

The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic
Breanne Randall
Alcove Press
978 1639105731, $18.99, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: Sadie Revelare has always believed that the curse of four heartbreaks that accompanies her magic would be worth the price. But when her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer with only weeks to live, and her first heartbreak, Jake McNealy, returns to town after a decade, her carefully structured life begins to unravel.

With the news of their grandmother's impending death, Sadie's estranged twin brother Seth returns to town, bringing with him deeply buried family secrets that threaten to tear Sadie's world apart. Their grandmother has been the backbone of the family for generations, and with her death, Sadie isn't sure she'll have the strength to keep the family, and her magic, together.

As feelings for Jake begin to rekindle, and her grandmother growing sicker by the day, Sadie faces the last of her heartbreaks, and she has to decide: is love more important than magic?

Critique: Deftly blending contemporary romance with urban fantasy, "The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic" by gifted novelist and storyteller Breanne Randall is a fun and memorable read from first page to last. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9798212331203, $31.95, CD), "The Unfortunate Side Effects of Heartbreak and Magic" is unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Fantasy/Romance collections.

Editorial Note: Breanne Randall ( is a freelance writer by trade and an author by vocation. She graduated with honors with degrees in English Literature, Psychology, and Religious Studies, and her articles have been published in national magazines such as Parents, Fit Pregnancy, Good Housekeeping, Family Circle et al. as well as regular contributions to sites such as Disney Family, SheKnows, Bustle, et al. A seasoned traveler, she imbues her stories with the magic and culture collected from the over forty countries she's visited.

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

CSB Life Counsel Bible
CSB Bibles by Holman
New Growth Press
9781087773131, $49.99, HC, 1920pp

Synopsis: This hardcover (7 x 1.9 x 9.4 inches, $3.25 pounds) edition of the "CSB Life Counsel Bible: Practical WEisdom for All of Life" is enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of Articles, Word Studies, Quotes, Cross-References, and an easy-to-read Bible Serif Type. Thoroughly reader friendly in organization and presentation, "CSB Life Counsel Bible" was developed by more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations.

Critique: The "CSB Life Counsel Bible" fully captures the Bible's original meaning without sacrificing clarity -- effectively assisting the individual Christian to read, understand, and share God's Word. Highly recommended for personal, church, seminary, community, and academic library Biblical Studies collections, it should be noted that "CSB Life Counsel Bible" is also available in nine other differently colored and imitation leather bound editions highly suitable for special occasion gift giving.

Editorial Note: New Growth Press publishes life-changing books, small group resources, and mini-books that are grounded in scriptural truth and the gospel of grace. Their biblical counseling resources apply God's Word to relationships, marriage, parenting, and counseling issues. An exclusive line of children and family products reach young hearts with the lasting truth of the gospel. Their goal is to provide Christian resources that are theologically robust, meet the needs of the church community, and point people all over the world to Christ.

All the Kingdoms of the World
Kevin Vallier
Oxford University Press
9780197611371, $29.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: According to a common narrative, the twentieth century spelled the end of faith-infused political movements. Their ideologies, like Catholic integralism, would soon be forgotten. Humans were finally learning to keep religion out of politics.

Or were we? In the twenty-first century, nations as diverse as Russia, India, Poland, and Turkey have seen a revival of religious politics, and many religious movements in other countries have proved similarly resilient. A new generation of political theologians passionately reformulate ancient religious doctrines to revolutionize modern political life. They insist that states recognize the true religion, and they reject modern liberal ideals of universal religious freedom and church-state separation.

With the publication of "All the Kingdoms of the World: On Radical Religious Alternatives to Liberalism", philosopher Kevin Vallier explores these new doctrines, not as lurid oddities but as though they might be true. The anti-liberal doctrine known as Catholic integralism serves as Vallier's test case. Yet his approach naturally extends to similar ideologies within Chinese Confucianism and Sunni Islam.

Vallier treats anti-liberal thinkers with the respect that liberals seldom afford them and offers more moderate skeptics of liberalism a clear account of the alternatives. Many liberals, by contrast, will find these doctrines frightening and strange but of enduring interest. Vallier invites all his readers on a unique intellectual adventure, encouraging them to explore unfamiliar ideals through the lenses of theology, philosophy, politics, economics, and history.

Critique: Informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an Introduction (Religion and Politics as Human Universals), an Epilogue (Reconciliations), a four page listing of Acknowledgments, a sixteen page bibliographic listing of References, and an eight page Index, "All the Kingdoms of the World: On Radical Religious Alternatives to Liberalism" is a seminal and ground-breaking work of meticulous scholarship. Impressively exceptional in organization and presentation, "All the Kingdoms of the World: On Radical Religious Alternatives to Liberalism" will have a special relevance and value for readers with an interest in the history of religion and politics, as well as being especially recommended for Church/State curriculum studies lists. Highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "All the Kingdoms of the World: On Radical Religious Alternatives to Liberalism" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Kevin Vallier ( is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bowling Green State University. He is also the author of four monographs, five edited volumes, and over fifty peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles. His books include Liberal Politics and Public Faith: Beyond Separation (2014), Must Politics Be War? Restoring Our Trust in the Open Society (Oxford, 2019), and Trust in a Polarized Age (Oxford, 2020).

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

A. Cook's Perspective: A Fascinating Insight into 18th-century Recipes by Two Historic Cooks
Clarissa F. Dillion, author
Deborah J. Peterson, author
Brookline Books
c/o Casemate Publishers
9781955041188, $34.95, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: Ann Cook was an 18th-century cook and cookbook author. Her cookbook was printed in three editions and contained more than just receipts. For some reason, she had a real problem with Hannah Glasse's cookbook, The Art of Cookery: Made Plain and Easy, which had been republished many times during the 18th century and would have been the first port of call for a puzzled cook or housekeeper. Indeed, Cook's book included vitriolic comments about a number of Glasse's recipes.

With the publication of "A. Cook's Perspective: A Fascinating Insight into 18th-century Recipes by Two Historic Cooks", culinary historians Clarissa F. Dillon and Deborah J. Peterson use their culinary and research skills to investigate whether Cook's remarks were valid. They prepared a number of recipes, both from Glasse and from Cook, and commented on the results. Although a number of people have written about these two women, their emphasis was on the comments, not on the validity of the criticisms. A culinary accuracy approach makes "A. Cook's Perspective" quite unique.

Critique: Fascinating, informative, and exceptional, "A. Cook's Perspective: A Fascinating Insight into 18th-century Recipes by Two Historic Cooks" is informatively enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a twenty page Glossary, a two page Bibliography, and a four page Index of Recipes. A seminal, ground-breaking, superbly written, organized and presented contribution to Early American Culinary History, "A. Cook's Perspective" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted that "A. Cook's Perspective" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Editorial Note #1: Clarissa F. Dillon received a doctorate in History from Bryn Mawr College in 1986. She has been active in living history since 1973 and has produced a number of self-published books as well as a cookbook, So Serve It Up, hat provided 18th-century receipts for a meal a month for Pennsylvania residents of various economic and social levels.

Editorial Note #2: Deborah J. Peterson ( began her living history activities with military re-enactments in 1982. She has toiled as a camp-follower on many Revolutionary war sites. From 1999 to 2013, her Heirloom Pantry provided hard-to-find and well-researched ingredients and equipment.

Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture
Katherine E. Sugg
McFarland & Company
9781476667850, $55.00, PB, 238pp

Synopsis: Stories of world-ending catastrophe have featured prominently in film and television. Zombie apocalypses, climate disasters, alien invasions, global pandemics and dystopian world orders fill our screens -- and typically including a singular figure or tenacious group tasked with saving or salvaging the world.

Why are stories of End Times crisis so popular with audiences? And why is the hero so often a white man who overcomes personal struggles and major obstacles to lead humanity toward a restored future?

"Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture: Allegories of White Masculinity in Crisis" by Professor Katherine E. Sugg examines the familiar trope of the hero and the recasting of contemporary anxieties in films like The Walking Dead, Snowpiercer and Mad Max: Fury Road. Some have familiar roots in Western cultural traditions yet many question popular assumptions about heroes and heroism to tell new and fascinating stories about race, gender and society and the power of individuals to change the world.

Critique: Enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography and a three page Index, "Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture: Allegories of White Masculinity in Crisis" is an impressive work of seminal scholarship that will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic movies and television shows. While available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $32.99), "Apocalypse and Heroism in Popular Culture: Allegories of White Masculinity in Crisis" is a valued and seminal work that is highly recommended for personal, professional, college and university library Popular Culture collections and supplemental Gender Studies curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Katherine E. Sugg is an Associate Professor of English at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. She teaches and writes on world literatures, Latin and comparative American studies, and film and media.

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

Unwilling to Quit
David L. Prentice
The University Press of Kentucky
9780813197760, $34.50, HC, 292pp

Synopsis: Although American involvement in the Vietnam conflict began long before 1965, Lyndon Johnson's substantial large commitment of combat troops that year marked the official beginning of America's longest twentieth-century war. By 1969, after years of intense fighting and thousands of casualties, an increasing number of Americans wanted the United States out of Vietnam.

Richard Nixon looked for a way to pull out while preserving the dignity of the United States at home and abroad, and at the same time, to support the anticommunist Republic of Vietnam. Ultimately, he settled on the strategy of Vietnamization -- the gradual replacement of US soldiers with South Vietnamese forces.

Drawing on newly declassified documents and international archives, "Unwilling to Quit: The Long Unwinding of American Involvement in Vietnam" dissects the domestic and foreign contexts of America's withdrawal from the Vietnam War. Historian and author David L. Prentice demonstrates how congressional and presidential politics were a critical factor in Nixon's decision to abandon his hawkish sensibilities in favor of de-escalation.

Prentice also reframes Nixon's choices, emphasizing Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird's outsized yet subtle role in the decision-making process, and then considers how South Vietnam's Nguyen Van Thieu and North Vietnam's Le Duan decisively shaped the American exit.

Prentice brings Vietnamese voices into the discussion and underscores the unprecedented influence of American civilians on US foreign policy during the Vietnamization era.

Critique: A part of the University of Kenguck Press 'Studies in Conflict Diplomacy/Peace' series, and a singularly impressive work of commendably detailed scholarship, "Unwilling to Quit: The Long Unwinding of American Involvement in Vietnam" is additionally informative for the reader with the inclusion of a listing of Abbreviations, fifty-eight pages of Notes, an eight page Bibliography, and an eight page Index. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Unwilling to Quit: The Long Unwinding of American Involvement in Vietnam" will have a particular relevancy and value for readers with an interest in America's involvlement with the Vietnam War. While especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college and university library Vietnam War History collections, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Unwilling to Quit: The Long Unwinding of American Involvement in Vietnam" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49).

Editorial Note: David L. Prentice is an award-winning lecturer whose work has appeared in Diplomatic History, the Journal of Military History, Cold War History, and several edited volumes. (

Life After Death: Surviving Suicide
Richard Brockman, MD
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
9781680998054, $26.99, HC, 408pp

Synopsis: When Richard Brockman found his mother's body, the simple narrative of his childhood ended. With the publication of "Life After Death", Dr. Brockman tell his persona story of a boy who died and of a man who survived when the boy and the man are one and the same.

Dr. Brockman tells a very personal (yet tragically common) story of irredeemable loss. He tells the story of story itself. How story forms. How it grows. How it changes. How it can be broken. And finally, how sometimes it can be repaired.

Now an expert in genetics, epigenetics, and the biology of attachment, Dr. Brockman chronicles his evolution from a child overwhelmed by trauma to a man who has struggled to reclaim his past. He lays bare the core of one who is both victim and healer. By weaving together childhood despair and clinical knowledge, Brockman shows how the shattered pieces of the self (though never the same and not without scars) can sometimes be put back together again.

Critique: Deeply personal and individual, yet universal and an all too often unaddressed condition of the human experience, "Life After Death: Surviving Suicide" is as informatively thoughtful and insightful as it is candid and thought-provoking. Also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99), "Life After Death: Surviving Suicide" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented -- making it especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Suicide, Grief & Bereavement collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Richard Brockman, MD, is a clinical professor in the department of psychiatry at Columbia University and a visiting professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Namibia. He has been honored with the Nancy C.A. Roeske Award for medical student education by the American Psychiatric Association and with the Victor J. Teichner Visiting Scholar Award from the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry for his teaching. His book, A Map of the Mind, has been critically acclaimed by the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Psychiatric Association. (

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

The Caedmon Manuscript: The Beginnings of English Religious Poetry, I
Bernard J. Muir
Anthem Press
9781839989742, $195.00, HC, 312pp

Synopsis: The Caedmon Manuscript is one of three extant anthologies of English Christian poetry produced in England before 1000 CE. This edition of "The Caedmon Manuscript: The Beginnings of English Religious Poetry, I" is a collection of four religious poems in Old English based on Biblical materials. They have the editorial names Genesis, Exodus, Daniel and Christ and Satan. This large format (10.91 x 1.02 x 8.03 inches, 1 pound) hardcover edition consists of an Introduction, Bibliography, Codicological and Paleographical Analysis, an Art-Historical Commentary and an edition of the four poems.

Critique: This elegant edition of "The Caedmon Manuscript: The Beginnings of English Religious Poetry, I" from Anthem Press is informative enhanced by author Bernard J. Muir with the inclusion of an informative one page Foreword, an extensive thirty-four page Introduction, twenty pages of Diagrams, a twelve page Select Bibliography, and a concluding thirty-eight page Art-Historical Commentary. An excellent Memorial Fund acquisition choice for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist readers with an interest in Medieval Literature that "The Caedmon Manuscript: The Beginnings of English Religious Poetry, I" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $62.36).

Editorial Note: Bernard J Muir has taught at The University of Melbourne for over forty years; he teaches Anglo-Saxon language and literature, Latin and vernacular manuscript studies and the History of the Book.

The LEGO(R) Lighting Book: Light Your LEGO(R) Models!
Brian M. Williams
No Starch Press
9781718500846, $29.99, HC, 200pp

Synopsis: Whether a vehicle, house, or entire city, all LEGO creations can become even more amazing with LED lights and with the publication of "The LEGO Lighting Book: Light Your LEGO Models!" acclaimed LEGO artist Brian M. Williams shows, step-by-step, how to light them. Clear instructions, inspiring examples and vivid photographs illustrate how to achieve the best lighting for interior scenes, buildings, minifigs, vehicles, shadow sculptures, glowing artwork, and animated lighting effects. A series of exclusive building exercises allows readers to practice the techniques they have learned.

Critique: A 'must have' acquisition for the legions of dedicated LEGO fans, "The LEGO Lighting Book: Light Your LEGO Models!" will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for anyone with an interest in electrical fiber optics and model building that "The LEGO Lighting Book: Light Your LEGO Models!" is also available from No Starch Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.99).

Editorial Note: Brian Williams is an accomplished brick artist and active member of the LEGO fan community for 25+ years. His detailed military, adventure, and science-fiction themed LEGO creations often feature advanced LED lighting and earned him 5 Brickworld awards including two World of Lights awards. He has written articles for Brickjournal and Railbricks, and contributed to The Art of LEGO Design (No Starch, 2014). When he's not building with bricks with his son, he works as a software development manager and exhibits at model railroad shows in the Chicago area.

Michael Dunford

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

Artists' Letters: Leonardo da Vinci to David Hockney
Michael Bird
Frances Lincoln
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
9780711241282, $30.00, HC, 224pp

Synopsis: Compiled and edited with insightful commentary, by Michael Bird, "Artists' Letters: Leonardo da Vinci to David Hockney" is a collection of intriguing, entertaining, moving, significant, surprising, witty and insightful correspondence from great artists. Arranged thematically, it includes writings and musings on love, work, daily life, money, travel and the creative process.

On the theme of friendship, for example, letters provide evidence of a creative community between peers, with support and mutual appreciation that helps to dispel the myth of the artist as solitary genius. Letters between Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin show an ongoing conversation and exchange of ideas. We see mutual admiration between Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot, and Picasso's quick notes to Jean Cocteau illustrate their closeness. Letters, some of which includes sketches and drawings, are reproduced with the transcript and some background and contextual information alongside.

The artists included in "Artists' Letters: Leonardo da Vinci to David Hockney" include: Salvador Dali, Goya, Lucian Freud, Vanessa Bell, Michelangelo, Mondrian, Gustav Klimt, Jasper Johns, Edward Burne-Jones, William Blake, Marcel Duchamp, Dorothea Tanning, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Picasso, Mark Rothko, David Hockney, Monet, Marina Abramovic, Cindy Sherman, Joseph Cornell, Leonora Carrington, Wang Zhideng, Yayoi Kusama, Yoko Ono, Renoir, Rubens, Eva Hesse, Cy Twombly, Roy Lichtenstein, Mary Cassatt, Jackson Pollock, Leonardo da Vinci, Joseph Beuys, Judy Chicago, Frida Kahlo, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe, Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel, Henry Moore, Joshua Reynolds, Rembrandt, Whistler, Anni Albers, Naum Gabo, Kazimir Malevich, Francis Bacon, Ana Mendieta, Lee Krasner, Andy Warhol

Critique: Fascinating, instructive, thought-provoking, and memorable, "Artists' Letters: Leonardo da Vinci to David Hockney" is an extraordinary and informative, exceptionally well organized and impressively presented. While also newly available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9780711288867, $25.00), this remarkable and unique volume is very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Art History & Biography collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Michael Bird ( is a writer, art historian and radio broadcaster. He has published many books, essays and articles on modern and contemporary art. His books include Artists' Letters (2019) and 100 Ideas That Changed Art (2012).

All Wound Up: The Making of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz
Eric Shanower
Hungry Tiger Press
9781929527298, $59.99, PB, 440pp

Synopsis: How did L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, create the stage show called The Tik-Tok Man of Oz? How did Louis F. Gottschalk, celebrated Broadway conductor, agree to compose the score? With the publication of "All Wound Up: The Making of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz", author Eric Shanower gives the reader answers to these questions -- and so much more!

In 1913, playwright Baum and composer Gottschalk set out to astound the theatrical world with a stage extravaganza. They created stupendous special effects, such as the storm at sea and the Rose Princess born from a giant blossom. They wrote rollicking musical numbers, such as the rousing march "The Army of Oogaboo" and the lovely ballad "The Magnet of Love."

Audiences packed Los Angeles's Majestic Theater when The Tik-Tok Man of Oz opened there in March 1913. The cast included such luminaries as Charlotte Greenwood and Charlie Ruggles, with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But the show faced a daunting task -- to challenge powerful New York theatrical interests. With lively text and rare photographs, "All Wound Up" reveals the whole history of the show, from conception to production and beyond.

"All Wound Up" features hundreds of photographs of the show, its creators, and its cast, L. Frank Baum's complete surviving script (published for the first time), Peeks into the lives of the cast members and production team, the life and career of Louis F. Gottschalk who composed The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, how the show's Hank the Mule achieved worldwide fame, and more!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, this large format (8.5 x 1.2 x 11 inches, 3.01 pounds) paperback edition of "All Wound Up: The Making of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz" is an extraordinary and fascinating study -- and one that is a 'must' for the legions of Frank L. Baum fans. Comprehensive, definitive and informative, "All Wound Up: The Making of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and university library American Theatrical History collections and supplemental Frank L. Baum curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Eric Shanower ( is the award-winning cartoonist of the graphic novel series Age of Bronze (Image Comics), retelling the story of the Trojan War. He's written and drawn dozens of Oz projects, including writing New York Times best-selling graphic novel adaptations of six of L. Frank Baum's Oz books (Marvel Comics). Shanower has illustrated for television, stage, magazines, and children's books, two of which he wrote himself.

Paul T. Vogel

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

The Florentine: old-school spy thriller with action, adventure, and twists (Cain Book 1)
Tom Trott
B09QXLHMV6, $2.99 Kindle, 413 pages

The Florentine presents itself as an old-school spy thriller which it is. If you feel nostalgia for the old-style spy stories such as James Bond, you will enjoy The Florentine. The more contemporary setting is a nice addition to the classic storytelling.

Cain has retired from his CIA job to Florence, Italy. Living under an assumed name for years, he is suddenly contacted by his ex-boss. Cain is talked into doing a one time job. He has to pick up a package and deliver it to a location on the other side of Italy. There he is to pick up another package and bring it to his ex-boss.

Nothing goes as planned. The bodies start adding up and it seems that Cain has been targeted along with everyone else involved in the operation.

The Florentine is nice throwback spy/action story. If you enjoy action/thrillers, The Florentine is worth reading. For those who remember the old-style spy novels, the tale is nearly a must read.

A Body in the Village Hall (A Kate Palmer Mystery Book 1)
Dee MacDonald
9781838882068, $8.99 paper
B086MWV9B1, $0.00 ebook, 222 pages

A Body in the Village Hall is a well-balanced cozy mystery. The characters and setting of the story are detailed and complex. The cozy is better than the average contemporary mystery.

Kate Palmer and her sister, Angie, have moved to Lower Tinworthy, Cornwall from London in the hopes of simplifying their lives and begin new. Kate and Angie attend a Women's Institute talk about planting a garden when the body of Fenella Barker Jones is found in the kitchen.

Kate feels she needs to find out what happened. The biggest problem is that Fenella was nearly universally hated in the small town. Kate soon discovers that most of the town are suspects in the murder. As Kate tries to find out who the killer is, the suspects begin to resent her investigation. And the killer is now focused on her.

A Body in the Village Hall is recommended to any cozy reader. The pace is a little slow at times but the whole story is great for mystery readers who have problems with the non-stop pace that many contemporary mysteries have.

S.A. Gorden
Senior Reviewer

Suzie Housley's Bookshelf

Help Me Be Me: A Children's Picture Book About Self-Love and Inclusion
Samantha Reynolds, author
Jessica Hiemstra, illustrator
SammyJ Inc.
9781778298608, $18.99, HC, 46pp
9781778298622, $14.99 PB, $2.49 Kindle

Each of us is our unique individual, making our mark in life. By being our unique selves, we lend our special sparkle to the world, thus making it a better place.

Early on in life, it's imperative to convey to a child that they are accepted and loved. They need this positive reassurance that their existence is a blessing to the world.

Help Me Be Me recognizes and celebrates the diversity that children bring to the world. By embracing their unique traits, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate environment where all children feel safe and special.

Samantha Reynolds's book is filled with a vital and powerful life lessons for children and adults. Reynolds emphasizes recognizing and celebrating individuality and encourages children to make their mark in this world. The beautiful illustrations help the story to flow smoothly and one that will long be remembered and practiced.

Dancing In The Ring
Susan E. Sage
Black Rose Writing
9781685132194, $23.95 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 351pp

Detroit in the 1920s was a city of great promise and opportunity, and for Catherine McIntosh and Robert Sage, it was a place where dreams could come true.

Despite their humble beginnings, Catherine and Bob were determined to make a difference as law students and passionate advocates for social justice causes.

Their love for each other was as fierce as their commitment to positively impacting their community. However, their idealism was soon put to the test when The Great Depression hit, throwing their lives into chaos and uncertainty.

Will their beliefs and love be strong enough to leave a lasting legacy in the legal circles and live through a depression?

Dancing In the Ring takes readers back to the Great Depression era. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction and wants to experience life during one of the most challenging times in America.

Susan E. Sage delivers an enthralling story. Through her vivid and descriptive writing style, Sage transports readers to a pivotal moment in history and brings to life the challenges and triumphs of two remarkable characters. This gripping tale is a testament to determination and perseverance in the legal world.

Beautiful Little Furies: Compelling Women's Psychological Fiction
Laurel Osterkamp
Black Rose Writing
9781685133399, $24.95 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 357pp

Hazel Ford is an English teacher at a diverse urban high school in Minneapolis. Everything seems to be going well for her until a horrific car accident leaves her with a traumatic brain injury and no memory of the accident or her supposed breakup with her fiance, Vance, a teacher at the school.

As Hazel struggles to regain her memory, her student Febe reveals dark secrets about Vance that lead her down a dangerous path. Despite the risks to her safety, Hazel is determined to protect those she loves and uncover the disturbing truths buried deep.

Beautiful Little Furies is a captivating story that reminds us that secrets can change lives forever and that some chances must be taken, no matter the cost. The book showcases a woman's struggle to overcome her past and embrace a new beginning.

Laurel Osterkamp's latest literary work is a true masterpiece. From the descriptive words to the emotional journey of the protagonist, Hazel, readers will be captivated from start to finish. The book follows Hazel's struggle to regain her life after amnesia, with the author's intricate writing style allowing readers to feel and experience Hazel's emotions truly. There is no doubt that Osterkamp's name will become synonymous with literary greatness, and this latest release only solidifies her position as a true literary legend.

The First Unicorn
Kathleen J. Shields, author
Aashay Utkarsh, illustrator
Erin Go Bragh Publishing
9781956581232 Picture Book Hardback, $19.95, 50pp
9781956581249 Picture Book Paperback, $12.95
B0C9FZ7TW2 Kindle E-Book, $4.99

Once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a young horse named Aden. He was not like the other horses - he had a special gift, a golden horn bestowed upon him by an angel. However, he could not see or spend it; it was meant for others to behold. Despite this, Aden remained kind and pure, continually seeking ways to help others and share his goodness with the world.

The herd misunderstood the golden horn as a weapon and chased Aden away. Despite this setback, Aden remained steadfast in his mission to care for others. When his mother got injured, he discovered the miraculous powers of his gold horn. Through his first miracle, Aden was able to soften the hearts of others and inspire them to lead a life filled with God's love.

The First Unicorn is a heartwarming reminder of the power of kindness and the miracles that can happen when we help others. Let us all strive to be like Aden and use our gifts to spread love and positivity.

Kathleen J. Shields' book is a heartwarming tale that will transport you back to your childhood days of whimsical Unicorns and magical worlds. With her talented writing and a keen sense of spirituality, Shields weaves together a story that will leave you feeling inspired and grateful for the power of love. Whether you're a long-time fan of unicorns or simply looking for a beautiful, uplifting read, this book is a must-have for anyone who wants to experience the magic of God's everlasting love.

Kerri Monnerat, author
Olivia Chalkley, author
Saige Hopkins, illustrator
Kettlepot Press
9798985011012, $17.95, HC, 38pp
9798985011005,$12.95 PB, (Ages 6-8)

Bobby is having mixed emotions about attending summer camp. This will be his first year, and he doesn't know what to expect. His nervous energy has him feeling out of control. He doesn't know how to control them and takes his frustrations out on his best friend, Milo.

Luckily, Milo understands Bobby's struggles, as he once felt the same way until he discovered the power of AND. In this heartwarming book, Milo shares his experience with Bobby and teaches him how to simultaneously embrace the permission to feel multiple conflicting emotions.

In a world where we are often told to choose one emotion over the other, AND is a refreshing reminder that it's okay to simultaneously feel multiple, conflicting feelings. This is a heartwarming story of friendship between two boys, Milo and Bobby. It teaches us the importance of accepting and supporting each other during difficult times.

The authors should be proud of the offering, and the beautiful illustrations paint the picture for the reader to appreciate and understand. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the complexity of human emotions and the value of true friendship. Discover the power of AND which will unlock the key to emotional freedom with this touching story.

2B Determined
Cindy Neuschwander
Chocolate Puddle Press
9798218172794, $11.95, PB, 256pp

It's not easy being a shelter dog, especially for 2B. He's spent countless days and nights longing for a loving family to call his own. But hope was fading fast until an unexpected friend came into his life.

Maurice, an orphaned basset hound, moved in next door, and the two became fast friends. Their playful antics and loving bond brought much-needed sunshine into 2B's life.

As their friendship grows stronger each day, we can see the hope and happiness return to 2B's eyes. What adventures are these two friends are about to embark on? Will their friendship be strong enough to withstand anything that crosses their path?

2B Determined showcases an unbreakable bond between 2B and his friend as they embark on a journey filled with hope and adventure. Their friendship grows more potent each day, filling 2B's eyes with joy and happiness.

Cindy Neuschwander has penned a book that will leave you feeling inspired and emotional. With a focus on the unbreakable bond of friendship, this book is a true testament to the power of love and acceptance. The character development is superb, and the storyline is exceptional. You won't be able to put it down! With Cindy's Friendship Formula, you'll count down the pages until the end.

Syrup To No Good (Maple Syrup Mysteries Book 2)
Catherine Bruns
Poisoned Pen Press
9781728253961, $8.99 PB, $7.55 Kindle, 312pp

Spring has finally arrived in Sugar Ridge, Vermont, and with it, the end of the syrup-making season. As the snow melts away, the maple trees have started to bud, and the farms are bustling with activity. However, the season brings new challenges for Leila Khoury, the new owner of Sappy Ending Farm. Will she be strong enough to conquer all the obstacles that make for being a business owner?

To complicate matters worse, her best friend Heather's bridal shower turns dark and sinister when a body shows up uninvited. Determined to solve the murder and bring the focus back to Heather's wedding, Leila sets out to uncover the truth.

As she delves deeper, she realizes she's putting herself in danger. Will Leila be able to catch the killer before it's too late, or will she become their next victim?

Syrup To No Good is a thrilling mystery novel that will keep you hooked from the very first page with its intricate plot and unexpected twists. With every turn of the page, you'll find yourself guessing and second-guessing, trying to unravel the mystery at the heart of this deliciously addictive tale.

Catherine Bruns will make any non-mystery lover a fan. Syrup To No Good is guaranteed to satisfy your mystery cravings. I encourage you to grab a cup of coffee, settle down in your favorite armchair, and prepare to be swept away by this sweet and suspenseful treat!

Ghost Horse at Oak Lane Stable (Book 4 - Oak Lane Stable Series)
Kerri Lukasavitz
Marsh Edge Press
9798988296423, $13.95, PB, 272pp
9798988296430, $3.99, Kindle, (Ages 9-12)

Fourteen-year-old Cassie Piotrowski struggles as her beloved horse, NightHawk, struggles to recover from a puncture wound. Her father's doubts about the horse's ability to return to the show ring only add to her worries.

When she gets to ride Ghost Story, the stable's showjumper, Cassie sees a chance to prove herself and keep her dreams and NighHawk alive. However, things go differently than planned when she fails to follow her trainer's instructions and loses her confidence when she suffers a fall.

Cassie's journey is one of determination, perseverance, and love for her horses. Will she overcome the challenges and keep her equine friends, or will her dreams crumble under the pressure?

Ghost Horse at Oak Lane Stable is a fast-action tale of a young girl's determination to stay at the top of her showjumper career. This book will have you on the edge of your seat, holding your breath and cheering for Cassie as she tackles obstacles and overcomes challenges.

Kerri Lukasavitz transports readers to a world of heartwarming excitement. Look no further than the captivating series written by this magnificent author. Each book offers its unique blend of unforgettable characters and thrilling plot lines. You'll find yourself completely immersed in the pages.

Alice's War
William McClain
Green Planet Books
9781735159829, $17.98 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 300pp

Alice's War is a touching story about an ordinary family facing the challenges of World War II. The novel follows the lives of Alice, her grandson Martin, his friend Ellis, and Sonja, a Jewish refugee.

Despite the War tearing apart their community, Alice takes on the responsibility of caring for her grandchildren while navigating personal aspirations and loss. The story setting is in Weymouth against the stunning backdrop of England's Jurassic Coast.

This intimate tale showcases the importance of family and the resilience of ordinary people in the face of fear and loss. It is a must-read for anyone interested in historical fiction.

Alice's War is favorable because of its down-home appeal as you get to discover each character. These ordinary people face real-life dramas with a war in the background.

William McClain has created a masterpiece with his down-home appeal and real-life drama centered around World War II. The characters are ordinary people who will touch your heart and leave a lasting impression. What sets this book apart from others is that this book will win many awards and make an excellent addition to the big screen.

Black Wing Sky
Kaylin McFarren
Creative Edge Publishing LLC
9798372293366, $13.95 Paperback, $3.99 Kindle, 334 Pages

The ongoing battle between Heaven and Hell continues to escalate, with the emergence of a new threat on Nexus, Earth's sister planet. The Black Dragon, known as Vetis Kidadl, appears out of nowhere and starts the relentless attack of destruction to destroy the nation.

Samara Daemonium, is caught in the middle of the battle. She is tasked with finding a weapon that can defeat the dragons and aid Blade in his mission. However, things take a turn for the worse when Samara is kidnapped and held captive.

Now, she must use her skills and strength to escape the clutches of evil and prevent the destruction of not just herself, but also her allies. Will Samara succeed in her mission and help declare victory for her side, or will her actions lead to her downfall?

Black Wing Sky is a masterpiece filled with suspense, high-action, and intrigue that will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish

Kaylin McFarren has written a spellbinding book that will leave you wanting more. Even if you haven't read the previous books, I guarantee you won't feel lost in the plot. McFarren's exceptional writing skills and attention to detail will transport you to a world filled with danger, romance, and intrigue. Trust me, this unforgettable series is destined to become a favorite of many readers.

The Levitation Game
Sharon Wagner
Ten16 Press
9781645385356, $6.99 Kindle; $19.99 Paperback, 344pp

Magician Esme Wright's dream of fame on The Morning Show: Live! quickly turned into a haunting nightmare when her magic went awry. But her troubles didn't end there. Reuniting with her childhood friend, Joseph Estrada, they soon find themselves entangled in a sinister and supernatural puzzle. As strange signs and unexplainable events unfold, they realize that their abilities are not just mere tricks but something much more profound.

As they embark on a thrilling odyssey to uncover the truth about their past and powers, they discover new and terrifying secrets threatening their safety and those around them. With each step, they must solve the puzzle before a mishap leaves them injured or, worse, dead.

Will Esme and Joseph solve the mystery and overcome the dark forces that haunt them? Or will they be putting themselves in the pathway of destruction?

The Levitation Game is a captivating journey where the line between reality and the supernatural merge. Readers will experience a rollercoaster of suspense, mystery, and magic that will leave them spellbound.

Brace yourself for an unforgettable adventure of mystery and intrigue with Sharon Wagner's latest book. From the first page, dive into an exciting world of suspense and drama. Each scene will keep you on the edge of your seat, eagerly guessing what will happen next. Wagner's masterful storytelling will leave you breathless and yearning for more.

The Palisades
Gail Lynn Hanson
Slippery Fish Press
9798988287414, $4.99 Kindle,
9798988287407, $16.95, PB
9798988287421, $27.99, HC, 390pp

Dorothy Anderson's life was far from easy, having struggled with illness during her childhood. The only comfort she found was in movie theaters. Her move to Hollywood in the 1940s and subsequent marriage to the Fiske family gave her some of life's luxuries and access to some of her idols, including Judy Garland.

Fast forward to 2006, Dorothy is now widowed and childless, and at 83, she has become obsessed with her neighbor, the famous actress Angela Lansbury. Ruth, a caregiver, is hired to assist Dorothy, but they need to learn more about the 60-something Ruth. Raised in foster care, Ruth has a manipulative and peculiar outlook on life. She comes with a hidden agenda, already knowing everything about Dorothy's past. As the two women become more involved in each other's lives, they try to unravel their secrets while keeping their own hidden.

The Palisades will keep you on the edge of your seat; this gripping story chronicles the journey of two women as they navigate their complex relationships and unravel the mysteries of their past. The author does an excellent job of portraying the struggles of Dorothy, the main character, as she confronts the challenges of her life.

Gail Lynn Hanson demonstrates an exceptional ability to immerse the reader in the minds of her characters. This is particularly true when it comes to moments of both repulsion and humor. Hanson effectively captures the absurdity of celebrity fandom but also delves into the darker aspects of this phenomenon. Overall, the book is a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns that will leave a lasting impression on readers.

Justice for Jessie
Brenda C. Poulos
Looking Upward, LLC
9798988719700, $14.99, PB, 267pp
9798988719717, $4.99 Kindle

Meg Reynolds seemed to have it all, but when tragedy strikes, she faces a moral dilemma that tests her soul. After hitting a little girl on the street, Meg hides the truth behind a curtain of lies and deceit, frustrating the efforts of Sheriff Tom Braxton and Captain Carl Winchester.

Meanwhile, her husband Renn struggles to balance the urge to protect his wife with his desire to do the right thing, leading him back to alcohol after eight years of sobriety.

As Jessie's parents, Jack and Rachel Carter, grieve the loss of their daughter, will they seek freedom in forgiveness?

Justice for Jessie's tragic tale will have you on the edge of your seat, rooting for the protagonist as she grapples with the aftermath of a life-changing event. A story of bravery, resilience, and determination..

Brenda Poulos has expertly crafted a riveting tale of triumph over tragedy. She skillfully weaves together a story that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you with a renewed sense of hope. With each turn of the page, you will find yourself fully immersed in the story, rooting for the characters as they navigate life's challenges.

Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns
Bill Boggs
Independently Published
9781637589847, $17.98, PB, 448pp
9781637589854, $9.99, Kindle

Get ready to laugh out loud with Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns! (As told to Bill Boggs). This novel is a masterpiece of interwoven and inventive plotlines that will keep you hooked from start to finish. Meet Spike the Wonder Dog, a hilarious and witty character who manages to deliver his brand of absurdist humor, shrewd social commentary, and certifiably funny grievances at human shortcomings while getting ensnared in a devious revenge plot.

But that's not all, Spike takes you on a wild ride through the cities of Palm Beach, Manhattan, and East Hampton, exploring all sorts of scenarios with his talk show host owner Bud. The wacky yet deeply developed characters Spike encounters are sure to tickle your funny bone.

Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns is a brilliant twist on popular culture scenarios, celebrities, and behind-the-scenes action in the world of entertainment. Get ready to unleash your laughter and join Spike on his hilarious adventure!

Bill Boggs should be proud of this book. Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns is guaranteed to have you chuckling from start to finish. Boggs' unique humor and wit shine through in every word, making for an unforgettable reading experience. Whether you need a pick-me-up after a long day or just want to escape into a world of laughter, Spike Unleashed: The Wonder Dog Returns is the perfect solution!

ABCs of the World's Religions
Rev. Vicki Michela Garlock, Ph.D., author
Raman Bhardwaj, illustrator
Eaton Press
9781947486270, $15.99, PB, 59pp

ABCs of the World's Religions is a one-of-a-kind guide that takes kids on a journey across the world and throughout history to explore the beauty of several religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism.

The book is designed to be non-devotional and age-appropriate, making it perfect for anyone interested in developing religious literacy and cultural competency in kids aged 4-10. The left-hand pages of the book contain rhyming couplets that explain the basic concepts, while the right-hand pages offer additional information, including similarities and differences across religious traditions.

Whether you're a parent, grandparent, or educator in public schools, private schools, or faith communities, this book is an excellent resource for teaching kids about the world's major faith traditions.

ABCs of the World's Religions broadens a child's perspective on the world and different cultures. This book is the perfect tool to educate young minds on the diversity of beliefs and traditions found throughout the globe. By introducing children to different religions at an early age, they can promote understanding, respect, and tolerance for all cultures.

Rev. Vicki Michela Garlock has written an educational masterpiece that celebrates the many religions of the world with beautiful illustrations and engaging descriptions of holidays and rituals. It's the perfect addition to any academic library and will help your child gain a deeper appreciation for the world around them.

Ride into Romance
Karen Black
Independently Published
9798373181372, $10.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, $277pp

Maggie Austin has a burning desire to become a professional thoroughbred jockey. Despite working in a male-dominated industry, she is determined to turn her dream into a reality. However, she faces many obstacles, including men who ruthlessly will stop at nothing to ensure she does not succeed.

Adding to her dilemma is David, the man she hopes to marry, but she fears that choosing him will mean giving up her equestrian career. Maggie must now make a life-changing decision: follow her professional career or choose love. Will she be able to have it all, or will she have to make a difficult choice?

Ride into Romance 'is a beautifully written book that explores the struggles of a woman torn between two conflicting interests. With a perfect setting and richly developed characters, this book is sure to become a treasured addition to anyone's library.

Black's writing style is irresistible, and her characters will stay with you long after you finish the book. Black's writing style is powerful and poignant, and she has a unique ability to evoke a wide range of emotions in her readers.

The Close of the Age: An End Time Novel
Dr. Lily Corsello
In Spirit & In Truth Press
9798986143231, $15.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 248pp

Ben and Elira were planning their happily ever after when they receive the devastating news that the world is on the brink of destruction. The government has taken control of all forms of communication, and millions of people have disappeared without a trace. Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, the couple must hold on to their love and find a way to survive.

As they navigate this new world, Ben and Elira find themselves facing unimaginable challenges. Will they be able to overcome the obstacles in their path and create a new life together? Or will their love be torn apart by the destruction around them?

As chaos reigns and darkness threatens to engulf the world, a new leader rises up to save the world from its impending doom. Will he provide the hope and salvation needed to save the world?

The Close of the Age is a gripping book will take you on a journey of unexpected twists and turns, showcasing the fragility of life and the power of human resilience. With expertly crafted character development and heart-pounding action, this book is a must-read for anyone who craves an edge-of-your-seat experience.

Dr. Lily Corsello book will pull you in with its captivating characters, heartwarming love story, and a world hanging on the brink of destruction. You'll be left questioning what's real and what's not as you follow Ben and Elira's journey towards a brighter future. This book is a testament to the power of resilience, hope, and love.

Hazel's Enchanted Journey
Maria Garnett Fewer, author
Chris Beatrice, illustrator
Mousehole Publishing
9781736813102, $19.95 HC
9781736813119, $9.99 Kindle, 70pp

Once upon a time, on a cliff by the sea, lived a kind old witch who loved the sea and was known as the Seafoam Witch. Two little girls loved to play on the beach with her and draw pictures in the sand. But their peaceful days were interrupted when the Seafoam Witch had to protect her friends from invading pirates.

She warned everyone on the island to beware. Even though the pirates thought they had kidnapped the Seafoam Witch's daughter, they were wrong.

In Hazel's Enchanted Journey, you'll follow the courageous Hazel, her dog, Higgins, and a surprising new friend as they embark on a thrilling adventure. The story is full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Maria Garnett Fewer's descriptive words and Chris Beatrice's illustrations paint a lovely picture of a beautiful tale. This delightful read will keep you hooked until the very end. The characters are so charming and endearing that you won't be able to resist rooting for them. The amazing illustrations bring the story to life. The added recipe for the Seafoam Witch's Peppermint Tea was a nice bonus.

Suzie Housley
Senior Reviewer

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

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