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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 9 September 2017 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

The Lyrical Comics of Dillies Set
Renaud Dillies
NBM Publishing
160 Broadway, Ste. 700, East Wing, New York, NY 10038
c/o Independent Publishers Group (dist.)
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781681121062 $49.95

Synopsis: The bittersweet "funny animal" comics of French master comic artist Dillies are collected here in one specially priced set. From Abelard, a love struck little chick who'll go to the end of the world to catch the moon for his beloved, to Bubbles & Gondola, with Charlie the mouse battling a case of writer's block, to Betty Blues, about a hard-bitten jazz trumpeter duck and the gorgeous floozy he loses to his music - these are fairytales for adults with the surrealist charm of Herriman's Krazy Kat.

Critique: Author Renaud Dillies (winner of Best First Album Award at the Angouleme Comics Festival, France's highest set of awards for comics) has a gift for creating unforgettable comic parables. The soft color artwork and anthropomorphic animal characters lend a timeless, all-ages appeal to these literary graphic novels. The storytelling is often bittersweet, reflecting on life's cruelties but also its lingering joys. Each hardcover volume of this trilogy chronicles a journey in search of meaning, whether across the seas or through the layers of one's psyche. The Lyrical Comics of Dillies Set makes a memorable gift for connoisseurs, and is highly recommended for personal and public library graphic novel collections.

Natural Attraction
Iris Gottlieb
Sasquatch Books
1904 Third Ave, Suite 710, Seattle, WA 98101
9781632171016 $18.95 hc / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Best buds, frenemies, freeloaders, bullies, copycats, hangers-on. We're accustomed to all types of people and human interactions. But animal relationships can be just as weird and complex. For anyone who's ever felt a bit awkward in their relationships, wait until you hear about how complicated things get in the animal world. This funny and enlightening gift book depicts charming and unusual symbiotic animal relationships in all their awkward glory.

Through delightful watercolor illustrations and funny yet scientifically accurate text, Iris Gottlieb explores the symbiotic relationships of 35 odd, cute, and unpredictable animal pairs. Here are stories of vampires, cannibalism, mimicry, parasites, and more. You'll learn a lot about nature--and human nature--as you recognize traits of your own friends, frenemies, and enemies in this insightful, amusing look into the secret lives of animals.

Critique: Zoology is a deep and exciting field of science, and Natural Attraction showcases some of the most remarkable animal relationships in nature. Simple color illustrations enhance the straightforward descriptions of unusual evolutionary strategies, interspecies partnerships, and little-known animal oddities - such as the "vampire finch", a bird that literally feeds on the blood of unsuspecting blue-footed boobies. An utterly fascinating browse from cover to cover, Natural Attraction is a choice pick for both personal and public library collections. It should be noted that Natural Attraction is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

From Antarctica to Zimbabwe
Dr. Quinta
9781947350007 $24.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Quinta was plodding through a successful but mundane career when she was relieved of her job. She took her newfound freedom and endless time as an opportunity to reinvent herself and rediscover joy in life. She packed her bags and embarked on a solo trip around the world. For three and a half months, she traveled to twenty three countries and all seven continents.

From Antarctica to Zimbabwe is the story of Quinta's adventures as she made her way around the world. From camping in the Sahara Desert in Morocco, to walking cheetahs in Zambia, to surviving her ship hitting an iceberg in Antarctica, her experiences made her come alive and believe in herself again. This is a story of self-discovery and finding the courage to live the life we really want to.

Critique: From Antarctica to Zimbabwe: How I Hit the Reset Button On My Life is an extraordinary travelogue, spanning one woman's journey across seven continents and twenty-three countries. A handful of color photographs illustrate the story of Dr. Quinta's true-life adventures, from witnessing Stonehenge, to a somber tour of the Kigali Genocide Museum in Rwanda, to getting the runaround from a highly unprofessional driver, to the opportunity to pet "tame" cheetahs. In the process she learned more not only about the world, but also about herself, and cultivated the inner fire to say "F*@# this sh*t" when necessary. Packed with insightful travel tips, From Antarctica to Zimbabwe is highly recommended, both for armchair travelers and prospective globetrotters! It should be noted for personal reading lists that From Antarctica to Zimbabwe is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Out of the Ruins
Robert H. Haworth & John M. Elmore, editors
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781629632391, $24.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Contemporary educational practices and policies across the world are heeding the calls of Wall Street for more corporate control, privatization, and standardized accountability. There are definite shifts and movements towards more capitalist interventions of efficiency and an adherence to market fundamentalist values within the sphere of public education. The important news is that emancipatory educational practices are emerging. In many cases, these alternatives have been undervalued or even excluded within the educational research. Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Robert Haworth (Assistant Professor in the Department of Professional and Secondary Education at West Chester University, Pennsylvania) and John M. Elmore (Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Professional and Secondary Education at West Chester University, Pennsylvania), "Out of the Ruins: The Emergence of Radical Informal Learning Spaces" is comprised of thirteen erudite and scholarly articles that collectively explore and discuss the emergence of alternative learning spaces that directly challenge the pairing of public education with particular dominant capitalist and statist structures.

Critique: Out of the Ruins sharply criticizes the entire social structure of the current educational system, especially its capitalistic, market-driven approach, and offers viable alternatives in its assembly of essays by public education experts. While unreservedly recommended as a core addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Education Issues collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers that "Out of the Ruins" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Catholics and Protestants
Peter Kreeft
Ignatius Press
PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522
9781621641018, $16.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: "Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?" by Peter Kreeft (Professor of Philosophy at Boston College) focuses on the important beliefs that Catholics and Protestants share in common. Professor Kreeft asserts that "Professor of Philosophy at Boston College" was inspired by Christ's high priestly prayer in the Gospel of John "that they may be one," and by St. John Paul II's ecumenical encyclical, Ut Unum Sint, which is also based on Christ's prayer for unity.

While there are still significant differences, Professor Kreeft maintains that there has been a radical step of agreement on the single most important issue, justification.

Written in a style reminiscent of Pascal, Nietzsche, Solomon, and Jesus, "Professor of Philosophy at Boston College" offers short answers, single points to ponder, rather than long strings of argument. It is direct, simple, and confrontational, but vertically rather than horizontally, "directing arrows not against each other (Protestant or Catholic) but against our own hearts and minds and wills".

"Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?" is timely because, as Pope St. John Paul II said, this next millennium is destined to be the millennium of Christian reunification as the first millennium was that of Christian unity, and the second one of Christian disunity.

Critique: Impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?" is a critically important and informative contribution to today's ecumenical dialogue. While very highly recommended, especially for church, seminary, and academic library Contemporary Christian Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of all Christians (regardless of their denominational affiliation) that "Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.98).

The Lairdbalor
Kathleen Kaufman
9781683365884, $29.99, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: When seven-year-old Jamie falls down a very long hill, he finds himself trapped in a world of strange creatures, harsh landscapes, and near-perpetual darkness. Lost and confused, Jamie is desperate to get home. The nightmares, fears, and all manner of what-ifs that inhabit this shadow world are unfamiliar to him -- all except one: the Lairdbalor, Jamie's personal nightmare, once relegated to his dreams. In this fantastical land, however, the Lairdbalor and all the fears and nightmares of children are very real.

But Jamie's nightmare is different. It is the sum total of the anger and anxiety that imprisoned him in his former life, and it threatens to consume and rule the nightmare realm, a place where time passes differently. With each slumber, Jamie finds himself inexorably changed. The farther he travels through this terrifying world, the better he understands the one he left behind.

Critique: A unique, deftly crafted, impressively engaging read from cover to cover, "The Lairdbalor" showcases author Kathleen Kauman's extraordinary flair for imaginative and entertaining storytelling. While unreservedly recommended, especially for highschool and community library YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lairdbalor" is also available in a paperback edition (9781683365877, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

Carry Forth the Stories
Rodney Frey
Washington State University Press
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164-5910
9780874223484, $29.95, PB, 276pp,

Synopsis: In "Carry Forth the Stories: An Ethnographer's Journey Into Native Oral Tradition", Rodney Frey (Professor of Ethnography and Distinguished Humanities Professor at the University of Idaho) offers personal and professional insights into the power and value of storytelling gleaned from over forty years of successful work with indigenous peoples. In "Carry Forth the Stories" Professor Frey addresses permissions and cultural property rights, tribal review, "giving back", and indigenous learning styles, perspectives, and knowledge. Learning from his hosts and striving to engage in collaborative, applied, ethical-based research, writing, and classroom pedagogy, Professor Frey's own personal experiences present a model for connecting with tribal groups. In "Carry Forth the Stories" Professor Frey also intertwines stories drawn directly from interviews, oral histories, and elders, and even shares facets of his own cancer journey seeking help from both Native and Western healing traditions.

Critique: An impressive work of original and seminal scholarship, "Carry Forth the Stories: An Ethnographer's Journey Into Native Oral Tradition" also features a three page Pronunciation Guide; a three page Indigenous Term Glossary; a four page Bibliography; and a seven page Index. An extraordinary and exceptionally well written, organized and presented study that makes it fully accessible to both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject, "Carry Forth the Stories" while prove to be a unique and valued contribution to both community and academic library Native American Studies collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

When They Were Young: A Sam Dawson Mystery
Steven W. Horn
Granite Peak Press
P.O. Box 2597, Cheyenne, WY 82003
9780983589488 (cloth) $27.50
9780999124802 (paper) $16.95
9780999124857 (ebook) $ 4.99

When They Were Young is the third Sam Dawson mystery in a series, but prior familiarity with its award-winning predecessors is not required in order to enjoy this vivid, stand-alone saga revolving around a photographer who is simultaneously trying to solve the mystery of a child's murder while juggling his complicated personal and professional relationship with girlfriend Annie.

Wyoming and Nebraska form the backdrops for this story, which opens with the grim discovery of a child's body, frozen in the wilderness, and moves back and forth from investigator Sam's experiences and perspectives to those of Annie, who has rented a broken-down ranch house in the Wyoming wilderness against his advice, and who is the editor and new owner of a small publishing house.

The long, sometimes-stormy road of their personal and professional relationship is nicely summarized in the beginning, setting the stage for events to come: "Above all, Annie believed in Sam's artistry. His photographs were more than pictures. They spoke volumes to the viewer - each image a story with a beginning, middle, and end. But something besides his visual images caused a light feeling deep within her and a shortness of breath. She had made the mistake of a lifetime when she pushed him away eight years before. What had seemed insurmountable at the time, she now viewed as insignificant, considering all they had been through. She thought it funny how time and experience can change one's perspective."

It should be noted that readers expecting a 'whodunnit' mystery may receive more then they bargained for in a read which not only considers a murderer and a changing relationship, but the paths of investigation and introspection which make for real change and create transition points from otherwise-stuck characters.

Events that affect these choices are bigger than either Sam or Annie's perspectives, which are well detailed here as a preface to exciting changes in their lives, and Steven W. Horn takes the time to craft these points and build logical emotional and event-driven stepping stones between them, leaving no reader behind.

Having the dual viewpoints of the two main characters creates interesting interplays of psychological inspection that are succinct and revealing throughout: "She tried not to think about the embarrassing confrontation at the coffee shop. She was angry with herself for hurting Sam again. The fact that he was visibly upset spoke volumes about his feelings for her. Yet he refused to act on those feelings. Lately he seemed withdrawn and edgy, always cynical. She could not determine if his disappointment and frustration were with his or her career. Perhaps neither, she reasoned."

Can a child's murder and the investigative efforts that evolve from the case create new options for Sam and Annie's stalled relationship? While this story is intended for high school readers and above, it's the new adult and adult mystery reader with more than a light affection for psychological depth who will find When They Were Young a powerfully done story that is as compelling for its relationship struggles as it is for the mystery that sends Sam on the most challenging quest of his life, which threatens to change everything.

With exquisite tension and attention to detail, When They Were Young is very highly recommended both as a stand-alone psychological mystery and as a continuation of Sam's life and challenges as he fields a stormy road to an ultimate, impossible choice.

(While the book will be released on October 26, 2017, it will be available for pre-sales in hardback, paperbook and ebook by mid-September.)

The Writer's Bloom
Neha Katyal
Independently Published
ASIN: B073DDV32P $0.99 ebook

At first The Writer's Bloom seems to revolve around a writing reality show that involves its contestants in a competition for success; but in actuality, it offers more than this. The plot thickens to include a scientist's experiment with a strange opportunity to relive (and possibly revise) lives, and so the fifteen participants who enter this talent event find themselves embarking on quests through parallel worlds.

The replica world they've entered can help them find their heart's desire and ambition, or it can point out the way to faith, light, and something bigger than protagonist Saanvi could ever have imagined. Her foray into this strange new universe leads readers into a lively chronicle of self-examination, higher purpose, and mystery as she attempts to answer the question "What do you call living?" An "adventurous nightmare" evolves as Saanvi learns new lessons she's charged with sharing with the world - if she can figure out the wisdom from the replica universe relates to the rest of her life in the 'real' world.

Writers often get lost in their stories. But in this case, Saanvi can't afford to wander, and she and those who have experienced this unusual quest are charged with bringing important insights to light: "I talked a lot about 'The Pursuit'; that pursuit of a dream would add meaning to our lives, that every second of following my dream would be a moment of revelation with self, with life, and that pursuit of a right thing always entails pursuit of happiness. But, I missed a very important thing. Did you wonder what would constitute your dream? What would the 'right' thing be? How would you decide your pursuit?"

Don't forget that The Writer's Bloom is a competition - one involving revised lives, new abilities, and new possibilities which could prove bigger prizes than what had initially been promised.

Fiction readers who enjoy solid doses of philosophical, moral and ethical, and spiritual reflection in their pieces, with a dose of sci-fi added in for good mix, will find The Writer's Bloom an extraordinary piece which does an excellent job of synthesizing all these facets into its unusual tale. It's rare to see inspirational fiction and sci-fi intersect so effectively; but this is well achieved here, with the story of a scientist whose ultimate goal is to pinpoint the purpose of life itself.

No Regrets in Paris
Jim Tacon
Jim Tacon, Publisher
9781974372805 $4.99,

No Regrets in Paris is a wry observational novel about bad decisions, bad luck, and a thread of disaster that seems to follow every move made by protagonist Mike, whose seemingly solid life is thrown into chaos by a series of circumstances not always out of his control. With a good job and a steady girlfriend, what could go wrong?

Murphy's Law begins with a phone vibrating with too many messages during a business meeting. When Mike finally has time to check, he's treated to a breakup notice via text. And the sad fact is: he hadn't even registered the many warning signs leading up to this startling event: "The realization that my girlfriend of almost two years has distanced herself without me even realizing it is sobering."

As more bad decisions follow on his part, from an experiment with cocaine to leading a wild new bachelor life that constantly seems to blow up in his face, readers are treated to a roller coaster of angst and irony as Mike circumvents challenges created in part by his association with freewheeling buddy Shane, who constantly leads him in questionable directions.

A trip to Paris could change all that when Mike meets an incredible woman there and is forced to not only confront his past actions, but his future possibilities. What could go wrong?

It should be mentioned that this book is, in turn, bawdy, ribald, hilarious, romantic, and edgy. Mike is not the kind of heroic protagonist that wins everything his heart desires, in the end: he's more of a good boy gone bad who is trying to find his way in life and with women, and this theme will especially appeal to new adults likely to relate heavily to Mike's struggles and efforts. Those he encounters along the way can be just as edgy in their actions: "Not content with insulting their way down the line, the Scotsmen raise the stakes by mooning the crowd."

This is a good opportunity to mention that all the descriptions in No Regrets in Paris are crisp, contemporary, and fun: "Before I can offer my opinion on the selfie, we embrace against the setting sun, the moment captured forever. Or at least until someone steals Annette's phone. After photo bombing some other couples, we continue on our way."

Will Mike reach the love of his life with the appropriate gestures; or will he once again face a failed romance? Against the backdrop of his romantic growth and overtures to the lovely Annette is the atmosphere of Paris and the efforts of a young man looking to grow new purposes and relationships in his life, against all odds.

Vivid, immediate, and fun, No Regrets in Paris blends well-done dialogue and realistic scenarios with a sense of action and discovery that will keep fiction readers involved to the very last page.

By Light of Hidden Candles
Daniella Levy
Kasva Press LLC
Trade Paperback: 9780991058471 $14.95
Ebook: 9780991058488 $6.95

What do a family ring and a last wish closely held by a dying woman in 16th-century Fez, a Spanish researcher charged with finding out a long-hidden truth, and a journey through modern romance and Inquisition-era events have in common? By Light of Hidden Candles pulls all these disparate forces together in a story that blends history, a purpose from the past, and the evolution of a modern relationship into its web of intrigue with a tale that is especially vivid for detail-oriented readers of historical fiction and ancestry quests.

Such an audience will relish the fact that Daniella Levy's story is steeped in both the present-day atmosphere of Spain and its past tumultuous history, weaving a healthy dose of real events into its plot as it follows two characters whose genealogical quest turns into personal journeys into faith and understanding.

One satisfying note to the story line is that Alma is not a professional researcher, but a student learning the ropes. She's also Jewish, and well aware that any relationship with a Catholic boy would cause issues with her faith and her family. But Manuel Aguilar holds skills she needs, and so she both acknowledges and sets aside any prejudice in favor of a greater goal which becomes even bigger than she'd imagined: "Of the eight of us, I was clearly at the greatest disadvantage. If I ever did manage to get to a point where researching the archives would be in the realm of possibility for me, I would be working at half the speed of the other students...If I could get him to help me...And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. He was a Spanish speaker. His Spanish, in fact, was probably closer to medieval Castilian than anybody else's, because he was actually from Spain. And if he could read archaic scripts like that on his first try, he'd be reading them like his own handwriting by the beginning of next semester...On the other hand...I bit my lip, feeling guilty about the fact that I even considered the fact that he was Catholic a reason to hesitate."

Another important feature is that the story is narrated from the alternate perspectives of Alma and Manuel, who each have their own religious and cultural reasons for embarking on this particular journey together. This provides a satisfying set of insights throughout as both of them consider their different heritages and how these perspectives affect their research project's evolving surprises.

These two have different ways of seeing the world, and their faith and dialogue embraces both Jewish and Catholic philosophies as events unfold. There's also a modern flavor to their interactions as their discussions consider some of the spiritual beliefs each struggles with: "I had struggled with that question before in the past - about unbaptized babies and such; and we believe that God has mercy on children, and we come up with other ways to squirm out of the problem; but the fact is that there really is no satisfying answer - at least not that I know of - in the Catholic faith. It's simply one of those things you live with, and I'm sure there are struggles like this in Judaism too. But it had not mattered to me nearly as much before I actually sat in front of someone I care about, who I believe absolutely does not deserve an eternity of suffering, and contemplated the question." "So actually, about that..." I pulled out my phone, opened my browser app, and handed it to him. He gave me a confused look. "Have you ever heard of Karl Rahner and the concept of the 'Anonymous Christian'?"

The blend of historical quest and modern-day confrontation is lively and well done as they also encounter the people and challenges of unfamiliar places: "What do you think you are doing?!" I whirled around her, shoving myself between her and the gang. "I'm going to give those cretins a piece of my mind." She tried to step around me, but I gripped her by the upper arms, planting her firmly in place. "What are you, crazy?!" I exclaimed in a hushed voice. "This isn't America! You can't just march over there and ask them to please stop spraying offensive graffiti!"

The result is a special recommendation for audiences who enjoy thought-provoking blends of spiritual examination, interpersonal interactions and growth, history's effects on the present, and the experiences that bring ancestral history to rest in a compromise that follows two very different new adults in their strange and revealing journey.

Portsmouth The Way It Was
Ellen Fulcher Cloud
Beach Glass Books
P.O. Box 72672, Richmond, VA 23235
9780998788104, $19.95,

The second updated edition of Portsmouth The Way It Was republishes a classic, enhancing it with new photos, information, and a hardcover edition intended for durable library lending and years of reference that should be in any collection strong in local North Carolina history.

Portsmouth Island was a small seaport which thrived for two centuries, but is now deserted. In 1996, Ellen Fulcher Cloud recreated its history from source materials ranging from letters and personal photos to historical records and archive materials, documenting not only the events that affected life on the island, from wars to storms, but providing (as much as possible) insights into the lives and experiences of island residents over the years.

A new foreword by coastal author Ray McAllister discusses how this out-of-print gem came to be reissued and surveys the author and historian's efforts to preserve local history in this book.

One might think, from this, that readers of Portsmouth The Way It Was would need to have prior familiarity with the island in some way; but the fact is: even those with little knowledge of the island or North Carolina will find it an engaging local history key to understanding the early heyday of shipping in the region, the effects of war (which changed the island's population and purposes), and how this community receded in the face of too many obstacles to its lifestyle after the Civil War: "The days of shipping were gone and there was very little employment to be had. People returned, only to leave some years later to seek employment. There were those who knew no other life or wanted no other life. They returned. They were willing to take their chances, believing that peace and harmony would once again come to their town. Return it did, and year by year the popular declined so that peace and harmony became isolation and loneliness."

This poignant, absorbing story of a small town's changes and challenges as it faded into anonymity would have been lost were it not for Ellen Fulcher Cloud's efforts and those of her family and locals who assured that this edition, published posthumously, would mean that the experiences, lives, and history of Portsmouth Island would not die away into obscurity. Portsmouth The Way It Was is a vivid local chronicle of changing small-town America. As such, it's highly recommended not just for North Carolina collections, but for any concerned with keeping regional American history alive.

Ocracoke: The Peal of the Outer Banks
Ray McAllister
Beach Glass Press
P.O. Box 72672, Richmond, VA 23235
9780692742457, $22.95,

The release of an 'enhanced edition' of the original 2013 publication Ocracoke: The Peal of the Outer Banks means that libraries seeking lending copies of an expanded edition and individuals who want a keepsake copy will enjoy a 35 percent increase in page size, which allows for the addition of numerous photos and the enlargement of others in a classic which closely examines the history and people of a North Carolina island that has experienced much change over the years.

The book is a winner of the North Carolina Association of Historian's Willie Parker Peace History Book Award, and it well deserves this and other acclaim as it brings together not only local history but a wealth of photos and drawings of Blackbeard, 20th century island life, and more in some 150 black and white illustrations.

Be forewarned, however, that this book's pictorial strengths only serve to compliment a treasure trove of text that delves deeply into history; so it's not intended as a pictorial survey with sketchy facts so much as a detailed history embellished with vintage images. Readers of Outer Banks history will be thrilled at this level of depth, which reaches from early history to World War II's surge of naval buildup which doubled the population of the island. The development of ferry routes in the 1950s by enterprising businessmen who saw opportunities in such a system (before the state of North Carolina bought the makeshift wooden ferry system begun by Frazier Peele) and the island's tourist reputation as 'Pony Island' (because hundreds of ponies once roamed the island - even though nobody knew exactly how they'd arrived there) are just a few other stories unique to this island and this book.

Oracoke has become much more accessible in the 20th century, but still remains somewhat isolated despite the influx of tourists. From shipwrecks to hurricanes and exceptional beaches, McAllister's history captures the atmosphere and evolution of the island in such a way that even non-residents and those relatively unfamiliar with Ocracoke will find it a lively, compelling read.

Ocracoke: The Peal of the Outer Banks is recommended for any collection strong in regional American history in general and North Carolina's islands in particular.

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts: The Unbelievables Book 1
K.C. Tansley
Beckett Publishing Group
9781943024001, $12.99,

Kat is a girl who deliberately ignores ghosts not because she doesn't believe in them, but because she's had way too much experience with them in the past. Unfortunately, her determination to ignore them isn't working; especially when she visits a ghost-ridden island that makes it impossible for her to turn her back on these haunting encounters.

Kat's story involves not just ghosts, but time travel, love, a murder mystery, and the kind of ghostly encounter that turns possession into an idea that can be used by both Kat and her ghostly pursuers: "There hadn't been any warning. No sense of a ghost emerging. If she was a ghost. I wondered for a moment if maybe she was a spirit who had somehow managed to suck me into the moment she was doomed to repeat. But she wasn't like any of the spirits I'd known. They were weak, and she definitely wasn't weak. And I wasn't just in her reality - I was her."

Compelled to investigate an 1886 murder mystery involving the disappearance of newlyweds on their wedding night on the small island of Acacia, Kat and her research partner Evan find themselves confronting 'unbelievables,' as they not only journey into the past, but tackle a mystery which literally takes over their lives.

There's so much at stake in her actions; not the least of which involves becoming an 'unbeliever' in the presences that have always been a part of her world: "You have to stop believing in us. You have to deny that ghosts exist. You have to refuse to let them into your reality." Push them all away? They'd been by my side all my life." And if she does succeed in becoming an unbeliever, what will happen to the ghosts she's helped all her life?

Timeslip genre reads typically involve some form of mystery and an effort to return to one's own timeline; but an added dose of complexity and supernatural encounters in The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts sets it apart from most other young adult timeslip adventures. The complexity lies in a host of characters, including ancestors that interact easily with Kat, and who hold special interests and purposes that contribute to the story line. While this approach may stymie those who expected a more linear, simpler production, these special interests add depth to the story.

And while the intended audience is young adult, given the protagonist is a high school senior, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts should not be ignored by adults who look for supernatural thrillers that are well-drawn, multifaceted, and compelling - especially those who choose YA tales for leisure reading. All ages will readily be attracted to Kat's encounters and conundrums, and will find its characters nicely detailed, its tension well drawn, and many underlying currents relating to belief and altruistic efforts.

The Girl Who Saved Ghosts: The Unbelievables Book 2
K.C. Tansley
Beckett Publishing Group
9781943024049, $12.99,

Book 1 of 'The Unbelievables' young adult supernatural timeslip mystery series introduces protagonist Kat, a high school student at McTernan Academy assigned the daunting task of investigating a grisly murder and a family puzzle. But Kat didn't just conduct her research in libraries: she spent her summer in a castle and traveled back through time in an effort to solve the mystery.

After all this, in Book 2, she's looking forward to a normal, drama-free year at school; but she can't ignore the pleas of a young ghost who begs for her help, and soon she uncovers something even ghosts are afraid of - an evil Dark One who wants to contribute to Kat's demise.

As supernatural encounters turn into horror and immerse Kat in a deadly dilemma, she finds she can no longer work with either the spirits or her abilities, yet finds herself drawn into their world in a strange new way that defies her attempts to survive.

As Kat learns she must find a new road between working with ghosts or rejecting them, she also discovers that time is the one thing she and Evan and helpful ghost Toria need more of - and probably don't have.

The Girl Who Saved Ghosts provides quite a different set of dilemmas and moral conundrums surrounding a girl's association with spirits and the price she pays for it, making for a sweeping blend of action and thought-provoking insights that crosses genres between a mystery, a supernatural thriller, and a timeslip saga. The dual story of ghost Toria's life and dilemma is a satisfying adjunct to the contemporary Kat's world, and is nicely and seamlessly injected into the plot to add an extra degree of intrigue.

The Girl Who Saved Ghosts's primarily audience will be young adults who like unusual stories of ghostly encounters; but adults who regularly dip into the YA category for leisure reads and who seek multifaceted stories will welcome the different approach and strong character of Kat, who finds her longest-held beliefs challenged by a force that goes beyond the spirit realm she's become familiar with.

(It should also be noted that because this is part of a series, it also includes a cliff-hanger paving the way for more books. Readers who appreciate Kat's encounters in these two books can look forward to more adventures.)

The Pirate of Janaconda Island
Warren Firschein
Chapter Two Press
PO Box 870, Safety Harbor, FL 34695
9781942679042, $12.99,

When two twelve-year-old children, Lucy and Paddy Hendricks, inadvertently run afoul of a well-laid plot in The Pirate of Janaconda Island, adventure begins and danger looms - but Lucy and Paddy aren't anticipating an action-filled summer. They feel they are being banished to a boring island with little to do on a "crummy rock heap in the middle of nowhere."

This changes when the kids experience a near-accident as soon as they arrive. Add a creepy old mansion that is to be their new home and the option of using a boat and suddenly a boring summer becomes exciting. As their anticipation of boredom turns to a series of adventures, threats, and intrigue, Lucy and Paddy go caving, become involved in a real-world treasure hunt, and face secrets that tie their house to a present-day mystery.

Advanced elementary to middle school readers will appreciate the intrigue and mystery which permeate this realistic story of two kids who find more trouble than they'd bargained for when they embark on a treasure hunt that places them at odds with other searchers.

Dialogue is well done, adult interventions and actions juxtapose nicely with the siblings' efforts, and young readers will become immersed in a series of puzzling clues that are riveting and keep readers guessing until the end.

Unlike some treasure-oriented mysteries for kids, Warren Firschein rounds out his story with adult purposes and perspectives and a realistic approach where the kids don't always act independently, but have steady interactions with parents and outsiders alike.

The result is an engrossing mystery highly recommended for kids who live for tales of treasure and intrigue.

Patrick Swayze: The Dreamer
Sue Tabashnik
Passion Spirit Dreams Press
Amazon, Smashwords
ISBN 9780989408639 (paperback) $21.95
ISBN 9780989408646 (ebook) $ 7.99

Sue Tabashnik has been an active member of the Official Patrick Swayze International Fan Club since 2000 and has written two prior books about Swayze that focus on the movie Dirty Dancing, so she's in a good position to provide an authoritative biography of the man in her latest effort, recommended for any Patrick Swayze fan and for collections strong in entertainment history.

Patrick Swayze: The Dreamer expands the coverage beyond his entertainment achievements to consider all the roles he's played in life; from that of husband, son and brother to his battle with cancer and his encounters with fans in general and the author in particular.

Interview quotes from publications and peers, numerous color photos from his movies, and Swayze's own reflections on his art and achievements ("I've just always had a sense of what the world wants. Right now with this surface, shallow world of reality TV and everything worth believing in being devalued or laughed at, or if you have integrity "What's wrong with you?" I'll never stop living my life by those cliches. You know, "Only the strong survive," "Nobody said it would be easy," "Back up your mouth" and "Give all you can because it will be returned.") all contribute to a bigger-picture feel for the actor and his philosophy about life as a whole, lending a compelling intimacy to Patrick Swayze: The Dreamer that is hard to equal elsewhere.

The ideal reader will be a prior Swayze fan; but an in-depth knowledge of the man or his movies is not a prerequisite to enjoying this in-depth survey of his life and works, which pairs his upbringing and life events with the various influences that fostered his belief systems. The inclusion of the evolution of Tabashnik's dream of meeting Patrick and how she came to be an avid fan of not only the movie Dirty Dancing but the extent of his work makes for almost as interesting a story as Swayze's life, detailing the changes her interest in him brought to her own life.

Any Patrick Swayze fan will find this a wonderfully detailed account of not just his life events, but his personality, ideals, and the experiences of a woman who came to document his world.

Not So Dead
Charles Levin
Munn Avenue Press
9780692914168, $12.99, Paperback, $4.99 Kindle

What if you could live forever, in a digital universe? What if digital immortality was available for all - including a ruthless terrorist who has you in his sights? What if the two of you played a deadlier game in this digital realm than any virtual reality adventure could offer?

All this and more make the thriller Not So Dead exceptional. While some sci-fi in the realm of LitRPG gaming novels already have stories based on digital living, what makes Not So Dead something different is the fact that it embeds a firm thriller element throughout, reaching beyond a relatively obscure genre fan set to tweak the hearts and minds of the general-interest sci-fi or thriller reader looking for something different.

Its plot and premise may lie in a digital universe, but the mechanics and story of Not So Dead have their roots in something far greater than formula writing. Just look at the chapter titles, for one clue of this difference - "Spy Vs. Spy," "Rook to Queen Eight," "Quantum State," and "The Rumble Down Under," to name just a few of the many intriguing chapters and twists this story takes.

There are obstacles to this winding investigation in both digital and non-digital worlds ("...based on your login, we know who you are and have programmed in a block against speaking with your digital self. We have done the same for each of us. It's just too dangerous."), there are progressions forward and backward in the investigation ("I felt like we were living in that old Mad magazine cartoon, Spy vs. Spy. Don't know why that came to mind. The war on terror has really been more like an endless game of Whack-A-Mole. Sometimes you're ahead and sometimes you're behind. Despite what Frank said, I had the uneasy feeling that, at the moment, we were behind."), and the fact that the characters have a vivid immediate feel to them in both arenas adds tension and realistic involvement to the plot: "I felt like a little kid being left behind and left out. But on second thought I was happy not being involved in another confrontation. My nerves were frayed like ropes about to snap."

The result is a powerfully-wrought tale of intrigue, terrorism, and threats to immortality that use powerful psychological involvement to keep readers exquisitely on edge until the final surprise. It's a story designed to reach far from the LitRPG/gamer sci-fi audience and into the hearts and minds of the sci-fi reader who enjoys investigative drama and thriller elements to spice a complex read.

Livin': From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush
Frankie Hogan
Wharton Reed Publishing
9780998728902, $12.95, Paper; $9.00 ebook

Livin': From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush relates a common problem: author Frankie Hogan always wanted to travel; but as the years went by, there were always obstacles and problems involved in making the leap. One day he decided to travel in a big way, making an around-the-world journey that eschewed life getting in the way of his plans.

Plenty of travel memoirs tell of people who embarked on similar sojourns; but few hold the tone and adventure of Livin'. For one thing, Hogan's voice is ribald, spicy, and pulls no punches: he tells it like it is, with his streetwise childhood adding a gritty tone of observation to events that proves compelling for readers seeking a "you are here" flavor to the observations: "Egypt. Back in 2011, I had been days away from booking the trip when the revolution hit. Let's just say being white as Casper and an American to boot, I wanted to let tensions die down. When I started to tell people I was headed to Cairo in the spring of 2013, I still collected a lot of someone-just-shit-on-my-lap looks. But the way I see it is, how long is long enough? 2014? 2020? People who want to "give it a few more years" never get there."

It should be forewarned that this narrative style includes coarse language and candid assessments. Readers who seek a staid, intellectual approach to travel should look elsewhere; but those who appreciate a tell-it-like-it-is style will relish adventures which are liberally peppered with embellishments not usually seen in a travel narrative: "Fucking Egypt! I went for my wallet and opened the first flap to find it empty. What could I give him? I searched, and the only currency I found was fifty Mexican pesos. I handed them to him. He slickly inspected them with a look of wonderment and let me through. He must have thought he had scored a ton of dough, when in actuality, I had given him four bucks. But now I can erase bribing a cop from my bucket list. And that's how I left Egypt."

As for the encounters themselves: anticipate a heady mix of true grit, wit, colorful language and observations, and an uncensored view of life in other countries; especially as they relate to meetings with an American traveler. From drugs and hookers in Africa to his impressions of Vietnam ("Vietnam was talked up by every Tom, Dick, and Harry I met who had been there, which encouraged me to get past the limitations of second-hand impressions to see the country and its people for myself. Ha Long, the jungles outside Saigon, and the villages around the Mekong all had an organic allure. But the most surprising aspect of the trip was the vitality of the cities. Hanoi and Saigon both demonstrated a special ambience."), readers awaiting their own epiphany for beginning overseas journeys will find Hogan's first-hand impressions the next best thing to leaving home.

If it's a compelling view of the everyday lives of people, the schemers and scammers of other countries, the underside of daily living, and the underlying impact of travel experience that is desired, the armchair reader could do no better than to follow Frankie Hogan in Livin': From the Amsterdam Red Light to the African Bush.

Its focus on these facets of societies which are often missed by typical American travelers offers a rare glimpse into the nitty-gritty of real life in a flagrantly colorful story highly recommended for any global travel narrative collection or reader.

Mark Mathis
Publisher: TBA
ISBN: TBA, Price $TBA, Website/Ordering Link: TBA

Teenager Mike was blinded in a botched suicide attempt, but now he's living in the dark in a different way. He believes much of his life is at a dead end - even more so than the despair that led him to pull the trigger to end his life - but when he's recruited to a center determined to help teens who have been blinded, he finds his life on the edge of a different kind of change.

Mike was one of the lucky ones: he managed to get his sight back - but not his soul. Each of these five teens has been blinded in accidents. The last thing on any of their minds was entering the world of competitive swimming. One man becomes determined to lead them to success - and all five face life-changing decisions as a result of this intervention.

In one way, Nightdivers is a tale of ambition, accomplishment, and rising from the depths of despair. Young adult to adult readers will appreciate the perspective of teens who form new goals for their existence, led by a man who was once lost, himself, and who is still finding his purpose in life after a failed marriage and too many odd jobs.

When Dan pushes Mike to move behind his barely-existing comfort zone to help others, he does so with the knowledge that Mike, too, needs something different in his life - something that takes a convincing argument to see: "'s a good reason to come out anyway. You know what kind of place these kids are in right now. They're scared. They feel lost, and they probably don't think much of the road ahead considering their circumstances."

Surprisingly few young adult books address the rigors of competitive swimming, much less the additional challenges faced by young people with disabilities who must gain additional tools in order to be competitive and successful in a sighted world.

Mark Mathis outlines these tools, the process of getting and using them effectively, and even more importantly, the process which leads from despair to a positive perspective about life's opportunities.

The five teens aren't the only ones growing during this adventure: so is Mike, who finds himself forever changed by his endeavor.

Nightdivers accurately details the worlds of both competition swimming and adjusting to blindness with a finesse and realism that incorporates street language and experiences, angst and hope, pain and despair, and the process involved in personal transformation. By adding the overall effects of a team-building program into the mix, Nightdivers produces just the kind of novel that stands out from the crowd, blending personal struggles with a story of how team spirit and goal-oriented success is fostered.

It's a highly recommended read for any interested in tales of opportunity and change; especially for those who like insights into the mechanics and specifics of competitive swimming.

Curt Locklear
Warren Publishing
8145 Ardrey Kell Road, Suite 207, Charlotte NC 28277
9781943258468 (paperback) $16.95
9781943258499 (hardcover) $27.95

Book 2 in the Asunder Civil War Trilogy continues the story of love-wrenching forces that tear lives and minds across the country in general. In this case, the turmoils of war are especially powerful in the hearts of abolitionist and spiritualist Cyntha Favor, Southern supporter Sara (who finds herself defending unarmed Cherokees during an attack by soldiers who brand her a Yankee), and Lucas, who has reluctantly bestowed freedom to his best friend Abram in hopes of keeping their friendship, only to see him leave.

As Sara is rescued by a Negro, Lucas' search for Abram seems futile. Generals and soldiers plot strategy and counterattacks and a host of characters find themselves embroiled in a struggle for survival even as their nation splinters.

Perhaps it takes a trilogy to adequately describe the extent to which the Civil War destroyed lives, purposes, and belief systems - certainly, in the case of both Splintered and its predecessor, Asunder, this process is well described in all of its complexity in a tale which moves beyond troop movement and generals' decisions and into the lives, motivations, belief systems and struggles of those affected by the all-encompassing conflict.

One surprising and fine facet of this account is the resourcefulness of all involved. Cyntha's ability to spin a fine story when she's stopped by soldiers on the road, the efforts made by siblings parted - sometimes forever - by the war ("Paul sat alone. 'Just me,' he said. In his weariness and sorrow, he slumped in the chair into a fitful sleep. In his dream, he was racing away from wolves, knowing all along that the wolves were devouring his brother."), and the decisions made by a host of characters operating well outside of their comfort zones makes Splintered a riveting saga that's hard to put down.

A good trilogy should expand the characters and actions beyond what any single novel could do. The Civil War certainly deserves such an approach, and such a wide-ranging focus on different lives. Splintered takes its place strongly beside its sibling and continues a riveting story based on true history.

Watch for Book Three to pick up where a surprising endgame concludes Book 2.

Off the Hook: A Christmas Ornament Adventure
John Arvai III
Light the Lamp Publishing
Kindle - 9780997941739 / $2.99
Paperback - 9780997941708 / $14.99
Hardback - 9780997941715 / $15.39 (Ingram Spark, wholesale); $21.99 (retail)

Any child who has ever wondered why there are ornaments on a Christmas tree, along with parents seeking refreshingly original read-aloud holiday stories, will find this whimsical tale of "hooked helpers" who hang out disguised as ornaments by day, only to spring off their branches as holiday helpers by night, makes for an entertaining, fun read.

Who, after all, fixes the tree lights, or makes sure the tree stand is stable? Who activates the tree's secret star topper to guide Santa to the right house? Some may say it's Dad; but in this case, it's helpful ornaments. So what happens when things go awry one Christmas, and the beacon vanishes - does that mean Christmas can't come?

Off the Hook is a holiday adventure tale that will delight picture book readers and their read-aloud parental helpers for two reasons: its color drawings are exquisitely detailed and well-done, and its story line is far different than the usual holiday giving approach to Christmas.

As the adventure unfolds, kids learn that the ornament brigade is actually replete with renegades in the form of homemade ornaments determined to make their presence known, instigating a struggle for control of the tree and a snowy expedition made on toy shovels.

The delight of Off the Hook lies in its creative approaches in a plot that is refreshingly unpredictable. The uniqueness of John Arvai III's approach has not gone unheralded: to date, Off the Hook has enjoyed recognition from a wide range of national awards, winning the Grand Prize at the Holiday Book Festival, 2017; the National Indie Excellence Awards, 2017; Honorable Mentions as Foreword's INDIES Book Of The Year, 2016, at the Los Angeles Book Festival, 2017 and again at the Hollywood Book Festival, 2017; and enjoying 5 Stars as a Readers' Favorite, 2016.

The result is an attention-grabbing, fun story that all ages will appreciate as a delectably original, creative new Christmas tale.

Mary Poser
Angel A
Angel's Leap Pty Ltd.
ISBN: 9780987622228 (pbk) $20.00
ISBN: 9780987622204 (epub) $ 9.99

Mary Poser: Butterflies and White Lies As Bollywood Comes To Nashville tells of a dutiful Southern daughter who pretends to fit into her mother's world, but who secretly holds a penchant for differences and adventure which are hidden from her family and even herself. It seems unlikely that a girl from a strict Baptist household would even meet, much less fall in love with, a Hindu Indian man whose very different world collides with hers on so many levels, but Mary Poser's illusions about life, carefully constructed in a rigid environment, are about to be shaken.

Before this event, her descriptions of her life are exact and revealing: "I've jumped through every hoop my family, my friends, and even my boss have told me to jump through. Everyone tells me I'm so cookie cutter perfect, I'm starting to think I was born in a cake tin. I've always got a smile on my face no matter how fake it feels. If I dressed any more 'country,' they'd stand me on the Nashville turnoff to wave to folks as they drove into town." This approach allows readers to absorb her character and perspective at the cusp of its greatest changes, drawing followers into Mary's evolving personality and world.

The immediacy of Mary's emotions is one of the strengths of Mary Poser, which draws novel readers with a blend of candid observation, self-inspection, and poignant honesty about the realities of Mary's efforts to live up to expectations: "I put in four years' hard labor with Mr. Right despite his distracted behavior. Mama and Daddy were so proud of his emerging singing career. I felt like such a failure to them for not holding his attention long enough for him to put a ring on my finger. Despite this, they still label me as their "good girl." Bless their hearts. I'm just not as good as I'd be if I were married. No one ever tells me I'm a source of disappointment. But I sure feel like it sometimes. Am I the only one who's struggling to keep it together?"

But Mary's character isn't the only strong point in the story. Angel A directs her attention to building a powerful supporting cast as well; including the portrait of a righteous Baptist woman holding together a traditional household while observing the failings of the outside world from her kitchen: "That girl!" Mama said angrily as she glared at the kitchen door. "She hasn't had a boyfriend since her accident, and I don't see any on the horizon. How can she hope to get a man lookin' like that?" "She's got good legs, and she's showin' 'em off, Mrs. Poser," Chloe said soothingly. "There are a lot of leg men out there." "One look at that spiky black hair and raccoon makeup and they're scared off, and that's certain," Mama said. "I do declare I'm worried for her. She makes herself up queerer than a three-dollar bill and dresses like a hussy. She's piddlin' her life away at that store, resentin' her church duties, and spendin' the rest of her wakin' hours in her room listenin' to the most depressin' music I've ever heard. How's she gonna find a man? How's she gonna get herself a good husband, her own home, children? How is she ever gonna be happy?"

With crisp dialogue capturing the connections and clashes between cultures both within and outside of American boundaries, Mary Poser is a winning story of a girl who seeks to redefine what she wants in life outside of the society that she's long operated in, and is an engaging tale of cultural conflict and conundrums. All this is spiced with live and realistic characters whose lives, thoughts, and dreams convey an immediacy and life that encourages readers to not only care about them, but to become immersed in their quiet desperations and romantic entanglements.

Readers who relish multicultural stories, Southern roots, coming of age tales, and a powerful female protagonist who figures out how she can gain real happiness will find Mary Poser a completely engrossing read: vivid and hard to put down.

Hado Bear's Secret
Kathleen Quigley Caputo
Hado Bear, Inc.
9780998890609, $12.99, PB, 44pp,

Hado Bear's Secret will reach kids ages 4 and older with a picture book story of a stuffed polar bear who lives in a gift shop and waits for somebody to buy him. Many kids pass him up for other kinds of toys, so Hado Bear is lonely and feels unwanted. Why isn't anybody buying him? Eventually someone does buy him, and he goes home with a new family; but when should he tell them his big secret?

Gorgeous, colorful illustrations by Melanie Hall accompany a gentle tale that invites adults interested in read-alouds to choose this for young children. Such interaction assures that the more ethereal message in the story can be discussed and absorbed by this audience: "Aunt Donna, do you remember telling me about 'Hado' ? You said our lives are all made out of something that we cannot see. It is our life energy. Energy is always working inside of us, always in motion. That's why our heart beats and why we can breathe and do all the things we do. The Japanese have a word for that invisible life energy, the word is Hado." "That's right, Janine," Aunt Donna answered. "Just as a mirror reflects what we look like back to us, our thoughts and words are reflected back to our life energy, our Hado. Our good thoughts and words make our Hado strong and happy, attracting good things to us. Meanwhile, our negative thoughts and words can make us feel weak and sad."

One doesn't expect such a contemplative tone in a children's picture book; but that's one of the exceptional features of Hado Bear's Secret: an opportunity for adults to open a discourse on the power of positive thinking to an age group that usually doesn't receive such messages in a simple enough form to be understandable or compelling.

Hado Bear's Secret isn't really about the bear's special ability - it's about his special, encouraging message which should be an intrinsic part of any youngster's growth, helped along by this book. It's a powerful, uplifting message indeed; backed by the force of a stuffed bear who is different, special, and who imparts a key message about love and acceptance to his new family.

Hado Bear's story is highly recommended as a standout for children and parents who would choose a picture book for its message as much as its entertainment value and fine visual presentation.

Endure: The Power of Spiritual Assets for Resilience to Trauma and Stress
Daniel D. Maurer
Mount Curve Press
9780997328608 $16.95 Paperback, $6.95 Ebook

Endure draws important connections between spirituality and handling trauma, gathering real-world stories of resilience told by those who turned to their belief systems for support in times of crisis.

The focus narrows these topics even further to discuss how belief systems affect the recovery process, explaining how faith lends not only support but an ability to process and respond to disaster and come to terms with life in the face of inconceivable circumstances.

Author Daniel Maurer features his own story as he shares how faith and self-inspection contributed to his recovery process and a journey that led him to interview individuals around the world from diverse belief systems, documenting the moments when all hope was lost and the circumstances surrounding when hope was regained.

From those born into poor families who faced flights from oppression and who still suffer ("I consider that God perhaps did not save us so much from the death in Syria, but needs us to endure more trials, more suffering, here in Greece. For what, though? I don't see any answers.") to accounts of how small acts of kindness provide encouragement, these stories represent very singular accounts of life struggles and the process of finding meaning from faith in the most dire of situations, emphasizing the idea of the transformative powers of faith and the notion of how spiritual assets can be collected and employed throughout life, much like a savings account.

The term 'assets' is typically used in a business sense; but here it becomes a powerful psychological tool to encourage positive change. How can positive change be achieved from death, disaster, and life challenges? In documenting exactly how others have gathered and employed their spiritual assets, Daniel D. Maurer succeeds in presenting a satisfying blend of memoir and an inspirational spiritual guide that shows how to flourish from virtually anything.

Endure is highly recommended for spiritual self-help readers interested in both self-inspection and applied religious processes.

Fouad Azim
Page Publishing Inc.
101 Tyrellan Avenue Suite 100 New York, NY 10309
ISBN 9781684094318 (Paperback) $15.95
ISBN 9781684094929 (Hard Cover) $33.95
ISBN 9781684094325 (Digital) $ 9.99

Nyla and Junaid are classmates attending a small school in the mountains of Pakistan in the 1990s. Their friendship, which evolves into love, and their coming of age is one story; but the real heart of the evolutionary process documented in Becoming lies in its wider-reaching story of how young people in a different culture share experiences common to the rest of the world's emerging young adults.

From kindly matron teachers and their educational challenges in reaching very different students to how the golden rule is imparted to struggling kids barely passing not only in class but in their relationships to the world around them, Becoming charts individual courses that intersect, collide, merge, or are changed by circumstance and psychology.

The first difference to note in this coming-of-age romance is the strength of the female character, Nyla, who at times fights both her own heart and cultural traditions. Unlike the characters of many women who become helpless in the face of love and its circumstances, Nyla is an empowered, complete individual in her own right, seeking more from life than love and commitment.

Junaid's love for this independent, feisty young woman may defy some of his own cultural traditions, but he too has spunk and determination; and when they confront an emotionally unstable but creative young peer who views their blossoming relationship as a negative force in his life, the three find themselves entwined in a complicated series of encounters that test not only their experiences, but their different backgrounds.

The world of Pakistan's hill country comes to life as the story evolves. All three characters grow and change from their encounters, and readers are treated to in-depth realizations woven into a story line which comes from different viewpoints.

This brings us to the second notable difference in this coming of age romance: the author's ability to create full-faceted characters from the intersection of different personalities from peers to adults: "As she passed back the graded essays to the students before the closing bell, she said she would ask for the two best essays to be read aloud by the respective authors. It amazed her to see a glint of hope in the eyes of Junaid, and she looked away wondering what he imagined was the worth of his miserable effort."

From differences between friendship and love and the process of growing one from the other to handling peer jealousies, attractions, and interactions gone awry, the psychology is deftly and nicely done, fully exploring different characters' feelings and their sources: "He did feel left out and more than a little jealous that another man, a good-looking man, knew Nyla well enough to keep her occupied with interesting memories. Nor was it lost on him that he himself had been introduced as her "friend" and not her boyfriend."

The result is a lovely story recommended for mature teens and new adult audiences alike; especially those who want their characters complex, their cultural and social encounters well-developed, and their evolving love to include the influence and realistic angst of peers and adults alike.

Readers of coming of age stories set in other countries will relish the struggles of Nyla, Junaid, and others who strive to evolve in many ways, and will find Becoming a lovely read packed with atmosphere, depth, and detail.

Our Game Too: Asian Pacific Americans in Major League Baseball
Dr. Billy W. Simpson & Dr. Jennifer Simpson
Elevation Book Publishing
P.O. Box 15000, Atlanta, GA, 30324
9781943904112, $26.95, HC, 200pp,

Our Game Too: Asian Pacific Americans in Major League Baseball comes from an avid baseball player, enthusiast, and "baseball dad" and his wife (also an enthusiast of the sport), who provide an important chronicle in the history of the sport. Their account details the history of diversity in the sport with a focus on Asian Americans, filling in many gaps not commonly addressed in other accounts of racial issues in baseball: "While Robinson helped pave the way for all minority baseball players, the color barriers that existed for players of Latino and Asian backgrounds followed a very different timeline. Before 1947, MLB teams looking for talent would sometimes turn to Latino or Native American players who were light-skinned enough to be deemed "acceptable" by the baseball establishment, or at least acceptable enough to be overlooked as violators of the color barrier. While some light-skinned Latino players were permitted to play in MLB, the darker skinned players were forced to play in the Negro Leagues."

This history of Asians and Asian Pacific-Americans in Major League baseball is accompanied by vignettes and discussions of player experiences, adding an extra, personal dimension to the perspectives and focus of these players.

The survey of on how various Asian and Asian Pacific players slowly challenged the sport's prejudices through their extraordinary playing includes statistics and descriptions particular to the baseball environment, so fans who have the methods and science of baseball well in hand will find this a lively discussion: "Murakami would return to the Giants again in 1965, going 4- 1 in forty-five appearances (almost all in relief), with an ERA of 3.75 while picking up eight saves. Murakami had certainly proven his ability to pitch successfully at the Major League level in the United States, and to many MLB fans, this bolstered their opinion of the Japanese Pacific League, which had been considered by many Americans to only be at a mid-minor league level. Murakami's success caused them to rethink that notion. The positive change Murakami's success brought about regarding the way Japanese leagues and players were perceived by Major League baseball cannot be overstated."

As readers review the achievements of generations of players who came from different roots, from Thailand to Hawaii to Vietnam, the authors comment on the growth of diversity in the sport, document obstacles and successful outcomes which have propelled Asian players into the spotlight of baseball history, and make a case for initiatives that encourage young players to enter the field and make their marks on what began as a traditionally Anglo sport. Color photos of players in action pepper the biographical sketches of key and up-and-coming players, adding high-quality visual embellishment to an already-powerful survey.

Other books have toppled the barrier for black players: it's about time the same happened for Asian and Asian Pacific baseball greats. Our Game Too's blend of biographies, baseball statistics, diversity efforts and lively descriptions of players belongs in any collection strong in not just baseball history, but in civil rights and cultural inspections of American society.

It's very, very highly recommended.

An Epiphany in Lilacs: In the Aftermath of the Camps
Iris Dorbian
Mazo Publishers
9781946124036 16.95 (paperback); $9.95 (kindle)
Barnes & Noble:

The setting takes place outside of Hamburg, Germany, after World War II. Fourteen-year-old Daniel has barely survived various concentration camps and he's in a field hospital still struggling to survive and recover. How can a young adult on the cusp of death recover from devastating physical and psychological wounds?

More so than most accounts of post-World War II, An Epiphany in Lilacs offers a powerful survey of post-traumatic stress syndrome and the lengthy and challenging process of healing from wartime atrocities, as seen from a young man who is on the brink of adulthood; yet still a child in many ways.

The choices he makes at this point are poignant and reflective of the experiences of Displaced People ('DPs') who occupied these camps and found their lives and world in shambles, with no clear path to reconstruction in the face of chaos and confusion.

While all these sound like adult themes, the special pleasure of An Epiphany in Lilacs is Iris Dorbian's ability to reflect the perspective of a juvenile as he struggles to gain a new lease on life with revised perspectives and fresh goals. That the story line carefully refutes popular myths (such as those that most Germans were Nazis) only enhances its lessons and stories of courage, diversity, and how one not only survives but grows from world-changing devastation.

As the story adds characters and focuses on their different approaches to healing ("Just as Daniel needed to talk about the past to help him move on, Silka preferred to think about today and the future. That was how he chose to heal and from one survivor to another, there was nothing wrong about that."), young adults receive important lessons that personalize the World War II experience on all sides in the aftermath of war.

As Daniel confronts how his experiences have conflicted with his values and changed his approaches to life ("It made sense given their history that stemmed from way back before the war. And yet, underneath his immature bravado and petulance, Daniel was an insecure and scared kid. If his mother were here, she would no doubt take him to task for being so uncouth and uncivil toward Wolfson."), he tackles the foundations of his heritage, his missing family, and his belief systems, bringing young readers along for a thought-provoking survey that will raise many questions suitable for classroom discussion.

An Epiphany in Lilacs is not only a tribute to the DPs who physically survived the war and were challenged to mentally recover and take a new road in life; but is a powerful survey of the roots and concepts of Zionism and the long path one teen takes to rediscover meaning in his world.

It's highly recommended as not only an intrinsic addition to any teen reading The Diary of Anne Frank and similar nonfiction stories, but for classrooms looking for discussion materials specific to the experiences of Displaced Persons in the aftermath of the war.

Kingdom in Chains
J.W. Zulauf
Evolved Publishing LLC
9781622533527, $14.95, PB,

Slavery is legal in the Kingdom of Kuldaire, and is an embedded system that forms the foundation of a healthy economy successfully run for a quarter of a century; and so slave Barloc has not only known no other way of life; but there are no alternatives, choices, or rebellion options for his position in this society.

It doesn't seem as though there will be any precedent for a new set of rules in his lifetime; but when he's sold to a new owner in a batch slave transaction, he's in for a surprise. Lord Harbor offers his slavers something only the King can approve - freedom - and thus Barloc's experiences with unprecedented freedom will not only alter his future, but his world.

Kingdom in Chains is unexpected in many ways. The prospect of an engrained slave system including a lord who offers an alternative in defiance of the norm, the interactions between slave Barloc and this changing world, and the challenging battles the group is charged with fighting under Lord Harbor's rule sets the pace for a fast-paced story line filled with battles and uncertainty for Barloc as he slowly absorbs new rules and his road to eventual freedom.

Lord Harbor's actions form the heart of a siege involving the King, slavery, and the very foundations of society; and he's trained Barloc well. He learns to harden his heart in the face of war, to hone skills that lead to a bigger goal than personal survival, and to absorb the progress and routines encounters that pit leaders and soldiers against one another in struggles that supersede individual experience for the sake of greater goals.

If Barloc succeeds in shedding the shackles of personal slavery, can (or should) he return to it to effect real changes in his world? If there's something worth fighting for beyond his personal freedom, should he join those who stand at the forefront of revolution?

The progress of a man who moves beyond individual experience and responsibility to address the greater good makes for as involving a story as the physical battles and the philosophical and political conflicts between rulers. Readers who look for fiction that juxtaposes conflict and confrontation with a protagonist's personal evolution will find much to like in a story that presents Barloc with an unexpected cause that drives his life and future.

Kingdom in Chains is highly recommended as an invigorating pick for any who would read of other realms and the forces that stand between freedom, self-actualization, and social change.

New Directions
James G. Ward
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781626343535, $19.95 HC, $0.99 Kindle, 208pp,

New Directions: Successful Strategies for Career, the Workplace, and Personal Growth offers employees a different approach to viewing their careers and work lives: considering one's career as a series of new directions rather than a singular goal or set course.

Most workers who stay employed will transition at least several times in the course of their lives. New Directions points out that this healthy and inevitable process of change can be anticipated and managed through periodic self-assessments and revised game plans, showing job seekers how to network, stay connected, and keep current and strong in their resumes and strengths.

There are some usual approaches to job hunting that are covered in most career advice books - networking, handling interview questions, how to search for the right position - but this isn't just another job hunter's guide. Its purpose is to move beyond 'how to land a job' advice to help workers foster new attitudes about work and career for better workplace habits and job transition advance planning.

Like everything else in life, a positive outcome is influenced by a combination of attitude and proactive planning. New Directions documents how to meld personal growth objectives and processes with career management in a guide that advocates actively seeking out and honing new directions throughout one's working life, whether it be in one's existing workplace or in pursuing a replacement position.

No worker should be without this book, which pairs advice with vignettes and first-person opinions to make for a lively, engrossing advice guide.

A Taste of Bridge
Jeff Bayone
Master Point Press
205-214 Merton Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4S 1A6
9781771400343, $19.95, HC, 215pp,

There are plenty of bridge books on the market which largely discuss strategy and playing approaches for those who already have the basics of the game well in hand; but A Taste of Bridge is different, appealing to the bare-bones newcomer with no prior familiarity with the game. What sets this apart from other introductions is its process of synthesizing bridge into six easy lessons, which were developed and tested on thousands of students at the nation's largest bridge club.

From this, potential players should discern that their first venture into the world of bridge will be easier than with other guides. Unlike competitors, it's a beginner's course that has been "tinkered with, kicked around, and field-tested for over thirty years. It has introduced thousands to the game. The course is fun and it works!"

The key word in this description (and in A Taste of Bridge) is 'fun,' and this is emphasized throughout the course, which opens with a quick reminiscence of playing a childhood card game called War, a "game of tricks" much like bridge.

As basic terminology is explained, formal and informal methods of picking partners reviewed, and bridge 'tricks' covered, readers enjoy black and white images peppered into a lively discussion of the game's objectives and intricacies: "Look at the cards again. Couldn't you have guessed right away that South would win the trick, simply because she happened to hold the highest card? Yes, but it isn't just South who wins. North wins as well, because North and South are partners."

As simple terminology and the basics of the game evolve into more complex topics, readers are treated to vigorous discussions that clarify the underlying meaning and fun routines of bridge.

Plenty of introductions and advanced strategy guides to bridge are on the market; but if new players seek an energetic survey designed to add fun into the game, then there's no better introduction to turn to than A Taste of Bridge, which offers fine insights in an accessible, entertaining manner.

The Rice Thieves
William Claypool
Meadow Lane Press
ISBN 9780986063763 (sc) $14.95
ISBN 9780986063770 (e-book) $ 4.99

The Rice Thieves begins in New Zealand, where Mike, a newcomer to the small town of Oban, has retired from the Navy and is recovering from an injury. His plans for the next stage of his life are changed by his meeting with Ani, a Maori beauty and with a phone call he receives that drags him into an investigative world that he thought he'd left behind.

As The Rice Thieves unfolds, readers are treated to a series of twists and turns. The plot builds slowly, taking time to create and flush out a myriad of characters and special interests. It evolves into a story about an international intelligence mission filled with corrupt people, money, power, and an Admiral's passionate focus on industrial/agricultural espionage.

One doesn't expect rice plants to be at the center of international intrigue but the development of a engineered strain of rice with potential to yield tenfold that of existing strains unfolds into a engrossing tale of theft and bribes and murder. CIA intelligence efforts and advanced spy operations keep the story supercharged with action as the story barrels down on a revelation that could affect hundreds of millions of people.

The Rice Thieves creates a strong interplay between personalities and economic and geopolitical issues. The author takes the time to effectively build tension. The Rice Thieves demonstrates the dangers of international special interests in revealing how a simple, basic product development can go awry. Thus, it should be cautioned that readers should expect an array of characters and a slower evolutionary process than some other story lines. It's a process that will methodically carry them from 'simmer' to 'boil' without the high-octane action that hastens too many tales to a premature conclusion.

The result is an epic thriller that spreads its plot over a global arena. It is highly recommended for fans that enjoy stories of scientific dangers and intrigue mixed with a diverse array of characters whose interactions and involvements in agricultural espionage hold lasting ramifications not only for particular nations, but also for the entire human race.

Desperate to Die: A Medical Thriller
Barbara Ebel, M.D.
Barbara Mary Ebel, Publisher
Paperback ISBN-13: 9780997722550 $11.95
eBook ISBN-13: 9780997722567 $ 3.99

By now, it should be evident that medical student Annabel Tilson's talents aren't confined to the health industry alone; for this is the third time her investigative skills have come into play in a series of books surrounding her dual careers, and it's just as powerfully written as its predecessors, backed by the fact that author Barbara Ebel not only can spin a great yarn, but is an MD, herself.

This lends authority and authenticity to the surroundings and constraints of the medical environment as Annabel comes to suspect that a natural death on her watch may not be so natural after all, and considers the moral and ethical implications of end of life care in both her own life and those of her patients.

This is perhaps one of the single greatest strengths in Desperate to Die: a juxtaposition of real-world medical issues with intrigue in the form of a protagonist who is not herself a natural detective, but a concerned, aspiring medical professional who constantly finds her beliefs challenged by her job.

Readers should expect precise descriptions of medical procedures ("Annabel thought about her gross anatomy class. The bronchus going to the left lung was longer and the right bronchus was shorter. Maybe more important, she thought, was that the left bronchus took an abrupt angle, making it easier for food or an item to take the less resistant path along the right."), insights into Annabel's learning process, and an attention to detail reflective of the author's expertise.

Too many medical thrillers casually set the backdrop for intrigue, yet fail to build realistic descriptions of the medical environment; but Dr. Ebel takes care to build both - and that's part of what contributes to an exceptional story. The depth to which Annabel's commitments enter her personal world are nicely described: "Back in Annabel's apartment, Nancy showered and dressed first while Annabel read the highlights about acute lung infections and sepsis."

The other piece of the puzzle lies in the progression of Annabel's learning process, which ranges from medical teachings to life lessons about relationships and values. As the riveting saga slowly heats up, newcomers receive an excellent in-depth survey of Annabel's psyche and responses as they are drawn into a slowly-evolving medical thriller operating well on par with Robin Cook and other top-name medical thriller authors.

While this joins other Annabel adventures (which are spin-offs to a related series of Dr. Danny Tilson stories), it's also a pleasure to note this stands well on its own and requires no prior familiarity with either her previous encounters or her father's adventures. (Be forewarned, however: those who enjoy this vivid medical drama will want to read the others.)

Unplanned Destination
Elie Jerome
Elie Jerome, Publisher
9780996551045 $15.99,

Unplanned Destination is set in Haiti and, as such, incorporates many observations about Haitian culture that lend to a greater understanding of that world; including events surrounding the 2010 earthquake and its aftermath; one of the central happenings in the story.

Leito, the protagonist, observes his world in the first person as an earthquake hits and challenges his ability to not only stay alive, but to rescue others. Although his entire family has survived, this is only the beginning of a journey that began in 2007 which has led him to this point.

The next chapter uses the third person to describe an outbreak of violence that destroys a neighborhood and many families. People facing grief and horrible pain question the reason behind the seemingly random gunfire, which boils down to gangs and illicit activities.

"C'est la vie, (that's life)" the neighbor said before he sighed and patted Claude's shoulder." But is it? What refuge does innocence and youth have when violence is all but condoned by those who should be protecting the citizens of Haiti? "Houses built right next to houses, no road access in those slums, and lack of intel made handling that conflict an impossible task for an underpaid and unequipped police department. The cops took a step back and watched the two gangs kill each other. The cops felt there were no innocent victims here. The victims were all accomplices, either by implication or by not sharing information with the police."

As the undercurrents, influences, magic potions and weapons, and beliefs of Haiti's peoples swirl around victims and survivors alike, readers are drawn into a cultural environment that juxtaposes political and social strife with romance, evolving connections, and the destinies of very different individuals who strive to become something more than their surroundings.

Friendships and conflicts within them, shame, revenge and murder permeate a storyline where Leito, Ronald, Claude and others face their own encounters with destiny and the best and worst Haiti has to offer these young men. Do they live in paradise, or hell? What influences shape an assassin or a gang member, and what demons evolve from life's pressures and decisions, returning time and again to haunt the narrator? Are new beginnings truly possible?

Readers seeking a potent story packed with insights into Haitian culture and society will find Unplanned Destination relates a powerful journey that weaves its way from gang interactions and murder to magic, offering a realistic taste of the country's passions and pleasures that few stories can equal.

Myth and Punishment
Anoop Chandola
Black Opal Books
ASIN: B073QB9BRW, $3.99,

Myth and Punishment charts a mission undertaken by a preteen East Indian girl, Adina, who has long been told the family legend of how a family jewel was offered to the Hindu gods in exchange for her birth. The other family jewels were sold off; so even though she had an inheritance, she needs to find the single largest, missing jewel if she's to have anything for her future. Resentful of the circumstances which have led to her broken family ties and the squandering of her birthright, Adina embarks on a quest supported, in an unusual manner, by her laptop computer and her connections to the gods. An unusual blend of mythology, high technology, and quest results.

It's difficult to immediately peg the reader of Myth and Punishment: Adina's meditations, search for a missing family heirloom, and interactions with various gods contacted via her laptop all seem to be higher-level thinking and action than a story directed to pre-teens. Indeed, more advanced young adult readers will be the likely audiences of a narrative which delves into the realms and mythology of Shiva, Ganesha, Kali, and the creation and avatar stories of India.

There's also a healthy dose of humor to the tale as Adina contacts not only these gods but her mother, via laptop, and learns about truth, lies, victims, and whistleblowers.

All this is heady, higher-level thinking for twelve-year-olds; but perfect reading for teens ages thirteen to fifteen who will appreciate not only the depth of attention given to Indian culture and mythology, but the moral and ethical dilemmas Adina faces in the course of her journey.

As miracles and myths blend during Adina's exploration of her heritage, her culture, and the missing jewel in her life, she absorbs not only Hindu traditions, but new insights about the meaning of fights for equality as experienced by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, struggles for justice, and the meaning and impact of failed attempts at meeting goals.

It's unusual to find such a thought-provoking juxtaposition of meditative reflection, history and culture, and social insights in a young adult read, but Myth and Punishment does a fine job of exploring the evolution of a cause that affects not only one girl's family, but her world. Young adult readers seeking stories well infused with Indian myths and their connections to modern life will find Myth and Punishment compelling and thought-provoking, offering a degree of social, political and psychological insights not usually seen in young adult fiction.

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse
Peter Quinones
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491791837 $13.99

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse is a short story collection that is not for the faint of heart, but for readers who enjoy complex, multi-faceted scenarios, diverse and intriguing characters, and big words that will send a number of readers searching out their definitions.

Two of these seven stories represent two facets of the book's title, in different parts; where the others take widely different approaches in providing idiosyncratic and strange stories that each involve unexpected endings that somehow set the stage for the next story without holding obvious threads of connection.

Take the introductory 'The Fizz Notorio,' for example. Eve Patricia accepts an introductory job after graduating from college that challenges her with notions of business proxemics (look it up) and brings her to a dalliance with a man twice her age.

The psychology of this older man's success is exquisitely described in just one example of the language Peter Quinones employs to supercharge his stories with extraordinary descriptions and thought-provoking insights: "Men of limited force and power in the Johnson have to assess, from their own individual vantage point, how this will impact upon a relationship with any given woman - not with women in general, in archetype or Platonic Form, but very specifically with this woman here or that one over there. Harshwine of necessity had made himself a master of

the process by his middle forties. He'd learned that he could pack a wallop with a cornucopia of women through showmanship and spectacle - he didn't need Viagra or Cialis."

As readers move through Harshwine's dazzling 'arsenal of seduction' and smart, twenty-four-year-old Eve's attraction to his jazzy lifestyle and approach to the world, readers become immersed in her experiences through descriptive phrases that are succinct, unexpected, and deliciously tantalizing: "In spite of, almost in defiance of, the ferine weather she felt not at all chilly. The steam in the apartment blasted through the pipes with the sensory vigor of a stalking leopard."

Where does postmodernism enter into this scenario? It lies in a sexy whisper on the street that excites Eve with its intellectual depth - the same excitement readers will feel as they move through a strange world replete with Chinese fortune cookies at every turn, an odd character named Prockahoon, and a journey through harsh streets that leads to a complete and final surprise.

Contrast this with the surprising format and contents of the first segment of the title story 'Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse (1)', which contains a hundred "explorations of the one sentence short story" that challenge readers with a range of scenarios, from "She told me "I like Abstract Expressionism, foreign films, and Ornette Coleman" - I subtly gazed around the room, looking for an exit." to "Polly Jupiter spent the summer laying around the pool, mixing vegetable juices in a blender and moaning fatalistically about fatalism." This is just one example of just how diverse this collection is, in its approach.

The philosophy of deconstruction forms the basis of many postmodern ideas today; but much discussion of this has been limited to thinkers. Deconstruction typically examines binary oppositions and contrasts their differences; whereas postmodernism embraces skepticism and outlines social influences on ideals of knowledge and truth.

These short stories add psychological depth into an already-complex picture, but portray scenarios and characters with a steady attention to twists of tale, irony, and details that readers won't expect. Despite the sprinkling of big words, the stories remain quite accessible to average audiences - but in all fairness, it's the above-average readers with some prior, light experience in the mechanisms of irony and observation who will gain the most from these delightful vignettes which capture the diverse perspectives of a range of intriguing characters.

Postmodern Deconstruction Madhouse is especially, highly recommended for short story enthusiasts seeking the depth of philosophical and psychological inspection combined with social inspection.

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

Dunford's Bookshelf

Twenty-Two on Peleliu
George Peto with Peter Margaritis
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781612005270 $32.95 / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: On September 15, 1944, U.S. Marines landed on a small island in the Central Pacific called Peleliu, as a prelude to the liberation of the Philippines. Among the first wave of Marines that hit the beach that day was 22-year-old George Peto.

Growing up in on a farm in Ohio, George had always preferred exploring to being indoors. This made school a challenge, but his hunting, fishing and trapping skills helped put food on the family's table. As a teenager living in a rough area he got into regular brawls, and he found holding down a job hard because of his wanderlust. After a succession of jobs he decided that joining the Marines offered him the opportunity for adventure plus three square meals a day, so he and his brother joined the Corps in 1941, just a few months before Pearl Harbor.

Following boot camp and training, he was initially assigned to a guard unit. Found not guilty of misconduct after falling asleep on duty while very sick, he was then shipped out to a combat unit. His first experience of combat was during the landings at Finschhaven and Cape Gloucester. He was a Forward Observer in one of the lead amtracs of the 1st Marines for the Peleliu landing, and saw fierce fighting for a week before the unit was relieved due to massive casualties. The unit was then the immediate reserve for the initial landing on Okinawa. They encountered no resistance on landing on D+1, but would then fight on Okinawa for over six months.

This is the wild and remarkable story of an "Old Breed" Marine, from his youth in the Great Depression, his training and combat in the Pacific during WWII, to his life after the war, told in his own words.

Critique: Twenty-Two on Peleliu: Four Pacific Campaigns with the Corps - The Memoirs of an Old Breed Marine lives up to its title with true-life World War II training and combat stories, as well as reflections on life in the years following the war. Author George Peto wrote Twenty-Two on Peleliu with the assistance of expert military historian Peter Margaritis; the result is detailed, precise, and vivid, yet thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Highly recommended, especially for public library military memoir collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Twenty-Two on Peleliu is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Hilltop Doc
Leonard Adreon
LaVidaCo, LLC
9780996022552 $14.95 pbk / $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: As a Marine corpsman, Leonard Adreon saw some of the worst of the Korean War's carnage and the best of its humanity. His gripping description brings to life the war between the Chinese army and the U.S. Marines as they battled to take the high ground. You will feel the anguish, the frustration and the terror endured by Marines on the hillsides of Korea, and how U.S. troops fought with valor and esprit de corps under adverse conditions and against massive Chinese forces. As a corpsman, Adreon tells the story from the unique perspective of a young man from St. Louis, with no medical background, thrown into the role of saving lives amid the war's violence. He leavens the grim, emotional, and sometimes ironic battlefield scenes with his background story - of how his own mistakes and the military's bumbling landed him at Korea's 38th Parallel.

Critique: A wealth of vintage black-and-white photography illustrates this captivating biographical memoir of the Korean War, as told by a former Marine corpsman in the thick of the action. During the war, author Leonard Adreon was a young, "average Joe" soldier with no medical background, tasked with saving lives amid the carnage. A vividly memorable "you-are-there" experience from first page to last, Hilltop Doc is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Hilltop Doc is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Dale vs Daytona
Rick Houston
CarTech Inc.
838 Lake Street South, Forest Lake, MN 55025
9781613253335 $24.95

Synopsis: Dale Earnhardt and Daytona International Speedway remain two of the most iconic names in the history of NASCAR, and are inevitably connected when either name is mentioned. Earnhardt's failed attempts to win the race have become folklore; each year brought its own unique set of circumstances for why he hadn't yet raised the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

Dale Earnhardt's resume heading into the 1998 Daytona 500 read as follows: 7 NASCAR Championships, 70 Winston Cup wins, and 30 wins at Daytona International Speedway. So what was left for Dale to accomplish at Daytona? Win the Daytona 500! Author Rick Houston examines every Daytona 500 in which Dale competed from 1979 to 2001 with fresh interviews from crew chiefs Doug Richert, Kirk Shelmerdine, Andy Petree, Bobby Hutchens, Larry McReynolds, and Kevin Hamlin. Competitors, rivals, crewmembers, and friends (including Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Ken Schrader, Geoff Bodine, Darrell Waltrip, Danny "Chocolate" Myers, Greg Moore, Derrike Cope, and Junior Johnson) also offer their thoughts and recollections in this thrilling year-by-year recap of the Intimidator's efforts to win the Great American Race.

Never before have Dale's attempts to win the Daytona 500 been chronicled in one publication with this amount of detail and under such intense scrutiny. From the Dale and Dale show, to the seagull, to the last-lap heartaches, you ride shotgun with Rick Houston as he takes you around-and-around in Dale vs Daytona: The Intimidator's Quest to Conquer the Great American Race.

Critique: Dale Earnhardt (1951-2001) was a legendary NASCAR racer whose sudden death during the Daytona 500 race shocked the nation, and prompted NASCAR to make numerous changes to prioritize the safety of racecar drivers. Dale vs Daytona: The Intimidator's Quest to Conquer the Great American Race focuses on Dale's racing career, and his quest to conquer the Daytona 500. Interspersed with a handful of color photographs, Dale vs Daytona captures the thrills and lows of Dale's determined quest, including his eventual victory in the Daytona, and three short years later, his untimely death. Thoroughly engaging from cover to cover, and accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Dale vs Daytona is highly recommended especially for auto racing enthusiasts and NASCAR fans!

Michael Dunford

Gary's Bookshelf

Lot 28
G.W. Pomichter
Create Space
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston SC 29406
9781515081876, $5.99,

The Lucky Marks series began with the novel "Lucky" just after the second world war. Now in the year 1953 Will Marks has a new case where he has to solve the murder of a well-known director. As he delves into the death he finds a number of suspects who could be the possible perpetrator. Pomichter once again tells a story in the Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe mode with appealing characters, fast pacing, and a lavish colored depiction of the time the novel is set in that makes "Lot 28" so appealing to read.

The Philandering Fella The Lucky Marks Mysteries
G.W. Pomichter
Create Space
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston SC 29406
9781523321858, $5.99,

"The Philandering Fella" is a shorter tale in the Lucky series that takes place 2 years after the first story "Lucky" Now Will Marks has a detective agency that is well established and doing well on its way to bigger and better things. The yarn begins with a very simple case. A woman comes to Marks and wants him to reveal if her suspicious are correct that her husband is fooling around on her. What he learns is not what was first suspected but makes for a very satisfying mystery that is a page turner to the very end. "The Philandering Fella" is another great Noir type story that is a lot of fun to read and enjoy. Fans of the genre should keep an eye out for all three books in the series. Hopefully Pomichter and Lucky Marks will be back in other adventures in the future.

Murder Is Chartered A Wiles Schoolhouse Mystery
Diane Weiner
Cozy Cat Press
9781946063120, $14.95,

Susan Wiles encounters a dead body in a most unusual way opens the fast-paced mystery "Murder is Chartered." Susan Wiles is told by her daughter a detective with the local police department tells her leave it for us to solve the case just can't let it go so she delves on her own to find out who killed the person she encountered on the roadway. But "Murder Is Chartered" is not just a good mystery it also is filled with conflicts that also drive the story along to a satisfying conclusion. Though "Murder Is Chartered" is the 8th novel in the series it is a well written standalone novel that will have readers wanting to read other titles before this one.

The Dredge
Jaimie Engle
JME Books
P.O. Box 411242, Melbourne, FL 32941
9780992383070, $14.95,

"The Dredge" is a science fiction novel that moves along at a brisk pace to its end with fascinating characters caught up in curious conflicts. Sean Marrok reminded me of two individuals from the "Star Wars" movies who learned their purpose and how to use the force. Marrok who is perceived to be the savior of a race of beings he encounters, has no idea of his destiny. As he moves through "The Dredge" he learns his power and how to use it for the benefit of everyone. "The Dredge" is a rapid paced novel that leaves the door open for future tales in of the world of Marrok.

Barely Legal
Stuart Woods And Parnell Hall
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780735217232, $28.00,

Herbie Fisher first introduced a while ago in a Stone Barrington novel now is the main character in "Barely Legal." This time out Herbie is an attorney who takes a case that seems simple when he is told by the attorney of record who tells Fisher he is unable to continue. Herbie is told get a plea on a minor drug case and that everything has already been set up. That is not what happens when Herbie talks with the accused who tells him he's innocent and that he's being set up by a dirty cop. Herbie fights for justice for his client and has his world turned upside down as he moves through the case. The action in "Barely Legal" moves quickly along to the final pages making this another great novel of Stuart Woods.

America Has Very Nice Legs It's A Fact! A President Trump Mix & Match Book
Pia Frey
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781501179297 $15.99,

Frey has taken many statements made through the years by President Donald Trump and highlighted them in in a very different way. In a unique form, the author has placed each declaration in three parts that you have to match up with each portion. It's like a game that readers will enjoying playing to get the gist of each thought before laughing out loud. "America Has Very Nice Legs" should keep book lovers of all ages occupied for a long time while they learn more about President Donald Trump.

Theodore Boone The Fugitive
John Grisham
Puffin Books
c/o Penguin Young Readers Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780147510181, $8.99,

Theodore Boone takes a field trip to Washington D.C. with his class. While riding the Metro he sees a person he thinks is Pete Duffy, who became a fugitive while being prosecuted for the murder of his wife in the town of Strattenburg where they all come from. Readers of the series may remember this case was portrayed in the first novel. "Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer." Theo now has to let someone know of the person he suspects is Pete Duffy. He enlists the aid of his uncle to set a trap to capture Duffy and bring him back to Strattenburg. "Theodore Boone The Fugitive" begins with a happenstance meeting of the two characters that sets up the rest of the story that races along to the end. Along the way are some interesting people who have legal problems for Theo to help solve while he is determined to see justice carried out in one of the biggest cases to ever take place in Strattenburg. "Theodore Boone The Fugitive is a riveting tale that adds to the great series of YA novels that anyone of any age can enjoy.

Denver Rescues Hope
Adriana Estrada
Tate Publishing
127 Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, Oklahoma 73064
9781682935309, $9.99,

The relationship of human to animal is explored very well in the kid's novel "Denver Rescues Hope. At the beginning of the story Hope a young girl has a best friend in her cat Denver. They do everything together until Hope begins to make a lot of new friends. Then she has no time for Denver. Later it is revealed that she has a fatal disease that her parents are told she has very little time left to live. Denver lays out a counter plan to an angel who is in the process of taking Hope to the next level of her existence. Take him instead of Hope. Now the representative of death has a conflict that can only be resolved by its higher ups. This is the premise of this fine novel that shows how far an animal would go to help someone in need. There are several other underlying messages to all ages that makes "Denver Rescues Hope" an enjoyable story.

Super Manny Stands Up!
Written by Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481459600 $17.99,

"Super Manny Stands Up" is a timely tale of bullying and what others should do to stop it from continuing. Manny loves to wear odd things while those around him poke fun at him. But when the chips are down he comes to the rescue of his friends wearing a super hero outfit to stop a bully from his menacing ways. The story is easy to read but full of morals that people of all ages should learn to help others in need. "Super Manny Stands Up" is an enjoyable tale for everyone to appreciate.

Gloria and the Unicorn
Written by Wanda Luthaman
Illustrated by Bryce Westervelt
Lilacs in Literature
9780998195810, $6.99,

Gloria has no idea who her parents are because at birth she was taken in by a children's home. It's only after over hearing two of her care givers that she learns the truth that her mother died at birth and she suffered a deformity on her face she has had ever since. The ladies who take care of her have decided she should be home schooled to protect her from bullies. Now Gloria becomes friends with a Unicorn named Sir Louie who takes her on many adventures that she believes are dreams. The story is touching as Gloria learns many lessons in life. Two of the morals are the value of friendship and the challenges we all face to help someone else. "Gloria and the Unicorn" is a heartwarming kid's tale that has a lot of symbolism while telling a n uplifting story.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Dog Dish of Doom
E.J. Copperman
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250084279, $24.99, Hardcover, 293 pp,

From the publisher: The start of a great new series... stars amateur sleuth Kay Powell. A talent agent for show biz animals, Kay discovers she has a talent of her own: solving crimes. Kay Powell wants to find that break-out client who will become a star. And she thinks she's found him: His name is Bruno, and he has to be walked three times a day. Bruo's humans, Trent and Louise, butt in a lot, and Les McMaster, the famous direct now mounting a revival of Annie, might not hire Bruno just because he can't stand Trent in particular. That becomes less of an issue when Trent is discovered face down in Bruno's water dish. With a kitchen knife in his back. Kay's perfectly fine to let the NYPD handle the murder, but when the whole plot seems to centers on Bruno, her protective instincts come into play. You can kill any people you want, but you'd better leave Kay's clients alone.

Kay lives in a little house in Scarborough, New Jersey, where right now her parents, who work gigs on cruise ships, dancing and singing, "were in residence, working on their act." Kay, of course, has pets in the house: Steve, the dachshund, and Eydie, her rescue greyhound. When she reads of Trent's death in the local newspaper, she is dismayed, to say the least, that "a total stranger had gone facedown in a two-inch dish of water." Kay describes herself, btw, as a "tough Jersey girl who actually grew up onstage in the Catskills and the Poconos." (For those not conversant with the mountain areas of New York and Pennsylvania, they were once-thriving areas whose hotels proudly hired the best talent in the country to perform every weekend [and most weeknights]). But she becomes involved, per agreement with Lt. Rodriguez of the NYPD, to act as the latter's "inside source" with the people involved in the production of Annie. However, her attempts at finding the murderer soon involve an "exploding bagel bakery and the possible abduction of a big hairy mutt." Kay describes Bruno as "a big hairy mutt, mostly. Looks like a shag rug that was somehow invested with a brain and the ability to move around."

Agent to the Paws is another new series by E.J. Copperman. And just as terrific as the ones that preceded it. As I have written in previous reviews of this author's new titles/series, this could only be an E.J. Copperman creation, as any reader of the author's Asperger's, Mysterious Detective and Haunted Ghosthouse series can attest. There is a mystery here, and quite creative and suspenseful it is, but the overriding aspect of this book is the author's singular and trademark humor. I can attest to the fact that every page, and nearly every sentence, of this delightful book is literally laugh-out-loud funny, and the smile almost never left my face for the two days it took me to read it. It is simply terrific, and is highly recommended.

Say No More
Hank Phillippi Ryan
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765385376, $7.19, Paperback, 464 pp,

From the publisher: When Boston television reporter Jane Ryland reports a hit-and-run, she soon learns she saw more than a car crash - - she witnessed the collapse of an alibi. Working on an expose of sexual assaults on college campuses for the station's new documentary unit, Jane has just convinced a date rape victim to reveal her heartbreaking experience on camera. However, a disturbing, anonymous message that arrives in her office mail - - SAY NO MORE - - has Jane really and truly scared. Homicide detective Jake Brogan is on the hunt for the murderer of Avery Morgan, a hot-shot Hollywood screenwriter. Morgan's year as a college guest lecturer just ended at the bottom of her swimming pool in the tight-knit and tight-lipped Boston community called The Reserve. As Jake chips his way through a code of silence as shatterproof as any street gang, he'll learn that one newcomer to the neighborhood may have a secret of her own. A young woman faces a life-changing decision - - should she go public about her assault? Jane and Jake - - now semi-secretly engaged and beginning to reveal their relationship to the world - - are both on a quest for answers as they try to balance the consequences of revealing the truth.

In the opening pages, Detective Jake Brogan, grandson of a former Police Commissioner, one of the city's top homicide cops and his partner, Paul DeLuca, discover Avery's dead body at the bottom of her pool. That same morning, Jane witnesses the hit-and-run which puts her in the middle of a tough balancing act between her obligations as a citizen and those of a journalist. The entire fast-moving and page-turning plot takes place over a four-day period. A second story line deals with the issue which is the crux of Jane's documentary being prepared for airing on her TV station, taking her into the lives of women who have reported the sexual assaults visited upon them and duly reported to Edward Tarrant, the dean of students at the University and the Title Nine coordinator whose job it is to make sure all assault complaints are investigated, if the students want that done. Jane, now nearly 34 years old, is a former award-winning investigative reporter who has spent more than seven years in news, often on the crime beat, though no longer covering crime.

Unfortunately, Tarrant sees himself as the "fireman . . . When there's a public relations fire, I put it out." As to the "incidents" themselves, his job, to him, calls for them to be "glossed over, erased, redeemed, or Band-Aided." The timing of this novel, in this pre-election period when sexual assaults are in each day's headlines, is nearly prescient.

Interestingly, p.o.v. changes are identifiable by the chapter-like (although often mid-chapter) headings. Another excellent entry in the series, and one which is recommended.

The Quiet Child
John Burley
William Morrow Paperbacks
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062431851, $15.99, 288 pp.,

From the publisher: It's the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with superstition, who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her. Sheriff Jim Kent, increasingly aware of the whispers and rumors surrounding the boy, has watched the people of his town suffer, and he worries someone might take drastic action to protect their loved ones. Then a stranger arrives, and Danny and his ten-year-old brother, Sean, go missing. In the search that follows, everyone is a suspect, and the consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.

This is a tale of what appears to be a kidnapping gone horribly wrong. But put aside any preconceptions you may have with regard to kidnappings - this is not like any conjecture you can imagine.

This is a difficult time for the residents of Cottonwood, where "it seemed everyone had something wrong." The protagonists are Michael McCray, a science teacher at Anderson Union High School, and his wife of 12 years, Kate. Days go by, and no headway is made in finding their two kidnapped sons, despite the best efforts of Michael and Jim Kent, 65 and "the town's only plumber and part-time sheriff," who thinks "there was something out here, some trace of them. There had to be. People do not just disappear. There was a concerted law enforcement effort under way. They would find them - - soon, he thought. He only hoped it would be soon enough." The boys are 6 and 10 years old, of whom Michael thinks "one a constant source of chatter and energy and the other an enigma, silent and indecipherable," the eponymous brother.

The reader is introduced to Richard Banes, who is at the crux of most of what takes place in this novel, and who "had harbored the suspicion that he might be going insane. True, it was not a condition that had plagued him in the past. But the recent events had been wild and unpredictable - - and beyond his ability to control. If he had heard the story from someone else and not experienced it for himself, he would have scoffed at it and questioned their mental stability. But here he was: incapacitated by a small child . . . "

This is a psychological thriller of the highest order, and it is highly recommended.

Wilde Lake
Laura Lippman
10 E. 53rde St., NY, N Y 10022
9780062083456, $26.99/33.50 CA$, Hardcover, 368 pp.,
9780062083463, $15.99/18.50 CA$, Paperback, 384 pp.,

From the publisher: Luisa "Lu" Brant is the newly elected state's attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Fiercely intelligent and ambitious, she sees an opportunity to burnish her reputation by trying a homeless man accused of beating a woman to death in her home. It's not the kind of case that makes national headlines, but peaceful Howard County doesn't see many homicides.

As Lu prepared for the trial, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small but tight-knit family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man's life. Only eighteen at the time, AJ was found to have acted in self-defense. Now Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them. Long discrete memories begin to fit together, revealing connections and secrets that Lu never suspected. The more she learns about her new case, the more questions arise about the past. Why was her brother's friend attacked? Who was the true victim? Lu discovers that the legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, can no longer provide comfort or even reliable answers. If there is such a thing as the whole truth, Lu realizes - - possibly too late - - that she would be better off not knowing what it is.

The novel opens in June of 1980, as the graduating class is celebrating their graduation from Wilde Lake High School. Lu is eight years younger than her adored brother, AJ, "a good athlete, a gifted singer and actor, an outstanding student," is planning to go Yale, their father's alma mater. Suffice it to say that the next day's headline was "State's Attorney's Son Saves Friend's Life in Brutal Revenge Plot." There is much more to the events that happened that day than this headline conveys. The tale then switches to January of 2015, where Lu is in conversation with her former boss, Fred Hollister, whose job as Baltimore City state's attorney [the first female in that position] she has just taken when the results of the recent election are known. She and her husband, Gabe, are the parents of twins, until suddenly, at 39, he died of a heart attack, when the twins were not quite 3 years old. At age 40, she accepts her father's offer of a job, being the one in the family with "the chops for criminal law, the stomach for politics," and who has never lost a case in Howard County and "doesn't plan to start now." She finds herself thinking back to when her parents were first married and had their wonderful house on Wilde Lake, four months after which Lu was born, seven days after which her mother died. The Brant family members are all very competitive, in their personal and professional lives, and all fascinating characters. Then Lu gets a case that will test all her talents, a murder trial with varied challenges.

This is but the newest of this author's wonderful novels, giving us wonderful insights into her remarkable protagonists and their geographical surroundings, and it's right up there with all the others, i.e., highly recommended.

Gloria Feit
Senior Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

David P. Fisher
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Double Diamond Books
B01DRAXP8S, $2.99
9781530899463, $14.99, US copyright 2016, 204 pages

Macleod is a classic style Western. The beginning is a little sparsely written and the end is solid but muddled. The middle is classic western and is an enjoyable read.

Macleod is born a son of Scottish immigrants on a Great Plains dirt farm. As soon as he is old enough he leaves home to become a cowboy. He learns the trade and slowly drifts west seeking something new. While drifting across an Oregon mountain range, he is bushwhacked and left for dead. He is saved by a widow rancher who is in the midst of a range war. A timber baron wants the widow's trees. A large rancher wants her grazing lands. Finally a rustler wants her cattle. Can a wounded Macleod, a widow and her daughter survive a three sided fight?

Macleod has more strengths than weakness and is a recommendation for anyone interested in the Western genre. It has everything you want in a good horse opera. The quality is better than many of the new contemporary authors in this genre.

Dan O'Brien
Amazon Digital Services LLC
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
B005METJLU, $3.99
9781467972321, $12.95, copyright 2011, 226 pages

Bitten is a werewolf/paranormal mystery that takes place in a fictional town in a slightly mythical Minnesota. It has a different twist on the werewolf mythology. The story is a light read.

Lauren Westlake is a FBI agent tracking a cold case serial killer who might have just resurfaced in a rural Northern Minnesota town in the middle of winter. She has stumbled into a maniac's killing spree and a world of the paranormal that has been hidden from most of the world. Can she and the local Sherriff survive the maniac's onslaught?

Bitten is a light read with a slightly different take on the popular contemporary paranormal genre. The narration style is reminiscent of the older flowery pulp writing style but the narrative seems a bit forced. There are other technical weaknesses in the storyline but overall it is solid tale. Bitten isn't a top paranormal recommendation but it has enough going for it that it is a good second choice and a book to look for if you are an aficionado of the paranormal monster genre.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

American Trinity
Larry Len Peterson
Sweetgrass Books
c/o Farcountry Press
PO Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781591521884 $34.95

Synopsis: American Trinity is for everyone who loves the American West and wants to learn more about the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is a sprawling story with a scholarly approach in method but accessible in manner. In this innovative examination, Dr. Larry Len Peterson explores the origins, development, and consequences of hatred and racism from the time modern humans left Africa 100,000 years ago to the forced placement of Indian children on off-reservation schools far from home in the late 1800s. Along the way, dozens of notable individuals and cultures are profiled. Many historical events turned on the lives of legendary Americans like the "Father of the West," Thomas Jefferson, and the "Son of the West," George Armstrong Custer - two strange companions who shared an unshakable sense of their own skills - as their interpretation of truths motivated them in the winning of the West.

Dr. Peterson reveals how anti-Indian sentiments were always only obliquely about them. They were victims but not the cause. The Indian was a symbol, not a real person. The politics of hate and racism directed toward them was also experienced in prior centuries by Jews, enslaved Africans, and other Christians. Hatred and racism, when taken into the public domain, are singularly difficult to justify, which is why Europeans and Americans have always sought vindication from the highest sources of authority in their cultures. In the Middle Ages it was religion supplemented later by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. In nineteenth-century Europe and America, religion and philosophy were joined by science and medicine to support Manifest Destiny, scientific racism, and social Darwinism, all of which had profound consequences on Native Americans and the Spirit of the West.

Presenting research in anthropology, archaeology, biology, history, law, medicine, religion, philosophy, and psychology, Dr. Peterson provides the latest observations that delineate why the Native American's life was destroyed. American Trinity is a stunning portrait, a view at once unique, panoramic, and intimate. It is a fascinating book that will make you think about the differences between belief and knowledge; about the self-skepticism of science and medicine; and about what aspects of the world we take on faith.

Critique: American Trinity: Jefferson, Custer, and the Spirit of the West examines the history of the American frontier with emphasis on racism against and cultural persecution of the Native American population. The "Father of the West" Thomas Jefferson and the "Son of the West" George Armstrong Custer - and efforts to downplay or whitewash the more unsavory aspects of their character - are particularly scrutinized. "Indians never have fit nicely into the American dream. Racism emboldened public and private leaders to destroy their way of life. It was self-evident that God predestined the land for white, Christian, civilized citizens. The allure of the West was expressed in Romantic art and literature - very effective propaganda tools." A serious, intense discussion of the systemic social ill of racism and its effects, American Trinity is highly recommended.

Drunks: An American History
Christopher M. Finan
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
9780807001790, $29.95, HC, 344pp,

Synopsis: Today, millions of Americans are struggling with alcoholism, and millions more are also in long-term recovery from addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous and a growing number of recovery organizations are providing support for alcoholics who will face the danger of relapse for the rest of their lives. We have finally come to understand that alcoholism is a treatable illness. But in the beginning, our nation condemned drunks for moral weakness. For example, President John Adams renounced his alcoholic son, Charles, and refused to bury him in the family crypt.

In "Drunks: An American History", Christopher Finan (the Executive Director of National Coalition Against Censorship and a former director of American Booksellers for Free Expression -- a program of the American Booksellers Association) reveals the history of our struggle with alcoholism and the emergence of a search for sobriety that began among Native Americans in the colonial period.

"Drunks: An American History" introduces the reader to a colorful cast of historical characters including a remarkable Iroquois leader named Handsome Lake, a drunk who stopped drinking and dedicated his life to helping his people achieve sobriety.

In the early nineteenth century, the idealistic and energetic "Washingtonians," a group of reformed alcoholics, led the first national movement to save men like themselves. After the Civil War, doctors began to recognize that chronic drunkenness is an illness, and Dr. Leslie Keeley invented a "gold cure" that was dispensed at more than a hundred clinics around the country.

But most Americans rejected a scientific explanation of alcoholism. A century after the ignominious death of Charles Adams came Carrie Nation. The wife of a drunk, she destroyed bars with a hatchet in her fury over what alcohol had done to her family. Prohibition became the law of the land, but nothing could stop the drinking.

"Drunks: An American History" also tells the dramatic story of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who helped each other stay sober and then created AA, which survived its tumultuous early years and finally proved that alcoholics could stay sober for a lifetime.

Critique: "Drunks: An American History" is an impressively comprehensive and informative narrative history. Entertaining, authoritative, and presenting an exceptionally well written, organized and presented study of one of America's great liberation movements, "Drunks: An American History" is a compelling and memorable read from beginning to end. While highly and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library American History collections in general, and Alcoholism supplemental studies 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 "Drunks: An American History" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.99).

Emigrating from China to the United States
Yushi (Boni) Li
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398091675, $34.95, PB, 270pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "Emigrating from China to the United States: A Comparison of Different Social Experiences" by Yushi Li (Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Hights, Kentucky) has retained much of her earlier experiences when emigrating to the United States but adds depth and detail to the life events that have currently influenced her social values, attitudes, and behaviors.

In addition to being her personal story, "Emigrating from China to the United States" is intended to be a supplementary textbook with the fundamental purpose of facilitating students in associating the understandings in their personal daily lives with larger social forces. The main discussion focuses on cross-cultural experiences and society with the understanding that time, society, and culture will always influence everyday lives.

"Emigrating from China to the United States" addresses such issues and topics as: Sociological theories and how different political and economic systems influence ways of thinking, everyday life, and social interaction with others; The importance of doing research projects, collecting data, and how to avoid common mistakes; The comparison between Chinese and American cultures, and cultural shock; How immigrants assimilate themselves into American society; Deviant behavior that may be considered universal; Comparison and evaluation of U.S. and Chinese social stratification; racial group issues; Comparison of U.S. and Chinese sex and gender behaviors; Different approaches to the importance of family in cultures; The influence of Confucius versus Christianity; Population issues including family planning and abortion; Urbanization and its effect on social change.

Replete with numerous illustrations, Professor Li provides a background of Chinese history, culture, and current issues. "Emigrating from China to the United States" is especially important in the study of history immigration, world cultures, current American immigration, and the socialization and assimilation by the dominant culture in a society.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Emigrating from China to the United States" will serve as a significant resource for the general study of sociology and social sciences at all levels, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to college and university library Contemporary Immigration collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Emigrating from China to the United States" is also available in a digital book format from Charles C. Thomas, Publisher (9780398091682, $34.95).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Elmina's Fire
Linda Carleton
She Writes Press
9781631521904, $16.95, PB, 330pp,

Synopsis: "Elmina's Fire" by Linda Carleton is the story of what happens when a troubled young woman dares to follow the stirring of her soul in turbulent times.

Elmina begins life with a troubled childhood in a medieval French town -- a childhood that turns her into a spiritually seeking young woman who dares to follow the stirrings of her soul. Her idealism and love lead her to leave a Cathar school and follow the man who will become Saint Dominic.

As the world around her erupts into the Albigensian Crusade, Elmina finds herself complicit in its horror, and her spiritual and emotional life begins to unravel. With the aid of the counsel of her wise prior, Brother Noel, Elmina learns to paint her experiences within a sacred circle -- a practice that helps her discover the origins of her lifelong fears and wrestle with questions that are as divisive today as they were eight centuries ago: the nature of God, the purpose of creation, the nature of evil, and the possibility of reincarnation.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, unfailingly entertaining, consistently engaging novel from cover to cover, "Elmina's Fire" reveals author Linda Carleton's genuine flair as a novelist for original and deftly crafted storytelling. While unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Elmina's Fire" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Cupcakes, Yoga, and Jesus
Lyn G. Litchke
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781512769074, $30.95, PB, 146pp,

Synopsis: "Cupcakes, Yoga, and Jesus: Overcoming the Sticky Situation of Addiction" by certified therapeutic recreation specialist Lyn G. Litchkeis is a modern day and true story of the Bible coming to life in the 21st century as a mother and son overcome the "sticky" situation of addiction.

It contains 12 easy to read chapters turning the 12 steps of recovery on their head, literally by doing yoga inversions. Each individual chapter highlights one of the 12 miracles experienced by the mother who commemorates them in 12 cupcake recipes with flavors such as: "Out of the Dark Chocolate into the White Light," and "Go Bananas for God with Peanut Butter," as she bakes her way through 5pm happy hour instead of drinking.

"Cupcakes, Yoga, and Jesus" shakes up the notion of what an alcoholic looks and acts like. For example, you can be a very successful athlete, professional, and a compulsive drinker. "Cupcakes, Yoga, and Jesus" dispels the myths that you have to wait to hit rock bottom in order to get help and that getting and staying sober has to be some nail biting miserable ride.

Critique: As inspired and inspiring, as it is real-world practical, "Cupcakes, Yoga, and Jesus: Overcoming the Sticky Situation of Addiction" will prove to be a life-affirming, life-changing, life-enhancing read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement and Religion/Spirituality collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cupcakes, Yoga, and Jesus" is also available in a paperback edition (9781512769050, $13.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Devoted: A Girl's 31-Day Guide to Good Living with a Great God
Marjorie Jackson
Shiloh Run Press
c/o Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781683221661, $12.99, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: What are Christian girls to do in a changing and secular world full of darkness, distractions, pressure, lies, and uncertainty? Is it really possible for a twenty-first-century young Christian woman to live a life in direct contrast to their broader culture's ever-changing standards? In "Devoted: A Girl's 31-Day Guide to Good Living with a Great God" author Marjorie Jackson's answer is a resounding yes!

With a Lord like Jesus, guidance like the Holy Spirit's, and that powerful weapon we call the Holy Bible, God's truth is ours to live out. "Devoted: A Girl's 31-Day Guide to Good Living with a Great God" is an impressively presented devotional about letting our love and dedication to Jesus penetrate every area of life including our relationships, our decisions, our standards, our convictions, our priorities, our everything.

Of special note are the inclusion of: Unique Hand-Lettered Art Pages for Coloring; Key Scripture Verses; Personal/Small Group Study Questions.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "Devoted: A Girl's 31-Day Guide to Good Living with a Great God" is a 'real world practical' devotional that is unreservedly recommended for all young Christian women regardless of their denominational affiliation. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Devoted: A Girl's 31-Day Guide to Good Living with a Great God" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.06).

The Garden at War
Stephen Bann, et al.
Paul Holberton Publishing
9781911300229, $16.95, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: Stowe isn't a garden of flowers or shrubs; it's a garden of ideas. "The Garden at War: Deception, Craft and Reason at Stowe" is important new collection of essays and artwork brings together ideas from some of the leading thinkers on landscape design, exploring the gardens at Stowe as a site of conflict between order and disorder.

Stowe is 250 acres of parkland offering a complex web of views, pathways, statues, inscriptions, urns and ideas. Unlike its French floricultural precursors, Stowe presents sudden shifts of scene, abrupt revelations, as well as spots at which to stop to absorb the visual effect.

There is natural beauty in the gardens of Stowe, but they serve a larger purpose than to please the eye. Beneath this facade of bucolic idyll lies a deeply important suggestion of man's relationship to nature.

Accompanying an exhibition of historic and contemporary art at Stowe House, "The Garden at War" explores the gardens at Stowe, built by a general, as a site of perpetual conflict in which the preconditions of destruction and creation are inescapable. If nature is understood to be original, then the garden is an ordered but un-orderly condition; a re ordered vision of the natural order, a vision of nature disciplined by human action in a attempt to advance and yield control.

Starting with works by the preeminent neoclassical painters Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain (whose distinct pictorial visions gave rise to an unmistakable relationship between the garden, the viewer and the natural world) this deftly edited volume brings together an arrangement of interpretations and theories exploring metaphors and meanings within the very practice of gardening itself.

Critique: Featuring an introduction by the pre-eminent critic Stephen Bann, an essay by the foremost garden historian John Dixon Hunt lead on to newly commissioned illustrations by artist Gary Hincks, a previously unpublished interview with the Scottish conceptual artist and gardener Ian Hamilton Finlay, and a new discussion of conflict in the work of Richard Long, "The Garden at War: Deception, Craft and Reason at Stowe" is an extraordinary, profusely illustrated, impressively informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking study that is unreservedly recommended, especially for college and university library collections.

The Gift of Great Chinese Wisdom
Helen Exley
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573247252, $14.95, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: Deftly compiled by Helen Exley, "The Gift of Great Chinese Wisdom" is an absolutely charming little volume that pairs the essence of Chinese philosophy with original watercolors by Angela Kerr. Featured are over 100 felicitous selections from Chuang Tzu, Lao Tzu, Li Po, Confucius, and many others including: "The one who knows does not speak. The one who speaks does not know." ?Lao Tzu; "When my heart is at peace, the world is at peace." ?Zen poem; "If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone." ?Chinese proverb.

Critique: An ideal gift for any occasion as an attractive art object that provides wisdom and inspiration (especially for those inevitable times when a little spiritual pick-me-up is required), "The Gift of Great Chinese Wisdom" is a lovely little volume to browse through again and again and again. "The Gift of Great Chinese Wisdom" will prove to be an especially appreciated and valued addition to personal, community, and academic library collections.

Curating Community
Stacy Douglas
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
9780472073542, $70.00, HC, 210pp,

Synopsis: In "Curating Community: Museums, Constitutionalism, and the Taming of the Political", Stacy Douglas ( Assistant Professor of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada) challenges the centrality of sovereignty in our political and juridical imaginations.

Creatively bringing together constitutional, political, and aesthetic theory, Professor Douglas argues that museums and constitutions invite visitors to identify with a prescribed set of political constituencies based on national, ethnic, or anthropocentric premises. In both cases, these stable categories gloss over the radical messiness of the world and ask us to conflate representation with democracy. Yet the museum, when paired with the constitution, can also serve as a resource in the production of alternative imaginations of community.

Consequently, Professor Douglas's key contribution is the articulation of a theory of counter-monumental constitutionalism, using the museum, that seeks to move beyond individual and collective forms of sovereignty that have dominated postcolonial and postapartheid theories of law and commemoration. She insists on the need to reconsider deep questions about how we conceptualize the limits of ourselves, as well as our political communities, in order to attend to everyday questions of justice in the courtroom, the museum, and beyond.

Critique: An impressively informative and thought-provoking work of articulate and seminal scholarship, "Curating Community: Museums, Constitutionalism, and the Taming of the Political" is an especially appropriate and original study for academics, artists, curators, and constitutional designers interested in legacies of violence, transitional justice, and democracy. Of special note is the inclusion of thirty-eight pages of Notes, a twenty-eight page Bibliography, and a four page Index. While unreservedly and strongly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted is also available for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Curating Community" is also available in a paperback edition (9780472053544, $24.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.43).

Helen Dumont

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Song of Life: Native American Wisdom
Helen Exley, editor
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781573247269, $14.95, HC, 144pp,

The editor of "The Song of Life" expressed her intent as follows: ".../these people's wisdom is expressed in a profoundly timeless way. Their sensitivity to nature and humanity is a gift back to us all. My hope is that the pieces collected here, that mean the most to me, can touch people all around the world." In "The Song of Life," with its accompanying deeply poignant vintage and scenic photos, editor Helen Exley exceeds her goal.

This collection of wisdom sayings is a rich treasure that promises to enlighten, refresh, awaken, and recharge readers of all backgrounds and experiences. Here are a few sample quotations, each carefully opposed by a scenic photograph evocative of a life lived in harmony with the underlying forces of nature:

"We humans must come again to a moral comprehension of the earth and air. We must live according to the principle of a land ethic. The alternative is that we shall not live at all (N. Scott Momaday, Kiowa-Cherokee)."

"Listen to the voice of nature, for it holds treasures for you. (Huron)."

'As you pass through the years you will find much calmness in your heart, it is the gift of age, and the colors of the fall will be deep and rich, - if you let it happen (Chief Dan George, 1899-1981, Coast Salish, from "My Spirit Soars")."

"We must go beyond the arrogance of human rights. We must go beyond the ignorance of civil rights. We must step into the reality of natural rights because all the natural world has a right to existence. We are only a small part of it. We are only a small part of it. There can be no trade off (Shoshone)."

"Things may seem bleak at times... In difficult times, we are made more aware of the resources that we have within ourselves and therein lies our peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict. It comes from the ability to cope with that conflict (Bear Heart, 1918-2008, and Molly Larkin, from "The Wind is My Mother")."

A final quotation lingers in the mind:

"May the mountain's own great spirit make your life a singing stream... May the twelve new moons now coming bring a purpose to your dreams. May a rainbow touch your shoulder with a promise of its glow. May the sunlight fall upon you as you walk in many snows (Native American Blessing)."

One other final touches the heart of the reader across cultures, lands, oceans, and time: "Being Indian is an attitude, a state of mind, a way of being in harmony with all things and all beings. It is allowing the heart to be distributor of energy on this planet: to allow feelings and sensitivities to determine where energy goes;, bringing aliveness up from the Earth and down from the Sky, putting it in and giving it out from the heart (Brooke Medicine Eagle)."

"The Song of Life" is a treasure meant to be shared with all, offering many blessings to all readers.

Daily Promises From God: 365 Days of Encouragement and Strength
Susan Jones, editor
Hollan Publishing, Inc./Good Books
c/o Skyhorse Publishing
307 West 36th Street, New York, NY 10018
9781680992861, $14.99 HC, $14.22 Kindle, 368pp,

"Daily Promises From God" is an extraordinary daybook collections of inspirational Biblical writings about God's promises to man. Filled with 365 carefully selected quotations from the new Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, from the national Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America, "Daily Promises From God" offers further encouragement through every other page's background. which is a color photo of an inspirational scene from nature. Each pair of pages contains two quotations that seem significantly linked in their message. For example, two facing pages in mid-book contain the following verses, against a blue and white background of clustered white blossoms: "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye (Psalms 32:8)." "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6)." A wonderful, apt quote for today and all days is towards the end: "The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed (Psalms 103:6)." "Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity... (Psalms 45:6)." There are many more apt choices of daily inspirational quotations for Old and New Testament sources in this beautiful daybook of promises from God.

We Pray in Many Ways
Christine Way Skinner, author
Celeste Gagnon, illustrator
Novalis Publishing Inc.
c/o Twenty-Third Publications
1 Montauk Avenue, Suite 200, New London, CT 06320
9781627851978, $7.95, PB, 32pp,

"We Pray in Many Ways" is a Catholic Kids Library title to teach children ways to talk to God in prayer. Gentle illustrations frame familiar prayers for children to read and memorize, including the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary Prayer. There are also other ways to pray, such as being still and quiet and acknowledging the presence of God, or celebrating God with joy in song.

Prayers can be sung, danced, written, drawn, and made in many ways. Sometimes we are blessed with holy water to remember our baptism as a child of God, and sometimes we can ask for blessings for our beloved pets. Hanging a cross or crucifix in our homes reminds us of Jesus' and God's love for us. A candle can be lit, with an adult present, to remind us of God's light with us, or we can look at beautiful paintings, statues, and icons to bring us closer to God. We can make special journeys or pilgrimages, or we can pray in our own homes and bedrooms, at night. The saints are there to help us make our prayers, and so are our family and friends. We can also pray for our family and friends. We can tell God anything in our prayers. God will listen. We can thank God for everything, or we can ask for what we need, though sometimes God's answer may surprise us. Most important in prayer is the Holy mass said by the priest on Sundays. There are many ways to talk to God and to hear God's word.

How do you like to listen to God?

"We Pray in Many Ways" is completed with suggestions for sharing prayer in different forms with children every day. "We Pray in Many Ways" is a beautiful child's first book of ways to pray to God.

Tangled: It's Better When You Sing It
Disney Learning series
Hal Leonard LLC
P.O. Box 13819, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781495064777, $14.99, 32pp,

"Tangled: It's Better When You Sing It: A Musical Exploration Storybook" is a musical exploration hardback storybook for children age four and up that helps youngsters learn music through creative play. The musical storybook presents the beautifully color illustrated Disney Rapunzel story with musical play suggestions in sidebars throughout. Story line and visual aids are complemented by vocal music technique and experimenting suggestions, such as finding your high voice and your low voice and moving from one range to the other juxtaposed with a painting of Rapunzel's tower, stretching from low to high.

The marvelous Disney reinterpretation of the traditional children's tale is fully described and illuminated by the vocal music tips, ideas, and suggestions for creative music play on each pair of pages. After eleven pairs of facing pages, there is a review section titled What Did You Learn, which summarizes all the tips briefly alongside circular picture cues, with page numbers. A guide online for more related musical exploration activities is also listed at, This is followed by the two pages of song lyrics from "It's Better When You Sing It," with a sing along online reference. Finally there is a glossary of musical terms, plus an encouraging note about singing and musical play to parents and caregivers, with suggestions for how to share and explore music with your child every day.

"Tangled: It's Better When You Sing It" will encourage music and skill development in young children in a delightful format filled with fun and excitement. Also highly recommended is another title from this simply outstanding Explore Music series, "Mickey's Found Sounds: A Musical Exploration Storybook" (9781495064784, $14.99, 32pp).

Marti's Song for Freedom/ Marti y sus versos por La Libertad
Emma Otheguy, author
Beatriz Vidal, illustrator
Adriana Dominguez, Spanish translator
Children's Book Press
c/o Lee & Low Books, Inc.
95 Madison Avenue, New York,NY 10016
9780892393756, $17.95, 32pp,

"Marti's Song for Freedom" is the bilingual biographical poem that tells of the life of Jose Marti, Cuban freedom fighter and poet of the literary movement known as modernismo. Born in 1853 in Cuba the son of a former Spanish soldier, Jose, affectionately nicknamed "Pepe," became deeply concerned about slavery in Cuba and elsewhere, and published writings in praise of the Cuban rebels who fought for freedom from Spain and emancipation of Cuban slaves. The first of these publications caused Marti to be arrested, imprisoned, and exiled from Cuba. He came to Nueva York and spent time in the United States, always missing his beloved Cuba. Marti visited the Catskills in New York, and found some consolation in the beautiful wild forest scenery and ferns, some of which reminded him of Cuba. Always Marti returned to his passion for freedom for Cuba, emancipation of slaves and freedom from Spain. The tender verse narrative of Marti's life in "Marti's Song for Freedom" is studded with verses from Marti's "Versos Sencillos," as an example follows:

"Jose flew back to Cuba like an eagle healed,/ to join in a new war for independence./ He served as a soldier/ alongside his people in battle./ 'I've seen the wounded eagle/ Fly to the clear blue sky,/ And I've seen the snake lie dying/ From its own poison, alone in its lair.'"

Each pair of pages in "Marti's Song of Freedom" contains two columns of English and Spanish verse on the left, and an original, small epic artwork portrayal of the dramatic life events described on the opposite page. The writer's chosen style of expression, modernismo, is honored but not imitated in the original verse composed by author Emma Otheguy. "Marti's song of Freedom" contains 7 verse excerpts from Marti's "Versos Sencillos," plus a great deal of history of the Ten Years' War for independence in Cuba. Marti died fighting in Cuba before Cuba gained it's independence, but his voice, courageous example, and inspiring musical poetry helped keep the spirit of revolution alive until Cuban independence was granted in 1902. "Marti's Song of Freedom" is a beautiful commemoration of a great poet, thinker, and humanist who is honored in all the Americas.

The Runaway Dandelion: Adventures in SustainAbility
Jill Regensburg, author
Leticia Plate, illustrator
Earthward Project LLC
9780998459608, $10.99, PB, 48pp,

"The Runaway Dandelion: Adventures in SustainAbility" is a modern fable about sustainable living, with a humble dandelion as its narrator and guru. Once there was a dandelion living in a wonderful meadow along with many other flowers, plants, insects and animals. then the meadow was destroyed by earth moving machines to build a large house, which had a green yard of grass planted with many man made chemicals sprayed on it to kill insects, weeds, plants and small animals. Miraculously, the lonely dandelion survived the chemical sprays, through she was sad. Then, the dandelion turned to white fluff and some of her blowing seeds arrived at another lovely meadow to grow and live in a different natural setting, with a small family farm that practiced sustainability in its living. There was no use of chemical insecticides and herbicides. Instead, wildflowers, berries, fruit and nut trees grew, and a little marsh and pond starred in a wetlands area which was host to herons, fish, and frogs, plus many insects and plants. Surrounding the house was a large green forest, and the farmer who lived there used horses to help him harvest dead wood from the forest for firewood to heat the house.

The happy dandelion seed planted herself by the pond, meeting nematodes and earthworms in the moist earth which helped her to grow healthy roots. The dandelion saw chickens, ducks, and geese wandering freely in the garden, eating weeds and bugs and adding fertilizer to the soil. Children gathered eggs from the chicken house, vegetables from the garden, where they were planted in "families," and fruits, nuts and berries from the trees and bushes. The family made many good preserves and salads and good things to eat from these foods gathered, even salads from dandelion greens. The kids played in a natural swimming pool and ate fish their dad caught and cooked in an outdoor oven. the family baked its own bread and gathered honey from beehives and honeycombs. The children helped to gather firewood to heat the home in the winter. The family also collected sap from the maple trees in the forest and made its own maple syrup to eat. An old truck was being converted to run on biofuel instead of gasoline by the farmer. the farm wife grew a spiral herb garden to provide herbs and microgreen salads from a greenhouse. Even the plentiful dandelions could be gathered and made into greens, beverages, and fritters. The brave little dandelion grew well in the meadow, happy with all her natural and human company living a sustainable, natural lifestyle.

Hand-drawn and colored illustrations of the dandelion, meadow, children, and home adorn the pages of this modern eco-fable written by a practicer of Permaculture, or Permanent Agriculture, creating sustainable organic indoor and outdoor spaces for living and growing food. Additional resources and links to useful websites are included on page 44, along with a page titled Cooking With Dandelions and a glossary. "The Runaway Dandelion" is more than a modern eco-fable, it is a true story to inspire a generation with its vision of healthy alternatives for human families living compatibly with nature.

Hilly Pilly & the Little White Lie
Wayne Lobdell, author
Phyllis Pollema-Cahill, illustrator
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781365385087, $13.60 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 32pp,

Based on a true story, "Hilly Pilly & the Little White Lie" is a family fun fable that warms the heart and tickles the funny bone. The three Dell children and their cousins were spending the night together when their mom announced it was bedtime. Begging for a later bedtime, the children were promised a visit from Hilly Pilly, their dad's cousin, if they brushed their teeth and got ready for bed lickety split. Everyone cooperated, though the visiting cousins were mysitfied. The Dell children told them Hilly Pilly had visited before, and was kind of funny. Following the bedtime prep, all children were amused by the entrance of an oddly garbed Hilly Pilly, wearing a swimsuit, non-matching shoes and socks, multiple ties with no shirt, a funny hat, sunglasses and sporting a little beard and mustache. Hilly Pilly proceeded to tell yarns and silly jokes, playing silly tricks like throwing the ball and not catching it. When the children pointed out his mismatched, mixed up attire, he pretended to be amazed and concerned. After a great time of laughing at jokes, Hilly Pilly left the children in bed, clumping down the stairs.

Later, in the night, Jeffrey went into his parents' room to ask about the girl who spread peanut butter on the road (a joke, to go with the traffic jam!), and he spied some clues that told him who Hilly Pilly really was. Awakening his parents, Jeffrey announced his discovery. His mother asked him to still tell his cousins that Hilly Pilly was his Dad's cousin, so they could have fun and be happy. Jeffrey asked if it was all right to tell a little white lie, and his mom assured him that it was, if it was fun and made people happy. The story, based upon the author's childhood experiences with his loving parents, puts an emphasis on family fun and time together. Joyful colored illustrations reveal a clever Hilly Pilly, cousins and little Dells, and Mom enjoying a fun bedtime ritual full of love and laughter. Additional biographical information and black and white pictures of the author and his family are shown at the end of the story. All profits from "Hilly Pilly & The Little White Lie" will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of America.

Aaron's Day Off
Cindy Mackey, author
Rupert Van Wyk, illustrator
Cyrano Books
9780999099308, $11.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 44pp,

"Aaron's Day Off" is a delightful new tale about a determined, hardworking boy who liked to do work that helped others. Aaron was a champion at milking cows, plucking chickens, chasing runaway calves, driving tractor, building houses, and many more chores and large tasks. Everyone knew how helpful and hardworking Aaron was. One day Aaron's town decided to take a day off from work. But Aaron didn't want to take the day off, so he left on his bike in search of something to do. Aaron did fabulous work, helping to build a pyramid, steady a stone column in a Roman temple, fly a Wright brothers' biplane, and assist with a moon landing and exploration party. That was one day's hard work for Aaron! Arriving back home, his friends, who were playing at being super heroes and heroines, asked him if he was a superhero. "No," Aaron shook his head. Then they asked how he could do so many hard things so well and he answered, "Because no one told me I couldn't." "Aaron's Day Off" is highlighted by expressive, humorous illustrations that subtly bring out that tall tale exaggerations in the story. "Aaron's Day Off" is a great book for kids that is inspiring and empowering to read.

Goblin's Goop
Richard Rensberry, author
Arun Kumar, illustrator
QuickTurtle Books LLC
9781940736228, $13.99, PB, 56 pages,

"Goblin's Goop" is a kids' heroic cartoon epic about environmental threats of dastardly GMOs and other poisonous, factory (man)-made substances. To the amazing rescue march the soldiers of nature, bugs! Ants, bees, crickets, mosquitos, even flowers and birds come making their own martial music, ready to defend the essence of healthy Nature and the environment everywhere, even in poisoned ground. They surround the evil, goblins' goop making factory of Monsanto, and like Joshua, they blow and blow until the walls come tumbling down. Charming epic verse is complemented by bright portraiture of the insects' attack in the defense of Nature. Children ages 5-8 will revel in the story and pictures, cheering the demise of the evil green goblins and their poisonous goop, at the hands of the unlikely heroic challengers, bugs! Dedicated to all kids in the future who deserve a better world, "Goblin's Goop" is a modern morality fable based on environmental truths.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Making Whole What Has Been Smashed
John Torpey
Rutgers University Press
106 Somerset St., 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
9780813592237, $24.95, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Now in a newly revised edition, "Making Whole What Has Been Smashed: On Reparations Politics" by John Torpey (Presidential Professor of Sociology and History, as well as Directory of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at The Graduate Center, City University of New York), explores the spread in recent years of political efforts to rectify injustices handed down from America's racial past.

Although it recognizes that campaigns for reparations may lead to an improvement in the well-being of victims of mistreatment by states and to reconciliation among former antagonists, this timely study, featuring a new and updated preface, examines the extent to which the concern with the past may represent a departure from the traditionally future-oriented stance of progressive politics.

Viewing the search for "coming to terms with the past" as a form of politics, Professor Torpey argues that there are major differences between reparations for the living victims of past wrongdoing and reparations for the descendants of such victims. More fundamentally, Professor Torpey argues that claims for reparations comprise a relatively novel kind of politics that involves a quest for symbolic recognition and material compensation for those seeking them -- through the idiom of the past rather than the present.

Critique: A seminal study that is impressively informative and thought-provoking, "Making Whole What Has Been Smashed: On Reparations Politics" also features forty-six pages of Notes and a five page Index, making it unreservedly recommended, especially for academic library Current Affairs, Political Science, American History, and Social Theory collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Grounds of the Immaterial
Niels van Dijk
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781786432490, $145.00, HC, 328pp,

Synopsis: "Grounds of the Immaterial: A Conflict-Based Approach to Intellectual Rights" by Niels van Dijk (Postdoctoral Fellow, Research Group on Law, Science, Technology & Society, Vrije Universiteit, Burssel, Belgium) applies a novel conflict-based approach to the notions of 'idea', 'concept', 'invention' and 'immateriality' in the legal regime of intellectual property rights by turning to the adversarial legal practices in which they occur. In doing so, it provides extensive ethnographies of the courts and law firms, and tackles classical questions in legal doctrine about the immaterial nature of intellectual property rights from a thoroughly new perspective.

"Grounds of the Immaterial" follows the legal proceedings of disputes in patent, copyright and trademark law as they circulate from the sites of enterprises, through the offices of law firms, the court registry, the courtroom and the judge's office, until they finally arrive at judgment. In this way, the central matters of a dispute are gradually transformed into immaterial works, inventions, or signs through the ceaseless 'material' operations of legal practices. This analysis sheds light on how seemingly abstract philosophical notions are rendered workable as concrete legal concepts with important consequences.

Critique: Featuring a twelve page Bibliography and an eight page index, and unreservedly recommended for academic library collections, "Grounds of the Immaterial" offers an impressively informative and inherently thought-provoking series of engaging perspectives on intellectual property rights which will be especially valued by academics and students in philosophy, legal theory, legal anthropology and intellectual property.

A Taste Of Success
Jim Smithson
Helion & Company
c/o Casemate
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781911096405, $69.95, HC, 312pp,

Synopsis: Wedged between the Battles of the Somme and Passchendaele, the Battle of Arras has often been termed 'The Forgotten Battle' with little in the way of supporting literature. "A Taste Of Success: The First Battle Of The Scarpe. The Opening Phase Of The Battle Of Arras, 9-14 April 1917" by educator and military historian Jim Smithson is aimed at filling that void, giving the reader an insight into a battle that clearly showed the development of the British and Commonwealth Armies over the early years of the First World War, and how far they still had to go to achieve victory.

"A Taste of Success" reveals why Arras became a focal point and the political background is covered in depth - being controversial and giving the reader an insight into the divide between the military and their political chiefs. "A Taste of Success" shows how infantry tactics had improved and how the use of artillery had become a fine art in supporting the men as they attacked; how a preliminary artillery bombardment left the German defenders shattered, but also created the conditions that would hinder any kind of rapid movement once the first lines were broken. "A Taste of Success" also covers the key role of the Royal Flying Corps, how tanks were used and the vital role of support units such as the Royal Engineers are all examined in detail.

As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the initial success (based upon excellent planning and training) was followed by a chaotic confusion of command and control. It soon becomes evident that the development of the British Army in April 1917 had reached a point where in the Battle of Arras, they could stage a successful assault - applying perfect planning, but lacking the forethought to plan and carry out the follow-up phases. Controversially, although the performance of the soldiers carrying the fight is never questioned, that of many of their commanders is - it being clear that they were not yet ready to win the war.

A great deal of author Jim Smithson's work is based upon primary material, with both British and German sources being used to deepen the analysis of events and also to challenge myths and previous descriptions of the battle. "A Taste of Success" presents a fresh and important reassessment of this important, yet generally ignored, battle as we approach its centenary.

Critique: An impressively original and seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "A Taste Of Success: The First Battle Of The Scarpe. The Opening Phase Of The Battle Of Arras, 9-14 April 1917" includes color images, maps, and diagrams visually enhancing an exceptionally well written, organized and presented text. A critically precise and comprehensive work from beginning to end, "A Taste Of Success" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library World War I military history collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Health, Wealth, and Happiness
David W. Jones & Russell S. Woodbridge
Kregel Publications
2450 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825445071, $5.99, PB, 152pp,

Synopsis: Especially in the world of the Christian Televangelist the notion that if Christians are faithful in their giving and God will reward them financially. It's not always stated that blatantly but the promises of the Prosperity Gospel (or the name-it-and-claim-it gospel, the health-and-wealth gospel, the word of faith movement, or positive confession theology) are false. Yet its message permeates the preaching of well-known Christian leaders: Joyce Meyer, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, and many more.

The appeal of this teaching crosses racial, gender, denominational, and international boundaries. Why are otherwise faithful Christians so easily led astray? Because the Prosperity Gospel contains a grain of biblical truth, greatly distorted. For anyone who knows that Prosperity Gospel theology is wrong but has trouble articulating and refuting the finer points, this concise edition contains all the robust arguments of the hard-hitting original edition in a shorter, more accessible form.

Critique: A sound theological and biblical-based study, "Health, Wealth, and Happiness: How the Prosperity Gospel Overshadows the Gospel of Christ" by David W. Jones (Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of ThM program at Southeastern Baptists Theological Seminary) and Russell S. Woodbridge (Professor of Theology and Church History and currently involved in missions work in Eastern Europe) is a vitally important and timely contribution to an understanding of how the equation of the acquisition of wealth with religious compliance to the Gospel of Christ has been a deformative influence on all too many Christian communities. Very highly recommended, especially for church, seminary, and academic library Christian Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of all Christians (regardless of their denominational affiliation) that "Health, Wealth, and Happiness: How the Prosperity Gospel Overshadows the Gospel of Christ" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.86).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

A Pair of Miracles - A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting
Karla Akins
Kregel Publishing
2450 Oak Industrial Drive N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780825444845, $14.99 PB, $10.32 Kindle, 224 pages,

An Extraordinarily Touching Account of Facing the Challenge of Autism

"A Pair of Miracles" is an extraordinarily touching account of a family faced with the challenges of Autism. Karla Akins tackles questions of faith, of wrestling with God, misconceptions about people with autism, community awareness, advice for parenting, and tools for ministry volunteers working with students experiencing the challenges of developmental disability.

Karla Akins, an advocate for parents impacted by the anxiety, frustration and despair of raising children with autism. Statistics indicate that an estimated one in 68 children are afflicted with an autism spectrum disorder. Akins writes to encourage the increasing number of parents feeling without help and alone. Her writing is filled with the compassion and understanding of one who has traveled the journey.

Karla is mother of five, including twin boys Isaac and Isiah, (now twenty-one years old), diagnosed with autism. She is a pastor's wife, sharing in the ministry of the church and has nearly 40 years of teaching experience, including a degree in special education and a doctorate in Christian Education.

Each chapter of "A Pair of Miracles - A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting" is filled with encouragement, valuable information on neurological or cognitive disabilities, functional skills, teaching strategies, important resources, and communication tips. An extraordinarily touching account of facing the challenges of Autism; highly recommended.

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

Legendary Locals of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor
Elaine Cotsirilos Thomopoulos, PhD
Arcadia Publishing
420 Wando Park Blvd., Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
9781467125161, $21.99 PB, $12.99 Kindle, 128 Pages,

Courageous Explorers, Pioneers, Settlers and Unsung Heroes of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Michigan

Elaine Cotsirilos Thomopoulos has masterfully combined award winning photography with the skill of an accomplished writer in her book "Legendary Locals of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor."

Choice historical highlights and biographical sketches of the early settlers, civic leaders, creative artists, and literary geniuses, bring to life the vibrancy and charisma of the individuals, who have impacted the development culture, vision, and mission of the region.

These snapshots reveal the contributions of the unsung heroes, past and present, who have transformed the natural history of the area into magical folklore, oral history, and reveal the genius of these legendary locals of the Twin Cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor. Thomopoulos' impeccable research, colorful word pictures, and carefully selected photographs add a whole new dimension to the region's intriguing history.

Well known contemporary personalities Pat Moody, Fred Upton, John E.N. Howard, Connie Yore, and others share the limelight with earlier legendary locals, Calvin Britton, Col. Worth Bean, newspaper editor Stanley Banyon, inventor F. P. Rosback, and Henry V. Tutton, M. D. I was also captivated by the flamboyant characters, Benjamin and Mary Purnell founder of the House of David and the magnitude of their leadership in the development of entertainment and recreational opportunities in the earliest twentieth century.

These biographical profiles' of individuals, who have impacted the transformation of the natural topography of the area into the vibrant life, magic folklore, and genius of these "Legendary Locals" project life into every page

"Legendary Locals" is ideal for family time reminiscing, vision casting, to jumpstart stimulating discussion, and for the pure enjoyment of paging through, again and again.

A Practical Guide to Decoding Your Dreams & Visions - Unlocking What God is Saying While You Sleep
Adrian Beale & Adam F. Thompson
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768412307, $24.99, 156 pages

Dreams and Visions, Controversy, Purpose, Origin, Response, and Beyond

Bestselling authors Adrian Beale & Adam F. Thompson collaborate in the creation of "A Practical Guide to Decoding Your Dreams & Visions" an interactive course on how to interpret dreams and visions. The manual develops material from their earlier book "The Divinity Code."

This guide is designed to bring the reader into a new awareness of another realm of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Very informative, this is an excellent tool for understanding dreams and visions according to the Word of God with suggestions for avoiding common pitfalls

Each of the eight sessions includes:

Important Instruction

Pertinent Questions and Points to Ponder

A Summary to review what you have learned

A personal application

The final session "The Language of Dreams" is an invaluable source of additional background material and a helpful chart outlining dreams recorded in the Bible. The authors also equip the reader with important instruction on how to develop contextual insight.

Completing the valuable interactive thought provoking questions will lead to a better understanding and interpretation of the material provided and experientially your personal dreams and visions. "A Practical Guide to Decoding Your Dreams & Visions - Unlocking What God is Saying While You Sleep" can be used as a personal discovery guide or in a small group setting,

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

God's Word for Every Need - Devotions from the Father's Heart
Dr. Mark Stibbe
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768413762, $15.99, 246 pages

Soothing Whispers from a Living, Loving God - Timeless Guidance for Every Day - Whatever the Need...God Has the Answer!

"God's Word for Your Every Need" includes an important selection of Bible verses and inspirational messages that challenge the reader to move beyond the search for theoretical knowledge of God to an experiential relationship of intimacy with God.

Each of the two-hundred forty devotionals, are designed to lead the reader into a process of personal discovery for gleaning practical application and guidelines for daily living. Stibbe's writing is rich in devotional thoughts that promote a profound understanding of God's refining and maturing process. I also gained new insights and clarity regarding the difference between a holiness based on obedience as in a love relationship with Jesus, rather than a law based holiness.

Dr. Mark Stibbe is an award winning Christian author; whose academic books are on required reading lists in universities and seminaries worldwide. Mark is CEO and founder of Kingdom Writing Solutions, a complete service for Christian writers. He is a regular contributor at writer's conferences and workshops.

Each devotional closes with a prayer for the reader. "Let God speak to your needs. Open your ears and heart. Let the Father's tender voice transform your life."

The beautiful leather binding on this edition adds to the personal value and enjoyment of reading and make "God's Word for Every Need - Devotions from the Father's Heart" an ideal gift for those special occasions. Highly recommended.

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

The Altar of His Presence - Inspiring Intimate Encounters with the Glory of God
Robert Stone
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768412260, $16.99, 264 pages

A Transformative Discipleship that Results in Christlikeness

Robert Stone presents a blue print for entering into and experiencing intimacy with God at new levels. In his book "The Altar of His Presence - Inspiring Intimate Encounters with the Glory of God" Stone assures the reader that "the altar'ed life will alter everything about life."

Stone challenges the reader to move beyond a rational theology - behavioral theology to a relational experience that will result in Christlikeness. Each of the fast moving chapters is comprised of background information, an application, a reflection, and a response leading to a unique look at the Altar'ed life:

I was personally challenged to establish my own "Altar of Promise," a place, pattern, and purpose, where I could be "Altar'ed" through a deeper, more intimate, relationship with, God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Robert Stone is an author, minister and speaker. His personal passion is to mentor people to a greater dimension of spiritual growth and fellowship with God.

"The Altar of His Presence will resonate with readers pursuing a desire to accept God's invitation to discover the magnificence of the "Practice of His Presence" more fully." Life Altaring." Highly Recommended.

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

Why Bad Things Happen to God's People Today - Making Sense of Trials & Tribulations in Your Life
Derek Prince
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.,
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768411973, $12.99, 170 Pages

Comfort and Strength in the Midst of Life's Greatest Trials - Lessons from the Book of Job

In his book "Why Bad Things Happen to God's People Today - Making Sense of Trials & Tribulations in Your Life" Derek Prince addresses questions from the life of Job that you may have asked or are asking: If God is good, why is there so much misery, suffering, and persecution in the world today. Prince goes beyond the simplistic answers to explore Satan's trap of the sin of independence and the trials brought on by righteousness.

Academically brilliant, scholastically trained in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, and in several modern languages; Derek Prince had a life changing encounter with God while with the British Army during World War II. Anointed by the Holy Spirit, Prince is a gifted communicator and Bible teacher. His ministry continues to impact people's lives today. Prince's non-denominational emphasis adds to the relevance and acceptance of his teaching to Christians around the world today.

"Why Bad Things Happen to God's People Today" reveals God's intimate concern for his faithful, and has an important message for anyone facing grief, in times of testing, financial needs, or in tense relationships with family or friends.

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

God Encounters Today - Your Invitation to a Life Style of Supernatural Experiences
James W. Goll with Michal Ann Goll
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768412406, $16.99, 248 Pages

A New Awareness God's Intimate Presence

"God Encounters Today - Your Invitation to a Life Style of Supernatural Experiences" is a balance of biblical truth with a prophetic message of signs, wonders, and the fullness of the spirit, of God through intimate encounters with him.

The book includes insights from the encounters of Jacob, Moses, David, and other men and women from the Bible as well as authentic real life stories of individuals changed by dynamic God encounters throughout history.

The Goll's carefully present profound practical instruction on the great diversity of God encounters and the purpose of God encounters today. Each chapter includes a powerful passionate prayer for the reader.

James and Michal Ann Goll work as a team in equipping believers to understand the supernatural as conference speakers, authors, mentors, and through their God Encounters Ministries. Their dynamic teaching includes subjects in the realm of the prophetic, prayer, spiritual warfare, and spiritual growth.

"God Encounters Today" is a challenge and invitation for readers to break out of man-made religious boxes to join in a quest for a fresh life changing revelation from God to explore the unlimited opportunities available to Christ followers today.

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

Planting the Heavens - Releasing the Authority of the Kingdom Through Your Words, Prayers, and Declarations
Tim Sheets
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.,
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768412031, $16.99, 206 pages

Powerful New Dimensions in the Power of Prayer

Bestselling author Tim Sheets' in his book "Planting the Heavens" helps readers realize new dimensions in the power of prayer. The book will resonate with readers praying for reformation in America and the need for awakening change throughout the world.

Powerful personal testimonies illustrate how the power of words influence and impact an individual's life, their destiny, and vision. Dr. Sheets includes other real life stories that tell of miraculous experiences which reveal the result of supernatural faith, life changing potential, and the power of "spirit led" prayers.

Dr. Sheets describes how God germinates his nature as a seed in each of us as we take on the new nature the Apostle Paul describes in II Corinthians, chapter five. As his sons and daughters, we are to seed the world with his Word, speaking words of life and revival everywhere. The greatest days of church history are in our present day and in our future generations as we declare his message to the world.

Dr. Sheet's writing is transformational, inspiring, filled with cutting edge teaching, and powerful challenges. "Planting the Heavens" is important relevant reading for these uncertain times.

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

Encountering God Through Prayer - Simple Strategies to Develop - A Powerful Prayer Life
Margie Fleurant
Destiny Image Publisher, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
978068411997, $16.99, 192 pages

An Open Invitation to a Join in a Journey - Building Your Spiritual Life on Christ's Foundation through Prayer

Margie Fleurant skillfully weaves five pillars of a healthy prayer life with practical steps, and an eight step pattern, into a blueprint for "Encountering God through Prayer."

In Part One Fleurant introduces the importance of finding intimacy with God by knowing Christ, recognizing our new identity, developing our spiritual nature, and by resting in the Father's love. Part Two provides the tools and exercises that lead to surrender, inward reflection, burning hearts, awe of God, personal joy, and finding friendship with God.

The book is formatted to include an opening statement introducing the theme of the chapter or the instruction to follow, a personal experience from Margie's life, an observation from the life of David, a prayer from the apostle Paul, or the example of Jesus, followed by powerful well-ordered strategies and principles for building a deeper and more meaningful prayer experience. Each chapter ends with a profound, yet simple, prayer asking a blessing on the reader. These prayers include positive declarations and affirmations which can be incorporated into regular prayer patterns for future use.

"Encountering God through Prayer" is packed with insights and practical tools for enhancing a whole new level of intimacy with God. Believers from every stage of spiritual maturity will be challenged to try these principles. This is a book I will want to read again. And Often!

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

Rule of Law
Randy Singer
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496418159, $26.99, 480pp,
9781496418166, $16.99 PB, $9.99 Kindle,

A Legal, Political, and Military Thriller - A Behind the Headlines Look at International Events

By the end of page one, critically acclaimed author Randy Singer had my attention. I was hooked. I knew I was in for a good read, a real page turner. By the end of chapter two Randy had my adrenaline flowing. Randy Singer's new book "Rule of Law" takes a look behind the International headlines to ask some very pertinent thought provoking questions:

Are our country's leaders acting outside the Rule of Law?

What is going on behind the scenes that are creating International headlines?

Who is to blame for the spectacular failures when secret missions fail?

Is the saying on the Supreme Court Building Still True? Is there justice under law?

Singer, a master story teller, has developed an exciting multifaceted plot, with twists and turns that adds suspense and keeps readers guessing. His characters are strong and believable, is made up of an amazing roster, which include: Amanda Hamilton, president of the United States, key White House staff members, attorneys and judges, military personnel, members of the Supreme Court, important foreign leaders, and members of the media.

Readers in the genre of intrigue, suspense and adventure thrillers with courtroom scenes will resonate with "Rule of the Law." Enthusiastic fans of John Grissom and Joel Rosenberg are destined to add Randy Singer to their favorite author list. A gripping novel relevant in the midst of today's partisan political scene, Singer has created a riveting, page turner, a filled with timely insights.

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

Check Mate: Clans and Castles
p.m. terrell
Drake Valley Press
P.O. Box 979, Clinton, Mississippi, 39060
9781935970408, $16.95 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 440pp,

Intrigue, Adventure, Narrative Fiction, at its Finest

Check Mate: Clans and Castles is a creative fictional novel, developed from Terrel's ancestral background, through the 10 generations since King James I, of England. The book is based on the true story of the life of William Neely of Wigtownshire, Scotland. In 1608, young Willian Neely left Scotland for Ulster, in search of himself and his purpose in life.

Award winning author p.m. terrell introduces a new reality to the enjoyment of the historical novel in "Check Mate: Clans and Castles." Terrell weaves a unique blend of historical fiction with authentic nonfiction.

Terrell introduces a new level of excellence to the historical novel. Using the mastery of an artist, Terrell paints colorful word pictures and descriptive phrases that are so exquisitely well-chosen that the reader is magnetically drawn into the plot, taking on a role as an active participant in the intrigue of the story.

I became so deeply involved in the historical accuracy and extensiveness of terrel's research that I felt compelled to research my own family heritage in England during this period, hoping to learn more of what it was that caused my ancestors to leave England to sail for Boston in the mid-1860s.

Readers of a Scot-Irish descent will resonate with Terrell's account of events that led to beginning of age of the Plantation, and the transformation of all of Ulster. "Check Mate: Clans and Castles" is true Terrell, writing at her finest, "Causing History to Come Alive."

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

How to TAP into the Glory of God - Anointed Principles that Unlock God's Power in Your Life
Shawn Morris
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.,
P. O. Box, 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768411959, $16.99, 204 pages

Principles for Receiving Revival, Restructure, Restoration, and Awakening

"How to TAP into the Glory of God" is an important book for everyone with a hunger for more manifestations of the presence of God and desirous of experiencing the Holy Spirit's release of His anointing power. Shawn Morris founder and president of Shawn Morris International Ministries of Houston, Texas tells the story of moving from misery to ministry while discovering his destiny. He highlights experiences of his encounters with God "in the glory."

Evangelist Morris explains TAP as "The anointed principles of God" or a gift of God's glory or unction to move in God's anointing glory, and receiving the fullness of God as we understand our position in His gifting. Morris goes on to describe in detail the TAP principles of God's presence, generosity, sacrificial living, prayer, communion, worship and levels of worship, and breaking the walls of racial, social, and economic status.

I found the fundamental law of truth as a moral standard significant to a believers walk, especially, relevant for followers of Christ in today's unsettled times. Each chapter ends with a powerful prayer of intercession for the reader, specifically related to the application of the principles revealed in the chapter.

Shawn's writing is inspirational, written from his heart felt convictions and sense of mission, to help readers experience revival, renewal, restoration, and awakening.

"How to TAP into the Glory of God" is scripture based, relevant, and packed with principles for accessing the Holy Spirit's presence and anointing.

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

Invisible: Surviving the Cambodian Genocide - The Memoirs of Mac and Simone Leng
Frances T. Pilch
Robert D. Reed Publishers
P. O. Box 192, Bandon, OR 97411
9781944297244, $11.95 PB, $7.21 Kindle, 156pp,

Superstition, Disease, Determination, and Drought, in the Crisis, Chaos, and Tragedy of War

Dr. Frances T. Pilch captures the spirit of Mac and Simone Leng in her book "Invisible: Surviving the Cambodian Genocide - The Memoirs of Mac and Simone Leng." The Cambodian genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979 forced relocation of the population from urban centers. Some were sent to labor camps and others to rural farming projects. Forced labor, torture, mass executions, malnutrition, disease, and starvation took the lives of an estimated 2 million people in Cambodia.

Mac and Simone Leng are among the survivors. "Invisible" is the dramatic account of of the horrors they experienced throughout their nearly four years of struggling for survival amidst the chaotic and inhuman living conditions that existed in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge.

I was deeply touched by Mac's tribute to Simone as he credits her with the determination, loyalty, resourcefulness, and generosity that enabled their family to pull together in their plight for survival. Simone describes Mac this way. "He put his family above himself. It was a bond much deeper that the word "love" often implies. We were everything to each other." Mac, Simone, and their family were not just challenged "to survive, but to survive without losing their humanity."

"Invisible: Surviving the Cambodian Genocide - The Memoirs of Mac and Simone Leng" is important reading for every American; a call to speak out against inhumanity, tyranny, and cruelty.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Understanding the Entrepreneur: Socionics in Everyday Life
Kacee Quinelle
MSI Press
1760-F Airline Hwy, #203, Hollister, CA 950243
9781942891482, $9.95, PB, 108pp,

Synopsis: Socionics, in psychology and sociology, is a theory of information processing and personality type, distinguished by its information model of the psyche (called "Model A") and a model of interpersonal relations. It incorporates Carl Jung's work on Psychological Types with Antoni Kepinski's theory of information metabolism. Socionics is a modification of Jung's personality type theory that uses eight psychic functions, in contrast to Jung's model, which used only four. These functions are supposed to process information at varying levels of competency and interact with the corresponding function in other individuals, giving rise to predictable reactions and impressions -- a theory of intertype relations. (Wikipedia)

Through examples of home, school, work, and leisure situations, "Understanding the Entrepreneur: Socionics in Everyday Life" by Kacee Quinelle explores the sources of moments of deep attachment and deep pain when Entrepreneurs come into contact with non-Entrepreneurs and provides suggestions for developing comfortable, happy, and successful relationships.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, informative, and thought-provoking study, "Understanding the Entrepreneur: Socionics in Everyday Life" will helps anyone with an entrepreneur personality type (as well as those around such a person) understand the that entrepreneur as an individual and their relationships with others parents, children, teachers students, colleagues, and friends. In a pocket sized paperback edition, "Understanding the Entrepreneur: Socionics in Everyday Life" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, as well as the personal reading lists of entrepreneurs and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism, second edition
Karl Ameriks, editor
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10013-2473
9781107147843, $99.99, HC, 380pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism" continues to be a comprehensive, penetrating, and informative guide to what is regarded as the classical period of German philosophy.

Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and Schelling are all discussed in detail, along with contemporaries such as Holderlin, Novalis, and Schopenhauer, whose influence was considerable but whose work is less well known in the English-speaking world.

Leading scholars trace and explore the unifying themes of German Idealism and discuss its relationship to Romanticism, the Enlightenment, and the culture of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe.

This newly revised second edition of "The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism" offers an updated bibliography and includes three entirely new chapters, which address aesthetic reflection and human nature, the chemical revolution after Kant, and organism and system in German Idealism. The result is an illuminating overview of a rich and complex philosophical movement, and will appeal to a wide range of interested readers in philosophy, literature, theology, German studies, and the history of ideas.

Critique: Comprised of sixteen erudite articles by experts in the field, this new edition of "The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism" is knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by Karl Ameriks (University of Notre Dame), and features a Chronological of German Idealism; a Map of Jena; a list of the contributors and their credentials, a twenty-one page Bibliography, a seven page Index, and a one page listing of other volumes in the University of Cambridge Press 'Companion' series. While unreservedly and whole-heartedly recommended for college and university library Philosophy collections in general, and German Idealism supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Cambridge Companion to German Idealism" is also available in a paperback edition (9780521656955, $35.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.00).

Total Designer
Lluis Ortega, author
Moises Puente, editor
Actar D
c/o Actar Publishers
355 Lexington Avenue, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781945150456, $14.95, PB, 80pp,

In "Total Designer: Authorship in the Architecture of the Postdigital Age", architect, researcher, and educator Lluis Ortega develops an alternative and inclusive approach to contemporary architecture based on the general hypothesis that the impact of digitalization on architectural culture is similar to the effects of the linguistic turn in philosophy -- and steers clear of exclusive dichotomous approaches, without the foundational reconsideration of the discipline or its ontological conservation.

"The Total Designer" is a reflection on on the relationship between technology and creation. In a field like architecture, where the temporal dimension is intrinsic to its reason for being, this text adds its contribution to an essay format that is relatively unusual in architectural historiography, but which has had a huge impact on contemporary architecture: how the historical thematization of postindustrial technology has been one of the key issues in capturing a contemporary condition and in the connection between theoretical-critical activity and professional practice.

What is unique here is that Ortega's interest is focused on the repercussions of a highly technical instrumental context for architects, beyond the conventional fascination with formal prolificacy or the productive efficiency of digital tools. What's more, its main focus could be defined as an answer to the question of how we should interpret this context in order to help author and time paint together in synchronicity, to help them be more creative and critical, especially in the context of a particular period: in our present, which is already postdigital to some extent.

Critique: A seminal and impressively thoughtful work of scholarship, "Total Designer: Authorship in the Architecture of the Postdigital Age" is exceptionally informative, deftly written, and remarkably well organized and presented. Unreservedly recommended for both college and university library Architecture collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Total Designer" will prove to be of immense practical value and enduring interest to architecture students and professionals.

Shaping the New Man
Alessio Ponzio
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299305802, $65.00, HC, 336pp,

It has become a maxim of authoritarian governments that if they can have control of a child they will rule unimpeded when that child becomes an adult. It was a fundamental principles espoused and put into practice by the leaders of the Fascist and Nazi youth organizations of the 1930 and 1940s. In "Shaping the New Man: Youth Training Regimes in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany", academician and historian Alessio Ponzio uncovers the largely untold story of the training and education of these crucial protagonists of the Fascist and Nazi regimes, and he examines more broadly the structures, ideologies, rhetoric, and aspirations of youth organizations in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

Ponzio shows how the Italian Fascists' pedagogical practices influenced the origin and evolution of the Hitler Youth. He dissects similarities and differences in the training processes of the youth leaders of the Opera Nazionale Balilla, Gioventý Italiana del Littorio, and Hitlerjugend. And, he explores the transnational institutional interactions and mutual cooperation that flourished between Mussolini's and Hitler's youth organizations in the 1930s and 1940s.

Critique: A seminal study of impressively original and comprehensive scholarship, "Shaping the New Man: Youth Training Regimes in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany" is an extraordinary study that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century Political History collections in general, and Fascist/Nazi supplemental studies lists in particular. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, a list of abbreviations, seventy pages of notes, and an eighteen 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 "Shaping the New Man: Youth Training Regimes in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany" is also available in a paperback edition (9780299313340, $21.95).

John Taylor

Theodore's Bookshelf

Earthly Remains: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery
Donna Leon
Atlantic Monthly Press
154 W. 14th St., NY, NY 10011
9780802126474, $25.00, Hardcover, 308 pp.
Grove Press: 9780802127723, $16.00, Paperback, 288 pp.
ASIN: B01N2NER6T, $9.00, Kindle,

Commissario Guido Brunetti, in the midst of interrogating a suspect, suddenly collapses (intentionally, to prevent a colleague from committing a foolish act) by faking a heart attack. He is taken to the hospital, where no evidence of an attack is found, but just high blood pressure. While waiting for the results of tests, he concludes that he no longer enjoys his job, and after discussing it with his wife, and on the advice of the attending doctor, decides to go away from it all alone.

His wife sets him up with a villa owned by a relative on an island in the lagoon, where he intends to rest, row and read. He rows with the caretaker, Davide Casati, whom he befriends. Incidentally, Casati and Brunetti's father won regatta years before. All goes well until Casati is found drowned following a violent storm.

Brunetti then undertakes to investigate the circumstances of Casati's death to determine whether it was an accident or suicide, despite his self-imposed sabbatical. Along the way, the Commissario learns a lot about his friend, nature, and our failure to protect the environment, as well as the result of one's actions during our lives.


A Game of Ghosts
John Connolly
In Emily Bestler Books/Atria
c/o Simon & Schuster
2340 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781501171895, $26.99HC, $12.99 Kindle, 453 pp.,

This is Book #15 in the Charlie Parker series. In it, Charlie has made a deal with Special Agent Ross and is on retainer to the FBI, and he is asked to find a private investigator, Jacob Eklund, also working for Ross, who apparently has disappeared. With few facts, especially what the PI was doing for Ross, Parker begins his investigation. And it leads him into the weirdest of investigations. It seems Eklund, on his own, was involved in tracking down a series of homicides and disappearances, each linked to extraordinary events or sightings.

Meanwhile, Parker is also facing pressure from Rachel, his onetime girlfriend and mother of his daughter, Sam; she is convinced Sam's exposure to Parker places her in jeopardy. This belief, reinforced by Sam's abduction in a previous novel and possible harm, leads Rachel to seek judicial relief preventing direct contact between Parker and his daughter without direct supervision.

As the author acknowledges: "This odd book - if mine are not all odd books - is as much a product of a lifetime of reading ghost stories..." And it is odd. And it is filled with ghost stories. It is an intriguing tale of the supernatural, together with a basic crime story. It is one fascinating account and well-plotted, bringing together what amounts to a detective story and a ghost story, and it is recommended.

The Late Show
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company
1290 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10104
9780316225984, $28.00, Hardcover, 405 pp.,
Grand Central Publishing: 9781455524235, $15.99, Paperback, 400 pp

Michael Connelly has written two previous series featuring memorable protagonists. The first was Harry Bosch, the irascible LA detective. Then he created the Lincoln Lawyer, who made his office in the car of the same name, and turned out to be Harry's half-brother. Now Connelly has introduced another, detective Renee Ballard, sure to anchor a third series on a par with the excellent predecessors.

The title refers to the undesirable overnight shift to which Ballard was banished following a failed sexual harassment accusation she made at the Lieutenant who supervised her in the homicide-robbery squad. Late Show detectives rarely saw a case from start to finish, frustrating to Ballard, a top-notch operator. We follow Ballard as she picks up a case and finally gets a chance to finish it. More importantly, she gets involved on her own time in a murder investigation, with results that aren't even contemplated by those responsible for the investigation.

The author's trademarks, attention to details, accurate descriptions of the locations of the action and similar attributes, are apparent in the novel. But more important is his ability to build a character. And he has in Ballard, who is an obvious keeper. We'll be seeing more of her in the future. Meanwhile, there is a new Harry Bosch novel we can enjoy coming in the Fall. Another featuring Ballard and Bosch might be interesting as well.

Highly recommended.

The Trespasser
Tana French
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780143110385, $17.00, Paperback, 449 pp.,

Antoinette Conway and her partner, Stephen Moran (who she brought on board in the Dublin Murder Squad after working with him in a previous novel) are the newbies in the elite Irish police group, and as such, only receive humdrum domestic dispute assignments. Until one day the gaffer hands them what turns out to be a murder case of a pretty young woman. The case turns out to be anything but a simple lovers quarrel.

Antoinette, the only female on the squad, takes a lot of guff from other members (who want her anywhere else), and her resentment shows throughout the book. While she enjoys her work, she contemplates leaving for an offer in the private sector. Meanwhile, she has a murder to solve as her first lead detective case and goes about it diligently if somewhat misdirected by an experienced detective assigned to work with the partners for reasons not revealed until the end.

One criticism I made in the previous novel by Tana French was that it was tedious and slow reading. The same is true of "The Trespasser." One has to plod through a couple of hundred pages of continual repetition before it all begins to make sense. And then, and only then, does the reading become enjoyable and worthwhile and the plot begin to come together. The novel would have been rated at a higher level had it not been for this criticism. Certainly, Ms French writes well and creates clever plots. One could wish she would now turn her attention to some judicious editing. That said, the novel is recommended.

Theodore Feit
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

Vought F-8 Crusade
William D. Spidle
Specialty Press
99 Spring Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10012
9781580072427, $44.95, HC, 228pp,

Synopsis: The Vought F-8 Crusader (originally F8U) was a single-engine, supersonic, carrier-based air superiority jet aircraft built by Vought for the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

"Vought F-8 Crusader: Development of the Navy's First Supersonic Jet Fighter" by aviation historian William D. Spidle is the definitive work on the design, development, flight testing, and initial service history of the Chance Vought F-8 Crusader. Having become the Navy's first fully-operational supersonic aircraft, the F-8 went on to a colorful career during the Cuban Missile Crisis and then in the Vietnam War as a potent MiG-killer. During that conflict, the Crusader distinguished itself as one of the most historically significant aircraft of the Cold War era.

The 12 detailed chapters that comprise "Vought F-8 Crusade" thoroughly cover every aspect of the F-8's design and development, from earliest Navy BuAir specs through mock-up, prototype, flight test, and carrier qualifications. Lavishly illustrated with high-quality original factory photos and technical illustrations, this book provides a behind-the-scenes look at America's proud aerospace industry in its heyday, when a jet fighter that launched from, and recovered on, an aircraft carrier achieved routine supersonic performance in combat.

The Vought F-8 Crusader, in all its variants, remains to this day as one of the most successful military aircraft ever built. Detailed coverage of this aircraft's design and development, production, record flights, the XF8U-3 Super Crusader, significant NASA variants, and foreign operators augments the story of the F-8's development.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Vought F-8 Crusader: Development of the Navy's First Supersonic Jet Fighter" is a seminal work of aviation history scholarship. Comprehensive and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Vought F-8 Crusader: Development of the Navy's First Supersonic Jet Fighter" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library American Military Aviation History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling
Kirsten Mitchell-Wallace, Matthew Jones, John Hillier, Matthew Foote
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9781118906040, $110.00, HC, 536pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Kirsten Mitchell-Wallace (EMEA Regional Head of Catastrophe Management at SCOR, Zurich, Switzerland); Matthew Jones (Director at Cat Risk Intelligence, UK); John Hillier (Senior Lecturer in Physical Geography at Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK); and Matthew Foote (Group Head of Exposure Management at Argo Group International Holdings, London, UK), "Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling: A Practitioner's Guide" covers both the practical and theoretical aspects of catastrophe modeling for insurance industry practitioners and public policymakers.

As we progress further into the twentieth century, we are in a time of unprecedented levels of risk from both natural and anthropogenic sources. Fortunately, ours is also an era of relatively inexpensive technologies for use in assessing those risks. The demand from both commercial and public interests (including (re)insurers, NGOs, global disaster management agencies, and local authorities) for sophisticated catastrophe risk assessment tools has never been greater, and contemporary catastrophe modelling satisfies that demand.

Combining the latest research with detailed coverage of state-of-the-art catastrophe modeling techniques and technologies, "Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling" delivers the knowledge needed to use, interpret, and build catastrophe models, and provides greater insight into catastrophe modelling's enormous potential and possible limitations.

"Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling" features the detailed, practical knowledge needed to support practitioners as effective catastrophe risk modellers and managers; includes hazard, vulnerability and financial material to provide the only independent, comprehensive overview of the subject, accessible to students and practitioners alike; demonstrates the relevance of catastrophe models within a practical, decision-making framework and illustrates their many applications; and includes contributions from many of the top names in the field, globally, from industry, academia, and government.

Critique: Written, organized and presented by four outstanding experts who draw upon both their academic and industry experience, "Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling: A Practitioner's Guide" is an ideal and recommended choice as a graduate-level text providing an informed and informative overview of the field. Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling: A Practitioner's Guide is an effective and thoroughly 'user friendly' working resource for catastrophe modeling analysts and developers, actuaries, underwriters, and anyone working in compliance or regulatory functions related to catastrophe risk. "Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling: A Practitioner's Guide" is also valuable for scientists and engineers seeking to gain greater insight into catastrophe risk management and its applications. While unreservedly recommended for corporate, governmental, and academic library collections, it should be noted for students, academics, professionals, and non-professional general readers with an interest in the subject that "Natural Catastrophe Risk Management and Modelling: A Practitioner's Guide" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $71.19).

Rock Mechanics and Engineering: Volumes 1 - 5
Xia-Ting Feng, editor
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
ISBN: 9781138027640 / Catalog #: K25805, $800.00, HC,

Synopsis: Rock mechanics is a theoretical and applied science of the mechanical behavior of rock and rock masses; compared to geology, it is that branch of mechanics concerned with the response of rock and rock masses to the force fields of their physical environment

The five-volume set edited by Xia-Ting Feng (who is currently Director of the State Key Laboratory of Geomechanics and Geotechnical Engineering in Wuhan -- an in 2012, became the Co-President of the Chinese Society for Rock Mechanics and Engineering), "Comprehensive Rock Engineering", which was originally published in 1993, has had an important influence on the development of rock mechanics and rock engineering. Significant and extensive advances and achievements in these fields over the last 20 years now justify the publishing of a comparable, new compilation in this fully updated and expanded second edition of the five volume set.

"Rock Mechanics and Engineering" represents a highly prestigious, multi-volume work that, as with the first edition, is deftly edited by Professor Feng, along with the editorial advice of Professor John A. Hudson. This new compilation offers an extremely wide-ranging and comprehensive overview of the state-of-the-art in rock mechanics and rock engineering and is composed of peer-reviewed, dedicated contributions by all the key experts worldwide.

Key features of this set are that it provides a systematic, global summary of new developments in rock mechanics and rock engineering practices as well as looking ahead to future developments in the fields. Contributors are world-renowned experts in the fields of rock mechanics and rock engineering, though younger, talented researchers have also been included. The individual volumes cover an extremely wide array of topics grouped under five overarching themes: Principles (Vol. 1), Laboratory and Field Testing (Vol. 2), Analysis, Modelling and Design (Vol. 3), Excavation, Support and Monitoring (Vol. 4) and Surface and Underground Projects (Vol. 5).

Critique: Impressively comprehensive, exceptionally well organized and presented, this five volume work clearly sets a new standard as a rock mechanics and engineering compendia that will be the indispensable go-to resource for all engineering professionals and academics involved in rock mechanics and engineering for years to come. Simply stated, "Rock Mechanics and Engineering: Volumes 1 - 5" is unreservedly recommended as an absolutely essential and core addition to professional, corporate, governmental, college, and university library Science & Engineering collections.

Paul T. Vogel

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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