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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 9 September 2016 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Mark Twain's The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut
Mark Twain, author
Jerome Tiller, adapter
Marc Johnson-Pencook, illustrator
ArtWrite Productions
9781939846082, $8.99, PB, 52pp,

Synopsis: An unwelcome guest appears as Mark Twain is preparing to host his dear Aunt Mary's annual visit. Straightaway the guest begins exposing and attacking Mr. Twain's character. But Mr. Twain isn't about to put up with being shamed by the likes of this scaly intruder, so he enters what will become an all-out contest of wits and insults. Follow the battle royal as it plays out and see it displayed in all its wild aspects through the wickedly original minds-eye of illustrator Marc Johnson-Pencook. Readers are privileged to have a front row seat to Mark Twain at his best!

Critique: "Mark Twain's The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut" is part of the "Adapted Classics" series, which illustrates and simplifies the text of timeless classics, in order to make them more accessible to younger readers. Deftly adapted by Jerome Tiller and visually enhanced with the black-and-white illustrations by Marc Johnson-Pencook, "Mark Twain's The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut" is a quick and wonderfully entertaining read, ideal for introducing young people Mark Twain's wit and whimsy. Highly recommended!

The Memory Diet
Judi and Shari Zucker
New Page Books
c/o Career Press Inc.
12 Parish Drive, Wayne, NJ 07470
9781632650511 $15.99 / $10.26

Synopsis: Is there anything we can do to prevent Alzheimer's disease or dementia? Do we have to accept that memory loss is just part of the natural progression of aging?

The Memory Diet introduces a powerful, plant-based diet of leafy greens, vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, and whole grains that can slow down or even eliminate cognitive decline. The more than 150 healthy recipes - from awesome appetizers and exceptional entrees to spectacular salads and super soups - are all free of white sugar, processed ingredients, and gluten.

The Memory Diet's brain-boosting recipes are based on the Mediterranean Intervention Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diet, a diet plan that may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's by as much as 53 percent. In addition, you will learn how to cook these foods the correct way, as many cooking methods actually cause biochemical changes in the food we eat that can negatively affect our brain health, accelerate the aging process, and cause memory decline.

Critique: The Memory Diet is a treasure trove of healthy, easy-to make, vegetarian recipes. Suggested meal plans, kitchen setup guidelines, a list of online resources and more round out this excellent, user-friendly cookbook. Nutritious, tasty, brain-food friendly dishes include "Cashew Ginger Rice Salad", "Sun-Dried Tomato and Swiss Chard Soup", "Bueno Bean Tacos", "Blueberry Bliss Cheesecake", and much more. It should be noted for personal cookbook collections that The Memory Diet is also available in a Kindle edition.

The Beautiful Pretender
Melanie Dickerson
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780718026288 $15.99 pbk / $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king's approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.

Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn't select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.

Despite Avelina's best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can't deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse - far deadlier - consequences.

Critique: The Beautiful Pretender: A Medieval Fairy Tale is not only a historical romance, but also a story about learning to be honest with oneself, and communicate one's true feelings. A thoughtful, introspective tale that examines the inner conflicts of its couple, The Beautiful Pretender is highly recommended. Two pages of discussion questions rounds out this emotionally moving saga.

Sun Valley, Moon Mountains
Ajax Minor
Park Place Publications
9781943887095 $9.95 pbk / $2.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Jaq and Kate are devastated when their daughter dies as a result of a catastrophic birth accident. They give up lucrative Wall Street careers and flee to the magnificent mountain country of Idaho. But they discover that they cannot outrun the past. Jaq finds himself being hunted by a monstrous spider, while Kate keeps hearing soft cries coming from the baby monitor that she could never bear to part with. Finally, they land and release a Fantastical Fish in a rain of tears and blood on the Lost River. For help they turn to a local priest, who turns out to be much more, to guide them on a quest to rescue their daughter, Ur, from an ancient being known as Tiamat.

What follows is an epic journey into Luna, a land of mysteries and secrets, shaped by Jaq's own mind. Racing across the rugged moonscape, Jaq and Kate battle their way through Hades to Tiamat's lair and the ultimate showdown for the life and soul of their daughter.

Sun Valley, Moon Mountains is a fantasy set in modern times against the breathtaking backdrop of the Mountain West and woven throughout, on the tapestry of Luna, with the heroes of the Iliad and the ancient gods of Sumer. On its pages, you'll encounter startling creatures like Rock Cats, Sand Banshees and Dust Bats, as well as a pair of passionate, yet Stoic, protagonists. Follow their Heroes' Journey, as Jaq and Kate learn to replace pain with power, and to confront the ultimate question: is their daughter theirs to rescue, or must she be set free to follow her own destiny?

Critique: A powerful story of parental love, Sun Valley, Moon Mountains draws the reader into a sweeping journey with life and death hanging in the balance. The main couple's struggle to save their daughter spans the modern-day and fantastic, unbelievable realms. Thoughtful and compelling to the very last page, Sun Valley, Moon Mountains is highly recommended.

Nationalist Heroines
Olga Jimenez de Wagenheim
Markus Wiener Publishers
231 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
9781558766198 $28.95

Synopsis: A group of Nationalists led by Pedro Albizu Campos made it clear that they would free Puerto Rico from colonial rule. A confrontation between the Nationalists and the colonial police in October 1935 left four Nationalists dead. Albizu Campos and seven of his aides were convicted on seditious charges and sent to a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia. His followers attempted to hold a demonstration in Ponce, Albizu Campos' hometown, and were gunned down by the police: nineteen were killed and more than one hundred and fifty were wounded. Eight Nationalists then attempted to kill Governor, Blanton Winship. Back in Puerto Rico in 1947, Albizu Campos began to plan for a revolution, which he launched on October 30, 1950. A commando unit of five attacked the Governor's residence while others assaulted police stations in half a dozen cities and towns throughout the island. One woman (Doris Torresola) was shot while protecting her leader. The same day Blanca Canales was one of three to lead the revolt in Jayuya. Two days later, two Nationalists, residents of New York, attempted to kill, President Truman at Blair House, his temporary residence. Massive arrests followed and forty-one women were detained on suspicion they had conspired with the rebels. Two of the fifteen women indicted were sentenced to life in prison. Then, on March 1, 1954, another woman (Dolores Lebraon) led three male companions in the attack of the U.S. House of Representatives where five congressmen were shot for keeping Puerto Rico in bondage. Historians have largely overlooked the roles of these Nationalist women. Now the book, Nationalist Heroines: Puerto Rican Women History Forgot, 1930s-1950s seeks to rescue the stories of the women who gave up their freedom in search of freeing their homeland.

Critique: Nationalist Heroines examines why daily life in Puerto Rico under U.S. Colonial rule was so bad that an armed insurrection arose to fight the status quo, and tells the stories of individual women who placed their lives on the line to support the violent rebellion. Extraordinarily detailed and enhanced with extensive notes, Nationalist Heroines offers a vivid glimpse into the hearts and minds of resistance movement. A fascinating read from cover to cover.

Rewriting Your Broken Story
Kenneth Boa
InterVarsity Press
PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 605151426
9780830844616 $16.00

Synopsis: How do you fix a broken story? In this fallen world, life is often not how we thought it would be. Jobs vanish, relationships crumble, health fails. How do we find the hope to persevere? We can make sense of our broken stories by seeing them in the context of a larger and greater story. Kenneth Boa shows how God can transform our lives with an eternal perspective, when we live with the end in mind. In light of eternity, our struggles are temporary and our plot twists are not fatal. We are hard-wired by God with eternity in our hearts, and that longing gives us purpose, blesses others and helps us make a lasting mark on the world. Knowing our future is crucial to living our present. When we see our stories within his greater story, we learn to live with a heavenly perspective and follow it all the way home.

Critique: Rewriting Your Broken Story: The Power of an Eternal Perspective is an insightful self-help book written especially for Christians. God's infinite strength and love reaches out to all, and brings guidance in spite of hardship. Through God, Christians can find the will to persevere despite loss, and focus on hope for the present and future. "There is a reason Christians are called 'born again.' We need to recognize that the resurrection of Jesus Christ offers a real hope that will not deteriorate and a glimpse past the natural order of things. We've been born into something new and become heirs of something imperishable that can't be defiled and won't fade." Rewriting Your Broken Story is uplifting, pious, and highly recommended.

Jacqueline Wein
Two Harbors Press
322 First Avenue N, 5th floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781635050172, $29.00, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: When their beloved pets are threatened, a group of ordinary New Yorkers find surprising new connections. Played out against Manhattan's aging brownstones, tree-lined streets and pre-war buildings, "Connections" by Jacqueline Wein brings together an intriguing cast of New Yorkers including a same-sex couple, a tough social worker finding love, a troubled boy, and a lonely office manager -- all of whom come together through their love for animals, and join forces against a terrifying menace.

Critique: Exceptionally well crafted, "Connections" is an extraordinary and entertaining read from beginning to end. Showcasing author Jacqueline Wein as an original and impressively skilled novelist, "Connections" is unreservedly recommended as an enduringly popular addition for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Connections" is also available in a Kindle format ($2.99).

Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation
Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, Jasmine Syedullah
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781623170981, $12.95, PB, 248pp,

Synopsis: Igniting a long-overdue dialogue about how the legacy of racial injustice and white supremacy plays out in society at large and Buddhist communities in particular, "Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation" is urgent call to action and outlines a new dharma that takes into account the ways that racism and privilege prevent our collective awakening.

Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, Jasmine Syedullah traveled around the country to spark an open conversation that brings together the Black prophetic tradition and the wisdom of the Dharma. Bridging the world of spirit and activism, they urge a compassionate response to the systemic, state-sanctioned violence and oppression that has persisted against black people since the slave era. With national attention focused on the recent killings of unarmed black citizens and the response of the Black-centered liberation groups such as Black Lives Matter, Radical Dharma demonstrates how social transformation and personal, spiritual liberation must be articulated and inextricably linked.

Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah represent a new voice in American Buddhism. Offering their own histories and experiences as illustrations of the types of challenges facing dharma practitioners and teachers who are different from those of the past five decades, they ask how teachings that transcend color, class, and caste are hindered by discrimination and the dynamics of power, shame, and ignorance.

Their illuminating argument goes beyond a demand for the equality and inclusion of diverse populations to advancing a new dharma that deconstructs rather than amplifies systems of suffering and prepares us to weigh the shortcomings not only of our own minds but also of our communities. They forge a path toward reconciliation and self-liberation that rests on radical honesty, a common ground where we can drop our need for perfection and propriety and speak as souls.

In a society where profit rules, people's value is determined by the color of their skin, and many voices (including LGBT voices) are silenced, Radical Dharma recasts the concepts of engaged spirituality, social transformation, inclusiveness, and healing.

Critique: An exceptionally well written collaborative work by Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, Jasmine Syedullah, "Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An absolutely timely and substantive contribution to our current national dialogue on racial justice and the dangerous rise of white supremacy in our national politics, "Radical Dharma" is a strongly recommended for community, college, and university library Buddhist Studies and Contemporary Social Issues collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Radical Dharma" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.99).

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Brought to Our Senses
Kathleen H. Wheeler
Attunement Publishing
9780996555531 Paperback $16.00
9780996555517 EPUB
9780996555524 Kindle

Amazon link:
Barnes & Noble link:
Local Bookseller:

Elizabeth and her family knew, long before it happened, that death was on its way for mother Janice. Everybody knew: arrangements had long been made. What she couldn't have predicted was how her mother's ordeal would change the whole family; and that is the focus of Brought to Our Senses, a novel about life, death, care giving, and Alzheimer's.

Funerals should offer fresh starts as well as endings; but in this case, the start stems from the volatility of an Alzheimer's patient during the last part of her life, and with a caregiver daughter forced to come to terms with siblings over her efforts.

While numerous novels have been written about Alzheimer's from different perspectives (patient, caregiver, and family), hardly any stories so deftly capture the raging changes in personality that can affect every decision and bond, making Brought to Our Senses a tense, gripping, and eye-opening addition to existing fiction on families facing dementia.

An aging parent's ongoing and irresolvable health crisis strains already-damaged sibling relationships, and as their personalities, belief systems, choices, and values clash over the stressful situation, so each family member is tasked with finding a way to heal and adapt.

Few other books hold such powerful messages that embrace the struggles of an entire family. Many offer singular viewpoints and experiences. The power of Brought to Our Senses lies in its ability to depict both the full progression of Alzheimer's and the choices of loved ones who have to adjust to each new stage.

From handling other health issues (including how dental work can be performed on a confused, frightened patient) to fears that the family legacy of dementia will continue to permeate the family tree, Brought to Our Senses is one of the most true-to-life, gripping accounts on the complexities of interconnected family relationships that has appeared in recent years, and should be on the reading lists of any who would forego the dispassionate approaches of nonfiction for an all-embracing emotional look at Alzheimer's. Very highly recommended as a striking jewel that is a glowing standout from the growing stack of dementia fiction sagas.

Eddie and Bingo: Destination Christmas
Kathleen Taylor and Katherine L. Taylor
Inkwater Books
9781629015385 $21.95

Eddie and Bingo: Destination Christmas continues the story in the first Eddie and Bingo book and opens with a "Dear Reader" letter that introduces new picture book readers to the scenario, which revolves around a young Naval combat photographer and a tiny puppy discovered on board the ship, which was adopted by the crew and named Bingo.

Kids ages 4-9 who have good reading skills (or parental assistance) and affection for animals will appreciate this 42-page picture book story which features fun, full-color illustrations and the heart-warming story of how Bingo remains in the thoughts and hearts of the naval photographer even after he's been adopted.

More than being the story of a man and a dog, however, Eddie and Bingo: Destination Christmas covers naval deployment and tours of duty, offering many specifics to a younger audience than usual about the experience of serving in the military.

Seldom is this information accessible to this age range, but through the eyes of sailor/photographer Eddie and the appeal of a little dog called Bingo, kids receive a fine story of true events based on a U.S. Navy Photographer's Mate during the Korean War.

Eddie and Bingo: Destination Christmas is highly recommended as a light-hearted yet realistic picture book examination of the world of a deployed naval man.

Elli Swift
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B01IQ3WJFQ $2.99

Mia has lived on the edge of society for twenty years in London, mired in prostitution and addiction after she was raped as a teen; but now she's achieving the impossible: returning home to Ireland to change her life and face the man who sent her on her downward spiral.

Firinne is the baby girl that Mia gave up in her past; but is a baby no longer, and re-emerges seeking answers about what had happened long ago and what cannot be forgotten.

As Mia faces new tests and ghosts that will not be laid to rest, she comes to realize that her choices and decisions don't always involve the past, but continue to hold powerful implications for her future. Those around her (who have been affected by her experiences and decisions) also face their own unique challenges, and the results of a too-quick marriage and life-changing impulses hold their own potential for repeating themes of abandonment and thwarted romance.

Romance novel readers may not anticipate all the directions that Mia's life takes; but they will receive a warm, winding story of struggle, change, and determination wrapped in the cloak of both London's and Ireland's cultures and people.

Mia is a realistic protagonist who struggles heavily with both pain and kindness, past injustices, and future promises and choices. As love evolves and past wrongs are addressed, Mia holds the courage to truly change her world; but not without much soul-searching and consideration of what is truly valued in the world: " could she ignore her heart and live a life of regret."

As Mia blossoms and changes, readers will enjoy a fine tale of fear, decisions and their consequences, and an ultimate burst of love that could either make everything worthwhile or destroy everything Mia's strived for in life. How Firinne fits into this bigger picture and Mia's future adds to an absorbing saga with plenty of twists and turns and unpredictable moments, especially recommended for romance readers who will appreciate the solid backdrop of UK/Irish atmospheres and personalities that sets Firinne apart from many other genre reads.

The Death of Distant Stars
Deborah Hawkins
Deborah Hawkins, Publisher
ISBN 9780988934771 (ebook) $3.99
ISBN 9780988934788 (print)

The Death of Distant Stars is a powerful legal thriller holding something different than the usual courtroom proceedings as it presents the vivid story of an attorney caught up in a wrongful death suit against the pharmaceutical company that made the drug that caused her husband's death. Embedded in that event is the couple's inability to have children and the likelihood that he has formed an attachment with another woman despite his deep love for her.

That's a lot to wind into one novel, and under another writer's hand, the interplay between personal and legal worlds might have proved too much; but Deborah Hawkins holds the ability to inject just the right degree of personal insight into an overlay of legal complexity and so The Death of Distant Stars becomes a clear, accessible, and engrossing story that will appeal beyond the usual legal thriller reader circles.

Audiences who usually eschew this genre for its predictable formula approach will find nothing staid about The Death of Distant Stars, from beautiful Kathryn Andrews (who is determined to confront the big drug company whose dangerous product caused her beloved Tom's death) to attorneys who are attracted to her cause and her beauty and intelligence, to the possible detriment of her case, creating a engrossing drama that pairs legal proceedings with personal struggles.

The result is a gripping saga that winds through private lives, and political and legal confrontations alike in a story that's hard to put down and satisfyingly unpredictable in its fine conclusion.

Building Faith Through A Carpenter's Hands
Brandon Russell with Danielle A. Vann
Waldorf Publishing
2140 Hall Johnson Road, #102-345, Grapevine, Texas 76051
9781943848584, $24.95,

Christian readers, take note: there's something different being offered in Building Faith Through A Carpenter's Hands: a blend of memoir, a story of personal enlightenment, and a realization of how God's gifts and purpose are uniquely reflected in each individual.

Southern-raised Brandon Russell always wanted to change the world - he just didn't know how. It took his father's death from cancer and a series of revelations and other experiences to move him from a vague and unrealized goal to achieving true purpose in his life through a kind of "applied faith" toolbox that he could only explore one at a time. Building Faith follows his footsteps to enlightenment.

As each chapter evolves, another 'gift' is taken out of the box, examined, and revealed in all its facets. The personal foundation of a belief in God proved only the beginning of the journey that Russell describes as he sifts through life lessons, opportunities realized or lost, and their ultimate trajectories.

Because Building Faith is based on a memoir, readers should anticipate a healthy juxtaposition between the author's life experiences and their concurrent lessons. This approach serves as just the ticket for understanding how new roles are assumed when things shift, how each life lesson adds another tool to the toolbox of faith, and how each tool can be more deeply explored, used, and applied to life.

From "Know Your Place" to the unlikely (but powerful) places where belief can be nurtured in self and others, Building Faith is packed with a satisfying blend of personal saga and powerful insights: "This revelation was bigger than any revelation we had to offer. These couples were able to talk the matter through. It's funny what unsaid words do. One couple thought the problem was the relationship at work. One couple ached for their life. When everyone came to the table, a relationship had been given the tools and answers to be healed. You just never know when God will call you to serve. It's in these moments I am so thankful God placed me where he did. In the most unlikely space, a basement of someone's home, we were able to help another believer."

The result is a lively, involving, readable memoir of uncovering faith and purpose in even the direst moments and unlikeliest of places, and how to apply these tools to life's encounters. Christian readers will find it a purposeful yet accessible account that makes the most of the memoir format to explain and explore the paths of faith that begin with a foundation of belief and move outward from there.

The Spectacular World of Waldorf: Mr. Waldorf Travels to the Great State of Texas
Beth Ann Stifflemire and Barbara Terry
Waldorf Publishing
2140 Hall Johnson Road, #102-345, Grapevine, Texas 76051
9781943276356, $9.95,

Mr. Waldorf is a canine who loves to travel. Gussied up in cowboy boots, checkered shirt, and jeans, he's dressed for success in Texas in this children's picture book story of a sight-impaired dog who can't read the huge sign that points the way to Dallas.

Mr. Waldorf invites young readers to help him find his reading glasses in the course of this journey, but his sight doesn't prevent him from making new friends and meeting real cowboys who herd cattle down the big city's streets.

A fun, chatty, zany series of encounters juxtaposes a search for missing spectacles with a series of lively yet impossible encounters as Mr. Waldorf makes the most of Texas cultural legends, from sports to country western dancing, and travels to Austin and beyond.

Gorgeous color drawings and a fun, whimsical blend of Texas culture and a search for what should be obvious makes for a picture book story that's an engaging and fun read, highly recommended for kids with good reading skills and parents who may task themselves with read-aloud just to enjoy the fun antics of Mr. Waldorf as he explores Texas.

Set Free
Anthony Bidulka
Bon Vivant Books
ISBN: 9780995229211 (Paperback) $14.99 USD
ISBN: 9780995229204 (eBook) $5.99 USD

A novel's opening lines can make all the difference between capturing attention and wanting to read further and setting the book aside. In the case of Set Free, a single line sets a gripping introductory scenario: "I would have packed less if I knew I was going to die."

Jasper Wills is at the Marrakesh airport, waiting for a ride that never shows. Giving up, he decides to find a hotel on his own when he's approached by a neatly-attired cab driver - and that's where the second point of intrigue is deftly placed: "Nothing about the man, a boy really, hinted that something wasn't quite right."

The protagonist is taken for a ride in more ways than one, and as a series of complex scenes evolve, the jet-setting American traveler quickly comes to find himself immersed in a plot that embraces his anonymity and the mystery of another culture.

The author of a New York Times best-seller, Jasper Wills is now in the position of being a captive, brutalized by a man who's apparently being forced to act like a monster. From kidnappers to romance and from an elusive truth to plans to gain freedom against all odds, Set Free makes intriguing twists and turns as it focuses on a struggle to stay alive.

Its dual focus on the long-term effects of challenging and life-threatening experience is exceptionally well done as characters discuss their uncertain and special connections in the face of adversity: "You and me, Jenn," I tentatively began, "we're in a unique position. Only we know what we've been through since Mikki was taken. I know people sympathize with us; parents, friends, complete strangers too. But they don't really know how this feels. Only you do. And I do."

As the lives of Jasper, Jenn, Katie, and others entwine in a desperate struggle, readers are drawn into a story that is compellingly gripping and hard to put down. Events move from overseas to home as a father's mission, fueled by his daughter's ghost, changes everything.

Recommended for any reader who wants heart-stopping moments and thought-provoking scenes from their thrillers, Set Free is ultimately a discussion of the costs of freedom and the threat of bondage.

You Are What You Think - Make Your Thoughts Delicious
Betsy Otter Thompson
Ascension Publishing
1879023075, $10.00,

You Are What You Think - Make Your Thoughts Delicious is a self-help guide to altering one's thought processes to gain the maximum benefit from life; but if readers anticipate a self-help psychological approach alone, they might be surprised at the healthy dose of spiritual insight added into the mix of attitude change.

Chapters focus on personal evolutionary processes, how to move between judgment and release, how to distinguish between 'noises' and 'feelings' in life, and how to achieve real agelessness by following one's instincts.

Problems don't always lie with perpetuators or oppressors. Often their roots reside in personal perceptions and responses which aren't always seen as choices in the menu of life experiences. You Are What You Think refutes this feeling and other obstacles to real change, showing readers where the pitfalls lie in distinguishing between that which is said and that which is absorbed.

Relationships, whether they are with individuals or life, flourish from meaningful communications rather than superficial or misunderstood interactions. The challenge lies in developing a distinguishing process to clarify light, love, and belief systems that have long been forgotten.

An interest in rebirth, revitalized concepts of God's purpose and approaches on Earth, and in self-help efforts to clarify change makes You Are What You Think a special recommendation to anyone looking to incorporate spiritual insights into specific steps for psychological improvement and interpersonal change.

Andrew Diamond
Stolen Time Press
9780996350730, $14.99,

Mystery and thriller readers are in for a treat with Impala, a story in which a man trying to change his world battles forces which draw him back into the seedier side of life.

Everyone knows Charlie, it seems. At his memorial, it also feels like everyone knew a different Charlie - including his friend Russell. It's been four years, and all Russell's achieved has been a boring job, the wrong woman, and an overall dissatisfaction with life. So when a strange message arrives from his deceased old buddy, Russell finds himself facing a stalker, a threat from authorities, and a mystery that pulls him back into his old life, kicking and screaming (but not quite fully resisting the lure).

Impala is a tale of drugs, weapons, thieves and digital threats, spiced with the savvy and concerns of a former hacker trying to change his life, only to find himself the focal point of a controversy that makes him the focal point of conflict from different factions.

Experiencing an "ambush of emotions" in his love life, efforts to connect with people that only result in failure, and the prospect of what might become real love just as he's on the cusp of losing everything, Russell dodges many bullets and embarks on a race through a crazy world, fueled by his perseverance and tenacity.

Russell can't back down and can't let go of anything completely. Neither can the reader let go of the winding, compelling story that is Impala as they follow Russell through the inconsistencies of relationships and danger.

Ideally, mysteries and thrillers should be emotionally charged so that readers care enough about the protagonist to follow what happens to him. Impala does a terrific job of crafting a gritty, savvy and devious protagonist who moves through his world with precision and personal angst.

The result fine-tunes a personal story and thriller, bringing Russell's purposes and decisions to life in a series of events that make for a compelling, unexpected mystery that's hard to put down and satisfyingly complex to the end.

Cincinnati's 4th Best in the Nation: It's More Than a Game
Mike D. Peek
Amazon Digital Publishing
9781519692177, $15.98,

For every athlete or winner in life who seems to be at the top of his game, there's a story of struggle and effort along the way: obstacles overcome, challenges met, and lessons learned. Few other athletes can provide the details into such a journey as Mike D. Peek who, in 1994, was rated the 4th best freshman high school basketball player in the nation.

As much as Cincinnati's 4th Best in the Nation documents his blazing rise to the top, so it documents a catastrophic downfall that led him away from the game and everything he'd loved and strived for in life.

Mike Peek was not just determined; he was lucky. Raised in an urban community in Cincinnati by a very young, uneducated mother with a father who was seldom present and an series of father figures - some good; others poor examples - Peek experienced a turbulent childhood where frequent moves, drugs, violence, and adult and peer influences shaped his world. All these are portrayed in clear passages that, early on, juxtapose a child's-eye view of his world with its underlying messages: "He really showed me something that summer by having me deliver phone books in that rich neighborhood, and it made me see that there was more to life than what I was seeing in the 'hood."

Readers might anticipate a linear course leading from poverty and failure to success; but one of the strengths of Cincinnati's 4th Best in the Nation is the unpredictability in its autobiographical directions: Peek's path is anything but straight up and is laden with obstacles that take him in both directions as the possibilities of achieving the pinnacle of success morph into failure.

From home and school influences to the problems and pressures accompanying success, Peek is at his finest when describing the waves of good and bad influences that affect him even at the height of his achievements: "Being ranked fourth-best high school freshman player in the nation put a really big target on my back...all of the media attention I was getting made it hard for me to trust people. A lot of people were gunning for me in my small circle of people I thought were my friends."

Despite those who rooted for him, special assist programs, and many opportunities, Peek also faced failure in a big way: "I didn't realize it, but my trip to Schoolcraft College was the beginning of the end of my basketball career."

One of the surprises of Cincinnati's 4th Best in the Nation is that even though its focus is on a basketball player's rise and fall, readers don't have to love the game or even have much prior familiarity with it to appreciate Peek's story. Perhaps that's because it's more than a "basketball memoir" emphasizing sports plays: it's a survival story emphasizing plays in life, choices both good and bad, and how they were made and influenced.

As Peek reflects on this process, readers follow his maturity process, his descent into drugs, his life in the 'hood, and receive many candid revelations that pinpoint different turning points in his life: "I am glad I went through that learning experience with Sheree even though that relationship almost killed me. It reminds me of that saying by Bob Marley You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. Walking away from Sheree made me realize just how strong I could be because leaving her was the only choice I had from self-destruction."

It's this process of evolution, imparted with no holds barred and a gritty urban feel, that succeeds in documenting not just changing behaviors and choices, but how Peek dealt with different traumas and how they ultimately were re-incorporated into a new form of upward momentum.

From childhood to parental influences, love, second chances and opportunities to start over, and what ultimately matters in life (for Peek, it's faith and family), Cincinnati's 4th Best in the Nation isn't about a basketball career so much as a life player's best and worst moves, how he survived to thrive, and the ultimate game of life that would bring him people from all walks of life who would support his best: "God brought us together. She needed me as much as I needed her in my life. God sent someone to help me and put me in her life to give her the confidence to believe in herself as much as she believed in me."

Readers looking for a saga that is inspirational, uplifting, and precise about how behavioral obstacles are perceived and eventually overcome will find Cincinnati's 4th Best in the Nation follows a life that moves one step forward and two steps back, but ultimately becomes not just purposeful, but successful.

Bloom Within My Heart
Nadine Hapaz
Wasteland Press
18 Village Plaza, PMB # 177, Shelbyville, KY 40065
9781681111131, $13.95

Bloom Within My Heart is about a young adult growing into her life and into her beliefs, and crafts the autobiography of a shy young woman's evolution from her Nashville roots to a search for a life more fully lived for the glory of God.

Plenty of autobiographies provide details on coming of age and evolving relationships with God; but what makes Bloom Within My Heart different is its focus on how this process intersects with life experiences and how tragedy and adversity interconnect with belief to allow an even closer relationship with God.

In Nadine Hapaz's case, the difficulties and triumphs of her life and the people that help transmit God's messages and intentions shape her beliefs, responses, choices. They ultimately direct her desire to move in avenues beyond Biblical teachings and into more solid connections between life experience and the transformative power of God.

From living in a Bible college considering choices set forth by God to bring Hapaz full circle back to paths she had moved away from to entangled romances, Billy Graham meetings, abandonment, and dramatic shifts in relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, readers are steadily immersed in a life that is always guided by Hapaz's evolving relationship with God.

Readers who are interested in how spiritual belief is changed with the passage of time and life's slings and arrows will relish Bloom Within My Heart for its candid portrait of a faith tested and recreated, and a young woman's budding relationship with God in the face of these trials.

The White Devil
Domenic Stansberry
Molotov Editions
9780996765909, $30.00 hc
9780996765916, $15.95 pbk

It's sometimes hard to say at what point a thriller grips the reader and exerts a pull that can't be resisted, but no such question emerges with The White Devil, where the very first paragraph introduces a compelling scene that's nearly irresistible: "THERE'S BEEN ANOTHER MURDER, this one in Los Angeles, in the sand under the Palisades. Both of my husbands are dead. I am young to have been married twice, let alone widowed."

It's quickly established that the narrator is female, surrounded by unexplained murders, and has taken refuge in anonymity and in Rome: no mean fete given that she's an actress and her image is easily recognizable by those who follow the gossip magazines.

Some can lead a secret life. Some can effectively hide from the world. Not so the narrator, who finds anonymity as difficult as it is comforting with a trail of murders that plagues her footsteps following ever-close behind her.

What evolves from this opener is more than a murder mystery: it's a story of Italy, obsessions, candid cultural observations, and a sense of place and confused purpose that keep readers guessing, entertained, and thoroughly immersed in the narrator's evolving world: "The streets were dirty and hot. Flies swarmed the Colosseum. The spring was so short that year, nonexistent. Everything stank of itself. The Italians in their bright synthetics. The Pakistani vendors. The streets, too, the old stones, the restaurants, the English women with their toy dogs drenched in cologne."

From first husbands and games played by a brother to a plan that immerses the narrator in a deadly plot, The White Devil's compelling twists and turns will keep readers guessing about what will transpire, on many levels.

Links between criminal, religious and political elements in Rome, loyalties frayed and bonds tested, and the backdrop of a pope's death and the winding ties of Italian political processes all draw readers into another world that often belies romantic portraits presented of Rome and Italy, and cross purposes with a protagonist who opens the saga with an intention of remaining hidden.

Readers who appreciate complex plots, strong characters firmly rooted in a sense of purpose and place, and mystery stories that embrace facets of foreign cultures and politics will relish The White Devil's ability to draw in both thriller and mystery audiences with a production that's anything but staid or predictable.

The Equine Legacy: How Horses, Mules, and Donkeys Shaped America
C.S. Purdy
Mozaic Press
9780997515909, $14.95 print, $6.95 ebook

The Equine Legacy: How Horses, Mules, and Donkeys Shaped America pairs a historical timeline with specific discussions of equine participation in all facets of American history and culture; from building communities in the East and Midwest to exploring and opening new territories on the Western frontier, and is a top recommendation for any American history collection and many an agricultural library.

One might anticipate that this would be a dry read packed with dates and data; but under C.S. Purdy's hand, this information springs to life. One is invited to imagine the life of an animal brought to America via ship - a journey many of his peers won't survive - then follow the progress of horses, mules, or donkeys as they assist loggers, miners, explorers, settlers, soldiers and entertainers.

Passages from source materials (diaries, journals and other accounts of these early times) document animal experiences and human viewpoints about steeds and work creatures alike, considering how reliance on the horse actually grew in the face of popular technology and transport systems such as the steamboat, and how the discoveries and settlement of the West could not have occurred without equine support.

Discussions of changing concepts of humane animal treatment round out a history which moves from past to present, illustrating how horses remain an integral part of society today, in many ways; from urban police steeds to pack animals in the military, border patrol and public forest work and horses that serve as therapy animals.

The well-rounded, research-supported discussion with its extensive footnoted references provides a thorough and in-depth review that places equine and human history in perspective and is highly recommended not just for rural collections, but for anyone interested in equine and American connections.

Composing Temple Sunrise
Hassan El-Tayyab
Poetic Matrix Press
9780986060069, $18.25,

Composing Temple Sunrise: Overcoming Writer's Block at Burning Man is a memoir by a singer-songwriter whose world-changing personal losses sent him on a mission that ultimately brought him to Nevada, where the Burning Man Festival took place. If the name Hassan El-Tayyab sounds familiar, it may be because of his band, American Nomad - or it may be because of his work in the San Francisco Bay Area as a cultural activist.

But even newcomers with no prior familiarity with either will find Composing Temple Sunrise a vivid read, documenting the author's quest for a new purpose and perspective in life and many psychological and spiritual facets of the Burning Man festival. Under his hand, descriptions of the event and these moments come alive: "In my research I had learned that this temple was the spiritual epicenter of Burning Man. On the walls people left shrines to loved ones lost, poems, memories, and watched them all engulfed in cathartic flames on the last day of Burning Man. What would I write on the temple? I wondered. What would I let go?"

In a way, Composing Temple Sunrise is about the process of letting go as much as it's about the process of renewal and coming to terms with a cultural identity (being Arab) that El-Tayyab was always mocked for: "How do you learn to have pride in your race when you were ever taught how?"

As these and other themes emerge, it becomes apparent that Composing Temple Sunrise is about more than one man's quest for identity, creative inspiration or rejuvenation. The passages about his examination of his Arab identity and its place in his past, present and future hold powerful messages for today's audiences as they reveal the power and enlightenment process of a musician whose drive to reconnect with the music within him results in newfound friendships and connections in the wider world.

Any reader - especially musicians and writers - who would absorb this process of self-discovery and creative rejuvenation with an added dose of cultural insight will find Composing Temple Sunrise a compelling memoir, hard to put down and filled with revelations.

Trolling Heaven
Alex Siegel
Amazon Digital Publishing
ASIN: B01HJ3L35G, $2.99,

The fourth book in Alex Siegel's 'First Circle Club' series has arrived; and like its predecessors, it's a winning story. Here Heaven and Hell is crumbling because of the efforts of two dangerous forces intent on destroying the long-standing Celestial Contract that has kept worlds intact. If these forces succeed, it will mean the end of many things - including human souls.

One might anticipate that, given such circumstances, all angels and devils would be involved in the fight; but in Heaven angels are abandoning their posts while demons running amok on Earth are busy challenging Virgil and his First Circle Club. Trouble is brewing; but Virgil has his hands full not only with all these forces, but the unwelcome attentions of a lusty succubus. What more can go wrong - and can it be fixed?

Can angels die? Can forces entrap and destroy them? How can Virgil better prepare the talented members of his First Circle Club to deal with all these threats?

As the case of a missing angel opens a virtual Pandora's Box of problems, Virgil and his partners face more woes than ever before. They are the ones who can walk between heaven and hell and Earthly concerns; the ones charged with keeping an uncertain peace while facing impossible adversaries. Ultimately, they may be the only gatekeepers between utter chaos and some semblance of order.

The addition of computer-centered intrigue, social media conundrums, and the special motivations of a unicorn who cheats at the most importance race of the year adds a touch of light-heartedness to a winding story line based on the cathedral of technology in a world where angels can walk forth from computers.

Trolling Heaven is especially recommended for prior fans of the First Circle Club, who will easily absorb the setting, characters, and concerns of this latest supernatural thriller.

Newcomers interested in something different in the world of supernatural/sci-fi/thriller reading will find much to like, here: there are angels and demons, unicorns and detective processes, crooks who like gold, and motivations that move into otherworldly realms. Cryptic computer code written by a man possessed of forces from Hell challenge the most adept First Circle talents, while police entanglements, trapped children, and an archangel who kills two demons on Earth portend dilemmas that neatly illustrate the intersections of special interests in Heaven, Hell, and among men.

It's impossible to document all the subplots and threads that make Trolling Heaven an even more engrossing read than its predecessors. Suffice it to say that prior fans of the series will be especially thrilled by its unexpected twists and turns, while newcomers will be delighted with a saga that offers a complex story line and many seemingly-loose ends that come together full circle in the end.

This alone will drive these new readers to the other three books in the series; but be forewarned: Trolling Heaven is hard to beat - and offers a cliffhanger, as Virgil faces the biggest challenge and change of all.

Kings of This World
Peter Bailey
Double Dragon Publishing
P.O. Box 54016, 1-5762 Highway 7 East, Markham Ontario L3P 7Y4, Canada
ISBN: TBA, $5.99,

Kings of This World opens with critic Matthew's attendance at a play that proves disappointing, until a complete stranger sitting next to him does something that attracts an audience - something usually limited to private quarters. And when she's done, she punches him in the face.

Enter the police, who are understandably dubious about Matthew's encounter; certain that somehow he's involved in more than just reviewing a play for a newspaper. If it all sounds mercurial, that's because it is - and the questions Matthew faces are just beginning.

Seeking to recover from this shocking conclusion to an otherwise-boring play, Matthew tries to drown his experience at the local pub - only to find the beer uncommonly nasty, the crowded pub especially raucous, and his choices one step above disaster as he leaves what apparently is an evolving riot.

Readers move from London, where Matthew then faces more than one unexpected experience, to Australia, where Lucas is losing his mind in a supermarket; then to New York, where David explodes during a company meeting.

By this time, connections have been made in readers' minds, and changes bring an end-of-the-world scenario crashing down upon Matthew, who discovers that everything he's known is rapidly becoming unfamiliar. The human world is dying, cities will become uninhabitable for years, and Matthew and Jeremy are among the few survivors who escape into the country in hopes of refuge.

As Kings of This World moves from shocking scenarios of chaos and madness to Matthew's evolving choices and efforts to survive, it becomes a gripping tale of challenge, change, assessments of the 'Stupids' (gullible people who have been turned into virtual zombies), Cones (who use them), those who would inherit the Earth, and those few humans who would survive their new kingdom.

Software glitches, nanomachines, an immortal life in Hell, and struggles to create new meaning in this strange new world make for a gripping sci-fi thriller that's hard to put down, impossible to predict, and the perfect blend of survival novel and horror piece.

Readers who enjoy a careful crafting of both genres under one cover will relish the very different approaches and revelations in Kings of This World, which introduces not a few ethical issues into its themes of adaptation, loss, and world-rebuilding.

The Blood on My Hands: An Autobiography
Shannon O'Leary
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781519695871, $10.00,

Plenty of true crime stories come from authors who have lived nightmares; but few come across as compelling or immediate as Shannon O'Leary's autobiography The Blood on My Hands, which opens with a bang: "I have felt the cold steel of a gun in my mouth and against my temple. I have tasted warm blood on my lips and witnessed horrific scenes of mutilation, where nameless people took their last breaths. In my life, I have experienced poverty, met people who had plenty, and lived through fire, floods, and drought."

O'Leary childhood years in 1960s and 70s Australia comes to life in a vivid memoir that seeks not to just entertain or inform with the usual distance of a reporter, but to draw readers into the daily immediacy of her life.

With this spirited approach in mind, The Blood on My Hands moves far beyond the usual accounts of childhood trauma and disturbing violence; so readers should be forewarned: there's a depth and description here that is not recommended for readers sensitive to violence, charting a rocky road that remarks that the author "First contemplated suicide at the age of four."

A patient, kind, abused mother and a terrifying father, laws that prevented police from interfering in domestic situations unless someone was killed, and specific, ongoing descriptions of cruelty and confrontation reveal O'Leary's exceptionally challenging life with a father who didn't just threaten, but destroyed bodies, minds, and lives.

Horrifying details accompany insights on just how O'Leary and her mother survived, juxtaposing these moments hope and family faith with frightening revelations: "You have to have faith in something," she said. I asked her what she believed in, and she told me, "Hell is here on earth." I asked about penance and martyrs. "It's courageous to die for a belief, but it's hard to tell if it's just an easier way out of living."

Intense, gripping, and psychologically demanding of its readers, The Blood on My Hands is like no other and pulls no punches in its accounts, making for an unusually vivid recommendation for those interested in especially candid and often shocking memoirs of childhood abuse and survival under the nearly-impossible circumstance of living with a father who was a serial killer.

The Painting and The Piano
John Lipscomb and Adrianne Lugo
ALJ Marketing LLC
9780998003108 (hardcover) $20.00
9780998003115 (softcover) $16.95

It's rare that a story line which reads like a romance proves to be a nonfiction memoir; but such is the case with The Painting and The Piano, which provides a dual focus on the authors' backgrounds and different family struggles and the love that finally brought them together. One might anticipate that their family struggles were similar; but in fact Johnny and Adrianne were polar opposites in many ways, as Johnny's Missouri upbringing of wealth and privilege contrasted sharply with Adrianne's middle-class Long Island Jewish upbringing.

This contrast in perspectives is reinforced with a tandem dual narrative style which brings out the different insights and worlds of each author and does a terrific job of contrasting their experiences. Another plus: chapter headings clearly say "Johnny" and "Adrianne", so there's no possibility of confusing their voices, which move adeptly and smoothly between chapters.

One main theme to these parallel autobiographies is presented early on in a discussion that highlights the importance and lasting impact of family: " of the core elements to our humanity is the mother-child bond. If that bond is removed or damaged it's like taking gravity away. All of a sudden that child's left spinning."

Johnny and Adrianne were lost for a long time, before finding each other and healing through their shared experiences. The nature of their dance, both individually and together, is explored in a powerful testimony to survival efforts and the capacity of humans to build new, better, nurturing lives from tough beginnings. Addiction, sobriety, and AA's influence on building these lives all come together in a memoir that is at once captivating, painful, and revealing.

There are many aspects to Adrienne and Johnny's journey: so many that some threads are left unexplored. To follow them all would have meant creating a weightier production that might have lost many a reader; but the beauty of this story lies its ability to stay on track and true to the heart of its message: that even spinning lives out of control can be made whole with a combination of luck, work, and new, positive life-affirming connections.

The Painting and The Piano's attention to detail and drama could have made it a powerful fictional romance; but the fact that this story of recovery reflects the true and purposeful paths of two very different lives makes for an even more important read contrasting angst and hope, and providing insights highly recommended for any family or individual struggling with addiction, recovery, and love: "We lived in such darkness and were so lost that we believe that if we can find our way to the light, then anyone can. We are blessed, but it's a blessing available to anyone willing to reach out for help and take the journey."

W.E. Lawrence
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781519518057, $14.99,

The best historical novels have one thing in common: an ability to weave their stories firmly within the roots of events and settings past; to make their characters come to life against a backdrop of history that can largely feel dispassionate and staid were it not for the added life that fiction can offer. The very best offer surprises that challenge the genre's inclination to focus on historical events over adventure and action.

Such a story is Chakana, set in the 1940s, before the start of World War II: its historical era may hint at a focus on political events and its introduction (in 1934 Ohio) may portend a plot about "country boy/farmer goes to war"; but in fact James Fleming represents the persona of an Indiana Jones adventurer long before the modern hero's appearance, and finds himself on a desperate race to chase down the ancient lost treasure of King Huascar of the Incas before the Nazis get there first.

War may be looming, but James is mired in a quest that has become an obsession for him, filled with different ramifications whether he succeeds or fails. The political and historical side of the picture revolves around a British spy's efforts to infiltrate a art smuggling ring near Peru to uncover how the Nazis are gaining treasure to fund their cause.

When Scotsman James Fleming meets American Kate Rhodes after an accident parts him from his horse in the countryside, neither is prepared for the turn of events destined to bring them together and send them far afield; nor did they know much about the Incas or their legacy.

A discovery leads to the legend of a machine whose pieces are hidden in various Inca temples that are now in ruins throughout the empire; and leads Kate and James into the world of international smuggling, special interests, the wise Doctor Charlie (whose insights on glyph writings and keys open doors to wisdom and danger), and a high-stakes journey that could change the course of history.

Historical fiction often suffers from a bad reputation. Too often a focus on history overcomes the action and characters created; but such is not the case in Chakana, which thoroughly develops (and thus immerses) readers in a spirited adventure that is part quest and part romance with more than a dash of reality (the Nazis had many ways of obtaining art and treasure around the world, for their cause) - and always exciting.

With its ability to keep readers' hearts in their throats from the first chapter to the last, adding political and social insights as a backdrop to character struggles, there's much to like about Chakana's powerful approach - and, hopefully, a movie, down the line.

Guardian of Paradise
W.E. Lawrence
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500602970, $14.99,

Setting is as big a part of a gripping novel as characterization; and the best place to create the 'gripping' feel is right in the beginning: ideally, in the first paragraph. That's where readers are either hooked or inclined to set a book aside for something more exciting. No need to set Guardian of Paradise aside; for its first paragraph sets the hook and the reader is immediately caught: "Kira's heart leapt to her throat as the blare of the lookout's conch horn shattered the tranquil morning. Startled blue and red lories sprang, squawking from the palm trees, their wings thrumming the air as they fled. Macaque monkeys jumped limb to limb, screeching and chattering from their jungle perches. Another blast of the trumpet sent even the fiddler crabs on the beach scurrying for the safety of their holes."

As events unfold, it's revealed that not only is Kira on an island leading a primitive life; but that it's the late 1800s, she's a white woman and survivor of a tsunami that swept away her missionary parents, and her life is about to change when an Australian merchant ship arrives to the isolated South Pacific abode.

Predictably, there's a tall, handsome man on board who holds the capacity to capture Kira's lonely heart. There's also a complication: Kira doesn't trust the boat's captain or its mission - so how can she trust the alluring stranger Trevor?

It's a pleasure to read a historical romance filled with adventure and intrigue. Kira is a headstrong, take-charge kind of woman tailored by both her circumstances and her determination to survive all kinds of obstacles in life. A love affair with a scientist introduces yet another challenge to Kira's world.

Once again, W.E. Lawrence refutes the notion that a historical fiction piece should translate to a serious and complex work. As Guardian of Paradise evolves, readers become involved in plot powered by romances, headstrong individuals, and potent motivations and forces active on all sides of a bigger question.

Especially recommended for romance readers, Guardian of Paradise offer something different to this genre audience: more action and historical background than most. These facets drive a story line that may hold a somewhat predictable conclusion, but adds many satisfying, absorbing insights along the way.

Lazlo's Revenge
Glen Thomas Hierlmeier
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
Hardcover 9781514489321 $29.99
Softcover 9781514489314 $19.99
eBook 9781514489307 $ 3.99

Stories revolving around one of the World Wars typically choose a war and narrow the focus to events that use battle as a backdrop; but one of the strengths of Lazlo's Revenge is that it embraces both wars and presents a powerful female protagonist in the form of Maxine ("Max") Fischer, a Swiss correspondent and writer who traces the effects of the past on her parents' lives and choices. The course of her quest not only reveals social and political ramifications of World Wars I and II, but directs Max's future.

Anyone who would question the effects of past upon present and future and the importance of fostering knowledge of and appreciation for past events will find Lazlo's Revenge is a powerful testimony to the strengths revealed by those who embark upon such an examination. As Maxine traces her parents' footsteps across Europe and becomes immersed in the story of Lazlo Floznik, the man who saved her parents and helped them escape disaster in the face of rising evil, she uncovers a love story that crosses generations to impact lives around the world, including her own.

Glen Thomas Hierlmeier employs a variety of rich techniques to bring these people and eras to life; from handwritten letters between Lazlo and his mother expressing growing fears at what is happening in Europe to political insights that pinpoint not only Hitler's rise, but why it could happen: "Adolph Hitler may have been the world's most evil man, but he was no fool. He calculated his moves to control Europe, taking advantage of the sleeping Allied giants who wished so intently for the peace they expected, that they naively overlooked Germany's many violations of the Treaty of Versailles and the growing military and political strength of Hitler's Third Reich. No other world leader was bold enough to challenge Hitler's growing audacity."

Readers become immersed (along with Max) in the survival stories and choices of Lazlo, Gertrude, and their friends and family; and thus political struggles, plots, and plans highlighting sacrifice, danger, and personal choice come to life.

While the genre application of 'historical romance' would be entirely accurate to categorize Lazlo's Revenge, in many ways Max's journey through her turbulent family history is so much more: The demands and course of processing new insights and truths about her past leads to Max's changed perspective on the bigger pictures of war and human endeavors as a whole.

Readers who choose to make this journey with her in Lazlo's Revenge will appreciate a striking saga of hope and love in the face of near-total destruction of everything familiar.

Whither Science? Three Essays
Danko Antolovic
2940046592580, $0.99

Modern science is all around us: it's what humans do to help understand and define the world's boundaries and properties. Danko Antolovic's three essays embrace the pursuit of science and its place in modern society through analyses that consider connections between scientific pursuits, discoveries, and social change.

Science's past and present impacts are first considered in an introductory, sweeping overview that pairs scientific reasoning and studies with such issues as scientific funding and special interests, science's traditional connections with market-driven forces and influences, and how today's global economy influences not just the methods of science and its strive for an objective focus, but how its results are measured and applied.

The basic principles of scientific investigation bring with them different choices for the future, and these choices are given broad inspection in a title that is non-technical in nature, but weighty in its survey of historical scientific precedent and its meaning for the future of mankind.

By drawing connections between science's objectives and its resulting impact on societies, Danko Antolovic provides important, reasoned arguments that will attract scholarly audiences and thinking lay readers alike: "We have discussed at some length the inherent limits of empirical reason: its reliance on the stability of the world of senses, and its reluctance to speculate beyond its borders.

However, we should also ask about the breadth of the scope of empirical reason: how complete is its world view, and how much of the whole of human experience is it able to account for? This is perhaps first of all a question of reason's relationship to ethics, or somewhat more broadly, to desiderata, to values. What can scientific reason say about how we should conduct ourselves? How ought things be in this world?"

Whither Science? is not recommended for the entertainment-oriented lay reader who enjoys lively but casual scientific inquiry; but is a serious consideration of scientific pursuits and their impacts on society which will be embraced by any reader with a special affection for science, philosophy, and sociological analysis.

Leigh Goodison
Sheffield Publications
9780692746004 $13.99

Eight-year-old Chelsa Moran's life changes when she's forced to walk to school along a dangerous road and is involved in an accident that leaves her in a coma. But what does this event have to do with her five-year-old half sister Sienna, six years later?

Everything; as psychiatrist Rand Morrissey comes to find out when he is called in to consult on the puzzling case of a five-year-old's fainting spells, only to uncover a darker danger involving an irresponsible mother's secret, hypnosis, and a deadly connection between two sisters and their different circumstances.

Limboland is the kind of medical thriller on par with Robin Cook and the best of genre writers, holding an ability to grip readers with a variety of compelling personalities and emotions, right from the start.

From a career woman who is on a trajectory to the top (even if it means flirting and sleeping with her boss) to Rand's work on the pediatric ward of St. Augustus Hospital and his increasing involvement in one of his most puzzling cases yet, readers are pulled into a mesh of special interests, a whirlwind of events that increasingly point to some bizarre connections, and, ultimately, a race against time. Rand finds himself embroiled in assault charges, accusations and arrests, subconscious motivations, and lifestyle choices, while a young child's life lies in the balance.

Some things never change; and sometimes a single case can rock a doctor's world. In Rand's situation, Sienna and her family provide such a scenario, and Rand's choices and struggles may lead him directly back to his own family ties.

Gripping, packed with powerful characters and motives, and steeped in conundrums, Limboland is a highly recommended medical thriller that provides seat-of-your-pants reading that's hard to put down.

Bullet in the Blue Sky
Bill Larkin
Spyglass Press
9780989400213, $12.99,

Kira Boyd is on a mission in Sacramento in the early hours of morning: she's blazed her way to work, beat the highway patrol, and senses that everything in her world is about to change. In the new world that's coming, her actions could make her a heroine.

In the next scene, Investigator Kevin Schmidt is on his own mission, following a potential perp in the early hours of dawn. His actions may not make him a hero; but in the world of law enforcement, he's a scrappy character operating on a team tasked with protecting critical infrastructures against terrorist attacks.

When worlds collide, they often do so in blindingly unpredictable manners. In this case, a major earthquake tosses disparate interests into the same arena, mixing them up until readers aren't sure who is hero, who is heroine, and who is possibly planning the end of the world.

Dodger Stadium has broken apart, there are homicides and chaos in the streets, and power and communications are down. Under these conditions, Schmitty must make life-or-death decisions, help survivors, and tackle an evolving plot that leads six detectives on a wild chase through a damaged, changed world.

Even as Los Angeles burns, there's something higher-priority in the police docket which involves locating fellow detective Shaw at all costs, ignoring the riots and chaos that are decimating the city. Why?

As an unusual search-and-rescue mission is conducted and Schmitty gets closer to the truth, learning that others are also competing to locate said Detective Shaw, he begins to question the nature and associations between his top superiors and his own role in the effort.

The juxtaposition of an end-of-the-world event with an investigative detective story will satisfy genre readers who look for action-packed backdrops and adventures that question authority and motives on all sides.

Bill Larkin excels at creating a plot steeped in disaster and competing special interests tempered by waves of loss as leaders die and chilling encounters with terrorists evolve.

Perhaps the best feature of Bullet in the Sky lies in a crime story line that is also centered around moral and ethical conundrums which encourage readers to think deeply about forces of good and evil in society, and what defines them.

Crime fiction readers looking for a powerful plot centered on special interests and information blackouts surrounding a horrible truth will find Bullet in the Sky a compelling saga that's hard to put down.

The Day the Principal Got the Chicken Pox
Elizabeth Ketter
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781633679856, $12.99, PB,

Picture book readers with good reading skills will find The Day the Principal Got the Chicken Pox a fun story of students in grades K-6 who experience a different kind of Monday when school gossip reveals something out of the ordinary: nobody has seen Ms. Hart - and she never misses school.

When a cafeteria lunch is interrupted by the revelation that the principal has something called "chicken pox", confusion reigns. What is a "chicken box"? Or, maybe it's "chicken socks"? Either way, why would this keep her from school?

Health information about chicken pox is imparted in a lively, different format as the truth emerges about the pox plague and its health impact.

Fun drawings showing chickens in boxes and on socks, students moving through an atypical school day, and variations on the chicken pox word (including the possibility that it's a video game or a clock) provide solid information about what happens when someone has chicken pox.

The fun, lively illustrations power a dialogue which centers on initial confusion and growing understanding, and creates an excellent forum for youngsters who need to learn the fats about common diseases.

Teachers using The Day the Principal Got the Chicken Pox for educational purposes will find its topics create many opportunities for group or individual learning, including rumors and their effects, leadership qualities, rhyming words

(pox, socks, locks, etc.) sequencing (K, 1, 2, etc.), letter writing, how to write dialogue, and the use of homophones.

Good reading skills for younger picture book readers will enhance their enjoyment of this 36-page story, while readers in upper elementary school grades will find it accessible, fun, and an excellent way of absorbing the facts about chicken pox through a fresh, accessible manner.

Carnie's Child
Lois Rafferty
Okoboji Press
9780990827801, $15.00,

Carnie's Child is a story of trauma, grief, and recovery that begins suddenly one dark night when a woman's accident kills a child. In one second, everything about Carnie's life changes - and so does her family.

Loss embraces more than the death of a child, but spreads like ripples into Carnie's life and the community around her. How does one go on after causing a devastating accident? What is the process of picking up the pieces, and how does this process incorporate dreams and decisions made long ago, about a different child? At one time Carnie was involved and connected with life, emotionally, politically, and in different ways. Her growing distance evolved not just from this juncture in life, but from a series of decisions made long ago. Now everything has changed.

In many ways, Carnie's Child is the quintessential story of survival and post-traumatic stress syndrome. It's also a blossoming story of evolution, change, and revisiting past decisions with new choices in mind.

One of the pleasures and draws of Carnie's Child is its ability to present "everywoman" in the persona of Carnie. Lois Rafferty's exquisite attention to psychological underpinnings in a carefully-constructed life that actually teeters precariously on a tightrope of circumstance provides readers with a believable protagonist who feels like a family member or the "woman next door", then takes her through a situation which deftly illustrates the adage "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

At each step of the way, Carnie's choices are clear - and their impact solidly portrayed. Children, families, and the life situations which hold them together or challenge the most intimate of bonds are all incorporated into the widening circle of Carnie's psyche until it's impossible not to read on to find out what will ultimately transpire.

Readers seeking a multi-faceted novel that takes a seemingly-ordinary, successful woman's life and unravels it until the final thread is closely examined will relish the evocative and compelling persona of Carnie to the last page.

He Counts Their Tears
Mary Ann D'Alto
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
9781457537448; paperback $15.95; hardcover $24.00; ebook $4.95

Sometimes things which look good and seem perfect are actually too good to be true. Such is the case with handsome, successful, rich Aaron Stein, who is a monster in disguise. Aaron is a master at presenting an outward appearance that belays his real persona, which centers on a quest for power that successfully manipulates everyone around him and leaves shattered lives in its wake.

All this is about to change, because Aaron has finally met his match - or, has he?

He Counts Their Tears is a compelling thriller about a man's secret life revealed. Its psychological twists and turns are well-done and involving, showing how Aaron masterfully locates and assesses the women who are his prey, makes moves to gain their trust, and takes sick pleasure in the fun of destroying their lives.

Aaron's thought processes are clear at each step of the way as he uses love to lure in and control his victims in a process he calls "The Method". It's insidious, and its tentacles of horror envelope readers in a series of cat-and-mouse games in which the cat (Aaron) plays with his food (women), flexing his control over their lives. Chapters probe Aaron's past and the roots of his perdition, and readers receive many insights into his evolutionary process.

The problem begins when a clever predator becomes the prey and realizes his own game is being used against him. Jealousy, love, victims and the sense of fun Aaron derives from buying the feelings of those around him come to the forefront in a gripping saga of the inner workings and evolution of a particularly calculating form of madness.

It's intriguing to find enjoyment in a novel featuring a protagonist who is not just unlikeable, but despicable. Readers who seek happy endings and uplifting books will find He Counts Their Tears is more of an examination of how psyches go bad, and may find the repeated emphasis on this process and its patterns to be challenging. However, given the state of the current world, understanding how these situations can develop can be key to safety and sanity. (Victims, take note: the reading is tense and compelling - and at times could prove emotionally overwhelming to those in recovery or those who have been at the mercy of such predators.)

Readers seeking a precise, cutting examination of the mind and motivations of a narcissistic psychopath will find He Counts Their Tears offers many chilling moments and compelling revelations of how such a man can operate despite social safety measures and awareness.

Tutankhamun's Curse SOLVED
I. L. Cohen
New Research LLC
9780692020203, Paperback: $24.75, Kindle: $9.99

I.L. Cohen was educated as an engineer, but became fascinated by archaeology in the 1970s. His earlier fieldwork at Stonehenge resulted in a theory about the monument that could apply to other ancient structures, as well, and thirty years of investigation into Egyptian archaeology from an engineer's viewpoint uses this hypothesis to address these questions.

Tutankhamun's Curse SOLVED therefore adopts a different approach than most in applying the tools of archaeology and engineering to the discipline of Egyptology, answering a few old questions and providing an entirely new perspective on other unsolved problems.

From early discoverer Howard Carter's mysterious ailment that killed him to facets of the tomb's excavation which can be explained by other than a curse, Cohen provides a methodical step-by-step examination of each mystery and how it can be viewed from a more logical, scientific perspective.

Lay readers of archaeology and ancient mysteries will find Tutankhamun's Curse SOLVED requires only a prior interest in Egypt's mysteries to prove accessible. Cohen presents his findings in layman's terms that any reader can understand, and he provides rational, reasoned analysis to refute the notion of a timeless 'curse' affecting archaeologists who handled Tutankhamun's remains.

Such analysis rests upon the contention that Egypt's peoples were more technologically evolved than they're given credit for today, and Cohen includes considerations that support this contention as he embarks on a case-by-case study of different excavations.

There are a few unanswered questions about this process which a critical reader will catch; but Tutankhamun's Curse SOLVED will fascinate readers who have read other accounts, both new age and scientific, of Tutankhamun's excavation and its impact. It provides a scientific perspective that reveals new possibilities surrounding four different enigmas which have received many (and oftentimes unbelievable) theories and inspections over the years. Such an audience will find I.L. Cohen's book to be lively, studious, and well-presented.

Code Name: Papa
John Murray as told to Sharron Murray, With Abby Jones
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
ISBN: 9781480819450 (sc) $20.99
ISBN: 9781480819467 (hc) $37.95
ISBN: 9781480819474 (e) $ 7.99

Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life while Hiding in Plain Sight is part of a trilogy, it presents one man's dual life as a family man and spy, and, most extraordinary of all, it's true.

Readers who are captivated by thrillers, mysteries, and crime stories will become fans of Code Name Papa, alongside those already familiar with true crime and international espionage accounts, and will find it an absolutely fascinating saga.

Part of what lends to the particular delight of this story is its lively narrative style, which takes readers on a round-the-world journey that opens with a lovely, typical New England autumn day; but with a twist. Author John Murray is meeting with an ex-operative at a house that used to hold their group's secret meetings.

What was his job and purpose? John Murray "Worked my way up to the head of the American arm of an international covert ring whose sole intent was to rid the US and other countries of eminent danger or political damage. The job often meant taking "the bad guys" out, as there were seldom easy fixes."

Readers quickly learn that this seemingly-ordinary middle class American family man with the usual family ties and progress in life has somehow risen to the top of a secretive group that often sacrifices their lives and relationships for the sake of a higher goal: keeping America (and the world) a safer place.

As an undercover agent, Murray's employers have included the US and various governments overseas. "Papa" has traveled the world on various tasks with his team, facing terrorists, security risks, and taking out those who would threaten governments and lives.

From how he was first recruited to his evolving duties, their devastating efforts on his marriages, and his eventual retirement from the world of undercover dangers, gunfights, and moles, Code Name: Papa is especially notable for presenting a careful balance between his role as a covert operator and his alter ego as an ordinary family man; and for exposing an underworld of secret, dangerous, government-sponsored missions and how they've helped the world.

This isn't a world most ordinary individuals know about. Readers may hold mixed feelings at discovering its existence; but one thing is certain: the blend of different cases and assignments, tense action, and fine reflection on not just heart-stopping moments but how they affect everything in Papa's life makes for fascinating reading that's hard to put down.

Readers of thrillers, mysteries, and crime and espionage stories will find few can compete with the real-world encounters of Papa as he walks a delicate line between disaster and success in all facets of his life, making Code Name: Papa a top recommendation and a standout across many genres. It's quite simply a compelling, riveting page-turner from beginning to end.

The People's House
David Pepper
St. Helena Press
ISBN: 9781619845121 $11.99
eISBN: 9781619845138 $4.99

When one door closes, another opens. Sometimes death closes that door. Sometimes what opens in its wake is a repurposed life. Such an event is described in The People's House, when reporter Jack Shape's assignment as an obituary writer becomes a cathartic impetus for change: "The worst obituary I ever had to write was about a local congressman. In many ways, I wrote two. First, Lee Kelly was voted out of office, fired by his community as the nation watched. And then three months to the day of that termination, Kelly died on the side of a Pennsylvania highway in a high-speed, fiery crash."

Although it holds the trappings of a thriller, The People's House isn't just a fictional drama; it's a political expose of a corrupted democratic process. The obituary designed to be Kelly's last write-up isn't his first; nor will it end with his death: "Once I filled in the final numbers and a few quotes, it would read like all my other Kelly stories: "Landslide Lee Does It Again." Until Landslide Lee lost."

As the political insights evolve, readers receive an insider's eye to emotions and interactions which reveal nuances of political process that typically don't leak out into public awareness: "Kelly's loss surprised me, along with the national results. There had been so much talk before Election Day. Buckets of ink wasted on column after column of commentary. And they all got it wrong. I sure did. I'm supposed to be an expert, but I had no idea. How were we all so off base? But what kept me stewing came from deeper within. The sudden silence of the party, the look in Lee Kelly's wide eyes, the pained tone of his voice, even Gibbs' hollow rhetoric. They all brought me back decades. To a similar moment. A similar look. An equally long silence. And even greater heartbreak. Not for others, but for me and those I loved."

Because Kelly's ultimate loss is only the beginning of the story, readers of The People's House should expect a tense story that escalates as the number of deaths rises. Fiery car accidents, heart attacks, and violent muggings are part of the urban milieu (and certainly a part of any reporter's work, much less an obit writer's focus); but as certain political circles experience more than their share of deaths, a reporter's move to get to the heart of matters leads him on a journey with too many suspects, too much suspicion, and newfound insights into how candidates campaign and the broken lives that can be left along the political trail.

Jack Sharpe embarks on a venture that leads to a heart-stopping series of events as he uncovers the truth behind the death of a man who tried to expose a badly broken system and its blow against election and democratic processes.

Campaigns are about more than single candidates: they're about power struggles, the course and future of democratic process, and the choices that candidates and their supporters make. From issues of vote-rigging and systems susceptible to guaranteeing the outcome of district elections to the actions of lobbyists and political figures involved in murder, The People's House is much more than just a thriller or murder mystery.

In the process of exposing a plot, it reveals far-reaching insights on real-world political processes which will delight readers looking for more than just an action-packed saga, backed by real-world events gleaned from political activist David Pepper's own intimate associations with Ohio and federal political processes.

No Fairy Tale
D.L. Finn
Privately Published
ISBN Print: 9780996258272 $9.99
ISBN eBook: 9780996258265 $2.99

No Fairy Tale: The Reality Of A Girl Who Wasn't A Princess And Her Poetry is a blend of autobiography, poetry, and photographs in a story where "the princess" is the author, and is recommended as a companion read for any who have previously enjoyed D.L. Finn's other writings.

In order for an autobiography to be effective, it ideally should grab the reader with a compelling story that is easy to relate to and clear about its intentions. In this case, the introduction begins with a young "princess" and her deteriorating home life with increasingly violent interactions with her stepfather and stepbrother, an absent father, and a school life where she's an isolated social outcast.

Nonetheless, she retains her dreams of being a writer and a marine biologist until a catastrophic event leads to drugs, drinking, and a descent far from those dreams, at the age of fourteen.

From her growing concept of God and the good people who enter her life to help her heal and grow to how she discovers peace and recovery through faith, "the princess" overcomes much. No Fairy Tale charts this process and the poetry and writing pursuits that thwart vampires, helplessness, and alienation.

Having a blend of introductory autobiography that considers the life of "the princess" against a backdrop of change and challenge which evolves into black and white photos and poems that also display these events and their impact may challenge some who anticipate the traditional autobiographical structure of one or the other device. But that's actually one of the strengths in No Fairy Tale: its ability to use prose, poetry, and art to capture and portray all the impacts of growth and healing using several different mediums.

While readers who prefer linear approaches may balk at the story's movement between prose and poetry, ultimately this creates better opportunities to understand both bigger picture and smaller, intimate moments of observation and changes in perspective, making No Fairy Tale a recommended pick for autobiography readers who appreciate inspirational, poetry-infused sagas.

Slave Queen
H.B. Moore
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781503938830 Paper: $10.99 Kindle: $3.99

There's nothing more exciting than the promise of an Indiana Jones-style espionage title that takes a proactive, powerful protagonist (Omar Zagouri), weaves in a historical and personal connection to his latest case, and adds high drama. In this case, it's the discovery of a set of antique letters coveted by many, which hold the power to change both Omar's family and the world.

Slave Queen's introduction insinuates a complex read, presenting a map, a lineage chart for the 1500s Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, and a Turkish setting where an antiquities dealer who has become director of the Turkish Royalists reveals his involvement in a personal passion ("Baris spent his days seeking evidence of the true royal lineage of the Ottoman Empire.") that will ultimately uncover a deadly secret.

No light action read, Slave Queen's thriller components are satisfyingly complex and cross international turf as they present chilling scenes of Turkish invasion, Omar's confrontation with hired thugs and deadly adversaries, and a journey through time and history that swings between the 1500s and modern Morocco.

Part of the satisfaction of Slave Queen lies in its realistic representation of the sights, smells, and atmosphere of ancient and modern times in chapters that contrast different worlds, characters, and perspectives. Attention is given to building personalities that come alive in each world, involving readers in these disparate lives and their purposes.

Intrigue permeates the plot and makes for an action-packed series of events that may twist and turn, but which never lose its reader, who follows closely in the footsteps of Omar, Aleksandra, Mia, and others.

From sultans and hierarchies that separate men and women from Poland to Constantinople and beyond to new lives in great cities where mosques and sultans rule, these vivid past and present scenarios contribute to a story fueled by cultural revelations and the long-standing threat a series of letters reveals.

The result is a fast-paced, complex, and absorbing adventure saga that crosses time and place to give Omar, Mia (and readers) a run for their money.

Warning: once begun, it's nearly impossible to put down the full-flavored, multi-faceted Slave Queen, which reveals many insights about the Ottoman Empire, Suleyman the Magnificent, and the slave girl foreigner who turned out to be his favorite wife.

My Million-Dollar Donkey: The Price I Paid for Wanting to Live Simply
Ginny East
Heartwood Press
ASIN: B01HHEXS82, $2.99 Kindle, $18.95 Paper,

Author Ginny East and her husband packed up kids and home and left a secure business to move back to the land in Georgia, choosing a simpler lifestyle over high-priced success. Their move mirrors many, and My Million-Dollar Donkey joins others in following this journey; but unlike any other stories, the sojourn isn't without its emotional, spiritual, and lasting values impacts.

"When some people go through a midlife crisis, they buy a Porsche. Me? I bought a donkey. That probably says something about my personality, but I'd be afraid to find out exactly what. I suppose a girl should expect a touch of disillusionment if she's foolish enough to choose an ass as her life mascot."

Not everyone has a million dollars in the bank from 'cashing out' yet chooses an austere lifestyle; and while the theme of a midlife crisis prompting vast changes and previously-undisclosed dreams is a common one; the compelling piece of any story lies in how it's carried out, presented, and spun - and My Million-Dollar Donkey is truly a donkey of another color.

Chapters are often hilarious and fun to read. They present the emotional seriousness of leaving a consumer-centric American middle class dream for the sake of realigning values with a tongue-in-cheek sense of joie de vivre that is punctuated by Donkey's observations: "Donkey let out a loud bellow as if to add his pro-horse vote to the conversation."

What at first feels like luck and inevitability as a series of efforts falls into place quickly comes to feel like something more darkly fateful as mistakes are made and the entire family struggles to fit into their new lifestyle and changing relationships.

The more one reads, the more one finds to relate to as Ginny and her kin face challenge after challenge and achieve their dream the hard way: through struggles that alter perceptions and reactions to life and question hard-won values systems. As ideals are examined and mirth punctuates the story line, readers might find themselves reconsidering their own ultimate dreams in life and the road to achieving them - and that's the particularly wonderful aspect of My Million-Dollar Donkey.

It doesn't just entertain or enlighten, but weaves both into a side-splitting and heart-sighing memoir that moves far beyond most "back to the land" sagas to closely examine the heart of what changes make a difference in lives and how they are instigated and absorbed in unexpected ways. If these ways ultimately lead to separation, they also open the door to new beginnings. So be forewarned: My Million-Dollar Donkey holds the potential to make readers cry, at different points, as much as laugh.

Happy endings aren't always alike, and thus the story line becomes bittersweet, because dreams changed in a partnership or family structure don't always result in unity and light. Readers who enjoy memoirs, stories of lifestyle changes and strife, and a healthy dose of humor to bind all together won't just relish My Million-Dollar Donkey - they'll see it as a standout in its genre and one which offers a simple message: "There are no limits in life, if you just believe."

T.D. Holt
Amazon Digital Publishing
eBook ISBN: 9780897183376 $3.99
Print ISBN: 9781536933888 $12.99

Readers of political fiction and conspiracy will find Oblique thoroughly engrossing and darkly indicative of the state of affairs in America today.

Ex-veteran Mac (Lincoln MacMahan) is a professor at a university who teaches students about psychology and sociology by intersecting the two; but his classroom spills over into real life when they uncover a government conspiracy that reaches all the way to the highest office, just before a presidential election.

It's a race against time as a course described as "Principles of Communication and Marketing" derails its students and leader, catapulting them into the real world of dubious associations, media frenzy, and a growing danger that places everyone involved at risk.

From a classroom session that sets off a student's emotions about war, conflict, and political process to the unexpected results of an effort to learn how politicians and the military communicate to make decisions, Oblique embraces the points of view of various individuals as events unfold.

One of the novel's many strengths lies in this ability to not only contrast different perspectives, but examine their roots and affect in individual lives. Attitudes towards veterans, women who seem to hold boundless faith, dangerous distances between the populace and its leaders, and cornerstone American values sacrificed for greed and personal gain are all at the forefront of a novel which just so happens to mirror many of the emotions and events taking place in today's modern American political arena.

From the subterfuge in clever messaging to how belief systems are crafted from a series of communications, Oblique is as powerful when deconstructing rap as it is when tackling personal letters and political communiques.

There's nothing new about a novel covering national polarization; but Oblique adds a healthy dose of psychological analysis, solidly-built, different character perspectives and efforts, and notes of intrigue and danger for a social and political examination of how attitudes are built, breached, and reconstructed.

The Infinity Bloom
Katherine Espano
Whimbrel Press
ASIN: B01HOP2PNI, $2.99,

People change, and the world changes: it's certainly not the one Anna grew up in; nor is it familiar, any longer. It's truly a strange world when an innocuous-looking photograph of a field can not only appear in a close-held purse, but can evoke a sense of something sinister. It's a world affected by the "infinity plant" where children's personalities are altered on a global scale. And it's a world where the country is living under martial law and even the adults around Anna are changing, to the point that she isn't sure who she can trust or what is happening to everything she loves.

The Infinity Plant documents not only the rise of something sinister that infects and threatens all levels of society, but focuses on the efforts of one young woman to save her family and world at all costs.

What can one middle school teacher do to alter the course of world changes that don't seem to disturb even her own mother ("As her mother segued into telling funny little stories about her day, Anna wondered if her mother believed her own optimism. It was as if she had not accepted the nature of the changing world, or had momentarily forgotten it. This was not like her.")? Why do friends and neighbors seem oddly unruffled by adult disappearances and very changed children?

As Anna struggles to understand what's happening, readers follow her desperate ride to make sense of and change her life. In her dreams, Anna's heart is exploding. In reality, so is her world. And even the romance which leads to a forthcoming union with Jake isn't enough to stop the tide of fears and the surge of violence that leads her to envision an impossible escape (...impossible for those not changed, that is).

As Anna and Jake flee their world, they bring with them new challenges and possible keys to transformation: "Everything is simpler for a child, but maybe she's closer to the heart of things. Maybe it's not about the logic. We take a leap of faith. Because if we don't, we're not the kind of people we want to be. And if it's my time to die, I want to die knowing that I tried to do what's right."

The Infinity Bloom takes social change on a macro level and reduces it to the microcosm of a single individual's life and the ripple effects of her choices. Action is swift, intrigue builds as the truth comes out in bits and pieces, and readers are immersed in a complex story that examines how adult identity is shaped, how children are changed, and how a strange new world is born via social, scientific, and political manipulation.

This chilling message for modern man appears in a powerful thriller that's hard to put down, filled with many thought-provoking twists and turns as it examines the limits of power and the wisdom in striving for a longer lifespan.

Courageous Footsteps: A WWII Novel
Diane Dettmann
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478755586 Retail: $24.95
Amazon: $5.99 Kindle; $17.32 Paper

The majority of novels about World War II are directed to adult audiences, but Courageous Footsteps is a story for teens and presents the experiences of Yasu and Haro Sakamoto, who are removed (along with their family) from their Glenville, California home and interred in a concentration camp.

All ages will find Courageous Footsteps a gripping, eye-opening approach, for several reasons. One is its ability to provide a stark contrast between the comfortable, middle-class American lifestyle experienced by the family at the novel's opening with life behind barbed wire fences after they are removed from their home.

Few other novels, adult or teen, so adequately portray the emotions, daily experiences, and struggles of the Japanese during this period of time. From the moment Pearl Harbor is bombed and war is declared with the Japanese to the President's orders to take away their lives, Courageous Footsteps progresses swiftly and documents the quick rise of fear and its accompanying prejudice, which place the family in constant danger and flux.

Nearly overnight, the Sakamotos become enemies of the people and are attacked, beaten, and maligned by strangers who only see their Japanese faces and not their American identities. Their personal possessions (radios, guns, cameras, binoculars) are confiscated by the Army in the name of national security, the family is forced to do the best it can under prison conditions, and camp regulations take over their formerly-free lives.

How does a family stay together and preserve their shattered dreams under such conditions? Courageous Footsteps is as much a story of this survival process as it is a documentation of one girl's evolving determination to escape this impossible life and resume her dreams.

Teens and new adult audiences alike will find Courageous Footsteps evocative, compelling, and hard to put down.

Yasu's Quest: A Tale of Triumph
Diane Dettmann
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478755791 Retail Price: $19.95
Amazon: $5.99 Kindle; $19.95 Paper

How can an eighteen-year-old girl escape from a U.S. internment camp for the Japanese that has been heavily and successfully guarded for three years? The opening of Yasu's Quest, continues the saga begun in Courageous Footsteps, which observed the pre-camp life and early internment of the Sakamoto family. Familiarity with this prior novel will lend a special appreciation for this powerful sequel, which goes in a different direction as it outlines Yasu's choices.

The Sakamotos have been devastated by the war as much or more so than any other American family ("How can this be happening? First my son dies in combat, then my daughter

disappears and now my husband's in jail."). Yasu's escape is just one more trial they have to bear in an impossibly changed world; and as for Yasu herself - how can she hide when her Japanese heritage gives her away?

Her journey to Minneapolis results in a chance encounter and an unexpectedly friendly face, and her life changes. Yasu and Martha each confront their changing world with innovative survival techniques that provide insights into both the larger issues of domestic World War II and its daily challenges ("With sugar rationing still on, women often use beer for setting their hair. So I gave it a try. Seems to work and I just put it in the refrigerator and use it over and over until it's gone. Sometimes even spit works.").

Diane Dettmann's careful attention to focusing on both aspects of this world and both bigger and smaller pictures of changed lives makes for a far more thoughtful, detailed inspection than most World War II accounts provide, creating a series of insights based on Yasu's evolving experiences in college and the family's life as the war draws to a close.

The contrast between a young woman making her way in this changed world and a family on the edge of return to a world both familiar and alien makes for a riveting story line that clearly reveals the difficulties of the times: "Even the letters to the editor were filled with vicious comments about preventing the Japanese Americans from returning to their homes. Mr. Sakamoto folded up the paper and tucked it in his suitcase. His joyful thoughts of returning home were replaced with fear and anxiety."

Will the family reunite, and how will they pick up the pieces of shattered lives and rebuild, along with the rest of America? One woman's act of kindness could change all their lives. Yasu's Quest neatly covers issues of loss, grief, recovery, and acts of kindness as it presents a journey that ultimately transcends the forces of division and injustice pummeling the Japanese family.

While teens will be the likely readers of this novel, many an adult will find that Yasu's Quest holds perspectives and details that are as enlightening as they are involving. It, along with its companion, are thus highly recommended picks for any reader interested in a powerful, ultimately hopeful, view of World War II's lasting effects on the Japanese in America.

The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris
Ed Cobleigh
Check Six Books
9780692392065; $13.99 Print; $3.99 Kindle;

The Pilot is a simple man who loves beautiful planes, beautiful cities, and beautiful women. In an ideal world, he would never have to choose between them; but the Pilot doesn't operate on ideals, and when the three loves in his life collide, he is forced to make some difficult decisions.

Readers of military fiction might expect this story's fine aviation missions and descriptions; but may be surprised by the added romance revolving around a female character who could be a spy. Readers used to romance may find themselves unexpectedly falling in love with Paris itself. And those who enjoy blends of different facets in a story that engages in battle on more than one level will find The Pilot: Fighter Planes and Paris embraces more than a singular approach.

What pilot wouldn't want to chance to fly the world's hottest fighter plane, even if its prowess remains to be tested? Important crossroads in life are usually a meal served up with a healthy dose of complexity, and so the Pilot hesitates in making his choice because there's more going on in his life than the urge to fly.

Military fiction readers typically receive plenty of action scenes and battle descriptions and The Pilot doesn't disappoint in delivering these staccato action scenes; but the adventure doesn't stop there. Scenes of fighter plane engagement are juxtaposed with alluring descriptions of the City of Light, with its spirit, tones, and French glamour: "The Pilot selected his long-awaited cassoulet, a regional specialty from southern France. Drawing its name from the ceramic crock in which it is often cooked, good cassoulet should include pork belly, Tarbais beans, sausage, roast duck, and duck fat."

With many such descriptions of Parisian food and atmosphere come equally-sultry revelations about a beautiful woman who distracts the Pilot in a series of vignettes that change time and place, and which weave together pieces in a delicate fabric of life to create a story of purposeful, often quick decisions, changing convictions in life, and the forces that push him in different directions.

Readers anticipating a linear story line and predictable plot may feel challenged until they realize that the give and take between present and past, different places from Laos and Thailand to Paris, and the changes introduced by different encounters ("It's a hell of a note when your model of stability is a woman who may or may not be a CIA agent.") all contribute to a multifaceted set of personas that the Pilot embraces throughout the course of his life.

Perhaps the strongest piece of the story lies in its ability to not just present these different peoples and places; but immerse readers in their sights, sounds, and cultures: "The java, steaming in the cool morning air, filled the screened-in porch with the aroma of dark beans and roasted chicory. Here he waited on the tardy dawn while sitting on the porch swing's wide bench seat. Shadows of the Great Smoky Mountains to the east shade the Little Pigeon until late morning, when the sun clears their forested peaks, their rounded contours lost in the gray mists giving the mountains their name."

Too often such descriptions of place and people are set aside in the name of swift action and cursory characters. Not so in The Pilot, whose story is an evolutionary process on more than one level.

From military engagements and strategies to tackling loneliness and the dearth of a permanent relationship with any of the women who pass through his life and his memories, The Pilot ultimately struggles with his career, his choices, and whether he should give up some passions in favor of others - including the planes he so loves to fly. Perhaps one of these female protagonists says it best: "My love, this is a battle you cannot win. You are not fighting another pilot in another aircraft; you are trying to shoot down the future."

Emotionally gripping and filled with possibilities both explored and unrealized, The Pilot will prove a compelling read not just for fans of aviation or military stories; but for anyone who enjoys romances, Paris, and the kinds of decisions that come not once in a lifetime, but at different junctions of many roads in life.

Of Dust and Tides
A.G. Russo
Red Skye Press
ASIN: B01G0SCIVE; $2.99

Of Dust and Tides is a short story collection about new adults just entering the adult world, and provides a range of characters and visions about how this world changes and challenges its new arrivals.

Take eighteen-year-old Dorrie, who sets off on a mission to find a long-absent father, Ollie, and discovers the meaning of rock gods, accidents of birth, and blood ties as she confronts a man whose world doesn't include 'nice girls', even if they are kin. Dorrie's uncertain connection with him leads her full-circle to discover what is really of value in her world in 'Ollie's Daughter'.

For a different perspective, turn to 'Portrait of Jori', in which an art student's life is changed by the man he becomes involved with. Art community scandals and politics, high-class living and patrons with unusual tastes, and issues of trust amid the trappings of wealth all emerge as themes in a thought-provoking tale of talent and the real cost of benefactors who take over lives.

Another powerful winner is 'Impure Earth', where the world is unprepared for a challenge to the status quo of the Pures and Assorteds, and survival tactics become steeped in rage and love alike. In such a future, war is forbidden and a thing of books and legend - and in such a world, it must be faced and fought again, introducing many new tests to a society carefully reconstructed to include cyborgs and strict rules.

In such a world, whoever has control is not necessarily the same as he who wields wisdom, as Tarquin and Immurra come to discover when they head a new kind of force and influence on the future of a broken society unfamiliar with the word 'revolution', among others.

Each carefully-crafted story provides a different perspective on evolving connections, adult lives, and new ventures. Each very different tale presents stories of survival, confrontation and change; and each follows characters that grow from their encounters.

Of Dust and Tides is replete with new beginnings and how they happen, and is an outstanding gathering especially recommended for new adult readers venturing into the world, offering lessons on its challenges and growth opportunities using succinct language and close encounters that pair disparate individuals and cross-purposes with paths that ultimately lead to connections and hope.

Once Upon a Poodle
Chrysa Smith
Wellbred Books
c/o The Well Bred Book
1340 Brook Lane, Jamison, PA 18929
ISBN: TBA; Price $TBA;

Once Upon a Poodle is a doggie picture book story illustrated by Pat Achilles, whose drawings enhance the tale of a little poodle named Woody who watches the outside world through his window. His human mother tries to play games with him and make him happy, but he longs for doggie companionship and dreams of a sibling to play with. Perhaps, instead of being indoors, he needs to be on the other side of the window where everyone else seems to be having fun?

Woody's access to a doggie door introduces him to this world, and to some potential siblings who each seem to have something wrong. The "fellow with a long neck and feathers" can't play right, either - and obviously doesn't belong indoors, even near a tub.

The "furry gray fellow with a bushy tail" seems like a good candidate for a solid game of 'fetch', but apparently has a nut fetish.

As Woody considers candidates that don't work out in the role of "new brother", he wonders if he will ever enjoy a new member of the family. His mother, Mrs. Flout, is no help at all - or does she have a master plan?

Once Upon a Poodle will lend particularly well to parental read-aloud. Colorful illustrations capture the fun personalities and events as Woody experiences a wide range of potential brother candidates, and kids will relish the lively, positive story of a little dog who holds on to hope and never gives up.

The Unusual Second Life of Thomas Weaver
Shawn Inmon
Pertime Publishing
1535239492, $14.99,

Plenty of fictional stories of afterlives are on the market; but the real question to living a second life is: what would you do differently? What outcomes would you change? What would be the consequences of living one's life over and over, with a foreknowledge of events and the opportunity to make different decisions?

All this forms the nexus of The Unusual Second Life of Thomas Weaver, a tale that begins with an American teen's ordinary life and moves into a story of tragedy and a serial killer in the making. Can these events be undone if a life is relived with prior knowledge of what will happen?

One of the pleasures of Shawn Inmon's approach to his subject lies in his focus on creating an ordinary-sounding protagonist, Tommy, who leads the typical life of a middle-class American teen until events take a dark turn over the decades.

As much at issue as how these events stem from different life choices and junctures is what is involved in crafting new pathways or letting others in on predictions about their futures. As Thomas and his big brother Zack face high school, girls, and life-changing experiences, it becomes evident that Thomas views his world from a perspective different than most: "I know who he was looking for. My teenage brain wouldn't have taken it in, but somewhere in Zack's heart, it kills him that Dad isn't here."

But nobody appreciates his revelations ("What was your one chance, Jimmy? A basketball scholarship? Sure. You're dreaming of an NBA career, aren't you? That was probably not gonna happen anyway, but what you don't know is that you'll blow out your knee at the beginning of your senior year. You'll never get that speed back, and the best you're ever going to do is to barely make the team at the local community college."), and aside from karma, the background of having lived many times isn't earning him any friends, even among those who believe ("So. How many lives is this for you?")

As Thomas moves from behind the shadow of his older brother, he begins to understand what life's all about, especially when he connects with others who have tried to relived and tried change their lives, but always wound up repeating tragedies ("I've been thinking about what I was doing to my parents in those other lives, each time they found me dead. I won't do that again. I'm trying to live as long as I can this time. I'm tired of living the same years over and over. I want to see what's on the horizon after 1980....I've finally realized everyone has their own fate. Most of my lives, she's died. Is that my fault, or is it just what's destined to happen with her?")

Can patterns truly be broken? Kate Atkinson implied so in her best-selling Life After Life, and Shawn Inmon tackles these questions and more from a young adult's perspective documenting a sweeping journey that embraces concepts of lives lived multiple times and what changes them.

Watchers, angels, middle-aged men re-living life in a teen's body, and second changes all permeate a story that is heartfelt, well-written, and which approaches reincarnation experiences in a different manner than most novels. Thomas, fully aware of his nature, faces dilemmas that revolve around embracing changes.

His story is a universal tale of trying to forge a better life (or lives) against all obstacles. It's one which is hard to put down, and is highly recommended not just for young adults, but for adult audiences who will find many of Thomas's experiences thought-provoking and intriguing.

Michael Benzehabe
Shema Publishing
ISBN-13: 9781535350310
ISBN-10: 1535350318, $9.99
Website/Ordering Link:

It's relatively easy to tell when a thriller will be a winner: Unassimilated wins hands down in the 'captivate' category with an opener that's instantly compelling: "Thup! Crimson splashed against the penthouse window. Zoe Mousa had never seen a sound suppressor, let alone heard one. The handgun coughed like a sick kitten, cat lung cancer, a firebreathing baby cat. It didn't mask the mechanical action of the killer's gun, nor did it hide the crack of a bullet breaking bone. But he delivered murder in a feline hiss."

Resourceful, determined, and in over her head, Zoe often finds herself puzzled by Western humor and cultural norms far from her experience. What does she need from the world, at what cost, and will she get it?

American society serves as the backdrop for Zoe's special challenges, with the microcosm of Zoe's peculiar form of insanity, contrasting well with the macrocosm of international politics and intrigue.

Zoe's fled the Middle East to escape scenes such as this one; but now she finds herself struggling with kidnappers, guns, international subterfuge, and even a dash of romance as she falls into a Chinese cyber war plot that produces new enemies, an uncertain future, and too many bodies.

Resourceful, determined, and in over her head, Zoe often finds herself puzzled by Western humor and cultural norms far from her experience, facing down powerful leaders and building a newfound sense of power and ability in a growth process that challenges everything she's ever known. What does she need from the world, and at what cost will she get it?

Michael Benzehabe does an outstanding job of tempering his story with a solid focus on protagonist Zoe's cultural roots and its intersections with Western attitudes, beliefs, and approaches to life. Under his hand, Zoe becomes a powerful and well-rounded character whose ability to come out on top in the most impossible situations is softened by her growing knowledge of the differences between her familiar Middle Eastern roots and American choices: "I can't explain your dream," Zoe said, "but things are different here." This was mostly wishful thinking, and she found herself parroting the dean's exact words. "America's fighting and the fighting in the Middle East aren't quite the same. No bombs or bullets here. From now on, my fights will be civilized, like a friendly debate over a cup of coffee."

Along the way, Zoe stops talking about bringing her fellow orphan girlfriends to the U.S. Some of her support systems fail ("America's better off without Zoe . . . because I had to culturally commute to understand what she meant. She was a strange sort of a friend--if friend she was. People who come to America to be loved are wasting their time. Come with the expectation of being dealt in--that's it. The best skill in cards is knowing when to discard."), and so does her goal of assimilating the American dream.

She's dangerous, she's painful, and the love match between Saul and Zoe may just turn into another haunting nightmare. Swirling around Zoe's matches, challenges, and intrigue is the juxtaposed atmospheres of Middle East and American lives which permeate a rich story that incorporates issues of prejudice, cultural changes, and social issues alike.

Much of what is wrong or tested in American society serves as a backdrop for Zoe's special challenges, with the microcosm of Zoe's peculiar form of insanity and change contrasting well with the macrocosm of international politics and intrigue. Binding all are relationships on different levels which draw readers into wide-ranging questions of friends, enemies, special purposes and growth processes that can either embrace the past or reject it.

It's relatively easy to tell when a thriller is a winner: bind personal with political growth, create a backdrop of compelling cultural insights and differences, and mix in evolving changes that hold the power to either kill or transform for a gripping read which thriller readers will find difficult to put down.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Adult ADHD
Thom Hartmann
Park Street Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620555750, $14.95, PB, 144pp,

Synopsis: Most people do not "grow out" of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). For many, their ADHD traits have led to difficulties in school, relationships, and work. But for our hunter-gatherer ancestors these characteristics were necessary for survival. Hunters must be easily distractible, constantly scanning their environment, and unafraid of taking risks. When humanity experienced the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, a vastly different type of personality (the methodical "Farmer") became dominant. Most of our modern world is tailored to this Farmer personality, from 9-to-5 jobs to the structure of public schools, leaving ADHD Hunters feeling like unsuccessful outcasts. However, the Hunter skill set offers many opportunities for success in today's Farmer society -- if you learn how to embrace your ADHD traits instead of fighting against them.

"Adult ADHD: How to Succeed as a Hunter in a Farmer's World" by Thom Hartman is a step-by-step guide that explains the positive side of Hunter behavior. "Adult ADHD" reveals how Hunters make excellent entrepreneurs, sharing ADHD success stories from Fortune 500 CEOs, inventors, small business owners, and his own hands-on experience in launching new businesses. Drawing on solid scientific and psychological principles, "Adult ADHD" provides easy-to-follow organizational strategies, tips to maintain focus and create a distraction-free workspace, and tools to set goals, build a business plan, and discover the right business project to keep you motivated. "Adult ADHD" is a source of valuable advice for both the Hunter entrepreneur and the Hunter within an existing company and for curtailing the aggressive side of the Hunter personality in group situations or manager positions.

Revealing the many ADHD opportunities hidden within the challenges of work, relationships, and day-to-day life, "Adult ADHD" also includes tips on navigating family relationships and parenting--for most Hunter parents are also raising Hunter children.

Critique: An extraordinary and exceptionally well written study that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Adult ADHD" offers a unique, practical, and insightful discourse that will be of immense interest to parents of ADHD children, and adults who have to deal with being ADHD in a non-ADHD world. Enhanced with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography, a one page listing of Recommended Reading, and a six page Index, "Adult ADHD" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary Psychology collections in general, and ADHD supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Adult ADHD" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.90).

As Good as Gone
Larry Watson
Algonquin Books
PO Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2225
9781616205713, $26.95, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: It's 1963, and Calvin Sidey, one of the last of the old cowboys, has long ago left his family to live a life of self-reliance out on the prairie. He's been a mostly absentee father and grandfather until his estranged son asks him to stay with his grandchildren, Ann and Will, for a week while he and his wife are away. So Calvin agrees to return to the small town where he once was a mythic figure, to the very home he once abandoned. But trouble soon comes to the door when a boy's attentions to seventeen-year-old Ann become increasingly aggressive and a group of reckless kids portend danger for eleven-year-old Will. Calvin knows only one way to solve problems: the Old West way, in which scores are settled and ultimatums are issued and your gun is always loaded. And though he has a powerful effect on those around him--from the widowed neighbor who has fallen under his spell to Ann and Will, who see him as the man who brings a sudden and violent order to their lives--in the changing culture of the 1960s, Calvin isn't just a relic; he's a wild card, a danger to himself and those who love him.

Critique: Impressively well written with deftly crafted story twists and turns, and populated with truly memorable characters, "As Good As Gone" is a terrifically entertaining entertainment from first page to last and clearly demonstrates the literary skills of author Larry Watson. While unreservedly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "As Good As Gone" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.88).

Last Descendants: An Assassin's Creed Series
Matthew J. Kirby
Scholastic, Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012-3999
9780545855518 $9.99 pbk / $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Nothing in Owen's life has been right since his father died in prison, accused of a crime Owen is certain he didn't commit. Monroe, the IT guy at school, might finally bring Owen the means to clear his father's name by letting him use an Animus - a device that lets users explore genetic memories buried within their own DNA. During a simulation, Owen comes uncovers the existence of a powerful relic long considered a legend: the Trident of Eden. Now two secret organizations will stop at nothing to take possession of this artifact-the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order. It becomes clear the only way to save himself is to find the Trident first.

Under the guidance of Monroe, Owen and a group of other teenagers go into a memory they all share within their DNA: the 1863 Draft Riots in New York City. Owen and his companions will find themselves tested on the violent streets of New York, and their experiences in the past will have far-reaching consequences in the present.

Critique: Based upon the popular series of "Assassin's Creed" video games, Last Descendants is a novel for older teens and adults. Extrapolating from the core premise of the series - that the modern-day descendants of extraordinarily skilled assassins have profound genetic memories buried within their DNA - Last Descendants follows a group of teenagers pushed to their limit. Historical fiction and modern-day action make Last Descendants a suspenseful page-turner, sure to appeal to fans of the games!

How to Work for an Idiot
John Hoover
Career Press Inc.
12 Parish Drive, Wayne, NJ 07470
9781601631916, $15.99, PB, 282pp,

Synopsis: Sooner or later, almost everyone will find themselves having to work under an incompetent employer. "How to Work for an Idiot" is comprised of the insightful confessions of a recovering Idiot Boss. John Hoover (a popular executive coach and leadership/communications consultant, who has also a writer, line producer, and project director for the Marketing/Entertainment Division at The Disney Company and a divisional general manager with McGraw-Hill) finally realized that many of the people he kept trying to "energize" and "enlighten" were, well, idiots. More importantly, he was an idiot for thinking he could change them. This newly revised and expanded edition of John Hoover's "How to Work for an Idiot" is bigger and better-and filled with even more idiots-than before. The same technology that has enabled cluelessness from the corner office to go viral can help employers to protect themselves by keeping their inner idiot in check. Not every boss is an idiot, and not every idiot is a boss. "How to Work for an Idiot" will help the reader to find the wisdom to know the difference.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "How to Work for an Idiot" is unreservedly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library Business Management collections in general, and anyone having to deal with employer incompetence within themselves or with others. Of special note are the chapters on 'Idiot-Speak: How to Talk to Your Idiot Boss' and 'Recalibrating Expectations, Repurposing Anger'. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "How to Work for an Idiot" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.99).

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
978145585113, $28.00,

The clock is ticking in New York as a high-tech criminal element wreaks havoc on the city. Citizens are on edge as Michael Bennett and his team try track the perpetrators to bring them justice. This series has always been a thrill ride, and "Alert" continues in that tradition with a fast paced page turner of suspenseful action.

Sunday Kind of Love
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
97814552743, $26.00,

"Sunday Kind of Love" begins in the year 1946 when young Gwen Foster and her mother see a husband and wife argue. Gwen vows that she will never let herself be treated in the same negative way by a man. The novel picks up with an older Gwen who brings her boyfriend home to meet her parents. It is then she begins to question the whole relationship they have. "Sunday Kind of Love" is a romance title that has strong characters that move through believable situations to a very satisfying ending. Garlock is a new author to me that I would love to see more titles from and "Sunday Kind of Love" is a shinning example of why I am adding her to my list of authors to look forward to.

Smooth Operator
Stuart Woods and Parnell Hall
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399185267, $28.00,

"Smooth Operator" is very different in several ways from others by Woods. This is the first time he has co-written any of his books; Teddy Fay is the main character of the story while Stone Barrington does play a major role in the events of the tale. The Woods trademark of suspenseful situations is here as are many of the other characters from the many Barrington books. "Smooth Operator' is the first of many other titles Woods will do in the future that reads like any of the books he has done by himself. Fans will love that there are more Woods novels out for them to read in the future.

Confessions The Paris Mysteries
James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
978145536672, $7.99,

The third installment of the "Confessions" series reveals many new aspects of the life of Tangy Angel. Taking place in Paris Tandy finds out her boyfriend has left with no way to contact him telling her before he left how much he loves her. She also learns a few more reasons for the death of her parents and some other things she did not know about her siblings. "Confessions The Paris Mysteries" is a fast paced read that will have readers wanting more tales of this very interesting lead female character who has a lot of deep secrets in her life.

Slow Burn
Ace Atkins
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399170860, $27.00,

Spenser is back in action in "Slow Burn" This time Spenser is searching for a fire bug that is torching buildings throughout the Boston area. Along the way are familiar characters like Susan and Hawk who add spice to the mix of the fast paced story along with some new interesting ones. Ace Atkins again shows why he is the perfect choice to continue the Spenser series of mystery novels. "Slow Burn" is a page turning exciting addition to the Robert B. Parker Spenser series.

Dishonorable Intentions
Stuart Woods
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399573910, $28.00,

Stone Barrington has his hands full with a woman and her ex-husband in "Dishonorable Intentions" the newest installment of the popular Barrington series. Stone has a new fling with woman whose ex is threatened by the relationship. Woods again tells a fast paced story that races along to its final smashing ending. Unlike other novels in the series "Dishonorable Intentions" is left with to be continued. Fans of the series will love the suspense of the cliff hanger ending.

The Yucks Two Years in Tampa with the Losingest Team in NFL History
Jason Vuic
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476772264, $26.00,

Another football season is upon us and "The Yucks Two Years in Tampa With The Losingest Team in NFL History" is perfect reading for the new football year. The Bucs have always been an interesting team because, so they have found more ways to loose than any other team in the league. Vuic who grew up in the area of Tampa now shows why they have the longest loss record from the very begging when they began playing ball in Tampa. He also reveals the greediness of the different team owners, the problems coaches had with players and management, the change in logo, how the team was named and a lot more in an easy to read style. Fans of the game can not afford to pass up this fine expose of a team that just keeps losing.

Herbert Hoover in the White House the Ordeal of the Presidency
Charles Rappley
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781501128356, $32.50,

Before reading "Herbert Hoover in the White House" I like many, thought President Hoover was an honorable man who got caught up in a situation he could not control. Now, Author Charles Rapplye sheds new light on his presidency and the man that show he was nothing of the sort, in fact he was comparable in many ways to President Richard Nixon. Hoover was vindictive and sought revenge on perceived Republican and Democratic enemies while he prevented legislation from being put into play that might have changed the outcome of the depression that began under his watch. "Herbert Hoover in the White House" moves along at a brisk pace and brings to life a time that is one of the country's darkest economic periods. Anyone interested in the present presidential election should read "Herbert Hoover in the White House," because one of the two candidates is comparable in many ways to Herbert Hoover

The Quest for Safer Products Creation of the US consumer Product Safety Commission
Richard O. Simpson
Legacy Book Publishing
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park Fl 32789
9781937952730, $19.95,

I had high expectations for "The Quest for Safer Products" but, the author has written a very disappointing that should have been a powerhouse expose of some of the things that are wrong with this country. Where it should have shown how consumers are protected from bad products and companies business practices it lightly touches on things but does make it very interesting to the reader. The most appealing portion of the book is the two last sections where there are letters praising the job Simpson did to protect the consumer and his articles that he tells how the average citizen can protect themselves.

Buddy Boy and the Bear
Margaret Uphold, author
Sara Pessognelli, illustrator
Legacy Book Publishing
1883 Lee Road, Winter Park Fl 32789
978193752518, $14.95,

Puppies are fun for families to enjoy but they also cause a lot of problems. Frisky is one who does both. His human family enjoys him, while he gets into everything, even a scrape with a black bear in the kids novel "Buddy Boy and the Bear." The adults patiently work with Frisky to slowly teach him etiquette. The test for Frisky is when he encounters a big black bear. Then the family will find out if all they have taught Frisky has paid off. "Buddy Boy and the Bear" has several messages while being an entertaining kid's book that the whole family can enjoy.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Bum Rap
Paul Levine
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Publishing
9781477829868, $15.95, Paperback, 334 pp,

From the publisher: NFL linebacker-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter has had it with slippery clients, dirty prosecutors, and a legal system out of whack. It's enough to make a man want to leave Miami and never look back - - until he gets a call from Victoria Lord, the better half of hot local legal team Solomon & Lord. Her partner in life and law has been arrested for murder. What's worse: the only person who can clear him had fled the city. Now it's up to Jake and Victoria to track down the witness - - a stunning "Bar girl" - - before she's roped in by the feds . . . or eliminated by the Russian mob. Jake knows that if doesn't get to the witness first, his client's case is lost. Luckily, he's got some good advice from his college football coach: "Buckle your chin strap and hit somebody." And sometimes, the only way to win a tough case is to do just that.

Paul Levine's past novels have included two series, featuring either Jake Lassiter, or the firm of Solomon & Lord, as well as four standalones. For the first time, he brings the three attorneys together when Victoria Lord hires Jake to defend Steve Solomon against murder charges. For those unfamiliar with these legal eagles (of whom it is said, "If you want the best lawyers in Miami, hire the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of the Lord"), Victoria was a Princeton undergrad, and graduated summa cum laude from Yale Law; Steve attended University of Miami and Key West School of Law. Lassiter had been a second-string linebacker with the Miami Dolphins who went to night law school in the off-season, graduated in the top half of the bottom third of his class, and passed the bar exam on his fourth try. Steve having been found by the cops in a locked room with a dead man and a smoking gun, literally, it's a tough case, hence, Lassiter is hired.

They all live in Coconut Grove, and there is much in the way of Miami color here.

How could one not love a book where one character (the dead man, actually) describes Donald Trump and Bernie Madoff as "true capitalists," and a protagonist whose choice of music includes Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," "In a Sentimental Mood," with Coltrane on sax, and invokes Hilda Chester's ringing her cowbell in the Ebbetts Field bleachers? The author's humor is evident throughout [e.g., he describes a t-shirt he sometimes wears which reads "Officer, I Swear to Drunk I'm Not God"], the trial scenes are simply terrific, and the book is a complete delight. Who knows? Readers may get to see books featuring the law firm of Solomon, Lord & Lassiter - wouldn't that be great?! (Not meant to be a spoiler!) Recommended.

What You See
Hank Phillippi Ryan
175Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765374967, $7.99, Paperback, 416 pp,

Jane Ryland returns in this newest entry in the wonderful series by Hank Phillippi Ryan. (The next one, "Say No More," is due out in November, 2016.) After having been an award-winning investigative tv reporter before she lost that job a year ago for refusing to give up a source (her 3rd job in five years, most recently at the Boston Register a month ago), Jane, now 34 years old, has been tasked, on a free-lance basis, by Channel 2 News to cover a breaking story, just outside of City Hall.

In the opening pages, Detective Jake Brogan, grandson of a former Commissioner, one of the city's top homicide cops and Jane's "significant other," and his partner, Paul DeLuca, are following up on a call to 911 about a man's stabbing, in broad daylight at noontime in early June along the "visitor magnet" Freedom Trail, across the street from Faneuil Hall. An ambulance is on the way, as is the Medical Examiner. As DeLuca says, "Wall-to-wall spectators, the good news and the bad news." In today's world, most, if not all of them, were texting, calling, and taking photos, possibly of the stabbing itself. This is the scene Jane arrives on, her video camera in hand. Right behind her is Bobby Land, a photographer wanna-be, hoping this is his big chance, waiting to tell her that he had caught the whole thing on camera.

A second story line introduces Tenley Siskel, working for the past 3 weeks at City Hall doing traffic surveillance, filling in during vacation time through her mother, the Mayor's Chief of Staff for the last 8 years, both of them still recovering from the death of her sister. Another story line has Jane trying to locate her niece, 9-year-old Gracie, almost on the eve of a family wedding where she is to be the flower girl; she has disappeared, apparently taken by her stepfather.

The author manages to give us all of this, which takes place within a 36-hour period, in page-turning manner, spinning out the suspense in her distinctive fashion. She also gives us a couple of instances of words to live by: "Families were not always easy," and "Why did all of reality have to be recorded? Life never just happened anymore. Memories had to be indelible, every event captured. And shared." The ubiquity of cameras/surveillance in today's world is inescapable.

Another excellent entry in the series, and one which is highly recommended.

Scents and Sensibility
Spencer Quinn
Atria Books
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476703428, $25.00, 320 pp., Hardcover
9781476703435, $16.00, 320 pp., Paperback

Chet and Bernie return in the eighth and newest book in the series. As I have said before (but it bears repeating!), I have loved each book in the series, despite the fact that I usually avoid books with talking animals. But this particular four-legged private investigator, Chet the Dog, and Bernie Little, his partner in the Little Detective Agency, defy the expected rules of the genre. "Chet the Jet," as he thinks of himself (and he is, after all, the narrator) is as usual the perfect foil for Bernie, who Chet often reminds us is "the smartest human in the room."

Chet and Bernie return to their home in the Valley in Arizona. They are its only residents since Bernie's divorce (his ex-wife has since remarried) and their son, Charlie, only spends time there on designated days/weekends. Bernie's girlfriend, Suzie Sanchez, is now working for the Washington Post, although as the book opens she has been offered a job in London (which further complicates Bernie's love life). On their return home, Bernie goes to his wall safe, hidden behind a very special painting, only to discover that there is now only a hole in the wall where the safe is supposed to be. The one item of great value that had been hidden there is what was Bernie's grandfather's watch, now gone, along with the safe itself. Before Bernie can even contemplate this, there is some ruckus at the house next door, where Bernie's elderly neighbor, Mr. Parsons, is being questioned when a saguaro cactus I found, illegally transplanted from the desert. The investigator, Ellie Newburg, threatens Mr. Parsons with arrest, and gives him - and Bernie - 24 hours to reveal the source. Parsons soon confides to Bernie that it was his son, Billy, a man with a criminal past.

The ensuing investigation leads Bernie to a long-ago kidnapping, and connects to a strange but innocent-seeming desert festival called Cactus Man. They track down the ostensible kidnap victim, now alive and well. One of the convicted kidnappers is none other than Mr. Parsons' son, Billy; the other dies in a freak accident on his last day at a correctional institution. And there is much more going on in the way of violence against both of our protagonists, among others, and a cop whose activities are very suspicious. The book is perfect hot-weather fare, or for any other time of the year for that matter. It would appear that there is a 9th book in the works, and I can't wait to read it, for the book ends with a cliffhanger that I for one didn't see coming at all.


Confessions of a Celebrity Bodyguard
Thomas Fitzsimmons
Thomas Fitzsimmons Inc.
9780978976262, $13.99 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 306 pp,

As with the earlier novel by Thomas Fitzsimmons, "Confessions of a Catholic Cop," which introduced readers to Police Officer Michael Beckett, and its sequel, "Confessions of a Suicidal Policewoman," the current book's authenticity is immediately apparent. With good reason: Following his service in the Navy during the Vietnam War, the author was an NYC cop for a decade in the notorious section of the South Bronx known as Fort Apache. Not surprisingly, Michael Beckett has a similar background, which also includes acting on tv, the fictional aspect having Beckett portray - what else? - a cop, on the show "Law & Order." (His creator did work on NBC TV shows as well. So he definitely knows whereof he speaks.)

Beckett is still dealing with the emotional aftermath of his sister's death, of a drug overdose, at the age of 18, with all the attendant guilt and desire for revenge against the drug dealers who'd sold her the poison that had ultimately killed her. That desire for revenge is perhaps what led Beckett to become involved with some former and current members of the NYPD known as "rockers" - a group of vigilantes who, for a price, do what the "legitimate" cops can't do - among other things, rid houses of the drug dealers who inhabit them, "evicting" them by whatever means necessary, violent or otherwise. The history of that group, who became known as "Beckett's Rockers," leads to a current investigation by the Feds, who seem determined to take over the NYPD altogether.

The more prominent investigation here revolves around the search for a serial celebrity stalker known as The Angel of Death. Some of the celebrities he stalked have died from tainted heroin. The first of these was six years ago, when a 21-year-old superstar was found dead by her bodyguards, then off-duty police officer [and moonlighting] Michael Beckett and his father, a retired NYPD police lieutenant.

The book opens with the current client of Lisi & Beckett Protective Services Inc. [owned by "Sweet Tommy" Lisi, mob-connected and his father's business partner before his father's death], a 19-year-old D-list reality TV star Francine "Tata" Andolini. Beckett is working with his former lover, Destiny Jones, with whom he has a they-still-love-each-other relationship, complicated by all his former lovers who are still in the picture from time to time. Tata is described as a "barely literate whack-a-doodle on an inane reality TV show." (That speaks for itself with no further commentary needed from me.)

There are several other tragic deaths in the background here, and some other horrific criminal acts, e.g., the night Destiny was gunned down in the line of duty, Beckett killing the perpetrator. Also prominent is the death by apparent suicide of the fiancee of Tommy McKee, one of the Rockers, McKee still traumatized by her death years later.

Beckett is recently retired from the NYPD, after 18 years in the 41st Precinct, and doesn't quite know what to do with himself, feeling like a "dinosaur" who didn't fit in any more. His father had been a cop for 35 years, as had two of his uncles. The author certainly brings to life the Yorkville section of Manhattan and its denizens, and other areas of the tri-State area, and has the patois - well, down pat! He brings the book to an exciting conclusion, and I found the pages turning more and more quickly, reading it in less than 72 hours. As with its predecessors in the series, this newest entry is highly recommended.

Time's Up
Jamey Mack
Kensington Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781617736902, $15.00, Paperback, 356 pp.,

From the publisher: All her life, Maisie McGrane dreamed of following in her father and other brothers' footsteps and joining the force. But when she's expelled from the police academy, she's reduced to taking a job as a meter maid. Now, instead of chasing down perps, she's booting people's cars and taking abuse from every lowlife who can't scrape together enough change to feed the meter. McGranes weren't put on this earth to quit, however. When Maisie stumbles across the body of a City Hall staffer with two bullets in his chest, her badge-wielding brothers try to warn her off the case. But with the help of her secret crush, shadowy ex-Army Ranger Hank Bannon, Maisie's determined to follow the trail of conspiracy no matter where it leads. And that could put her in the crosshairs of a killer - - and all she's packing is a ticket gun.

Maisie and her family members - equal parts cops and defense attorneys - make for a fascinating group of characters, as are the others who populate this novel, the first in a series. In a first for this reviewer, immediately after I finished this book I opened up the next in the series, "Choked Up," which picks up when Time's Up ends. I did this primarily because although I liked the plots and sub-plots, and mostly liked the McGraine family, I found somewhat off-putting the nearly constant updates on the couture of the characters, both male and female, accompanied by regular descriptions of the various (and numerous) motor vehicles which oddly play a part in the novel. As well, there were several cultural references that escaped me. But I'll chalk that up to me and my advancing age, I guess.

There is much here to like, and the book is recommended, with that small cavil. More soon, as the review of the 2nd book in the series is next up for this reviewer, as mentioned above.

Choked Up
Jamey Mack
Kensington Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781617736926, $15.00, Paperback, 354 pp,

From the publisher: Scrappy Traffic Enforcement agent Maisie McGrane has finally landed her dream job as a Chicago police officer. There's just one catch. She must remain undercover as a meter maid to gather evidence against Stannislav Renko, a charismatic Serbian mobster running a brutal multi-million dollar mobile chop-shop operation. When Maisie is targeted by a killer who leaves a body slumped against her car, Renko comes to her rescue and takes her under his wing. From her perch inside the crime boss's inner circle, Maisie sets up a daring sting operation to take down Renko once and for all. But can she pull it off before her family of overprotective Irish cops and her sexy ex-Army Ranger boyfriend blow her cover?

We learn a bit more about the makeup of the McGrane family in this, the second entry in the series, e.g., her birth mother was killed in an accident, and her adoptive mother, who is black, adopted all of his six small children when she married their father ("Da" throughout), the family now made up of four cops and three attorneys. The family members become more interesting with each book, as do Maisie's lovers, a sexy bunch I must admit! The reader also learns a bit more about Chicago politics/corruption, three words inextricably intertwined throughout.

How can one not love a protagonist who quotes Virgil and Dashiel Hammett, watches episodes of Harry Bosch on tv and listens to Chet Baker on her I-Pod [or the equivalent]? Not me! This second book in the series is, as was the first, recommended, and I look forward to Maisie's third appearance in "Shoot 'Em Up," due out from Kensington in October 2016.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

Felix R. Savage
Knights Hill Publishing
Amazon Digital Services
B00VTRNV5E, $2.99, Kindle, 86 pages,

Crapkiller is a novella written to introduce an existing SF book series. It is an enjoyable fluff space opera. The author does attempt to place the story into the far future but lets slip in a few too many colloquialisms from this period of time. His science is good but his imagination of future tech has gaps. On the whole it is a fine light evening read.

Elfrida Goto is near finishing her training at the Space Corps Academy. Her training ship docks at Ganymede for what is billed as both time off and a light duty assignment. The assignment is anything but light. Ganymede has used its distance and independence from earth to experiment in genetic engineering. They created man sized hamsters which have become an ecological problem with the farms feeding the planet. As a pest classified species, the genetically enhanced hamsters are considered crap and the cadets are assigned the task of killing the invasive pests. But there is more to this than the surface story told to the cadets. Elfida has stumbled into a life and death situation.

Crapkiller is a light short space opera. It is an excellent read if you don't expect anything more than action based single night escapism. The context is young adult while the subject matter is adult. It is definitely worth reading when it is on sale but its drawbacks make the full list price justifiable only if you already enjoy the other books in the series.

Robert Blake
Telemachus Press
Amazon Digital Services
B0096TKWIG, $4.99, Kindle
ISBN: 9781938701382, 368 pages,

Deadrise is an extremely fun action/suspense thriller. It is well written and doesn't suffer from the common contemporary fallacy that it is better to shove impossible situations on the reader than to actually take the time to produce a story that could exist in the real world. The biggest drawback with the story is that at its end you discover that it is just an introduction to the rest of the books in the series.

Ex-Navy SEAL Ben Blackshaw is out on Chesapeake Bay diving for oysters just before hurricane Odette makes landfall. Instead of oysters, Ben finds a sunken speedboat with a load of gold bullion, a ticking radioactive dirty bomb and a body. Before he can make sense of what he has found, his island home is invaded by teams of professional killers looking for what he has found and willing to kill anyone from innocent bystanders to anyone who might have knowledge of what the speedboat had onboard. What the professional killers don't know is the lethality of Ben and his island neighbors.

Deadrise is one of the best contemporary action/suspense thrillers. It is a very easy recommendation to anyone who either enjoys the genre or is looking for an introduction into the genre. The only drawback is that you might want to commit to setting aside enough money to purchase the complete series before starting the first page in the story.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Discworld and Philosophy
Nicolas Michaud, editor
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800. Chicago, IL 60601
9780812699197, $19.95, PB, 316pp,

Synopsis: The Discworld series of science fiction novels by Terry Pratchett were and continue to be strongly popular. In Discworld, unlike our own frustrating Roundworld, everything makes sense. The world is held up by elephants atop a swimming turtle, the sun goes around the world every day, and things always happen because someone intends them to happen. Millions of fans are addicted to Pratchett's Discworld, and the interest has only intensified since Pratchett's recent death and the release of his final Discworld novel, "The Shepherd's Crown", in September 2015. Compiled and edited by Nicholas Michaud (who teaches Philosophy and English in Jacksonville, Florida), "Discworld and Philosophy" is comprised of twenty-three erudite and insightful articles ranging from a discussion of Moist von Lipwig's con artistry showing the essential con of the financial system, to the examination of everyone's favorite Discworld character (the murderous luggage), to what the lawless Mac Nac Feegles tell us about civil government, and so much more. "Discworld and Philosophy" also provides an in-depth treatment of Pratchett's magical universe, while other contributors deftly examine the power of Discworld's witches, the moral viewpoint of the golems, how William de Worde's newspaper illuminates the issue of censorship, how fate and luck interact to shape our lives, and why the more straightforward Discworld characters are so much better at seeing the truth than those with enormous intellects but little common sense.

Critique: Delightfully insightful, and an absolute 'must' for the legions of Pratchett fans and Discworld enthusiasts, "Discworld and Philosophy" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Discworld and Philosophy" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Comic Book Fever: A Celebration of Comics: 1976-1986
George Khoury
TwoMorrows Publishing
10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614
9781605490632, $34.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Comic Book Fever: A Celebration of Comics: 1976-1986", George Khoury (author of "The Extraordinary Works of Alan Moore" and "Kimota: The Miracleman Companion") presents a kind of "love letter" to his personal golden age of comics, 1976-1986, covering all the things that made those comics great-the top artists, the coolest stories, and even the best ads! Inside this full-color illustrated compendium are new articles, interviews, and images about the people, places, characters, titles, moments, and good times that inspired and thrilled us in the Bronze Age: Neal Adams, John Romita, George Perez, Marv Wolfman, Alan Moore, Denny O'Neil, Jim Starlin, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, The Hernandez Brothers, The Buscema Brothers, Stan Lee, Jack Davis, Jack Kirby, Kevin Eastman, Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Frank Miller - and that's just for starters. It covers the phenomena that delighted Baby Boomers, Generation X, and beyond: Uncanny X-Men, New Teen Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Love and Rockets, Crisis On Infinite Earths, Superman vs. Spider-Man, Archie Comics, Harvey Comics, Kiss, Star Wars, Rom, Hostess Cake ads, Grit(!), and other milestones! "Comic Book Fever: A Celebration of Comics: 1976-1986" is a trip back in time to re-experience those epic stories, and feel the heat of Comic Book Fever once again!

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, profusely illustrated, exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary, "Comic Book Fever: A Celebration of Comics: 1976-1986" is especially recommended to the attention of all dedicated fans of the comics and graphic novels from the mid-70s to the mid-80s.

A Civil War Captain and His Lady
Gene Barr
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611212907, $32.95, HC, 360pp,

Synopsis: More than 150 years ago, 27-year-old Irish immigrant Josiah Moore met 19-year-old Jennie Lindsay, a member of one of Peoria, Illinois's most prominent families. The Civil War had just begun, Josiah was the captain of the 17th Illinois Infantry, and his war would be a long and bloody one. Their courtship and romance, which came to light in a rare and unpublished series of letters, forms the basis of Gene Barr's "A Civil War Captain and His Lady: Love, Courtship, and Combat from Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign".

Josiah's and Jennie's letters shed significant light on the important role played by a soldier's sweetheart on the home front, and a warrior's observations from the war front. Josiah's letters offer a deeply personal glimpse into army life, how he dealt with the loss of many close to him, and the effects of war on a man's physical, spiritual, and moral well-being. Jennie's letters show a young woman mature beyond her age dealing with the difficulties on the home front while her brother and her new love struggle through the travails of war. Her encouragement to keep his faith in God strong and remain morally upright gave Josiah the strength to lead his men through the horrors of the Civil War. Politics also thread their way through the letters and include the evolution of Jennie's father's view of the conflict. A leader in the Peoria community and former member of the Illinois state house, he engages in his own political wars when he shifts his affiliation from the Whig Party to the new Republican Party, and is finally elected to the Illinois Senate as a Peace Democrat and becomes one of the state's more notorious Copperheads.

In addition to this deeply moving and often riveting correspondence, Barr includes additional previously unpublished material on the 17th Illinois and the war's Western Theater, including Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and the lesser known Meridian Campaign -- actions that have historically received much less attention than similar battles in the Eastern Theater. The result is a rich, complete, and satisfying story of love, danger, politics, and warfare.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, "A Civil War Captain and His Lady: Love, Courtship, and Combat From Fort Donelson through the Vicksburg Campaign" is an outstanding contribution to the growing library of Civil War memoirs, biographies, and general studies. Enhanced with the inclusion of ten maps, an appendix (An Interview with Author Gene Barr); a seven page Bibliography, and an Index, "A Civil War Captain and His Lady" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Civil War collections. For the personal reading lists of Civil War buffs, it should be noted that "A Civil War Captain and His Lady" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Murach's ASP.NET 4.6 Web Programming with C# 2015
Mary Delamater & Anne Boehm
Mike Murach & Associates
4340 North Knoll Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722
9781890774950, $59.50, PB, 926pp,

Synopsis: For those who have mastered the basics of C#, this newly revised and updated sixth edition of "Murach's ASP.NET 4.6 Web Programming with C# 2015" Mary Delamater and Anne Boehm presents a complete course of instruction in developing server-side web applications with ASP.NET Web Forms.

Section 1 is a quick-start course in creating your first ASP.NET Web Forms applications using Visual Studio, with coverage of what HTML5/CSS3 and Bootstrap are doing on the client side...a course that works both for beginners and for experienced web developers who are new to ASP.NET.

Section 2 gives you the skills you need for every web how to use the server controls, validate user entries, manage state, use master pages, make ASP.NET work with Bootstrap for responsive layouts, and use friendly URLs

Section 3 presents the skills you need for developing database-driven web applications at a professional level...including how to use SQL data sources, object data sources, and model binding and the Entity Framework with ASP.NET data controls like GridView, DetailsView, FormView, and ListView.

Section 4 covers skills that enhance your how to develop secure web pages, authenticate users with ASP.NET Identity, send email, control the use of the Back button, and deploy finished applications

Section 5 takes you to the next level by showing you how to use ASP.NET Ajax, how to develop WCF and Web API services, and how ASP.NET MVC programming differs from Web Forms programming

"Murach's ASP.NET 4.6 Web Programming with C# 2015" covers complete web applications including the web forms, the aspx code, and the C# code hat show how each feature works in context. It should be noted that these can be downloaded for free from the Murach website at

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Murach's ASP.NET 4.6 Web Programming with C# 2015" is thorough, comprehensive, and impressively 'user friendly' in tone, content, and presentation, making it unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Computer Instructional Reference Collections in general, and C# supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Living Treaties
Marie Battiste, editor
Cape Breton University Press
P.O. Box 5300, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, B1P 6L2
9781772060539, $24.95, PB, 317pp,

Synopsis: Canada's First Nations, Metis and Inuit lands and resources are still tied to treaties and other documents, though their relevance seems forever in dispute. Treaties were negotiated in good faith with the objective of shared benefits to all parties and members. It is important to know about them, to read them, to hear them and to comprehend their constitutional significance in order to recognize them as part of contemporary life.

Compiled and edited by Marie Battiste (Mi'kmaw educator from Potloek First Nations, Nova Scotia, and a professor in the Department of Educational Foundations at the University of Saskatchewan), reveals another side of the treaties and their histories in "Living Treaties". Focusing on contemporary perspectives of Mi'kmaq and their non-Mi'kmaw allies, who have worked with, experienced and lived with the treaties at various times over the last fifty years, the seventeen articles comprising "Living Treaties" are by authors who have had personal experiences contesting the Crown's version of the treaty story, or have been rebuilding the Mi'kmaq and their nation with the strength of their work from their understandings of Mi'kmaw history.

These contributors share how they came to know about treaties, about the key family members and events that shaped their thinking, their activism and their life's work. Having lived under the colonial regime of a not-so-ancient time, these passionate activists and allies uncover the treaties and their contemporary meanings to both Mi'kmaw and settler societies.

Here in "Living Treaties" are also to be found the voices of a new generation of indigenous lawyers and academics who, credentials solidly in hand, pursue social and cognitive justice for their families and their people. Their mission: to enliven the treaties out of the caverns of the public archives, to bring them back to life and to justice; and to use them to reaffirm, restore and rebuild Mi'kmaw identity, consciousness, knowledge and heritage, as well as their connections and rightful resources to the land and ecologies.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative introduction by Professor Battiste (Narrating Mi'kmaw Treaties: Linking the Past to the Future); three appendices, and a six page index, "Living Treatise" is an impressive body of seminal scholarship and a critically important contribution to community, college, and university library Native American Studies collections in general, and Canadian Aboriginal Studies supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Living Treaties" is also available in a Kindle format ($19.64).

Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight
Deb DeArmond & Ron DeArmond
Abingdon Press
2222 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., PO Box 280988, Nashville, TN 37228-0988
9781426790935, $14.99, PB, 179pp,

Synopsis: Every married couple experiences conflict and argument from time to time. It's not just gender stereotyping to say that the husband doesn't understand what his wife is really upset about. That he thinks she blows things out of proportion. Neither of them can agree on the right course of action. In every marriage, there is disagreement. And with every disagreement, there is a choice for resolution. Will husbands and wives ignore the issue until it seemingly goes away? Or will they work together to find peace?

In "Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight", Deb and Ron DeArmond give their readers permission to fight. Marriage is worth fighting for. Conflict isn't the problem, after all; the real issue is how conflict is dealt with. Combining a healthy dose of personal experience with relationship-affirming biblical wisdom, Deb and Ron demonstrate how communication through conflict can lead to greater insight and understanding of thoughts, feelings, and perspectives that can safeguard (and even strengthen) a marital relationship. Immensely practical features including worksheets, discussion questions, callouts, and prayers make "Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight" a definitive go-to resource to help husbands and wives to start fighting together for their marriage.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, impressively informative and thoughtful, immanently practical and ultimately inspiring, "Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Self-Help/Self Improvement and Conflict Management collections. It should be noted that "Don't Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.47).

Between Us Girls
Trish Donohue
New Growth Press
9781942572770, $15.99, PB, 132pp,

Synopsis: You feel more than mommy guilt. You feel a deep and growing conviction that you must do something to disciple your daughter. But what? How can a busy mom make sure that her daughter learns about the most important things in life: what Jesus did for her on the cross and how to be faithful to him in this broken world?

Author, mother, and pastor's wife Trish Donohue has been there, and that's why she wrote "Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters". These twenty-six gospel-driven talks are a fun and easy guide for mothers who want to disciple their daughters but don't know where to start. In each short chapter, moms and daughters read God's Word, ask one another questions about their thoughts and experiences, get honest about their struggles with sin, brainstorm ways to live out their faith, and build genuine fellowship into their relationship.

"Between Us Girls" is more than a devotional; it's a conversation guide, and the twenty-six "chats" are just the beginning. Ultimately, "Between Us Girls" teaches mothers and daughters a new way to communicate and starts them on a wonderful, lifelong journey of getting to know one another better and learning to love their Savior more. "Between Us Girls" was written by a busy mom for busy moms, so no prep time is needed! Just schedule some time with your daughter, grab this book, head to your destination of choice, and cherish every moment you share with your girl.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters" is informative, thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring. While very highly recommended for all Christian mothers with daughters, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Between Us Girls" is also available in a Kindle format ($15.99).

Gold Rush in the Klondike
Josephine Knowles
Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610352703, $22.95, HC, 172pp,

Synopsis: When Josephine Knowles left for the Klondike gold fields with her husband in 1898, she didn't know she would be facing a constant battle with cold, disease, malnutrition, and the ever-present possibility of death. With quiet determination, she resolved to survive, to endure each fresh hardship without complaint, and to be of service to the community around her.

A revealing and never-before-published personal memoir of day-to-day life at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, "Gold Rush in the Klondike: A Woman's Journey in 1898-1899" is Knowles's personal story of her year in the Yukon territory. Written in a clear, forthright, nineteenth-century style, "Gold Rush in the Klondike" presents terrifying struggles against a hostile environment, picturesque descriptions of an untouched Arctic wilderness, and Knowles's keen observations of men and women on the frontier.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a number of period photographs, "Gold Rush in the Klondike" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling memoir. An invaluable historical document of a lost time and place and an admirable portrait of one woman's determination in the face of danger, "Gold Rush in the Klondike" is enthusiastically and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library 19th Century American History and American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gold Rush in the Klondike" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

The Outward Mindset
The Arbinger Institute
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
9781626567153, $16.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: Unknowingly, too many of us operate from an inward mindset, that is, a narrow-minded focus on self-centered goals and objectives. When faced with personal ineffectiveness or lagging organizational performance, most of us instinctively look for quick-fix behavioral band-aids, not recognizing the underlying mindset at the heart of our most persistent challenges. Through true stories and simple yet profound guidance and tools, "The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves" enables individuals and organizations to make the one change that most dramatically improves performance, sparks collaboration, and accelerates innovation -- a shift to an outward mindset.

Critique: Headquartered in the United States, The Arbinger Institute is a worldwide training, consulting and coaching organization whose programs and methodologies are based on 45 years of research in the psychology of human behavior and motivation. In "The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves" the staff of the institute have deftly crafted an thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional guide and manual that could well prove to be a life-changing resource for the reader. While unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Outward Mindset" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.61) and in a complete and unabridged CD audio book format (Dreamscape Audio, 9781520014838, $19.99).

In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven
Jim Waddington & Sue Waddington
Goose Lane Editions
500 Beverbrook Court, Suite 330, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 5X4
9780864928917, $45.00, PB, 255pp,

Synopsis: Nearly a century ago, a group of artists traveled into northern Ontario and farther afield to capture the raw, terrible beauty that lay just beyond the outskirts of Canada's cities and towns. Armed with sketchbooks, brushes, and paint boxes, they set off into the heart of the wilderness with the singular purpose of interpreting the landscape in a modern mode of artistic expression.

In July 1977, Jim and Sue Waddington set off on their own expedition to discover the places that inspired these artists. Determined to locate, document, and photograph the actual landscapes that inspired A.Y. Jackson, Franklin Carmichael, Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris, A.J. Casson, J.E.H. MacDonald, Tom Thomson, and Frederick Varley, the Waddingtons began a thirty-six-year journey (tracking down clues, deciphering bits of information, tracing ancient portage routes, and exploring hidden inlets) all with the purpose of finding the very spots that gave birth to the work of the Group of Seven.

The result was an amazing story of discovery. "In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven" is a compendium in which original paintings are paired with contemporary photographs of the locations where the original works were created.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated with superbly reproduced images of original paintings paired with full color photography imagery that is enhanced with the inclusion of an informed and informative commentary, "In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven" is inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. An extraordinary and unique study that is exceptionally 'reader friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, college, and academic library collections.

Vogue the Shoe
Harriet Quick
c/o Octopus Publishing
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781840916591, $125.00, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: Shoes fascinate women of all ages and have the power to crystallize a moment in fashion. In "Vogue: The Shoe", award-winning journalist, editor and author Harriet Quick has curated more than 300 fabulous images from a century of British Vogue, featuring remarkable styles that range from the humble clog to exquisite hand-embroidered haute couture stilettoes via fetishistic cuissardes and outrageous statement heels. The images are grouped into five thematic chapters devoted to dazzling Cinderella heels; Town & Country classics; Cult Style inspiration; the escapism of Summer Dreaming and the fantasia of Extreme Heels. The images include pivotal work from Hoyningen-Huene, Irving Penn, Corinne Day, Norman Parkinson, Mario Testino and Nick Knight. Vogue is one of the world's most successful (and enduring) luxury brands. "Vogue: The Shoe" provides a wealth of fabulous images accompanied by incisive commentaries.

Critique: Impressive, exceptional, informative, inherently fascinating, and consistently compelling from beginning to end, "Vogue: The Shoe" is an extraordinary volume that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Fashion History collections. Community, college, and university librarians should note that "Vogue: The Shoe" would make an excellent Memorial Fund acquisition selection.

Helen Dumont

Laurel's Bookshelf

Jehrico: Eleven Stories of a Mexican Boy Making His Way in the Old West
Tom Sheehan
Hammer and Anvil Books
c/o Lazarus Media LLC
ASIN BO1I1A6SRO, 3.99, Kindle edition, 231 pages,

Tom Sheehan is a prolific wordsmith who excels in every genre. Whether poetry, short stories, mysteries, westerns, fiction or non-fiction, Sheehan paints with words in ways most writers can't imagine. In these eleven stories, he takes readers to the old southwest and treats us to life through the eyes and heart of Jehrico Taxico.

Jehrico is an abandoned boy from Mexico who wanders into adulthood a hopeful survivor of dangerous, chaotic times. Along the way he becomes a collector of people, places and things because nothing is useless junk to Jehrico. He sees treasure or hope everywhere and loves to bring things back to vibrant life. Happily, life returns the favor to this man of pure motives and kindly heart.

The hallmark of Tom Sheehan stories is exceptional prose creating memorable characters plunked into the middle of stunning topography. Readers become a part of Jehrico's world as falling stars climb and dive across the prairies, as night and sleep inch their way to blackness, or pure, cool water reveals gold nuggets hidden in mud. This is a reading experience I highly recommend.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

OE Wants It To Be Friday
Jo Meserve Mach and Vera Lynne Stroup-Rentier, authors
Mary Birdsell, photographer
Finding My Way Books
9780996835763, $19.49, HC, 54pp,
9780996835756, $8.99, PB, 54 pp,

"OE Wants It To Be Friday" is a special book celebrating a girl named Olga Ellise who has cerebral palsy but still leads an active, rich life. Another real person featured in "OE Wants It To be Friday" is Austin Hanson, who is an adult US Paralympic Boccia Team competitor despite his cerebral palsy diagnosis. OE is an adopted child from Russia who spent the first five years of her life in a crib. Now she leads a full active life, up every day, using a wheel chair and an assistive communication device, attending school, and playing her favorite sport, boccia, on Fridays with her coach, Austin. Using a special ramp and a special ball, OE plans and places her ball shot to win points in boccia, with coaching from Austin. Both OE and Austin work hard on playing boccia, taking time for a break and a drink when they need it. OE just loves her Friday boccia lessons with Austin and her Dad!

"OE Wants It To BE Friday" is part of a series, featuring an inspiring true story about a child's life that exemplifies self-determination and skill building in children with disabilities. After reading the inspirational description of OE's daily life and routine, with accompanying color photo action portraits, there is a Family Guide for Promoting Self-Determination to assist parents and caretakers of children like OE. Also, there are further suggestions for Classroom Activities for 'OE Wants It To Be Friday,' emphasizing facilitating problem solving and listening, increased understanding of non-verbal communication, and learning about different ways to communicate. "OE Wants It To Be Friday" is a typical inspirational biographical sketch about a real child who is practicing learning the skills of self-determination and communication. The message of inclusion is paramount in this and other books in this series.

Leah's Mustache Party
Nadia Mike, author
Charlene Chua, illustrator
Inhabit Media Inc. (Iqaluit)
P.O. Box 11125, Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, X0A 1H0
9781772270815, $16.95,

Leah loved dressing up as a pirate for Halloween and saying "ARRRR!" while waving her sword, but she felt something was missing. She asked her mother to draw a mustache on her face, since all pirates had mustaches. So while most girls dressed as fairies and princesses, Leah had a wonderful time at Halloween as a pirate with a painted on green mustache! After Halloween, Leah felt like dressing up as a pirate other times too, just for fun, with different colors of mustaches painted on her face. Leah's mother was happy to paint a mustache on her face whenever she felt like it. Later, when it was Leah's birthday, she decided she wanted to have a mustache party, where everyone who came would wear a different, silly mustaches that Leah's mother had made. Leah made her own mustache for the party, a painted teal mustache so silly and funny. Everyone who came to the party wore a different mustache, even the girls in dresses, some of whom wondered why Leah liked mustaches more than princess or fairy things. Leah had a wonderful time and went to bed still wearing her teal mustache, thinking what a cool party it had been. Mustache parties are the best! "Leah's Mustache Party" is a fun ebullient story that conveys a wonderful sense of freedom to all young readers, especially little girls. The underlying attitude of love, support, and acceptance of Leah's mother conveys security and stability to young dreamers who want to explore different ideas and try on different looks. Highest recommendations for gender identity acceptance and exploration go to "Leah's Mustache Party."

Centipede Lovers
Victoria Yousefi, author/illustrator
America Star Books
9781635084511, $16.95 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 39pp,

Presented by publishers America Star Books without editorial input, "Centipede Lovers" is a mini novel, or story about two gay centipede friends from Jerusalem who dream of living as openly gay centipedes in New York City. Nogly and Avly had secretly danced hip-hop, sang, and put on make-up and pink, high heeled shoes when they were home. It is an unusual, inspirational story about embracing your true self and believing in a dream of true love returned. Nogly and Avly managed to find a way to the city of their dreams, and soon found an outlet for their dancing and singing talents, celebrating their miraculous arrival in New York with spontaneous gay centipede hip-hop song and dance! Serendipitously, they met a gay Millipede record producer named Aldo who encourages them in their performance arena ambitions. All this and more exciting living opportunities develop for the performing duo, culminating in a fabulous Emmy awards scene, after which the friends continued celebrating, dancing and singing on 42nd Street. Unfortunately Nogly and Avly then woke up from a dream, in which they were really stuck in a difficult situation with Nogly's high heeled shoes stuck in a hole near 42nd street. Who should come to their rescue but Aldo the millipede record producer, who drove them off in his Lamborghini to a wonderful restaurant nearby, planning to offer them a plush contract for their song and dance production talents. The story line deals with issues of coming out as gay transsexuals and other sensitive issues, especially in dealing with close family members. A happy ending appears in sight with Avly and Nogly declaring their feelings for one another and happily anticipating the culmination of a lifelong love affair in a new place, with a new sexual identity, and freedom.

The Sport of Parenting
Oyuki Aguilar, author
Oyuki Aguilar and Jadyn Aguilar, illustrators
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781504347532, $17.45 HC, $3.99 Kindle, 46pp,

"The Sport of Parenting" is an amazing, inspirational collection of poems written by a mom gifted with the special perspective of a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. The author's sensitivity towards her children's bright futures opening possibly without her continued presence inspires and infuses every line and every thought. Whimsical delicate color paintings illustrate the message of each poem. Some of the poem subjects are telegraphed in titles: Astronaut, Bedtime Stories, Accidents, First Day of School, No Santa, Gloom, and Inheritance. Throughout the poems and the journey, a theme of profound parental love pervades. Here are some lines from the final poem, Inheritance: "I do not know if I will have much to leave you when I have passed on; any material items or properties anyhow. What I do know is that I will have shared with you the best of me. I leave you so much love,...... I leave you my words..... I leave you my essence... But above all I believe in you, you can be happy and wise and loving if you want, because I did the best that I could and that is my inheritance." These poems are good for parents and children to savor and absorb. They cut to the essential in the sport and pursuit of good parenting.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment
Christopher S. Beekman & Robert B. Pickering, editors
Gilcrease Museum
c/o University of Oklahoma Press (distribution)
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780981979991, $59.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the archaeology team of Christopher S. Beekman and Robert B. Pickering, "Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment" brings together contributions from an international team of contributors to reconnect archaeological field research on the shaft tombs of western Mexico (ca. 300 B.C. - A.D. 500) with museum-based research on the distinctive human figures for which the region is known. These finely made figures and dioramas have attracted the interest of archaeologists, art historians, and museum curators for over a century because of their expressiveness and rich detail, tempered by the sad fact that most of these objects were looted from shaft and chamber tombs and sold on the wider art market. "Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment" presents current research reflecting multiple perspectives and using many new techniques for delving into the forms, functions, and meanings of these enigmatic figures.

"Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment" is comprised of fourteen insightful chapters presenting new research in four thematic sections: Case studies: Archaeological and biological studies; Broader perspectives: The contexts of figures and tombs across larger areas; Collections-based research: Natural science or statistical perspectives; and Collections-based research: Visual culture perspectives. In addition, "Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment" provides a comprehensive historical overview of research on the figures and tombs and a discussion of archaeology's twin evils, looting and faking. In the final chapter, "Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment" propose avenues for productive new research that integrates different disciplinary approaches and takes advantage of new technologies that help scientists explore the past in new ways.

Basically and fundamentally, the goal of "Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment" is to expose current researchers in western Mexico and Mesoamerica at large to the productive lines of study currently taking place in the field, the laboratory, and the museum, and to increase awareness of the potential that exists for integrative and collaborative research.

Critique: Enhanced with illustrations, charts, figures, a fourteen page bibliography, a three page list of contributors and their credentials, and a fourteen page index, "Shaft Tombs and Figures in West Mexican Society: A Reassessment" is a model of archaeological scholarship and while a critically important addition to community, college, and university library Archaeology Studies collections in general, it will prove to be of immense interest for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Mexican Archaeology in particular.

World of the Teton Sioux Indians
Frances Densmore, author
Joseph A. Fitzgerald, editor
World Wisdom
1501 East Hillside Drive, Bloomington, IN 47401
9781936597512, $23.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: Sometime in August 1913, two Sioux warriors, Old Buffalo and Swift Dog, met with Frances Densmore at a makeshift recording site in McLaughlin, South Dakota. What Old Buffalo and Swift Dog said that day about life as they knew it before the reservation era began lives on still in the pages of Frances Densmore's "World of the Teton Sioux Indians: Their Music, Life, and Culture". Densmore (1867-1957) went on to interview numerous Sioux (or Lakota)/Teton (Lakota) Sioux men and women, collecting both their songs and their stories. The present version is an abridged edition of Teton Sioux Music, which according to William Powers is "one of the few monographs universally regarded as a true classic of Lakota culture". It has been skillfully edited by Joseph A. Fitzgerald to focus less on musical technicality and more on the cultural value of Densmore's work. The subjects addressed include the Sun Dance, dreams, treatment of the sick, military societies, buffalo hunts, and social dances.

Critique: Enhanced with more than 130 color and black-and-white illustrations, a Phonetic Key, lists of Figures and Songs, an Index of Personal Names, a General Index, and Biographical Notes, ""World of the Teton Sioux Indians: Their Music, Life, and Culture" is a critically important addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Native American Studies collections in general, and Sioux Culture supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Wisdom Keeper
Ilarion Merculieff
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781623170493, $15.95, PB, 193pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Wisdom Keeper: One Man's Journey to Honor the Untold History of the Unangan People", Ilarion Merculieff weaves the remarkable strands of his life and culture into a fascinating account that begins with his traditional Unangan (Aleut) upbringing on a remote island in the Bering Sea, through his immersion in both the Russian Orthodox Church and his tribe's holistic spiritual beliefs. He recounts his developing consciousness and call to leadership, and describes his work of the past thirty years bringing together Western science and Indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge and wisdom to address the most pressing issues of our time.

Tracing the extraordinary history of his ancestors (who mummified their dead in a way very similar to the Egyptians, constructed one of the most sophisticated high seas kayaks in the world, and densely populated shorelines in North America for ten thousand years), Merculieff describes the rich traditions of spirituality, art, dance, music, storytelling, science, and technology that enabled them to survive their harsh conditions. The Unangan people of the Aleutian Islands endured slavery at the hands of the U.S. government and were placed in an internment camp during WWII, where they suffered malnutrition and disease that decimated 10 percent of their population.

Merculieff movingly describes how the compassion of Indigenous Elders has guided him in his work and life, which has been rife with struggle and hardship. He explains that environmental degradation, the extinction of species, pollution, war, and failing public institutions are all reflections of our relationships with ourselves. In order to deal with these critical challenges, he argues, we must reenter the chaos of the natural world, rediscover our balance of the masculine and the sacred feminine, and heal ourselves. Then, perhaps, we can heal the world.

Critique: Ilarion Merculieff had a traditional upbringing and a Western education, earning a BA from the University of Washington. He has served as chair of the indigenous knowledge sessions of the Global Summit of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change, as cofounder of the Indigenous Peoples' Council for Marine Mammals, the Alaska Forum for the Environment, the International Bering Sea Forum, and the Alaska Oceans Network. He is currently the president of the Global Center for Indigenous Leadership and Lifeways. "Wisdom Keeper: One Man's Journey to Honor the Untold History of the Unangan People" is an inherently fascinating and deeply personal account that is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Native American Studies collections in general, and Unangan supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Wisdom Keeper" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Black Power 50
Sylviane A. Diouf & Komozi Woodard, editors
The New Press
126 Wall Street, Floor 31, New York, NY 10005-4007
9781620971482, $24.95, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled by Sylviane A. Diouf (an award-winning historian of the African Diaspora) and Komozi Woodward (Professor of History, Sarah Lawrence College), and featuring an informative Foreword by Khalil Gibran Muhammad (Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), "Black Power 50" is a study of the African-American movement that burst onto the world scene in 1966 with ideas, politics, and fashion that opened the eyes of millions of people across the globe. In the United States, the movement spread like wildfire: high school and college youth organized black student unions; educators created black studies programs; Black Power conventions gathered thousands of people from all walks of life; and books, journals, bookstores, and publishing companies spread Black Power messages and imagery throughout the country and abroad. The Black Arts Movement inspired the creation of some eight hundred black theaters and cultural centers, where a generation of writers and artists forged a new and enduring cultural vision. "Black Power 50" includes original interviews with key figures from the movement, essays from today's leading Black Power scholars, and over one hundred stunning images, offering a beautiful and compelling introduction to this pivotal movement.

Critique: Profusely illustrated, exceptionally well organized and presented, informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Black Power 50" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content and commentary, making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library African-American Studies collections, and the personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in African American History.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Realm of the Drells
Kenneth Zeigler
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768408126, $17.99, 347 Pages

A Fast Moving Adventure Combining Suspense, Action, the Supernatural, Science Fiction Fantasy, and Spirituality

Debbie and a group of teenage friends meet to participate in a seance. In the midst of what is planned to be an innocent experience, Debbie is mysteriously transported back in time into the dark underground world of the Drell's. She finds herself in the midst of a melting pot of youth from all nations working as slaves, in ankle shackles, ruled by a taskmaster who uses a whip to inflict fear and pain.

Unknown to Debbie, a group of scientists on earth are working on a plan to save her and her friends from the evil realm of the Drells. In response to a dream, Debbie makes it her mission to free these new friends from bondage, and to abolish the barbaric cruelty, oppression and spiritual darkness of the Drells.

Ziegler's inventive word pictures stimulate creativity in the mind of the reader adding a unique dimension to a fast moving plot, with a diverse cast of characters. The genres of science fiction and fantasy open the door to the intriguing possibilities of verifiable fact, and a Biblically based message through a fictional approach to spirituality, the supernatural or any reasonable theory of science or medicine. His well-developed dialog encourages thought provoking questions as to the existence of mystical beings, witches, curses, magic and other popular beliefs accepted as the norm in the seventeenth century regardless of personal bias of the reader.

Recurring themes in areas of faith, sacrifice, personal mission, redemption, and deliverance from bondage will inspire the reader, regardless of personal bias. Ziegler is an excellent communicator with amazing insight into the Scriptures, scientific theories, and the art of storytelling.

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

And It Was Beautiful - Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye
Kara Tippetts
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781413527, $14.99, 248 pages,

A Gripping Message of God's Grace in the Midst of the Uncertainties of Cancer

"And It Was Beautiful" is the third book in Kara Tippetts' courageous story of living with the uncertainties faced while battling stage four cancer. Her first book, "The Hardest Peace" helps the reader understand the difficulties of dealing with motherhood in the midst of the expectations of being a pastor's wife.

In Tippet's second book, "Just Show Up" she collaborated with Jill Lynn Buteyn, a close friend. Together they inspire readers to be available to help with the everyday household tasks, and childcare, shopping and other simple errands. There are other times when friends are needed to provide quiet visits, comfort and understanding in a spirit of empathy.

In "And It Was Beautiful" Tippet tells of the heart-wrenching physical and emotional pain of losing her hair, recognizing the maintaining friendships, while facing surgery, radiation, and more uncertainty. She speaks of the "fragility of life" of adding another doctor to her team. She describes the "weariness of receiving," when it is her desire to be there for her family, and to be the one caring for them.

Soon after her diagnosis of cancer, Tippet started a blog Mundane Faithfulness.
She wanted to share from insights she was learning with others who were also dealing with end of life issues.

"And It Was Beautiful" is made up a collection of these blogs formatted into short chapters, a beautiful story of a spiritual journey of a "Celebrating Grace in the Midst of a Long Good-bye." Kara Tippet's writing is open, honest. She is willing be vulnerable exposing her struggles while find God faithful.

Throughout her writing she encourages her readers to recognize and reflect on God's grace in every situation. Although written from a woman's perspective, Kara's example of faith in the midst of battling cancer will inspire anyone struggling with terminal illness: the victim, their families, and their caregivers.

Friends of the Wigwam - A Civil War Story
John William Huelskamp
Burlington Group Publications
9780692348826, $16.95, 372 Pages

True Life Characters, Flawless Research, Historical Fact, and a Creative Historical Plot

"Friends of the Wigwam" is set in the state of northern Illinois in the years 1857 and 1865. The locations, battles, and other events are based on historical fact and come alive throughout the development of the narrative.

One by one six young friends become bonded together through the discovery of the hidden cave, "The Wigwam," near the shore of the Pecatonica River. This fictional account of their lives is a testament of their value for principles of loyalty, of uniting behind a cause, dedicated to bigger than life heroes. It is a story of bravery and sacrifice, where the innocence of youth is stolen in exchange for the atrocities of war.

Will, Aaron, Allie, Jenny, T. J. and Trick are intertwined throughout the chronology of the events of the Civil War. These remarkable incidents are representative of their struggles, successes, determination to make a contribution in unifying our nation. Their efforts are told in a way that will be indelibly imprinting on the memory of the reader and will not be soon forgotten.

Huelskamp has an amazing ability for using descriptive words and phrases that form distinctive images and inspire the reader to use all five senses; to capture a scene that matches the action, to listen for the quiet, to feel the muddy slime of the riverbed, or taste the "grass stem" between the lips.

Reading Huelskamp's "Friends of the Wigwam" has given me a new appreciation for the insight and research necessary to create the right balance of historical accuracy, realism, and creative license. "Friends of the Wigwam - A Civil War Story" is an important dramatic reminder of sacrifice, dedication, and courage of the heroes of American history.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Seeker
Pamela DuMond
Pamela DuMond Books
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01HAN66LG, $3.99, Kindle,

Pam DuMond is a chiropractor by trade and an author by passion. When Erin Brockovich told her life story, Pam decided it would make a great movie and pitched it to Hollywood. Pam herself hails from the Midwest, first Indiana, then later on Chicago. She moved to L.A. in her thirties and found her home and muse there. Pam writes Cozy mysteries, Romance, and Self-help books. Her romantic YA time travel novel entitled THE MESSENGER (Mortal Beloved) was optioned for film/TV. She is also a USA bestselling author.

In THE SEEKER (Mortal Beloved, Book Three) Madeline Blackford is a Messenger, suddenly sent to various geographic locations around the world at crucial historical moments to deliver messages to historical players. She is part of a network of Messengers, Healers, Hunters, and Seekers who spend their lives tweaking history. Madeline is a 17-year-old from Chicago who lost her mother at a young age. Madeline has also found the love of her life, Samuel Delacroix, who shares her time travelling adventures. Samuel is a Healer. Samuel and Madeline are attacked at the high school prom, which sets off a series of time travels to determine their future and Madeline's role in the world of the Ancients:

"I gave my head a shake: I couldn't be drawn to this boy. I was going to prom next week with his reincarnation. Don't be a fool, Madeline, I thought. The 'Samuels' aren't really the same person. They never have been and they never will be."

THE SEEKER answers many of Madeline's questions: who her mother and father really are, why she has been given the task of a Messenger, and finally, will she and Samuel be together? It is charming and cleverly written. DuMond's writing entices.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Quantum Glory
Phill Mason
XP Publishing
PO Box 1017 Maricopa, AZ 85139
9781936101597, $25.00 PB, $10.49 Kindle, 399pp,

I was so thrilled to receive this book to read because I love reading about the Quantum Glory of God. This is a thick long book and you will love every page that you read because you will see God's Glory in the words that you read. As the author says, It is designed to equip you in supernatural ministry and believe me that is what it does and more. You can't just read it once, it must be read and understood over and over again. as God's greatness is revealed and you begin to understand you can share this with Him. It's a real learning book, written well and I'm very happy to recommend it to you. Excellent. You will love this one.

Andrew Scott
Moody Publishers
820 N. LaSalle Blvd., Chicago, IL 60610
9780802412904, $14.99, 216pp,

This is a book that will wake you up quickly. Our Author asks you questions about your walk with the Lord, how you handle your daily life, the people you come in contact with, the things you say and do. Are you a help to the Kingdom, or do you meet someone who is down and sad and just turn away instead of ministering about your Savior. It is a eye opener book that will help you get back to where you should be for God. It's one helpful book and I recommend it to you. Excellent.

Gazing Into Glory
Bruce D. Allen
DT Johnson Publishing Company
c/o Destiny Image
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978076843736, $14.95, 122pages

I loved reading this book because it is full of encouragement for you as a child of God, or for others who may be seeking peace. Mr. Allen gently teaches you how to reach closer to God, to know when His Spirit is moving and to share in His ways. He has several things for you to do to help you achieve your goal. Great book, happy to recommend it to you.

A Sworn Virgin
Kristoper Dukes
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
1517547369, $14.95, PB, 292pgs,

I think what caught my attention with this book is that I feel this really happened and perhaps still does. We meet a Lady who is forced into a marriage she does not want, but has to have. It is a touching story, sad with no happy ending but one of truth that some must go through. It is very well written and will keep your attention.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Alabama's Crimson Mission
Tommy Ford
Whitman Publishing
4001 Helton Drive, Florence, Alabama, 35630
9780794844318, $29.95, HC, 128pp,

Synopsis: The Alabama Crimson Tide rolled to its 16th national championship in the University of Alabama's football program's storied history with its 45-40 victory over Clemson in January 2016. In "Alabama's Crimson Mission: Coach Saban & The Tide Silence Critics With 16th National Championship", author and Tide insider Tommy Ford reveals how head coach Nick Saban and his players overcame a tough loss to Ole Miss to reel off 11 straight victories and reach the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against the Tigers.

Despite losing to Ole Miss by only six points in a sloppy, five-turnover game, the Tide was written off by the national media, declaring Alabama football a thing of the past. But the players ignored the noise. The upperclassmen decided to take matters into their own hands by calling a players-only meeting. Senior safety and kick-return specialist Cyrus Jones - who along with Reggie Ragland, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kelly, Jarran Reed, A'Shawn Robinson, Derrick Henry, and Eddie Jackson took leadership roles in the meeting - said, "We realized it was time to bring everybody together and just kind of re-state what we want from this team this year. We can't dwell on what happened in the Ole Miss game. That's gone; that's in the past. We have to focus on the future."

Jones' "focus on the future" comment spoke volumes for this Alabama squad for the remainder of the season. Every game was an elimination game for Alabama, and, even more challenging, the upcoming six-game stretch was as brutal as any in Crimson Tide football history; three top 10 teams, plus another in the top 20. Against all odds, Alabama responded magnificently by winning all six contests and, in the process, climbed from No. 13 in the Associated Press poll prior to the Georgia win to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings following its mid-November victory over Mississippi State. The winning streak infused new energy into the Tide players and coaches, and the Alabama football nation. Big games certainly remained, but one thing was certain: Bama football was back.

After defeating Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl and Florida in the SEC Championship Game, the Tide (riding on the shoulders of Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry) shut down Michigan State in a playoff semi-final to set up a meeting with Clemson in the CFP National Championship Game. The Tide's victory over the Tigers certainly didn't disappoint, as fans witnessed one of the most thrilling games in years.

Critique: "Alabama's Crimson Mission: Coach Saban & The Tide Silence Critics With 16th National Championship" is profusely and beautifully illustrated with full color images taken by Alabama Athletics Department chief photographer Kent Gidley and his staff. Informed and informative, "Alabama's Crimson Mission" is a "must" for the legions of University of Alabama football fans and would aptly serve as a template for the celebration of other university football teams.

Psychology 101 1/2: The Unspoken Rules for Success in Academia
Robert J. Sternberg
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433822490, $29.95, PB, 295pp,

Synopsis: Now in an updated and expanded second edition, "Psychology 101 1/2: The Unspoken Rules for Success in Academia" by the eminent psychologist Robert J. Sternberg (Professor of Human Development at Cornell University) updates and extends a trove of wisdom gleaned from decades of experience in various academic settings and leadership positions. In his signature straightforward, intellectually honest, and pragmatic style, Professor Sternberg imparts life lessons for building a successful and gratifying career. This newly revised edition features lessons in five basic categories: identity and integrity, interpersonal relationships, institutions and academia, problems and tasks, and job and career. Recent developments in the field are covered, and new questions at the end of each lesson prompt reader self-reflection.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, content, commentary, organization and presentation, "Psychology 101 1/2: The Unspoken Rules for Success in Academia" will prove to be an invaluable addition to the personal reading lists of academic psychologists at any level, as well as graduate students, post-doctorates, and early-career professors in the field of psychology -- and will prove to be of immense and accessible interest to non-specialist general readers with an interest in psychology. Simply stated, this new and expanded edition of Professor Sternberg's "Psychology 101 1/2" is an absolute "must" addition to community, college, and university library Modern Psychology collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Representing Ebola
Marouf A. Hasian Jr.
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
9781611479560, $85.00, HC, 253pp,

Synopsis: It is no understatement to say that the African ebola epidemic shook the world.

"Representing Ebola: Culture, Law, and Public Discourse about the 2013-2015 West African Ebola Outbreak" by Marouf A. Hasian Jr. (Professor of Communication, University of Utah) provides readers with a critical legal analysis of the recent West African Ebola Outbreak. Professor Hasian argues that a review of the scientific, military, legal, economic, political, and mediated coverage of this latest outbreak highlights the ways that organizations like the World Health Organization or Doctors Without Borders want to conceptualize the importance of rapid emergence from the West during African Ebola epidemics.

Professor Hasian concludes that while the U.S. military and other organizations prided themselves on their belated responses to this outbreak oftentimes journalists, scientists, and others overlooked the contributions that were made by contract tracers and indigenous public health workers.

Sadly, the 2013-2015 West African outbreak took the lives of thousands of individuals, and Professor Hasian contends that this contributed to sensationalist ways of representing local burial and food habits. "Representing Ebola" concludes by noting that while many West African leaders appreciated the billions of dollars of promised aid that would flow toward this region in the wake of the Ebola outbreak real "health security" measures have to involve longer term infrastructural changes.

Talk of how Westerners rescued the West Africans need to be augmented with more nuanced ways of thinking about how many of those who actually battled Ebola need to become part of future conversations regarding everything from theories of "aerial" transmission to the steps that need to be taken during the first few weeks of recorded outbreaks.

Critique: An extraordinary, compelling, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking study, "Representing Ebola: Culture, Law, and Public Discourse about the 2013-2015 West African Ebola Outbreak" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Enhanced with the inclusion of a twelve page Bibliography and a six page Index, "Representing Ebola" is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary African Studies & Medical Studies collections in general, and Ebola Outbreak & Control supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Representing Ebola" is also available in a Kindle format ($67.99).

When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home
Marian Small
990 Fort Street, Suite 300, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8V 3K2
9781460286753, $45.99, HC, 341pp,

Synopsis: 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the end of what was called at the time 'the war to end all wars'.

John Russell Small was a Veteran of that War and served as a first sergeant in the American expeditionary forces. "When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home" is a true account of his experiences before, during and after the War, as written by his daughter, Marian Small who set out at the age of 89 years to tell the story of a 20 year old boy whose love of adventure took him in 1916 to the Texas/Mexican border to join Brigadier-General John J. Pershing in the pursuit of Pancho Villa, the Mexican bandit, and then in 1918 to the trenches in France and No Man's Land.

At the death of her father in 1978, Marian inherited his collection of memorabilia which dates back 100 years to the time of his enlistment in the Ohio National Guard in 1916. Included were historic photographs and the original letters that John had written to his parents and to his sweetheart, Mary, (later his wife) as well as a 1918 diary that he took with him when he was sent over the sea to France.

John kept his diary with him on the many nights when he led his platoon as they marched for miles in the dark, in rain and mud, to the various trenches in No Man's Land. Even in the vermin and rat-filled trenches, with the sounds and dangers of the war going on all around him, he continued to write in his diary, as well as in his letters describing in detail the war as he was witnessing it.

"When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home" is a compelling human interest story that recognizes the valor of the doughboys in WWI. Those who returned to the country they loved faced many hardships, including the Great Depression. The war, however, had given them the will to survive and it was through them and their stubbornness, frugality, pride and a firm belief in disciplining their children so that a generation was born in the aftermath of World War I that would grow up and after a second World War, became know as the greatest generation.

Critique: A welcome addition to the growing library of World War I memoirs and biographies, "When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home" is an inherently fascinating, informative, and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. While very strongly recommended as a critically important contribution to community, college, and university library American Military History collections in general, and World War I supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "When Johnny Doesn't Come Marching Home" is also available in a paperback edition (9781460286760, $34.99).

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

Down Among the Dead Men
Peter Lovesey
Soho Crime
753 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781616956264, $27.95, Hardcover, 373 pp
9781616956394, $15.95, Paperback, 400 pp

Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond is dragooned by his superior, Assistant Chief Constable Georgina Dallymore, to accompany her to Sussex on a special inquiry requested by her counterpart to investigate and write a report on the suspended head of the local CID group, Hen Mallin, who, three years earlier, failed to follow up evidence implicating her niece. Diamond, of course, is reluctant to join the effort, until he discovers he knows and had worked with Mallin, believing her to be an excellent detective. The problem is that Mallin freely admits to the indiscretion. So, how can he save her?

From that simple brief Diamond (and Dallymore) undertake a broader investigation, not only of the circumstances of Mallin's error, but a wider look into a series of murders, missing persons and what appears to be a thriving business of hiding the bodies.

Ostensibly a police procedural, the novel is a charming and well-constructed tale in which Diamond shines both as a detective and as a person, especially as he has to deal with his superior with kid gloves, subterfuge and witticisms. The plot is cunningly written and little is telegraphed so the reader keeps hurriedly turning pages to find out what happens next.

Highly recommended.

Manitou Canyon
William Kent Krueger
Atria Books
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476749280, $24.99, Hardcover, 328 pp,

Of the fifteen volumes in the excellent Cork O'Connor series, this latest is one of the best. It finds Cork in the midst of at least two conspiracies during which he probably learns more about himself than he has in a long time. It is November, a month in which he has undergone several tragedies, including the death of his wife. In a depressed mood, his daughter's wedding looms in a couple of weeks.

The Cork is approached by the grandchildren of a boyhood friend he has not seen in decades, who has gone missing in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, to try to find the man despite a two-week search-and-rescue operation having failed and efforts called off. Instead of the couple of days by which Cork promised his daughter to return, he and the accompanying granddaughter go missing as well. And this leads to some of the best writing and descriptions in a series that abounds in such efforts as Cork and the woman are captured and with their captors trudge and canoe northward to Canada.

Meanwhile back home Cork's family and friends realize something has gone wrong and they fly to Raspberry Lake looking for him. With winter setting in, it becomes a race not only for survival for the group that captured Cork, but also for his rescuers. As is usual, the author gives the reader deep insight not only into Ojibwe culture but the Northwoods environment in which the story takes place.

Highly recommended.

Open Grave
Kjell Eriksson
Paul Norlen, Translator
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250025494, $25.99, Hardcover, 288 pp
9781250091086, $15.99, Paperback, 280 pp

Kjell Erikson hardly writes traditional mysteries. What he does, and does well, is put together in the Ann Lindell series psychological studies of characters who interact, together with a deep look at his signature character and her past and present. "Open Grave" is an excellent example of his work. The story is built around Professor Bertram von Ohler, a Swedish research doctor who has just been notified that he has won a Nobel prize and its affect on his various neighbors, his housekeeper of 55 years and others: their reactions and in some cases actions.

Ann Lindell plays a minor roll in investigating various incidents perpetrated on the Professor: a rock thrown at his house; a human skull left on his fence. Apparently his choice as a Nobel laureate is less than popular. Meanwhile, Lindell has to confront her past as a dear friend is dying and she has to visit in the presence of the love of her life, which relationship ended many years before.

The only criticism that can be made is the slowness in developing the novel. More than 100 pages are consumed with minutiae as the novel progresses finally to the main story line. Of course, that is a characteristic of this author's modus operandi, but when he finally gets going there are constant surprises. It is not unusual for this author's characters to retain secrets, and this novel is no exception. In fact, the story is built around these secrets. While there is a murder at the end of the tale, it is almost an afterthought which makes the novel a crime story.


Who Let the Dog Out?
David Rosenfelt
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250055330, $25.99, Hardcover, 324 pp
9781250056337, $15.99, Paperback, 352 pp

A kidnapped dog becomes the key to Andy Carpenter's latest case in which he defends the kidnapper, who shortly after stealing the canine is murdered. The dog, rescued by Andy's foundation from the dog pound, was owned by a chemistry professor on the lam and suspected of murdering his partner. These are only the first two corpses to inhabit the complicated plot in the novel involving smuggled "blood diamonds" and the unsavory characters that inhabit that world.

A highlight of novels in this series usually is the amusing cross-examination conducted by Carpenter resulting in his client's acquittal. Not so this time. Instead there are all kinds of machinations outside the framework of the case that makes the reader wonder what it's all about. The usual cast of characters peoples the story. In addition to Andy, of course, is Laura, now his wife, Sam, the hacker-accountant, Marcus, the silent protector, Willie, who operates the dog foundation, Pete the police captain, and Vince the newspaper editor.

Somehow, this reader felt the book fell short of the level of others in the series. While it reads well, the story does not rise to the type of quips found in prior entries either in the courtroom or the banter between Andy and his friends while drinking beer. Nonetheless, it is recommended.

The Fall
John Lescroart
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., Ny, NY 0020
9781501140662, $9.99, Paperback, 448 pp,

John Lescroart has written 25 previous novels, many of them with superb courtroom drama featuring Dismas Hardy. This novel, however, highlights the introduction of his daughter, Becky, just two years out of law school, as the lead attorney in an unusual murder trial which ordinarily would test the talents of the equivalent of an F. Lee Bailey.

The atmosphere in San Francisco where the novel takes place is charged with public and political outcry after the trials of a series perpetrators of criminal acts against black victims do not result in convictions or, even worse, not even an arrest, much less even finding a suspect. So, when a 17-year-old black female is murdered, the police and DA rush to find a viable suspect and bring him to trial. A chance meeting between Becky and Greg Treadway, later charged with the murder, leads to her representing him as his attorney.

Give "the Beck" (her nickname) credit for showing a great deal of legal expertise and just plain acumen far beyond what one would expect from a neophyte attorney in a maiden trial, one for murder no less. But then, she's the offspring of Dismas Hardy. Needless to say, the trial takes on a life of its own, giving the author the opportunity to exhibit some arcane legal principles. More important, Mr. Lescroart once again demonstrates his ability to twist and turn the tables on the reader in a most unexpected way. Although the book is interesting as a whole, it is especially recommended just for the unusual ending.

The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father's Nazi Boyhood
Mark Kurzem
c/o Random House Publishing Group
875 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670012260, $26.95, Hardcover, 396 pp.
c/o Random House Publishing Group
9780452289949, $16.00, Paperback, 432 pp.,

This book is a perfect example of Truth is Stranger than Fiction. It is the story of how a five-year-old Jewish boy managed to escape the wholesale slaughter in 1941 from a small village near Minsk while hiss family and others were killed by a Nazi extermination squad. He manages to hide and survive in forests until he is adopted by a Latvian sergeant and made a mascot, clad in a variety of uniforms as he accompanied the soldiers in the field, witnessing all kinds of atrocities.

After the war, he ends up in Australia, where he marries and has three sons. Many years later he tells part of his story to hi eldest son, the author of this improbable tale, and thus begins an effort to verify elements of his story and establish, if possible, his original identify, since he has no early memory at all, not even his name, except for two words which mean nothing to him.

Not only is the story unusual, but also the level of the writing: This is the author's first book, and is of the high quality of a seasoned novelist. There are countless remembrances of the Holocaust, but none approaches this mystery of how a young Jewish boy survived constant exposure while being in the middle of Nazi and Latvian soldiers fearing constant threat of possible death if discovered.

Highly recommended.

The Redeemers
Ace Atkins
c/o Random House Publishing Group
175 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399173943, $26.95, Hardcover, 370 pp.
9780425282830, $16.00, Paperback, 400 pp.

On his last day as Sheriff, Quinn Colson, having lost an election largely manipulated by John Stagg, still remains very much involved in the affairs of Tibbehah County, MS. On New Year's Eve, his last night on duty, an outrageous break-in occurs at the home of a "leading citizen," a backhoe crashes through a bedroom wall and a safe containing almost $1 million in cash and other valuables, including secret records of illegal payoffs, is stolen. This part of the plot dominates the novel, as efforts continue to capture the culprits and retrieve the incriminating documents which possibly can finally enable the law to catch up with Colson's nemesis, crime boss Johnny Stagg.

But there are other subplots including Quinn's sister, Caddy, who agrees once again to drug rehab, Quinn's involvement with his first love, Ann Lee, a mother of two and one of the reasons he returned to Jericho after 10 years as a ranger, the reemergence of his father, Jason, now proposing to farm the old homestead and raise horses and cows, and his deputy, Lillie Virgil, who is undecided as to what to do when Quinn is replaced in office.

Colson follows through even after he is replaced as Sheriff and despite overwhelming efforts by Stagg and his allies to annihilate him, facing terrible odds toward the conclusion of the novel. Once again Mr. Atkins has demonstrated Quinn's sense of honesty and purpose, and sneakily solves the mystery of how the perpetrators of the home invasion will be brought to justice.


Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Tales from a Mad Man's Wife
Marilyn Miller Skylar
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
9781457524196, $17.95, PB, 346pp,

Synopsis: "Tales from a Mad Man's Wife" by Marilyn Miller Skylar offers her readers a unique behind-the-scenes look at a the "Mad Man" style of advertising typical of the postwar era of peace and prosperity.

After heeding his nation's call to duty and serving in the Air Force in World War II, David Skylar entered the University of Missouri's journalism school, vowing to become a newspaper reporter. Although he experienced success on the Columbia Missourian staff, David didn't find his true calling until the biggest ad agency between Chicago and New York signed him as a freelance writer.

This passionate ad copy writer soon proved his worth and dove headlong into advertising and public relations. The fast-paced business, which came into its own in the 1940s to 1960s, brought fame and fortune to the young man, known as "the Green Hornet" by his employees for his creativity and craftiness.

From his agency vice presidency at just 33 years old to discovering Liberace's musical talent and putting it to use in a successful bank sponsorship to becoming a newspaper publisher, "Tales from a Mad Man's Wife" is a memoir that reveals David's incredible coast-to-coast career. As well as being the brains behind numerous campaigns, he devoted himself to charity work and became a confidant to mayors, senators, judges, and governors.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, "Tales from a Mad Man's Wife" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. "Tales from a Mad Man's Wife" is a unique and unreservedly recommended contribution to community and academic library American Biography collections in general, and 20th Century American Business Culture supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Facing the Anthropocene
Ian Angus
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583676103, $95.00, 280pp,

Synopsis: Science tells us that a new and dangerous stage in planetary evolution has begun and has been named the Anthropocene, a time of rising temperatures, extreme weather, rising oceans, and mass species extinctions. Humanity faces not just more pollution or warmer weather, but a crisis of the Earth System. If business as usual continues, this century will be marked by rapid deterioration of our physical, social, and economic environment. Large parts of Earth will become uninhabitable, and civilization itself will be threatened. Facing the Anthropocene shows what has caused this planetary emergency, and what we must do to meet the challenge.

Bridging the gap between Earth System science and ecological Marxism, Ian Angus (editor of the online ecosocialist journal Climate and Capitalism) examines not only the latest scientific findings about the physical causes and consequences of the Anthropocene transition, but also the social and economic trends that underlie the crisis. "Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System" offers a unique synthesis of natural and social science that illustrates how capitalism's inexorable drive for growth, powered by the rapid burning of fossil fuels that took millions of years to form, has driven our world to the brink of disaster. Survival in the Anthropocene, Angus argues, requires radical social change, replacing fossil capitalism with a new, ecosocialist civilization.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Facing the Anthropocene: Fossil Capitalism and the Crisis of the Earth System" is a compelling read that is remarkably informed and informative. An invaluable and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Ecology and Political Economy reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Facing the Anthropocene" is enhanced with the inclusion of a compelling Foreword by John Bellamy Foster, a useful list of abbreviations, an appendix (Confusions and Misconceptions), thirteen pages of motes, a twenty-one page bibliography, and a thirteen page index. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Facing the Anthropocene" is also available in a paperback edition (9781583676097, $19.00) and a Kindle format ($9.99).

Daniel F. Prosser
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626341593, $22.95, HC, 253pp,

Synopsis: In today's corporate world, 87 percent of companies fail to successfully execute the strategy they set for a given year. In the pages of "Thirteeners: Why Only 13 Percent of Companies Successfully Execute Their Strategy -- and How Yours Can Be One of Them", CEO mentor and Coach Dan Prosser shows how to make any company one of the other 13 percent--a Thirteener.

In the process, Prosser explains that the true challenge of building a great company--one that consistently executes its strategy--is understanding the real nature of human interaction and the key to success: connectedness. Written specifically for CEO, business owners, entrepreneurs, or and anyone struggling to build the business they've always wanted, "Thirteeners" will help: transform an organization's internal connectedness so the reader can achieve the next level of performance they are re looking for; create a workplace environment that supports their vision and assures participation by every team member; and produce breakthrough results.

With a focus on business as a network of interrelated conversations and through groundbreaking ''Best Place To Work'' company research, Prosser demonstrates what is needed to be done to transform the way employees think and act to achieve unprecedented levels of performance for their company.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, ""Thirteeners: Why Only 13 Percent of Companies Successfully Execute Their Strategy -- and How Yours Can Be One of Them" is a complete course of instruction under one cover and will prove to be an enduringly popular, practical, useful, and even inspiring addition to community, corporate, and academic library Business Management instructional reference collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of business students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Thirteeners" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

The Warmup Guy
Bob Perlow
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781455621507, $22.95, HC, 238pp,

Synopsis: Television shows like Friends, Full House, and Growing Pains might take only 20 minutes to air, but tapings frequently last several hours. From the 1970s to the early 2000s, Robert Perlow was the go-to warmup comedian on television sets, where he was responsible for keeping the live studio audience engaged and laughing. In this hilarious tell-all book, Perlow offers a personal, behind-the-scenes look at some of television's most famous shows and actors. With stories including Tim Allen's on-set meltdown, an improv class with Robin Williams, and a close friendship with Alan Thicke, Perlow divulges everything from the good and the bad to the downright outrageous!

Critique: An inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from beginning to end, "The Warmup Guy" is impressively well written, organized and presented, giving the appreciative reader true insights in the creation of television programming. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Warmup Guy" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.49).

Paul T. Vogel

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

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