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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 4 April 2016 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Alma's Bookshelf Andrea's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Chutsky's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf
Gail's Bookshelf Joshua's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf
Kevin's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Moore's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

Granta 134: No Man's Land
Sigrid Rausing, Editor
Granta Books
9781905881932, 24.99, PB, 224 pages,

Ann Skea, Reviewer

In her 'Introduction', Granta's editor and publisher Sigrid Rausing quotes the earliest Doomsday Book definition of 'No Man's Land' as "parcels of land outside the London city walls", and she goes on to describe its later uses when it became associated with land disputes and executions, with war and with "marginal spaces and activities". This issue reflects just such a broad definition.

Rausing's background in anthropology, her work for Amnesty International and her support for human rights organisations through the Sigrid Rausing Trust, all have clearly influenced this issue of Granta, so the pieces she has chosen to publish are not always comfortable or easy reading. Her broad interpretation of 'no man's land', however, has allowed her to include work which ranges from Peter Pomerantsev's reportage from all sides of the Ukrainian/Russian conflict to David Rakoff's story about a woman's encounter with her schizophrenic brother. She also includes Lorenzo Meloni's evocative photographs of life and colour in the grey, war-torn city of Kobane and Matthew Welton's poems "in imitation of Thomas A. Clark" - a poet whose own poetry deals with the sparsely populated, lonely terrains of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

As usual, the standard of work in Granta is excellent, there is a wealth of good and interesting reading, and some of the articles in this issue, together with many more varied pieces are freely available at:

A Call to Vision: A Jesuit's Perspective on the World
Don Doll, SJ
Magis Productions
c/o Creighton University Press
2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178
9780578109961, $55.00, HC, 228pp

Elizabeth A. Elliott

A Call to Vision, A Jesuit's Perspective on the World, by Don Doll, S.J. gives the reader as much about the priest behind the camera as it gives the scope of his global photography career.

It is touching the way he prays for the individual he's photographing before he releases the shutter.

The images throughout the book provide a glimpse into the world at large. On some you can see the weight of the world. The eyes, as they say, are the windows to the soul. They are penetrating in many of these photographs. They seem to agree with the belief of Magis or Cura Personalis, care of the whole person. He photographs people in their environment, giving the viewer a glimpse into their world. You almost feel as if you know the people in the photographs.

One of the things I really appreciated in this book is the story behind the photographs. It helps to know what was going into each picture. Not only that, finding out how Fr. Doll found his calling as a photographer within his call to be a priest was fascinating.

This is a very spiritual book. For fifty years, Jesuit Father Don Doll has been photographing life. He sees his photography as a call within his call.

His photos bring the world into close view. From National Geographic to A Day in the Life...series, Doll's career has spanned the globe. But this book brings the photographer to light.

The most moving section of this book is the juxtaposition of photographing a birth at the same time his mother was entering hospice and passing away.

This is a wonderful book for people who want to feel close to people all around the world, making them less of a stranger and seem more like a friend. It's a book for someone who wants to know the photographer behind the camera.

Elizabeth A. Elliott is a National Catholic Reporter Bertelsen intern. Elliott is from Omaha, Nebraska, where she completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Jesuit-run Creighton University. Her master's thesis was a poetry collection, and she has had four poems published. She has contributed to America magazine and the websites Busted Halo and Beliefnet. She was a regular contributor to Nebraska's The Daily Record, a legal and business newspaper.

Tell the Wind and Fire
Sarah Rees Brennan, author
Clarion Books
c/o Hougton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9780544318175, $17.99, HC, 368pp,

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

A modern and recognizable, yet also dramatically altered, New York City is the stage for Tell the Wind and Fire, Sarah Rees Brennan's riveting young adult fantasy about a teen girl at the center of a societal revolution.

Conceived, the author notes, "as a rift on my favorite Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities," with parallel characters and situations, Tell the Wind and Fire follows 17-year-old Lucie Manette, born in walled Dark New York and since exiled with her father to Light New York. Before their exile, she gained fame by demanding her father be spared from death, and is now reviled and hailed by various factions.

Ultimately, this is a coming-of-age story as Lucie's eyes are opened to truths, some of which she was previously sheltered from knowing. Her family members; boyfriend, Ethan, and his celebrity family; and friends are revealed to be playing various - in some cases surprisingly twisted - roles as the divided city descends into chaos. Contributing to the crisis is the appearance of Carwyn, a doppelganger - or soulless twin - created in Ethan's likeness, who has a long-held score to settle.

Though the division of the city into dark and light suggests black-and-white simplicity, Tell the Wind and Fire is anything but one-dimensional. Rather, it is steeped in complex themes - abandonment; societal division along a host of lines, including socio-economic; tenacity in the face of great challenge; retribution; betrayal; underground lawlessness and fanaticism; and family love and loyalty.

Wrenching moments, where characters must take decisive action to save themselves or a loved one, or to change the course of the widening rupture, come up frequently. Malevolence and benevolence, it's ultimately clear, are not bound by jurisdiction, but flourish in both light and dark places - a potent message.

Tell the Wind and Fire is action-packed, with characters wielding powerful magic as they heal, plot, hide, battle, and kill amid modern landmarks and city streets, lending both a fantastic and realistic feel. Lucie and her teen counterparts are distinctly twenty-first century - texting and frequenting dance clubs - while also embittered and empowered by cruel, post-modern reality. Brennan, a New York Times bestselling author, masterfully knits together the story's complex threads.

Tell the Wind and Fire is a powerful treatise, with a liberal dose of fun and carefully-measured, not too-heavily applied, fantasy elements that will appeal to readers ages 12 and older, both familiar and new to the genre.

Magnus Chase And the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer
Rick Riordan
114 Fifth Avenue, 14th floor, New York, NY 10011
9781484719329, $19.99 HC, $9.08 PB, $9.99 Kindle,

Mary Kincaid, Reviewer

This is the opening paragraph: "Yeah, I know. You guys are going to read about how I died in agony, and you're going be like, "Wow! That sounds cool, Magnus! Can I die in agony too?"

Magnus dies retrieving the Sword of Summer and checks into the Hotel Valhalla where the slain heros go as guests of Odin. He is an einherjar, one of the soldiers in Odin's eternal army. This is when his adventure begins. He must retie the wolf and keep the Sword of Summer from Surt who would bring about the end of the world is he were able to get the sword.

It is the relationships of Magnus that keep the story rolling along. I enjoyed the bigger than myth aspects of Valhalla that the author develops as part of the story. Magnus makes friends and finds his old friends from life to help him on his quest

After his mother dies, Magnus is left along and becomes homeless. He is befriended by two characters, one is deaf. They are sent to guard him and keep him safe, but they fail and he still ends up being taken to Valhalla by Sam the Valkyrie after he dies on the bridge defending his friends.

His quest takes him on many adventures with his relatives because his dad is one of the gods of the nine worlds. As the worlds are developed in the story they add settings and other characters to this tale. The rules of this world are a little confusing, but since this is the first book of the series we can cut the author some slack. All in all the story moves along briskly, the dialogue is realistic, and the settings draw the reader in. I enjoyed it and I would recommend it for the reader seeking adventure.

Magnus has a successful quest. He and his friends are given wonderful awards and privileges in the nine worlds by Odin, the all father.

I give it a five out of five.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
Jon Krakauer
Anchor Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780804170567, $16.95, PB, 416pp,

Paul Markowitz

The crime of rape has been a topic of particular interest the past several years with scandals such as Tailgate and former icons like Bill Cosby frequently grabbing headlines. Even more recently the topic of date rape and rape on college campuses has been a recurring theme seen in many communities throughout the United States. Taking a look at the problem in general by drilling down in a specific locality and time - Missoula, Montana in 2008-2012 - Jon Krakauer has brought a microscope to what appears to be a systematic problem on far too many college campuses.

Krakauer who has written several best-selling books such as Into the Wild, Into Thin Air and Under the Banner of Heaven with acute, incisive detail has used those attributes to bring a deeper understanding to an often murky and little understood dilemma.

Colleges and universities are often loath to deal with the unseemly aspects of rape while many young women are more than reluctant to share the "shame" of rape with classmates and school authorities. When you add that police departments are often inadequately trained to deal with the uniqueness of rape allegations and prosecuting attorneys who sometimes are overly concerned with their conviction rates in a hard to win environment- the conditions are then developed for a perfect storm of insufficient oversight.

Krakauer may have found the perfect storm in Missoula, Montana. Missoula, Montana is a typical college town with a beloved football team, the University of Montana Grizzlies. Almost everybody of significance in this second biggest city in the state has gone to the university. Then in a short period of time beginning in 2008 there were a slew of rapes leading to the unofficial labeling of Missoula as the "rape capital of the United States". The part that was most troublesome was that an inordinate number of cases involved University of Montana football players. The problem became so acute that the U. S. Department of Justice came to investigate and develop an "understanding" with local authorities.

To keep this troubling problem human and understandable, the author deals almost exclusively with two specific cases involving University of Montana football players. Although the two cases had very different outcomes, by following these two cases in great detail the reader is much better able to understand the problem of acquaintance rape, the political and legal pressures that often affect these cases and the human toll on the minority of victims who bravely seek redress with their schools and/or civil authorities. Although it is a very troubling and often unpleasant story, it is ultimately one worth telling.

James Fenimore Cooper: A Life
Nick Louras
Chronos Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785352935, $29.95, PB, 376pp,

Richard Kaye

James Fenimore Cooper is known to most Americans as the author of "The Last of the Mohicans." That novel of the American frontier is a literature class staple. But there is more to the man and his work than many realize. Not only did Cooper write about the tumultuous early days of the country, he lived through them. Born in 1789, when George Washington was president, Cooper was one of the nation's original celebrities. He grew up in the wilderness of upstate New York, was kicked out of Yale University for setting off a dynamite explosion on campus, dined with presidents and princes, became a prolific novelist, largely on a dare from his wife, and ended his days a controversial figure locked in a war of words with the American press.

Cooper's life (and the historical epoch with which it coincided) is well handled in this new biography. Nick Louras is a first-rate historian and writer. He weaves together the close-up details of a human life with the sweeping drama of history and politics, drawing intelligent, provocative and often unexpected conclusions. This book is recommended to readers with an interest in American history.

To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062420701, $25.99 HC, $14.99 PB, $10.99 Kindle, 336pp,

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
Carson McCuthers
Modern Library
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780679424741, $20.00 HC, $13.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 368pp,

Rod Haynes, Reviewer

I recently read Carson McCullers' 1941 edition of The Heart is A Lonely Hunter for the first time, the same week that literary icon Harper Lee, of To Kill A Mocking Bird, fame, died. The signature works of each these two Southern authors invite comparison. To Kill A Mocking Bird debuted in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. President John Kennedy and his stylish wife Jackie had just arrived in the White House. The escalating violence by white Southerners on blacks engaged in the new civil rights movement was appearing on national television alongside fixated reports on the glitz and glamour of the new Presidential family.

Mocking Bird, like Lonely Hunter, is set in a small town in the South during the Great Depression. Harper Lee's classic centers on the deep divide between black and white citizens in one small town, mirroring the conditions throughout the former Confederate states. Mocking Bird's story is told by an adult woman looking back on her life as a young, brassy girl named Scout at the age of eight. The lead protagonist in Mocking Bird, of course, is Scout's father, Atticus Finch, a stalwart defender of justice and righteousness. It is readily acknowledged today that Gregory Peck's Oscar-winning role as Atticus in the film version propelled Mocking Bird to greater heights than the book would have achieved alone, resulting in Harper Lee becoming a reluctant pillar of 20th century American literature. To Kill a Mockingbird resonated with readers around the world because it told the unvarnished truth about a post-war America that had just sacrificed thousands of her sons on the altar of justice and freedom for the world, simultaneously denying these same basic freedoms to her own non-white citizens.

Carson McCuthers' first book, The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, was written in 1941 when she was only 23 years old. Understandably, much of the provincial nuances of the small-town South captured by McCuthers was echoed 20 years later in Harper Lee's book. Both stories focus on similar settings inhabited by similar characters. The narrative technique in Lonely Hunter is noticeably different than Mocking Bird's. Unlike the adult Scout looking back at a defining point in her young life in Mocking Bird, the third-person narrator of Lonely Hunter is less reflective, more direct than Mocking Bird. Lonely Hunter is not an intimate book, although readers quickly feel compassion for its characters. To her own consternation, McCuthers never gained the level of popularity achieved by Harper Lee. Still, McCuthers exhibits a profound understanding of the human condition, her characters experiencing deaths and a host of other troubles normally encountered in life. We feel empathy for McCuthers' characters. We easily identify with their trials.

A lead character in Lonely Hunter is a black medical doctor who is militantly angry about the plight of his people. His self-acknowledged failure as a father heightens his misery. In a number of ways the doctor's demons transcend race. We identify with the doctor's loneliness, anger, and frustration. At the same time, white audiences cannot fully grasp the depth of the doctor's despair about prejudice.

There are three primary themes in To Kill A Mockingbird, the first being the story of a pugnacious little girl who adores her father she oddly calls "Atticus," not, "Daddy." The second thread in Mocking Bird is a portrait of childhood revealed through the experiences of Scout, Jem, and Dill's and the mysterious, foreboding adult recluse, Boo Radley. The only tangible connection between Boo and the children through most of the book are the odd gifts he leaves for them in a hollowed-out tree. Boo is finally redeemed at the very end of Mocking Bird; he "comes out," in the words of Scout. The third element in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic is our confrontation with evil incarnate, in the form of the white trash character of Bob Ewell. Ewell's character is revealed by Atticus Finch in his riveting courtroom speech in front of the entire town, all to no avail as the innocent black man Finch is defending dies anyway. Ewell later dies during his unsuccessful attempt at killing Jem and Scout Finch.

From the first page to the last, Lonely Hunter's characters struggle with (among other things) drunkenness, hints of homosexuality, and the isolation of disabled people, embedded within the grinding ugliness of Jim Crow. Author McCuthers' characters are imperfect, lonely creatures living broken lives. Yet, strangely, Lonely Hunter presents a much more empathetic, "deeper dig" into the lonely contradictions of human life, than what is offered by Mocking Bird. Lonely Hunter tells us that loneliness afflicts all people, it is an unhappy part of being human. Mocking Bird is a depiction of an ugly side of American life that white America has ignored for much too long. Mocking Bird is more of a moral lesson requiring our attention and correction, than statements of fact offered by Lonely Hunter, though both books are grounded in reality.

Lonely Hunter is, again, a more believable slice of life than Mocking Bird, which concludes with Scout nestled safely in the arms of the saintly Atticus, who is too perfect to be believed as portrayed by a trusting, idealistic child. Twenty years later, readers meet an altogether different Atticus through Scout who is now a fully grown adult In Harper Lee's second book, Go Set a Watchman. (Lee actually wrote Watchman first but did not publish it until very recently.) Scout recognizes her idealizing Atticus as a child and Atticus concedes as much to his disillusioned daughter. Like in the conclusion of The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Scout's feelings of betrayal and confusion are not resolved by the end of Watchman. The resigned uncertainty of life dominates the conclusion of both of these two books. The paradox of searching for truth inside our own separate, limited realities reigns supreme in the end.

An Evil
Thomas Brittendahl
SolaFide Publishing
Amazon Digital Publishing
B01BFZ5EWC, $0.99 Kindle,

Suzie Housley


Paul Bellomy, evangelical leader and head pastor of Riverwood Church, is committed to showing his congregation that evil does exist and that, as Christ followers, it is up to each believer to resist the wickedness trying to wreak havoc in our lives.

In Paul's own life Satan has made his presence known through Paul's family. Satan is intent on destroying everything that Paul holds dear. Will Paul's faith and love for God be enough to save him and those he loves.

AN EVIL presents a horrific look of how evil can destroy all that it finds in its path. This book provides an emotional chill as you turn each page. It will make believers out of any that evil is in existence, and that it is on a pathway of destruction that will stop at no one.

Thomas Brittendahl has written a magnificent fiction book filled with eye opening experiences. This is the type of book that upon starting it you don't really know what you will find, but as you dive deeper into the pages you see an author's talented work emerge. By far as a Book Reviewer I can't remember when I read a more heart pounding book that offers a gritty look into the sinister ways of evil. To say this book made an impact on me as a Reviewer is an understatement.

Just Needs Killin': A Hetta Coffey Mystery - Book Six
Jinx Schwartz
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
97815002295370, $13.99, Trade Paperback, 325 Pages,

Teri Davis

'Let me see if I have this straight. You agreed to meet some Japanese guy at a ritzy resort tonight, and attend a party with him in return for him funding your boyfriend's treasure expedition in Magdalena Bay?'

'It's not a tryst. Ishi just wants a, uh, well...someone by his side, like, you know, a hostess.'

Hetta is the type of person most of us would be honored to know. She's smart, almost too smart. She firmly believes in doing whatever is needed to be safe and to help her friends in any and every way possible. She is the type of person we all would love to know but you might want to keep your distance. Hetta has a magnetic attraction to danger. She always seems to be at the wrong places at the wrong times.

In this adventure, what could possibly go wrong? Hetta has been anchored her yacht in Mexico's Sea of Cortez. She is currently in Puerto Escondido when her gorgeous best friend, Jan who has arranged for the two of them to attend to a party at a luxury hotel. So for one night, these two ladies get to lead a glamorous life.

Yacht? Don't worry, this is Hetta's boat. She keeps it fairly banged-up with being in need of paint. Most people are not attracted to beaten-up yachts in good-working order. They expect yacht to be sleek and shiny. She also has a watchdog, Po Thang who is her constant boat mate.

The idea of living the life of luxury for a night is exciting. Jan looks like a model and easily attracts attention. Being loyal to her boyfriend, Hetta and her have an understanding to prevent either of them from getting into trouble. This party is at an elaborate resort. The two hope to meet a particular Japanese executive with the hopes to obtain funding for a treasure expedition in Magdalene Bay.

All seems to be going smoothly until they happen to discover the executive's head. Yes, he was decapitated.

What do you do when you are in over head and don't want to lose your head? You take pictures. Pictures are the perfect evidence that might be needed in the future.

Little does she know that this little action will cause her many problems including having her dog and aunt kidnapped. Realistically, she really only wants her dog returned, not her aunt. However, it is a package deal.

Jinx Schwarz written nine books with this being the sixth mystery featuring Hetta Coffey who seems to be the author's alter-ego. Like Hetta, she travels around the world on her yacht.

Hetta novels are fun. The intended audience is middle-aged women, most-likely those with empty nests. The characters are realistic and really do not look for trouble. Trouble just seems to find Hetta and her friends.

The novels are all well-organized and fast-paced. Everyone needs a fun read occasionally. Read any of Jinx's Hetta novels, especially Just Needs Killin'.

Churchill and the Islamic World: Orientalism, Empire and Diplomacy in the Middle East
Warren Dockter
I. B. Tauris & Company Ltd.
6 Salem Road, London, W2 4BU, UK
9781780768182, $40.00, Hardcover, 376 pages,

Zulfiqar Ali

Language: English

In the brief but cogent chapter "Conclusion" Warren Dockter admires Sir Winston Churchill for agreeing to work on the Islamic world with such stoic devotion and a far-sighted passion. Bearing in mind the "constantly changing and growing" circumstances, Sir Winston Churchill always came up with shrewd and practical solutions. Surely, Sir Winston Churchill deserves respect but as a British statesman. Even in this volume as in most others on the Middle East, the Western historians try to look at the region through their own eyes rather than the natives. Take the case of His Majesty King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud. Warren Dockter brings him in for a dialogue with Churchill. Surprisingly, neither Dockter nor the plenipotentiary acknowledge the role His Majesty played in stabilising the Gulf that connects with South, East and Central Asia and the Levant, opening out to Africa and Europe.

It was an open conflict between the Shias and Sunnis in and around the Shatt al-Arab, directly affecting the oil business of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The struggle for power was fuelled by the well-documented German and the British agents. The combined and separate writ of the Persian or the Turkish authorities was losing credibility. From Shatt al-Arab the belligerent unrest was spreading out to engulf the rest of the region. It was beyond the control of the authorities in Baghdad, Tehran and Hejaz. The so called "Sherifian brothers" of Hejaz had never proven their mettle of a reliable statesmanship. The Rashidis, Asiris and Yemeni's were a constant thorn in their flesh. When it became inevitable all they could do was to join the bandwagon of the Arab revolt led by T.E. Lawrence, followed by the expediency of the colonial interests. The only person who restored the Arab sense of selfhood and respect was His Majesty King Abdul Aziz. Sir Winston Churchill should have and Dockter should acknowledge this. From the "Malakand Expedition" (in which Churchill participated as "subaltern") to the Gulf and the Levant, the entire region was in a state of lawlessness. Only the Arabian Peninsula where His Majesty flourished, enjoyed stability. The route to power for Abdul Aziz was practical: a slow and steady tribal consensus throughout the Peninsula. The kingdom becomes the model and the plenipotentiaries in the region come to their senses, asserting legitimacy in their countries bearing in mind the traditional Arab mores'. Sir Winston deals with these realities on the ground using his wits rather than Aladin's lamp as Dockter implies by the phrase "Winston's Hiccups" (158).

For a young Winston Churchill the experience of having travelled as far as the north western border of Imperial India and having participated in the "expedition" against the most irreconcilable tribesmen in this harsh climate and rugged terrain, away from the cosy scholarly English elite culture, must have been a life-changing experience. Our "Dockter" should have captured the state of mind of this special genius. Just as the two - Lloyd George and Sir Winston Churchill interpreted the Middle-Eastern-cum-Indic affairs from their own individual perspectives, the natives of India especially the Hindus and the Muslims had nursed their own opinions about the British authorities. Within the establishment of the Raj in India there were those who supported the Gandhi-cum-Congress policy of the Akhand Bharat. This approach was counterbalanced by more realistic, the down-to earth one. Churchill was a genius observer of history who knew the way the forces of history worked themselves out inexorably. As Dockter explains, Churchill was right in supporting the cause of the Indian Muslims.

As a gifted military genius, Churchill had always acknowledged the stoic reliability of the Muslim soldiers of India. Churchill is on record as saying that with such and such a number of Muslim soldiers under his command, he could take on the toughest and the best equipped German army with confidence. Does our "Dockter" know this?

As a historian, Churchill knew quite well the habits and dispositions of the tribes straddling along the border between the "Imperial India" and Afghanistan. When we observe the 1897 "Malakand Expedition" in the light of the subsequent behaviour of these ferocious tribesmen, such as the Pathans, Swatis, Waziris, Mahsuds, Afridis, Bunerwalis, Chitralis and Gilgities, we note that to date they have remained the same. The strategy used by the British proved successful: a carrot and stick policy poised against the tribesmen's habit of hide and seek. Sir Winston Churchill could have been the architect of such a "frontier policy", among his like-minded office-bearers. Perhaps the Americans and the Allies could have saved many a precious lives and the exorbitant budgetary spending on defence had they learnt from the British experience, despite the warnings of the latter ever since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. Warren Dockter needs to highlight this.

Churchill's approaches to the dismemberment of the Ottoman empire and the creation of a new Turkey, as well as the coming into being of the state of Israel, are well-documented. Each and every point is supported by well-established archival source. In its depth and detail of research, Churchill and the Islamic World is as well-grounded as Setting the Desert on Fire by James Barr. During the admiralty (1911-15), Churchill tried his best to wean Turkey away from Germany, simply because of the Turkish hold on the Middle East. Churchill knew that because the Muslims had accepted the Turkish government as a Caliphate, they would react badly if the Allies challenged them. It was feared that the Muslim components of the British army might resort to rebellion if asked to fight against the Turks. Definitely, the Islamic contingents of the British army were reluctant to fight against the Turks. The use of oil by replacing coal also compelled the British to come to terms with the Turks in the region.

Dockter refers to the editorials of Sabah-ed-Din published by the British press expressing the Young Turk's desire "for an Anglo-Turkish alliance" (60). To curry the favours of the Turkish government, Churchill made sure that the former accept the two battleships, named Reshadieh and Sultan Osman I, as gifts from the Royal Navy. He kept on maintaining "neutrality" with Turkey unless the latter made the ominous decision and joined the Central Powers in October 1914. Towards the end of the war in early 1919 when Lloyd George permitted the Greeks army to annex the Turkish territories, Churchill staunchly opposed the action, demonstrating his bid for peace with Turkey. Besides the respect for the office of Caliphate by the Muslims, Churchill was getting wary of the rising tide of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Churchill feared an Islamic-Bolshevik alliance. Turkey and the Muslims in the region could prove to be the right allies as a bulwark against such an anarchist ideology. Churchil, therefore, was dismayed at the harsh treatment of Turkey by the Treaty of Se'vres. Smyrna and Thrace were awarded to Greece, Iraq became the British Protectorate and the fate of Palestine began to slip out of the hands of the Palestinian Arabs. Churchill warned that the Treaty would "condemn...the greater part of the Turkish Empire" to "anarchy and barbarism for an indefinite period" (95). He tried hard to persuade Lord Curzon and the prime minister so that they take all the confidence building measures when dealing with the new Turkish leader, Mustafa Kemal. In the same chapter we learn about the "colonial air-policing", which indeed was useful both in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Churchill found this to be a useful strategy for "policing only." The RAF's heavy bombing in the Anglo-Afghan War (May - August 1919) had compelled the Afghan combatants to sue for peace. Aerial control, thought Churchill, was a humane method used by a civilized people.

Sir Winston Churchill merged the India Office, the Colonial Office, and the Foreign Office into one department. This was a right decision permitting him to deal with the intricate and unwieldy Middle East - a swathe of immense territories, peoples and their chronic problems. Dockter gives us detailed information about the British cabinet and the way its members always nursed their own approaches in handling the colonial affairs. Churchill had always carried his day in the end. We also learn how T. E. Lawrence persuaded Churchill on the grand "Sherifian Solution" of the Middle East (133).Churchill, quotes Dockter, knew that "Britain could bring pressure to bear in one Arab country in which Sherifian prince reigned [in order] to achieve goals in a different region ruled by another family member" (134).

Churchill had risen to power on the basis of his exceptional talent, as had T. E. Lawrence. In the same region, the young Imam, Abdul Aziz was also demonstrating his versatile talent. Just as Churchill baulks at the united decision of the European Powers over Transjordan and Levant, the former along with T. E. Lawrence had no choice but to accommodate the reality of the Arabian Peninsula as ruled by King Abdul Aziz. Dockter remains silent on this aspect of the political reality.

Dockter believes that Churchill's handling of the Arab-Jew case shows his "more balanced understanding," exonerating him from the stigma of "a rabid imperialist and purely pro-Zionist policy maker" (156). Subsequent history, unfortunately, indicates that the policy of soft corner regarding the Palestinians had no place among the Chancelleries of Europe.

On the whole, Warren Dockter's work offers an interesting glimpse into that age and its politics, though had he compared the past with the present, his book could help us understand the far-sightedness of Sir Winston Churchill. The only problem that Churchill had was that he was surrounded by the British establishment of the time. Had he had the chance to meet and stay with the native leadership of the Middle East on their soil, a wise statesman like him could have come up with a more realistic solution of the Middle Eastern problems.

Hidden in Plainview
Gayl Teller
Cherry Grove Collections
POB 541106, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1106
9781625491589, $18.00, PB, 88pp,

Denis Gray

Hidden in Plainview is the second collection of poems I've read by poet Gayl Teller, former Nassau County Poet Laureate and the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association 2016 LI Poet of the Year. I was saddened to know that once I began reading the poems, there would have to be an ending. This feeling struck me more than once during the reading. Gayl Teller is a poet whose life experiences are so vast and real that they put you in the center of a well-lived life. Her poems are a study of her locality, Plainview, NY, that broadens out from its people to include their many cultures of influence. She paints a vista teeming with stories that are compelling; she's made me twist and turn with the sense of knowing: yes, these observations and insights are the essence of community! But it's the humanity in her work and her giant empathy that are truly remarkable. Take for example "Three Weavers," invoking the spirit's generosity and solitary goodness; "Bike Ride," a subtle introduction to Plainview through wise eyes and the heartbeat of knowing. The poems challenged me in ways that made me better because of them. And then there are the tour de force poems in which words seem to drop from the sky to the page, and the energy and rhythms are so dizzying and wondrous, I could levitate: "Memorial Day," "At an F.A. Meeting." And then there are fun poems: how about this image from "Dr. Tickles Makes Palace Calls"--"And Dr. Tickles/ on his shoe-cell in his office." What a force of nature Gayl Teller is!

Our Portion: New and Selected Poems
Philip Terman
Autumn House Press
87 1/2 Westwood Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15211
9781938769061, $19.95, 240 pages,

Sonja James, Reviewer
(original published in The Journal, a West Virginia newspaper, on August 13, 2015)

Philip Terman's "Our Portion: New and Selected Poems" is an amazingly rich and vibrant collection of poems. Terman regales us with poems rooted in the Jewish faith and tradition. The poems do not preach but instead instruct us in a way of seeing the world. They are lyrical and transcendant, exultant and poignant. He celebrates the natural world and human relationships with equal ease and grace. Terman's world is a gracious world, presided over by a God who loves not only us but creation in its entirety. The new poems in the collection are compelling to read and establish Terman's greatness as a poet.

From the moment we open this book, we realize we are in the presence of a great and generous mind. The opening poem, "Among the Scribes," sets the high-minded tone for the entire volume. Consider the opening line: "Didn't they tell you, all those sages,/that the promised land is this moment?" We are then immediately catapulted into Terman's definition of the promised land as he celebrates the beauty of the natural world: "Here, now, this late summer air, this dew-drenched field,/this thin filament of gossamer between an apple tree and an apple tree?/The almost unnoticeable blue jay feather in the unmown grass?"

At the poem's conclusion, he continues to address the unidentified "you," whom we might assume is himself as poet. He asks himself, "Are you adding to the law?/Are you composing your holy writ?/Don't we all want to translate each moment into the eternal?" The concluding line reinforces Terman's belief that all writing is a holy act: "And aren't even you among the scribes?"

In another lyric, "Gardener, Whistling," Terman paints a portrait of a woman gardener who whistles as she gardens. Never far from his Jewish faith, Terman compares her to "synagogue singers whose psalms/are never wholly absent from their lips."

Several poems celebrate his relationship with his daughter. In "Teaching My Daughter the Mourner's Kaddish," he labors to teach his daughter the Jewish prayer of mourning. In this poem, he himself mourns the end all the living face, and he says to his daughter: "child,/this is the one sad song I do not wish you to sing,/elegy of sorrow, gate of grief I would forbid you/to enter..."

In "With My Brother at Walden Pond," Terman explores his relationship with his brother by examining the parallel lives of Henry David Thoreau and Thoreau's brother.

Terman demonstrates his erudition in poems about other writers such as Sohrab Sepehri, Whitman, Proust, and James Wright. In "Searching for Whitman," a poem in two parts, he reads Whitman to a friend who is dying. When the woman requests another poem, he labors to satisfy her needs: "and I leaf for the exact words that will save her."

In "Canine Buddha," he mourns the death of the family dog: "In losing a dog we lose the era that included the dog." The dog is cremated: "Only scientists could figure out a way to reduce/your colossal presence into our tin container - so we could.../lift you up and scatter you into every surrounding scent."

In the lovely "Spring Lexicon," he returns to the natural world as he writes of "two robins in the churchyard." Once again, we find the theme of the sacredness of nature: "Don't they know they are on sacred ground?/That just a few feet beyond, a choir is chorusing against the body?"

In the title poem, "Our Portion," he again directs us to the natural world: "Where will the butterfly lean our attention/as it skitters lightly/across the tip-tops of the cornstalks?" He concludes, "We are not nothing. We are transmigratory souls."

These are just a few highlights from this consistently high quality book. The poems in Philip Terman's "Our Portion: New and Selected Poems" are so evocative and beautiful that I yearn for the time and space to comment on each and every poem. This book is truly magnificent and is undoubtedly one of the finest books of poetry ever written. In short, "Our Portion" is a classic in the making and should be read by all serious students of literature.

The Spider and the Stone: A Novel of Scotland's Black Douglas
Glen Craney
Brigid's Fire Press
432 pages
ISBN-10: 0981648401
ISBN-13: 9780981648408 $14.99 PB / $7.99 Kindle/Nook/Kobo/ITunes

Cynthia Robertson, Reviewer

The other Indie that grabbed my attention (and pretty much wouldn't relinquish it till I had licked my finger and turned the last page) is The Spider and the Stone, by Glen Craney. Set during the time of Scotland's struggles with England and its iron-fisted ruler, Edward Longshanks, Craney's novel is a saga that spans the English Channel, and goes from the chill tower strongholds of Scotland to the grand courts of Edward I and King Philip IV of France. He gleefully leads readers into a believable medieval world where a king's displeasure can get a room full of women palpably terrified for their lives (and the reader with them) as Longshanks - as diabolical a villain as any reader could want - decides whether to lock them up or hang them out in a metal basket to brave the elements and missiles hurled by any passerby. Its chock-a-block full of intrigue, battles, romance and subterfuge, and at times made my heart stutter with terror for its two protagonists, as they sought to save those they loved, possibly find a little happiness together, and survive one of early England's most tumultuous periods. If you enjoy historicals mixed with a little myth and magic, this one's a fun read.

The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery-Thriller
Glen Craney
Brigid's Fire Press
406 pages
ISBN-10: 0981648428
ISBN-13: 9780981648422
$14.99 PB / $7.99 Kindle/Nook/Kobo/ITunes

Joseph Henderson, Reviewer
Quarterdeck Magazine

Glen Craney spins an epic end-of-the-world mystery that reaches across nearly six centuries, from the present day back to the mid fifteenth century and the Age of Exploration, eventually leading to the real identity of Christopher Columbus and his relationship to the biblically prophesied rapture.

It's complicated, but it's an exciting journey across time, with more twists and turns than a strawberry Twizzler. Stunned by her fiance's murder, American State Department attorney Jacqueline Quartermane travels to Ethiopia to investigate, and becomes embroiled with an antiquities thief. In 1452, three young men, members of Portugal's Order of Christ, under the leadership of Prince Henry the Navigator, enter into a plot to discover India and her riches before the Spanish. Or is this really their intent? Woven into this intricate tale are secret agents, Queen Isabella, death, and serial betrayals.

Craney has produced a page-turning adventure, with crisp, clean and measured prose, a reflection on his past work as a screenwriter, journalist and lawyer. The research behind the stories is massive, lending credence to the cast of characters and authenticity to the historic periods. This is a highly recommended historical thriller in the manner of Dan Brown.

The Yanks Are Starving: A Novel of the Bonus Army
Glen Craney
Brigid's Fire Press
562 pages
ISBN-10: 0981648444
ISBN-13: 9780981648446 $17.99 PB / $7.99 Kindle/Nook/Kobo/ITunes

Joseph Spuckler, Reviewer
Author Alliance

World War I is my favorite period of history to read about because so much of what the twentieth century became can be directly tied to the war. From standing armies, communism, mechanized warfare, alliances, and the rise of the United States are a result of the war. By the end of the century the Serbs would draw Europe into limited fighting, Russia would become a country again, and artificial borders created after the war would vanish. It was the beginning of the modern times. Initially, I was expecting a short novel covering that single page in history books about Hoovervilles and McArthur facing off against the WWI vets protesting in Washington DC. Admittedly, this incident is barely mentioned in history books and probably has escaped most American's historical memory. There is a reason for this. Not only is it part of the deep depression, it is also a national embarrassment. Probably the first in a long line. I remember the treatment Vietnam veterans received coming home and how problems reintegrating into society were ignored. I also remember Gulf War Syndrome being called a hoax, and I don't seem to see many "I Support the Troops" flags or car magnets any more. The Bonus Army was the first of many lessons in the disposability of military veterans after they served their purpose.

I was a little surprised to see this book had nearly six hundred pages to cover a single event. The surprise, it turns out, was very pleasant. The Yanks are Starving covers three decades through the eyes of eight major characters and a few supporting ones. There are supporting characters like a young Eisenhower, Smedley Butler, George Patton, and James "Big Jim" Reese Europe. Of the main characters, Herbert Hoover is a compassionate man who reminds me much of Jimmy Carter both as during and before his presidency. Douglas Macarthur is shown on a personal side much different than his image in World War II and Korea. There are two common working class characters Joe Angelo and Walter W Waters who are drawn together by WWI. Anna Raber, a Mennonite, experiences WWI as a nurse in Europe. Ozzie Taylor, a black street musician, and Pelham Glassford, a West Point plebe, round out the sexes, races, and classes of America.

Reading advance praise for the book I saw a glowing review by a Marine veteran. As a Marine veteran myself, that peaked my interest since Marines are mostly interested in Marine Corps history. I found out quickly the Marines had their role in this story. The book opens with Smedley Butler in China during the Boxer Rebellion and the Marines role expands through the last major character in the novel Floyd Gibbons, a reporter from the Minnesota Star. It was only last year I found out about Floyd Gibbons. He is responsible for immortalizing the second most important Marine Corps' event after the raising of the flag at Mount Suribachi - The Battle of Belleau Woods.

One problem I typically find in historical fiction is that the author will take an event and choose and discard events that he wants to include and exclude from history. Basically uses what he needs to fabricate a good story. In the end, many novels end up no more accurate than a "based on a true story" television movie. Craney manages to keep history honest and, although a few characters are fictional and conversations cannot be verified, there is little need to fact check his work.

As I mentioned above the history is accurate, but it is the storytelling that pulls you in. The writing, flow of the story, and characters make The Yanks are Starving very difficult to put down. Craney does an outstanding job at bringing the history to life and keeping it alive. There isn't that usual long dry spot in the middle of the novel that the reader feels obligated to trudge through. The Yanks are Starving is event and character driven. When some of the characters are having down time the reader is quickly switched over to another character or group of characters, and there is no filler in nearly six hundred pages of the novel.

Although the book centers around mostly the army and army veterans, there is enough Marine Corps in this book to keep any Marine veteran reading. I will admit to being drawn into this story and thoroughly enjoying it, although I usually avoid military novels that do not center around the Marines. This is also much more than a military book. It is about American classes, race, the sexes, and the role of government and the military. It is also a story about threats to America, real or imagined, and the changes in American culture. Craney has written an outstanding social and military historical novel of the United States covering the crossing over from the nineteenth century mentality into the twentieth century. Simply put, an outstanding novel.

Indian Giver
John E. Smelcer
Leapfrog Press LLC
PO Box 505, Fredonia, NY 14063
9781935248804, $14.00, PB, 132pp,

Dale E. Seeds, Reviewer
Professor of Theatre, The College of Wooster, Wooster, OH

When we were kids in the late 50's, when the only screen in the house was black and white, housed in a mammoth wooden cabinet emblazoned with names like Motorola or Muntz, we played Cowboys and Indians, and we traded. We traded everything from baseball cards, to model cars and airplanes. Once in awhile, a deal would go sour and someone felt cheated or "traders remorse", and they wanted his or her precious possession back. Inevitably, that person was called an "Indian Giver." An "Indian Giver" was someone how welched on a deal, who got cold feet and wanted their stuff back. Once your were branded an Indian giver, no one would trade with you, you weren't to be trusted.

To my ten-year old brain, this seemed like an odd term. I didn't know any Indians, let alone any who wanted something back they traded for. I never heard John Wayne, or Randolph Scott use the term. This irony is not wasted on John Smelcer's recently released collection of poems by the same name- Indian Giver.

The poems represent the current arc of Smecler's poetry over the past nearly 25 years. Some have appeared in earlier collections such as Without Reservation (2004). Others have appeared in publications too numerous to mention here.

Many of the poems are carefully crafted, with the deft brush strokes of an artist. "An Indian Boy Dreams of Being Billy Mills" and "Durable Breath" for example. Others seem almost causal and quick; as if they were images taken on the fly with a cell phone camera, instantly inspired, quick, rough edged and brutally funny. This is not to take anything away from their truths. Its as if Raven himself had a Nikon and an IPhone. To laugh is to survive, and poems like "The Alternate History of the United States of America" for example, give us permission to laugh at Columbus's hypothetical U-turn back to Spain.

Indeed, reading Smelcer's poetry is a lot like looking at an album of cleverly arranged photos. They record images of their characters lives, some painful, sharply focused, brightly illuminated in truth, other are blurry and a little out of focus or crooked. Some are spontaneous snapshots, framed oddly, missing a head, foot or an arm, reflecting the uncertainty of the subject and the poet who tries to capture it. Regardless of their form or subject, they all represent the world of someone navigating the minefield between two cultures. See " An Indian Poet Apologizes for His Color" "Jimmie Stands - Too-Tall and "Reservation Roulette" if you need proof.

There is also something performative about this collection. It begins with a curtain warmer, "The Book of Genesis, Revised for American Indian History." Smelcer's Christian-framed commentary on the general state of Indian affairs lets us know what we're in for. Halfway through the collection is an Intermission. Here, Smelcer gives us a chance to catch our breath, head to the kitchen or insert a bookmark and save the rest for another day. The collection closes with the author standing solo in the metaphorical spotlight, addressing us with "Autobiography" and "Skins"

Nothing much escapes Smelcer's lens. Certainly some of the poems resonate with other works and events, riffing on common themes until they create melodies of their own..

Finally, there is an accuracy of place in his works that I can personally verify, like the cold wind off the glacial silt-grey Copper River. Or a drive down the rutted Herbert Smelcer Avenue to the family's BIA land allotment and fish camp, or feeling like a trespasser standing at the picket fenced graveyard he mentions in "Riversong."

Smelcer's poems are for the taking, and he doesn't want them back. They're ours to keep with their satire, outrageously dark humor, and healing doses of pain. It's up to us to decide to own them or not.

Alma's Bookshelf

Mary Lincoln's Flannel Pajamas
Feather Schwartz Foster
Koehler Books
210 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781633932180, $16.95 PB, 248pp,

Feather Schwartz Foster's 'Mary Lincoln's Flannel Pajamas" is a charming book that adds delightful new material to what is known of the the lives and careers of U.S. First Ladies from Martha Washington to Mamie Eisenhower. The book gives fresh insight into their lives, accomplishments, and relationships with their husbands, and demonstrates how each woman developed the job of First Lady to meet her own needs and personality. Despite the fact that the book is written in an easily read, humorous, original style, it is an extremely well researched scholarly work .

What is most delightful about the book is that Foster makes human beings out of cardboard historical figures. For example. Martha Washington was not born and bred to be a fine lady, but was born gentry, who was expected to be a hands-on person, rather than one to be waited on. She never presented herself otherwise, and greeted new guests who included the creme of Norristown New Jersey in a coarse work apron. The colonies supported a non-importation pact, and vowed not to buy their clothes from Great Britain .Although the death of her first husband left Martha a very wealthy woman (which greatly contributed to Washington's election), she never wore finery, British or otherwise, and continued to make many of her own clothes. Her days were spent knitting and sewing for her husband and the soldiers and visiting field hospitals.

Who has ever given a thought to doing laundry in the White House? Well, Abigail Adams, for one. Unlike the wealthy Martha Washington, Abigail did all her own housework, and turned the giant East Room into a drying room. Foster states, "One can easily picture the First lady hanging out her bedsheets and petticoats and John's drawers.' (P. 28).

A similar White House story concerns Mrs. Herbert Hoover. When giving a bridal shower for her secretary, the First Lady hung a clothesline across the great East Room a la Mme Adams, and invited all her guests to hang their unwrapped gifts of linens, sheets, towels, etc. for all to see.

Foster's book gives many previously unknown facts, at least to me, the author of a number of books about First Ladies. Although Herbert Hoover was the first president of my life, neither I nor anyone else seemed to give a thought one way or another to his wife, Lou. To my surprise I learned in Foster's book that the quiet, unassuming Lou Hoover had co-authored a translation of a Renaissance treatise on mining, written in Latin, no less, which brought her many accolades in geological circles. Foster's description of Lou interested me enough to order a copy of Dr. Helen Pryor's book, Lou Henry Hoover, Gallant First Lady, which I am looking forward to reading.

Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison, was the Jackie Kennedy of her day. She was blessed with a personal magnetism difficult to describe. ( Meryl Streep in today's world has a similar quality. Like Meryl, when Dolley was in a room, one could not focus on anyone else present). She loved bright colors. Her favorite was yellow, so of course yellow soon papered the nation. She was so charismatic that Foster tells us Dolley "could have worn a flowerpot and it would have been all the rage" (P.8). Mrs. Madison had a superb sense of style and an unerring sense of what went well together. Like Jackie, Dolley's tastes were simple but stylish. Knowing she was always in the spotlight and that whatever she wore would be reported, she made it a point to accentuate her role as a lady of fashion.

Mrs. Madison sat at the head of the table at festive affairs, relieving her shy husband of hosting responsibilities. The socially talented First Lady had a true gift for diplomacy. At one dinner she entertained both the Minister of France and the Minister of England, when the two countries were at war against each other. Dolley seated one minister to her right and the other on her left. Under any other circumstances, the two ministers would not even be in the same room together, let alone at the same table.

Her close friends included both men and women, and all spoke of her with the highest praise. Even when she grew old and her clothes were out of fashion, she remained as popular and beloved as ever. President Madison was indeed a lucky man.

One does not generally think of the gruff General and President Ulysses S. Grant as a loving family man. It seems that supposition is incorrect. Julia Grant suffered from a "wandering eye." She was all set to have it operated on, when she received the following letter from President Grant:

Dear Julia,

I don't want to have your eyes fooled with. They are all right as they are. They look just as they did the very first time I ever saw them - the same eyes I looked into when I fell in love with you- the same eyes that looked up into mine and told me that my love was returned...

Julia immediately unpacked her suitcase and cancelled her appointment with the doctor. She never had her eye muscle repaired.

I found this incident very touching, and will never again think of Grant as simply a staid general and President of the United States.

One of the quotes attributed to the usually unquotable First Lady Bess Truman was her answer to what she thought the most important task of a First Lady should be. She said, "To sit beside her husband, keep still, and make sure her hat is on straight" (p.215). Like President Grant, President Harry S. Truman was a loving husband. I like what he said about his wife, when her looks were criticized. He said, "She looks exactly like what a woman of her age ought to look like" (p.215).

Feather Schwartz Foster's Mary Lincoln's Flannel Pajamas is a delicious, highly readable book, which is thoroughly researched and written with humor and style. It is chock full of otherwise unknown bits of history. It will be beloved by history students and those who devour interesting non-fiction. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.

Romaine Brooks: A Life
Cassandra Langer
The University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe St., 3rd fl., Madison, Wisconsin 53711
9780299298609, $26.95, HC, 288pp,

Romaine Brooks: A Life, by Cassandra Langer, is a classic. Art historian Dr. Cassandra Langer spent close to fifty years studying and researching the artist, and has succeeded in rescuing Romaine Brooks from relative obscurity and restoring her to her rightful place in art history. The book adds new material to the life and career of Romaine Brooks, offers fresh insight into her life and art, and defies the characterizations given her by previous biographers. In my opinion, in years to come, when Romaine Brooks is mentioned, Cassandra Langer's book will be given as the quintessential authority on the subject.

Langer was first fascinated as a young woman by Brooks. Her first encounter with Brooks self-portrait of 1923 took her by complete surprise, in one of those serendipitous occurrences that change one's life forever. She had gotten off the wrong floor on an elevator in a department store, and came upon Brooks' self portrait hanging there. Langer went into a state of shock, from which she has never fully recovered. It was the first time she had ever seen a lesbian presented positively. All the books about lesbians she had read as a young woman portrayed tragic creatures who either had to live without the women they loved (The Well of Loneliness), or ended up killing themselves, as in The Children's Hour. Biographers sometimes speak of a "love affair" with their subject, and Langer feels similarly. While other writers admit to an intense dislike to previously admired figures on uncovering disturbing personality flaws. Langer says that she also had that experience, and as such is no different from most biographers. Her relationship with Brooks evolved over time, as Langer went in and out of loving and hating the artist, depending on what aspect of her personality and beliefs Langer was researching at the time.

Langer started out totally enamored of Romaine. She knew nothing about her or her life. Over time she learned more than she perhaps wanted to know. She soon found Brooks' elitism distasteful, and her conservatism in direct opposition to Langer's progressive politics, as she was Jewish and Romaine was a bigot, if not an anti-Semite. Moreover, she had been accused of being a fascist sympathizer. Langer found her hero marred with human flaws, as well as politically naive, and had to struggle with ambivalence throughout the research and writing of the book. To the author's relief, she discovered that although Brooks' opinions were fascist, there was never a single thing she did to carry out the aims of Fascism. So Langer ended up admiring Brooks' genius, with a fuller understanding of her life choices and how little she cared about the opinions of others or the politics of her times.

Romaine's childhood and early life:

Beatrice Romaine Goddard was born in Rome, Italy on May 1, 1874, the youngest of three children of the wealthy Americans, Ella Waterman Goddard and Major Henry Goddard. Romaine's maternal grandfather was the multi-millionaire, Isaac S. Waterman, Jr. Romaine's parents were divorced when she was small, and she saw very little of her father after that. The child was raised by her mother, who was psychologically unstable and abused her emotionally while doting on her favorite child, Romaine's mentally ill brother, St. Mar, who also abused her. When Romaine was seven years old, her mother dumped her on a poor family who lived in a New York City slum, and then disappeared and stopped making the agreed-upon payments. The family kindly continued to care for Beatrice anyway, although they sank deeply into poverty. She refused to tell them where her grandfather lived, because she was afraid of being sent back to her mother. Miserable as her surroundings were, she preferred living in the slums with the impoverished laundress to being with her mother.

The foster family finally managed to locate Romaine's grandfather, who sent her to study for several years at St. Mary's Hall, an Episcopal boarding school . She later attended a convent school, in between the times she spent living with her mother, who constantly moved around Europe. In adulthood she spoke of herself during those years as a "child-martyr."

In 1893 at the age of 19, Goddard left her family and went to Paris. While there, she was given a meager allowance from her stingy millionaire mother. The stipend enabled her to take voice lessons, and for a time she sang in a cabaret. She then moved to Rome to study art. As the only female student in her life class, where it was quite unusual for women to be permitted to draw from nude models, Goddard encountered a great deal of sexual harassment. Once a fellow student left a book open on her seat with pornographic passages underlined. She picked up the book and hurled it at him. That was the last time she was bothered by him.

In the summer of 1899 Goddard rented a studio in the poorest section of the Isle of Capri, where she lived very cheaply. She studied art in Paris for a short time, but didn't have enough money to live on. After several months of near starvation, she broke down physically. In 1901 her brother St. Mar died. Despite her animosity to her grief-stricken mother, Romaine returned home to care for her. She died less than a year later. Romaine never really recovered from their deaths. She was 28 when she and her sister inherited the large estate their grandfather had left, which made them independently wealthy. Thus Romaine was able to continue her work as an artist for the rest of her life without financial worries.

Brooks never recovered from her mother's rejection, and as late as 1958 wrote, "My mother gets between me and life." Romaine's birth marked the beginning of an extremely long life. She died on December 7, 1970, at the age of 98. Knowing the sad childhood she lived through makes one wonder how she found the wherewithal to live so long. I have observed that many children who had seemingly impossible childhoods live to be quite old. Does surviving the slings and arrows of a haunted childhood condition one to withstand whatever horrors arise later in life? I believe that enduring a childhood unmarked by the love of her mad mother and saturated with mean treatment by both her mother and insane brother, toughened Romaine enough to allow her to survive all the horrors, including the Holocaust and the war, that long life brought to her.

Her love life:

Natalie Barney was the love of Romaine Brooks' life. They were lovers for fifty years. They met in their forties and stayed together until the last four or five years of their lives. Both lived until their late 90's.

The poet Natalie Barney was born in 1876 in Dayton Ohio. She had literally hundreds of lovers in her lifetime. In 1900, at the age of twenty-four, she published her first collection of poems, Some Portrait-Sonnets of Women. She was the first woman poet since Sappho to openly write about women who loved women. When her father read the book, he purchased every copy and paid the printer to destroy all the plates. Natalie then moved to Paris, where she was able to publish ten more books. For sixty years she was famous for holding a weekly salon that was the center not only of lesbian social life but also the literary culture of the city.

Barney spoke out in favor of multiple relationships and against jealousy. In Eparpillements she wrote, "One is unfaithful to those one loves in order that their charm does not become mere habit." Natalie felt free to love as she felt, and usually had more than one intimate relationship at a time, with the consent of everyone involved.

Barney's longest relationship was with Romaine Brooks, who tolerated Barney's casual affairs and even had a few of her own over the years, although she became jealous whenever a new love of Natalie's grew serious. While Brooks loved Barney deeply, she refused to live with her as a full-time couple. She disliked Paris, and hated Barney's constant socializing, feeling that she was only fully herself when alone. The two women built a summer home with two separate wings, leaving Natalie free to love as she pleased. Brooks also spent many months each year in Italy or elsewhere in Europe, without Barney. They remained lovers for over fifty years, but Romaine ended the relationship during the last few years of their lives, when Natalie took her nurse, who was some twenty years young, as a lover. After the two began their affair, Brooks refused to accept all of Natalie's love letters, flowers and correspondence for the rest of their lives. Romaine died in 1970. Barney died in 1972.

Her art:

During Romaine's lifetime, women were systematically excluded from the ranks of artists, and were not included in exhibitions of art. They were known as "lady artists," a term Brooks vehemently objected to because it allowed critical consideration only between women artists. In 1904 Romaine Brooks became dissatisfied with her work, especially the bright colors she had used in her early paintings. She moved to Cornwall where she endlessly watched the sea with its interminable range of greys. She was drawn to this palette at a time when Post-Impressionists and Fauvists were moving toward much more colorful shades. Her aim was to simplify everything she saw and get down to the essence of each subject. She also was determined to portray the feminine rather than the masculine characteristics of lesbians. She was in a melancholy state of mind after her brother and mother died within a year of each other, and also because her marriage to John Ellingham Brooks had broken up. As a result, she felt like an eternally grieving lost child. The monochromatic pallet suited her mood and she discovered in it an endless variation of grays that expressed her creativity.

She specialized in portraiture and ignored contemporary artistic trends such as Cubism and Fauvism. She drew instead on the Symbolist and Aesthetic movements of the nineteenth century, especially the works of James McNeill Whistler. Brooks often painted people she was close to, such as the Italian writer and politician Gabriele D'Annunzio, the Russian dancer Ida Rubinstein, and, of course, Natalie Barney.

According to Robert de Montesqurou, Brooks' portraits had the uncanny power to "steal the souls of her models." Langer stated, (p. 86) "Brooks is a contradiction. She is modern because she uses traditional forms and structures but never gives us a traditional story." Brooks is best known for her images of women in androgynous or masculine dress, including her self-portrait of 1923, her best known work, the painting that forever changed the life of Cassandra Langer.

Cassandra Langer's Romaine Brooks: A Life, is a beautifully written, absorbing, highly readable book. It captures the reader's interest immediately and swiftly carries him or her through the incredible story of Romaine Brooks's life. I cannot imagine any reader putting down the book before finishing it. Romaine Brooks, a Life should be required of every artist and art historian the world over.

Dr. Alma H. Bond

Andrea's Bookshelf

Roadside Geology of Southern California
Arthur Gibbs Sylvester and Elizabeth O'Black Gans
Mountain Press Publishing Company
PO Box 2399, Missoula, MT 59806
9780878426539 $26.00

Part of the "Roadside Geology" series that makes amazing science accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Roadside Geology of Southern California explores the rocks and landscapes of California's rugged terrain. Featuring striking color maps, photographs, or diagrams on almost every page, Roadside Geology of Southern California will enrich field trips, vacations, or simple armchair browsing! Highly recommended.

Teddy Bear Subtraction
Barbara Barbieri McGrath, author
Tim Nihoff, illustrator
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781580894265 $17.95 hc / $6.99 Kindle

Teddy Bear Subtraction is a children's picturebook that uses illustrations of colored gummy bears to teach young people about the basics of subtraction, including the simple concepts of "sets", "greater than", and "less than". The last couple pages even cover how children can use the technique of "borrowing" when performing a subtraction equation such as 37 - 19. Easy-to-follow and educational, Teddy Bear Subtraction might even teach adults a thing or two! (Did you know what the "minuend" and the "subtrahend" of a subtraction equation are?) Highly recommended, especially for public and grade school library collections, and also for parents who want to help their child get a head start in math class!

You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?!
Jonah Winter & Barry Blitt
Schwartz & Wade Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
9780375870132 $17.99 hc
9780375987489 $10.99 ebook

Ideal for young readers ages 4-8, You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?! is a children's picturebook about legendary baseball team manager Casey Stengel, who guided the careers of superstars such as Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, and led the New York Yankees to a record-breaking ten pennants and seven World Series wins in twelve years. Chapters capture not only his talent for strategy, but also his mischievous, prankster side, and even the day he simply forgot to wear pants when he walked on the field! You Never Heard of Casey Stengel?! is an excellent addition to public and grade school children's library collections.

The Secret Path
Nancy Gee, author
Kathleen Newman, illustrator
Ampersand, Inc.
1050 North State Street, Chicago, Illinois 60610
9780996252546 $18.95

The sequel to "The Secret Drawer", "The Secret Path" is a rhyming picturebook that continues the adventures of flying squirrels Al and Sal. (Al is male, and Sal is female). In "The Secret Drawer" Al and Sal Together, the decide to pay a return visit to the friends they met before. But when an accident puts Sal in danger, can any of the forest animals help her before it's too late - or will rescue come from someone else? Playful, charming, and enriched with gentle color illustrations The Secret Path is an excellent choice for storytime. Also highly recommended is the award-winning first picturebook in the series, "The Secret Drawer" (9780990560319, $18.95).

Samira and the Skeletons
Camilla Kuhn
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854636 $16.00

Intended for young people ages 5 to 8, Samira and the Skeletons is a picturebook about a young girl coming to grips with the facts she learns school. When Samira learns that she has a skeleton inside her (like all people do!), she is horrified. Skeletons are terrifying things - or are they? She starts to imagine everyone in her school as a walking skeleton. Can Samira escape her own skeleton - or should she? The exaggerated, silly color artwork adds just the right touch to this delightful view-askew picturebook!

Andrea Kay

Bethany's Bookshelf

The Dark Days Club: A Novel
Alison Goodman
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9780670067534 $23.99 hc / $10.99 Kindle

Synopsis: London, April 1812. On the eve of 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall's presentation to the Queen, one of her family's housemaids disappears--and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes?

Critique: Both teen adult (recommended grades 8 and up) and adult readers will enjoy this nuanced saga of intrigue and dark fantasy. Lady Helen Wrexhall is a shrewd and courageous young woman, whose inner heroism is tested by dangers seen and unseen! Highly recommended for both public library collections and personal reading lists.

Successful Philanthropy
Jean Shafiroff
Hatherleigh Press
c/o The Hatherleigh Foundation
62545 State Highway 10, Hobart, NY 13788
9781578266173, $15.00, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: "Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give" by American philanthropist Jean Shafiroff is a practical guide to modern giving that redefines philanthropy for today's era. Far more than making monetary donations, philanthropy today encompasses giving time and knowledge, resources that can be just as valuable as financial contributions. Whether you're a new philanthropist, a member of a charity's Board of Directors, or just getting started as a volunteer, Successful Philanthropy offers the practical guidance and inspiring perspective that empowers all of us to take part in building a better world.

The possibilities of philanthropy are almost limitless. "Successful Philanthropy" removes the guesswork and helps you shape your own personal path, providing much-needed insight and guidance into making philanthropy a lasting part of your life. Learn to identify your passions and interests and discover how they can guide your philanthropic work. Find the best ways to choose a charity that will offer personal fulfillment while also making the best use of your contribution to the cause of your choice. A comprehensive guide, "Successful Philanthropy" provides details on all aspects of philanthropy, including what most boards look for in a candidate and, for those who are thinking of starting a charity, specific information on what anyone ought to know before venturing in that direction.

Though philanthropy is a big word, it can be practiced in small ways anywhere, and anyone can become a part of building lasting change. "Successful Philanthropy" discusses the importance of teaching the next generation the value of giving in schools and at home to improve our community, our country, and our world.

Giving back to those in need is among the most rewarding and self-fulfilling parts of being human. "Successful Philanthropy" invites you to explore the many ways that you can find fulfillment through a lifetime of philanthropic giving.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, it could be argued that philanthropist Jean Shafiroff's "Successful Philanthropy: How to Make a Life By What You Give" is one of her more extraordinary and impressive acts of philanthropy. Informed and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone and content, "Successful Philanthropy" is a practical, comprehensive, and pragmatic instructional guide that is very strongly recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Successful Philanthropy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Some Women
Emily Liebert
New American Library
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451471888, $15.00, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Annabel Ford has everything under control, devoting her time to her twin boys and keeping her household running smoothly. But when her husband of a decade announces that he's leaving, she's blind-sided. And suddenly her world begins to unravel. Piper Whitley has always done her best to balance it all - raising her daughter Fern by herself while advancing her career as a crime reporter. Only now that she's finally met the man of her dreams, Fern's absentee father shows up, throwing everything into a tailspin. Married to the heir of a thriving media conglomerate, Mackenzie Mead has many reasons to count her blessings. But with an imperious mother-in-law - who's also her boss - and a husband with whom she can no longer seem to connect, something has to give. On the surface, these three women may not have much in common, but just when they each need someone to lean on, their lives are thrust together, forming unlikely friendships that help each woman navigate her new reality.

Critique: Another terrifically entertaining and original novel from the pen of Emily Liebert, "Some Women" is an extraordinarily well written, deftly crafted, and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library General Fiction collections. It should be noted that "Some Women" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99). Also highly recommended, especially for those unfamiliar with Emily Liebert, is her earlier novel "Those Secrets We Keep" (NAL, 9780451471871, $15.00 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 336pp).

This Chair Rocks
Ashton Applewhite
Networked Books
9780996934701, $15.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: From childhood on, we're barraged by messages. Author and activist Ashton Applewhite believed from childhood that it was sad to be old. That wrinkles are embarrassing, and old people useless them too. Then as an adult Ashton realized where this prejudice comes from and the damage it does. Lively, funny, and deeply researched, "This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism" traces Applewhite's journey from apprehensive boomer to pro-aging radical, and in the process debunks myth after myth about late life. "This Chair Rocks" explains the roots of ageism in history and in our own age denial and how it divides and debases, examines how ageist myths and stereotypes cripple the way our brains and bodies function, looks at ageism in the workplace and the bedroom, exposes the cost of the all-American myth of independence, critiques the portrayal of elders as burdens to society, describes what an all-age-friendly world would look like, and concludes with a rousing call to action. It's time to create a world of age equality by making discrimination on the basis of age as unacceptable as any other kind. Whether you re older or hoping to get there, "This Chair Rocks" will shake you by the shoulders, cheer you up, make you mad, and change the way you see the rest of your life.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism" by Ashton Applewhite is on of those life-affecting, life-changing, life-enhancing, life-transforming reads that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself is finished and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "This Chair Rocks" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Reluctantly Related Revisited
Deanna Brann, Ph.D.
Ambergris Publishing
9780988810020, $15.95, PB, 186pp,

Synopsis: "Reluctantly Related Revisited: Breaking Free of the Mother-in-Law/Daughter-in-Law Conflict" by clinical psychotherapist Deanna Brann explores the conflict that frequently arises in the mother-in-law (MIL)/daughter-in-law (DIL) relationship. Women everywhere know that the MIL/DIL relationship can be one of the most complex and difficult relationships they experience. Based on years of research and packed full of timely examples, "Reluctantly Related Revisited" highlights the issues and struggles created in the MIL/DIL relationship that add to the many disagreements frequently arising within families.

Critique: Impressively well written, exceptionally well organized and presented, including detailed action steps to overcome conflict and build a long-lasting healthy rapport with an in-law, "Reluctantly Related Revisited" is a must-read for every woman who is a daughter-in-law and for every woman who is a mother-in-law. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Reluctantly Related Revisited" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

A Measure of Light
Beth Powning
Vintage Canada
c/o Penguin Random House Canada
320 Front Street West, Suite 1400, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5V 3B6
9780345808493, $16.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: Mary Dyer is a seventeenth-century Puritan who flees persecution in England, only to find the colony of Massachusetts Bay as dangerous as the country she left behind. Though she is the wife of a successful merchant and mother to their children, she becomes stigmatized following a birth gone terribly wrong and is reviled as a friend to the infamous heretic Anne Hutchinson. Mary tries to accept New England's harsh realities, but is outraged by the cold-hearted Puritan magistrates, with their doctrinaire stranglehold on church and state, their subjugation of women, their wars against the natives in the surrounding territories and their vicious treatment of any who challenge their rule.

Mary becomes one of America's first Quakers. As both outcast and privileged citizen, caught between the callings of faith and the ambitions of her husband, she comes to the realization that she must follow her convictions in order to bring an end to the brutal repression of the Quakers in Massachusetts, for whom death by hanging is the ultimate punishment.

Critique: A deftly constructed, impressively well written, and thoroughly entertaining read from beginning to end, "A Measure of Light" reveals author Beth Powning's extraordinary skills as a novelist. Very highly recommended for community library American Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Measure of Light" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Shelby's Way...Maybe
Katherine Mitchell
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
9781457544132, $12.95, PB, 214pp,

Synopsis: Shelby is a stunning beauty, a young mother whose husband, a Hollywood stuntman, runs off with a rich glamorous older woman. On her own, Shelby is raising 8-year old Pamela and goes to work to make ends meet. She is naive, unaware of her luminous beauty and easy-going charms neither of which goes unnoticed by men, even a world famous novelist who sets his eyes on her. She meets an irresistibly handsome and successful attorney who instantly takes up residence under her skin. Her topsy-turvy world is grounded by motherhood. Into this curious limbo where all that is required of Shelby is not to do anything she would regret, enters Marc, a successful screenwriter and former family friend who, with his final divorce decree in hand comes calling. Because of Shelby, the lives of the three men intersect and interact in surprising ways as their just comeuppance is served. Where is the love? Who is the future?

Critique: Another terrific romance novel from the pen of Katherine Mitchell who again demonstrates her impressive mastery of the genre. A deftly crafted and fully entertaining read from beginning to end, "Shelby's Way...Maybe: Listen to Your Heart and Find Your Way" is very highly recommended for community library Contemporary Romance Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Shelby's Way...Maybe" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities
Becky R. Lee & Terry Tak-ling Woo, editors
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771121538, $85.00, HC, 389pp,

Synopsis: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Becky R. Lee (Associate Professor in Humanities at York University) and Terry Tak-ling Woo (who teaches in the Humanities Department at York University), "Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities" is a collection of essays explores how women from a variety of religious and cultural communities have contributed to the richly textured, pluralistic society of Canada. Focusing on women's religiosity, it examines the ways in which they have carried and conserved, and brought forward and transformed their cultures (old and new) in modern Canada. Each individual essay explores the ways in which the religiosities of women serve as locations for both the assertion and the refashioning of individual and communal identity in transcultural contexts. Three shared assumptions guide these essays: religion plays a dynamic role in the shaping and reshaping of social cultures; women are active participants in their transmission and their transformation; and a focus on women's activities within their religious traditions?often informal and unofficial?provides new perspectives on the intersection of religion, gender, and transnationalism. Since the first European migrations, Canada has been shaped by immigrant communities as they negotiated the tension between preserving their religious and cultural traditions and embracing the new opportunities in their adopted homeland. Viewing those interactions through the lens of women's religiosity, the essays in this collection model an innovative approach and provide new perspectives for students and researchers of Canadian Studies, Religious Studies, and Women's Studies.

Critique: A seminal body of original scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of a ten page Bibliography, a four page listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a thirty-four page Index, "Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities " is very highly recommended for college and university library Women's Studies and Canadian Cultural Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Canadian Women Shaping Diasporic Religious Identities " is also available in a paperback edition (9781771121545, $36.99).

The OM Factor: A Woman's Spiritual Guide to Leadership
Alka Dhillon
SelectBooks, Inc.
87 Walker Street, Suite B1, New York City, NY 10013
9781590792995, $16.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: How can successful women flourish when they're caught in a never-ending battle of seemingly conflicting interests: ambitions to pursue demanding careers, dedication to home and family, desire for intellectual self-improvement, and yearning for fulfillment of emotional and spiritual needs? In the pages of "The OM Factor: A Woman's Spiritual Guide to Leadership", Alka Dhillon (Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Technalink, Inc., one of the leading technology companies in the Washington Metropolitan area) presents today's women with a unique program t integrate the disparate aspects of their lives into a harmonious whole by providing seven essential tools and seven key character traits to cultivate for personal success and well-being.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The OM Factor: A Woman's Spiritual Guide to Leadership" is as candid, practical and insightful, as it is innovative, inspiring, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone and text. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help, Business, and Women's Issues instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The OM Factor" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Market Research in Practice
Paul Hague, et al.
Kogan Page USA
1518 Walnut Street, Suite 1100, Philadelphia, PA 19102
9780749475857, $39.95, PB, 270pp,

Synopsis: As organizations become increasingly sophisticated, the need to profile customers, deliver customer satisfaction, target certain audiences, develop brands, and optimize prices is even more important. Introducing market research tools, approaches, and issues, this thoroughly updated and significantly expanded third edition of "Market Research in Practice: An Introduction to Gaining Greater Market Insight" provides a clear, step-by-step guide from the beginning steps of planning and executing a project through to analyzing and presenting the results. "Market Research in Practice" reflects the most recent trends in the industry. Ten new chapters cover issues including: ethics in market research, qualitative research, quantitative research, as well as key concepts such as international research, how to design a questionnaire, how to choose a sample, and how to carry out interviews. There are also tips, advice, and new international case studies from the authors' own experiences, which ground the concepts in business reality.

Critique: An ideal textbook for college and university Business Management and Market Research curriculums, "Market Research in Practice: An Introduction to Gaining Greater Market Insight" will prove to be of immense and practical value to both aspiring and practicing corporate marketing directors and researchers. An absolutely essential addition to academic and corporate Business & Marketing instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Market Research in Practice: An Introduction to Gaining Greater Market Insight" is also available in a Kindle edition ($39.95).

An Introduction to Consulting Psychology
Rodney L. Lowman
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433821783, $34.95, PB, 192pp,

Synopsis: Consulting psychology is rapidly growing yet sometimes underappreciated discipline whose goal is to apply psychological science to consultation at three levels: individual, group, and organizational. "An Introduction to Consulting Psychology: Working With Individuals, Groups, and Organizations" by licensed psychologist Rodney L. Lowman (winner of the Richard Kilburg Service Award from the Society of Psychologists in Management, the Service Award from the Society for Consulting Psychology, and the International Multicultural Provost's Award from Alliant International University) is a foundational volume of the Fundamentals of Consulting Psychology series and translates theory and research into a concise, easy-to-read introduction to the field. Case examples help to illustrate the rewarding and important work of consulting psychologists, which includes coaching individuals, assessing and improving work group dynamics, and enhancing organizational systems and processes.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "An Introduction to Consulting Psychology: Working With Individuals, Groups, and Organizations" is comprehensively informed and informative. Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-two pages of References and a six page Index, "An Introduction to Consulting Psychology" is very highly recommended for professional and academic library Psychology & Counseling reference collections, and an ideal instructional guide for anyone aspiring to establish a career as a consulting psychologist.

Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century
John Smith
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583675786, $89.00, HC, 384pp,

Synopsis: Winner of the first Paul A. Baran-Paul M. Sweezy Memorial Award for an original monograph concerned with the political economy of imperialism, "Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism's Final Crisis" by John Smith (who received his PhD from the University of Sheffield and is currently self-employed as a researcher and writer, as well as a longtime activist in the anti-war and Latin American solidarity movements) is a seminal examination of the relationship between the core capitalist countries and the rest of the world in the age of neoliberal globalization. Deploying a sophisticated Marxist methodology, Smith begins by tracing the production of certain iconic commodities-the T-shirt, the cup of coffee, and the iPhone-and demonstrates how these generate enormous outflows of money from the countries of the Global South to transnational corporations headquartered in the core capitalist nations of the Global North. From there, Smith draws on his empirical findings to powerfully theorize the current shape of imperialism. He argues that the core capitalist countries need no longer rely on military force and colonialism (although these still occur) but increasingly are able to extract profits from workers in the Global South through market mechanisms and, by aggressively favoring places with lower wages, the phenomenon of labor arbitrage. Meticulously researched and forcefully argued, "Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century" is a major contribution to the theorization and critique of global capitalism.

Critique: Deftly written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for academics and interested non-specialist general readers that "Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century" is also available in a paperback edition (9781583675779, $28.00) and in a Kindle format ($14.16).

Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric
Ward Farnsworth
David R. Godine, Publisher
Fifteen Court Square, Suite 320, Boston, MA 02108-2536
9781567925524 $18.95 pbk / $8.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Masters of the English language can turn unassuming words into phrases that are beautiful, effective, and memorable. What are the secrets of this oratorical alchemy? Part of the answer lies in rhetorical figures: practical ways of applying great aesthetic principles, including repetition and variety, suspense and relief, concealment and surprise, to a simple sentence or paragraph. "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric" recovers this historical knowledge for our contemporary times. "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric" is essentially a tutorial on the kind of eloquent oration conducted by Churchill and Lincoln, Dickens and Melville, Burke and Paine, and more than a hundred others. "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric" organizes a vast range of examples from those sources into eighteen chapters that illustrate and analyze the most valuable rhetorical devices with unprecedented clarity. The result is an indispensable source of pleasure and instruction for all lovers of English.

Critique: Impressively well written, deftly organized, superbly presented, "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric" is a brilliant informational treatise that is especially commended to the attention of academia and non-specialist readers alike seeking to improve their skills to communicate their ideas, passions, and persuasions. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library English Language Studies instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.99), and as an MP3 CD ($29.95).

Collecting Coins in Retirement
Tom Bilotta
Whitman Publishing
4001 Helton Drive, Florence, Alabama, 35630
9780794843779, $19.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: In "Collecting Coins in Retirement", a professional numismatist and an award-winning developer of software for coin collectors, Tom Bilotta reveals that coin collecting during retirement poses special challenges and offers unique opportunities. For more than 20 years Bilotta has worked closely with retirement-age hobbyists, giving him a firm understanding of their wants and needs. Now in the pages of "Collecting Coins in Retirement" he shares his insights in a comprehensive, step-by-step guidebook. Coin collectors will learn: Why coin collecting is different in retirement; How to devise a collecting strategy that works for you Ways to define your hobby objectives and consolidate your collection; When, where, and how to sell your coins; Important information to share with your family; How to prepare your estate; Ways to allocate your collection to heirs. While family members will learn: The issues involved in managing an inheritance; The best ways to profit from an inherited coin collection; Strategies for selling different parts of a collection; Probate and tax considerations; "Collecting Coins in Retirement" also addresses: Coin industry trends; Selling on eBay for pleasure and profit; Using technology in a coin collecting hobby; and so much more!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Collecting Coins in Retirement" is as comprehensive as it is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone and content. Simply stated, "Collecting Coins in Retirement" is a profusely illustrated, must-read for hobbyists and their families. Certain to be an enduringly popular acquisition, "Collecting Coins in Retirement" is very highly recommended for community senior center and community library Hobby/Pastime instructional reference collections.

The American Peace and Justice Movement from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present
Charles F. Howlett
The Edwin Mellen Press
P.O. Box 450, Lewiston, New York, 14092
9781495504211, $179.95, PB, 304pp,

Synopsis: "The American Peace and Justice Movement from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present" by Charles F. Howlett (Associate Professor in Graduate Programs, Education Division at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, NY) is a study that provides a very different perspective of how 20th Century American history looks when examined through the lens of the organized peace movements that occurred, including their history, leadership, organizational base, as well as their long tradition of concern for social justice which has led to significant political and social reform in America.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, Charles F. Howlett's "The American Peace and Justice Movement from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present" is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of seven Appendices, a six page bibliography of Further Readings, and a thirty-three page Index. "The American Peace and Justice Movement from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present" is very highly recommended for academic library 20th Century American & Political History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Education of Gerald Ford
Hendrik Booraem V
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
2140 Oak Industrial Drive, NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802869432, $25.00, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: Gerald R. Ford (1913 - 2006), was the thirty-eighth president of the United States and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. By all accounts Jerry Gerald modeled exemplary behavior. In "The Education of Gerald Ford", biographer Hendrik Booraem (a social and political historian who has made studying the early lives of American presidents a lifelong specialty) carefully examines that image and the reputation that Ford earned during his early years, telling about Ford's life up until his graduation from the University of Michigan in 1935. Booraem uses in-depth research of numerous written sources, plus interviews with some twenty people who personally knew Ford, to show how Jerry Ford excelled at academics and athletics, forging his way through challenges, family difficulties, economic setbacks, and more on his way to a remarkable political career. Booraem's historical portrait offers fascinating insight into the early years of this president who sought to heal the nation at a very low point in its history.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "The Education of Gerald Ford" is an impressively informed and informative study of the life and accomplishments of a man who was called upon to heal a nation after the tragedy and travesty of the Nixon administration. "The Education of Gerald Ford" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library American Biography collections.

Fugitive Rousseau: Slavery, Primitivism, and Political Freedom
Jimmy Casas Klausen
Fordham University Press
2546 Belmont Avenue, University Box L, Bronx, NY 10458-5172
9780823257294, $80.00, HC, 356pp,

Synopsis: Critics have claimed that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a primitivist uncritically preoccupied with "noble savages" and that he remained oblivious to the African slave trade. Fugitive Rousseau presents the emancipatory possibilities of Rousseau's thought and argues that a fresh, "fugitive" perspective on political freedom is bound up with Rousseau's treatments of primitivism and slavery. Rather than trace Rousseau's arguments primarily to the social contract tradition of Hobbes and Locke, "Fugitive Rousseau: Slavery, Primitivism, and Political Freedom" by Jimmy Casas Klausen (who holds an appointment at the Instituto de Relacoes Internacionais of the Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Rio de Janeiro) places Rousseau squarely in two imperial contexts: European empire in his contemporary Atlantic world and Roman imperial philosophy. Anyone who aims to understand the implications of Rousseau's famous sentence "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains" or wants to know how Rousseauian arguments can support a radical democratic politics of diversity, discontinuity, and exodus will find "Fugitive Rousseau" an indispensable read and reference.

Critique: An extraordinarily well written, organized and presented work of seminal scholarship, "Fugitive Rousseau: Slavery, Primitivism, and Political Freedom" is very highly recommended for academic library collections. For the personal reading lists of academia, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the life and writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, it should be noted that "Fugitive Rousseau" is also available in a paperback edition (9780823267477, $20.80) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
Haymarket Books
PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618
9781608465620, $17.95, PB, 300pp,

Synopsis: The eruption of mass protests in the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City have challenged the impunity with which officers of the law carry out violence against Black people and punctured the illusion of a postracial America. The Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists. "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation" offers a stirring and insightful analysis as activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation" is an articulate and compelling read that couldn't be more timely in terms of the current political climate and the continuing abuses of police power in communities across the country. "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation" is a critically important and very strongly recommended addition to community and academic library Black Studies collections, and Contemporary Political Science supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

The Discussion Book
Stephen D. Brookfield & Stephen Preskill
c/o Wiley Trade Publishing Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
9781119049715, $24.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Co-authored by Stephen Brookfield (the John Ireland Endowed Chair at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota) and Stephen Preskill (Professor Emeritus at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York), "The Discussion Book: 50 Great Ways to Get People Talking" was written specifically for anyone needing a resource that they could use to liven up meetings, training sessions, professional development exercises, and classroom teaching. The fifty easily applied techniques comprising this timely instruction manual will spur creativity, stimulate energy, keep groups focused, and increase participation. Whether you're teaching classes, facilitating employee training, leading organizational or community meetings, furthering staff and professional development, guiding town halls, or working with congregations, "The Discussion Book" offers new ways to engage people and energize groups; will get employees, students, colleagues, constituents, and community members to participate more fully in deliberative decision-making; encourage creativity and openness to new perspectives; increase collaboration and build cohesive teams; and keep groups focused on important topics and hard-to-address issues. Derived from the authors' decades of experience using these exercises with schools, colleges, corporations, the military, social movements, health care organizations, prisons, unions, non-profits, and elsewhere, "The Discussion Book" will constructively aid in creating guided discussions that matter.

Critique: Impressive, exceptional, insightful, practical, effective, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "The Discussion Book: 50 Great Ways to Get People Talking" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community, corporate, and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Discussion Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.49).

Idioms of Sami Health and Healing
Barbara Helen Miller, editor
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
9781772120882, $34.95, PB, 280pp,

Synopsis: The Sami are an indigenous people of northernmost Europe. They have relied on traditional healing methods throughout the ages. Compiled and edited by Barbara Helen Miller (an independent scholar working in co-operation with Research Group Circumpolar Cultures living in Hilversum, the Netherlands), "Idioms of Sami Health and Healing" is pioneering volume that documents, in accessible language, local healing traditions and demonstrates the effectiveness of using the resources of local communities. The second volume in the outstanding 'Patterns of Northern Traditional Healing' series from the University of Alberta Press, "Idioms of Sami Health and Healing" is comprised of contributions by ten experts reporting how ancient healing traditions and modern health care systems worked, and sometimes competed, to provide solutions for local problems. "Idioms of Sami Health and Healing" is one of the first English-language studies to offer valuable insight and academic context to those in the fields of anthropology, medical anthropology, transcultural psychiatry, and circumpolar studies.

Critique: A model of seminal and original scholarship, "Idioms of Sami Health and Healing" is a unique and very highly recommended addition to college and university library Anthropology reference collections in general, and Sami cultural supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Idioms of Sami Health and Healing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($27.99).

Wild By Design
Margie Ruddick
Island Press
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781610915984, $45.00, PB, 264pp,

Synopsis: Nature in all its unruly wildness can become an integral part of a creative landscape design. This is the central thesis of "Wild By Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes", by professional landscape designer Margie Ruddick. "Wild By Design" urges designers to look beyond the rules often imposed by both landscaping convention and sustainability checklists. "Wild By Design" offers a set of principles for a more creative and intuitive approach that challenges the entrenched belief that natural processes cannot complement high-level landscape design. "Wild by Design" defines and explains the five fundamental strategies that Margie Ruddick employs, often in combination, to give life, beauty, and meaning to landscapes: Reinvention, Restoration, Conservation, Regeneration, and Expression. Drawing on her own projects ranging from New York City's Queens Plaza (a formerly a concrete jungle of traffic), to a desertscape backyard in Baja, California, to the Living Water Park in Chengdu, China, Margie Ruddick offers insightful guidance on creating beautiful, healthy landscapes that successfully reconnect people with larger natural systems. A revealing look into the approach of one of sustainable landscape design's most innovative practitioners, "Wild by Design" stretches the boundaries of landscape design, offering readers a set of broader, more flexible strategies and practical examples that allow for the unexpected exuberance of nature to be a welcome part of our gardens, parks, backyards, and cities.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout with color photography, "Wild By Design: Strategies for Creating Life-Enhancing Landscapes" is an inherently absorbing instructional study that should be on the personal reading lists of every aspiring and practicing landscape designer. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Wild By Design" is an essential addition to professional, community, and academic library Landscape Design reference collections, as well as being ideal an addition to college or university Landscape Design curriculum supplemental studies lists.

Academia: Through The Eyes Of A Preacher
William James Carter
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781512718300, $34.95, PB, 346pp,

Synopsis: "Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher" is comprised of a number of research papers completed by Elder William James Carter. The works are presented in their raw, unedited form as submitted to Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary so that readers may learn from the writing errors. These essays presented with minor mistakes included should serve not only to aid in the improvement of student writing but the many references mentioned in the work may help guide academic studies. "Academia: Through the Eyes of a Preacher" is intended to be an excellent source for sermon preparations as well as furthering other religious studies-a one-of-a-kind resource to aid students, pastors, lay members, etc. William James Carter, I is a prominent minister and writer and alumni of highly sought after institutions. He is pastor to some and mentor to others and one who seeks to demonstrate Christ through his actions. But most importantly, he is a father; one who honors the sacred unity of family and one who wants to pastor his own children first. He is academically verifiable coupled with a desire to disciple others and teach them the way of Christ.

Critique: An absorbing read from beginning to end, "Academia: Through The Eyes Of A Preacher" is unique, thoughtful, thought-provoking, inspiring, and very highly recommended, especially to seminary students and all members of the Christian clergy regardless of their denominational affiliation.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Baffin Island
Jack D. Ives
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive, N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
9781552388297, $34.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "Baffin Island: Field Research and High Arctic Adventure, 1961-67", Jack D. Ives (Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University and a Senior Advisor of Mountain Ecology and Sustainable Development at United Nations University)has written a lively and informative account of several of his expeditions to Baffin Island during the "golden age" of federal research. In the 1960s, scientists from the Geographical Branch of Canada's Department of Energy, Mines, and Resources traveled to Baffin to study glacial geomorphology and glaciology. Their fieldwork resulted in vastly increased knowledge of the Far North-from its ice caps and glaciers to its lichens and microfossils.

Drawing from the recollections of his Baffin colleagues as well as from his own memories, Ives takes readers on a remarkable adventure, describing the day-to-day experiences of the field teams in the context of both contemporary Arctic research and bureaucratic decision making. Along the way, his narrative illustrates the role played by the Cold War-era Distant Early Warning Line and other northern infrastructure, the crucial importance of his pioneering aerial photography, the unpredictable nature of planes, helicopters, and radios in Arctic regions, and of course, the vast and breathtaking scenery of the North.

Baffin Island encompasses both field research and High Arctic adventure. The research trips to Baffin between 1961 and 1967 also served as a vital training ground in polar studies for university students; further, they represented a breakthrough in gender equality in government-sponsored science, thanks to Professor's Ives persistence in having women permitted on the teams. "Baffin Island" also contains a special section detailing the subsequent professional achievements of the many researchers involved (in addition to the later career moves of Ives himself), as well as a chapter that delves deeper into the science behind their fieldwork in the North. However, non-specialist general readers need not be versed in glaciology, because Professor Ives has produced a highly readable book that seamlessly combines research and adventure.

Critique: Enhanced with color photography, an informative Introduction (The Context of Geographical Research in Canada's Arctice in the 1960s), ten pages of Notes, a six page list of References, two appendices ('Major Publications Influenced by the Baffin Island Expeditions' and 'Table of Abbreviations'), and a thirty-one page Index, "Baffin Island: Field Research and High Arctic Adventure, 1961-67" is an impressive, unique, and seminal study that is very highly recommended for academic library Geological and Environmental Studies collections in general, and Baffin Island supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Lake Invaders
William Rapai
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814341247, $27.99, PB, 264pp,

Synopsis: There are more than 180 exotic species in the Great Lakes. Some, such as green algae, the Asian tapeworm, and the suckermouth minnow, have had little or no impact so far. But a handful of others-sea lamprey, alewife, round goby, quagga mussel, zebra mussel, Eurasian watermilfoil, spiny water flea, and rusty crayfish-have conducted an all-out assault on the Great Lakes and are winning the battle. In "Lake Invaders: Invasive Species and the Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes", William Rapai focuses on the impact of these invasives. Individual chapters delve into the ecological and economic damage that has occurred and is still occurring and explore educational efforts and policies designed to prevent new introductions into the Great Lakes. "Lake Invaders" begins with a brief biological and geological history of the Great Lakes. Then it examines the history of the Great Lakes from a human dimension, with the construction of the Erie Canal and Welland Canal, opening the doors to an ecosystem that had previously been isolated. The seven chapters that follow each feature a different invasive species, with information about its arrival and impact, including a larger story of ballast water, control efforts, and a forward-thinking shift to prevention. Rapai includes the perspectives of the many scientists, activists, politicians, commercial fishermen, educators, and boaters he interviewed in the course of his research. The final chapter focuses on the stories of the largely unnoticed and unrecognized advocates who have committed themselves to slowing, stopping, and reversing the invasion and keeping the lakes resilient enough to absorb the inevitable attacks to come. Rapai makes a strong case for what is at stake with the growing number of invasive species in the lakes. He examines new policies and the tradeoffs that must be weighed, and ends with an inspired call for action.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction, an informed Conclusion, six pages of Notes, and a six page Index, "Lake Invaders: Invasive Species and the Battle for the Future of the Great Lakes" is an exceptionally well written, organized and presented study that is very strongly recommended for both community and academic library Environmental Studies reference collections in general, and Great Lakes Ecology supplemental studies lists in particular. An absolute 'must read' for academic and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Great Lakes, it should be noted that "Lake Invaders" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.99).

Understanding Class
Erik Olin Wright
20 Jay Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201-8346
9781781689202, $110.00, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: In "Understanding Class", Erik Olin Wright (Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin) examines how different readings of class enrich our understanding of capitalism. Few ideas are more contested today than "class". Some have declared its death, while others insist on its centrality to contemporary capitalism. It is said its relevance is limited to explaining individuals' economic conditions and opportunities, while at the same time argued that it is a structural feature of macro-power relations. In "Understanding Class", leading left sociologist Erik Olin Wright interrogates the divergent meanings of this fundamental concept in order to develop a more integrated framework of class analysis. Beginning with the treatment of class in Marx and Weber, proceeding through the writings of Charles Tilly, Thomas Piketty, Guy Standing, and others, and finally examining how class struggle and class compromise play out in contemporary society, "Understanding Class" provides a compelling view of how to think about the complexity of class in the world today.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly organized, and compellingly presented, "Understanding Class" is an absorbing work of outstanding scholarship and very highly recommended for both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in such concepts as 'class warfare' as touted by contemporary American politicians of the left and the right. A vitally important acquisition for academic library Contemporary Sociology reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Understanding Class" is also available in a paperback edition ( 9781781689455, $26.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe
J. R. Rada
A I M Publishing Group
9780692598771, $19.95, PB, 298pp,

Synopsis: Edgar Allan Poe, one of the great American writers, died a mysterious death in 1849. Found delirious on the streets of Baltimore and wearing clothes that were not his own, Edgar was admitted to Washington Medical Center where he died without explaining what had happened to himself. Even his medical records and death certificate have been lost to history. A work of fantasy fiction, "The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe" is the story of the two men whose blood feud brought about Edgar's death: Alexander Reynolds and Matthew Cromwell. These two men have both lived many lives under many names. They are men of biblical renown, resurrected men who, having died once, can no longer die until the foretold Second Coming. Eternal life has its cost, though, whether or not Alexander and Matthew want to pay it. Alexander has already seen Matthew kill Edgar's mother and he is determined to keep the same fate from befalling Edgar. From the time of Christ to the modern days of the Poe Toaster, "The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe" is a sweeping novel of love, terror, and mystery that could have come from the imagination of Edgar Allan Poe himself.

Critique: Impressively original, exceptionally well written, absolutely absorbing from beginning to end, "The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe" showcases author J. R. Rada's outstanding skills as a novelist. Very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction & Fantasy Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Beneath the Third Waterfall
Bradford Dillman
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745811, $14.95, PB, 178pp,

Synopsis: "Beneath the Third Waterfall" by Bradford Dillman exposes the flaws and fantasies of the upper sets in a house party novel that takes place during one summer weekend in 1938 at Waterfalls, the beautiful Santa Cruz, California, summer estate of San Francisco high-society millionaires Chester and Lily Moreland. The occasion is the fortieth birthday of their eldest child, Abigail. As the weekend unfolds, characters interact, sometimes gracefully, sometimes grindingly, sometimes painfully. They play games: golf, cards, pool, horseshoes. They drink a lot which results in behavior that brings the birthday party to a shambles. Sex happens in various indiscreet combinations. Family secrets are revealed, causing fights, ending the party, and bringing shame and ruin to the high and mighty.

Critique: A brilliant, deftly crafted, inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Beneath the Third Waterfall" showcases author Bradford Dillman as an extraordinary and gifted storyteller. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Beneath the Third Waterfall" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.20).

Michael J. Carson

Chutsky's Bookshelf

Bridge of Spies
Giles Whittell
Broadway Paperbacks
c/o Crown Publishing Group
280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780767931083, $15.00, PB, 274pp,

(The Boy From Tennessee/Young Davy Crockett, Oji/Spy Girls At The Gate, Annabelle's Rescue)

BRIDGE OF SPIES, the book-not Spielberg's movie of the same name, more accurately should be called "Anatomy of a Spy." It is a fascinating mix of 'Gorky Park' meets 'Top Gun' meets 'The Spy who came in from the Cold' meets 'Hogan's Heroes.' Its nonfiction pages read like a Cold war spy novel.

The triangle of players are; Soviet Spy Abel Fisher (alias Mark, or Collins, or Goldfarb....the list goes on) who was charged with espionage against the United States and was sitting in a US prison, his famed American attorney James B. Donovan who spent six years trying to get him freed, and the downed U-2 Spy plane Airforce Pilot Gary Powers who was being held in a Russian prison charged with spying on the Soviet Union.

I bring up the movie first because you might think why read the book, I've seen the movie? Well here is why; the movie weighs in heavy on artistic license, is overly simplistic in recreating the complicated international diplomatic events and clandestine negotiations that led to the international prisoner exchange, whereas Whittell's book opens the lens wider, scoping out the intricacies of the state of Cold war politics between East and West and the eclectic Spy Game players as well as the techniques each employed at the time (1950's to early sixties).

Whittell marbles in the events that surrounded "America's biggest bout of shadowboxing with Communism."

One of the book's (many) strengths is its detailed overview of the controversial American U-2 spy plane program at a time when Eisenhower and America feared a nuclear arms race with the Communists. Blow by blow each of our technological advancements were set against the Soviet Union's rocket advancements and that point was being drummed into the ears of Congress by the "Missile Gap Lobby," who claimed that Russia was proliferating thousands of nuclear missiles so they could annihilate the free West. Even Eisenhower felt when he looked up at the sky he was looking at Soviet Union property and Sputnik was their eyes in the sky. Eisenhower concluded we had to get our own eyes up there to see what their actual missile counts were. And the U-2 ghost plane was the only game in town. It flew supposedly undetected at 70,000 feet, (which was a sham- the Russians were following the flights on radar), at speeds light years faster than any Russian MiG, while flouting a belly of high-powered cameras for reconnaissance. It was our only hope to "peel back a layer of thin wrapping that covered the Soviets nuclear nakedness."

Gary Powers was the 'Top Gun' like renegade pilot, drawn into the audacious plan of flying spy missions over Russia. He was oozing with guts, enough to fly a death trap work in progress while squeezed into an experimental suit made in a polyester girdle factory. His secret life was turned inside out when he was shot out of the sky like a cork in a fizzy soda pop bottle over northern Russia, given a sham propaganda trial, then shoved into a Soviet prison, subjected to bouts of interrogation and left to rot.

Some of the most intriguing bits in the book were the highlights of gamesmanship between Krushchev - and Eisenhower. At the time Krushchev - who had locked the borders of his country and thrown away the key to foreigners, and Eisenhower - the protectorate of the free world, were each vying for the title of Supreme Statesman of Superpower Peace. It was an era where mutual respect between opposing leaders could lead to backdoor deals, achieved mostly through - "using the engine of underlings to be scapegoats" to get at their end game.

And some of those 'underlings', on the Russian side, had the whiff of the comical characters that showed up in 'Hogan's Heroes'. Specifically the Russian agent Hayhanen, a bumbling 'Peter Sellers' incarnate, who walked into the American Embassy in Paris and spilled the beans on the whole Russian Spy ring operating in America in the 60's- ratting out their leader "Abel' who had been charged with the mission of spinning a Soviet spy web across the US in preparation for World-War-Three. Hayhanen ratted on Abel and the Soviet spy ring only because he had been recalled back to the motherland and knew too well that gulags were still in vogue for screw=up spies.

That got Abel, a Colonel in the KGB, taken in by the FBI in New York and put on trial for committing espionage crimes against the USA. His clumsy arrest at his Brooklyn artist's studio, led to the confiscation of thirty five tables of 'Gorky Park' type spy paraphernalia, hollowed out coins and pencils, transmitting radios, cypher code machines etc. But it also led to the illegal search and seizure defense that led famed lawyer James B. Donovan to appeal Abel's conviction all the way to the Supreme Court. The in's-and-out's of the court case and Donovan's part in it encompasses a good part of the book.

The big finale covers the machinations of the unorthodox negotiations of the prisoner exchange, originally initiated by letters from Gary Powers father to Khrushchev, then the odd clandestine overtures made by the Soviets through phony letters to Abel from a phony wife while he sat in an American prison, and then the ballsy efforts of Donovan - risking his own life traveling in and out through the wall of Communist East Germany to close the deal with some sinister characters at the Russian and German Embassies which led to the handover of both spies,(thus Bridge of Spies), in Germany on Berlin's Glienicke Bridge. Donovan also managed the release- at the exact same designated hour-of an ignorant American student studying Communism who had been jailed in Germany-concurrently facilitated at the famed Checkpoint Charlie.

All told "Bridge of Spies" is a fascinating well written historically important chronicle of real life spy-crafting and the use of men as pawn's in a game of Super Power Espionage Chess.

Black Mass
Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill
Public Affairs
250 West 57th Street, 15 Floor, New York, NY 10107
9781610395533, $15.99, PB, 419pp,

(The Boy From Tennessee/Young Davy Crockett, Oji/Spy Girls At The Gate, Annabelle's Rescue)

No-one hated the Mafia more than Robert Kennedy, the famed attorney general who set out legally to destroy the brutal mobsters choke hold on his beloved Boston. But it took a gangster- Whitey Bulger- to finally bring them down or more accurately to get the FBI to do the dirty work for him.

We're all familiar with the in's and out's of Mafia crime families. But in "Black Mass" you'll meet a different breed of mobster, the Winter Hill Gang, made up of Boston's born and bred tribal Irish Southie boys, most of whom came out of the poor projects of the fifties with their lifelong pledge of loyalty to one another. They shared a singular state of mind, that of the Immigrant Irish against the world.

And at their helm was Whitey Bulger- a dangerous delinquent with a Jimmy Cagney flair. At a young age he did a long stint on the Alcatraz rock, but managed to spend those years wisely in the prison library sharpening his instincts, turning his mind into an encyclopedia of law enforcements tactics and past mobster mistakes. He came out like a chess master, ready to make controlled moves to shake down the city, from loan sharking, to gambling, to drug dealing, to murder. He stuck to the shadows through it all, managing to keep his hands clean making the most of the Southie neighborhoods "Code of Silence" that had his back.

But he also had some help from two prominent fellow Southies, his brother Billy Bulger-the powerful Head of the Massachusetts State Senate, and more importantly John Connolly-an FBI agent on the rise.

From his perch overlooking the city, Agent Connolly was looking to bag a top tier informant to help him shine in the Boston Organized Crime Division. And Whitey Bulger was willing to play that role, for a price. He'd help Connolly bring down the Mafia in North Boston, in exchange for being left alone to go about his business as he pleased.

It was a deal that became so out of whack that any good that came the FBI's way was offset by the unbridled license Bulger exercised to commit crimes, strictly forbidden in the informant echelons, and the invisible ink addendum of sorts that called for the FBI Agents to commit crimes to protect Bulger, favors that came in the form of tip-offs to any law enforcement getting too close to Bulger's operations. Connolly, the "Elmer Gantry" of the Boston FBI office, used the power of his charismatic words to cover Bulgers crime wave tracks and to win over converts to his way of doing things, while keeping up a blizzard of false paperwork that gave Bulger a high gloss stamped seal of FBI approval designating him a five star informant.

Thus the FBI became an intoxicated passenger on the Bulger train.

Throw into the Kabal; a brutal hitman named Steve Flemmi, an FBI agent by the name of Morris who got too- seduced and too-entangled to get un-entangled, a slew of prominent judges, police chiefs and politicians and you've got a 'Black Mass' in Boston Crime.

Boston Globe reporters Lehr and O'Neill finally blew the lid off the crime works in the late 80's after nearly two decades of Whitey Bulger's reign and a decade into Connolly's blurring of the line between the good guys and bad. Slowly they picked at the fraying yarns until the blanket of the underworld began unraveling, one dirty rat at a time. The toxic waste of Bulger's world oozed out and eventually drowned Connolly. But not before he tipped off Whitey Bulger for one last time and amazingly Bulger managed to stay on the lam until 2011.

In "Black Mass" Authors Lehr and O'Neill, former Boston Globe reporters lay out, in a crisp thorough journalistic style that swells with poignant and punchy pros, the ins and outs of the abuse of power that ferments when an informant begins handling an FBI agent which in-turn can strangle a city. Powerful stuff indeed.

Karen Chutsky

Clint's Bookshelf

The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life
Antonia Hall, MA
New Ventures Press
9780997085006, $10.99, PB, 159pp,

Synopsis: The simple yet powerful techniques outlined in "The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life" by author, self-improvement expert, spiritual teacher, artist and longtime blogger Antonia Hall was specifically written to help you tap into a potent energy- fueling your creativity, revitalizing you, enriching your day, and helping you get in the flow in dynamic ways. Did you know that both men and women can be multi-orgasmic and are capable of having full-body orgasms? "The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life" will guide you to living your greatest pleasure potential. Through completing the exercises layed out in this instructional guide, you'll discover that the rewards ripple out to enhance every area of your life. A multi-orgasmic life! Many of the practices outlined in "The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life" are thousands of years old, tried and true methods experienced by many people over centuries, including teachings from the Tantric texts. The wisdom contained by these incredible texts offer ways of looking at and approaching our world to lead the most fulfilling and abundant lifestyle imaginable.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and impressively accessible in organization and presentation, "The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' and inherently fascinating from beginning to end. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful and inspiring, "The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Human Sexuality reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

A Tale of Moral Corruption
Marsha Cornelius
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781519653659, $14.95, PB, 382pp,

Synopsis: How does a successful man plummet into a world of male escorts, kinky sex, and barbaric death matches? In this female-dominated world, 28-year-old Mason is comfortable with his job as a tax clerk. His real ambition is to be a loving father and supportive husband. He's especially looking forward to wearing the new artificial womb that so many men have strapped on their bellies. But first, Mason must be chosen as a husband. He's listed on the Approved Partner Registry, a website that profiles men and their qualifications. It's used by successful businesswomen who don't have the time or inclination to date. Now it's a waiting game. In the meantime, he volunteers at the company's co-op daycare. He keeps his body in good physical condition. He even took a remedial course with a sex surrogate when the registry listed him as a premature ejaculator. His diligence will pay off when he is selected as a mate. But when he is dropped from the registry because of an indiscretion at work, his life begins to unravel and it doesn't look like anything can stop his fall from grace.

Critique: Imaginative storytelling at its very best, "A Tale of Moral Corruption" by Marsha Cornelius is a near-future science fiction novel that is an inherently fascinating and absorbing read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Tale of Moral Corruption" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle edition ($0.99).

The Moondust Sonatas
Alan Osi
Smoke & Shadow Books
c/o Cleveland Writers Press
9781943052028, $19.99, PB, 384pp,

Synopsis: Percival is a young Brooklyn DJ who awakens from a night of debauchery with clear instructions on how to produce moondust -- drug that lets you see God. Imagine the possibilities. He discovers that this mysterious grey powder provides the ultimate high and gives users a glimpse of the divine. After months of quietly selling it to artists, however, Percival attracts deadly attention from a gang of drug dealers. Facing threats from all sides, he decides to go public with its secrets, although to do so he must risk his both his freedom and his life. The danger he faces pales in comparison to that caused by moondust. In a world that's a tinderbox of smoldering conflict, moondust could be the match that ignites a global cataclysm.

Critique: Original, riveting, a roller coaster of ride from beginning to end, "The Moondust Sonatas: Movement No. 1, A Hunters Moon" by Alan Osi is a terrifically entertaining read and the stuff of which block-buster movies and television series are made. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Moondust Sonatas" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Feel Free to Prosper
Marilyn Jenett
Jeremy P. Tarcher
c/o Penguin Group, USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3657
9780399174896, $17.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: The promise of unexpected income, unexpected business, and unexpected solutions to your most pressing problems in just two weeks or less in the pages of Marilyn Jenett's "Feel Free to Prosper: Two Weeks to Unexpected Income with the Simplest Prosperity Laws Available" is not lightly made or simply advertising hype. Thousands have applied her simple but powerful teachings, based on mental and spiritual laws, to manifest such striking results. Now in "Feel Free to Prosper", Jenett teaches you how to, in her words, "put the Universe on speed dial".

"Feel Free to Prosper" offers a simple, fast, and practical approach to prosperity and is a compilation of this renowned prosperity mentor's finest teachings. Her unique, easy-to-grasp style will take the mystery out of these esoteric laws of money and finance.

You will learn to overcome your conditioned thinking, habitual words, and other aspects of consciousness that perpetuate lack. With new patterns of thought and speech, you'll magnetize prosperity instead of repelling it and acquire a true sense of security. Most importantly, you will experience proof of your alignment with the universal parent that is ready to shower each of us with gifts far beyond our imaginings -- and finally feel free to prosper.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Feel Free to Prosper" is thoroughly 'reader friendly', informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, insightful and potentially life changing. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Money/Finance reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Feel Free to Prosper" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.99).

Captcha Thief
Rosie Claverton
Crime Scene Books
9780993381508 $13.99 pbk / $6.95 Kindle

Synopsis: Agoraphobic hacker Amy Lane and her sidekick ex-con Jason Carr are caught in a tortuous and increasingly dangerous adventure as Amy seeks to help track an art thief and Jason seeks to impress the National Crime Agency investigator Frieda Haas sent to recover the missing painting - and its abductor.

As the evidence leads Amy and the police in circles, Jason finds himself taking more and more risks in his hunt for the thief. Nothing is as it seems. Are Amy and Jason merely playthings for a vicious murderer? Can they survive the game?

Critique: Captcha Thief is a thrilling edge-of-seat murder mystery for the 21st century. The main characters share a tense, unique dynamic, in this excellent choice for connoisseurs of the genre. Highly recommended!

A Loaded Gun
Jerome Charyn
Bellevue Literary Press
c/o NYU School of Medicine
550 First Ave., OBV A612, New York, NY 10016
c/o Consortium Books Sales & Distribution (distributor)
9781934137987 $19.95

Synopsis: Through interviews with contemporary scholars, close readings of Dickinson's correspondence and handwritten manuscripts, and a suggestive, newly discovered photograph that is purported to show Dickinson with her lover, Charyn's literary sleuthing reveals the great poet in ways that have only been hinted at previously: as a woman who was deeply philosophical, intensely engaged with the world, attracted to members of both sexes, and able to write poetry that disturbs and delights us today.

Critique: A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century is an intense work of literary scholarship, re-examining Emily Dickinson's poetry in new ways. Author and literary scholar Jerome Charyn explores evidence that Dickinson was bisexual, as well as the interplay between her intense life and the classic poetry destined to inspire generations. Endnotes and an index round out this thoughtful study, highly recommended especially for college library collections.

Lucifer's Son
Sergey Mavrodi
W & B Publishers Inc
PO Box 193, Colfax, NC 27235
9781942981329, $17.99, PB, 502pp,

Synopsis: Does the Devil exist? Is there really a fallen angel named Lucifer Are the temptations that beset mankind really the products of an evil Satan? Are the fires of Hell a reality? Compared favorably by many to renown authors of horror and suspense such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Bram Stoker, In "Lucifer's Son", Russia's acknowledged 'master of horror' Sergey Mavrodi introduces us to the world of angels and devils, the world of temptation and seduction, deviltry and suspense. In a world of horror and fear that is almost too realistic to be fiction, "Lucifer's Son" will shock and mesmerize the reader, who while filled with fear and anxiety, will simply be unable to stop reading until the last terrifying conclusion.

Critique: Extraordinarily and deftly crafted from beginning to end, "Lucifer's Son" is the first of Mavrodi's new "Te Temptation Chronicles' series and very highly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Lucifer's Son" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Naked Slaughter
Nigel Lampard
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781511567909, $13.49, PB, 360pp,

Synopsis: Upper Slaughter is a quintessential English village, yet underneath the cozy veneer of small village life lurk many festering secrets. Enchanted by the village and its surrounds, Sarah and Phillip move into Primrose Cottage with great expectations. However, paths cross, fates twist, misunderstandings occur and the one issue that exists between Sarah and Phillip rears up, causing fissures in their marriage. Phillip thinks Sarah has left him, Sarah thinks a sexual deviant has kidnapped her, and a very close friend with lesbian tendencies uses this opportunity to play the seductive predator. In the shadows of this previously idyllic setting, one man, a loner, seems to be in control of everyone's destiny except his own. Despite the beauty of their new home, the journey for Sarah and Phillip is fraught with danger, anguish, and betrayal.

Critique: "Naked Slaughter" by Nigel Lampard is a noir mystery exposing the sinister side of humanity and the wavering flame of love's pallid candle. Impressively well written by master of the genre, "Naked Slaughter" is very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Naked Slaughter" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

By Any Means Necessary
Nathan Rollins
Privately Published
9780996727716, $13.99, PB, 550pp,

Synopsis: "By Any Means Necessary" is the story of two twin Sisters. One brutally murdered and the other returns home. The police are doing nothing while the killer is playing a game. He killed Kiera Dunaway's sister to get her home. He wanted a challenge. He wanted a target who could fight back. Can Kiera find the killer and do what needs to be done? Or will he win his twisted and lethal game?

Critique: "By Any Means Necessary" is a suspense thriller replete with unexpected plot twists and surprising turns clearly showcasing author Nathan Rollins as a master of the genre. This a is an absolutely engaging and deftly crafted read from beginning to end and one that is very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that "By Any Means Necessary" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

Signs in Life: Finding Direction in Our Travels with God
Deanna Nowadnick
Rhododendron Books
PO Box 1586, Monroe, WA 98272
9780983589754, $12.95,

From the prologue to the epilog and the eleven chapters in between, Northwest native Deanna Nowadnick's new spiritual memoir, Signs in Life is a refreshingly authentic, inspiring and often humorous read. She blends personal experiences with Old Testament Bible stories for how to "find direction in our travels with God," the subtitle of her new release. Because she believes life, like an artist's masterpiece, contains "lessons in perspective."

She writes "...road and directional signs are an important part of safe travel and they are everywhere..." In a similar manner she believes God's spiritual guidance "directs and redirects" our lives through Bible stories and life experiences that equip us to follow God and find God's purpose for our lives. Fashioned from God's promise found in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV)

However, just as road signs for safe driving can be ignored or missed, we can also miss or ignore God's spiritual guidance when we're distracted, preoccupied or too busy to pay attention. That's when flares of impatience, temper or critical attitudes reveal a selfish self-centeredness instead of the often needed examples of divine guidance.

While chapters capture the book's broader theme with topical titles such as "yield, stop and wrong way," Deanna's personal experiences blend with stories from the book of Exodus to offer realistic perspectives of what it means to live under God's grace.

When she describes a "late night encounter with law enforcement" that results in a speeding ticket or having a bad attitude when she gathers everyone's luggage but her own which means she has no makeup on vacation or impatience with a driver who takes too long at an espresso drive-through, she captures spiritual conditions common to us all.

Deanna believes in God's divine guidance and feels our lives are important because they are part of a greater "chapter in God's great story." That's why in her travels she looks for "God's divine direction" which is often only found when she pauses to reflect. Because of that she includes five questions at chapters end designed to encourage memories of brief moments when you, like Deanna, were brought up short by the "harness of God's grace." It's these moments, what she describes as "teachable moments" that help shape you into the person you are today.

I described Deanna's writing as spiritually refreshing when I reviewed her first book, Fruit of my Spirit in 2012. Now, her second book, Signs in Life reveals a writer who continues to hone her craft, engage readers and leave them wanting more. "Signs in Life" would make a wonderful gift for anyone with questions about what comes next, but it would be especially good for a high school or college graduate.

If I Run
Terri Blackstock
5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
9780310332435, $15.99,

Terri Blackstock's stellar reputation for writing award-winning, faith-based suspense continues with the release of If I Run that begins her new "If I Run" suspense series set in Shreveport, Louisiana and Shady Grove, Georgia. It's a complex tale of murder and intrigue wrapped in "skewed perceptions," distortions and misleading DNA that intrigues readers from the first sentence: "There's blood on the bottom of my shoes."

The shoes belong to Casey Cox. The blood she sees running down the drain after washing her hands is that of her now deceased best friend, Brent Pace. Casey is innocent and she is scared. She's overheard her father and fellow officers detail enough crime scenes to know she will be the prime suspect when the police find her DNA all over the crime scene. That's all they need for a judge to issue a search warrant for her apartment.

She knew they would use, "...that Luminol stuff..." and find traces of Brent's blood in the sink, the drain and on the towel she used to wipe the blood off the soles of her shoes. The seemingly indisputable and incriminating evidence will point to her and no one will believe she's innocent or look for anyone else. The only thing she can do is run!

And run she does, yet Brent's wealthy family hires war-weary, PTSD challenged veteran Robert Dylan to find "the girl who killed their son" when they learn "Casey left the state." Robert's three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan serving in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division prepared him for the police force when he returned home. However, with his "PTSD" determination he doubted the police would hire him, which meant "...bringing Casey home could redeem his career."

Thus begins a fascinating murder mystery about a fugitive on the run and a PTSD challenged detective written from the dual perspectives of Casey Cox and Robert Dylan, which puts readers in the middle of the action because Terri Blackstock wrote the story in first person, present tense.

As Robert digs into Casey's life more questions than answers surface, such as why Casey ran if she wasn't guilty? Where did the cash she used come from? Was Brent killed because Casey asked him to look into her father's death ten years ago, even though the death certificate said suicide?

Robert and Casey's separate quests for the truth soon point to cover ups, corruption and dangerous conspiracies in Terri Blackstock's crisply written, fugitive driven suspense. A writer Publisher's Weekly Reviews considers a "master in navigating the suspenseful fugitive plot" with a protagonist who " smarter than the average fugitive." With an ending, just shy of a cliff-hanger that leaves a desire for the exciting sequel as the chase continues. A definite five out of five star suspense!

Hell, Heaven and Back
Gregory Zschomler
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781523808854, $9.99,

Oregon author, Gregory E. Zschomler steps outside his customary children and young adult genre into speculative fiction with the February 2016 release of Hell Heaven and Back. With a supernatural tale about "a burnt out pastor who thinks he's living hell" on earth "until he actually goes there."

When Pastor Micah Rickmond accepted the pastorate of Florida's Gulf Coast fledgling church he was drawn by the "increase in salary and Florida's sun and surf." However the most compelling reason was he wanted to make a difference and thought that would happen with this new assignment.

He couldn't know he would soon feel his life resembled the not-so-funny joke he'd heard in seminary, "Ministry is hard; then you die." He couldn't know the new congregations response to him would make him question "long-held basic beliefs" that would threaten his work, his marriage and his faith.

Caused by a 60 hour work week, a divided congregation, an imminent church split and an uncooperative church board. As if that weren't enough Hurricane Charlie's landfall and a wife and family who didn't understand him only added to his stress and made him question all his choices.

Until a mysterious, craggy-faced, old woman with a grizzled wooden staff walked into his study dressed in a long fur overcoat wearing an old style prairie dress made from flour sacking. Her odd attire included black and white striped stockings, combat boots, and aviator goggles that rested atop her ashen grey hair held in place by an aviator's cap. "She extended a crooked, knobby finger and asked, 'You Pastor Micah Rickmond?'"

Thus begins an unusual tale that melds science-fiction with the speculative supernatural spiritual world wrapped in a tale of time travel and a journey to heaven and hell that culminates in a crisis of faith. While the attractive book cover invites readers into a very fascinating story I would have liked more depth to the unusual and intriguing plot and fewer editing errors.

Still, the premise is captivating and Zschomler captures readers with sympathetic, interesting characters and situations that reflect real church life, problems and questions pastors must deal with. The author is a good writer with a superb imagination and I'd like to see more of his adult speculative fiction. Although I would suggest a writing tip I learned early-on at an Oregon Christian Writers summer conference. Before publishing, read your work aloud to yourself because the ear catches what the eye often misses.

In our increasingly secular society Easter is more about parades, Easter egg hunts and decorative Easter baskets filled with colorful candies and colored eggs while the real reason for the season is often ignored. Although the following children's books entertain and delight little ones ages two to seven, they also reinforce the message of the Cross and the power of Christ's resurrection.

A Royal Easter Story
Jeanna Young & Jacqueline Johnson, Illustrated by Omar Aranda
26 Carleton Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15243
9780310748700, $14.99,

In A Royal Easter Story, the newest addition to The Princess Parables series, five beautiful princesses, Faith, Hope, Charity, Joy and Grace meet five handsome brothers, noble sons of the King's newest knight. It's early spring when the kingdom prepares for the annual Easter celebration and feast.

This year the festival is held in a neighboring village and everyone in the Castle is busy loading wagons with the "cross, gifts and decorations" that took weeks to prepare. Finally the day to leave arrives and the "gaily decorated wagons" pull through the castles main gates only to be met with a sudden loud "CRACK" and the lead wagon tips to one side.

Add a lost child, a challenging race, and a frightening storm and this engaging children's Easter story will have youngsters begging for "just one more read." It's a charming story of challenges and choices that reinforces the message of the Cross and the power of the resurrection. In addition to the inclusion of a child's simple prayer which I haven't seen in a children's book before, the story teaches trust in the Lord because it's not always about winning.

Besides the beautiful and lush illustrations, the "Parable Thought" that completes the book, taken from Luke 11: 9-13, focuses on selflessness and service to others with the theme "Not only did He die for us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice - gave His life for ours and He is available to all children who "ask, seek and knock." "A Royal Easter Story" is a five star read!

The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessing's Board book
Mike Berenstain
Ideals Children's Books
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200 Brentwood, TN 37027
9780824919672, $7.99,

The Berenstain Bears' Easter Blessings is a short and simple Easter story for ages two through five. The theme is God's blessings and features the "greatest blessing of them all - our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is risen!"

The simple story begins with a prayer of thanksgiving for the food they are about to eat. After breakfast "Grizzly Gramps and Gran" join them for a walk to church, however Gramps warns the cubs the Easter candy and eggs must be saved for later because church and the celebration of the risen Lord must come first.

This delightful board book is a wonderful way to introduce toddlers to the real message of Easter for families, preschool or churches.

All Things Bright and Beautiful
Ceil Frances Alexander, author
Illustrated by Katy Hudson
Ideals Children's Books
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
9780824956769, $15.99,

All Things Bright and Beautiful is taken from the beloved hymn written by Cecil Francis Alexander, first published in 1848. This jacketed hardcover edition offers a "contemporary take on the lyrics:

"All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small

All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all."

Katy Hudson's fresh and bright watercolor illustration of children, swans, owls, rivers and birds brings the story to life in ways children ages four through seven will appreciate. The vibrant drawings follow two young girls and their little brother as they discover the beauty of God's creation with a faith stanza that reinforces the captivating illustrations.

Since the exceptionally beautiful illustrations pair with the words of the song, it's not the typical story book. and the age range is more appropriate for ages two through five instead of four to seven. That said this stunning children's book will captivate any little child!

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Joshua's Bookshelf

Crisis of Empire: Great Britain and the American Colonies, 1754-1783
Ian R. Christie
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393096507, $12.00, PB, 120pp,

There is probably no other book that I have read that gives you a brief overview of the American Revolution, yet discusses the British politics of the time in so much depth that I.R. Christie's book, Crisis of Empire: Great Britain and the American Colonies, 1754-1783. Crisis of Empire starts out at the very beginning in the first days of the French and Indian Wars, which eventually turns in favor of the British, and starts the colonization movement of the North American Empire. As we all know, the British Parliament began imposing expensive taxes upon their American colonies, wanting to repay their huge debt from the war. The thirteen colonies, not having any say in their mother country's government to counterattack the passing of these taxes, began to riot, protest, and boycott British goods in response. In the events that follow, tensions were heated and shots were soon fired upon each side. Thus, begins the American Revolution. Christie skims the surface of the American story we all know about, and goes further into detail about the British side we do not know about. He explains about the numerous changes in the British cabinet and Lord North's failed administration; he goes into depth about the selfish greedy King George III, whom was determined to hang onto the colonies for the longest time possible, even when the nation's support fell in the end; and reviews the stagnation of the British Empire economic structure which was severely harmed in numerous ways after losing the precious American colonies, but in other terms, grew and prospered when more attention was given to the other parts of the Empire, such as India. In all, Crisis of Empire reflects the difficult time period the British went through, from being the victors of a world war, to the losers of an embarrassing "scuffle" with the rebels, only to have their defeat become their biggest victory in allowing them to continue the growth of their successful empire.

The book is told in the third person with Christie spilling out the facts about the American Revolution, before, during, and after in a chronological story; a story that is hyped on the idea that the Empire's loss of the American colonies was down to the false judgement and misguidance of leadership from the British politicians of the time. In this aspect, there does seem some bias against the British Parliament, as Christie suggests that it was the poor leadership of King George III, and ignorance of his fellow advisors, combined with the lack of thoughtful minds from the state officials, which caused Britain to lose their most important possession and colony at the time. Christie utilizes many sources for the book, including many scholarly articles and other pieces of work, mainly on British history and the past of the British Empire; all the sources add to the uniqueness of the book, which make Crisis of Empire so informative and powerful in its storytelling.

Crisis of Empire is perfect for young history students, whom want a generalized background about the American Revolution. Not only does the piece contain the basic facts about the war we already know about from high school history classes, but also goes into further depth about the causes of the war, and how the British Parliament struggled during the course of the revolution, which are topics rarely discussed in such detail in classes. I would highly recommend this book for all; beautifully written and short and concise to appeal to an engaging audience wanting to learn more about the famous war that started it all. Crisis of Empire is a great read, and an interesting book to study, even when you might think you know a lot about the revolution, it never hurts to retouch up on your knowledge. This book has definitely helped my knowledge within the realm of America's troubling times, and I hope that you would find this book to be an amusing read too.

Jefferson Davis: A Biography
Clemont Eaton
The Free Press
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780029087404, $5.79, PB, 334pp,

Many books and scholarly articles have been written about Jefferson Davis, but none asks the question and dives deep into the answer of "why was Davis so important to American history?" than Clemont Eaton's book, Jefferson Davis: A Biography. As we all know from high school history classes, Jefferson Davis, the poor lumberjack lad whom was born only a hundred miles from the birthplace of future President, Abraham Lincoln, would later have an extensive political career of his own. Graduating from the WestPoint Military Academy and serving in the Mexican-American War, Davis would begin his political phase by serving as a senator of Mississippi for two terms, and also found himself a place as the Secretary of War during President Franklin Pierce's administration. But he is best remembered to school children and adults alike for being the first, and the only, President of the Confederate States of America. Even when Eaton explains in detail about the life of this great leader, he also dives deeper into subjects which are not researched by historians; Davis's agricultural side. From Jefferson Davis: A Biography we can see that Davis loved his plantation, and was a kind and modest slave owner, treating his "property" with respect and compassion. In the end, Davis wanted to be on his plantation and nothing more. He initially did not want to go back in politics in 1860 after a brief hiatus, but felt compelled to serve his country and "complete his duty", when he was anonymously selected as the leader of the Southern states. We find out that Davis also did not believe in slavery, but like most, were drawn to the love of his home state which eventually persuaded him to join sides with the Confederacy when the Union split. The audience begins to see the side of Jefferson Davis we have never been touched by before, as Eaton unravels the strips of the Confederate leader's life.

Besides having the book explain the life of Jefferson Davis, most notably of his earlier life and his extensive political career which everyone knows somewhat about, this book is also supposed to dive deeper into Davis's love of agriculture, interest in farming, and his desire to follow the policies of the state of Mississippi, which he threw his whole support behind when the split of the nation occurred in 1860; all of which are delivered to the exact detail and definite order in Jefferson Davis: A Biography. This book is rich in information; as Eaton utilizes sources to their maximum potential, and makes the most of every piece of material he can get on Davis, adding to the overall enhanced quality of this book.

Eaton's book is a fantastic read, an easy and detailed read which will change your view about the leader of the Confederate States of America. By the end of reading, readers will be able to glance at the inside and outside lives of Jefferson Davis, and feel sorry for the man, whom had so many troubles with his marriage, his health, and his thoughts on whether slavery was just or wrong. The audience will begin to feel the feelings this great leader had when he was swept up from his feet to enter back into the political arena, being torn between the wrong and his love for his home state, and the steady degradation of his fame and status within his own followers. I would highly recommend Jefferson Davis: A Biography for everyone whom is interested in early American history, both young and old.

Joshua Chanin

Julie's Bookshelf

Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner
Stephanie Calis
Pauline Books & Media
50 St. Pauls Avenue, Boston, MA 02130
9780819837349, $16.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: "Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner" by Stephanie Calis is a contemporary guide that provides both a bride and a groom perspective, thereby helping couples plan a Catholic wedding and navigate their new life journey far beyond the wedding day. Personal vignettes provide the reader with humor, tenderness, practical tips, and faith-filled examples. Author Stephanie Calis, and her husband, deftly explore topics such as budgeting, planning the Nuptial Mass, choosing the right dress, communication, learning to live together as a couple, sexual intimacy, and Natural Family Planning in light of the Roman Catholic teachings.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner" is a comprehensive, informed and informative instruction guide and manual that is presented with wit, wisdom, and insight. Impressively 'reader friendly in tone and content, "Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner" is essential and highly recommended for all Catholic men and women seeking to be married within the rules and spirit of the church.

A Distant Heartbeat
Eunice Lipton
University of New Mexico Press
MSC05 3185
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826356581, $19.95, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: On May 20, 1938, a young man from the Bronx informs his parents that he is leaving for the Catskills to begin his new job as a waiter. Instead, he sails for Europe to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, the opening round in the fight against Hitler and Mussolini. The man, Dave Lipton sends letter after letter home detailing his hopes and begging for forgiveness. He never receives a reply. Decades later, Eunice Lipton (a niece of Dave Lipton) stumbles upon clues for this silence, uncovering details of Dave's exhilarating political life in New York, his shuttered romantic life, and his deep friendship with another volunteer. "A Distant Heartbeat" tells a tale of passion and heroism, centered on a fierce competition between brothers, a packet of missing letters, and the unforeseen results of family betrayal.

Critique: The very best stories are human ones, told with a compelling candor, offering insight into the human condition, and revealing what it truly means to live a life during 'interesting times'. Such is the case with "A Distant Heartbeat: A War, a Disappearance, and a Family's Secrets". Very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Distant Heartbeat" is also available in a Kindle edition.

The Half-Diet Diet
Richard Eyre
Familius LLC
1254 Commerce Way, Sanger, CA 93657
9781942934134, $16.95, PB, 196pp,

Synopsis: "The Half-Diet Diet" by Richard Eyre is an accessible and universal weight-loss program. Rather than focusing on convoluted and challenging diets, "The Half-Diet Diet" provides a simpler way to control your appetite and lose weight forever and is presented in three 'levels': Level One: The Physical Diet Learn what your body really needs and how controlling your appetite is about more than physical strength; Level Two: The Mental Diet Learn to live more fully at half speed, and strengthen your mind to be master of your body; Level Three: The Spiritual Diet Connect to your body and mind through your spirit. More than just a weight-loss program, The Half-Diet Diet helps you meet your weight-loss goals by taming your physical, mental, and spiritual appetites.

Critique: Offering a thoroughly 'user friendly' and practical approach, "The Half-Diet Diet" is especially recommended to men and women seriously seeking to improve their body, mind, and spirit. Very highly recommended for community library Health & Medicine instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Half-Diet Diet" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Beyond Rain Man
Anne K. Ross
Leatherback Press
9780997040005, $16.00, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: Although one child in 68 is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, psychologist Anne Ross is stunned when she learns her son has Asperger's Syndrome. The diagnosis propels her more deeply into her life's work with children on the spectrum. Her compelling and lyrical story of raising her son and preparing him for adulthood is one of anguish as well as joy, and what she learns along the way will help other families who are living this perplexing, remarkable, and humbling journey of parenthood.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Beyond Rain Man: What One Psychologist Learned Raising a Son on the Autism Spectrum" by school psychologist with three decades of experience working in public schools in Northern California is especially recommended for parents and the care providers of children with Asperger's Syndrome. "Beyond Rain Man" is a critically important addition to community and academic library Parenting Studies instructional reference collections in general, and Asperger Syndrome supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

And Then There Were Three
Julia G. Fox
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
9781457541063, $14.99, PB, 116pp,

Synopsis: "And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha" is a poignant and poetic memoir, in which Julie G. Fox chronicles the reunion of her husband, George, with his former lover from college, Sasha-a man, who is living a double life in a culture where his homosexuality could result in imprisonment or worse. As Sasha enters their life, both husband and wife must learn to navigate and explore the challenges and complexities of a polyamorous reality together against a backdrop of cultural and societal expectations and judgments. Presented as a collection of letters, "And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha" is an intensely personal reflection that examines and questions the dynamic and often challenging elements of marriage, relationships, and acceptance, as well as the nature of love itself.

Critique: Candid, intimate, deftly written, and an inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha" is especially recommended to the attention of those who are contemplating, or already engaged in, a polyamorous relationship. Recommended for academic library Human Sexuality reference collections, it should be noted that "And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Expectation Hangover
Christine Hassler
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608682416, $24.95, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: When our expectations are met and things go according to plan, we feel accomplished, in control, and on track. But when life does not live up to our expectations, we end up with what author Christine Hassler calls an Expectation Hangover. This condition happens when a desired result is not met, an outcome is achieved but it does not give us the feelings we thought it would, life throws us a curve ball, or we simply do not feel we are living up to the expectations placed upon us (by ourselves or others). Expectations are pervasive in our lives; therefore, so is disappointment, which costs us valuable time and energy if not treated effectively. For those facing a loss, going through a life transition, or wanting to learn how to stop setting so many expectations, "Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life" provides a treatment plan for how to process Expectation Hangovers on the emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual levels. Using powerful exercises, guided meditations, and inspiring true stories, readers will learn how use Expectation Hangovers as catalysts for profound transformation and doorways that open to possibility. They will come to understand why their Expectation Hangover happened and a clear course of action to pursue their goals while preventing future disappointment.

Critique: Practical, informative, insightful, and thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, content, organization and presentation, "Expectation Hangover: Overcoming Disappointment in Work, Love, and Life" is very strongly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that Chrstine Hassler's "Expectation Hangover" is also available in a paperback edition (9781608683840, $15.95) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Reading Alice Munro: 1973-2013
Robert Thacker
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive, N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
9781552388396, $37.24, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: Alice Ann Munro (born 10 July 1931) is a Canadian short story writer and Nobel Prize winner. In "Reading Alice Munro, 1973-2013", the world's leading Munro scholar Robert Thacker (Professor of Canadian Studies and English at St. Lawrence University) offers a critical overview of Alice Munro and her writing spanning forty years. Beginning with a newly written overarching introduction, featuring directive interleaved commentaries addressing chronology and contexts, ending with encompassing afterword, this collection provides a selection of essays and reviews that reflect their times and tell the story of Munro's emergence and recognition as an internationally acclaimed writer since the 1970s. Acknowledging her beginnings and her persistence as a writer of increasingly exceptional short stories, and just short stories, it treats her career through Thacker's criticism up to her fourteenth collection, "Dear Life: Stories" (Vintage Books, 9780307743725, $15.95 PB, $11.99 Kindle, 336pp), and to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. Altogether, "Reading Alice Munro: 1973-2013 encompasses the whole trajectory of Munro's critical presence while offering a singularly informed retrospective perspective.

Critique: A masterpiece of literary criticism, "Reading Alice Munro: 1973-2013" should be considered an essential study of the life and work of Canada's premier short story writer and a critically important addition to academic library Contemporary Canadian Literary Studies collections. Also very highly recommended for college and university Canadian Literature collections are Professor Thacker's two previous works on Alice Munro: "Alice Munro: Writing Her Lives" (Emblem Editions, 9780771085109, $22.99 PB, $17.99 Kindle, 696pp) and "The Rest of the Story: Critical Essays on Alice Munro" (ECW Press, 9781550223927, $75.00, PB, 224pp).

Girlhood and the Politics of Place
Claudia Mitchel & Carrie Rentschler, editors
Berghahn Books
20 Jay Street, Suite 512, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9780857456021, $150.00, HC, 356pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Claudia Mitchell (the James McGill Professor in the Faculty of Education at McGill University and an Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa) and Carrie Rentschler (Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar of Feminist Media Studies in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies and Director of the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at McGill University), "Girlhood and the Politics of Place" examines context-specific conditions in which girls live, learn, work, play, and organize deepens the understanding of place-making practices of girls and young women worldwide. Focusing on place across health, literary and historical studies, art history, communications, media studies, sociology, and education allows for investigations of how girlhood is positioned in relation to interdisciplinary and transnational research methodologies, media environments, geographic locations, historical and social spaces. "Girlhood and the Politics of Place" offers a comprehensive reading on how girlhood scholars construct and deploy research frameworks that directly engage girls in the research process.

Critique: Comprised of eighteen erudite, informative, and insightful articles by experts in their field, "Girlhood and the Politics of Place" is enhanced with the further inclusion of an illuminating Introduction (The Significance of Place in Girlhood Studies); an Epilogue; numerous figures and a table (Focus Schools); and a twenty-one page Index. Presenting a body of seminal and original scholarship, "Girlhood and the Politics of Place" is an extraordinary study and highly recommended for both college and university library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Girlhood and the Politics of Place" is also available in a paperback edition (9781785330179, $34.95) and in a Kindle format ($31.30).

North of Here
Laurel Saville
Lake Union Publishing
9781503951242, $24.95, HC, 257pp,

Synopsis: The sounds of unexpected tragedies, a roll of thunder, the crash of metal on metal, leave Miranda in shock amid the ruins of her broken family. As she searches for new meaning in her life, Miranda finds quiet refuge with her family's handyman, Dix, in his cabin in the dark forests of the Adirondack Mountains. Dix is kind, dependable, and good with an ax, as well as just the right man to help the sheltered Miranda heal. But ultimately, her sadness creates a void even he can't fill. When a man from her distant past turns up, the handsome idealist now known as Darius, he offers Miranda a chance to do meaningful work at The Source, a secluded property filled with his nature worshipers. Miranda feels this charismatic guru is the key to remaking her life, but her grief and desire for love also create an opportunity for his deception. And in her desperate quest to find herself after losing almost everything, Miranda and Dix could pay a higher price than they ever imagined.

Critique: Deftly crafted, intensely engaging, inherently absorbing, "North of Here" clearly demonstrates author Laurel Saville's impressively and original storytelling skills as an expert novelist. Very highly recommended as being an enduringly popular selection for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "North of Here" is also available in a paperback edition (9781503949980, $14.95) and in a Kindle format ($5.99).

Julie Summers

Kevin's Bookshelf

Devouring Time
Patty Lesser
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781508472247, $17.99, PB, 302pp,

"That is how heavy a secret can become. It can make blood flow easier than ink." - Patrick Rothfuss

Author Patty Lesser's novel 'Devouring Time' narrates the happenings inside an old English country-house in Canada. Marcus, a solicitor from London has been entrusted with delivering a special package to the heiress of an old mansion. What happens thereafter includes the revelation of a secret treasure, relatives clamoring for their share in the riches and an unexpected death in the family. When an investigation is launched to identify the murderer, more secrets and the true nature of the family members gets revealed.

The narration in Devouring Time has a laidback approach to it, and is very much reminiscent of the posh, aristocratic mansion the story is set in. Though it's touted as a mystery book, the novel isn't in a hurry to introduce you to all the characters and then reveal the big mystery within the story. Art plays a major part in the narrative, what with almost all the characters being connoisseurs of classical and modern paintings. And just like how you would go about painting a fine picture; the author has taken her time in constructing the scenes and in applying the right shades and tones.

Although Marcus Tate is introduced as a core protagonist in the narration, the book actually has a bevy of colorful characters that keeps the plot moving forward. There's nothing special about his character, but it is fun to see his life unravel and dissimilate as he interacts more with the family members of the mansion. Margaret plays the love interest to Marcus; she is also the sole character with integrity amidst her greedy relatives. Other notable characters that make an impression with their characteristics and their dialogues include Richard, Lillian, Marilyn, Victor and the stone faced but loyal butler Howard.

Actually, all the characters in this novel can be the subjects in a compelling case study about human nature. Their behavior and antics even in the midst of a tragedy shows that sometimes human beings can value personal richness and comfort over other moralistic compulsions like truth and justice. This is an interesting reveal into the human psyche and is something that the author has attempted in her earlier book A Discerning Heart as well. While the latter was set in the fantasy genre, Devouring Time has a more modern and real-life feel to it.

The book can't be classified as just another Whodunit fiction; although the novel has all the elements of a mystery book - a huge mansion filled with a diverse array of characters, a secret room with a precious treasure, conniving characters that stand to benefit from the death of the matriarch and even a mysterious butler to boot. Devouring Time is primarily a character driven story and an introspection into the worldly compulsions that prompts us to behave in a certain manner. The mystery element merely binds the story together and keeps the reader engaged till the end.

Patty Lesser has spun a different tale based on the mold of classic mystery stories, and regular readers of hers will appreciate the different voice she has employed here.

The Crossbow Code
MC Raj
Panther House Paper & Digital Publication LLP
9788193201121, $17.00, PB, 364pp,

"There is nothing more provocative than minding your own business." - William S. Burroughs

Author M C Raj's novel 'The Crossbow Code' is a fictional story set in the past but is one that has it bearings in the present of today and perhaps of the conceivable future. Set across three different continents and as many countries, we follow a man, a stranger amidst a sea of humanity, a man named Kris. He is a provocateur, a philosopher, a man of ideas and higher ideals. In his adventures he interacts with various men, some ordinary while others some of the most notable figures from the history of mankind. Through his provocations we get to see and understand the other side of the heroes and institutions that we adore so much.

First up I have to let you know that this isn't your regular thriller novel, and although theme wise it resembles other popular books, this one is more of an ideological thriller-fiction. While strong characterizations along with solid plotting are a prerequisite for any novel; where such books differ is in the integration of the author's ideas - ideas that try to invigorate and channel our preconditioned minds into accepting newer facts and also be made aware of situations that we are ignorant about. But such ideological fiction often faces a familiar risk, of such ideas getting buried under bad writing, but that isn't the case here as the execution is wonderful as well. It succeeds in using its plot situations and allegories to open up arguments and discourses about a variety of topics.

The Crossbow Code works also as a good exposition into information about important people and movements from around the world. And you will be impressed not only by the content but also by the mode of delivery the author has chosen here. The reader gets a crash course in the Indian independence struggle, its leaders, the prevailing caste system, its ills, and also on the unreported side of Christianity. And once you get used to the narrative, the flow of events that will remind you of an expose documentary gels well together and never feels forced.

There isn't a lot that I found wrong with the book, but at times I felt the author went overboard in trying to make his point. Kris for most part appears as a grounded and a courageous fellow, the hero amongst us asking questions we have all wanted to ask. But sometimes his larger-than-life persona tends to put him in the same ranks as the idols he questions. Also, within the plot work I felt a lot of areas could've been handled more subtly, instead of going for an all out, crude and in-your-face treatment.

MC Raj's writing on humankind, women, love, religion and sexuality through his character Kris puts a greater emphasis on scientific and rational arguments than on tradition based or culture closed arguments. The book succeeds in reminding us what it means to be a human.

In the end, this is a book that I think a lot of people will enjoy. There's a bit of history lesson in it, there's a bit of paranoiac dystopian future reality in it, and it also suggests ways by which we can overhaul our social order for the better. There's plenty here to suggest that a brilliant mind was at work here, and it is an important read, especially for the times we live in.

Smooth Intentions 2
Kimberly Stewart
Dreamgirl Publishing
9780692504062, $15.58, PB, 164pp,

"Vengeance is one of life's great motivators." - K.S. Brooks

Author Kimberly Stewart's novel 'Smooth Intentions 2' focuses on the life of the protagonist Skylar Clark. She runs the family business of Clark Enterprises but she is also a trained street fighter, a true-blue femme fatale. In this adventure story, she is hunting down the man responsible for murdering her grandfather. But she inadvertently stumbles upon a plot involving soldiers influenced by mind control and the mafia trying to smuggle guns out of the army. It is the second book in the Smooth Intentions series.

Skylar looks and behaves like a normal young woman but Skylar has a secret. She has been trained in martial arts and in weapons discharge by her friends. And she has had to rely on her fighting skills in the past when bad people hurt her family. So she carries around this fury and plots on getting revenge on the people responsible for wronging her family. But she isn't consumed by this and has learned to keep it under check so that she can live her life. She tries to live a normal life by heading the family business, by being kind and considerate to others and also finding time for love and romance on the sidelines. But if you mess with her or the ones she loves, that's when you get to see her wild side. Then she is all fury and vengeance raining down on her enemies.

This is a book that works mainly because of its good characterizations; while the plot placements and their expansion do have scope for development. And precisely for this reason, the book doesn't grab your full attention like a regular thriller is supposed to. But it still keeps you engaged and you end up turning the next page, mainly because you want to know what Skylar does next. There's a cliffhanger in the book but only after the mission that haunts the protagonist gets resolved. The promise of a next book actually sounded interesting to me, because I really would like to find out more about the character of Skylar. But it isn't just her but other characters like Rico, Monty and Kenny that makes the book an enjoyable read. There are a lot of action scenes as well, and while I would have loved for the author to portray it in a more detailed manner, it's good fun nonetheless.

The book could have focused more on the main plot of Skylar going after Mr. Bowler instead of diverting its attention towards a sub-plot that takes our attention away from the amazing Skylar. But these are just minor negative points. It's tough to classify Smooth Intentions 2 as an outright revenge saga or a thriller. It works mainly because of its chief protagonist.

I haven't read the previous book in this series, but I didn't feel it was necessary to enjoy Skylar and Rico's addictive and adventurous story!

Dark Auction
Joann Harris
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781506014357, $11.99, PB, 164pp
B00SN688IY, $4.60 Kindle,

"There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand." - Mary Shelley

Author Joann Harris' novel 'The Dark Auction' is set in a world where witches, warlocks and powerful sorcerers don't think twice before wreaking havoc to get what they want. The story is set around a mysterious auction that is conducted every 30 years, where the top prize is a powerful dark power. Laura Johnson is a witch who has to team up with her father's friend Edward to get to the auction. She isn't after the prize but the killer who murdered her father to get their hands on the invitation to the auction.

The narrative in The Dark Auction is surprisingly engaging and refreshing to read in spite of its overused theme found in dime a dozen YA genre books. There is an easy going feeling to it and it never feels contrived or like it's punching above its weight. There are no long winding and boring descriptions and yet you get a clear understanding of the characters and the setting. It follows a gentle and yet purposeful formula for setting up the characters and plot scenes. The action scenes in the book also deserve a mention. They aren't overdone; in fact they are imaginative and well executed. The bad guys are well defined and their actions will scare you. And someone like Ashmedia's allegiance to good/evil is questionable; he is an interesting character and is someone you would like to find out more about.

There are a number of important characters here who contribute towards the readability of the story. Chief among them are the protagonists, Laura Johnson and Edward Peters. Laura is someone who has tried to run away from her destiny of being a witch. Born to powerful parents who were connoisseurs of the dark power she too has her powers but she hasn't perfected them. Laura claims that she is the centre of everyone's attention because of a seductive spell put on her. But judging from her confidence in tackling even the difficult of situations one can deduce that she would always remain under the spotlight, spell or no spell. Edward is a college professor and is paranoiac by nature that inadvertently helps him out in a lot of situations. Unknown to him he too possesses a certain supernatural power, one that helps him turnaround situations to his benefit. He is vulnerable in love and shows his sensitive side while falling in love with Laura. These two have plenty of scenes together and be it knocking down doors of the enemy or the invincible doors to each other's minds, they are good together and have a wonderful and exciting sexual chemistry.

There isn't anything that I found problematic within the book, be it in the narration or the characterizations. There were a few editing errors in the copy I received but then again it was an ARC and I'm sure these must have been rectified before the book hit the stores.

Will there be another follow-up book? I don't know but let's hope so. Laura and Edward deserve another story to move their adventure forward.

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

From German Cavalry Officer to Reconnaissance Pilot
Paul L. Rempe, editor
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611213218, $27.95, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: Twenty-one-year-old Leonhard Rempe volunteered to serve Germany in 1914. By the time World War One ended, he had seen action on both major fronts, witnessed the war from the back of a horse and the cockpit of plane, and amassed one of the more unique records of anyone in the Kaiser's army. "From German Cavalry Officer to Reconnaissance Pilot: The World War I History, Memories, and Photographs of Leonhard Rempe, 1914-1921" is his remarkable story. Compiled with primary and secondary sources retired historian Paul Rempe deftly provides insight into the grim realities of Leonhard's war while his father's own memoir recalls his special comradeship with his fellow soldiers and airmen. From German Cavalry Officer to Reconnaissance Pilot adds substantially to the growing literature of the First World War, and paints a unique and compelling portrait of a young German caught up in the deadly jaws of mass industrialized war. Twenty-one-year-old Leonhard Rempe volunteered to serve Germany in 1914. By the time World War One ended, he had seen action on both major fronts, witnessed the war from the back of a horse and the cockpit of plane, and amassed one of the more unique records of anyone in the Kaiser's army. From German Cavalry Officer to Reconnaissance Pilot is his remarkable story.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of period photography; an Editor's Epilogue (Unpacking Memories in a New Country); an Appendix (Commendations for Military Service); four pages of Endnotes; a two page Bibliography; and a thirty-six page Index, "From German Cavalry Officer to Reconnaissance Pilot: The World War I History, Memories, and Photographs of Leonhard Rempe, 1914-1921" is an informed and informative contribution that is very highly recommended for community and academic library World War I reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "From German Cavalry Officer to Reconnaissance Pilot" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.77).

The 1916 Irish Rebellion
Briona Nic Dhiarmada
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268036140, $45.00, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: One hundred years ago, during Easter Week, 1916, rebel Irish leaders and their followers staged an armed uprising in the city of Dublin in an attempt to overthrow British rule and create an autonomous Irish republic. One week later, their rebellion ruthlessly quashed by British forces, the surviving insurgents were jailed and many of their leaders quickly executed. Though their rebellion had failed, their actions galvanized a growing population of sympathizers who would, in years to come, succeed in establishing an independent Irish state. Documentary writer, producer, and scholar Briona Nic Dhiarmada (who is the Thomas J. & Kathleen M. O'Donnell Professor of Irish Studies and concurrent professor of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame) has seized the occasion of the centenary of the Irish Rising to reassess this event and its historical significance.

Her book explores the crucial role of Irish Americans in both the lead-up to and the aftermath of the events in Dublin and places the Irish Rising in its European and global context, as an expression of the anti-colonialism that found its full voice in the wake of the First World War. The 1916 Irish Rebellion includes a historical narrative; a lavish spread of contemporary images and photographs; and a rich selection of sidebar quotations from contemporary documents, prisoners' statements, and other eyewitness accounts to capture the experiences of nationalists and unionists, Irish rebels and British soldiers, and Irish Americans during the turbulent events of Easter Week, 1916.

In the first part of the book, Nic Dhiarmada surveys Ireland's place as part of the British Empire in the decades leading up to 1916, with special emphasis on earlier Irish movements to achieve independence or at least some measure of self-governance. She then outlines the events leading to the Easter Rebellion of 1916, including the crucial events of Thursday through Saturday prior to Easter. The second part details the events of the Easter Rising and the week of violent fighting, ending in the failure of the armed insurrection in Dublin. Her third part discusses the fate of the leaders of the Rising, many of whom were immediately court-martialed and executed. Nic Dhiarmada suggests that the Irish Rising, its ideals, and the subsequent election of members of the nationalist movement to prominent government offices were instrumental to the later creation of the sovereign Republic of Ireland, as well as an inspiration to anti-colonialist insurrections elsewhere in the world.

Critique: The companion volume to a Public Television documentary, "The 1916 Irish Rebellion" is profusely embellished with period photography. The result is an informed, informative, and impressively well written history of one of the most significant political episodes in 20th century Irish History. "The 1916 Irish Rebellion" is an impressive work of sound scholarship that is especially recommended for both community and academic library Irish History collections.

John Greer: retroActive
David Diviney, editor
Goose Lane Editions
500 Beverbrook Court, Suite 330, Fredericton, NB, Canada, E3B 5X4
9780864928900, $65.00, HC, 350pp,

Synopsis: Sculptor, conceptual artist, and unconventional art maker John Greer has been telling stories through his work for more than fifty years. Drawing on his present and past experiences, his travels and exploits, and his anxieties and fears, his work offers poignant meditations on the human environment, all the while challenging the viewer's perspective with humour, intelligence, and a trail of narrative. Compiled and edited by David Diviney (Professor of Art History at the University of Toronto) "John Greer: retroActive" offers a comprehensive view of Greer's work and his commitment to the discourse of sculpture. Stunningly designed by Susanne Schaal and featuring the photographs of Raoul Manuel Schnell, "John Greer: retroActive" contains more than three hundred representations of Greer and his work (in situ, in galleries, in process) bringing into focus Greer's significant contributions to the world of art and ideas. Also included in "John Greer: retroActive" are essays by Ray Cronin, Andria Minicucci, Dennis Reid, Ron Shuebrook, David Diviney, Sarah Fillmore, and Vanessa Paschakarnis.

Critique: John Greer taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for almost three decades, where his thinking and teaching helped shape contemporary sculpture in Canada. His work has been included in more than fifty solo and sixty group exhibitions and is held in public and private collections around the globe. In 2009 Greer was the recipient of the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts (Canada's highest distinction in the field of art and culture). A coffee-table formatted compendium of profusely and beautifully reproduced images "John Greer: retroActive" is a truly exceptional and very highly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Canadian Art reference collections in general, and John Greer supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The Tennessee Campaign of 1864
Steven E. Woodworth & Charles D. Grear, editors
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive
SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809334520, $34.50, HC, 280pp,

Synopsis: Few American Civil War operations matched the controversy, intensity, and bloodshed of Confederate general John Bell Hood's ill-fated 1864 campaign against Union forces in Tennessee. In the first-ever anthology on the subject, "The Tennessee Campaign of 1864" is comprised of contributions by fourteen prominent historians and emerging scholars who examine the three-month operation, covering the battles of Allatoona, Spring Hill, and Franklin, as well as the decimation of Hood's army at Nashville. The contributors explore the campaign's battlefield action, including how Major General Andrew J. Smith's three aggressive divisions of the Army of Tennessee became the most successful Federal unit at Nashville; how vastly outnumbered Union troops held the Allatoona Pass; why Hood failed at Spring Hill and how the event has been perceived; and why so many of the Army of Tennessee's officer corps died at the Battle of Franklin -- where the Confederacy suffered a disastrous blow. An exciting inclusion is the diary of Confederate major general Patrick R. Cleburne, which covers the first phase of the campaign. Essays on the strained relationship between Ulysses S. Grant and George H. Thomas and on Thomas's approach to warfare reveal much about the personalities involved, and chapters about civilians in the campaign's path and those miles away show how the war affected people not involved in the fighting. An innovative case study of the fighting at Franklin investigates the emotional and psychological impact of killing on the battlefield, and other implications of the campaign include how the courageous actions of the U.S. Colored Troops at Nashville made a lasting impact on the African American community and how preservation efforts met with differing results at Franklin and Nashville. Canvassing both military and social history, "The Tennessee Campaign of 1864" is a well-researched volume that offers new, illuminating perspectives while furthering long-running debates on more familiar topics. These in-depth essays provide an expert appraisal of one of the most brutal and notorious campaigns in Civil War history.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Steven E. Woodworth (Professor of History at Texas Christian University) and Charles D. Grear (Professor of History at Central Texas College), "The Tennessee Campaign of 1864" is a major and welcome contribution to the growing library of American Civil War Studies and very highly recommended for all college and university library Civil War reference collections. Of immense interest for both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Civil War History, it should be noted that "The Tennessee Campaign of 1864" is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.98).

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

The New Farmers' Market
Vance Corum, Marcie Rosenzweig, and Eric Gibson
New World Publishing
9780963281470, $29.95, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: The farmers' market renaissance continues to grow throughout the country, and this is the revised and expanded second edition of "The New Farmers' Market" has become the farmers' market "bible". "The New Farmers' Market" now includes new chapters or sections on how farmers' markets are increasing sales by expanding product mix, and how farmers and farmers' markets are utilizing social media and internet marketing to increase markets success. Serving as a three-part guide, "The New Farmers' Market" is for those who want to learn how to sell produce at a market, promote the market, and foster appreciation for farmland while reinvigorating economic and social vitality in urban areas.

Critique: Illustrated with black/white photos throughout, "The New Farmers' Market" is thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, organization and presentation. Offering a complete and comprehensive instructional reference, "The New Farmers' Market" is the perfect guide to establishing and maintaining an effective farmers market operation in any community of any size. Simply stated, "The New Farmers' Market" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library reference collections.

The Floral Ghost
Susan Orlean, author
Philip Taaffe, artist
Planthouse Inc.
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9780986281495, $22.00, HC, 36pp,

Synopsis: "The Floral Ghost" is one-of-a-kind collaboration between acclaimed author Susan Orlean and celebrated artist Philip Taaffe which unites the literary and the visual, the nostalgic and the optimistic, and is an unabashed celebration of greenery. Taking inspiration from the rapidly dwindling "flower district" of New York City, "The Floral Ghost offer tandem musings by author and artist on the conceit of "the floral ghost". Orlean's essay, one of her first botanically themed writings since she penned the widely lauded "The Orchid Thief", reflects on a poignant moment when she first visited the district in its resplendent heyday. Her text is accompanied by Taaffe's colorful silkscreen monotypes-a bouquet of paper and ink recalling the unique yet universal nature of time passing and petals fading. An evocative rendering of both the memories of youth and the ephemeral nature of the cityscape, "The Floral Ghost" makes an elegant gift for every aspiring writer, artist and dreamer who moves to a city to make his or her mark or who admires its mutable glory from afar.

Critique: Memorable, beautiful, a touch nostalgic, and an inherently fascinating experience from beginning to end, "The Floral Ghost" is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community/academic library collections.

Sacred Journey
M. K. Welsch
ARE Press
215 - 67th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451-2061
9780876048627, $17.95, PB, 304pp,

Synopsis: Every person on this planet is on a sacred journey. And that journey is about you. Each moment of our lives spent on earth has profound meaning. Yesterday, tomorrow, and perhaps most importantly, today! The time has come to remember who we really are. In "Sacred Journey: Edgar Cayce, the Bible, and the Path to Enlightenment", M. K. Welsch weaves together a beautiful true story of our souls, our purpose, and our potential with ideas drawn from famed psychic Edgar Cayce and supportive passages from the Bible. "Sacred Journey" is a unique work that offers a new expansive perspective on what it means to be a savior and the impact of the Christ spirit on our world. It reveals Jesus, the Master-teacher, as our elder brother who left behind the pattern souls could follow to fulfill our holy purpose for entering into the earth.

Critique: M.K. Welsch is a 40-year student of the Edgar Cayce information and accomplished writer who has spent the majority of her professional career in the not-for-profit arena, helping dedicated people engender positive change in the world. A lifelong spiritual seeker, she has served on the Board of Trustees for the Association for Research and Enlightenment (A.R.E.) and written for its magazine, Venture Inward. "Sacred Journey: Edgar Cayce, the Bible, and the Path to Enlightenment" is the result of her many years of experience, reflection, insights, and expertise with respect to the work and philosophy of Edgar Cayce. Simply stated, "Sacred Journey" is the kind of deftly presented, life-altering study that is to be especially commended to the attention of theological scholars and non-specialist general readers alike.

Advanced Flying Star Feng Shui
Stephen Skinner
Golden Hoard
c/o Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
9780738749754, $65.00, HC, 376pp,

Synopsis: Feng shui is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment. It is closely linked to Daoism. Flying Star Feng Shui is a feng shui approach to explaining why our luck changes over time, and how we can stay one step ahead of it. The essence of Flying Star Feng Shui is to make sure that important functions like sleeping, eating, and studying are done in rooms or parts of the building with favorable feng shui configurations. Where this configuration is not favorable, Flying Star Feng Shui offers techniques for improving or reducing it. Contrary to popular misconception, Flying Star Feng Shui is completely compatible with Eight Mansion Feng Shui.

Critique: "Advanced Flying Star Feng Shui" by Stephen Skinner (the first Westerner to be awarded the title of Grand Master of Feng Shui by the International Feng Shui Association) is a complete course of instruction that is enhanced with the inclusion of numerous tables and illustrations, seventy-two pages of detailed Flying Star charts, explanatory translations from Classical Chinese texts, full substitute stars charts, and commentary on every single chart in Period 8. No personal, professional, or academic library feng shui collection can be considered comprehensive or complete without the inclusion of Stephen Skinner's "Advanced Flying Star Feng Shui".

Treat Concussion, TBI, and PTSD with Vitamins and Antioxidants
Kedar N. Prasad
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781620554357, $16.95, PB, 244pp,

Synopsis: Simply stated, this is the most up-to-date resource on nutritional supplements for the prevention and improved management of concussive injury, TBI, and PTSD. Author Kedar N. Prasad (chief scientific officer of the Premier Micronutrient Corporation, and the former director of the Center for Vitamins and Cancer Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine) Provides an easy-to-follow program of supplements to optimize the benefits of treatment programs and offer a method of prevention beyond the use of helmets; Shows how standard treatments do not address the oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and high glutamate levels that promote brain injury progression; Explains how single micronutrients do not provide the same preventive benefits as the synergistic combinations explored in the pages of "Treat Concussion, TBI, and PTSD with Vitamins and Antioxidants". A practical scientific guide, leading researcher in cancer, heart disease, "Treat Concussion, TBI, and PTSD with Vitamins and Antioxidants" reveals the latest revolutionary discoveries on the use of antioxidants and micronutrients to manage and prevent concussive injury, TBI, and PTSD. Offering the missing complement to standard medical care of brain injury as well as a form of prevention beyond the use of helmets, this guide provides a truly holistic approach to the prevention and management of concussive injury, TBI, and PTSD.

Critique: Informed and informative, as comprehensive as it is 'reader friendly', "Treat Concussion, TBI, and PTSD with Vitamins and Antioxidants" is exceptionally and impressively well organized and presented throughout. Highly recommended, especially for non-specialist general readers with an interest in human health and medical issues, "Treat Concussion, TBI, and PTSD with Vitamins and Antioxidants" is an ideal addition for community library Health/Medicine instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Treat Concussion, TBI, and PTSD with Vitamins and Antioxidants" is also available in a kindle edition ($10.99).

Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome
Maryanne Bruni
Woodbine House
6510 Bells Mill Road, Bethesda, MD 20817
9781606132593, $24.95, PB, 290pp,

Synopsis: Now in a thoroughly updated and significantly expanded third edition "Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals" describes how the characteristics of Down Syndrome can impact the acquisition and progression of fine motor skills. Maryanne Bruni (a registered occupational therapist) presents a thorough overview of the building blocks of fine motor development, from infancy through to adulthood including: Early arm and hand control; Stability; Bilateral coordination; Sensation; Dexterity. The step-by-step activities to build daily living skills for home and school include: Scissor skills; Pencil grasp development; Pre-printing, printing & cursive writing; Keyboard skills; Computer and tablet skills; Dressing, grooming, and feeding skills. "Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome" suggests ways to incorporate fine motor skill development opportunities into as many day-to-day activities as possible, recognizing how impractical it is to constantly be in therapy mode with a child. Of special note are the suggestions for gift ideas offered in Grandma's and Grandpa's lists at the end of each chapter. With expanded and updated information on fine motor skills and computer and personal electronic device use, keyboarding skills, postural support, sensory processing, and the adult years, readers will have at their fingertips a cornucopia of information and guidance to support the fine motor development of children and adults.

Critique: Simply stated, "Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals" should be read by anyone with caregiver or instructional responsibilities for a Down Syndrome child. Enhanced with the inclusion of Visual Motor Worksheets; a useful article on 'Don't Throw It Out! Household Items to Use for Hand Play'; a Glossary, a Bibliography; a list of Resources, and an Index, "Fine Motor Skills for Children with Down Syndrome" should be considered an essential, cored addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Down Syndrome instructional reference collections.

The Right Bite
Jackie Lynch
c/o Watkins Media Limited
9781848997301, $12.95, PB, 144pp,

Synopsis: Bran muffin or chocolate chip? Which wine is likely to do add the most inches to your waistline - red, white or sparkling? And if you're dying for a pizza, how can you keep the damage to a minimum? Faced with this type of difficult decision, "The Right Bite" is here to help you make the least bad choice. It's full of accessible, practical advice for all those everyday occasions when you might be tempted to have a little treat but don't want to do too much damage. Each chapter focuses on a different eating environment, including coffee shops, bars, takeout, the movies and even a family barbecue. For each situation "The Right Bite" explores the type of foods likely to be available and compares them, explaining the main health pitfalls and highlighting a top pick for each one. Of special note are the Fact Boxes which are scattered throughout give you extra tips and expert advice; Nutrition Numbers that will help you compare and weigh up your options instantly; and Understanding Key Nutrients which explains the main food groups . Packed from cover to cover with savvy advice, "The Right Bite" is small enough to slip in your bag, making it a practical one-stop guide for anyone facing difficult food choices in the real world.

Critique: Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and runs the WellWellWell clinics in West London. In "The Right Bite" she draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to provide a thoroughly 'user friendly' instructional reference guide that will be especially appreciated by readers seeking to eat sensibly and healthily wherever they may be. Very highly recommended, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Right Bite" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

And So Is The Bus: Jerusalem Stories
Yossel Birstein
Dryad Press
PO Box 11233, Takoma Park, Maryland 20913
9781928755234, $15.95, PB, 146pp,

Synopsis: Able translated into English from the Hebrew by Margaret Birstein, Hana Inbar and Robert Manaster, each of the twenty-one stories comprising Israeli author Yossel Birstein's "And So Is The Bus: Jerusalem Stories" draws from his encounters with the daily riders of Jerusalem's many bus lines, including housewives, Chasids, beautiful women, a blind man, a shoemaker, an angry daughter, bus drivers, and more. These scrupulous translations give the reader a genuine "feel" for the tone of Birstein's Yiddishized Hebrew, a tone that in savoring personalities and conversations is empathically attuned to his chance meetings from one day to the next.

Critique: Enhanced with an informative Foreword by Clive Sinclair, "And So Is The Bus: Jerusalem Stories" firmly establishes Yossel Birstein as an impressively gifted storyteller and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library literary fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "And So Is The Bus: Jerusalem Stories" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.95).

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

China, India and the Future of International Society
Jamie Gaskarth, editor
Rowman & Littlefield
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781783482597, $120.00, HC, 184pp,

Synopsis: China and India have huge potential to exert global influence due to their geography, population size and material resources. Now their spectacular economic growth has led many commentators to predict a shift in power from West to East and the dawn of an "Asian century" based on Asian values. But what are these values? Does economic power neatly translate into political power? Will China and India wish to challenge the existing ethical framework of international society?

Compiled and edited by Jamie Gaskarth (Senior Lecturer in international relations at the University of Plymouth, UK), "China, India and the Future of International Society" argues that it is vital to understand how China and India view international society in order to anticipate their impact as they achieve ascendancy. In seven informed and informative articles, the seven erudite contributors deft explore the evolution of these states' attitudes towards concepts such as sovereignty, international society, power transitions, normative power, and ethical trends, and addresses how they have sought to promote their own normative identities and policy agenda thus far. Unpicking common assumptions about these rising powers, "China, India and the Future of International Society" engages in a systematic consideration of the ethical attitudes of China and India in the national context and goes on to examine how those translate into their interactions with international society.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction and Conclusion by Professor Gaskarth, "China, India and the Future of International Society" is further enhanced with the inclusion of an eighteen page Bibliography and an eleven page Index. A solid work of detailed scholarship, "China, India and the Future of International Society" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library International Studies reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "China, India and the Future of International Society" is also available in a paperback edition ( 9781783482603, $39.95) and in a Kindle format ($37.95).

A Fluid Frontier
Karolyn Smardz Frost & Veta Smith Tucker, editors
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814339596, $34.99, PB, 360pp,

Synopsis: As the major gateway into British North America for travelers on the Underground Railroad, the U.S./Canadian border along the Detroit River was a boundary that determined whether thousands of enslaved people of African descent could reach a place of freedom and opportunity. In "A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland", editors Karolyn Smardz Frost and Veta Smith Tucker explore the experiences of the area's freedom-seekers and advocates, both black and white, against the backdrop of the social forces-legal, political, social, religious, and economic-that shaped the meaning of race and management of slavery on both sides of the river.

In five parts, contributors trace the beginnings of and necessity for transnational abolitionist activism in this unique borderland, and the legal and political pressures, coupled with African Americans' irrepressible quest for freedom, that led to the growth of the Underground Railroad. A Fluid Frontier details the founding of African Canadian settlements in the Detroit River region in the first decades of the nineteenth century with a focus on the strong and enduring bonds of family, faith, and resistance that formed between communities in Michigan and what is now Ontario. New scholarship offers unique insight into the early history of slavery and resistance in the region and describes individual journeys: the perilous crossing into Canada of sixteen-year-old Caroline Quarlls, who was enslaved by her own aunt and uncle; the escape of the Crosswhite family, who eluded slave catchers in Marshall, Michigan, with the help of others in the town; and the international crisis sparked by the escape of Lucie and Thornton Blackburn and others.

With a foreword by David W. Blight, "A Fluid Frontier" is a truly bi-national collection, with contributors and editors evenly split between specialists in Canadian and American history, representing both community and academic historians. Scholars of the Underground Railroad as well as those in borderland studies will appreciate the interdisciplinary mix and unique contributions of this volume.

Critique: Comprised of thirteen erudite, informed and informative contributions, "A Fluid Frontier: Slavery, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad in the Detroit River Borderland" is an impressive work of seminal scholarship and a very highly valued addition to academic library American History and 19th Century Black History collections. While of enduring value for academia, "A Fluid Frontier" will also prove to be of exceptional interest to the non-specialist general reader with respect to the history of the 18th Century abolitionist movement in general, and the famed 'underground railroad' in particular.

When Money Talk$
Derek Cressman
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
9781626565760 $17.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Special-interest money is destroying our democratic process. But now that the Citizens United decision has thrown out campaign spending limits as abridgments of free speech, Americans want to know what they can do about it. Derek Cressman gives us the tools, both intellectual and tactical, to fight back.

There's nothing inherently unconstitutional in limiting the amount of speech, Cressman insists. We do it all the time - for example, cities control when and where demonstrations can take place or how long people can speak at council meetings. Moreover, he argues that while you choose to patronize Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal, political advertising is forced upon you. It's not really free speech at all - it's paid speech. It's not at all what the Founders had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment.

Cressman examines how courts have foiled attempts to limit campaign spending, details what a constitutional amendment limiting paid speech should say, and reveals an overlooked political tool concerned citizens can use to help gain the amendment's passage. Seven times before in our history we have approved constitutional amendments to overturn wrongheaded rulings by the Supreme Court - there's no reason we can't do it again.

Critique: When Money Talk$: The High Price of "Free" Speech and the Selling of Democracy warns readers about the dangers of unfettered corporate money influencing elections, and therefore governmental policy. Nothing less than a constitutional amendment can change the Supreme Court ruling "Citizens United", so the time has come to champion this cause. Passionate, strident, insightful, and inspiring, When Money Talk$ is highly recommended.

Essential Expositions of the Psalms
Saint Augustine
Translation and notes by Edmund Hill OP & Maria Boulding OSB
New City Press
202 Cardinal Rd., Hyde Park, NY 12538
9781565485105 $39.95

Synopsis: Essential Expositions of the Psalms is a collection distilled from the 6-volume set in the Works of Saint Augustine. As the psalms are a microcosm of the Old Testament, so the Expositions of the Psalms can be seen as a microcosm of Augustinian thought. In the Book of Psalms are to be found the history of the people of Israel, the theology and spirituality of the Old Covenant, and a treasury of human experience expressed in prayer and poetry. So too does the work of expounding the psalms recapitulate and focus the experiences of Augustine's personal life, his theological reflections and his pastoral concerns as Bishop of Hippo.

Critique: Skillfully translated and enhanced with meticulous notes, Essential Expositions of the Psalms condenses Saint Augustine's classic Christian texts into a digest accessible to readers of all backgrounds. Essential Expositions of the Psalms is an excellent, user-friendly resource for Bible study groups, and public or church library Christian Studies shelves. Highly recommended!

Jack Mason

Mayra's Bookshelf

In Time For You
Chris Karlsen
c/o Books to Go Now
P.O. Box 1283, Poulsbo, WA 98370
B019JKXR5G, $2.99 Kindle
1522714030, $12.95 PB, 348pp,

Genre: Historical romance/travel element

While horseback riding in the English countryside, sisters Electra and Emily Crippen find themselves trapped in a tear in time back to 1357 England. Captured by a local noble, they are in a place that is frightening and unfamiliar. With no idea how to go back in time, they must stay together to try to discover the way back to their modern life.

Meanwhile, Electra's lover Roger Marchand, a time traveler himself, realizes what has happened to the sisters and enlists the help of a scientist friend to help him open the suspected passageway through the cost of his own life...

In and Out All 'Round About - Opposite Friends
Penelope Anne Cole
Magical Book Works
9780692617502, $9.50, PB, 32 Pages,

Children's Picture Book

I really enjoyed this the latest children's picture book by Penelope Anne Cole. Written in short, rhythmical verse, the story illustrates and celebrates the very special friendship between a boy and a girl of different races. She's white; he's African American. They share together the ups and downs that happen in their lives, they learn together and grow to be better human beings. Eventually they must live in separate parts of the world - but not even distance can diminish their friendship.

In and Out, All 'Round - Opposite Friends stimulates children's minds because it invites reflection. It's a good book that a parent or adult may read to the child and ask questions about the illustrations and the meaning of the words. The very nice illustrations well complement the story. A story that promotes love and friendship between children of different races, In and Out, All 'Round - Opposite Friends comes recommended from this reviewer.

This was a very entertaining read! Having read the earlier instalments in the series, I was familiar with the overall series plot and some of the characters. The book can be read as standalone, but I highly recommend you read the earlier ones for optimum enjoyment.

While the relationship between Roger and Electra is important in this story, I think Emily and Simon's love story takes center stage. Simon is one the court's knights and has been scarred terribly both physically and psychologically, thus the way their love evolves is both touching and compelling. I especially liked and sympathized with Emily. While I also like Electra, Emily seems the more kind-hearted, wilful and impulsive of the two.

There are two elements that made me love the book. One, the differences in speech and language expressions between time periods clash at times, resulting in many humorous scenes and comic relief between the action and adventure. Second, the author illustrates how women were prejudiced against and treated so differently during medieval times. We take for granted women's liberation, but it's shocking to see how very little rights women have had in the past.

The story moves back and forth between time periods to show how Emily and Electra are coping in medieval England and how Roger and his scientist friend--quite an endearing character, I must say!--come up with a way to travel back in time in order to bring them back. The ending was satisfying and felt just right.

In sum, if you're a fan of time-travel romance, be sure to pick this one up. It brings hours of fun, pure escapism.

The Asset
Anna del Mar
Carina Press
9781459293526, $3.99, Kindle, 336 pages,

Trying to survive from a deadly past that torments her, Lia Stewart is hiding in a small Rocky Mountain town until, one day, a wounded warrior with a dog shows on her doorstep; a gravely injured SEAL with a heart and soul just as tortured as hers. Against her best judgment, she decides to help him - a kind act that may cost her life.

The Asset by Anna del Mar is an emotionally compelling and sizzling romance, has two protagonists to die for, a well-thought out plot with carefully-timed, revealing twists, mounting tension, and thrills that will keep you turning pages.

From the beginning, I was hooked with the story and mystery. I was also impressed with the quality of the writing and the emotionally compelling aspect of the romance as it evolved between Lia and Ash. The backstory was deftly handled by this promising author. Bits and pieces of information about the characters and their stories bring one to light as the story progresses. Each new revelation seems to be more important then the previous one and adds to the novel's sense of impending danger as it approaches the climax.

Aside from the lead characters there is also a lethal antagonist and an adorable German shepherd in the mix. While the former is of course important to the plot line, the latter gives the story, and readers, needed breaks from the tension.

Anna del Mar is an exciting new name in the steamy romance genre and I look forward to reading more from her. If you love romance, especially military romance, this is a must read!

Mayra Calvani

Molly's Bookshelf

Pancakes: 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack
Adrianna Adarme
Terri Lyn Fisher, Illustrator/Photographer
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250012494, $21.99, Paperback, 176 pages,

Genre: Cookbook

Adrianna Adarme's PANCAKES 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack is a work of 162 pages filled with recipes, color photos and anecdotes set in place by the founder of A Cozy Kitchen blog.

The book is a well-made paperback edition having glossy, thick paper covers. Covers extend longer than the pages, are folded front and back ... useful for holding the page last perused, and have notes regarding the recipes, the author and her blog.

Photos offered by Teri Lyn Fisher are colorful, representative of the particular recipes to be found in the book and often shown as 1 of a 2-page spread of photo and recipe.

The Table of Contents begins with Acknowledgements, and continues with Introduction, Basic Pancake Recipes, Breakfast Pancakes, Dinner Pancakes, Toppings and finally an Index.

I found the Introduction to be particularly informative, especially for the novice cook; it begins with a charming recollection of the writer's childhood as she learned to prepare pancake batter under the tutelage of her dad. While the pancakes produced were from a mix, and did not taste as do the ones offered by the writer; she was provided with a lovely reminisce of childhood, along with a determination to better the batter.

Use of Buttermilk, and use of buttermilk powder, vinegar, lemon juice and milk, a caution to not overmix the batter, what to do with too thin or thick batters, fruit and other add ins to the batter, size of the cakes, perfect cooking temperature, use of the oven, syrups, especially the delicious use of real maple syrup, salt and a nice section on Pancake tools and Supplies.

The author tells her own preference for using cast iron skillets for cooking, before she continues to explain use of bowls, liquid measuring cups, pancake spatula, perhaps known as the pancake turner fish spatula, muffin pan, and more.

First section is Basic Pancake Recipes and include what the author states she like to consider as classics; Buttermilk, Vegan, Gluten free and Crepes. They are perfect as is, and work well with add ins to suit personal taste. Personally I like to add chocolate bits to any and everything, and esp to pancakes.

Second section is Breakfast Pancakes; an offering of 28 pancakes suitable for breakfast, snacks and anytime the notion strikes. Beginning with orange and chocolate chip pancakes, the reader is made hungry with photos of some plainish, and other really fanciful offerings; apple pie is one. Carrot cake pancakes drizzled with Cream Cheese Glaze are delish, as are the banana bread.

In this section writer cook Adarme provides some offerings perhaps not always thought of when preparing pancakes. Dutch babies, popovers, crepes as well as spiced pumpkin and gingerbread for the holidays, oatmeal and multi grain for the health conscious, several varieties of chocolate, or with fruit add-ins are all included.

Third section, the Dinner Pancakes begins with zip -jalapeno corn cakes, and dashes onward to provide 21 separate, easy to prepare, delicious to eat recipes.

Latkes include sour cream and cheese, and sweet potato. From spicy black bean cakes, to fried mac and cheese, to parmesan mushroom risotto cakes, zucchini fritters, cheddar chive or garlic and parmesan popovers, a super gruyere and ham Dutch baby and buckwheat crepes; there is something to please every diner.

Pretty green spinach pancakes are a delight for St Paddy's.

The last section is entitled Toppings. Beginning with a selection berry butters, fruit syrups, an avocado butter; this section may inspire a cook to try various combinations to create their own butters, syrups and tasty toppings.

A four-page index at the end of the book compliments the table of contents to enable adventuresome cooks finding just the right recipe for breakfast, lunch, snack or supper.

When my daughter in law picked up Adrianna Adarme's PANCAKES 72 Sweet and Savory Recipes for the Perfect Stack, I knew I had to have a copy.

Pancakes and waffles too have been a long standing meal beginning for my family. Feted across all ethnic groups, prepared through use of a diversity of ingredients and prepared by varied cultures worldwide, throughout time; pancakes are the definitive universal food.

And, I just enjoy collecting and using cook books.

I found the book to be well made, needs to be if it is to be used often and ongoing. The long over-lap type covers are perfect for indicating the recipe to be tried, the one in preparation or the one last used. The shiny, smooth cover can easily be wiped cleaned without worry that the paper will soon deteriorate should a spill happen. Binding is glued pages ... and so far no problem, the pages are staying glued despite multi uses.

Striking photographs invite the reader to try their hand using the pictured pancake result. Recipes are easily read, easily followed with the ingredient list placed along the left or right margin. Makes shopping easy should something needed not be a staple in the individual kitchen.

The complete ingredient list, easy to follow directions for batter preparation and fine product created will be welcomed by novice and experienced cooks alike. The author adds anecdotes as a short italicized paragraph atop the recipe directions themselves. I like that.

The author suggests keeping pancakes warm in the oven in order to assure that diners, be they family, holiday crowd or friends over for the weekend can enjoy their pancakes warm and delicious together.

This is a book to be referred to often, to help the cook begin to think of pancakes as something more than a circle of cooked batter on the plate, smooshed with butter and doused with syrup; it is a selection of recipes sure to intrigue, delight and satisfy whether used for creating a hearty breakfast, or for a winter supper filled with good scents in the kitchen and delicious food on the table.

I find many of the recipes, the four basic recipes, honey and oat, whole wheat, and banana bread lend themselves very well to being prepared as waffles too.

Amazon - About the Author: ADRIANNA ADARME is an enthusiastic home cook and food blogger who lives in Los Angeles. In 2009, she started her blog, A Cozy Kitchen, which has become a place people visit to hear entertaining anecdotes about daily life and to find delicious, comforting recipes from Adrianna's kitchen. Her work has been featured in Food52, Etsy, A Cup of Jo, Fine Cooking, and the Los Angeles Times.

Vikings: A History of the Norse People
Martin J Dougherty Picture
Picture Research: Terry Forshaw
Amber Books Ltd
9781782740612, $11.02 HC, $9.99 Kindle, 224pp,

Genre: education, historical

Martin J Dougherty's VIKINGS A History of the Norse People is a volume is filled with maps, drawings, photos of surviving artefacts and well researched text.

CONTENTS Introduction It is in the introduction that historian/writer Dougherty offers the assertion that hardly any peoples or groups have ever such an impact on common ethos as had the Vikings. From that bold declaration the author sets out to substantiate his contention. Referring to chronological confirmation, The Reader learns that what is acknowledged regarding the Norse People is gleaned from many sources; and we learn to that none of the sources are wholly trustworthy.

Chapter 1 origins of the Vikings Early peoples became cognizant of the society we refer to today as the Vikings; in 793 AD, when a group of plunderers from across the North Sea landed on Lindisfarne Island and despoiled the monastery there.

This chapter discusses early inhabitance of Vikings in Scandinavia. The Iron Age was an interval Archaeological finds suggest Scandinavians of the period, perhaps in large numbers, launched seaborne incursions as well as engaged in building hillforts and other defenses for themselves. During the years between 400 and 800 AD, The Period was a hectic time in most of Europe.

The Dawn of the Viking Age appears to have launched in 789 when three ships, likely Norse, landed in Weymouth on what is today is recognized to be a trading expedition which rapidly devolved into a brawl complete with use of axe and swords.

Chapter 2 the old Norse religion Dougherty familiarizes the reader to the Valkyries, Elves, Dwarves and Norns ... the three women who could see the past, present and future and decided the fate of every person; the idea of Valhalla, the Viking Gods, chief of them Odin, along with Thor, Aegir, Loki, and many others, as well as funeral rites, ships and pyres, religious practices including feasts and sacrifices, holy sites and temples.

Chapter 3 Viking Law and Social Order While Vikings are regularly represented across the board as lawless savages, Viking culture did differ in some extent from place to place; and social structure was anything but lawless. Laws decided the progression for countenancing a warrior's use of a sword. Rules provided constancy leading to success for the group as a whole.

Hardly any warriors were full time combatants, most were farmers or engaged in various nonaggressive occupations. Legitimate differences were determined by rules, as was outlawry. Feuds, vengeance and even duels were all regulated by the laws of society.

Chapter 4 Viking Society Karls included landowners and farmers, craftsmen and merchants; any might seek to elevate into the Jarl, ruling class, by attaining influence and prosperity. Contained in each group were various subgroups with slaves at the furthermost bottom, freed slaves and vagrants a step up. Hired hands including fishermen, farm hands and the like were lower status than were the tenant farmers and craftsmen who ranked lower than well off merchants and landowners. Social mores surrounding marriage and divorce, extended families, clothing, longhouses, farmsteads, foods, hunting, eating and drinking, grooming health and hygiene are all discussed in this chapter.

Chapter 5 The Early Raids The writer tells us 'it is easier to comprehend the story of the Vikings in terms of activity, raiding, exploring or settling, than in terms of a strict chronology.' While those living in one area might be engaged in peaceful living, another might be intent upon raiding, while another might engage in trade and plundering now and then.

Early in the development the Vikings were often found leaving their homes to set out on missions to raid, explore and trade before returning again to their land and homes.

Later the Vikings took land, created kingdoms; the establishing of settlements continued as raiding became less a focus and colonization became more so.

Booty and Plunder, the first raid, at Lindisfarne, on a small island off the NE coast of England, was such a success that others in the general area soon followed. By 800 AD Viking ships attacked Iona near the SE coast of France and in 795 AD began attacks against Ireland.

When trading seemed to be more lucrative than plundering, the Vikings turned to trade, however, raids continued should plunder seemed to bring more booty. Some raids included the carrying away of settlers to sell as slaves, or held as hostages, and even as brides.

Inland strikes, raids in Northumbria, Wessex and Mercia and elsewhere continued until by 900 AD most of the raiding came to an end as people began defending their towns more, or initiated other methods of opposition to the pillage.

Chapter 6 Viking Weapons and Combat While not an army of soldiers; the Vikings were warriors. Little is known of the definite methods of battle, or dress employed by the Vikings. Representations of Vikings seem to have helmets and chainmail as part of the picture is largely due to resourceful thoughts of artists.

Skeletal remains found at old battle sites can help explain weaponry and fighting manner to a degree. Location and nature of wounds, help create a clarification regarding types of weaponry causing wounds and blows. While not structured into mass activity for attack; the Vikings did use some formations, offered support to a downed comrade and the like.

The writer offers explanation for The Swine Array, a wedge formation, as well as describing a shield wall. Combat on water was pretty much that on land; arrows were launched when the ships closed the gap between ships. Hand to hand battle was a staple.

On land Vikings might use horses for travel; battle was on the ground, hand to hand.

Shields were used both as weapons and a defensive tool to block a strike, to prevent an enemy's arm ability to thrust with sword, as a covering to protect a downed comrade.

Cloaks, leather tunic, helmets and other head protection, swords and scabbards, knives, axes, sax -a bladed weapon larger than a knife, smaller than a sword-, spears, bows and arrows, and later chainmail, were all part of battle gear employed by the Vikings.

Combat, on the main, was hand to hand.

The most infamous and provocative of Viking combatants were the Berserkers.

Chapter 7 Explorations, Settlement and Trade Trekking as far away as to the Americas where they established settlements; demonstrate the Vikings skill as explorers and seamen.

Sunstones and sailing rigs, as well as the settling parties are explained. By 870 AD, Iceland was the site of some settlements. America, Europe and Russia were visited and settlements were established in various areas and along many rivers.

Trade towns, overland trade, coin and silver, trade goods, slavery, even violence for sale became part of the trade scene. Ship terminology, merchant ships, dragon ships, long ships are all explained.

Chapter 8 The Viking Kingdoms States and kingdoms during the inauguration of the Viking age tended to be quite small. Although they are largely remembered as being destructive raiders; Vikings proved quite proficient in constructing sophisticated towns, tombs, and defensive works strong enough to withstand ravages of time. Some of them remain to the present time.

Triggered by the need for land; Viking growth settled over a wide area and came to control a large breadth of Europe and beyond. Viking influence has been found in Scandinavia, Russia, what is now England, and in Eastern Europe. There is evidence that their travels carried Vikings to the Americas before they were finished.

The Kievan Rus founded settlements along and around Lake Onega and Lake Ladoga where the local Slavic people were subject to raids of plunder along with benefitting from trade with the Nordic adventurers. Scandinavian Kingdoms have added the names of Gudrod the Hunter, and his son Halfdan. Viking sagas tell of King Harald, Haakon, Erik Bloodaxe, Greycloke and Knut, and SveinForkbeard.

Settlements were established in Ireland, Iceland, Norway, the Friesian Islands, Greenland, and the New World. As was done in other areas; The Vikings tended to engage in trade with local settlements when they were not raiding and plundering them. Britain and Northern Europe was visited by the Vikings as early as 789.

A mixture of cultures, political change, raids in Europe, and an English invasion all left their mark on the region.

Chapter 9 The End of the Viking Age While there is no single date at which the Viking Age ended in total, 1066 does provide a definite date that most Viking colonization was ended; the various peoples were becoming Icelanders, or Scandinavian, Danes or Greenlanders. As Normandy was evolving from Viking conquest into a feudal realm, the Viking kingdom in Jorvik was suffering troubled times.

Knut the Great faded into history, the last true Viking king Harold Godwinson and the warring during 1066 continue to provide grist for film, books and reenactors. Chapter 10 The Legacy of the Vikings

While the date thought to end of the Viking era may be an arbitrary time imposed by historians; Viking settlements, towns, sagas, poems, along with the social values they lived; color by much of our understanding of these robust and strong willed people.

'Many of the worlds' nations can trace their origins or elements of their history to Viking influence. ... they were a major part of the process shaping the modern Western world.

Index at the end of the book is 3 pages.

That Dougherty is both historian and author becomes evident when first the cover is turned and the pages of the Introduction appear, here we find a longboat, a photo of land today indicating the Aalborg burial site in Denmark, and an artist's rendition of a helmeted Nordic head ready for battle.

I found Martin J Dougherty's Vikings: A History of the Norse People to be an effortlessly read overview for all things Viking. Filled with maps, photographs and graphics; Dougherty treats the reader to a very eye appealing, gratifying volume regarding the fundamentals of Viking life, history and a broad spectrum of activities carried out for the duration of the period.

I thoroughly enjoyed the hard cover print edition; it is sized to be held easily even by a reader whose hands are now rather gnarled by arthritis... a larger, more cumbersome edition might well contain more pertinent information, however it would be an edition I would find difficult to use. I do not personally like reading hand held devices simply because my eyes, as are my hands, are showing their age and the paper printed page is easier on my eyes. I am sure a younger, audience may well enjoy the Kindle version.

Vikings A History of the Norse People presents a robust overview of a fascinating people whose life, culture, accomplishments and behaviors have colored much of the world and have left an indelible mark on those of us who descend from the settlement areas colonized by them. I like that the work is forthright, candid and direct. By noting some ancient traditions drawn from poetry and sagas while acknowledging that there are limits of our factual knowledge in some areas; the writer makes clarifies when we must make suppositions.

Written in plain, unvarnished prose, the tome draws in both those who have some understanding of these hearty folk as well as the reader who may have little awareness of the Norse, other than that offered now and then by supposed specialists, or artists and writers based on some history and perhaps, more of their personal imagination.

The horned helmets often depicted in more recent graphics as well as early Viking warriors pictured in chain mail, may well be due more to imaginative thinking than based in historical fact through use of known artefacts. I am especially pleased with the varied graphics found in abundance on the pages. Included in the illustrations are photographs of relics, as well as timeworn sketches describing pertinent examples of life, more relics, scenes including burial mounds and the like all from the time period of the era. Detailed maps having regarding borders, battles, settlement locations, travel; are abundantly present to help put everything into perspective.

One of the strong suits of this particular book is that it serves to draw in readers who may have interest in The Norse people, while having little to no previous edification regarding the history of the Viking peoples. As a reader whose hobby includes genealogy; I value the enlightenment regarding impact my forebears, who are often cast in the main as little other than lusty marauders plundering settlements bordering the North Sea, had upon a great swath of the world including but not restricted to Scandinavia, England, Ireland and Scotland, and even so far away from the North Sea as The American continent and even the Mediterranean.

The volume itself is well made, and will stand up to repeated usage, a good thing since readers will want to read and re read and enjoy this book over a period of time. The book does well what the writer intended; reading Martin J Dougherty's VIKINGS A History of the Norse People presents by and large solid information in an accessible form to the reader. It is both enlightening and enjoyable, and the data is provided in a common-sense mode.

I enjoyed reading Martin J Dougherty's VIKINGS A History of the Norse People, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Norse peoples or the time period.

Thought-provoking read Recommended 4.5 stars/5

Amazon - About the Author: Martin J Dougherty is a (British) writer specialising in history, defence and the martial arts. He is the author of Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Medieval Warrior (Amber Books 2008), and is a contributing author to Battles of the Medieval World (Amber 2011), Battles That Changed Warfare (Amber 2011), and Battles That Changed History (Amber 2013).

Martin J Dougherty is a freelance author specialising in military and historical subjects. His works include A Dark History of the Vikings, Fight to Win and Cut & Thrust: European Swords and Swordsmanship. He has also worked on game lines including Traveller, Call of Cthulhu and Armageddon 2089 and has published several SF and Fantasy novels

Martin is Chief Assessor to the British Federation for Historical Swordplay, teaching smallsword and military sabre at events such as SWASH and Smallsword Symposium. He is active on the tournament circuit and has won medals for military sabre, smallsword and rapier.

As a martial artist, Martin holds black belts in four combat systems including Combat Ju-Jutsu and Modern Street Combat. He is a Master Level Instructor/Senior Assessor with the SelfDefence Federation and head of coaching to the All-Styles Martial Arts Association.

Television work includes shows such as Triggers: Weapons that Changed the World and Ultimate Soldier Challenge. Martin's role encompasses both sides of the camera, acting as a technical consultant and an on-camera weapons expert.

Martin lives in northeast England and is excessively fond of single malt scotch whisky. This may explain a recent incident involving an outdoor sword fight in the dark with everyone involved wearing top hats, though the official version is: 'research.'

Small Pig I Can Read Book 2
Arnold Lobel
c/o HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780064441209, $3.99, paperback, 64 pages,

Arnold Lobel's Small Pig an I can read book is one of my favorites of his works for children in the Kindergarten Primary level, the level where I spent the most of my nearly forty years in the public school classroom.

Diminutive porker, Small Pig, likes to do all the things other pigs like to do; he eats, he sleeps, and HE sinks down in nice soft mud. Not only does Small Pig like to roll in mud, but he really likes to sink deep, deep down in it and just enjoy nice squishiness. The farmer and his wife do love their little pig.

One day the farmer's wife determines that she needs to some cleaning. With her giant vacuum cleaner she cleans the farm house. Once started she simply cannot stop. Oh My. Out of the house she goes to clean the barn, and the stable, and the chicken coop. She keeps cleaning until finally, she comes to the pigpen where Small Pig is a happy little porker. And, she begins to clean it up. First she cleans the pigpen. Next she puts Small Pig into a soapy pail, where she CLEANS Small Pig.

The Farmer's Wife is happy; everything is spick-and-span and shiny. Small Pig is not happy. Small Pig is unhappy, and, he is an angry small porker.

Small Pig decides to run away.

Before long; Small Pig comes to a swamp. And he comes to a junkyard. He even comes to a big city. At last he finds some good soft mud. Small Pig sinks down into that good soft mud, then, too late Small Pig recognizes he has made a terrible, horrible mistake. Small Pig is held in the mud; mud that is getting hard and harder because it is not mud, it is cement! People stop to watch as Small Pig struggles to get free.

At length, The Farmer and his wife locate their Small Pig. Ultimately Small Pig is freed from the cement. Home go The Farmer, his Wife and Small Pig. The Farmer's wife promises Small Pig she will do no more cleaning of his pigpen.

A very happy Small Pig has his supper before he sits down, and sinks down into his nice, soft mud.

Jam-packed with easy-to-read vocabulary and child pleasing, characteristic Lobel illustrations Small Pig has proven to be a long time, much loved, favorite in my K-1 classrooms. Ludicrousness, exhilarating action, and short, simple, child friendly sentences afford a tangible delight for emergent readers, as well as those who enjoy reading Lobel's books to them. Little Readers, adults and student aide readers, and, I particularly enjoy the low key, Lobel illustrations.

I find children nowadays often seem so overawed with clamor and pizzazz, fancy and glimmer, noise, TV and game machines and bombast from their youngest days; that they habitually come to Kindergarten or First Grade expecting to be entertained, cannot amuse themselves without ongoing activity and/or cannot be alone and happy with themselves.

It is not a constructive or healthy thing, considers this long time teacher, for children to be unable to just sit quietly and appreciate the sunshine, or watch a butterfly just for the joy of sitting in the sunshine and watching a butterfly, or to miss laying on their back watching soundless clouds moving overhead, or to use their mind's eye to fill in the blanks as they read.

Small Pig proffers many prospects for children to discuss feelings, and what they see, in addition to building vocabulary using creative descriptions for what else the illustrator might have put into the pictures on the page.

Arnold Lobel was one of the key providers to the I Can Read sequence. Copyrighted in 1969, Small Pig was Lobel's first contribution to the series. Both, authoring and illustrating a diversity of stories regarding an assortment of creatures; Lobel has been a continuing favorite of children, parents and teachers for decades.

In general; for the extent of a career spanning nearly thirty years and producing nearly 100 books for children; illustrator/writer Lobel's works target four- to eight-year-olds. To his honor, Lobel was recipient with the prestigious Caldecott Medal more than once for exceptional illustrations on top of his receiving a Newbery Honor for his writing. The earth lost a marvelous creative mind when Arnold Lobel died in 1987.

Small Pig is the book selected often by my students for their free choice reading, or is brought to me as their selection for reading on 'their special day to choose the book ... one of the perks because they are the leader of the day.

Each of Lobel's books has a place on the reading shelf in the children's library, and, I believe none more so than Small Pig. This child pleasing work is a must have for the classroom book shelf, as well as the school, home and public library list.

I like the hard cover edition for the classroom library and the paperback for the take home to read to parents and family activity.

Small Pig is a read-to for the 2-5 set, a read with help for beginning readers K-2, and a read alone grades 2-3. Small Pig is a book chosen by grades 4 - 5 readers to take and read to 'the little kids.' I'm not sure who enjoys the book more, the children listening or the teacher or student aide or other Reader reading to the children.

Over the years each class has offered two thumbs up each when asked for an opinion of Arnold Lobel's Small Pig. Delighted to recommend.

Amazon - About the Author: Arnold Lobel (1933-1987) was the award-winning author and illustrator of many beloved children's books, including the classic I Can Read books about Frog and Toad, and the Caldecott Medal winning Fables.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

What Life Was Like in the Land of the Dragon: Imperial China AD 960-1368
Time-Life Books
2000 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
9780783554587, $4.35, 144 pp,

Commander Zhao Kuangyin was awakened suddenly by army generals brandishing swords. These men did not come to kill Zhao, but rather to demand that he dress in a yellow imperial gown. The garment would signify that Zhao was about to become Emperor of China. The year was 959 and the empire was in turmoil. North and South were not unified. Uprisings occurred throughout the realm. Foreign armies invaded at will. The leaders of the military had decided someone had to take control and that person was to be Zhao. The generals chose wisely.

Zhao Kuangyin possessed neither ambition nor cruelty as elements of his personality. Rather, he was principled and thoughtful. After being persuaded that he needed to become emperor, he proceeded to rule with measured and strategic policies.

The ascent of Zhao Kuangyin marked the beginning of the Song Dynasty in China, a period of great artistic achievement and daunting political challenges. What Life Was Like in the Land of the Dragon is a brief, brilliantly illustrated book. It provides an overview of the 400 years that preceded the Mongol conquest of China.

According to this book, the Song Dynasty was the period during which China assumed the nature that most people associate with it. For example, before this dynasty a Chinese diet staple included wheat, instead of rice. The emphasis on scholarship during the Song resulted in many inventions. Among these were the world's first moving printing press, a rocket arrow that could be launched with gunpowder and a mechanical clock. The emphasis on scholarship may have contributed to the eventual decline of the Song. Because the Emperor feared an overly strong military, intellectual and artistic achievement were favored over martial skills. Thus weakened, the military was not easily able to repel foreign invaders. And foreign invaders there were.

To the north of China's borders lived a number of ambitious tribes. Eventually, one of these succeeded in driving the Song government out of the north and into southern China. The diminished dynasty set up shop below the Yangtze River. The Dynasty continued there until the Mongols, under Kublai Khan, drove the last Song emperor from his palace.

What Life Was Like in the Land of the Dragon is a lovely book. It will take most readers just a couple of hours to read through, but to rush would be a mistake. The illustrations are in color and the format is that of a large picture book. Read the book, then take your time going back over the photos. I did and found this a rewarding way to absorb the material.

I recommend What Life Was Like in the Land of the Dragon. It's not the kind of book that will stay with you for a long time, but some of the pictures might. They tell the story of the Song Dynasty in a way that words cannot.

The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy
Michael Prawdin
Transaction Publishers
Rutgers-The State University
35 Berrue Circle, Pascataway, N.J. 08854-8042
9781412805193, $45.95, 594 pp,

In The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy, Michael Prawdin writes about a time when warriors swept across Eurasia and struck terror in the hearts of the mightiest kings and emperors. The names of some of the Mongol rulers--Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and other characters featured in the book are still part of popular culture today. Fans of the Conan film series might be surprised to hear that the first line spoken by Conan, in Conan the Barbarian, is paraphrased from a Genghis Khan quote.

Prawdin's book is broad in scope, but never tedious. Organization of the material into three sections helps the reader to keep track of the story. The first part is dedicated to Genghis Khan and his direct descendants. The second part is largely dedicated to Tamerlane, who was not a direct descendant of Genghis but who tried to use the Great Khan's legacy to legitimize conquest. The third section allows for reflection on the personal qualities and influence of the Mongol conquerors.

Some of the more ironically amusing parts of the book had to do with religion. For example, after Mongol armies had ravaged parts of Europe, Pope Innocent IV felt he had to act. He sent an envoy to the Mongol leader, who by that time was a descendant of the deceased Genghis Khan. The envoy's journey was long and arduous. At the end of it, the Pope's demands were delivered. These were simple. The Mongol leader was to stop his attacks. He was to convert to Christianity, and he was to recognize the authority of the Pope and the Church. Fortunately for this Papal envoy there was some confusion about the meaning of the message. The Khan responded by accepting the Pope's offer of subordination. In the eyes of the Khan the Pope was now a Mongol vassal.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the background it gives readers on parts of the world that are much in the news today--Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, for example. Mongol culture spread far across the East and left a lasting influence. The greatest influence was probably on religion. While Genghis Khan considered himself to be acting on a mandate from heaven, he allowed people of all belief systems to exist under his rule. However, Tamerlane called himself the "Sword of Islam" and converted everyone he conquered (those who survived) to his faith. Of the two, Tamerlane was more indiscriminately bloodthirsty. Some estimates put the number that fell to the swords of his armies at 17 million.

The Mongol Empire: Its Rise and Legacy is considered a classic. Its first edition (1935) was published in German. This translation is highly readable, although some of the geographic terms and spellings may be unfamiliar to the modern reader. This in no way takes from the pleasure of reading this remarkable book. I highly recommend it.

A. G. Moore

Peggy's Bookshelf

The Night Gardener
Terry Fan and Eric Fan
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York NY 10020
9781481439787, $17.99, 48 pages,

Grimloch Lane is a bit of dreary place full of dull people. Until one day an owl topiary appears in front of the orphanage where young William lives. The next day there's a cat topiary, then a rabbit, a parakeet, and an elephant. In their wonder and amazement at the appearance of the topiaries, the gloomy townspeople are transformed into happy folks having fun. As the people's joy expands, more topiaries appear and gray, old Grimloch Lane transforms into a colorful spectacle. The dazzling magic of this story is the way the Fan Brothers' lavishly detailed illustrations gradually bring Grimloch Lane to life as the industrious craftsmanship of the night gardener and his accomplice is revealed. The overriding theme of human happiness achieved through our connection with nature, combined with such beauty and simplicity in the storytelling give "The Night Gardener" the true qualities of a classic children's book.

Keep Curious and Carry a Banana
Written by Justin Martin and Liza Charlesworth
Illustrated by H.A. Rey
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10003
9780544656482, $12.99, 80 pages,

Curious George and his sidekick, the Man with the Yellow Hat have been entertaining children and adults for over 75 years. In celebration of these beloved characters, authors Justin Martin and Liza Charlesworth have united Curious George and the Keep Calm and Carry On" meme to create words of wisdom based on the playful antics of this precocious little monkey. And a fitting match up it is as the two share a history. The Curious George series is based on the book, "Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys" written by Margret Rey and illustrated by Hans Augusto (H.A.) Rey, which was published in France in 1939. That same year the phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On" was printed on posters and distributed by the British government as a morale booster for citizens who faced increasing threats of invasion by Nazi forces from Germany.

Inspired by A.H. Rey's memorable illustrations of the mischievous monkey's more notable pastimes and bodacious pranks, Martin and Charlesworth captioned each familiar scene with a mixture of homespun idioms and simple advice for living a happy life. After all, in spite of his monkey business Curious George is always on the lookout for fun. "Keep Curious and Carry a Banana: Words of Wisdom from the World of Curious George" is the perfect gift for the fearless curiosity seeker in your life.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

David Thomas Roberts
Defiance Press & Publishing LLC
330 Rayford Road, Suite 204, Spring, Texas 77386
9780996259040, $16.05, PB, 200 Pages,

Genre: Business & Money

I was drawn to this book because of its title 'Unemployable!' I just love the title, as it was exactly what my now husband classified me as 10 years before we married when I was a self-employed mum working in his garden - and he was right I could never be employed by anyone else. I love the freedom too much!

I agree with everything that the author David Thomas Roberts has written. This book is absolutely packed with good advice. If you have the thirst to be your own boss then this is the book for you! It is practical, informative, down to earth and yet at the same time so inspirational.

This is not however a pie in the sky, opt out and follow your dream book, it is built on solid foundations and years of dedication to his businesses. The authors has experience both as a very successful man who made it (more than once), and, just as importantly as someone who looking back can see where, and why his businesses failed. These experiences have given him a real insight into what it REALLY takes to succeed.

Also, he doesn't glaze over the not so pleasant parts like, finance, how important it is to be truthful to yourself as to whether you really are making money, relationships, partners and the tricky one of what to do when a family member wants to become part of your business.

David Thomas Roberts freely imparts his vast knowledge and anyone considering making themselves 'unemployable' would greatly benefit from taking heed his advice. Whether it is discovering if this sort of life and responsibilities are really right for you, or learning from his experiences with the tax man.

At one point in the book he reminisces about asking his respected father what he would have liked to do if he could have, and why he didn't. Funnily enough, I asked the exact same question of my own father when he had 'retired' and started his own business, and got the exact same answer!

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and am sure everyone who reads it will learn so much from its contents.

Dr. Fred's Healthcare Rescue: The Real Solution to Healthcare
Dr Fred Hollingsworth
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781463539054, $18.95, PB, 340 Pages,

Genre: Health

This is a very interesting and well researched book, in which the author considers the reasons and causes of the high cost of healthcare, and examines how to overcome this. He also talks about the lack of fair competition caused by repressed freedom, giving some very interesting examples.

The author points out that healthcare could be provided much more effectively and cheaper if the authorities took advantage of the many little known therapies and treatments available instead of always opting for more expensive drugs and surgery. In chapter six he looks at the growing move towards alternative health care, complimentary, and orthomolecular medicines and how the importance of taking responsibility for your own health. Then in the next chapter he provides the reader with many examples of the hundreds of therapies, and treatments, which are available.

Chapter four discusses some of the amazing advances which have been made, including the care of premature babies which affected me 29 years ago when I had my second child, a daughter at 26 weeks weighing .652 of a kilo. Now thankfully she is a competent health care professional.
However it also points out that there have been failures along the way as well. It should be noted that the author does point out at the beginning of the book that he is not a licenced physician and the book is for information purposes only.

I found chapter five very interesting since it dispels twenty-seven commonly taught and accepted beliefs such as the need for prescription drugs as the major basis for maintaining good health, egg consumption, whether margarine is better for you than butter, and whether the only solution to knee, hip, and other joint problems is replacement surgery. More than one of these fallacies took me by surprise.

The author, Dr. Fred Hollingsworth, was born in southwest Colorado His life was profoundly influenced by his mother Gertrude, and grandmother, Anna Arkell. Anna had been taught by a Susan Anderson MD and the lifesaving lessons she learnt were passed on to him through her daughter Gertrude, (Fred's mother). In the first chapter of his mother's book Iodine Vision which was self-published in 1995, she tells of a profound experience which was to change her life totally, and also her sons, and ultimately lead to the writing of this fascinating book.

Ghost of the Forbidden City (Keiko and Kenzo - The Wizkids) Volume 3
Sumita Mukherjee
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781523215850, $10.99, PB, 42 Pages,

Genre: Children

This is a wonderful children's adventure story set in Beijing the capital of China.

The stars are Keiko, her brother Kenzo and their pet squirrel Eji. The brother and sister are very lucky because their father Mr Kimura is a brilliant scientist and his genius has rubbed off on Kenzo.

Kenzo is naughty, and always up to mischief, however he is also very clever, and his inventions help to solve mysteries, like the one in this book.

In this adventure Miss Tyra, the history teacher has arranged to take a small group of children on an outing to Beijing. Kenzo and his Sister Keiko, their squirrel Eji, Aki (Kenzo's best friend), and Keiko's friends Midori and Sakura are chosen and are very excited.

They travelling around by bus, and their guide is called by Xiao. First, they visit the Forbidden City, where they have a lovely time discovering many interesting facts about the largest ancient palace in the world. Then, whilst they are in one of the Emperors chambers a scary thing happens, Miss Tyra sees a ghost!

That night Keiko starts to hear voices in the kitchen of their guest house, so she, Kenzo and Eji go to explore, but no one is there...

The next day they visit the Great Wall of China, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and they have to get on it by taking a cable car ride. However, sinister things are at foot, and Midori nearly has an accident, but she is saved by one of Kenzo's inventions, a very handy glue gun.

The city is amazing, and the decorations and celebrations at Gong Xi Fa Cai, (Chinese New Year), are very exciting. The children even see a traditional lion dance, and the Beijing National Stadium, however the ghostly presence is still around.

Back at the guest house, the children are determined to discover where the voices are coming from, and so they wait in the dark... and then they make a discovery.

So, what do they find?

Do ghosts really exists?

Who can they hear talking, what are they saying, and what are they trying to do?

Well, all I can say is that in the end all the questions are answered, more than once Kenzo's glue gun saves the day, and they all agree Miss Tyra is the best teacher in the world.

A wonderfully informative children's mystery adventure, with lots of surprises and a happy ending. It is beautifully illustrated by Subhajit Das and has amazing graphics by Loo Ng Pek Mun.

I downloaded this book using my Kindle Unlimited membership and enjoyed reading it with my grandchildren.

A Primal Wisdom, second edition
V. Frank Asaro, JD
Bettie Youngs Book Publishers
9781940784557, $21.95, PB, 280 Pages,

Genre: Business & Money

This book makes for fascinating reading. I am sure many sections of its contents will be cause for great debate by its readers, from politics and the gun laws, to space dust, and everything in-between.

V Frank Asaro has led a varied and incredibly interesting life. In this book he puts forward his theory of combining what one automatically thinks of as two opposite concepts, those of competition and cooperation into a combination, co-opetition, which he sees as nature's synthesis.

The author started writing essays on this subject back in the 1970's, and has been continually researching and studying his belief that discovering the asymmetric balance of the ultimate synthesises is a primal wisdom. This balance, he believes is key to world peace, improving the economy, politics, the social system, indeed nearly every area of human interaction.

Throughout the book he constantly gives examples of co-opetition, many of which we just take for granted, however he is right they exist everywhere. As an English expat living in France I thought his observations on the American gun laws, politics and military were very interesting. Last summer I spent a lovely afternoon with three American friends from California, discussing the carrying of guns, and I wish I had already read this book then. The whole situation gave an interesting insight into an area I had not read much about before, and had had no experience of.

As well as being the award winning author of A Primal Wisdom, V. Frank Asaro is also an inventor, philosopher, lawyer, musician and composer and it was these last two which made an interesting reading as he contemplated in one part of the book how music originally evolved.

This talented author has used his lifetimes experience and a firm belief in his principal of co-opetition to produce a fascinating, thought provoking book which will be talked about and debated for years to come.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

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

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