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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 9 September 2019 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Able Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment
Thom Hartmann
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
9781523085996, $14.00, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: Thom Hartmann is a progressive national and internationally syndicated and award-winning talk show host. A four-time recipient of the Project Censored Award, Hartmann is also a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-four books, translated into multiple languages.

Offering an impressively in-depth, historically informed view, in "The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment", Hartmann examines the brutal role guns have played in American history, from the genocide of the Native Americans to the enforcement of slavery (Slave Patrols are in fact the Second Amendment's "well-regulated militias") and the racist post-Civil War social order.

Hartmann goes on to show how the NRA and conservative Supreme Court justices used specious logic to invent a virtually unlimited individual right to own guns, which has enabled the ever-growing number of mass shootings in the United States. But Hartmann also identifies a handful of powerful, commonsense solutions that would break the power of the gun lobby and restore the understanding of the Second Amendment that the Framers of the Constitution intended.

Critique: A timely and critically important contribution to our present and on-going national discussion over gun control issues (especially in light of the continuing, almost monthly occurrences of mass shootings using military style weapons such as the AK-47), "The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment" should be considered an essential, 'must have' addition to community, college, and academic library Contemporary Social Issues collections in general, and Gun Control/Constitutional supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, gun control activists, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.03) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781974962044, $19.99, CD).

From Infinity to Man
Eduard Shyfin
White Raven Publishing
9781911195849, $24.59, PB, 144pp,

Synopsis: To be "mystical" is defined as "having a spiritual symbolic or allegorical significance that transcends human understanding". Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought of Judaism.

"From Infinity to Man: The Fundamental Ideas of Kabbalah Within the Framework of Information Theory and Quantum Physics" is a ground-breaking study in which Eduard Shyfrin shows that the ideas of Jewish mysticism (the Kabbalah) also resonate with the ideas of 21st century science.

Shyfrin explains Kabbalistic ideas with the support of information theory and quantum physics. Equally, the riddles of modern science are explained with the help of Kabbalah. For ease of reading, brief introductions to Kabbalah, to the theory of information and to quantum physics are provided.

Essentially, "From Infinity to Man" is a book about creation and the role of man in it, divine providence, miracles, good, evil and the soul.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "From Infinity to Man: The Fundamental Ideas of Kabbalah Within the Framework of Information Theory and Quantum Physics" is an extraordinarily thoughtful and thought-provoking read and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Judaic Theology/Philosophy collections in general, and Kabbalah studies supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "From Infinity to Man" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Eduard Shyfrin was formerly a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and in 2003 financed the construction of a Synagogue and Jewish educational centre dedicated to his late father. He also co-sponsored the construction of the Synagogues in the following cities: Moscow, Volgograd and Zaporozhye. He sponsors 66 Chabad Sunday Schools. On 27 October 2016, Shifrin and his daughter Sofia Rose, 16, received Russian citizenship by decree of Vladimir Putin

Cultural Insurrection
Jonathan Nossiter
Other Press
267 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590518267, $17.99, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: What if, ten years from now, an artist (say a filmmaker, for example) will have become as marginal and anachronistic as a blacksmith? What if the actors in the cultural world are on the brink of extinction, not about to disappear like prehistoric animals, but worse -- submitting to the status quo? Absorbed by a marketplace that increasingly devalues true artistic work?

In "Cultural Insurrection: A Manifesto for Arts, Agriculture, and Natural Wine", professional filmmaker and sommelier Jonathan Nossiter considers these questions and offers a solution inspired by the rebellious, innovative figures transforming the way we produce and consume wine. This new generation of artisans, working closely with the earth to create exceptional natural wines, has assumed the role of dissenters that artists have abandoned, and we should look to them in order to revitalize contemporary art.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought provoking, and with just a touch of iconoclastic insight, "Cultural Insurrection: A Manifesto for Arts, Agriculture, and Natural Wine" is an inherently interesting, intellectually challenging, and deftly crafted read from first page to last. While especially recommended and unreservedly endorsed as an addition to both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cultural Insurrection" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Jonathan Nossiter is a prize-winning director of seven feature films including Mondovino (nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes), Sunday (winner, Best Film, at the Sundance Film Festival), and the upcoming Last Words, with Nick Nolte and Charlotte Rampling. His previous book, Liquid Memory (World Gourmand Award winner), recounts his time making wine lists for restaurants in New York, Rio, Sao Paulo, and Rome.

Obelisks: Towers of Power
David Hatcher Childress
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
9781948803052, $22.00, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: David Childress is the popular author and star of the History Channel's show Ancient Aliens. In the pages of "Obelisks: Towers of Power" he presents and unfolds a stunning tale of archeological investigation on a megalithic scale.

Childress looks into the enigma of obelisks and their purpose. Egyptologists tell us that obelisks are granite towers that symbolize a ray of the sun -- a megalithic symbol of the Sun God Ra, later to be called Aton. Some obelisks weigh over 500 tons and are massive blocks of polished granite that would be extremely difficult to quarry and erect even with modern equipment.

Why did ancient civilizations in Egypt, Ethiopia and elsewhere undertake the massive enterprise it would have been to erect a single obelisk, much less dozens of them? Were obelisks more than simple monuments? Were they energy towers that could receive or transmit energy? Childress takes us on an amazing journey through the history of the obelisk and its probable purpose as an energy tower.

With discussions on Tesla's wireless power, and the use of obelisks as gigantic acupuncture needles for earth, Childress shows us what the ancients were trying to achieve with their mysterious obelisks.

The chapters comprising "Obelisks: Towers of Power" include: Megaliths Around the World and their Purpose; Mysteries of the Unfinished Obelisk; The Crystal Towers of Egypt; The Obelisks of Ethiopia; Obelisks in Europe and Asia; Mysterious Obelisks in the Americas; Round Towers, Obelisks and Earth Energies; The Terrible Crystal Towers of Atlantis; Tesla's Wireless Power Distribution System; Obelisks on the Moon; more. Profusely illustrated in black-and-white, of special note is the inclusion of an 8-page color photography section.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively informative, and iconoclastic study, "Obelisks: Towers of Power" is a seminal work of original scholarship and certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Obelisks: Towers of Power" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Melting Pot, Multiculturalism, and Interculturalism
Alfredo Montalvo-Barbot
Lexington Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781498591430, $85.00, HC, 142pp,

Synopsis: "Melting Pot, Multiculturalism, and Interculturalism: The Making of Majority-Minority Relations in the United States" by Alfredo Montalvo-Barbot (Associate Professor of Sociology and Department Chair at Emporia State University in Kansas) deftly examines multiculturalism, interculturalism, and the melting pot metaphor and explores how they emerged, evolved, and were implemented throughout American history.

Professor Montalvo-Barbot also analyzes how these ideologies have been legitimized, institutionalized, and challenged by activists, politicians, and intellectuals and studies how modern interculturalism offers a new model for bridging the cultural divide and for overcoming the limitations of previous state-sponsored multicultural policies and programs.

Critique: An erudite and informatively insightful study of meticulous and detailed scholarship, "Melting Pot, Multiculturalism, and Interculturalism: The Making of Majority-Minority Relations in the United States" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography and a four page Index. A timely and substantial contribution to college and university library Contemporary American Sociology & Race Studies collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers that "Melting Pot, Multiculturalism, and Interculturalism: The Making of Majority-Minority Relations in the United States" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $80.50).

Able Greenspan

Diane Donovan's Bookshelf

How to Save the Constitution
Paul B. Skousen and W. Cleon Skousen
Izzard Ink Publishing
9781642280524, $32.95, Hardback
9781642280517, $22.95, Paperback
9781642280500, $ 9.95, eBook

Prior books by Paul Skousen covered the making of this country and many of its foundations; but How to Save the Constitution is different. It goes back to the Founding Fathers' original concepts, documents how current democratic processes have deviated from these ideals, and provides a road map for returning to Constitutional intentions and meaning.

There are a number of other books which purport to do the same thing, but what separates and elevates How to Save the Constitution from these discussions is an attention to not just the words of the Constitution, but the underlying ideals, morals, and perceptions that lead to its creation.

This leads to an analysis of where and how those concepts have changed or gone astray; but the examination doesn't stop here. Paul B. Skousen and W. Cleon Skousen provide exact instructions on the seven steps that may be taken to restore these values to social and political circles, and advocates connections between church and state as one way of restoring them.

One can't begin to 'save' freedom and American democracy without this basic knowledge. How to Save the Constitution provides the key to every America's first steps in the process. It should be required reading for any high school to adult discussion of politics, Constitutional rights and objectives, and ideas for restoring American values to its citizens and political processes - ideas that ultimately begin with we, the people.

Kicking Financial Ass
Paul Christopher Dumont
Independently Published
9781999132613, $9.99, e-book
9781999132606, $14.99, paperback

Ordering Link:

Kicking Financial Ass: Punch Debt in the Face, Invest for the Future, and Retire Early! comes from a Millennial author who, like others of his generation, struggled with student debt and lack of financial opportunities. More so than other books which promise early retirement, Paul Christopher Dumont specifically addresses these seemingly-insurmountable obstacles. His approach offers solutions that bring hope to an entire generation facing the improbability of ever retiring.

The first concept of the book illustrates the connection between monetary values and buying decisions. While happiness cannot be bought, popular culture and the media encourage this concept, steering people into overspending or putting their money into areas which detract from long-term retirement goals.

Dumont's approach tackles investing and the value of money: "How much money do you need to retire? Why use retirement accounts? Should you buy or lease a car? Is real estate a good investment? This book tackles those questions by condensing a wide breadth of material into simple concepts you can apply in your daily life."

Kicking Financial Ass breaks down complex financial concepts into easy to understand actionable takeaways that anyone can use to improve their finances including the importance of increasing your income and how to do it through salary negotiations, raises, and having a side hustle ("A limit exists on how much you can save, but there is no limit to how much you can earn") to the importance of the savings investment vehicles for young people.

Being cognizant of spending priorities and habits, understanding the pros and cons of investment vehicles, and maintaining an investment approach that leads to a strong retirement fund are all discussed in easily-accessible chapters that require no financial background from readers.

All that's needed is an interest in learning how to develop a successful retirement plan that will lead to a fruitful (and early!) retirement.

Plenty of books promise 'get rich quick' results. Kicking Financial Ass's focus on reducing debt, making better financial decisions, and understanding investment, combined with its focus on common Millennial issues, makes it highly recommended over others in its genre.

Eleventh Grade Stress
Bruce Ingram
Secant Publishing, LLC
9781944962616, $12.95

Eleventh Grade Stress offers a high school story with two unusual attributes: the added value of input from teachers and students at Lord Botetourt High School, and editorial touches provided by a team of students in Bruce Ingram's creative writing class. Bruce Ingram is a high school teacher who knows students well, and this is evidenced by a story that surveys the special stresses of a year when students stand on the cusp of new adulthood and new possibilities.

Several characters and their educational and social struggles are outlined to capture different aspects of 11th grade stress. There's Luke, who struggles with both school and the loss of his girlfriend Mia due to her father's hostility; Elly, who is seemingly doing well with both school and romance, but struggles with a hidden abuse problem with her athletic star boyfriend; Marcus, who seems on the fast track to a sports scholarship but is viewing college with new ideas; and Mia, Luke's ex, who faces a crumbling home life.

Eleventh Grade Stress deftly captures both the heartaches and dreams of these disparate teens, using the first person to capture each character's struggles and interactions: "It's too cold to take her fishing on the river. I really wanted to go deer hunting on Saturday, but I couldn't drag her along on that for our first date. Can you imagine her telling her girlfriends about how cold she got sitting next to me in the woods while waiting for a deer to come by? And how miserable she was the whole time? I thought about asking her if she wanted to go on a picnic up in the mountains, go hiking, then stop somewhere to eat lunch, then hike back. But her mom probably wouldn't be too cool with that idea. Leigh, I guess, saw that I was confused and started making suggestions. Girls seem to be able to figure out pretty easy when we don't seem to know what we're doing."

The young protagonists seem amazingly psychologically astute as they assess themselves and the world around them: "I told Elly I understood that she couldn't go out with me. I didn't try to talk her out of it. Should I have? Sometimes, I worry that girls won't like me or go out with me because of my dad's criminal record, or my family always being poor. But America is supposed to be a classless society where anybody can be anything if they work hard enough. Is that true? Sometimes, I think it's true; and sometimes, I think it's crap. That's when I get like this gigantic chip on my shoulder. I get angry at myself and the world. But I don't want to be like that, feel like that, and live my life being angry. That's how Dad was all the time; he was always bitter and foul. No, I'm not going to be like that - like him."

These changing perspectives are clearly marked by chapter headings, and Eleventh Grade Stress's ability to view the same circumstances from different vantage points lends a multifaceted and intriguing dimension to a story that keeps young readers immersed not in a single dilemma, but in a number of interrelated conundrums.

The result is a story of growing up, struggles with relationships with the opposite sex, school and family life issues, and finding one's place in the world - a story of 11th graders that will not only entertain young readers, but enlighten them about the progression of their goals, dreams, and daily life struggles.

Eleventh Grade Stress is very highly recommended for young readers interested in making sense of their evolving feelings and how life-changing decisions are made.

Facilitating Wellness
Julie Griffin
TWT Publishing
9781576910092, $14.95, Paper, $4.95, Kindle

Facilitating Wellness: Inside the Miracle of Hypnosis is more than just a survey of how hypnosis works. It provides a focus on self-healing and growth that can come from hypnotic suggestion, creating a structured learning opportunity to take readers from the idea, enactment, and promises of hypnosis to how it can be tied to growth opportunities.

Professionals involved in hypnotherapy as well as clients who would better learn its possibilities to change their lives receive a clear connection between hypnosis and self-improvement based on Julie Griffin's own well-established experience and findings. The focus on her hypnosis treatments and applications set Facilitating Wellness well apart from other treatises which either provide histories or focus on others' research results.

Specific treatment options and suggestions for specific psychogenic and psychosomatic disorders provide much food for thought and offer clear connections between techniques and positive outcomes, creating a reference that is results-based and explicit.

Instruction takes the form of step-by-step hypnosis sessions which supplement experiences with Griffin's clinical notes on how she handled challenging situations within the hypnotic event: "I do not believe it is therapeutically beneficial for anyone to re-experience a horrible event as if it is happening again, so I again employed the safety valve technique of tapping on her forehead to prevent her from being re-traumatized. This time, I tapped several times in a row. As I tapped on Vicki's forehead, her physiology slowly quieted down and she became increasingly peaceful."

Included within these reflections and approaches are discussions on how to protect the patient and deal with revelations and trauma revealed during a hypnotic session: "I took time to ask the last two questions, and to make the last statement, to be certain that the experience would not inadvertently split Vicki's personality. Afer posing those two questions, I felt comfortable that she was in touch with reality." Psychotherapists and those who help clients through hypnosis thus receive a rare opportunity to learn from a professional clinical hypnotherapist.

If Julie Griffin's name sounds familiar, it's because she's the author of 12 hypnotherapy books, has written dozens of articles, and has audio programs on the subject. The combination of her authoritative voice, experience, and attention to positive methods of inducing growth and revelation in her clients makes for a winning approach that individuals and fellow practitioners can put to effective use.

Facilitating Wellness should be a part of any new age, clinical psychology, or self-help collection as an important key to fostering self-awareness and growth.

Flying the Talk: When Passion and Destiny Collide
J. Griffin Van Guilder
TWT Publishing
9781576910237, $14.95, Paper, $4.95, Kindle

Flying the Talk: When Passion and Destiny Collide is an erotic blend of mystery and romance and centers on the intersection of edgy sexual fantasies and real love. It will find a home with romance readers who eschew the usual formula approach in favor of something racier, rollicking, and more revealing.

Nicole Vanderkelen has enjoyed success in career and love, but when her marriage ends, she returns to Boston a failure in more ways than one. Everything she once knew, relied on, and believed in is called into question - including her sexuality and approach to finding love.

Jean-Paul LaPierre is also on the cusp of big changes. He's enjoyed life as a carefree bachelor, but is ready to settle down. When he stumbles upon a little black journal lost by Nicole, he becomes obsessed by its deeply personal, highly sexual content. His mounting obsession and belief that its owner is the woman of his dreams, sparks his gut-wrenching search to find her.

Flying the Talk is driven by emotions and change on the parts of all characters. Readers will find Nicole's story replete with reflections and insights as she transitions through various points of her life: "As they finished up their breakfast, Nicole said she had to go take care of some business. She was lying because she needed to get away from him to put her feelings about what happened in the last 15 hours into perspective. Carl was a nice, intelligent man who had his act together. He was polite, cultured, and a good lay. It didn't feel real."

The process of more closely examining her passions, desires, and the wellsprings of her heart lead Nicole on a journey that changes her, just as playboy Jean-Paul finds himself an unexpected hero in crisis: "Jean-Paul barely closed the door of his rental car before a tumultuous wave of fatigue and angst caused him to vomit in the gutter. Anyone witnessing it, would have pegged him for a drunkard, not as for the hero he'd been. As he walked the two city blocks to his apartment, he could hear DAVID BOWIE singing in his mind, "We can be heroes just for one day."

From soul-searching to unusual and elusive connections in life, fostered by circumstance and mystery, Flying the Talk serves up high energy spiced by surprising possibilities that lead seemingly disparate personalities to make some important connections at critical junctures in their lives.

As Nicole, Jean-Paul, Elizabeth, and Wade forge new beginnings from the end of familiarity; readers are treated to an erotic, exhilarating, and emotional romp through the heart and soul of Boston's Back Bay in the mid-1990s leading to unusual, winning revelations.

Whether readers come from mystery, romance, humor or erotica genres, they'll be in for a pleasing surprise with Flying the Talk's revealing meld of the best of these approaches.

Deep Down the Rabbit Hole
Adin Kachisi
Stratton Press
9781948654258, $14.99

Deep Down the Rabbit Hole: The World Is Not What You Think examines such a wide-ranging host of new age topics (from aliens and cosmic portals to ancient star gates, past lives, and lost worlds) that a reader might anticipate that it will be a confusing compendium of obscure and unrelated facts.

The purpose of Deep Down the Rabbit Hole, however, is to re-approach much of this material with a new openness to redefinitions and historical representation. The idea is to consider possibilities largely ignored by mainstream history and science, bringing together a seemingly disparate set of facts in an attempt to reinterpret the roots of lies, truths, and humanity.

All that is required is an open mind (which may be asking too much of some circles, but is a perfect match for the new age community) and a willingness to reconsider the parameters of reality as we know it.

Chapters focus on what is unknown or questionable in the realm of science and nature, revealing how inconsistencies in language and perception fostered 'truths' that actually are more mercurial than real. Black and white illustrations and photos of artifacts and relics accompany discussions which ask readers to consider the foundations of beliefs long held to be truths in human history: "Societies usually describe what they do not know or understand in terms of what they know. This implies putting labels of less advanced objects on more complex objects not fully understood. An example of this is how some old cultures typically described all vehicles and flying machines as chariots. If they saw cars and helicopters, they would describe them as land and air chariots. In this case, the word chariot simply meant moving vehicle rather than a two-wheeled horse-drawn vehicle specifically. The same can be said of the atlatl; it is both literal and descriptive. It is literally a spear thrower but symbolically represents almost any weapon."

Although the tone of Deep Down the Rabbit Hole is investigative and scholarly, general-interest readers with no prior background in science or history (or even new age topics) will find it easily accessible. Between the wealth of illustrations and examples and the investigative yet almost chatty tone employed by Adin Kachisi, there is little opportunity for confusion and much potential for enlightenment on more than one level.

At many intervals, Kachisi challenges readers to consider their own prejudices, preconceptions, and the roots of engrained teachings which may not reflect the bigger picture, documenting his insights with footnoted references from a wide variety of traditional and new age sources alike: "Even today, some ufologists take the position that some of the technology we use today was borrowed from aliens or a product of the back-engineering of crashed UFOs. That theory may be difficult to prove; however, external observation shows a gradual convergence between the external appearance of typical UFOs and military aircrafts. For this reason, many eyewitnesses today have considered that UFOs may simply be military aircrafts, just like the aerial drone show above (figure 149). Author Jim Marrs sums it up by saying, "People who disregard the subject of UFOs and toss it off as total fantasy and lunacy will never ever figure out what's happening in the world. This is because they are tossing out a big piece of the puzzle...Ancient history, UFOs, secret societies, world government, energy, wars, it's all part of the same ball of wax" (Marrs, 2014)."

The result (much more so than most new age discussions of any one of these topics) is a multifaceted, well-researched and documented, thoroughly engrossing expose that reconsiders not just human history and new possibilities surrounding its development, but the roots of the very perceptions of reality that hold modern human society together in semi-unified agreement about the nature of the world.

No thinking reader should be without Deep Down the Rabbit Hole, a well-reasoned, questioning study that challenges convention using many of the tools that science holds dear: logic, theories, and supporting evidence that's been previously discarded, under-considered, or even misinterpreted by that same discipline.

A Sleepy Hollow Kiss
Vivien Mayfair
Bramble House Books
9781733226127, eBook
9781733226134, Print
9781733226158, Large Print


A Sleepy Hollow Kiss arrives just in time for Halloween, and will appeal to romance readers seeking a dose of small-town love, laughs and horror.

Lane Sharp never quite got over being lost in the woods as a child during the Salem Witch Festival, one Halloween, but it feels like ghosts have plagued her life ever since. She's been chosen to help develop a new horror literature curriculum at the local college, but it's a venture that holds more than confrontation with old fears when the charismatic and Southern Miles Hall, a freelance consultant on the horror project, enters her life.

Miles comes with his own baggage - a cute little girl and an aversion to love due to past hurts. All he wants from this small town gig is peace, quiet, and no emotional ties.

On its surface, Snowdrop Valley seems to offer this refuge; but spunky Lane is a standout in the crowd, and doesn't make it easy to obtain his goal. Even though she's not 'done fun' in the past, her involvement in something different leads to maddening meetings with this elusive newcomer who challenges her comfort zone. These experiences bring new possibilities for a woman so committed to avoiding her ghosts that she's kept tight rein on her brother to keep him at home with her, enmeshing him with a man equally committed to running from his own past.

Is their goal really to be alone to avoid the risks that come from falling in love, and can they ignore the chemistry between them and focus on ghosts and literature instead?

Each mulls the promises and costs of love ("The fleeting attention made her feel things she didn't want to feel. Soon Benjamin would have to go to a special school to reach his full potential. She would be alone, no way around that. Yet love gained and lost once it turned sour would start the cycle all over again. Alone. Better to embrace it than get her hopes dashed."), but Vivien Mayfair's story shows that matters of the heart cannot always be controlled by logical reflection.

It's a pleasure to see a seasonal romance so nicely steeped in small town atmosphere. The twists and turns of two very different personalities focus on personal growth not just in the romance arena, but on many levels. Mayfair takes the time to point out the logic, fallacies, and opportunities inherent in each character's thoughts and emotions, and this approach successfully reflects both evolving identities and the potential for better lives.

How does love evolve from resistance? Mayfair does a fine job of documenting just this process. The course of Miles and Lane's changing lives and attraction is realistic, well done, and filled with agreements, disagreements, and revelations on all sides.

A Sleepy Hollow Kiss is good, clean romance perfect for a crisp Fall day, a roaring fire, and a cup of hot apple cider. As its story winds through the experiences, resistances, and hopes of two characters who both cultivate and eschew loneliness while forced to work together, readers will gain insights into the transformational opportunities of unexpected new love in the most magical setting.

The Constipation Diet: 4 Simple Steps
Yuchi Yang RD
Independently Published
9781092281713, $12.99, Paper, $7.99, Kindle

Yuchi Yang is a registered dietician with an important message for sufferers of chronic constipation: it takes only four very simple steps, followed on a regular basis, to regulate this condition and return the body to normal.

These four factors may already be known to sufferers (adequate water, dietary fibers, oils and fats, and probiotics), but Yang advocates a management system that begins with water and builds up to the final piece of the dietary puzzle only after the reader has absorbed the tools and approaches of each step, which includes discussions of 'how much' and 'when', providing sample meal choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Many facts are included that readers may not know: some 75% of adults don't consume enough liquid - and 'enough' translates to 15 cups of liquid (water, soup, other beverages) a day for men and 11 cups a day for women. Suggestions on how to increase liquid intake break down this daunting-sounding recommendation into routines that begin upon waking up and end with a cup of water or milk in the evening, making this recommendation much more palatable.

As chapters move through each constipation-busting tip, readers will find the goals and their achievement are not only clear, but easy to follow.

Tables, charts, and tips on such goals as how to increase dietary fiber leave nothing to wonder about and offer adjustments that can be as simple as substituting whole wheat bread for white bread in sandwiches, or snacking on avocados.

There are many surprises, too. One example lies in the section on fruits, which maintains that bananas may lead to constipation issues while papayas are a top remedy; or that increasing dietary fibers without proper hydration can actually make constipation worse. The latter tip illustrates the importance of tackling these four easy steps in order to assure they are being done properly before progressing to the next step.

As the population ages, The Constipation Diet will receive more attention for its important and easy tips designed to assure lasting gut health. With its extensive meal planning tips, keys to more effective shopping, and appendices packed with data and research, it's a handbook for an ongoing maintenance routine that should become a dietary lifestyle.

It's highly recommended above most other books on the topic for its excellent, balanced blend of research findings and daily living tips.

Diamonds and Scoundrels
Adrienne Rubin
She Writes Press
9781631525131, $16.95, Print
9781631525148, $9.95, Ebook

Diamonds and Scoundrels: My Life in the Jewelry Business comes from the unusual perspective of a female who, in the 1970s, enters a business world largely dominated by men. Adrienne Rubin was introduced to jewelry sales through her relationship with a man, but persevered through the decades, learning not only about jewelry but scams, industry relationships, politics, and more.

From the tricky business of buying and selling diamonds to navigating her father's passing and associations with men, Rubin offers a multifaceted survey of her life both inside and outside of the jewelry business. What makes her memoir/business examination so absorbing is the added value of moral, ethical, and value insights: "Most of the time I was merely finding items to sell, purchasing here and offering them there. I had "an eye" for putting together a new collection every year and figuring out future trends to make a profit. I was good at it. But how could this be my purpose in life? I thought a lot about doctors who save the lives of their patients, lawyers who help their clients find justice, and teachers who inspire and motivate their students. And when it came to the product of jewelry itself, I was baffled by its perceived value. As a gift, it was a symbol of love. As a possession, it had intrinsic value. But I couldn't imagine why a diamond could cost so much, when other things were so much more useful."

Rubin's observations will resonate with anyone interested in jewelry on more than one level. This reader will find her survey replete with reflections on relationships, family, and the methods of jewelry appraisal, sales, evaluation, and more. Readers might not anticipate the inclusion of family issues as they relate to jewelry inheritance and appraisal, but this, too, pops up in the course of Rubin's expertise and relationships: "How wise is Stan. He didn't want trouble with Uncle Mike. "No," he said. "Let Uncle Mike have someone appraise it, along with the antiques and the paintings." I felt a bit slighted, because my expertise wasn't taken seriously, and my services were free. But this was Stan's family, and if he wanted me to stay out of their business, I didn't really mind."

The life lessons Rubin absorbs from her choices and business lend to a fine autobiography ("This is the lesson. Each of us must live the life we create, according to our actions. Every day we are faced with choices. What we choose and how we react will determine our future. As for me, the money did not change my life."), making Diamonds and Scoundrels of interest to more than a singular arts or memoir audience.

While readers involved with jewelry might be surprised at the inclusion of so much personal insight, these features are what elevates Rubin's experience from a business expose to a journal of personal and professional growth, setting it apart from other jewelry considerations and placing it in a unique setting of its own.

Diamonds and Scoundrels is highly recommended reading for those who like not just jewelry, but stories of personal and professional growth.

The Four Hats of Leadership
Drake E. Taylor
New Insights Press
9780999580196, $9.95, print
9781733841108, $4.95, eBook

The Four Hats of Leadership: Be Who Your People Need You To Be refutes the notion that great leadership stems from carefully honed behaviors or attitudes, maintaining that it comes from dynamic interactions and approaches to dealing with people, whether they be subordinates or equal.

Drake E. Taylor's military background lends a seasoned, practical approach to the topic of leadership that will especially resonate with new managers and organizers as well as those seeking a refresher course in leadership.

From differences between direct and indirect responsibilities and the different challenges of handling both to the author's four simple metaphor 'hats' of leadership (farmer, drill instructor, psychologist, and self-care), readers interested in becoming managers (or better leaders) receive a specific set of directions about the process of nourishing growth in those being led.

Taylor hits the nail on the head with this approach because too many books on leadership focus on getting ideas across and seeing that they are enacted according to rule; not encouraging those being led to become more engaged in the process, or more creative, themselves.

As each 'hat' is discussed, Taylor offers specifics on not only its qualities, but exactly how they translate to the leadership role. The Four Hats of Leadership is especially clear in its assessments of the differences between military and civilian leadership challenges: "There are times in the business world when you need to instill discipline, be detail driven, ask people for perfection, and even operate on a tough love basis. Few people really like to play the disciplinary role as a leader, and especially today, everyone wants to be liked and be known as a fun person. The corporate world appears to be changing, offering lots of rewards and seldom imposing punishment. Who wants conflict when you can motivate people with extra time off, bonuses, free lunches, trips to the movies and museums, etc.?"

It is military-experience-based, clear, concise, and easily translatable to civilian as well as military scenarios. Its examples and insights give potential leaders guidelines for recognizing common obstacles to success and how to overcome them with positive routes designed to reinforce both leadership and better outcomes for all team members.

In short, The Four Hats of Leadership is a very highly recommended survey that is recommended for anyone in a leadership role who wants to do more than cultivate authority and command alone.

Jin Nua
Centerpath Books Publishing LLC
9780991114580, $TBA

Centerlife: Finding Happiness Through Nature's Designs is more than a book: it's a spiritual practice that considers order in nature, how this translates to human affairs, and how nature not only raises harmony, but can be used as a model for achieving the same throughout human endeavors.

Like its subject, Centerlife is laid out in an orderly series of discussions on harmony in nature and exactly how this is achieved. The foundation of Nua's contentions lies in the fact that everything shares a common, unifying structure; and that this center-oriented pattern and process transforms randomness to create structure from seemingly-random events.

These 'centerfields' are not just limited to the outdoors, but are broadcast everywhere throughout the universe, providing an arrangement that orders all life. While this contention may at first appear quite basic, consider the fact that the idea of a 'Centerpath effect' can be seen in everything from geometric order in nature to the patterns of galaxies and their distributions and vortexes.

Jin Nua excels in linking microcosm and macrocosm as he explores the Centerlife thesis. Readers who open the book expecting it to be a cosmic engagement will be pleased to note that discussions move from universal structures to everyday human affairs: "What are the control centers guiding our day-to-day routines? There are many. They are the numerous beginnings and starts of our lives. Such things as new thoughts, experiences, interactions, and initiatives. They are also centers of mind related to our needs, wants, and desires. All dew drop-like seeds of the universe that once formed, grow into the larger creations of our being - our relationships, houses, families, the furnishings and products we buy, destinies, and the memories we form in others. They all reflect the disposition of their maker - i.e. you. You being who you are deep down inside - what you believe in and what you hold as dear and important."

As discussions move into cosmic links and perspectives, readers receive a blend of science, philosophy, and spirituality that comes full circle to personal choice, achievement, and perspective: "Thus, when fields interact with their surroundings, only those things of 'like' makeup coalesce about, circle about, move inward, connect with, and affix to the originating center. The net result is to create a larger, halo-shaped creation about, and of similar composition to, the originating center. In other words, the developing creation is comprised of the same makeup and character as the originating center. The created indeed reflects the creator! Thus, matter filled stars create matter filled solar systems, charged nucleons organize electrons into atoms, and greedy and selfish people create distorted and unhappy lives."

The ideal reader of Centerlife and its guiding principles will be one interested in understanding more about what drives behaviors and choices. Readers interested in self-improvement based on scientific evidence about the interconnectedness of the universe will find the juxtaposition of the macrocosm of the universe and microcosm of individual experience is well done, clear, and inspiring.

Centerlife isn't so much a philosophy or a spiritual bent as a journey. Centerlife offers the connections and keys essential to embarking on this path of not only understanding, but self-appraisal and change.

The book is very highly recommended for new age, self-help, spirituality, and psychology readers alike; especially those looking to forge new connections and positive pathways in life.

Adaptively Radiant
Joseph E. Henning
Independently Published
9781733061735, $12.99, Paper, $3.99, Kindle

Adaptively Radiant follows new adult friends through an adventure that takes place in Hawaii, Japan, and Southern California during summertime, and captures the experiences that stem from an unusual inheritance.

Justin grew up in Hawaii, but lives in California and is in his second year of college. Kaito is just turning twenty-one, and is an orphan, with a supportive family. He, too, is on the cusp of change.

But what do an old knife and pocket watch have to do with their futures and choices? Plenty, because these pieces lead not only to new connections but to a treasure hunt that leads to magical, mystical results that change Justin.

Many books provide stories of adventurous journeys and the exacting decisions they require; but few follow up on the life changes that such experiences often create. Adaptively Radiant is more than another story of magic and discovery, but goes on to probe its lasting impact: "You are becoming a different person in a way I can't explain and don't understand. I feel it in my bones. Please tell me what's going on. I'm worried about you, Justin." Another tear rolls down her face. "I tried sharing my feelings with your friend Brandon over there, and he thinks I'm crazy. But something happened when you were in Japan, and you have not been the same since."

From hidden gifts and secrets surrounding them to social standards and revelations that take place in Hawaii, Japan, and California, Adaptively Radiant leads readers on a transformative journey of hearts and minds.

As destiny, choice, and ultimate consequences revolve around friends who must make different decisions about their futures, readers will enjoy a powerful saga. Adaptively Radiant will appeal to mature teen to new adult and adult readers who like quest/adventure tales, fantasy stories of magic, and, most of all, an added dose of growth experiences and insights into the evolution of friendships and self alike.

The Ground You Stand Upon
Joshua and Wilbur Bowe
Independently Published
9781079026382, $15.00, Paper, $25.00, Hardcover, 5.99, Kindle

Wilbur E. Bowe lived on the family farm until he was drafted in 1965, assigned to serve in the 5/7th Cavalry in Vietnam. He and his fellow unit men would become "skytroopers", trained in airmobile infantry, to be dropped into the Central Highlands of Vietnam to face their enemy

The Ground You Stand Upon: Life of a Skytrooper in Vietnam differs from many Vietnam memoirs in that it includes not just Wilbur Bowe's perspective, but supplements his experience with interviews of former skytroopers who also served in the Alpha Company. It uses their letters, journals, and memories to recreate the daily experience of very young men who became pivot points in many major battles.

From navigating forests and mountain passes to becoming acclimated to the relentless sounds of battle, the authors capture the experience of Vietnam's sights, sounds, and people as few other memoirs can achieve. This feel is due, in part, to The Ground You Stand Upon's strong attention to detail and approach to juxtaposing the atmospheric descriptions of those who, if they survived, often distinguished themselves during battle.

These are the real heroes of the war: the unsung troops devoted to duty and their fellow military men who would write home to tell of their experiences.

Letters, black and white photos (many in color, but in the hardcover edition only), and intimate portraits of those who survived (and others who did not) create a warmly involving account that brings the Vietnam War to life.

Especially notable in The Ground You Stand Upon is its attention to how these troops passed time and how war's intensity and the will to survive ramped up as their discharge time drew closer: "As they counted down the days, nature would grow increasingly resolved to break their will, while, for its part, the Army was determined to squeeze every last ounce of fight from their bodies before letting them go."

Readers of Vietnam history accounts looking for a "you are there" feel will find no better pick than The Ground You Stand Upon, which brings to life a combat tour in Vietnam and the courage of officers and infantrymen alike. The letters add further connections between soldiers in the field and loved ones at home, expanding the story's scope, approach, and coverage.

Second-Chance Sam: King of the Junkyard
JoAnn Sky
Dogs and Books
9780999843048, $15.95

Second-Chance Sam: King of the Junkyard is a picture book story illustrated in bright, vivid color by John Taulli and tells of Sam, an older dog who lives in a shelter, and who sees puppy after puppy adopted while he is left behind.

Sam is older and well-trained, but he also has a gimpy leg and is continually passed over for healthy, younger pups. One day an older man takes him home...but to what kind of home?

Sam's second chance isn't your typical home-sweet-home environment, but Sam and young readers will come to appreciate its many unique benefits in this warm, bright story of a dog's adoption and the treasures, both physical and emotional, to be gleaned from a unusual home where Sam is truly king.

Parents who choose Second-Chance Sam for read-aloud fun will find its rollicking rhyme, bright drawings, and appealing story of a lonely older dog who finds his place in the world makes for a fine leisure choice. It delivers a number of warm, underlying messages about the nature of real treasures in unexpected places.

Judy Stone, MD
Mountainside MD Press
9780974917825, $17.95

Dr. Judy Stone is a survivor, as is her Hungarian family, which emerged from Auschwitz and Dachau. Resilience: One Family's Story of Hope and Triumph over Evil is a story of resilience, emergence, and family ties. It comes from an infectious disease physician who became fascinated with how her parents grew up in an era pre-antibiotics, riddled with infections that had their real roots in poverty and social class.

Her connections between social conditions, disease, and survival results in more than just another family memoir of surviving Nazi death camps during World War II. It probes the roots of resilience, considers hope, kindness, and gratitude in the face of suffering, and weaves these themes into an inspirational family memoir steeped in lessons on survival in the face of great loss.

Dr. Stone's goal in writing her memoir is both simple and demanding: "I want people to study history and to wake up to the parallels between what is happening here - and globally - to what happened in the 1930s with the rise of nationalism. I hope we can hold back the tide of divisiveness and autocracy. But this requires people to learn from the past and to care about others and the greater good and not just themselves. Studies of the Holocaust and other genocides should be a part of every curriculum as well as religious education for all faiths."

Another big difference between Resilience and similar-sounding books about Holocaust survival is that Dr. Stone reviews past experiences, present-day choices, and the influences that shape personalities and perspectives on how to live life: "When I was about sixteen, I met Magda Klein in Detroit. She appeared well-off, with stylish makeup and hair, very different socially from my own family. But Magda had been in Auschwitz with my mother and Kati, and then she, too, was transferred to Allendorf. I remember asking my mother why we were visiting, since it seemed she and Magda had little in common. She replied, "She was very good to me in Auschwitz." At the time this made little sense to me. Now I understand."

From underlying motivations to be generous or giving under the most challenging conditions to the author's relationships with different family members affected by their history ("I remember being afraid of both Jack and B÷zsi when I was a child and being stunned and hurt by B÷zsi's coldness and lack of sympathy toward me when my father died. I interpreted her response as "get over it." Had she inherited her own mother's coldness and hardness? Kati thinks so."), Resilience draws important connections between events and their generational influence.

Again and again, passages in Resilience traverse the uncertain territory of how values and choices are passed down in families riddled with struggle, strife, and life-threatening conditions. Differences, similarities, and family heritage are all discussed with an eye to identifying how values systems translate between generations: "One notable difference among my family members was the degree to which they hid their past and responded to antisemitism. Their responses ran across the spectrum from hiding their identities after immigration to being very actively involved in Holocaust education."

While Resilience is highly recommended for any Jewish history collection strong in autobiographies of Holocaust experience, it would be a shame to limit its audience to this group alone. It holds invaluable lessons for those interested in family dynamics, the legacy of survival, adaptation and change, and how to ultimately make the world a gentler, more peaceful place.

The Lost Pulse
JK Kelly
JK Kelly Consulting, LLC
9780999409947, $12.95, Paperback
9780999409954, $4.99, eBook

Combine the ongoing fight against terrorism with a time-travel story to get a feel for the thriller elements central to The Lost Pulse. It's a gripping sequel to Found in Time, in which a select group of Marines tested a top-secret time travel technology in the hope of turning the battle against terrorism in their favor.

JK Kelly leaves nothing to wonder about, for newcomers. Prior events are introduced in a recap that segues nicely into the story's opening dilemma: "The raid on Camp David had taken place weeks ago, but to him it felt like yesterday. The stealth tactics used by the terrorists, who bled an odorless nerve agent into the air to neutralize the guards at one checkpoint and then another and then the next, had worked flawlessly. With the use of sound-suppressed weapons, snipers, and night vision goggles, the highly trained invaders held the advantage, this time. With amazing speed and numbers, the terrorists quickly gained ground and within minutes had silently overtaken nearly every one of the Presidential retreat's security systems and guards."

The use of time travel as a government tool to change outcomes and influence human affairs is not a new idea; but what sets The Lost Pulse apart from similar-sounding scenarios is its focus on thriller-style, nonstop action that eschews a focus on scientific probability alone in favor of exploring the political and social conundrums posed by terrorist actions: "It was clear to everyone in attendance that under this president, the United States would return to the behavior of its earliest days. They knew America's history of citizens arming themselves against tyranny and how the cowboys of the Wild West all carried handguns to protect themselves and their property. The question they would all need to debate was whether or not that needed to be implemented globally. Could it be? Would anti-gun cultures like the United Kingdom and France not just allow but accept their citizens bearing arms? Would the Germans consider letting their people take up arms ever again?"

Discussions of responses to terrorism and their impact on global freedom are juxtaposed with fast-paced action as the vigilante time travelers face the challenge of just how to affect their future: "But we're going to not just take out bad guys, we're going to get the bomb making stuff off the internet, we're going to encourage people who see something to not just say something but to pull out their gun and shoot. They know things aren't working the way they are, at least some of them are smart enough to realize that. So they need to put down their phones, grow a set, and stand up. The sheep need to wake up and realize the cavalry can't be everywhere and isn't coming so they need to kill the wolf that's fucking with their flock." Jackson smiled at his fellow Marines. "Christy, you know what Michelle's up to in Italy. We can't do it alone. Vigilantes can be effective if they're on the right set of rails."

Readers thus receive intriguing, thought-provoking action that gives pause for thought on the mechanics of directing freedom as they absorb a fast-paced, supercharged plot peppered with satisfying cat-and-mouse games.

In many ways, The Lost Pulse is about actively creating a better world. The question becomes: who should be in charge of this manipulation - and do the end results justify the means? Most of all, is any single group of individuals savvy enough to wield this power without destructive results?

Faced with such questions as well as unexpected acts of heroism and difficult truths from the past, characters charge into the unknown in a manner that will engage thriller readers right up to the end, thoroughly immersing them in the lives of Popes, Presidents, Marines, and individuals who fight for love, family, freedom, and self.

Learning What Works
Shanti Regester, LMFT
Izzard Ink Publishing
9781642280333, $12.95, Paperback
9781642280340, $7.99, eBook

Learning What Works: Discover Your Baby and Your Self is for primary caregivers of infants who want to apply the latest research in infant development with better strategies for daily care, and comes from Shanti Regester's experiences with motherhood, combined with her professional clinical expertise, derived from years of treating infants, toddlers, and children.

This blend of personal experience and professional background creates a practical mother's helper that bridges the gap between developmental theory and research and an infant's daily needs. Caregivers receive a holistic approach that emphasizes developing understanding, communicating, and building a relationship with a child using simple, tested strategies.

The first thing to note about this approach is that it encourages parents to follow their own instincts about their individual child's personality and needs as well as established routines, strategies, and advice. Every child is different; and just as there's no single approach that fits all, so there is much 'wiggle room' for adapting practices for a better outcome.

From understanding the heightened sensory awareness of babies and adjusting their experience to reduce overwhelming or negative input (a process as simple as identifying clothing that feels either soft or scratchy to newborn, sensitive skin) to handling sleep issues, Learning What Works emphases a caretaker's heightened awareness of a child's individual needs: "When using trial strategies, take note of what you learn about your child's temperament (what makes your baby angry, frustrated, happy, comfortable, scared, sad). How long does it take your baby to calm down? What motivates him and his activity level? How might you use what you learned for other parenting skills? Factor what you have already learned into these trial strategies. If your child is sensitive to sound, you may want to try reducing sound levels and types of sounds."

Tables of information include examples of typical behaviors and responses to help readers understand a baby's communication at different stages of their development, while discussions of milestone achievements, safety concerns, and lessons to be learned from both successes and failures provide specific direction and options that can easily be adapted, changed, or fine-tuned to individual personalities and needs.

Learning What Works: Discover Your Baby and Your Self would be a perfect gift for a baby shower, new parent, or new caregiver working with infants and toddlers. Its focus on not just the baby but adjusting a caregiver's expectations and understanding makes it the perfect self-help guide for those who would increase their involvement, awareness, and effectiveness in any relationship with a child.

What Wonders Do You See...When You Dream?
Christine Avery
Suteki Creative
9781948124225, $7.99, paperback
B076B7RDWY, $2.99, ebook

What Wonders Do You See...When You Dream? receives colorful, fun watercolors by Liuba Syrotiuk to compliment a rhyming picture book story about day's end, night's beginning, and the possibilities of dreams.

Youngsters and their read-aloud parents will appreciate a story that takes a different approach to sleep than the usual bedtime admonitions, maintaining that sleep is an opportunity for a different kind of dreamtime adventure that should be encouraged and looked forward to - not resisted.

But first, there are preparations for bed: brushing teeth, telling the house to "hush hush hush", and locating pajamas.

As kids receive a review of the lively possibilities that are unavailable in daytime, they may cultivate a different perspective on why sleep is actually desirable from an excitement standpoint.

"Bedtime is magical." This very different admonition than the usual treatise on how to become drowsy will help kids realize that sleep is an opportunity; not a limiting factor to potential fun.

Even the mechanics of how to arrive at dreamland are covered, making What Wonders Do You See...When You Dream? an outstanding alternative to most sleep books that provides a positive spin on not just getting to bed, but entering and enjoying dreamland.

The Undoing
Desserae Shepston
Independently Published
9781798111307, $14.99, Paper, $3.99, Kindle

The Undoing is young adult dystopian literature at its best: a thoroughly engrossing story that will reach from young adult into adult audiences as it tells of Rebecca, who is forced to climb a mountain and conquer her fear of heights to find out the truth about the virus that is killing her village home and everything she loves.

The Council limits travel, controls news and information, and mysteriously becomes silent as more and more people succumb to the illness. They've successfully erected the facade of a perfect society after The Reckoning, based on strict control of an individual's life choices, but seem unable to respond to this threat.

Rebecca's own older brother Jonathan is on the fast track to become part of the Council, but when he too succumbs, she realizes that she's now alone and is unable to rely on her solid, pragmatic older brother for help. Furthermore, she may be the only one able to find a solution to extinction, which lies in confronting the very strategies that have kept them safe all these years.

Jonathan was on the cusp of uncovering the truth, and he passes the baton to Rebecca to find out the true nature of the illness. This involves a journey that would seem more of his ilk than her nature.

But how does one escape when all moves are monitored and regulated by a seemingly-benevolent AI system? How can Rebecca use Jonathan's last insight and message to change a deadly course of events? And how can she overcome her fears, her programming, and her overseers to defy what seems inevitable?

Desserae Shepston does an outstanding job of linking Rebecca's psyche, limitations, and growth with background history about how the Council evolved after The Reckoning, and how limiting freedom led to survival.

From revised definitions of safety and freedom apart from technology's aid to Rebecca's personal quest to live up to the impossible task to carry out Jonathan's legacy, chapters follow a group of young people who increasingly realize how their ordered world really works...and have growing questions about its costs. As each character comes to terms with both personal struggles and society-wide changes, the fast-paced story becomes an engrossing read that keeps readers on their toes guessing not only about humanity's outcome, but about each individual's evolving purpose and life.

Readers will find the first book in The Undoing Trilogy a complex story of social order and disorder, presenting a devastating plan that is attacked by a girl who always believed her strengths lay in another direction.

Who would dare pick apart the ordered system that has saved humanity? YA dystopian fiction readers are in for a treat with The Undoing.

This may lead some readers to look askance at this process. After all, isn't the separation of church and state one of the cornerstones of American-style democracy? Skousen points out, however, that "Religion that is founded on the correct principles in the Bible is inseparably fused with the Constitution." And he's careful to be all-inclusive as he further states that "Any person of any faith, including atheism, will benefit by living this Bible-based Moral Code. Aligning with a particular sect certainly helps, and the Framers encouraged that, but it isn't mandatory in order to live by these values."

Discussions first return to basics by advocating a Bible-Based Moral Code for all religious believers to follow, then covers the basics of analyzing liberty itself, advocating critical thinking beginning in the home, and having common citizens enter political circles, discussions, and processes to strengthen their participatory impact and understanding of the basic Constitution.

This book isn't marketed as an end-all solution. It serves as an important foundation piece: a starting point providing a simple overview of the reasons, principles, importance, and ideas of a sound democratic government.

Sit, Stay, Pray
Lina and Robin Kelleher
Beaver's Pond Press
7108 Ohms Lane, Edina, MN 55439
9781643439099, $16.95,

Sit, Stay, Pray - A Dog's Life with a Difficult Momma is literally written from a dog's-eye view of life, and is a sequel to Lina Unleashed. Lina's return, however, requires no prior familiarity in order to prove satisfying as the four-year-old Toy Australian Shepherd narrates events of a challenging life with a difficult Momma.

Readers seeking a dog story with a difference have plenty to appreciate in this tale. From the beginning, they will be tickled with Lina's narrative style, which blends wry observations of human fallacies with a wicked sense of humor: "From the start, I could tell that Momma was common sense-challenged and that I would pretty much be raising myself. She tries hard but doesn't know how to care for a dog, is a hopeless shopaholic, doesn't know a hash-tag from a dog-tag, has almost no social skills and worst of all -- she's a Republican. I can forgive her for almost everything else."

Lovely color dog photos pepper what turns out to be hilarious slice-of-life observations. For example, Lina, leery of President Trump's immigration policies, fears deportation to Australia by ICE. She also finds herself frequently assessed by a vet/sitter for poop challenges and dog food mysteries ("Later that month, Momma went on one of her many trips to Florida and my sitter, Dr. Becca, noticed that I was having trouble going poops. Becca surmised this could be a result of the prescription dog food, and suggested Momma get me re-tested. Thankfully, the crystals were gone, and the vet said I could go back to my regular food. The problem was, with all the stuff I'd been on, Momma couldn't remember what it was").

After wheeling and dealing, Lina is dog tired; but there's no rest for the weary as she romps through an account of her own life and a Momma's journeys with her now-famous pooch.

Delightfully whimsical observations of canine worries and concerns combined with the puzzling circumstances of Lina's life with Momma create a wonderful laugh-aloud winner that dog enthusiasts will love.

As an added bonus, please note that a portion of the proceeds from Sit, Stay, Pray will be donated to Helping Paws MN and the Animal Humane Society of Minnesota.

The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball
Scott Lauder and David Ross
Neem Tree Press
9781911107187, $10.99, Paperback
9781911107040, $9.99, Ebook

Middle graders to young adults seeking a vibrant blend of fantasy and thriller receive the right combination of action, Chinese cultural insights, and imagination in The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball, which tells of Sara's dangerous confrontation with ancient forces.

Her visit to the Beijing Palace Museum sets the stage for cascading events that carry her from present-day China to encounters from the past as a thousand-year-old scroll leads her through perils and challenges. Eventually, she is tapped by ancient Immortals who designate her the first of three 'hares' assigned to a mission of vital importance.

Scott Lauder and David Ross excel in creating atmospheric descriptions of place and people to bring this story to life: "The swaying camel lumbered to a stop. Shan Wu looked up to see a great many camels amassed in the narrow road, waiting. Across the tawny, shimmering desert plain, the towers of a large city rose like fingers amidst the palm trees that filled the oasis. It was late afternoon. The day's fierce heat had mellowed, the shadows were slowly lengthening and deepening, and the sun's rays were growing more slanted and yellow."

As Shan Wu and Sara stumble into quests involving dragons, powerful elixirs, mercurial mountains and different peoples, Sara finds that Shan Wu's influence holds the power to endanger her life wherever she is in her world. Sara is facing powers she'd never imagined, and is entering into a war she never imagined.

Action is fast-paced, the cross-cultural encounters are realistic and nicely drawn, and The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball holds the added attraction of making a potentially complex story line a compelling investigation of other cultures. Sara's quest to find the other two Hares to bring these mysterious forces to life makes for a vivid, engrossing read that nicely sets the stage for more.

Middle grade to young adult readers seeking a quest fantasy that is a serious notch above other genre reads will appreciate the depth, insights, action, and surprising twists and turns that make The Three Hares: The Jade Dragonball a standout production.

Between Wild and Ruin
Jennifer G. Edelson
Bad Apple Books
9871733514002, $16.99

Jennifer G. Edelson excels at pulling readers into her paranormal romance from the beginning, from the use of the first person to portray Ruby's encounters and psyche to descriptions of everyday efforts that turn into unexpected confrontations with past and present: "Down the aisle, something flashes. For a split second, I see my mother standing motionless between two shelves of cereal. Then just like that, she's gone, phantom to ether. Startled, I shoot up and look around, but the aisle is so empty I can hear my own breathing. Pinching the bridge of my nose between my fingers, I briefly close my eyes. It's bad enough you're stuck riding out senior year in the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. Now you're seeing your dead mother, too? Nice, Ruby."

Ruby's encounter with an angry, disfigured teen, Ezra, leads her on an unforeseen journey far from the peaceful refuge of her aunt's home as she explores her inexplicable attraction to him, the equally mysterious chip on his shoulder that leads most to hate him, and circumstances which embroil them both in conflict.

As Ruby exposes Ezra's secrets, the connections between their lives become more obvious ("The forest behind my house feels hallowed, not threatening, but his answer unnerves me. I did faint. And I did see my mother, whatever that means. And Ezra knows a lot more about the pass and its ghosts than I do. I stare at him, peeling back layers that surprise me."). Trust (and something stronger) begins to build between them.

Adult readers of paranormal romance shouldn't be stymied by Ruby's age. Between Wild and Ruin is a crossover title not limited to young adult audiences alone, holding adult concerns and themes from love and sex to emotional confrontations with forces in their lives that both bring them together and threaten to tear them apart: "I close my eyes. Because how am I supposed to respond? My brain is still back in my bedroom, processing. All I know for sure is that I am completely, irrevocably heartbroken. "When you try, you're the kindest person," I plead. "Whatever mistakes you made we can get through them together."

As Ruby draws closer to Ezra's secret, she begins to realize a horrible truth that changes everything and reveals why Ezra is lying to her.

Jennifer G. Edelson uses the first person to its best advantage, revealing Ruby's descent into situations which simultaneously challenge her belief system and love. Ruby's perceptions, concerns, and reactions are realistic and involving, keeping readers immersed in a compelling tale that forces both the protagonist and reader to consider exactly why Ezra is so different.

The story moves at a nice pace, characterization is strong, and the mystery is well done. Paranormal romance readers receive a strong character in Ruby, who follows through on her emotional connections and confronts matters beyond her mother's death and her changed life.

Highly recommended to mature teen through new adult and adult audiences, Between Wild and Ruin is a story that lingers in the mind long after its final revelation.

Everything Has Karma
Madis Senner
Mother Earth Press
9780990874423, $16.95

Everything Has Karma: Learning to Embrace Our Interconnectedness is not a traditional book about karma's history or meaning, but focuses on the bigger picture of how karma connects people, ecosystems, and life.

This approach allows readers to understand karma's active process in daily living in new way. From Madis Senner's perspective, karma is not limited to individual pursuits. It's within every living thing. The circle of webs and entwined lives extends beyond human experience and moves into every ecosystem and interaction. Everything Has Karma is devoted to exploring this expanded view of karma.

It should be noted that Everything Has Karma is not an easy, quick read. Like karma, it embraces various disciplines from science and philosophy to psychology, offering a revised view of history, theory, and events. Discussions range from concepts of karmic debt to the larger context of groups and nations, drawing connections between both individual lives and interrelated social and eco-systems.

Madis Senner points out that "We have lost our connection to Mother Earth." He surveys the fundamental concepts of higher consciousness and how these apply to reconnecting systems, people, and theories.

The only prerequisite for the successful enjoyment of Everything Has Karma is a willingness to accept ideas of reincarnation, higher purpose, and purposeful connections between physical, mental, and spiritual life forces.

Everything Has Karma is powerfully effective: a well-researched, nicely referenced discussion of the bigger picture of karma. It is recommended for new age and spiritual readers, whether they have a basic understanding of karma or are newcomers to the entire concept.

The Defenders of Dembroch: The Age of Knights and Dames
Patrick Harris
SunBurst Sagas
9780578482903, $29.99, hardcover, $3.99, ebook, $19.99, paperback

Barnes & Noble:

Book 1 in The Defenders of Dembroch series, The Age of Knights and Dames, is young adult epic fantasy writing at its strongest. It portrays the changing relationships and singular mission of Nick, Meg, Jenn, and Clay who, as young folk, were friends named knights and dames of the Reserves. Twenty years later, they are the last potential defenders of the remote Timeless Kingdom of Dembroch, a cursed, isolated realm where magic is dead and threats abound.

Readers who enjoy epic stories of King Arthur, curses, and grandchildren who seek more of an adventure story than the familiar ones surrounding kingdoms, queens, and tales of courage and confrontation, will find The Age of Knights and Dames is satisfyingly original.

It opens with a grandfather's caution about a dark, new story he hasn't shared with his grandchildren lest they have recurring nightmares: one which begins with a witch's arrival in the kingdom of Demboch. Her power over magic and monsters makes her a formidable adversary that the four final defenders of the kingdom might not be able to defeat...but that's only one piece of the story.

Patrick Harris crafts a tale that quickly moves through the witch's successes, the last queen's desperate struggles to survive, and the death of magic. He also creates a compelling focus on a kingdom's creation and demise, the many responsibilities of its defenders, and how King Arthur, King Richard, and others come to be involved in a cursed queen's fate.

Setting and history are so deftly woven into the action-packed story that young adult readers absorb background seamlessly while remaining immersed in the tale, which moves between first-person perspectives and third-person observations just as effortlessly as it provides its background history.

From the roots of loyalty and fidelity to faith, forgiveness, and issues of honor, The Age of Knights and Dames teaches young adults some basic values and premises as it follows the hearts and minds of four young people through the gates of hell.

The adventure component is well-woven; the concept is based on the fact of the world's smallest country off the coast of Norway; and the cliffhanger ending portends more adventures to promise young readers further adventures in a series.

Epic, well written, and spiced with a satisfying mix of strong characterization and original fantasy, The Age of Knights and Dames is a read that young adults aren't likely to set aside or easily forget, and sets the stage for a satisfyingly involving series.

More, please!

Come the Morning
Jeannie Burt
Muskrat Press, LLC
9780989544665, $20.99, paperback
9780989544672, $5.99, ebook

Philadelphia's art world at the turn of the century receives close inspection and serves as the historical backdrop for Come the Morning, a novel about a struggling gallery owner, Ezekiel Harrington, who must come to terms not only with financial challenges to his livelihood, but his perceptions of women entering the art world.

The best novels about adversity cover not just worldly events and their impact, but the process of changing prejudices, perceptions, and reactions. Jeannie Burt's Come the Morning falls into this 'best' category because it deftly considers the evolution of Ezekiel's gallery, his ongoing financial struggles, and his paradigm-changing encounter with an unforgettable woman whom he at first despises.

He's become used to watching his money dwindle. He hasn't become used to finding that his heart lies on the opposite side of sound financial decision-making processes.

Burt hones a fine ability to capture the process of dwindling returns in not only Ezekiel's heart and mind, but in Philadelphia's atmosphere and even its environment, as the changing seasons progress: "Late summer bled into a gentle decline toward fall, days warm and dry at the first of the month, but toward the end of September, cloud and sky warred and sent the city drenchings."

This atmospheric touch adds a fine adjunct to a story that delves into not just one man's changes, but a society in flux: "Men like Astor, Carnegie, Cooke, Morgan, Fisk, Vanderbilt, Stanford, Harriman, were making millions. Reports of their dealings burrowed deep inside him. Yet there was dark resistance to all this as well: labor. Laborers, miners, railroad men, steel men, dock workers, the very men whose existence depended on the industrialists, were beginning to nip at the hands that fed them. They were forming unions, calling themselves "knights." Authorities pushed back. Not long ago, the militia had gunned down two thousand Poles in Wisconsin who were striking for eight-hour workdays. In Chicago, a bombing had killed both workers and police at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. In Louisiana, Negro sugar workers were shot when they tried to form a union. Ezekiel had paid little attention to it when it began, but now the very idea of labor inhibiting business posed a threat: What would happen to him if Hainsworth wanted more money? What would happen if JJ insisted he be paid like his older brother? What if they demanded a higher cut from their sales?"

Ezekiel has spent his life struggling and believing there is a better destiny for him. From his generosity towards his family, which enables his aunt and uncle to keep their house, to his shifting relationships and a journey from Philadelphia to Paris that leads him further into the art community's connections, readers follow the progression of his heart and soul as they receive historical tidbits based on accurate information about his times.

Ezekiel's evolution involves realizing the emotional connections he has squandered even as he's pinched pennies and struggles. These epiphanies coalesce in a powerful set of discoveries that keep readers engaged and involved as he faces truths about his life only when it's almost too late to change.

As Henri and his art friends and Soap enter and change his life, readers come to recognize the wellsprings of discontent and achievement and the types of encounters that offer opportunities for personal transformation.

Evocative, reflective, and historically revealing, Come the Morning does a fine job of dovetailing a sense of self with a sense of place and purpose, also revealing the plights of women, artists, entrepreneurs, and the circles that both support and defeat them.

Readers seeking a moving story of artistic circles and life change will find that Come the Morning operates smoothly and is compelling on many different levels, making it a top recommendation.

Reece's Vintage Tales
N. Reece Ho-Sheffield
Apples-of-Gold, Inc.
9781543966510, $19.99

Blessings come in many forms, and God's will and wishes are also reflected in many ways. Reece's Vintage Tales, a collection of pictorial stories for the young in spirit, is inspired by spirituality and provides an unusually colorful series of folktales that are inspirational, creative, and lend to contemplation by all ages.

Some are takeoffs on traditional children's stories, such as 'Little Green Riding Hood and the Vegetarian Wolf' for ages 9-11, which offers a very different take on the classic as it tells of a wood ruled by elephants, who rule that every creature in their forest must be vegetarian. Their mandate means that predators are banned - except for one clever wolf who claims to be vegetarian in order to get what he really wants.

Little Green Riding Hood is visiting her grandpa when the inevitable confrontation occurs, but matters take quite a different turn because of a clever old man and a huntsmen who see beyond the wolf's clever disguise.

Then there's 'The Farting Bunny', a tale for ages 9-12, which tells of a peaceable kingdom of rabbits who face serious danger in the form of hungry wolves. Can a lowly rabbit's farts save them all?

These are whimsical, heroic, fun stories with a message. Each requires reading and comprehension skills well beyond the usual picture book age range, but receive gorgeous, bright color drawings every few pages which accent the action. A glossary of terms ends each story with vocabulary-building definitions, while the fables themselves explore themes of developing inner strength and resilience; courage; survival skills; and more.

From finding true happiness in life to the darker story of a Japanese master chef, Reece's Vintage Tales is a diverse, compelling collection of tales highly recommended for readers seeking short pieces that are thought-provoking and lively reads, whether they be 9-12 years of age or older.

Burton Blake
Robert Tucker
Tell-Tale Publishing
9781944056940, $25, Paper, $35.00, Hardcover, $4.95, Kindle

Burton Blake is a sweeping historical fiction epic that will also interest business novel readers because it focuses on corporate greed, family business involvements, historical conundrums revolving around financial decisions, and more.

Historical fiction and business novel audiences receive an astute, compelling story that provides a sequel to Robert Tucker's The Revolutionist, but doesn't require prior familiarity with that book in order to prove satisfying.

Burton's father, Elias Blake, fostered the rise of a real estate empire from his parents' initial efforts to start an international company. At a very young age, Elias has absorbed the drive for material gains which has helped him create a giant legacy for his son, Burton.

Tucker takes the time to explore the entire dynamic of this inheritance, beginning with the roots of the financial behemoth in the 1940s, when a lower-class taxi dancer births a son who will never know his father. At a very early age, Burton inherits his stepfather's real estate fortune, made in the post war real estate boom of the 50's.

This legacy comes with a price tag, as the usual youthful endeavors are set aside for business pursuits and a drive for financial success and stability that successfully answers many business challenges and keeps the company on an upward trajectory. But what is successfully won comes at a big cost.

Burton inherits not only the company, but a wealth of problems. He also cultivates a different awareness about third world peoples and poverty when world travels bring him into contact with diverse peoples and economic struggles. Thanks to these journeys, he returns to the fold with a revised attitude about life's values. In many ways, a company cannot grow and change without the concurrent evolution of the leader at its helm.

The entire process of empire-building, inheritances of attitudes and economic strengths, and the personal growth of moral and ethical considerations that come from outside the family fold and original business focus lends to a compelling saga, indeed.

Another plus is that Burton Blake assumes no singular path. Subplots about immigrant perceptions and struggles in America, political influences such as the rise and threat of Nazism, and outdoors training and hunting by mentor Web, who teaches Elias how to survive, create a multifaceted story that melds the lives of several generations into an engrossing story of personal growth.

The road to social corruption and financial greed isn't a linear one, so readers receive a satisfying juxtaposition of daily living and lifelong lessons, along with insights into how these translate into bigger-picture thinking.

The result is a powerful study in generational attitudes, measures of financial and personal success, and the evolution of Burton, who inherits more wealth than he'd imagined.

Tucker creates a vivid, engrossing story that's highly recommended for readers of historical fiction and business stories. These usually-disparate audiences will appreciate the attention to psychological development and evolutionary detail that place Burton Blake more than a cut above the usual historical novel or multi-generational business fiction read.

Raymond Avery Bartlett
Barrel Fire Press
9780988939059, $4.99, Kindle

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, as young Neil Chase discovers when he leaves love and life to see the world by slow freighter in the 1960s. Celadon isn't an account of worldwide travel, however, but reveals what happens when a young man's adventurous spirit lands him in a small Japanese village where a potter's family provides him with unusual growth opportunities and a newfound artistic passion.

For those who wonder about the title, celadon is defined early on for not only its properties, but its connections to the story line: "Celadons are the filets mignon of ceramic glazes, the best of the best. Yet they are also difficult, temperamental; no two turn out exactly alike. Some celadons are even as extinct as the passenger pigeon: the recipes lost, the potters who made them long since passed. Thus, in certain parts of Asia a single cup the size of a cereal bowl can cost as much as a house. Assuming, of course, that it was authentic to a certain potter in a certain place in a certain time, and that the potter is dead."

Celadon doesn't begin with his outward bound trajectory; but at the end of his wife's life, when Neil reflects on paradox, rare glazes, and the events that have led him to this unexpected place in time. These events began with a single risk-taking adventure and taught him about love and career, giving him vastly revised perceptions about the world and his place in it.

Raymond Avery Bartlett writes with an evocative, almost poetic, philosophical hand. Thus, Celdaon is not a staid tale, but a winding, breathless acknowledgement of the unexpected as he leaves Marianne and familiar Boston to enter into another culture containing very different opportunities.

Bartlett provides exquisite reflections from Neil's daily observations of this world: "I stood up and stretched my legs, staring at the little altar where the flower arrangement was. The sticks were interesting, the bark rough in some places and totally gone in others, leaving just smooth white wood the color of bone. The little flowers at their base might have been a kind of aster, with bushy purple petals and a yellow center. I saw in the arrangement a juxtaposition of young life contrasted with old age, of love springing up out of heartbreak, of the beauty of spring as it overtakes winter. This was no mere bouquet of cut flowers, Western-style. It was a form of poetry, expressed in petals, branches, and leaves."

The ongoing considerations of not just the influences that brought him to this point, but the decisions that lead to this revised life, are nicely posed throughout the story line: "Looking at the flower arrangement and thinking back on the sum of my adventures, I realized that this entire chain, the unbroken string of seemingly random links that had brought me to stand in this very spot, all of it, would not have happened had I been with Marinne."

In crafting the plot from hindsight's vantage point, Bartlett also provides many opportunities for readers to consider not only affairs of the heart and life choices, but influences on how these develop: "I find it odd that even now, in the age of emails and texting and saying what can be said in seconds, rather than the letters I'd write to Marinne that took weeks to arrive, people still find it so impossible to say what really matters, and into the vacuums of what we cannot say, we insert our own words, write our own reasons, insist that this is actually the truth. We can transmit whatever we want in milliseconds, yet the contents of the human heart remain as unfathomable as when Romeo sought Juliet. Cleopatra's burning kingdom. No two hearts are the same. What woos one person scares another. No latitude or longitude chart will map the way to what lies within a person's soul or what sets a heart on fire. Had we had cellphones and text messaging I'd likely been as in the dark as I was that day."

Compelling, moving, and heartfelt on many levels, Celdaon offers a rare gift of cross-cultural inspection and love that will linger in the mind long after Neil discovers a new a passion as important the truths he's hidden about his heart's desires. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but Celadon reveals that it is possible to come full circle.

The Thin Gray Line
Michael Kenneth Smith
Amazon Publishing
9781098740139, $13.99

Excruciating pain, a burned-out farmhouse memory, and a locket are the only things the protagonist wakes up to know about his current situation - that, and that he seems to be newly missing a leg - in The Thin Gray Line, a Civil War novel that brings conflict to life.

Clyde is the farmer that brought home to his family a young soldier close to death from his wounds. He's a Southerner whose hospitality and concern for his fellow man has led him to this point in time where he helps Luke, a Confederate soldier, not only survive, but recover from devastating injuries that change his life.

Turns out that Luke was a medic and a scout for Jeb Stuart, but now he's an amputee who must learn to walk again. His future both within the war and outside of it is uncertain.

Readers who anticipate that The Thin Gray Line will be filled with battle stories or political insights on Civil War days will be surprised to learn that the story takes a far more personal turn, using the war as a backdrop to explore issues of injury, recovery, soldier trauma, and revised life purposes.

Michael Kenneth Smith takes the time to explore changing race relations underlying battleground experience, and as Luke explores this side of the war and uses his expertise to help others, readers receive sharp and detailed impressions of the times that reveal the daily hardships of those trapped on all sides: "The sheer magnitude of the misery and agony almost overwhelmed Luke. As he stood in the middle of the camp wondering what to do, a young girl who was stirring a pot of what looked like a watery soup, asked, "you a doctor?"...Luke almost smiled at the little girl, who was probably ten or eleven years old, thinking she had arrived at adulthood. Maybe she had, he thought. "Tell me, how long have you been here?" "Five or six days...Mastah Manroe owns us and he was taken by Yankee cavalry three or four weeks ago. We had nowheres to go...ended up here...that's when everybody got sick."

Soldiers need his help; but so do blacks. And he can't help everyone.

More so than most Civil War novels, The Thin Gray Line successfully captures the dilemmas faced by all sides in the form of displaced peoples, crumbling communities, challenges to family and faith, and more. Luke's forced to face his own choices and their consequences during the process of traversing this much-changed landscape: "Luke thought about fighting for the South and after seeing the hordes of former slaves and the adoration they had for the man who effectively freed them, he wondered why he made that decision four years ago to join the South. His mind went back to that fateful day when his father told him he had to leave. Luke standing in front of the post office with the two banners, one for the North and the other for the South. Subconsciously he may have picked the South because his father preferred the North. Now he knew he's made a mistake."

Historical backdrops and changes are not neglected as Luke becomes just one of the mirrors through which observers can consider not only his actions, but those of famous people: "A stove pipe hat was slowly moving up the street. Luke moved closer hoping to see what Posey was seeing. The crowd parted as the tall man continued through then came together again. As the man neared Luke, a black man knelt down in front of the visitor as if to kiss his feet. The man who by now everybody knew it was Abe Lincoln shook his finger at the prostrate black man and said. "Kneel only to your God and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy." Lincoln continued to walk toward the center of Richmond and the number of negroes increased. Luke watched him marveling that he would risk his life in that loving way."

Civil War novels are typically replete with battle scenes, but this story's focus on evolving social issues, changes, and individual impacts places it a cut above others in its genre. The Thin Gray Line is a spectacular exploration that Civil War buffs will find revealing and hard to put down.

The Raincrow
Darrell Gasaway
Lumberloft Press
9780999374368, $26.99, hardcover, $9.99, Kindle

Most Vietnam War novels focus on the heat of battle, survival tactics both physical and psychological, and military and personal confrontations. Rarely does love enter battlefield experiences, but The Raincrow focuses on the first-person observations of Lieutenant Craig Pearce, describing the heat of a firefight that leads him to become a survivor in more than one way.

As search and destroy missions, company camaraderie, and death are presented, readers of The Raincrow receive a powerful interplay between platoon operations and how Craig steps into an alien world he never could have imagined back home, retaining interest and connections with the past while facing questions about his future survival.

Prone to putting off uncomfortable decisions, Craig persists in pursuing a love triangle that is dangerously counter to his present-day military experiences, offering observations that are astute and revealing: "As my head touched my pillow, I stared outside the tent into the waning light of The Plantation, the flash of random stars temporarily visible as breezes toyed with the trees and the whisper of the wind. It was a beautiful place, I thought, even with all the hate, fighting, and deception that each side in this war could heap on one another."

From the games playing out on the home front to incongruous connections made between very different worlds, described in scenes which are filled with engrossing, atmospheric reflections and contrasts ("I sat with my back against a tree, amazed at what I was hearing. There is no place in a combat zone for Dvorak's music, I mused, yet there it was. Even if it was only on my new, small, reel-to-reel, battery-operated tape player with earphones...there it was."), the process of surviving Vietnam's trials on more than one level translates to a thought-provoking "you are there" read.

As Craig reflects on the mayhem American soldiers have brought to Vietnam, their place in country, and what (if anything) belongs there, he struggles with issues of defining murder, handling love and friendship conundrums, and keeping a difficult promise.

Replete with political, military, social, and romantic insights and struggles, The Raincrow creates a powerful saga of transformation and truth that begins with battlefield engagements but soon proves to be much more than another 'in country' story.

Readers will find The Raincrow astute, packed with realistic scenarios and descriptions, and a cut above most Vietnam War novels.

The Paradox of Perfection
Jeffrey Reber, Ph.D., LPC and Steven Moody, LCSW
Crosslink Publishing
9781633571525, $13.95

The Paradox of Perfection: How Embracing Our Imperfection Perfects Us is recommended for Christian lifestyle readers who constantly aim for perfection, but just as consistently fall short of their goals. This spiritual reflection delves into relationship-building and a better understanding of Christ's intentions in encouraging perfection, and is a work that should be read and discussed by Christians interested in developing a better relationship with both Christ and community.

It would seem like a contrary dilemma, that embracing imperfection results in greater perfection, but as Jeffrey Reber and Steven Moody demonstrate, this process is achievable - and has been tested by the authors who are, themselves, Christian perfectionists, and thus in the perfect position to write about it with authority.

It has taken years of work for them to synthesize their findings - years of research, editing, and even discussions between them about focus and what was to be covered in this book. The best collaborative processes entails give-and-take; but when two perfectionists are involved, this can prove as challenging as it is enlightening.

The Paradox of Perfection's process is thus mirrored in the very creation of this book, which was nearly sabotaged several times by the very act of its creation. From assessments of psychological stance and motivation to the pros and cons of perfectionist thinking, chapters focus on honest reassessments, provide case history examples of perfectionist approaches and detrimental results ("Someone once said that a perfectionist is a person who takes great pains and passes them on to others. I would have given my husband a great pain that evening if I'd discounted his effort. Yet that's exactly what perfectionism does: It brings pain and destruction to our lives and marriages."), and ultimately come from a place of greater understanding and acceptance of self, others, and beliefs.

From a close analysis of the language of perfectionism and how it influences every decision and choice in life to Biblical quotes that reveal the heart of interpretations and misunderstandings ("Christ's commandment to be perfect in Matthew 5:48 is often read by English speakers as if it was given to individuals who are to each make themselves flawless. But, in fact, the commandment was given to a collective, to a group of people listening together to Christ teach His Sermon on the Mount. This means that Christ used the second person plural, not the second person singular, when He addressed His audience. If you were to read this verse in other languages, which use different words for the singular and plural forms of "you," like Spanish or German, it would be much easier to see this distinction and to confirm that this commandment to be perfect was given to the plural you."), The Paradox of Perfection offers a fine study in beliefs, interpretation, psychology and social interactions.

The Paradox of Perfection should be part of any thinking Christian reader's collection and offers many keys to improving daily and social relationships which, in turn, lead to a closer relationship with Christ, church, and God.

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

Gary Roen's Bookshelf

Lost You
Haylen Beck
Crown Publishing Group
c/o Random House
9781524759582, $26.00,

A woman named Libby is on a vacation with her son Ethan in South Florida, when Ethan is snatched by another woman. Thus, begins the suspenseful story of "Lost You" The author takes readers along a journey of two desperate women who are deceived by a crooked system, that has their paths cross numerous times until the very end. "Lost You" is a suspenseful page ripping story. I have to comment though on the cover of "Lost You" that is so confusing because it detracts from a person's interest to immerse themselves into the work. With the competition of so many books published each year it should entice by creating interest that compliments the work in question. Sadly, bookstores I have talked to said they are not carrying it based on the artwork on the front. Authors and publishers should take note of how important the cover is to draw people to the work. Also "Lost You" lost me on the last page with its confusing ending. Even with its disappointments "Lost You" is still worth anyone's time for a good thriller

Juror #3
James Patterson with Nancy Allen
Grand Central
c/o Hachette Book Group
9781538760772, $15.99

"Juror #3" begins with a freshman attorney being awarded by the court her first ever murder case. How she comes to grips with it begins a thrilling court room suspense novel that races along to its final fascinating conclusion. Allen fills the work with well-developed characters, set against the backdrop of life in Mississippi where racism is still prevalent today." Juror #3" is a page turning legal thriller that I hope is the start of a new series of other tales of this great attorney.

Hour Of The Horde
Gordon R. Dickson
Baen Books
9781481484176, $16.00, www,

The planet earth is on a one-way course to extinction, if the race of beings, The Horde succeed, in their quest of annulation, of anything in their way. There is one key element that stands in their way. Miles Vander is contacted by another alien being who is also fighting the destructive Horde. Also, there are others who have been brought together because they are all last hopes of their worlds. Together they attempt to form a collation to stop the deadly Horde. Dickson is a master who creates the story with believable characters who are pitted against an evil foe, with writing that holds the reader to the very end. I had to wonder if "Hour Of The Horde" in any way could have been an influence on the creation of the Borg in "Star Trek The Next Generation" and other series of the "Trek" universe because they are very similar. It is so nice to see that Baen continues to highlight Dickson's work to keep it in print for new readers to discover.

The Victim
Max Manning
9781492667018, $15.99,

"The Victim" begins with a simple situation of a woman stopping in a parking lot that we do not know at the time why she has put herself there. The uniqueness of the situation opens a novel that will hook readers from the first page with a deliciously sinister plot that moves along at a very fast pace. "The Victim" is a rapid-fire, page-turner thrill ride that is bound to please anyone who is looking for an enticing journey of suspense

Faster, Fewer, Better Emails
Dianna Booher
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc
9781523085125, $16 95,

"Faster, Fewer, Better Emails" teaches business people better ways to communicate to achieve better results in business and personal relationships. Booher shows many mistakes from the opening greeting to the way to sign at the end of the correspondence. She also shows the bad way to write the e mail and a better more concise that will do exactly what the person wants. She points out that many people treat it like they are writing a novel where you use lots more words than other forms of writing. Instead she cautions keep it short but concise where each word is important. "Faster, Fewer, Better Emails" is a valuable resource in this electronic age to accomplish better communication with others in business and our own lives, that also will cut down on many that belong in our spam filters.

A Salute To Our Veterans Vignettes of the "CAN DO" Seabees 1942- 2007
Irene J. Dumas
Trafford Publishing
9781425136109, $15.50,

"A Salute To Our Veterans" deals with many different wars our veteran Seabees have been a part of beginning with W.W. II. Many of the stories are told by the veteran himself about their time in the military and if relevant actual combat experience. Others are told by the author who reveals a lot about the people who make the world a safer place to live. The Seabee volume of "A Salute To Our Veterans" is a wonderful tribute to the many men who get very little recognition for what many take for granted.

Thank You Teacher
Howard Publishing
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781582293097, $6.99,

Where would we all be without our teachers? Finally, there is recognition of the incredible job they do every school year, in the book "Thank You Teacher." For me there are several that I always give credit to, because they are some of the people who steered me to become a writer. I am pleased that this great book shows, in many different forms of writings, the important role teachers play in shaping our lives, long after being in their classes. Here is one example of a piece that says so much "The teacher is like the candle which lights others in consuming itself. Italian Proverb. Instead of an apple for a teacher students should give the educator a copy of "Thank You Teacher" to show how appreciated they are

A New Conversation With Men
Coach Michael Taylor
Creation Publishing Group
9780964189423, $15.99,

Michael Taylor dispels the myth of the Macho Male, and the implications that have surrounded the idea for a long time. Instead, he says there is a much healthier way to achieve a better professional and personal life, in "A New Conversation With Men." Taylor analyzed his mistakes that caused him to look deeper into himself and seek help to change to be a better person. He has taken the knowledge from his quest to teach others to a better pathway to a calmer existence. "A New Conversation With Men" is a groundbreaking approach to teach men how to get along in this changing world of ours.

Clever Little Witch
Muon Thi Van Hyewon Yum
Margaret K. McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781481481717, $17.99,

What do you do when you have a younger brother you don't want to be around? You cast spells to make him disappear. "Clever Little Witch" is a fun excursion into how a sibling thinks of the other that is for readers of any phase of their lives to enjoy and think about the underlying premises that abound throughout the work.

Duckworth the Difficult Child
Written by Michael Sussman
Illustrated by Julia Sarda
Simon & Schuster
9781534405127, $17.99,

Duckworth's parents think he is a very difficult child to raise, so much so, that they constantly read books on parenting problematic children, they hope will work with him. He tells them a snake is stalking him. They believe it is an imaginary reptile even when all they can see is the creature that he says swallowed him. They instead tell Duckworth to take off the Halloween costume. "Duckworth The Difficult Child" is a sure-fire recipe for laughter out loud as readers experience the oddball situations Duckworth gets into.

Written by Jean Reidy
Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Simon & Schuster
9781534416642, $17.99,

Truman a small tortoise lives with a human girl named Sarah. They are best buddies until one day Truman gets concerned that Sarah is in his mind long overdue to be home. He begins to worry for her then decides he will go and try to find her. What ensues is a wonderful tale of a new adventure for Truman. "Truman" though a beautiful story in words and artwork is much more with underlying premises that all parents can relate to when their child turns up missing. The emotions expressed by Truman are much the same as when parents are worried about their children and what may have happened to them. "Truman" is a beautifully told story that can be enjoyed by all ages.

Gary Roen
Senior Reviewer

Helen Dumont's Bookshelf

Women and Democracy in Iraq
Huda Al-Tamimi
I. B. Tauris Publishers
c/o Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781788312806, $115.00, HC, 328pp,

Synopsis; As the post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq has unfolded, the potential for Iraqi women to participate actively and visibly in the country's political structure has been one of its most notable results. The 2005 Constitution required that no less than 25% of seats in the Iraqi Parliament be filled by women. Yet despite subsequent parliamentary statistics suggesting great strides for female political participation, there has been a resounding silence on the wider implications of this quota for women in Iraqi political life.

"Women and Democracy in Iraq: Gender, Politics and Nation-Building" by Huda Al-Tamimi (who is the Lecturer and Convener of the Arabic, Honours & Postgraduate Program at the Centre for Arabic & Islamic Studies at the Australian National University) is the first full-length study of women's political representation in Iraq. Based on interviews with politicians and substantial media analysis, Huda Al-Tamimi outlines the political, sectarian and cultural constraints facing female Members of Parliament, and the ways in which individual women and women's organizations are actively challenging barriers to their political influence.

"Women and Democracy in Iraq" is a vital contribution to discussions concerning the success and limitations of gender quotas in the Middle East. It also offers new and critical perspectives on the evolution of Iraqi politics, a subject that remains of high priority for a region and international community interested in the nation's reconstruction.

Critique: A timely and valued contribution to understanding the contemporary political, cultural, and social status of women in an Islamic Iraq today, "Women and Democracy in Iraq: Gender, Politics and Nation-Building" enhanced for academia with the inclusion of fifty pages of Notes, a twenty-eight page Bibliography, and an eight page Index. an exceptional work of exhaustive and meticulous scholarship, "Women and Democracy in Iraq" is unreservedly recommended for college and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Women and Democracy in Iraq" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $103.50).

Snackable Science Experiments
Emma Vanstone
Page Street Publishing
9781624148224, $19.99, PB, 160pp,

Synopsis: Emma Vanstone is the author of This Is Rocket Science and creator of the award-winning blog Science Sparks. She has a degree in microbiology and virology and is passionate about making science fun for kids.

In the pages of "Snackable Science Experiments: 60 Edible Tests to Try and Taste" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to break down the science behind the tastiest treats in the average kitchen. Whether children ages 6-11 want to learn the magic of chemistry, the speed of color, the basics of earth science or the effects of structural engineering, food is a great way to explore all of this and more.

Each individual experiment uses edible ingredients to reveal the properties of the foods we eat every day. Using the acid in vinegar to dissolve egg shells, baking soda to make The Best Fizzy Lemonade or boiling water to make Ice Cubes in a Flash, each project helps you understand the how and why of the world around you.

Critique: Profusely illustrated from cover to cover and showcasing 60 unique and thoroughly 'kid friendly' scientific projects, "Snackable Science Experiments" will provide hours and hours of wonderfully educative (and edible!) entertainment. While very highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Snackable Science Experiments" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Thai Children's Favorite Stories
Marian D. Toth, author
Patcharee Meesukhon, illustrator
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804837088, $14.99, HC, 64pp,

Synopsis: Comprised of nine charming stories, "Thai Children's Favorite Stories: Fables, Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales" features clever princesses, warring gods and goddesses, foolish kings, and wily tigers, against a backdrop of traditional Thai village life. The stories deal with the universal values that parents everywhere want to teach their children, such as good versus evil, right versus wrong, and wisdom versus foolishness.

The stories include "How The Thais Learned to Be Calm," when a small village argument escalates into a terrible war; "Princess Golden Flower and the Vulture King," in which a brave princess saves herself from an evil king; and "The Gold Harvest" in which a wise father-in-law tricks his lazy son-in-law into working hard for his family.

Told by Marion D. Toth and illustrated by Thai artist Patcharee Meesukhon, this collection will provide children ages 6-10 with an insight into the traditional Thai culture, and the values and lifestyle of its people.

Critique: An delightfully entertaining volume of Thai folklore, myth telling, and fairytales, "Thai Children's Favorite Stories" fully lives up to the promise of its title and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, elementary school, and community library Folklore/Mythology collections for young readers. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Thai Children's Favorite Stories" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.21).

Lalani of the Distant Sea
Erin Entrada Kelly
Greenwillow Books
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062747273, $16.99, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: Life is difficult on the island of Sanlagita. To the west looms a vengeful mountain, one that threatens to collapse and bury the village at any moment. To the north, a dangerous fog swallows sailors who dare to venture out, looking for a more hospitable land. And what does the future hold for young girls? Chores and more chores.

When Lalani Sarita's mother falls gravely ill with an incurable disease, twelve-year-old Lalani faces an impossible task -- she must leave Sanlagita and find the riches of the legendary Mount Isa, which towers on an island to the north. But generations of men and boys have died on the same quest so how can an ordinary girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago? And how will she manage without Veyda, her best friend?

Critique: Inspired by Filipino folklore, Erin Entrada Kelly's debut fantasy novel, "Lalani of the Distant Sea" is a deftly crafted and inherently riveting adventure for young readers ages 8-12 about bravery, friendship, self-reliance, and the choice between accepting fate or forging your own path. While especially and unreservedly recommended for school and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lalani of the Distant Sea" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982657017, $39.99, CD).

My Jasper June
Laurel Snyder
Walden Pond Books
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062836625, $16.99, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: The school year is over, and it is summer in Atlanta. The sky is blue, the sun is blazing, and the days brim with possibility. But Leah feels lost! She has been this way since one terrible afternoon a year ago, when everything changed. Since that day, her parents have become distant, her friends have fallen away, and Leah's been adrift and alone.

Then she meets Jasper, a girl unlike anyone she has ever known. There's something mysterious about Jasper, almost magical. And Jasper, Leah discovers, is also lost. Together, the two girls carve out a place for themselves, a hideaway in the overgrown spaces of Atlanta, away from their parents and their hardships, somewhere only they can find.

But as the days of this magical June start to draw to a close, and the darker realities of their lives intrude once more, Leah and Jasper have to decide how real their friendship is, and whether it can be enough to save them both.

Critique: The deftly crafted, exceptionally entertaining and original story of a life-altering friendship, "My Jasper June" by Laurel Snyder will prove to be an immensely popular addition to school and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections for young readers ages 8-12. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "My Jasper June" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781094026923, $34.99, CD).

Addiction: The Dark Night of the Soul/ NAD+
Paula Norris Mestayer
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781982218157, $33.95, HC, 218pp,

Synopsis: Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a cofactor found in all living cells. The compound is called a dinucleotide because it consists of two nucleotides joined through their phosphate groups. One nucleotide contains an adenine nucleobase and the other nicotinamide. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide exists in two forms: an oxidized and reduced form, abbreviated as NAD+ and NADH respectively. (Wikipedia)

Paula Norris Mestayer, M.Ed., LPC, FAPA, is the groundbreaking therapist who pioneered the development of American protocols for utilizing NAD+ to effectively treat addiction-with minimal withdrawal symptoms and without substituting another narcotic. The founder of Springfield Wellness Center, she has helped thousands of people successfully break the rehab/relapse cycle.

In "Addiction: The Dark Night of the Soul/ NAD+: The Light of Hope", Paula Norris Mestayer shares her remarkable and personal story of 18 years of work treating the brain disease of addiction.

By delivering intravenous infusions of NAD+-a natural coenzyme of niacin Mestayer's treatment in 10 short days with minimal withdrawal symptoms or cravings enables her patients to kick opiates, alcohol, benzodiazepines, methamphetamines, and more.

She explains in accessible and understandable laymen's terms what is known thus far about why NAD+ is effective, and shares the inspirational stories of people who have journeyed through addiction's "dark night of the soul" and found their way to health, wholeness, and freedom once again.

Critique: An inherently interesting, impressively informative, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' instructional guide, "Addiction: The Dark Night of the Soul/ NAD+" is unreservedly recommended to anyone having to deal with an addiction of any kind. Especially relevant in our present opioid epidemic, "Addiction: The Dark Night of the Soul/ NAD+ should be a part of every community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Addiction: The Dark Night of the Soul/ NAD+" is also available in a paperback edition (9781982218133, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.39).

Beating Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs
Julia A. Sherman
Persephone Publications
9780989998772, $19.99, PB, 274pp,

Synopsis: Julia A. Sherman is a nationally recognized psychologist, and in the pages of "Beating Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs: A Memoir of Survival in a Male-Dominated World " candidly shares with her readers the experiences that women have been keeping secret: sexual assault, #MeToo, depression, sexual pleasure.

What sets "Beating Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs" from other similar memoirs is how Sherman not only writes with frank candor, but also brings science to the personal.

Driven from her profession for testifying against a psychiatrist who had sexually abused a patient, she survived, conquering her depression and bipolar disorder. Medicated to near oblivion, she was sustained by her determination to uncover the origin of bipolar disorder. The theory she developed offers an alternative to the heavily prescribed medications that do more harm than help, it is an effective alternative with which she personally tested at the risk of her own sanity.

Meticulously researched and documented, Sherman's cutting-edge knowledge can be used to manage depression and bipolar disorder without drugs, as she demonstrates from her personal experience of being drug-free and healthy for twenty years. Written by a woman, for women, the book has nonetheless been warmly embraced by men.

In "Beating Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs" Sherman directly challenges the medical/psychiatric establishment for their greed, fraud, and the moral bankruptcy of their treatment of the mentally ill, especially women. Sherman is in that brave tradition of women's marches demanding justice, equality, and political change. With the courage and pioneering spirit that characterized her life, Sherman leaves posterity an unforgettable story.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented so as to be of immense interest and value to both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject, "Beating Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs" is unreservedly endorsed and recommended for community, college, and university library Psychology/Psychiatry and Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading list that "Beating Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Helen Dumont

John Taylor's Bookshelf

Granite and Grace
Michael P. Cohen
University of Nevada Press
Mail Stop 0166, Reno, NV, 89557-0166
9781948908160, $21.95, PB, 200pp,

Synopsis: In "Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite", Michael Cohen (who is a rock climber, mountaineer, professional mountain guide, and a pioneer of first ascents in the Sierra Nevada) reflects on a lifetime of climbing, walking, and pondering the granite in Yosemite National Park at Tuolumne Meadows. This high-country region of Yosemite is dominated by a young, beautifully glaciated geological formation known as the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite. It does not include familiar Yosemite icons like Half Dome, yet geologists describe this granitic realm at over 8,000 feet as "an iconic American landscape".

Drawing together the humanistic and scientific significance of the wild landscapes he traverses, Michael uncovers relationships between people and places and meaning and substance, rendering this text part memoir -- but also considerably more. On-the-rock encounters by hand and foot open up a dialogue between the heart of a philosopher and the mind of a geologist. Michael adds a literary softness to this hard landscape, blending excursions with exposition and literature with science. It is through his graceful representations that the geological becomes metaphorical, while the science turns mythological.

This high country, where in 1889 John Muir and Robert Underwood Johnson planned what would become Yosemite National Park, is significant for cultural as well as natural reasons. Discoursing on everything from Camus's "Myths of Sisyphus" to the poems of Gary Snyder, Michael adds depth to an already splendorous landscape. Premier early geologists, such as Francois Matthes, shaped the language of Yosemite's landscape. Even though Yosemite has changed over half a century, the rock has not. As Michael explores the beauty and grace of his familiar towering vistas, he demonstrates why, of the many aspects of the world to which one might get attached, the most secure is granite.

Critique: An impressively informative and deftly crafted account that is as an inherently absorbing a read as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite" a blend of personal memoir, Yosemite environmental study, and observational-based nature writing that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.85).

A New Program for Graphic Design
David Reinfurt
Inventory Press
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9781941753217, $25.00, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: "A New Program for Graphic Design" by David Reinfurt is the first communication-design textbook expressly of and for the 21st century. Three courses (Typography, Gestalt and Interface) provide the foundation of this instructive book.

Through a series of in-depth historical case studies (from Benjamin Franklin to the Macintosh computer) and assignments that progressively build in complexity, "A New Program for Graphic Design" aptly serves as a practical guide both for designers and for undergraduate students coming from a range of other disciplines.

Synthesizing the pragmatic with the experimental, and drawing on the work of Max Bill, Beatrice Warde, Muriel Cooper and Stewart Brand (among many others), "A New Program for Graphic Design" builds upon mid- to late-20th-century pedagogical models to convey contemporary design principles in an understandable form for students of all levels -- treating graphic design as a liberal art that informs the dissemination of knowledge across all disciplines. For those seeking to understand and shape our increasingly networked world of information, this guide to visual literacy is an indispensable tool.

Critique: A deftly written and accessibly organized and presented instructional guide and manual, "A New Program for Graphic Design" would well serve as a Graphic Design curriculum textbook, and should be a part of every professional, technical college and university library Graphic Design collection and supplemental studies reading list.

Editorial Note: David Reinfurt (born 1971) is a graphic designer, writer and educator who reestablished the Typography Studio at Princeton University and introduced the study of graphic design. Previously, he held positions at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Rhode Island School of Design and Yale University School of Art. As a cofounder of O-R-G inc. (2000), Dexter Sinister (2006) and the Serving Library (2012), Reinfurt has been involved in several studios that have reimagined graphic design, publishing and archiving in the 21st century. He was the lead designer for the New York City MTA Metrocard vending machine interface, still in use today. His work is included in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. He is the co-author of Muriel Cooper (MIT Press, 2017), a book about the pioneering designer.

Helping People Change
Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, Ellen Van Oosten
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633696563, $30.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: It is universally acknowledged that helping others is a good thing. Often, as a leader, manager, doctor, teacher, or coach, it's central to your job description. But even the most well-intentioned efforts to help others can be undermined by a simple truth: We almost always focus on trying to "fix" people, correcting problems or filling the gaps between where they are and where we think they should be. Unfortunately, this doesn't work well, if at all, to inspire sustained learning or positive change.

There's a better way. "Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth" is a powerful, practical book, by emotional intelligence expert Richard Boyatzis and Weatherhead School of Management colleagues Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten that presents a clear and hopeful message:

The way to help someone learn and change cannot be focused primarily on fixing problems, but instead must connect to that person's positive vision of themselves or an inspiring dream or goal they've long held.

This is what great coaches do -- they know that people draw energy from their visions and dreams, and that same energy sustains their efforts to change, even through difficult times. In contrast, problem-centered approaches trigger physiological responses that make a person defensive and less open to new ideas.

"Helping People Change" presents rich and moving real-life stories, as well as decades of original research, to show how this distinctively positive mode of coaching (what they call "coaching with compassion") opens people up to thinking creatively and helps them to learn and grow in meaningful and sustainable ways.

Filled with probing questions and exercises that encourage self-reflection, "Helping People Change" will forever alter the way all of us think about and practice what we do when we try to help.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth" is an extraordinary, effective, and 'real world practical' addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted that "Helping People Change" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $17.49).

Theorizing in Organization Studies
Anne Vorre Hansen & Sabine Madsen
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781788970037, $99.95, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: While there are a great many books that provide guidance to the construction of theory, the process of theorizing itself has been addressed far less often. The principle goal of "Theorizing in Organization Studies: Insights from Key Thinkers" by Anne Vorre Hansen (Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University) and Sabine Madsen (Department of Political Science, Aalborg University, Denmark) is to encourage researchers to reflect upon their subjective theorizing practices and to engage in dialogue about theorizing in organization studies.

Drawing on interviews with eight key figures in the field, "Theorizing in Organization Studies" provides guidance for how to theorize, and how to do so well, using the key tools of the theorizers.

Providing rich insights, these interviews with professors and academicians David Boje, Barbara Czarniawska, Kenneth Gergen, Tor Hernes, Geert Hofstede, Edgar Schein, Andrew Van de Ven and Karl Weick give an opportunity for the reader to learn from some of the most successful theorists in the field of organization studies. By addressing aspects of theorizing which seek to make it a personal and meaningful endeavour, "Theorizing in Organization Studies" goes beyond the sole aim of getting published and encourages the reader to develop their own unique way of theorizing.

"Theorizing in Organization Studies" will prove to be an invaluable tool for graduate researchers and scholars looking to refine their theorizing practices in order to produce outstanding theoretical work. Its insights will also be of use for anyone seeking to breathe new life into their work, with its insightful commentary on the practices of successful theorists.

Critique: An impressively organized and presented work of original scholarship and a unique contribution that is unreservedly recommended for college and university library collections, "Theorizing in Organization Studies: Insights from Key Thinkers" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an informative foreword by Richard Swedberg, and appendix (Interview Question Guide - Academic Theorizing), a six page listing of references, and a three page index.

John Taylor

Mary Cowper's Bookshelf

Ain't I a Diva?
Kevin Allred
The Feminist Press
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781936932603, $18.95, PB, 392pp,

Synopsis: In 2010, Professor Kevin Allred created the university course "Politicizing Beyonce" to both wide acclaim and controversy. He now outlines his pedagogical philosophy in the pages of "Ain't I a Diva?: Beyonce and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy", exploring what it means to build a syllabus around a celebrity.

The topics comprising "Ain't I a Diva?" range from a capitalist critique of "Run the World (Girls)" to the politics of self-care found in "Flawless"; Beyonce's art is read alongside black feminist thinkers including Kimberle Crenshaw, Octavia Butler, and Sojourner Truth.

Combining analysis with classroom anecdotes, Professor Allred attests that pop culture is so much more than a guilty pleasure, it's an access point for education, entertainment, critical inquiry, and politics.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and impressively informative read, "Ain't I a Diva?: Beyonce and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy" is a 'must' for all Beyonce fans, as well as both community and academic library Contemporary American Popular Culture collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Ain't I a Diva?: Beyonce and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.00).

Victorious Heart
Kim Peacock
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
9781642791891, $16.95, PB, 172pp,

Synopsis: Kim Peacock was thrust into a world she never imagined she could survive when her daughter, Nicole, died in a tragic accident. Grappling through her grief has produced in her a passion to help others navigate through the complexity of grief with hope, and she is now a wife, mom, writer, speaker, and grief mentor. Her blog, Wild Victorious Heart, has been an encouragement to others during the life-altering loss of a loved one.

Drawing upon her personal experience, Kim wrote "Victorious Heart: Finding Hope and Healing After a Devastating Loss" especially for those who have found themselves in an emotionally broken place because of the loss of a loved one. Grief is not something that can be fixed or cured, but rather is proof that someone is missing a part of themselves -- a normal response to loss.

In "Victorious Heart", Kim Peacock shares her story of the devastating loss of her oldest daughter, Nicole. She bares the deepest sorrow of her life, but also reveals how the Lord carried her through (and is still carrying her through) turning her pain into a beautiful story of hope and healing. "Victorious Heart" reassures readers they are not alone, helps them manage some of the difficult "firsts" like birthdays and holidays and shows them how to protect their mind and avoid the "Blame Game".

Grieving family members will learn that it's okay to laugh again, in time, and that they too can have a Victorious Heart of hope in the midst of their biggest sorrow.

Critique: Sensitive, engaging, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and above all, inspired and inspiring, "Victorious Heart: Finding Hope and Healing After a Devastating Loss" is an extraordinary book that is wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading list of anyone who is grieving the loss of a friend or a loved one that "Victorious Heart" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.69).

When a Friend Dies
Marilyn E. Gootman
Free Spirit Publishing
6325 Sandburg Road, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55427-3674
9781631984228, $12.99, PB, 136pp,

Synopsis: The death of a friend is a wrenching event for anyone at any age and can spark feelings that range from sadness to guilt to anxiety. Teenagers especially need help coping with grief and loss.

Now in a new and fully updated third edition, "When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens About Grieving & Healing" by Marilyn E. Gootman is an especially sensitive book that answers questions grieving teens often have, like "How should I be acting?" "How long will this last?" and "What if I can't handle my grief on my own?"

"When a Friend Dies" also addresses the complicated emotions that can accompany the death of an acquaintance, as opposed to a close friend. The advice is gentle, non-preachy, and compassionate; recommended for parents and teachers of teens who have experienced a painful loss.

This updated edition of a classic resource includes new quotes from teens as well as insights into losing a friend or an acquaintance in a school shooting or through other violence. "When a Friend Dies" also features updated resources and recommended reading, including information on suicide hotlines and other support for anyone in crisis.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, this updated third edition of "When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens About Grieving & Healing" continues to offers sensitive advice based upon a genuine understanding of teens needing to cope with grief and loss -- especially in our increasingly violent world that is currently hallmarked with gun violence and mass shootings in schools and recreational venues where young people are to be found. Simply stated, "When a Friend Dies: A Book for Teens About Grieving & Healing" should be a part of every highschool and community library collection in the country.

Take Daily as Needed
Kathryn Trueblood
University of New Mexico Press
9780826360960, $19.95, PB, 200pp,

Synopsis: Maeve Beaufort's family is messy and complicated, rife with competing demands, difficult compromises, and on-the-spot judgment calls. She is the single mother of Noelle, who has anaphylactic reactions to nuts, and Norm, a nonconformist child whom everyone wants to diagnose. Her father is spending his retirement on high-ticket items he doesn't need, her children's teachers are suggesting medication, and her mood-swinging mother is threatening to move in.

Newly diagnosed herself with Crohn's disease, Maeve feels as though she is failing herself, her parents, and her children. But with spirit and determination (and a healthy dose of survival humor) she gives it her best go.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel showcasing author Kathryn Trueblood's genuine knack for a narrative driven storytelling style that is thoroughly reader engaging from beginning to end, "Take Daily as Needed" is especially recommended reading for anyone who has ever felt the pressures of their own life overwhelming them, feeling unappreciated by family members, by employers and colleagues, and generally behind the eightball in the pool game that is their life! "Take Daily as Needed" is unreservedly commended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Take Daily as Needed" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Beach Calling
Missy Buchanan
Upper Room Books
PO Box 340004, Nashville, TN 37203-0003
9780835818773, $21.99, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: Aging doesn't take much effort all you have to do is breathe. Aging faithfully is different. It requires intentional effort to stay focused on God as you make your way through a world of youth and change.

Many women dread aging and resist thinking about it. Yet God designed the human body to change over time, and growing older is part of God s plan. How we handle the changes that accompany aging reveals much about our spiritual maturity.

"Beach Calling: A Devotional Journal for the Middle Years and Beyond" takes a fresh approach to the topic of aging. Missy Buchanan uses comforting imagery from the beach and ocean to engage readers in spiritual reflection. In this devotional journal for women in their middle years and beyond, she guides readers to explore and embrace God s plan for growing older.

Each devotion focuses on a familiar aspect of beach life and leads the reader to a parallel lesson on aging. Each reading contains journaling prompts that invite readers to capture their thoughts in the journaling space provided. "Beach Calling" helps mature women to accept and prepare for life transitions, including how to navigate the challenges of loss and decline. This inspiring resource leads readers to discover the hope and joy that faithful aging can bring.

Critique: A stiff notebook style cover that enclosed a spiral bound format, "Beach Calling: A Devotional Journal for the Middle Years and Beyond" is an ideal choice for gift giving. Inspired and inspiring, with 'write in' pages following every section comprised of inspiring comments and insight productive suggestions, "Beach Calling" is unreservedly recommend, especially for mature women facing the challenges and opportunities associated with the aging process. It should be noted that "Beach Calling" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.49).

Saint John the Baptist: A Voice Crying Out in the Desert
Ezekiel Saucdeo, author/illustrator
Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Paul's Avenue, Boston, MA 02130-3433
9780819891051, $13.95, PB, 128pp,

Synopsis: Out of the Sinai desert God called a man to pave the way for the coming of Jesus. A courageous man who would stand up to leaders of his day. A humble man who recognized that he was not to be the star of salvation history. A wild man who ate grasshoppers and honey!

Children ages 8-12 will enjoy following the story of John the Baptist as he escapes a massacre with his parents, brings God's message of repentance to the people, and pays the ultimate price for speaking God's truth.

Critique: Presented in a graphic novel format from Pauline Books & Media,"Saint John the Baptist: A Voice Crying Out in the Desert" is an informative and entertaining story in which young readers will discover the heroic holiness of Saint John the Baptist-- a man Jesus himself described as one of the greatest men ever born. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to family, community library, and Sunday School collections, "Saint John the Baptist: A Voice Crying Out in the Desert" is highly recommended.

Flora of the Hunter Region
Stephen Bell, Christine Rockley, Anne Llewellyn
CSIRO Publishing
c/o Stylus Publishing, Inc.
22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166-2012
9781486311026, $63.95, HC, 136pp,

Synopsis: The Hunter Region, between the Hawkesbury and Manning rivers in eastern New South Wales, hosts a rich diversity of vegetation, with many species found nowhere else. Spanning an area from the coast to the tablelands and slopes, its rainforests, wet and dry sclerophyll forests, woodlands, heathlands, grasslands and swamps are known for their beauty and ecological significance.

"Flora of the Hunter Region: Endemic Trees and Larger Shrubs" describes 54 endemic trees and large shrubs, combining art and science in a manner rarely seen in botanical identification guides. Species accounts provide information on distribution, habitat, flowering, key diagnostic features and conservation status, along with complete taxonomic descriptions. Each account includes stunning botanical illustrations produced by graduates of the University of Newcastle's Bachelor of Natural History Illustration program. The illustrations depict key diagnostic features and allow complete identification of each species.

Critique: A valuable resource for those interested in the plants of the region, including researchers, environmental consultants, horticulturalists and gardeners, bush walkers, herbaria, and others involved in land management, "Flora of the Hunter Region: Endemic Trees and Larger Shrubs" combines fine art quality illustrations with an impressively informative and descriptive commentary. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Flora of the Hunter Region" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $51.74).

Mary Cowper

Micah Andrew's Bookshelf

Digital Transformation
Thomas M. Siebel
125 Park Avenue, 25th Floor, New York, NY 10017
9781948122481, $25.99, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction", Silicon Valley entrepreneur Thomas M. Siebel notes that the confluence of four technologies elastic cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things is fundamentally changing how business and government will operate in the 21st century.

Siebel masterfully guides readers through a fascinating discussion of the game-changing technologies driving digital transformation and provides a roadmap to seize them as a strategic opportunity. He shows how leading enterprises such as Enel, 3M, Royal Dutch Shell, the U.S. Department of Defense, and others are applying AI and IoT with stunning results.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Digital Transformation" is an essential and thoroughly 'user friendly' guidebook that all corporate executives and government policy makers should have access to if they and those they represent are 'to survive and thrive' in this new digital age. While unreservedly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Digital Transformation" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Thomas M. Siebel is CEO of, a leading provider of enterprise artificial intelligence software. A globally renowned leader in information technology, Mr. Siebel has been at the forefront of several major innovation cycles, including relational databases, enterprise application software, Internet computing, AI, and the Internet of things. He pioneered the customer relationship management (CRM) category with the founding of Siebel Systems. Recognized by Businessweek as one of the top 25 managers in global business, Mr. Siebel is a three-time recipient of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award and was named a Glassdoor Top CEO in 2018. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2013.

The Illuminati Ball
Cynthia von Buhler
Titan Comics
9781787732216, $29.99, HC, 88pp,

Synopsis: Written and illustrated by Cynthia von Buhler. "The Illuminati Ball" is a deftly scripted graphic novel that merges the myth and mystery surrounding the Illuminati (a secret organization of the rich and powerful who supposedly control the world) with a story about human-animal hybrids who have escaped an experimental lab.

Inspired by the legendary 1972 surrealist masquerade party that influenced Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut -- hosted by the Baron and Baroness de Rothschild at their mansion in Paris -- "The Illuminati Ball" combines elements of the fantastical with reality to tell an unforgettable story about power, cruelty, deceit, betrayal, and the insatiable hunger for freedom.

Critique: Recommended for mature readers because of the adult subject matter involving genetic manipulation for financial exploitation, "The Illuminati Ball" is an inherently fascinating and thought-provoking graphic novel-- one that will linger in the mind and memory of the reader long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. It should be noted that "The Illuminati Ball" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.49).

Rural Development
Adam Pain & Kjell Hansen
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138775640, $150.00, HC, 334pp,

Synopsis: Adam Pain has been an academic in the UK and since 2006 part time at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences. He has also worked in programme management, as a programme evaluator and as policy advisor. For much of the last thirty years his interests have been focused on the Himalayan region in Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan and on their rural mountain economies.

Kjell Hansen is associate professor in European Ethnology and a senior lecturer in rural development at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences. His research has focused on questions about the relationships between state, policies and local communities and cultures.

Together the have written "Rural Development", a textbook that critically examines economic, social and cultural aspects of rural development efforts both in the global north and in the global south. By consistently using examples from the north and the south their study highlights similarities of processes as well as differences in contexts.

Professor Pain and Hansen's knowledge of Afghanistan and Sweden respectively creates a core for the discussions which are complemented with a wide range of other empirical examples.

"Rural Development" is divided into nine chapters, each with a thematic focus, ranging from concepts and theories through rural livelihoods and natural resources to discussions on policy and processes of change. This detailed and documented study sees rural development as a multi-level, multi-actor and multi-faceted subject area that needs multidisciplinary perspectives both to support it and to analyse it. Throughout "Rural Development" are examples of rural development interventions are discussed using analytical concepts such as power, discourse, consequences and context to grasp rural development as practices that are more than what is presented in policy documents.

Critique: Specifically written so as to be immediately accessible for undergraduates, while at the same time providing the kind of deeper presentation useful to master students and Ph.D.'s., every individual chapter of "Rural Development" is linked to discussion questions as well as suggested further readings and useful websites. While unreservedly recommended for college and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Rural Development" is also available in a paperback edition (9781138775664, $48.95) and in a digital book format (eTextbook, $41.27).

Handbook on In-Work Poverty
Henning Lohmann & Ive Marx, editors
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781784715625, $290.00, HC, 528pp,

Synopsis: There has been a rapid global expansion of academic and policy attention focusing on in-work poverty, illustrating that across the world there are increasing numbers of people who could be described as the working poor . Taking a global and multi-disciplinary perspective, the "Handbook on In-Work Poverty" provides a comprehensive overview of current research at the intersection between work and poverty.

Authoritative contributions from leading researchers in the field provide comprehensive coverage of conceptual and measurement issues, causal drivers and mechanisms, key empirical findings, policy issues and debates. The "Handbook on In-Work Poverty" is unique in offering perspectives from a wide range of regions and countries, stretching beyond developed countries. It also does justice to the paradigmatic diversity in approaches to in-work poverty, offering a wealth of variety in disciplinary approaches.

Academically rigorous, yet clear and concise, the "Handbook on In-Work Poverty" will especially benefit students and scholars of public policy, politics, social policy and development studies. It will also prove accessible for policy analysts and journalists looking to explore the issue from new angles.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by professors Henning Lohmann (University of Hamburg, Germany) and Ive Marx (University of Antwerp, Belgium), the "Handbook on In-Work Poverty" features an informative introduction by the editors, a complete listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a fifteen page Index. While unreservedly recommended as a core addition to college and community library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, that "Handbook on In-Work Poverty" is also available in a paperback edition (9781789905267, $65.00).

International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: A Global Resource
Rene von Schomberg & Jonathan Hankins, editors
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781784718855, $315.00, HC, 624pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Rene von Schomberg, (the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission, Belgium and Guest Professor, Technical University Darmstadt, Germany) and Jonathan Hankins (who is with The Bassetti Foundation, Italy), the "International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: A Global Resource" constitutes a global resource for the fast-growing interdisciplinary research and policy communities that have taken on the challenge of driving innovation towards socially desirable outcomes.

The collection brings together well-known contributors drawn from the USA, Europe, Asia and South Africa, and present developing conceptual and regional perspectives on responsible innovation including issues of governance, economics and ethics.

The contributors explore the prospects for the further implementation of responsible innovation in emerging technological practices in sectors from agriculture and health-care to nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence. The collection emphasizes the socio-economic and normative dimensions of innovation, including issues of social risk and sustainability.

Critique: Featuring a listing of all the contributors and their credentials, "International Handbook on Responsible Innovation: A Global Resource" also includes a seventeen page Index, making it a substantial, essential, and very highly recommended contribution to college and university library Social/Political Studies collections.

The World Atlas of Gin
Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley
Mitchel Beazley
c/o Octopus Books
236 Park Avenue, New York NY 10017
9781784726546, $34.99, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: "The World Atlas of Gin" by Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley is the first book to cover the booming gin industry across the globe, country by country. Never has there been a more striking revolution in the world of distilled spirits than the current renaissance of gin. With small craft distilleries popping up all over the world, from Texas to Tasmania, more varieties and techniques being used than ever before, and a tapestry of tastes from light and citrusy to big bold savory notes, gin's appeal is extraordinarily wide and varied.

From gin made in small batches from local botanicals, to large facilities which make some of the world's most recognized gin brands, "The World Atlas of Gin" looks at everything from the botanical to the bottle: how and where botanicals are grown and harvested and their role within the flavor of gin; producers and the stories behind their brands; exactly where, and how, gins are made; and, country by country, the best examples to try.

Global cocktails are covered too, including the history and country of origin of some of the best-known mixed gin drinks.

Critique: The definitively comprehensive guide for anyone wanting to understand more about gin, its history and production methods, the countries that have helped make it a global success story, and appreciate the best gins the world has to offer, this profusely illustrated and expertly presented compendium "The World Atlas of Gin" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Editorial Note: Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley are at the forefront of providing expertise and innovation in the drinks world. From whisky to gin, cognac to cocktails, the duo has a wealth of knowledge to share with audiences across the globe. As well as writing for a number of different publications around the world, such as the Telegraph and World of Fine Wine, they also appear regularly on TV and act as judges for the prestigious International Wine and Spirit C ompetition (IWSC ) awards. Their first book, Distilled, won the Fortnum & Mason Drink Book of the Year award in 2015. Their second, Straight Up, was published in October 2017.

Micah Andrew

Michael Dunford's Bookshelf

Expeditions Unpacked
Ed Stafford
White Lion Publishing
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781781318782, $45.00, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Expeditions Unpacked: What the Great Explorers Took into the Unknown" is a unique and inherently fascinating analytical history in which explorer and survivalist Ed Stafford curates 25 great expeditions through the lens of the kit these remarkable explorers took with them.

In an environment where lack of preparation could mean certain death, the equipment carried, ridden and sailed into uncharted territories could mean the success or failure of an expedition. Was it simply a case of better provisions and preparation that helped Amundsen beat Scott to the South Pole? And how has the equipment taken to Everest changed since Hillary's first ascent?

Through carefully curated photographs and specially commissioned illustrations we can see at a glance the scale, style and complexity of the items taken into the unknown by the greatest explorers of all time, and the impact each item had on their journey. How it potentially saved a life, or was purely for comfort or entertainment, and how these objects of survival have evolved and adapted as science advances, and we plunge further into the extremes.

Conquering fears and mountains, adversity and wild jungles, each item these explorers flew, pulled or hauled played a crucial role in their ambitious and dangerous missions to find out a little more about our world. Through each of these objects, we can gain a better understanding ourselves.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Expeditions Unpacked: What the Great Explorers Took into the Unknown" is impressively well written, deftly organized, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in presentation. This exhaustively and meticulously researched study is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections.

Editorial Note: Ed Stafford is the Guinness World Record-holding first person to walk the Amazon River. Sir Ranulph Fiennes described his expedition as being "truly extraordinary... in the top league of expeditions past and present." A former British Army captain, Ed filmed and blogged his deadly journey and engaged followers all over the world for almost two-and-a-half years. His footage was made into a Discovery Channel documentary and was sold to over 100 countries and he authored the best-selling book, Walking the Amazon. Ed has gone on to film seven survival series and is now an established face of Discovery Channel, and his seventh series, Ed Stafford: First Man Out, aired in late 2018 globally.

The New Beachcomber's Guide to the Pacific Northwest
J. Duane Sept
Harbour Publishing
9781550178371, $26.95, PR, 416pp,

Synopsis: The Pacific Northwest coast is home to one of the most diverse displays of intertidal marine life in the world, including sponges, clams, snails, crabs, sea stars, sea anemones, jellies, fishes, seaweeds and more. The New Beachcomber's Guide to the Pacific Northwest is a portable and easy-to-use reference for searching out and identifying the hundreds of species of seashore life found on the beaches of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Southeast Alaska.

Covering the Pacific Northwest's most common shoreline-dwelling flora and fauna, the guide gives in each entry a detailed description of appearance and habitat accompanied by colour photos for easy identification of any creature you might encounter as you explore your local beach. Simple but essential information on tides and the various habitats within the intertidal zones is also provided to assist beachcombers in exploring safely with minimal ecological impact. The New Beachcomber's Guide even contains up-to-date descriptions of the best beachcombing sites and when to visit them -- you may even find your new favorite exploration grounds!

Thoroughly revised and packed with handy and accessible information, this new and completely revised 2019 edition of "The New Beachcomber's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" belongs in the beach bag or backpack of any avid naturalist, amateur beachcomber or adventurous family.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, this newly updated and expanded edition of 'The New Beachcomber's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" is an especially well organized and presented, making it a highly and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Reducing Impacts of Food Loss and Waste
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
National Academies Press
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
9780309490559, $62.00, PB, 116pp,

Synopsis: Even as malnutrition in the form of hunger and obesity affect the health and well-being of millions of people worldwide, a significant amount of food is lost or wasted every day, in every country, and at every stage in the supply chain from the farm to the household. According to a 2011 estimate by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), about one-third of food produced is lost or wasted globally. Beyond quantity estimates, however, less is known about the impacts on farmers, food prices, food availability, and environment of reducing food loss and waste.

On October 17, 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine organized a workshop to examine key challenges that arise in reducing food loss and waste throughout the supply chain and discussed potential ways to address these challenges. "Reducing Impacts of Food Loss and Waste: Proceedings of a Workshop" summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

Critique: An invaluable contribution to our on-going national discussion with respect to hunger, food waste, and the agricultural impact of climate change in America today, "Reducing Impacts of Food Loss and Waste: Proceedings of a Workshop" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists, and environmentalists that "Reducing Impacts of Food Loss and Waste: Proceedings of a Workshop" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $31.62).

The Good Place and Philosophy: Get An Afterlife
Steven A. Benko & Andrew Pavelich, editors
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812694765, $19.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: The Good Place is a fantasy-comedy TV show about the afterlife. Eleanor dies and finds herself in the Good Place, which she understands must be mistake, since she has been anything but good. In the surprise twist ending to Season One, it is revealed that this is really the Bad Place, but the demon who planned it was frustrated, because the characters didn't torture each other mentally as planned, but managed to learn how to live together.

Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Steven A. Benko (Associate Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC) and Andrew Pavelich (Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Unviersity of Houston-Downtown), "The Good Place and Philosophy: Get An Afterlife", is comprised of contributions by twenty-one philosophers who analyze different aspects of the ethical and metaphysical issues raised in the show.

These philosophical and theological issues include such issues and questions as: Indefinitely long punishment can only be justified as a method of ultimately improving vicious characters, not as retribution; Can individuals retain their identity after hundreds of reboots?; Comparing Hinduism with The Good Place, we can conclude that Hinduism gets things five percent correct; Looking at all the events in the show, it follows that humans don't have free will, and so people are being punished and rewarded unjustly; Is it a problem that the show depicts torture as hilarious? This problem can be resolved by considering the limited perspective of humans, compared with the eternal perspective of the demons.

Additionally -- The Good Place implies that even demons can develop morally; The only way to explain how the characters remain the same people after death is to suppose that their actual bodies are transported to the afterlife; Since Chidi knows all the moral theories but can never decide what to do, it must follow that there is something missing in all these theories; The show depicts an afterlife which is bureaucratic, therefore unchangeable, therefore deeply unjust; Eleanor acts on instinct, without thinking, whereas Chidi tries to think everything through and never gets around to acting; together these two characters can truly act morally.

The Good Place shows us that authenticity means living for others; The Good Place is based on Sartre's play No Exit, with its famous line "Hell is other people," but in fact both No Exit and The Good Place inform us that human relationships can redeem us; In The Good Place, everything the humans do is impermanent since it can be rebooted, so humans cannot accomplish anything good; Kant's moral precepts are supposed to be universal, but The Good Place shows us it can be right to lie to demons; The show raises the question whether we can ever be good except by being part of a virtuous community.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and thought-provoking series of commentaries, "The Good Place and Philosophy: Get An Afterlife" is a 'must read' not only for philosophy students but dedicated fans of one of the most unique television comedy series ever created. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Good Place and Philosophy: Get An Afterlife" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.95).

Michael Dunford

Nancy Lorraine's Bookshelf

An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Castle Legends
Theresa Breslin, author
Kate Leiper, illustrator
Floris Books
9781782505952, $24.95, HC, 171pp,

The third title in an illustrious series by the same author and illustrator (see "An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales (9780863159077, $24.95, HC, 160pp)" and "An Illustrated treasury of Scottish Mythical Creatures (9781782501954, $24.95, HC, 192pp), Theresa Breslin's "An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Castle Legends" is an exciting collection of deliciously spooky legends associated with no fewer than thirteen ancient Scottish castles.

Beginning with an annotated map of Scotland showing locations and mini portraits of each building, the ghostly collection unfolds with luscious authentic illustrations and told in delightful traditional style with embellishments of fairy script and pale, ghostly italics on dark colored paper backgrounds.

Children will love the special scary voices in original Scottish dialects, plus the mystery element of each legend. The featured stories include the Ghostly Piper of Edinburgh Castle, The Mysterious Monster in the Castle of Glamis, the Redcap Goblin of Caerlaverock Castle, the Faery Flag of Dunvegan Castle, the Wizard of Stirling Castle, Doe Not Vaken Sleiping Dogs (Craigevar Castle), The King's Three Questions (Moot Hill and Scone), The True Story of the Loch Ness Monster (Castle Urquhart), Meg with the Muckle Mouth (Elibank Castle and Abbotsford, The Selkie Girl and the Otter King (Eilean Donan Castle), and Tale End (Bothwell Castle).

Although gripping and sometimes scary, the tales are mainly intriguing, with proper embedded riddles and mysteries that have magical appeal to young minds. Often the ending includes a surprising twist which brings to mind questions about the basic assumptions underlying the legend .... for instance who, exactly or what, constitutes a monster?

These classic Scottish legendary tales are beautifully presented in exactly the rich, history within an embroidered context which suits them best. Perhaps a favorite for this reader is the Tale End, an account of the wily fox trying to trap Kirsty with three riddles, which the reader is encouraged to guess at before reading the answer. Kirsty boldly considers and solves all three riddles, finishing with an enigmatic riddle of her own: "What belongs to you, but others use it more than you do?" The sly fox guesses the answer and then demands to know her name, but Kirsty foils him, saying, "Why, name is mine, and I don't choose to tell you." The final quote in Faery script states: "My name is Theresa," says Theresa Breslin. "And I am finished telling the stories in this book!"

Unreservedly recommended for young readers ages 6-12, and highly recommended for family, school, and community library Folklore/Mythology collections, "An Illustrated Treasury of Scottish Castle Legends" is a beautiful children's classic that will cause readers to dream hopefully of visiting all the mystical castles and sites in Scotland associated with these magical tales. A final Glossary of Scottish and unfamiliar terms is most helpful to readers.

Animal Musicians
Pedro Alcade, author
Julio Antonio Blasco, illustrator
Lucina Fearon, translator
The Secret Mountain
9782824774540, $14.95, HC, 56pp,

"Animal Musicians" is a fascinating survey of 14 different species of living creatures who are uniquely talented natural musicians. Living in habitats in North and South America, China, Australia, the oceans, these different species have one thing in common: they are talented natural musicians. In many cases their lives depend on their ability to make exquisite music.

These species described include the St. Andrew's Cross Spider from East Australia, the wolf, found in a variety of ecosystems in the Northern Hemisphere, the superb lyrebird, of Southeast Australia and Tasmania, the gibbon, found in Southeast Asia, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and North Sumatra, the starling, from Europe, North Africa and Western Asia, as well as the United States and Australia, the humpback whale, found in 14 populations across the oceans of the world, the northern cardinal, of Central and North America, the cicada, which lives in trees in both temperate and tropical climates, the Atlantic canary, from the Canary Islands, Azores and Madeira, the sac-winged bat, from tropical forests of Central and South America, the musician wren, from the Amazon rainforest, from Central and Eastern China, and the club-winged manakin, from northwestern Andean forests of Colombia and Ecuador.

Beautiful graphics and authentic portraits of each creature in its natural habitat are displayed, along with sidebars of specialized information, plus descriptions of the songs or musical sounds made by the creature, plus descriptions of the musical techniques used. Repertoire is described and also fun facts about the production and other data such as size, weight, lifespan, habitat, behavior, feeding and enemies.

Recordings of the unique musical sounds made by each creature are available at This fascinating book will interest young readers ages 7-9 and is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections.

Cheerful the Angry Chicken
Joanna Rose, author/illustrator
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IL 47403
9781480846807 $16.95

"Cheerful the Angry Chicken" is an inspiring tale about a little girl chicken who dreamt of being part of the chicken wake up brigade which consisted of all male rooster chickens. Cheerful had a great positive attitude and knew she could make a great contribution to the morning rooster reveille. However, when she approached the roosters one morning to ask to help them, they rejected her. One rooster in particular, Robby the rabble rouser, made fun of her for even attempting to join the roosters in their wakeup call. He told her she was just a little chicken and should go back to the barn.

Cheerful became very very angry with this rejection. She felt certain this was unfair. But she made a plan and next morning she showed up for the wakeup call with a bullhorn. Surprising Robby and his pals, she used the bullhorn to address her farm friends and request their support to allow her to participate in the morning wakeup call. Friends were requested to sign Cheerful's petition to join the wakeup call. cheerful had many friends who were willing to support her by signing the petition. They even offered to do other things, like building stage (offered by Chuck the woodchuck). Eventually Cheerful's petition had many signatures and she presented it to Ms. Fatima, owner of Fatima Farm.

Ms. Fatima was impressed with all the support for Cheerful, and she agreed with her request to join the morning wakeup call. So Cheerful showed up the next morning and helped the roosters with the wakeup call. Of course the roosters ignored her, but that did not stop Cheerful.

After many weeks of waking up the farm, Cheerful realized that she was beginning to wake up herself to a life of new possibilities. She wanted the freedom to be herself. she knew she could be more than just a little chicken. Cheerful realized she needed to leave the farm. She would miss all her friends, but she was excited about starting a new life full of new possibilities.

"Cheerful the Angry Chicken" raises several intriguing questions for young readers about assumptions and stereotyping. It contains pages of Topics for Discussion to help students explore some of the implicit motivations for the actions of Cheerful and the other farm animals. Constructive ways of dealing with anger are part of the heart of the story of "Cheerful the Angry Chicken." The story's inspiring message is underline in each illustration, done in simple crayoned style with clearly labeled descriptions and characters.

"Cheerful the Angry Chicken" is an excellent book for kids, teaching them to challenge their own assumptions about limitations and stereotypes. A portion of the sale of "Cheerful the Angry Chicken" will be donated in support to Reading Partners and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Charleston.

Please Explain "Time Out" to Me!
Laurie Zelinger, Ph.D. and Fred Zelinger, Ph.D
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615994151, $17.95 PB, $5.95 Kindle, 34pp
9781615994168, $27.95, HC, 34pp,

'Please Explain 'Time Out' To Me : Story for Children and Do-It-Yourself Manual for Parents" is both a teaching story for children and a do-it-yourself manual for parents.

Part of a psychological/behavioral series for kids and parents, "Please Explain 'Time Out' To Me" speaks directly to its audience from the main character, a kid named Jackson. Jackson has a younger brother and an older stepsister and two parents. He is familiar with the use of time out for bad behavior both at school and at home. He explains that is usually a very well behaved kid. But sometimes he just gets mad and loses control of himself. Then he gets to sit in time out, not a pleasant place, but a neutral zone where he can contemplate what he did and how it affects others as well as himself. When he regains control, his timeout is usually over. He is given ideas for how to contain his frustration that do not harm or annoy others.

One of his tools is a special Frustration Fixer box that he made with his Dad. In this box are many objects to help Jackson get a handle on his behavior. These include bubbles to blow to help in self calming, a kazoo to buzz out his anger, hard gum to chew, a stretchy band to pull, a picture of him smiling to remind him he'll feel better later, a bongo drum to hit, joke book, something squishy to squeeze, a soft cloth smelling of lavender, a pad and pencil to write things down, a toy lion to growl at, a Transformer to remind him that he can change, and tissues in case he cries. Anyone can make their own Frustration Fixer box with things that are helpful to them, with a parent's help.

"Please Explain 'Time Out' to Me" also has a very helpful section titled Parent Guide to Effective Behavioral Management, which defines different approaches to help manage behavior, including positive reinforcement (four stars), negative punishment (3 stars), negative reinforcement (no stars), and positive punishment (no stars), and natural consequences. Further tips are given in sections headed Walk the Walk and Tricky Situations.

Time Out is carefully defined in 5 essential steps: "1. In advance and as a family, identify why, when, how and where Time Out will be implemented. 2. if a rule has been broken that cannot be corrected by discussion, swiftly move or carry your child to the Time Out Chair. 3. When one child is in Time Out, the whole world doesn't have to stop. 4. When Time Out is over, you should go about your business without any further discussion with this child. 5. After a few seconds have elapsed, you can approach your child and discuss what went wrong..."

In addition to this helpful discussion, there is a glossary of term with a recap diagram illustrating the different forms of reinforcement. "Please Explain 'Time Out' To Me" is a very effective tool for teaching behavior management to children and parents, with cheerful colored illustrations.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Paul Vogel's Bookshelf

Socio-Economics of Personalized Medicine in Asia
Shirley Sun
9781138933835, $175.00, HC, 210pp,

Synopsis: The second decade of the twenty-first century has witnessed a surging interest in personalized medicine with the concomitant promise to enable more precise diagnosis and treatment of disease and illness, based upon an individual's unique genetic makeup.

Shirley Sun is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Her main research interests are population studies, social inequalities, citizenship and immigration, economic development and social reproduction, and science, technology and society.

In "Socio-Economics of Personalized Medicine in Asia", Professor Sun's goal is to contribute to a growing body of literature on personalized medicine by tracing and analyzing how this field has blossomed in Asia. In so doing, she illustrates how various social and economic forces shape the co-production of science and social order in global contexts.

"Socio-Economics of Personalized Medicine in Asia" also shows that there are inextricable transnational linkages between developing and developed countries, as well as providing a theoretically guided and empirically grounded understanding of the formation and usage of particular racial and ethnic human taxonomies in local, national and transnational settings.

Critique: An impressively informed and informative work of seminal and meticulous scholarship, "Socio-Economics of Personalized Medicine in Asia" is an extraordinary study that is further augmented with an informative introduction, five appendices, and a seven page index. While unreservedly recommended as a core addition to college and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Socio-Economics of Personalized Medicine in Asia" is also available in a paperback edition (9780367354428, $46.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.90 Rent, $44.60 Buy).

Race, Work, and Leadership
Laura Morgan Roberts, Anthony J. Mayo, David A. Thomas, editors
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633698017, $45.00, HC, 512pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Laura Morgan Roberts, Anthony J. Mayo, David A. Thomas, "Race, Work, and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience" is an extraordinary and important compilation of essays that examines how race matters in people's experience of work and leadership. What does it mean to be black in corporate America today? How are racial dynamics in organizations changing? How do we build inclusive organizations?

Inspired by and developed in conjunction with the research and programming for Harvard Business School's commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the HBS African American Student Union, "Race, Work, and Leadership" is a groundbreaking book that shines new light on these and other timely questions and illuminates the present-day dynamics of race in the workplace. Contributions from top scholars, researchers, and practitioners in leadership, organizational behavior, psychology, sociology, and education test the relevance of long-held assumptions and reconsider the research approaches and interventions needed to understand and advance African Americans in work settings and leadership roles.

At a time when (following a peak in 2002) there are fewer African American men and women in corporate leadership roles, "Race, Work, and Leadership" will stimulate new scholarship and dialogue on the organizational and leadership challenges of African Americans and become the indispensable reference for anyone committed to understanding, studying, and acting on the challenges facing leaders who are building inclusive organizations.

Critique: Comprised of twenty-three erudite contributions deftly organized into five major sections (History and critical Questions in Black Business Leadership; Comparative Studies; Phenomenological Studies; Theorizing Black Leadership; The Future), "Race, Work, and Leadership: New Perspectives on the Black Experience" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an informative Foreward (Race in Organizations: Often Cloaked but Always Present), a list of the contributors and the editors along with their credentials, and a twenty-four page Index. While unreservedly recommended for community, corporate, and academic library Contemporary Black Studies collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, scholars, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Race, Work, and Leadership" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.99).

Editorial Note: Laura Morgan Roberts is a Teaching Professor of Management at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School's Gender Initiative, researching the influence of African American business leaders. She is the author of numerous research articles, teaching cases, and practitioner-oriented tools, as well as two influential Harvard Business Review articles.

Anthony J. Mayo is the Thomas S. Murphy Senior Lecturer of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior Unit of Harvard Business School. With Nitin Nohria, he is the coauthor of In Their Time and Paths to Power, both published by Harvard Business Review Press.

David A. Thomas is President of Morehouse College. He previously served as Dean of Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and as the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. His research addresses issues related to leadership, executive development, and cultural diversity in organizations, and his book, Breaking Through, coauthored with fellow HBS professor John J. Gabarro, is the standard on how minorities become executives.

A Wyatt Earp Anthology: Long May His Story Be Told
Roy B. Young, Garry L. Roberts, Casey Tefertiller, editors
University of North Texas Press
1155 Union Circle #311336, Denton, TX 76203-5017
9781574417739, $45.00, HC, 936pp,

Synopsis: Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp (March 19, 1848 - January 13, 1929) was an American frontiersman who appears frequently in a variety of well known stories of the American West, especially in notorious "Wild West" towns such as Dodge City, Kansas and Tombstone, Arizona. An itinerant hunter, businessman, gambler, and lawman, he worked in a wide variety of trades throughout his life. Among his many business ventures, he owned several saloons, maintained a brothel, mined for silver and gold, and refereed boxing matches. He is perhaps best known for his part in the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, an event which became famous in his own lifetime. (Wikipedia)

Some see him as the "Lion of Tombstone," a hero lawman of the Wild West, whereas others see him as yet another outlaw, a pimp, and failed lawman.

Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Roy B. Young, Gary L. Roberts, and Casey Tefertiller who are all notable experts on Earp and the Wild West, "A Wyatt Earp Anthology: Long May His Story Be Told" an authoritative account of his life, successes, and failures. The editors have curated an anthology of the very best work on Earp (more than sixty articles and excerpts from books) drawing from a wide array of authors, selecting only the best written and factually documented pieces and omitting those full of suppositions or false material.

Nearly all of the selections come from the last twenty years, when a more critical eye was turned to sources of Earp history. Many articles derive from the five stellar western publications dedicated to preserving the history of the American West: True West, Wild West, WOLA Journal, NOLA Quarterly, and the Journal of the Wild West History Association.

Earp's life is presented in chronological fashion, from his early years to Dodge City, Kansas; triumph and tragedy in Tombstone; and his later years throughout the West. Important figures in Earp's life, such as Bat Masterson, the Clantons, the McLaurys, Doc Holliday, and John Ringo, are also covered. Wyatt Earp's image in film and the myths surrounding his life, as well as controversies over interpretations and presentations of his life by various writers, also receive their due. Finally, an extensive epilogue by Gary L. Roberts explores Earp and frontier violence.

Critique: A massive work of exhaustive and meticulous scholarship, "A Wyatt Earp Anthology: Long May His Story Be Told" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library American Biography collections in general, and Wyatt Warp supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and accomplishments of Wyat Earp that this massive anthology is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $36.00).

Editorial Note: Roy B. Young is the editor of the Journal of the Wild West History Association and the author of several western titles, including James Cooksey Earp, Cochise County Cowboy War, Judge William H. Stilwell, and Robert Havlin Paul, Frontier Lawman.

Gary L. Roberts is an emeritus professor of history at Abraham Baldwin College and author of Doc Holliday: The Life and Legend. He is widely recognized as a historian of the American West and frontier violence. He has published more than seventy-five articles on Western history and co-edited a book on Georgia politics, and is also the author of Death Comes for the Chief Justice: The Slough-Rynerson Quarrel and Political Violence in New Mexico.

Casey Tefertiller is a former writer for the San Francisco Examiner and the author of Wyatt Earp: The Life behind the Legend, named a Notable Book of 1997 by the New York Times. He is also the co-author of Mental Toughness: Baseball's Winning Edge.

A Bridge for Christmas
William Schwenn
Brighton Publishing
9781621834885, $13.95, PB, 234pp,

Synopsis: The journey from here to there, from the familiar present to the unknown future, is the essence of life. Even when you think you know where you're going, you are guaranteed surprises along the way.

Living alone in the North Carolina mountains, Dave lost his true love early in his marriage, and despite recently found companionship in two highly individual dogs, wonders if (or how) he will ever regain a reason for being. Gwen has followed a self-proclaimed mission to rescue animals from intolerable circumstances with an obsession that is spinning out of her control.

A pair of stray, starving hound dog siblings have escaped a meaningless existence, only to discover a world that is harsh and uncaring. A widow in Virginia is working through her own loneliness by forming a link in a multi-state dog rescue pipeline, while providing a community service opportunity for an at-risk teenage girl given a last chance by a criminal court judge. Life is throwing twists and obstacles in all their paths during the two months leading up to Christmas. It's a good thing the season of giving sometimes provides miracles: the lives of some of these wanderers will literally depend on it.

Along with key contributions by an Animal Control Officer, the High Sheriff, and several colorful mountain folks, "A Bridge for Christmas" is an intriguing interplay between characters whose life journeys have intersected in the most improbable ways.

Critique: An immediately engaging and deftly written novel by an author with a genuinely entertaining and distinctive narrative storytelling style, "William Schwenn's "A Bridge For Christmas" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Bridge For Christmas" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, Schwenn, a former Clerk of federal bankruptcy court, is now retired and living in the company of his dogs in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife, Mary. They have devoted their lives to enhancing the welfare of dogs. They maintain a lifestyle that solidly revolves around mutually rewarding activities with their furry partners. With this background, it is hardly surprising that the author's stories are told with abundant humor and keen insight into the minds and hearts of dogs, whose capacity for living fully "in the moment" is an invaluable lesson for all of us - and one they are only too happy to share.

Paul T. Vogel

Richard Blake's Bookshelf

The Science of Getting Rich
Wallace D. Wattles
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781640951303, $11.99, 142 pages

Personal Success, Entrepreneurship, Life-Changing, Impelling

"The Science of Getting Rich" By Wallace D. Wattles is included in the "Original Classic Edition" series, reprinted by Sound Wisdom, to preserve the wisdom of great men and women of history in the late 19th and the early 20th century.

Author Wallace D. Wattles is recognized as a new thought writer. He is best known for his book "The Science of Getting Rich" published in 1910. Wallace Wattles is widely quoted among new thought and self-help movements. His works are more practical and pragmatic than philosophical or theoretical.

Wattles' Writing is easily understood, direct, and practical in his approach. Wattles presents a specific plan for making the most of opportunity, developing a thought-form, expanding your vision, expressing gratitude, and achieving your dreams.

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

The Art of Money Getting
P. T. Barnum
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
97816400951341, $11.99, 112 pages

Personal Success, Entrepreneurship

"The Art of Money Getting - or Golden Rules for Making Money" by P. T. Barnum is filled with proven principles gleaned from his life experiences and observations from the lives he touched.

Barnum maintains that personal freedom begins with a change in perspective, establishing new habits are resulting in a unique satisfaction and sense of wellbeing. He emphasizes:

Assuming Responsibility

Maintaining Integrity

Living with a Generous Heart

Exhibiting Good Heartedness

A Deep Faith

Life Purpose


Barnum's illustrations and the stories that back up his principles are sometimes as Colorful as the personality for which he is recognized. Others may seem blunt or outdated, but all are practical, down to earth, and based on a common-sense approach to a life of fulfillment.

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

As A Man Thinketh
James Allen
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781640951327, $11.99, 88 pages

Character, Circumstances, Enlightenment, and Happiness

James Allen writes from his life experiences and meditations to inspire and stimulate readers to pursue the concept that we must take personal responsibility for our thought life.

Allen explores the connection between mind, body, and action - to change self-defeating negativity to positive thoughts that influence purpose, achievement, growth, and success.

"As a Man, Thinketh" by James Allen is a true classic; filled with a powerful lesson on the power of right thinking on men today, their:





I can highly recommend "As a Man Thinketh" to readers of a new generation of trendsetters in today's contemporary age and culture.

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

The Game of Life & How to Play It
Florence Scovel Shinn

"The Game of Life & How to Play It" by Florence Scovel Shinn is one of the Original Classic Edition, reprint editions of historical artifacts, classic works written in the early 1900s.

Many of the principles from the authors in this series have laid the groundwork for the works of more recent personal success authors, writers, speakers, and life coaches.

Scovel's insights: into the importance of developing imagination, harnessing the subconscious, experiencing forgiveness, understanding the power of the word, and the law of prosperity are examples of the wealth of material found in her book "The Game of Life & How to Play It."

Although I can highly recommend this book, I suggest you keep in mind the changes in world view, contemporary American culture, to better enable
the application of these principles personally.

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

Napoleon Hill's Positive Thinking
Compiled by Michael Ritt
Sound Wisdom
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9781640951181, $24.95, 206 pages

Motivating, Inspirational, Life-Changing

"Napoleon Hill's Positive Thinking" contains step by step proven principles that will help you, the reader, realize your dreams, fulfill your vision, and change your life.

Each of the ten fast-moving chapters addresses one of these steps:

Instructional Narrative

A Self-Test

Learn by Making Applications

Words from the Wise Quotes

Suggestions for additional reading and a complete index add value to this critical masterpiece. "Napoleon Hill's Positive Thinking" is a book you will want to read with a pen in hand. Well worth rereading time and time. Highly recommended.

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

Praying the Impossible
Buddy Harrison
Harrison House Publishers
9781680312751, $6.99, 82 pages

Planning Prayer Perspectives that Produce Results

In his book "Praying the Impossible," Buddy Harrison provides the reader with guidelines and keys for planning specific prayers for specific requests by asking three questions: What am I praying? Who is Praying? How do I pray?

Buddy used prayer from David's Psalms to illustrate prayers of petition. I gained a whole new appreciation, new insights, and a clearer understanding of the order of prayer.

I plan to incorporate many of these principles into my praying - moving from casual prayers to a more intense, fervent praying when interceding and seeking answers to specific prayers.

I am looking forward to the rewards and results of answered prayers:

1. A greater hunger for God's Word

2. A stronger love for people

3. A more intimate relationship with God

An attitude of gratitude permeates throughout Buddy Harrison's writing. I can I highly recommend his book "Praying the Impossible" for everyone looking for a more intimate relationship with God and the assurance of answered prayer.

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

Richard R. Blake
Senior Reviewer

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

Maiden of Iron: A Steampunk Fable
Edie Melson
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Elk Lake Publishing Inc
B07CWH5NZG, $3.99, ebook, 344 pages
9781946638922, $TBA paper

Maiden of Iron is a retelling of Robin Hood through the eyes of Maid Marion in a steampunk setting. It is a fun recounting of the myth.

Marion Ravenswood has formed a gang with her best friend and her best friend's brother. They travel through the sewers of London raiding automated coal caravans that are being used to carry gold. Marion is using the gold to fund research into saving the children of London from a new disease ravaging them. During the latest raid, she encounters Robin Hood's men who are also raiding the caravans. She steals the gold from Robin and stumbles into an even deeper problem as both Robin and her are working on different ends of the same plague. The question soon becomes: can they put aside their differences long enough to save the children and possibly much more.

If you are interested in the steampunk genre or just enjoy the Robin Hood tall tales, you will like this book. There is a weakness in the story. Marion is so focused on her plans that she ignores the great advice her friends are telling her over and over. This is a logic break between the intelligence in her character and the flow of the storyline. On balance the Maiden of Iron has more for going for it than problems and is recommended.

Discovery of the Saiph (The Saiph Series Book 1)
PP Corcoran
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Castrum Press
00IMP3HB4, $3.99, ebook, 338 pages
9781912327003, paper

Discovery of the Saiph is written in classic style military space opera. Although there are a few liberties taken in the technology, enough real tech is used to permit the reader to immerse themselves in the tale and still keep the science within the possible.

In the future, humanity takes their first steps to other worlds. A ship is sent to the nearest planet that mankind believes can be colonized. When the ship arrives they find evidence of an alien race. The explorers investigate and find a depository of information from an alien species called the Saiph. Translating the information humanity finds that the Saiph, who are now gone, have been at war with another alien civilization. The other civilization doesn't want any competition between the stars and has made it a practice of destroying any space capable civilization they discover.

Humanity believes the information they have found and immediately militarizes to defend against this inevitable threat. Humanity also decides to continue exploring the galaxy for possible allies in their defense.

Discovery of the Saiph is an easy recommendation to anyone interested in military SF. The story is fun and easy to follow. Unlike many tales the story doesn't have many key characters. The protagonists in the military space opera are the inheritors of the Saiph and the civilization trying to destroy them. The individual characters are the narration of the various smaller conflicts and events within the opera. Some readers might find the lack of in-depth development of the individual characters as a weakness but the focus of the story is the interstellar conflict. Discovery of the Saiph reads like an overview of a conflict in history such as a World War II narration of the Pacific theater. For the story you include a scattering of admirals, generals, marines with a minimal amount of character information and development because the story is not about the individuals but about the conflict between the Japanese and the allies. It should be noted that Discovery of the Saiph is book one in a larger narration so be prepared to pick up the other two books in the series if you really enjoy it.

S.A. Gorden, Senior Reviewer

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

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