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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 4 April 2023 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Ann Skea's Bookshelf Carl Logan's Bookshelf Carolyn Wilhelm's Bookshelf
Clint Travis' Bookshelf Jack Mason's Bookshelf John Burroughs' Bookshelf
Julie Summers' Bookshelf Margaret Lane's Bookshelf Michael Carson's Bookshelf
Robin Friedman's Bookshelf Suanne Schafer's Bookshelf Susan Bethany's Bookshelf
Willis Buhle's Bookshelf    

Ann Skea's Bookshelf

Ann-Helen Laestadius
Rachel Willson-Broyles, Translator
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781668007167, $18.99, 400pp.

This is gentle but strong story about Elsa, a young Sami woman, growing up in her homeland, Sampi, in the Arctic north of Sweden. It is also a heartfelt story (written by a woman of Sami and Tornedalian descent) steeped in the life of Sami people fighting to keep their traditional reindeer-herding way of life in a rapidly changing world.

The story starts in Winter, when the sun hardly appears over the horizon before vanishing again. Nine-year-old Elsa is proudly skiing by herself to the reindeer corral, knowing that Mum and Dad and Mattias would be coming later to feed the animals but wanting to surprise them by getting everything ready for them.

Her cheeks were windburnt. From the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of her dark hair sticking out from beneath her hat and turning silvery grey with frost. Her eyelashes had changed colour too, and she could feel the cold moisture when she blinked. It was like she was becoming a different person.

What she does not expect, is to find someone else there before her, bending over a dead deer in his snowmobile headlights. She hides, but he sees her and holds his finger to his lips, 'shhh', before 'drawing his finger across his throat' and speeding away. Elsa is terrified; and she recognises the slaughtered deer as her own beloved Nastegallu.

The man is someone Elsa knows. He had been in the process of cutting off the identifying marks on the animal's ears, but in his hurry he dropped one. Elsa finds it and hides it in her pocket, later secretly drying it and using it for comfort as she tries to come to terms with her grief and with the threat to her and her family if she tells anyone the man's name.

Elsa' family are reindeer-herders, and their peoples' right to carry on this tradition is protected by Swedish law. There are some who resent this - who regard the reindeer as a nuisance, the cause of road accidents, and road closures at certain times of the year. There are others who poach the animals for profit or hunt them for sport. There is racism too, and, as Elsie experiences, Sami children are often bullied and isolated at school, where the Sami school and the Swedish school are separate but share playgrounds and meal areas.

All of this is part of the Elsa's story, and Laestadius is good at seeing it though a child's eyes, and, later, through those of an angry and scared young woman. As she gets older, Elsa determines to stop the killing of reindeer by men like Robert Isakkson, who had killed Nastegullu and has viciously murdered and mutilated other deer.

Isakkson lives in the next village to Elsa's family. He is a bitter and dangerous man whose Social Insurance payments for a back injury are about to end because the SI Office's physician had deemed him capable of working. He is a known poacher, but the police rarely investigate these issues, partly because he destroys what evidence he can but often because local people are afraid to give evidence against him. Time and again the police fail to follow up the reindeer kills, and when Elsa's father reports the killing of Nastegallu and insists that she accompany him to the police station, Elsa is too scared to identify the man. She suffers agonies about telling lies when she is questioned, because 'Ahkku' (grandmother) had told her that liars go to hell.

Elsa's father has photographs of the slaughtered deer and of fresh snow-mobile tracks which might identify the vehicle: 'We called you, the police, but no-one came', her father tells the interviewing officer, whose response is dismissive: 'We were busy dealing with a car accident in town. And also, our snow-mobile helmets were past their inspection date'.

Isakkson and his accomplice kill more deer; once, seemingly taunting the Sami by draping a slaughtered deer over a sign for a market that brought the Sami people together, and smearing the sign with blood. Elsa's outspoken anger makes her unpopular but it does not deter her. After one particularly gruesome kill, when again, the police do not turn up, she takes matters into her own hands.

She dumps bags full of tortured reindeer cadaver outside the empty police station and phones the regional police command post. The respondent is typically dismissive:

'I'm standing outside the police station with evidence of a poaching'

'Oh, OK . . . have you filed a report?'

'That's what I'm doing right now. Can someone come take care of this?'

'I mean, the patrol unit isn't in town right now. What is it you have?'

'The remains of two reindeer that were shot'

'So, theft'. He took a patronizing tone as he corrected her. 'Reindeer are on a par with domestic animals like dogs or sheep, so it's not a matter of poaching. Moose, however -'

As Elsa begins to publicly confront the discrimination and the lack of action over the slaughter of the deer which are the Sami's livelihood, Isakkson starts to send her anonymous, abusive texts, and to intimidate her in her own home. When a video she makes of a man riding a reindeer after a particularly horrible killing is aired and reported in local media, the threats to her and her family increase, and Elsa becomes close to breakdown. A dramatic personal confrontation with Robert Isakkson takes her, again, to the police, who, again, dismiss the whole thing, but she never wavers.

To reveal what happens next would be a spoiler, but it is thrilling and troubling.

Through Elsa, her family and her friends, Ann-Helen Laestadius immerses the reader in the Sami reindeer-herders' lives and it is clear that such a life, where the men are often away from the family for long periods caring for the animals and guarding them from predators, including poachers, is not easy - for them, or for their wives.

Elsa, in spite of being small and skinny, is determined to carry on her family's deer-herding, although for her older brother, Mattias, and for other young Sami men, the stress of it all may prove too much. The beauty of the land, the strangeness of living where the days are often spent in darkness, the ways of herding and caring for the deer, and the closeness of family and friends, are all very much part of Elsa's story and, through her Laestadius brings the Sami culture to life.

Other things help, too: the Sami language is used for chapter numbering and for each of the three parts (Dalvi/ Winter 2008; Cakcadalvi/ Autum,-Winter 2018; Gi ageassi/ Spring-Summer 2019); the Sami words for Mother (Enna), Father (Isa), Grandfather (Ahkku) and Grandmother (Addja) are used frequently, and Elsa is unna oabba (little sister). I did have to look up the word gakti early on, but the description of Elsa and her mother sewing coloured ribbons onto their gakti, and of men and women wearing this traditional costume, is almost self-explanatory. However, it is worth seeing pictures of the Sami people dresses formally and traditionally for their festivals in their colourful gakti, with elaborate silver brooches fastening the women's shawls. Elsa and her friends tolerate the tourists who want to take their picture, but it is a pity that the tourists never engage with this indigenous but threatened culture in any other way:

'What beautiful clothing! May I take a picture?'

She didn't wait for a response, was already fumbling with her phone, winking and smiling. She asked her husband to hold her bags.

'Close together, there. Fantastic Sami costumes!'

Anna-Stina grinned and put her hand on her hip. Elsa sighed and tried to force a smile. This was the third time they'd been stopped for a photo.

'We should charge a fee', she whispered to Anna-Stina when they were finally moving again.

Dr. Ann Skea, Reviewer

Carl Logan's Bookshelf

Fixing American Cybersecurity: Creating a Strategic Public-Private Partnership
Larry Clinton
Georgetown University Press
3240 Prospect Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
9781647121495, $34.95, HC, 296pp

Synopsis: Cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the United States are extensive, affecting everything from national security and democratic elections to critical infrastructure and economy. In the past decade, the number of cyberattacks against American targets has increased exponentially, and their impact has been more costly than ever before. A successful cyber-defense can only be mounted with the cooperation of both the government and the private sector, and only when individual corporate leaders integrate cybersecurity strategy throughout their organizations.

A collaborative effort of Larry Clinton and the Board of Directors of the Internet Security Alliance, "Fixing American Cybersecurity: Creating a Strategic Public-Private Partnership" is divided into two parts. Part One analyzes why the US approach to cybersecurity has been inadequate and ineffective for decades and shows how it must be transformed to counter the heightened systemic risks that the nation faces today. Part Two explains in detail the cybersecurity strategies that should be pursued by each major sector of the American economy: health, defense, financial services, utilities and energy, retail, telecommunications, and information technology.

Critique: "Fixing American Cybersecurity: Creating a Strategic Public-Private Partnership" must be considered essential reading for industry leaders, corporate and governmental cyberscurity policymakers. Essential reading to prepare for the future of American cybersecurity, especially in light of contemporary and all to often successful efforts by criminals and hostile nations to breach and manipulate American internet and computer databases, "Fixing American Cybersecurity" must have the widest possible readership and considered an essential addition to personal, professional, community, governmental, corporate, and academic library Cybersecurity & Database protection collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should noted that "Fixing American Cybersecurity" is also readily available from Georgetown University Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $26.49).

Editorial Note: Larry Clinton ( is the president and CEO of the Internet Security Alliance, a multi-sector trade association that focuses on thought leadership, policy advocacy and developing best practices for cyber security. The National Association of Corporate Directors has twice named Clinton as one of the 100 most influential people in the field of corporate governance. Clinton is also the author of numerous publications in the cybersecurity space.

Big Book of Projects
Family Handman, author
Trusted Media Brand
9781621458753, $19.99, PB, 272pp

Synopsis: Tired of spending valuable DIY time sifting through a variety of sources for successfully accomplishing a home improvement project? Then "The Big Book of Projects" is the go-to instructional resource and 'how-to' manual for novice and experienced DIY enthusiasts alike.

Curated by the editors of Family Handyman magazine, "The Big Book of Projects" is a profusely illustrated, no-frills compendium that provides a complete and comprehensive collection of DIY the plans for more than 40 useful projects around your home and your backyard including: Cedar Bath Mat; Clever Closet System; Tile Medallion Entryway Floor; Kitchen Cabinets; Stone Waterfall and so much more!

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Big Book of Projects" by the contributors to Family Handyman magazine is a DIY home improvement project worker's delight -- and especially and unreservedly recommended as an addition to personal, professional, and community library Home Repair & Improvement Projects collections. It should be noted for that "The Big Book of Projects" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Family Handyman ( is a trusted source for helpful, how-to projects, tips and expert advice for homeowners looking to improve their homes, yards and vehicles. The oldest and largest publication for DIY enthusiasts, the "Family Handyman magazine has a circulation of 1 million. Family Handyman also has a streaming channel, "At Home with Family Handyman," which is comprised of impressive builds and hands-on projects for making any house a true home.

Carl Logan

Carolyn Wilhelm's Bookshelf

Reflections: Words From the Soul
Dan Babcock
Privately Published
9780692875025, $11.95 paperback, 154 pages
B072XMTFRN, $3.99 Kindle

Eating and exercise are commonly discussed, and this book discusses an added dimension, the soul. A spiritual book of brief chapters (not based on any religion) to help people not take things for granted. A person can turn the negative aspects of life to positivity and light with suggestions about how to think about events. Instead of going through life on "autopilot," Babcock suggests we become more aware to be happier. Think carefully.

The text provided many suggestions to help us consciously consider our lives. Help break the cycle of negative thinking to help our world accomplish generational improvement. Mistakes can be the basis for making positive change. The author suggests several practical coping mechanisms. One is to remember we are here on earth to learn lessons.

Find out more about the following statements. Then practice spreading love instead of judging others.

"I learned we should not take the special things we have in our life for granted, the most special of these being love."

Those who accept change and adapt to change have a much better chance of finding joy and happiness in life.

A few passages discuss past life regression, Reiki, and Chakras for the spiritual reader.

Thought to remember and take to heart: "Rarely does one person know all the facts."

The Wild Water Mystery at Niagara Falls
Carole Marsh
Gallopade International/Carole Marsh Books
PO Box 2779, Peachtree City, GA 30269
9780635068255 $7.99, paperback, 160 pages
B004CRTG20, $7.99 Kindle

Marsh features real children on actual vacations to educational and fun locations. This book is about several venues around Niagara Falls. One child has a wheelchair and so uses handicapped entrances. Four children with Mimi and Papa manage to solve a mystery about stolen gold through barrels, the falls, and by noticing a certain logo. Both the Canadian and American sides of the falls are important in the story.

The text includes fascinating facts about history and the falls, SAT vocabulary, a glossary, a quiz, and activities. Entertaining and engaging reading. Students will easily learn new information as they follow clues to solve the exciting mystery. Perfect for book clubs!

Vanished in Vermillion: The Real Story of South Dakota's Most Infamous Cold Case
Lou Raguse
Post Hill Press
9781637587256, $9.99 Kindle, $16.22 PB, $30.00 HC, $7.49 Audible, 358 pages

True crime by Raguse, an investigative reporter with an eye for detail who unveils the truth about the disappearance of two teen girls in Vermillion, South Dakota. For over 40 years it was an unsolved mystery with few clues or evidence. He showcases how false memories, motivation, hypnosis, party-lines, misinformation, and blind faith in authority blew what might have been a relatively simple case way out of proportion. Many leads over the years were based on facts which were prejudiced or untrue, yet had to be followed. The truth was nearby all the time, and needs to be told. For 43 years, this case was horrible situation for several families, and it seems apologies might yet be in order. An ending you will never guess unless you are like me and search online for articles on this topic. This one time, knowing the ending ahead of time only made it a more riveting read.

Carolyn Wilhelm, Reviewer
Wise Owl Factory LLC

Clint Travis' Bookshelf

L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, volume 39
Jody Lynn Nye and Dean Wesley Smith, editors
Galaxy Press
9781619867680, $22.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Check out the stories Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card, Nnedi Okorafor, Robert J. Sawyer, Kevin J. Anderson, Jody Lynn Nye and others chose as the best of the best.

Be amazed. Be amused. Be transported... by stories that take you by surprise and take you further and deeper into new worlds and new ideas than you've ever gone before!

Twelve captivating tales from the most exciting new voices in science fiction and fantasy accompanied by three from masters of the genre.

Critique: L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, volume 39 is the latest annual anthology of contest-winning science fiction and fantasy stories, selected by a panel of judges who are all distinguished creators in their own right. Each story is paired with a full-color, full-page artwork crafted by a contest-winning illustrator. The stunning cover art inspired a bonus Dan Shamble Zombie Adventure story "Fire in the Hole" by Kevin J. Anderson; two more bonus stories by L. Ron Hubbard and S.M. Stirling as well as a few essays on writing and illustration by Lazarus Chernik, L. Ron Hubbard, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch round out this treasury of extraordinary journeys beyond the boundaries of imagination. L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, volume 39 is a "must-read" for science fiction and fantasy connoisseurs and a welcome addition to public library lending collections. Highly recommended! It should be noted for personal reading lists that L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, volume 39 is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Maximize Your Male Hormones
Pamela Wartian Smith
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757005152, $17.95, PB, 248pp

Synopsis: To a significant great degree, we are who we are because of the hormones produced in our body. From our sexuality to our physical and mental development to the state of our health -- we are all dependent on our hormones working properly. When there is an overproduction or under-production of any of our hormones, we can experience a host of serious health disorders.

The problem is few of us ever connect these issues with our hormones. And while men may be familiar with testosterone, there are others that are just as important. To address this lack of information, Dr. Pamela Wartian Smith has written "Maximize Your Male Hormones: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments of Men's Most Common Health Disorders"

A clear guide for men to understand, identify, and treat the many common sources of these ailments "Maximize Your Male Hormones covers: Fatigue; Depression; Sexual Dysfunction; Headaches; Anger; Cancer; Nervousness; Weight Loss/Gain; Heart Disease; Male Menopause; Stress; Mood Swings; Diabetes; Sleep Apnea -- and so much more!

These are all serious disorders that, if left untreated, can be life-threatening. By first recognizing this problem and identifying the hormone most normally associated with it, you will learn there is a great deal that you can do to fix the problem. In "Maximize Your Male Hormones" Dr. Smith not only provides the medical treatments available -- she also includes the natural supplements that have proven to be helpful, as well as the lifestyle changes that can help bring a hormone back in balance.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Maximize Your Male Hormones: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments of Men's Most Common Health Disorders" is an ideal and essential resource for the non-specialist general reader concerned about men's health issues ranging from Prostate Disease to Osteoporosis. Highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections, "Maximize Your Male Hormones" can do to help control or even eliminate many of these common male medical disorders as the body ages.

Editorial Note: Pamela Wartian Smith, MD, MPH, MS, ( is a diplomate of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Physicians and past co-director of the Master's Program in Medical Sciences, with a concentration in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine, at the Morsani College of Medicine, University of South Florida. An authority on the subjects of wellness and functional medicine, she is also the founder of the Fellowship in Anti-Aging, Regenerative, and Functional Medicine. Dr. Smith is the best-selling author of ten books, including What You Must Know About Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & So Much More; What You Must Know About Women's Hormones; and What You Must Know About Memory Loss.

Cryptocurrency QuickStart Guide
Jonathan Reichental
ClydeBank Media
9781636100401, $24.99, PB, 320pp

Synopsis: Cryptocurrency is quite arguably more than just the future of money. Whether the market is up or down, cryptocurrencies are here to stay. It's no secret that the crypto landscape can be confusing to the uninitiated.

With the publication of "Cryptocurrency QuickStart Guide: The Simplified Beginner's Guide to Digital Currencies, Bitcoin, and the Future of Decentralized Finance", Dr. Jonathan Reichental draws from his decades of experience as a technology and business leader to break down exactly how crypto works and what newcomers to the space need to know.

Presented in plain language that is stripped of jargon and unsubstantiated predictions, "Cryptocurrency QuickStart Guide" provides a thorough and approachable look at the world of cryptocurrency is the perfect starting point for anyone embarking on their own crypto journey.

Critique: A timely and 'reader friendly' introduction to the new economic phenomena known as Crytocurrency, the "Cryptocurrency QuickStart Guide" is a complete, comprehensive, DIY course of instruction into all aspects of this sometimes controversial form of finance. While also available in a spiral bound edition (9781636100432, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindole, $9.99), the "Cryptocurrency QuickStart Guide" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Digital Currency, E-Commerce, and Online Tradition instructional reference collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Jonathan Reichental ( is a multiple-award-winning technology and business leader whose 30-year career so far has spanned both the private and public sectors. Reichental runs his own business in Silicon Valley, called Human Future, and is a global keynote speaker and educator on topics that range from smart cities to the fourth industrial revolution and from quantum computing to blockchain technology. Additionally, he is a professor and instructor at several universities, including the University of San Francisco, Pepperdine University, and Menlo College. His video-based business and technology courses can be found online at LinkedIn Learning.

Clint Travis

Jack Mason's Bookshelf

Hybrid Factory / Hybrid City
Nina Rappaport, editor
Independently Published
c/o Actar Publishers
440 Park Avenue S, 17th FL, New York, NY 10016
9781638400318, $39.95, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: Now that urban industry is often clean, green, small, and quiet it can be integrated at the city and building scale with other uses. Although little explored as of yet, we don't yet know what this new hybrid will look like and how can it support new entrepreneurs, equitable jobs, and vital urban forms? How can hybrid models change with new technologies, sustainable manufacturing, and advanced production systems to create new open city? Can we break the planning and land-use patterns of segregated zoning by class and function and encourage mixed-use zoning that transforms new building and zoning codes and this the mix in the city?

These questions and more are addressed in "Hybrid Factory / Hybrid City", through a collection of essays by participants in the eponymous symposium organized by Nina Rappaport at the Future Urban Legacy Lab of the Politecnico di Torino. Divided into two sections, the essays describes projects and research by architects and urbanists regarding the aura of industry and its smells, its place in relationship to the body, building structures, logistics centers, reused factory buildings, and their current and future potential for mixed-use. Social and economic equity can be integrated through light manufacturing jobs, community uses, and affordable housing. Considering how we can make 1+1 = 3, the book concludes with a roundtable discussion among the authors reflecting on urban production during COVID-19 and the new "16-minute" city.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, and having a very special relevance and value to readers with an interest in industrial manufacturing and relations, "Hybrid Factory / Hybrid City" is nicely illustrated throughout, making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, and academic library Urban Development and Manufacturing reference collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Nina Rappaport ( is an urbanist, architectural historian, and educator. As director of Vertical Urban Factory, a think tank and consultancy, she focuses on the intersection of production spaces, architecture, and the role of the factory worker. She is the author of Vertical Urban Factory (Actar, 2015; 2nd ed., 2020) and curator of the eponymous traveling exhibition (2011 - ongoing). Rappaport co-edited Design for Urban Manufacturing (Routledge, 2020) and Industrial Palimpsest: Newark, N.J. (Actar, 2012). Rappaport has been Publications Director at the Yale School of Architecture since 1998, a visiting professor at the Politecnico di Torino and Sapienza Universitů di Roma, and is coordinator of the history/theory program at the School of Public Architecture at Kean University.

Editorial Note #2: Contributors to the book include editor and essayist Nina Rappaport, Bram Aerts (TRANS architectuur | stedenbouw), Frank Barkow (Barkow Leibinger Architects), Cristina Bianchetti (Politecnico di Torino), Giovanna Fossa (Politecnico di Milano), Nicholas Gilliland (Tollila + Gilliland Atelier), Dieter Leyssen and Eva de Bruyn (51N4E), Nicola Russi (Politecnico di Torino and Laboratorio Permanente), Matteo Robiglio (Politecnico di Torino and TRA), Maria Paola Repellino (Politecnico di Torino), Markus Schaefer (Hosoya Schaefer Architects), Giulia Setti (Politecnico di Milano), Ward Verbakel (plusoffice architects), Ianira Vassallo (Politecnico di Torino), and Juan Lucas Young (Sauerbruch Hutton).

The Insider's Edge to Real Estate Investing
James P. Nelson, author
Rachel Hartman, author
McGraw Hill Professional
1221 Avenue of the Americas, 45th Floor, New York, NY 10020
9781264865994, $26.00, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: The real estate investment market is worth nearly $21 trillion, and almost half of the properties are purchased by individual investors. There's space available for anyone who's willing to play -- and "The Insider's Edge to Real Estate Investing: Game-Changing Strategies To Outperform The Market" shows exactly how to get in the game and create lasting wealth.

Industry expert and successful real estate investor James Nelson (with the assistance of financial journalist Rachel Hartman) delivers the knowledge, insights, and tools you need to get started, generate returns, achieve your investing goals, and build a portfolio for the future.

"The Insider's Edge to Real Estate Investing" covers: Selecting a property type: multifamily, retail, office, and land; Building a strong network to get the inside scoop on deals; Reimagining spaces and their uses to make outsized returns; Underwriting and gauging real value; Raising capital and closing the deal; Improving and repositioning property by finding the right tenants; Selling or refinancing property for massive gains.

Critique: A complete course of DIY instruction and a thoroughly 'reader friendly' how-to guide for both beginning investors and real estate veterans, "The Insider's Edge to Real Estate Investing: Game-Changing Strategies To Outperform The Market" provides proven and 'real world' practical ways to outperform the market -- and build a financial legacy. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Real Estate Investment instructional reference collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted that "The Insider's Edge to Real Estate Investing" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99).

Editorial Note #1: James Nelson ( is Principal and Head of Avison Young's Tri-State Investment Sales group in New York City. During his 25-year career, Nelson has sold more than 500 properties and loans totaling over $5 billion. His accolades include being named Commercial Observer's Power 100, CoStar's Power Broker, and receiving the Deal of the Year award by REBNY. He regularly lectures at Columbia, Fordham, NYU, Wharton, and his alma mater Colgate.

Editorial Note #2: Rachel Hartman ( began writing for U.S. News in 2018, covering topics related to personal finance and retirement. For more than a decade, she has written material related to budgeting, saving and investing.

Jack Mason

John Burroughs' Bookshelf

50 Dark Destinations: Crime and Contemporary Tourism
Adam Lynes, et al.
Policy Press
9781447362197, $19.99, PB, 424pp

Synopsis: From the Alcatraz East Crime Museum and Jack the Ripper guided tours to the Phnom Penh killing fields, 'dark tourism' is now a multi-million-pound global industry. Even in the most pleasant tourist destinations, underlying harms are constantly perpetuated, affecting both consumers and those who work or live around such tourist hotspots.

"50 Dark Destinations: Crime and Contemporary Tourism" is comprised of 50 travel destinations across six continents, as expert criminologists, psychologists and historians explore the past and contemporary issues which we often disregard during our everyday leisure.

Critique: The team project of Angus Nurse (Associate Professor of Environmental Justice and Director of Policing Programmes at Middlesex University London), Anna Sergi (Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex), Anthony Lloyd (A Reader in Criminology and Sociology at Teesside University), David Wilson (Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University and the founding Director for the Centre for Applied Criminology) "50 Dark Destinations: Crime and Contemporary Tourism " is an inherently fascinating, exceptionally informative, and impressively presented DIY 'go-to' travel guide for anyone interested in crime and deviance-related tourism. Accessible thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "50 Dark Destinations" exposes a worrying trend in contemporary consumer culture, in which many of us partake. While also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $19.99), "50 Dark Destinations" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Criminology and Travel Guide collections.

Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna
Dennis McKenna
Synergetic Press
9781957869018, $24.95, PB, 526pp

Synopsis: Chronicling the McKenna brothers' childhood in western Colorado during the 1950s and 1960s, Dennis McKenna writes about his adolescent adventures including his first encounters with alcohol and drugs (many of which were facilitated by Terence McKenna), and the people and ideas that shaped them both. "Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna" deftly weaves personal narrative through philosophical ideas and tales of psychedelic experimentation.

With the publication of "Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna", Dennis describes these inquiries with the wisdom of perspective. In his account of what has become known as "The Experiment at La Chorrera" ( which Terence documented in his own 1989 book, True Hallucinations) Dennis describes how he had visions of merging mushroom and human DNA, the brothers' predictions for the future, and their evolving ideas about society and consciousness. He also offers an intellectual understanding of the hallucinogenic effects of high-dose psychedelic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances.

Dennis, now world-renowned for this ethnobotanical work, describes in his memoir his early interests in cosmology and astrology, his sometimes rocky relationship with his older brother and how their paths diverged later in their lives. Dennis also describes his academic career in between touching accounts of both his mother's and Terence's battles with cancer. In the 10th Anniversary edition of "Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna", Dennis reflects on scientific revelations, climate change, and the social and political crises of our time. The new edition also features both the original foreword by Luis Eduardo Luna and a new foreword by Dr. Bruce Damer.

Critique: A compelling story about brotherhood, psychedelic experimentation, and the intertwining nature of science and myth, "Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna" will have a very special appeal for readers with an interest in Cultural Anthropology and Popular Culture in the Social Sciences. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99), "Brotherhood of the Screaming Abyss: My Life with Terence McKenna" is an especially recommended addition to community and academic library American Biography/Memoir collections.

Editorial Note: Dennis McKenna is an ethnopharmacologist who has studied plant hallucinogens for over forty years. He is the author of many scientific papers, and co-author, with his brother Terence McKenna, of The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, and Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide. Dennis has been an adjunct assistant professor at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota since 2001, where he teaches courses in ethnopharmacology and botanical medicine. He has taught summer field courses in Peru and Ecuador, and has conducted fieldwork throughout the upper Amazon. Dennis McKenna is also the editor of Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psychoactive Drugs (Vol. 1 & 2): 50 Years of Research, published by Synergetic Press in 2018.

John Burroughs

Julie Summers' Bookshelf

101 Ways to Create Mindful Forgiveness
Kelly Browne
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757324581, $15.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: In today's virtual world of quick emails, texting, video calls, and social media, the ability to express apologies, accept forgiveness and make peace with pain is vital, enabling you to be more successful in every area of your life.

With the publication of "101 Ways to Create Mindful Forgiveness: A Heart-Healing Guide to Forgiveness, Apologies, and Mindful Tools for Peace", Kelly Browne explains and illustrates the modern-day art of how to mindfully forgive and make amends for your own self-care and wellness -- personally, publicly, and electronically. Offering personal stories, insightful guidance, journal prompts, plus therapeutic tools to open your heart, "101 Ways to Create Mindful Forgiveness" is an imminently practical guide for anyone seeking to embrace the power of forgiveness to forge a happier, healthier life.

In a world that can feel divided and disconnected, everyone wants a quick fix to solve their personal issues. It's not easy to just "get over" something that has hurt us deeply. But with the right mindfulness tools, we can enjoy a daily lifestyle of personal awareness and wellness.

A survivor of personal trauma herself, Kelly Browne offers an effective DIY guide to heal our hearts, one word at a time. Covering personal to professional relationships, she teaches readers: How to Apologize Using the 6 R's. She also covers Electronic Apologies: Text, Emojis, and Emailed Apologies; The Three Faces of an Apology, Meaningful Apologetic Words and Notes, Unacceptable Unapologetic Excuses, The Art of Self-forgiveness, Self-care Restitution: Take Care of You!, Choosing Compassion Over Revenge, Overcoming Trauma, Spiritual Support, and Navigating Family Dynamics and Broken Bonds.

Of special note is that "101 Ways to Create Mindful Forgiveness" also includes inspiration from The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tuto following the ravages of apartheid, something we desperately need for healing racial divides in our current world.

Critique: Of special and valued appeal to readers with an interest in the subjects of Emotional Self-Help, Creating Self- Esteem and Personal Happiness, "101 Ways to Create Mindful Forgiveness: A Heart-Healing Guide to Forgiveness, Apologies, and Mindful Tools for Peace" is an invaluable and much needed addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections in a Social Media age. It should be noted that "101 Ways to Create Mindful Forgiveness" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Kelly Browne is a well-known gratitude expert on thank-you notes for adults and children. She is the author of the bestselling series in its category, 101 Ways to Say Thank You: Notes of Gratitude for All Occasions (Sterling 2008, 2nd edition, 2015) and 101 Ways to Say Thank You! Kids & Teens (Cedar Fort, 2015), and 101 Ways to Say Thank You: Notes of Gratitude for Every Occasion (Adams Media/S&S, 2022).

It's Just a Thought: Emotional Freedom through Deliberate Thinking
Thomas M. Sterner
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608688296, $17.95, PB, 136pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "It's Just a Thought: Emotional Freedom through Deliberate Thinking", Thomas M. Sterner offers effective methods for thinking, rather than being thought, of directing your thoughts instead of being directed by them. He also outlines liberating ways to first observe and then master your thinking, allowing you to: Recognize unhelpful historical and present-day programming; Understand how the conscious and subconscious minds interact; Experience the relationship between heart and brain.

The skills Tom showcases in "It's Just a Thought" prove that we are not the thoughts and emotions that can overwhelm us, and that on any given day we have the power to connect to who we really are and achieve what we really want and need. Filled with inspiring examples and practical action steps, "It's Just a Thought" exposes our limitations and handicaps and gives us the tools to make overcoming them a joyful process of empowerment.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and life-changing, life-affirming, life-enhancing, "It's Just a Thought: Emotional Freedom through Deliberate Thinking" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of anyone with an interest in meditation, happiness, and success, that "It's Just a Thought" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Thomas M. Sterner ( is the founder and CEO of the Practicing Mind Institute, a successful entrepreneur, and an expert in present moment functioning, or PMF. As a popular and in-demand speaker and coach, he works with high-performance industry groups and individuals, including athletes, coaches, and CEOs, freeing them to operate effectively in high-stress situations so that they can break through to new levels of mastery. He is also the author of :The Practicing Mind and Fully Engaged".

Good Morning, Hope
Argita Zalli, author
Detina Zalli, author
Sandra Jonas Publishing House
9781954861053, $26.95, HC, 244pp

Synopsis: Born in poverty-stricken Albania, twin sisters Argita and Detina Zalli always dreamed of becoming doctors. Their parents scrimped and sacrificed, committed to giving them a better life. But then the unthinkable happened. In 1997, the government collapsed, plunging the country into anarchy and civil war.

The twins' dream unraveled along with their homeland. Their parents had to find a way to leave and save their daughters' futures -- not to mention their very lives.

It took over two years for the Zalli family to escape. After several dangerous attempts, they finally made it to England, where the thirteen-year-old twins believed everything would be much better. They soon found out otherwise. Now refugees, with little more than the clothes on their backs, the girls were mercilessly bullied and constantly afraid they would be sent back to Albania and their parents would be sent to jail.

Still, the twins persevered and learned how to navigate their harsh new reality. When tragedy struck yet again, threatening what they held most dear, the girls had to come to terms with the high price they had all paid to survive.

With the publication of "Good Morning, Hope: A True Story of Refugee Twin Sisters and Their Triumph over War, Poverty, and Heartbreak", co-authors Argita and Detina Zalli share their harrowing story of courage and resilience. It was the strength of their family, particularly the sisters' unique, unbreakable bond as twins, that nurtured and sustained them throughout their perilous ordeal.

Critique: A riveting, fascinating, compelling, and ultimately inspiring read from cover to cover, "Good Morning, Hope: A True Story of Refugee Twin Sisters and Their Triumph over War, Poverty, and Heartbreak" will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in women's biographies and true life stories about overcoming everything from the horrors of war to anti-immigrant prejudice to build lives that could well serve to inspire a new generation of young women living through hard times. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Good Morning, Hope" is also available in a paperback edition (9781954861060, $14.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Editorial Note: Overcoming the formidable challenges of being refugees, both young women achieved academic success and went on to become highly accomplished PhD research scientists and lecturers. Influenced by Barack Obama and eager to help others, they founded We Speak Science, a nonprofit organization that supports disadvantaged students throughout the world, particularly immigrants, whose circumstances hinder their ability to learn at school. Subsequently, in collaboration with world-class oncologists and scientists, Argita and Detina co-founded Aferdita Ime, a nonprofit initiative that seeks to help cancer patients through psychosocial support and counseling. (

Love, Nature, Magic: Shamanic Journeys into the Heart of My Garden
Maria Rodale
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
85 North Main Street, Suite 120, White River Junction, VT 05001
9781645021711, $28.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Love, Nature, Magic: Shamanic Journeys into the Heart of My Garden", organic advocate and former CEO of a global health and wellness company Maria Rodale combines her love of nature and gardening with her experience in shamanic journeying, embarking on an epic adventure to learn from plants, animals, and insects -- including some of the most misunderstood beings in nature.

Maria asks them their purpose and listens as they show and declare what they want us humans to know. From Thistles to Snakes, Poison Ivy to Mosquitoes, these nature beings convey messages that are relevant to every human, showing us how to live in balance and harmony on this Earth.

Through journeys filled with surprises, humor, and foibles, follow Maria's evolution from being annoyed with to accepting and even falling in love with our most difficult neighbors (including human ones). Along the way, she tells her own story of how she learned about shamanic journeying and its near-universal manifestation in traditional cultures worldwide. She describes what her experiences of shamanic journeying are like simply, honestly, and with a touch of irreverence.

Maria's journeys include conversations with: Mugwort, Vulture, Bat, Rabbit, Lanternfly, Lightning Bug, Osage Orange, Deer, Paper Wasp, Dandelion, Tick, Groundhog, Milkweed -- and more! Throughout, Rodale shares an essential truth that resonates across her shamanic explorations: We first must heal our own hearts, for only then can we truly love others and begin to heal planet Earth.

Critique: A thoughtful and thought-provoking read from first page to last, "Love, Nature, Magic: Shamanic Journeys into the Heart of My Garden" is an extraordinary work that will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in Shamanism and Nature Writing. Informative, compelling, memorable, "Love, Nature, Magic" is a seminal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, and community library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Love, Nature, Magic" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.99).

Editorial Note: Maria Rodale ( is an explorer in search of the mysteries of the universe. Author, artist, activist, and recovering CEO, she serves on the board of the Rodale Institute and is also a former board co-chair. Throughout her career, she has advocated for the potential of organic regenerative farming to heal the damage wrought by pesticides and industrial agricultural practices. She is also the author of Organic Manifesto and Scratch and is a secret children's book author.

Julie Summers

Margaret Lane's Bookshelf

About Face
Carole Summer Krechman
Three Tomatoes Book Publishing
c/o The Blaine Group
9798987105115, $29.99, HC, 300pp

Synopsis: In the early 1980s, with the encouragement and mentorship of Dr. Armand Hammer, founder and Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Company, Carole Sumner Krechman and her husband, Sheldon Krechman, were presented with the opportunity to expand their U.S. roller rinks business into China.

They excitedly pursued the opportunity-two innocents abroad in an exotic and unknown land. They eventually abandoned all hope of building a chain of roller rinks but through a convoluted series of events, became involved in a large and complicated joint venture with the Chinese to build a five-star, modern office and hotel complex and conference center in downtown Beijing -- the first of its kind in China. Juxtaposed against the ancient world of Beijing, it was a towering beacon of light signifying a China that was stepping into the twentieth century.

Little did they know their joint venture would ensnare them in a dangerous web that included the most ruthless of China's security agencies, the FBI, the CIA and a cast of characters who seem straight out of a Hollywood spy thriller. Their story is personal and full of real people. The security and espionage apparatus of the People's Republic of China has a human face. In fact, the multiple meanings of the word "face" make it a useful metaphor for describing the reality of the People's Republic.

Critique: The stuff of which block buster movies are made, "About Face: The True Story of an American Couple in China Entangled in a Web of Intrigue and Crime" by Careole Summer Krechman is a true story that readers will find absolutely compelling -- and a warning about the potential hazards of doing business with or in China today. A compelling and detailed account from first page to last, "About Face" will have a special appeal to readers with an interest in International Business & Investing in China. While a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted that "About Face" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798987105108, $18.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Carole Krechman ( is a serial international entrepreneur and architect by education and training, She is likely the only 80-year-old woman to be awarded a technology patent from the US government. This patent creates a foundational change in how we communicate, delivering video to any cell phone on demand. Additionally, Carole is concurrently the Chairman, Founder and President of the Peacemaker Corps Association, a non-profit dedicated to teaching children around the world how to make "Peace in the Streets." PCA is a United Nations NGO with ESCSOC status. (www. As a life-long activist/volunteer and former Chairman of the Board of Friends of the United Nations, with 30 years of volunteer service to the UN, she was honored for her years of philanthropy and innovation by receiving the 2008 Purpose Prize Fellowship. This award is similar to a Nobel Peace Prize just for seniors.

Spontaneous Revolutions
Liza McQuade
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781982256838, $44.95, HC, 482pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "Spontaneous Revolutions: Seeing America One Pedal at a Time", Liza McQuae tells the story of a middle-aged couples' spur-of-the-moment bicycle journey across the country. These two out-of-shape, inexperienced cyclists rode from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. It took four (sometimes) grueling months.

Being overweight and over 50 was one thing. They also knew next to nothing about bikes -- neither of them didn't even know how to change a flat tire when they left! And, they chose to travel unplugged.

Why do this seemingly Insane thing? They wanted to meet the people of the tiny towns and byways of America. It's also a testament to overcoming challenges, staying motivated and enjoying the kindness of strangers. People constantly surprised them with support: Invitations to their homes and cheerleadlng along the way.

The experience reaffirmed their faith in humanity, proving how many good people there are across America. "Sontaneous Revolutions records moments of hilarity, fear, surprise, struggle, tenderness, frustration, beauty, danger and love. It also leaves the reader with confidence and inspiration: if these two can do it, you can do it- no matter your dream.

"Spontaneous Revolutions" is also a love story as author Liza McQuade and her husband reconnected in their marriage, learned to let go of judgement, and found they loved each other more than they thought possible.

"Spontaneous Revolutions" was written after Liza's husband passed away unexpectedly. This is an uplifting account of two people who undertook a huge leap of faith and learned to live In the moment. The trip proved to be a metaphor for taking on any big challenge. The underlying message is that whether you are making an important decision or scaling a mountain, don't psych yourself out. Tackle what's thrown your way head-on, even if you have to get off your bike and walk. Most importantly, "Spontaneous Revolutions" a reminder to take life one pedal at a time.

Critique: Fascinating, inspiring, engaging, "Spontaneous Revolutions: Seeing America One Pedal at a Time" is a thoughtful and thought-provoking read from first page to last. Simply stated, it is one of those books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Spontaneous Revolutions" is also available in a paperback edition (9781982256814, $28.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Editorial Note: Liza McQuade ( worked in the radio, TV, and film industries for over 30 years, as a news anchor, reporter, producer, writer, public affairs/service director, senior project manager, and location scout. She received numerous awards, including the California Governor's Commendation for a documentary on illiteracy, and won an Associated Press award for breaking the "Women in the Box" story. She is a trained mediator and led the Oregon Mediation Association as the Executive Director.

Arranged With Love
Tracy L. Smoak
Redemption Press
9781951310387, $39.99, HC, 78pp\

Synopsis: From swirls of petals to sturdy stems and stars, God has created a vast array of shapes and patterns to surprise and delight us. Such beauty daily testifies of his great love for each one of us. Explore God's gardens and his Word to find joy.

With the publication of "Arranged with Love", Tracy Smoak has deftly combined thirty full-color, original photographs of God's artwork with Scripture, prayer, and encouragement to help her contemplate and meditate on the Father's love.

Critique: Unreservedly recommended for anyone who enjoys nature, needs comfort, or desires spiritual renewal from a Christian Perspective, "Arranged With Love" is the perfect resource. While appropriate for personal, Church, and community library collections, it should be noted that "Arranged With Love" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Tracy Smoak ( is an author, a photographer, and a blogger. Her photography with musical videos is available from YouTube playlists at:

Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art
Kristen Collins, editor
Bryan C. Keene, editor
Getty Publications
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682
9781606067857, $40.00, PB, 152pp

Synopsis: According to the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, magi from the East, following a star, traveled to Jerusalem bearing precious gifts for the infant Jesus. The magi were revered as wise men and later as kings. Over time, one of the three came to be known as Balthazar and to be depicted as a Black man.

Balthazar was familiar to medieval Europeans, appearing in paintings, manuscript illuminations, mosaics, carved ivories, and jewelry. But the origin story of this fascinating character uncovers intricate ties between Europe and Africa, including trade and diplomacy as well as colonization and enslavement.

Compiled and co-edited by Kristen Collins and Bryan C. Keene, "Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art" is comprised of contributions by experts in the fields of Ethiopian, West African, Nubian, and Western European art in an exploration of the representation of Balthazar as a Black African king. The contributors examine exceptional art that portrays the European fantasy of the Black magus while offering clues about the very real Africans who may have inspired these images. Along the way, "Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art" chronicles the Black presence in premodern Europe, where free and enslaved Black people moved through public spaces and courtly circles.

Of special note is thiis volume's lavish illustrations that include selected works by contemporary artists who creatively challenge traditional depictions of Black history.

Critique: "Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art" is a large coffee-table style (8.5 x 0.5 x 10.5 inches, 1.11 pounds) volume profusely illustrated in full color throughout. Impressively informative, expertly organized and presented, "Balthazar: A Black African King in Medieval and Renaissance Art" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Medieval/Renaissance Art History collections and supplemental curriculums studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Kristen Collins ( is the curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Editorial Note #2: Bryan C. Keene ( is an assistant professor of art history at Riverside City College and a former associate curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. He specializes in codex cultures of a global Middle Ages and fantasy medievalisms.

Not Your Ex's Hexes
April Asher
c/o St. Martin's Press
9781250808011, $16.99, PB, 352pp

Synopsis: For her entire life, Rose Maxwell trained to become the next Prima on the Supernatural Council. Now that she's stepped down, it's time for this witch to focus on herself. And not think about her impulsive one-night stand with Damian Adams, a half-Demon Veterinarian who she can't get out of her head. Neither of them is looking for a relationship. But when Rose is sentenced to community service at Damian's animal sanctuary it becomes impossible for them to ignore their sparking attraction. A friends-with-benefits, no feelings, no strings arrangement works perfectly for them both.

After a sequence of dead-end jobs, it's not until Rose tangos with two snarly demons that she thinks she's finally found her path. However, this puts Damian back on the periphery of a world he thought he left behind. He doesn't approve of Rose becoming a Hunter, but if there's one thing he's learned about the stubborn witch, it was telling her not to do something was one sure-fire way to make sure she did.

Working (and sleeping) together awakens feelings Damian never knew he had...and shouldn't have. Because thanks to his ex's hex, if he falls in love, he'll not only lose his heart -- but his humanity.

Critique: A skillful blend of romantic comedy and occult/paranormal romance, "Not Your Ex's Hexes" by April Asher is a fun read from beginning to end. Original and memorable, "Not Your Ex's Hexes" is an especially recommended addition to community library Romance Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Not Your Ex's Hexes" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781666628562, $29.99, CD).

Editorial Note: April Asher ( pens laugh-out-loud romantic comedies with a paranormal twist, but when she's not putting her characters into embarrassing situations with supernatural entities, she also writes high-octane romantic suspense as her thrill-seeking alter ego, April Hunt.

Margaret Lane

Michael Carson's Bookshelf

A Light in the Dark
Kenneth M. Adams, et al.
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757324642, $15.95, PB, 176pp

Synopsis: Adult children who grew up with a parent who had a sexual addiction are often left confused, ashamed, and mistrustful regarding the feelings and boundaries surrounding sex, love, and intimacy. Due to the inappropriate sexual behavior of one parent, and the subsequent impact of betrayal on the other parent, these adults carry sexual secrets, have divided loyalties, and are often caught in the middle of their parents' struggles.

Having witnessed (or known of) affairs, walked in on a parent masturbating or viewing pornography, children received extreme or shameful messages regarding sexuality or gender, experienced sexualized remarks about their bodies, been neglected as a result of the parental addiction, or were modeled extreme moral values (either too permissive or shaming), The common result is that these adult children of sex addicts (ACSAs) struggle with their sexuality and longings for love.

The adult children of sex addict parents have not had their stories told in any significant way in the recovery literature. Intergenerational trauma is transmitted through the legacy of carried sexual shame -- the burden of which is not theirs. Their shame and struggle has often been wedged under various umbrellas of identification: adult children of alcoholics, love avoidant, codependent, sex addict, love addict, and others.

With the publication of "A Light in the Dark: The Hidden Legacy of Adult Children of Sex Addicts" offers hope for unburdening ACSAs by sharing the experiences of others, as well as examining the characteristics, roles and recovery that point toward the freedom and joy they rightfully deserve.

Critique: The collaborative work of co-authors Kenneth M. Adams Ph.D, Mary E. Meyer Ph.D. LMFT, and Culle L. Vande Garde LCSW with a foreword by Stephanie Carnes Ph.D, "A Light in the Dark: The Hidden Legacy of Adult Children of Sex Addicts" is a seminal, substantive, and groundbreaking contribution community and academic library Human Sexuality & Psychology collections. Exceptionally well written and of immense informative value for professional and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Sexual Health Recovery and Compulsive Behavior Treatment, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Light in the Dark: The Hidden Legacy of Adult Children of Sex Addicts" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note #1: Kenneth M. Adams ( is a licensed psychologist and faculty member with the International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals and the clinical director of Kenneth M. Adams and Associates in suburban Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of Silently Seduced and When He's Married to Mom as well as co-editor of Clinical Management of Sex Addiction: Second Edition. Dr. Adams is the creator and director of workshops.

Editorial Note #2: Mary E. Meyer ( is a couples and family therapist and executive director of Full Heart Family Therapy in Ankeny, Iowa. She is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist and a Developmental and Relational Trauma Therapist. Dr. Meyer is dedicated to helping families heal from the effects of sex addiction and intergenerational family trauma.

Editorial Note #2: Culle L. Vande Garde ( is a licensed therapist, author, and speaker in Dallas, Texas. She has spent her 30-year career specializing in the treatment of developmental and relational trauma. She is passionate about assisting adult children of sex addicts and their families heal from the effects of sex addiction and intergenerational trauma.

Editorial Note #4: Stefanie Carnes ( is the President of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals, a training institute and professional organization for addiction professionals, and a senior fellow for Meadows Behavioral Healthcare where she works with sexually addicted clients and their families.

White Riot: The 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver
Henry Tsang
Arsenal Pulp Press
9781551529196, $26.95, PB, 224pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "White Riot: The 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver", Henry Tsang explores the conditions leading up to and the impact of a demonstration and parade in Vancouver, Canada, (organized by the Asiatic Exclusion League) and the ensuing mob attack on the city's Chinese Canadian and Japanese Canadian communities.

Emblematic of a systemically racist era, White Riot reveals the social and political environment of the time, when racialized communities were targeted through legislated as well as physical acts of exclusion and violence.

Based on 360 Riot Walk, a 360-degree video walking tour by artist and author Henry Tsang, "White Riot" offers an intersectional approach to this pivotal moment in the history of racialized communities and a cultural and social context for understanding for the current wave of anti-Asian sentiment.

It also features photographs of the riots colorized by Tsang as well as those of contemporary Vancouver where the riots took place. Essays by Tsang and others speak to the colonial times that preceded and followed the 1907 riots, as well as issues that Chinese and Japanese communities (and other racialized communities) in North America are facing today.

"White Riot" poses the question: in the current ethos of anti-racism and decolonization, what does it take to reconcile our collective histories within the legacy of white supremacy?

Critique: Timely, compelling, original, memorable, "White Riot: The 1907 Anti-Asian Riots in Vancouver" is a coffee-table style (9.9 x 0.5 x 8 inches, 1.35 pounds) paperback volume offering a photographic history of early 20th Century racism in a major Canadian city. With an echoing relevance to readers with an interest in today's race relations and a recurring 'white supremacy' movement in Canada and the United States, "White Riot" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library 20th Century Canadian History collections and supplemental curriculum Canadian Race Relations studies lists.

Editorial Note: Henry Tsang ( is an artist who explores the spatial politics of history, language, community, food, and cultural translation in relationship to place. His artworks take the form of gallery exhibitions, 360 video walking tours, curated dinners, and public art. Henry teaches at Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver.

Michael J. Carson

Robin Friedman's Bookshelf

Piano Concertos Nos. 17 and 27
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer
Walter Klien, performer
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, performer
Minnesota Orchestra, performer
Vox Records
B0BQ3R54SN, $16.99

Mozart Concertos From My Youth

This CD brings back memories. Many years ago, I listened to music on LPs from Vox and related companies. I got to know composers and performers on outstanding recordings at bargain prices. I remember this LP with pianist Walter Klien and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducting the Minnesota Orchestra in two Mozart piano concertos: no. 17 in G major, K. 453 and the final piano concerto, no. 27 in B flat major, K. 595. The LP was my first of Mozart concertos, and I wore it out. I think it was in high school but I don't exactly remember. I fell in love with the Mozart piano concertos. His concertos are still among my most beloved music.

The Austrian pianist Walter Klein (1928 -- 1991) recorded prolifically for Vox, including all of Mozart's works for piano. He was known for a light, clear touch without over-dramatization. He plays beautifully on this CD. When I found this reissue I was moved to revisit some of his recordings of the Schubert piano sonatas as well. Skrowaczewski (1923 -- 2017) conducted the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra as it was then known from 1960 -- 1979 and years later was named Conductor Laureate.

Hearing this reissue brought the old well-worn LP back to me. The orchestral sound is both lilting and full and Klien and the Orchestra are fully integrated in the movement. The runs, filigree, and melodies in the piano come through clearly and as always with Mozart the winds play a large role. The G major concerto is in the middle of a long series of concerto masterworks Mozart composed from 1784 -- 1786 with a lively opening movement, an expressive slow movement and a variation finale. The B flat major concerto is a work of farewell with many quiet reflective moments before its lively, song-like finale. (Mozart in fact used its theme in a song.)

I didn't know it at the time, but the original LP was famous for the quality of its recorded sound with engineering by Marc Aubort and Joanna Nichrenz. It is discussed at length in the liner notes, Richard Freed's notes also give good insight into the music.

This CD was a visit to my past, In addition to the nostalgia, I still love the music and the performances. The recording deserves to be reissued and will delight new listeners and perhaps foster for others a lifelong love of music, as it helped to do with me.

Total Time: 62:10

American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Volume 2: E.E. Cummings to May Swenson
Robert Haas, John Hollander, Carolyn Kizer, Nathaniel Mackey, Marjorie Perloff, compilers
Library of America
9781883011789, $40.00

Twentieth Century Poetry In The Library Of America -- 2

This volume is the second of a two volume anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry in the Library of America series. The LOA also has published a two volume set of Nineteenth Century American poetry, one volume of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century poetry and a volume of American religious and spiritual poetry. American poetry richly deserves this extensive treatment, and this series may serve to introduce America's poets to a growing number of readers.

This volume begins with E.E.Cummings (b 1894) and concludes with May Swenson (b 1913) The volume has almost an embarrassment of riches. By my count there are 122 separate poets included. The book includes a brief biography of each writer included which is invaluable for reading his or her poems in the volume.

As with any anthology of this nature, the selection is a compromise between inclusiveness and quality. Readers may quarrel with the relative weight given to various poets in terms of number of pages, and with the inclusion or exclusion of writers. (I was disappointed that a poet I admire, Horace Gregory, gets only two pages, for example). Overall, it is a wonderful volume and includes some great poetry.

There are favorites and familiar names here and names that will be familiar to few. A joy of a book such as this is to see favorites and to learn about poets one hasn't read before.

A major feature of this volume is its emphasis on diversity -- much more so than in volume 1 or in the Library of America's 19th century poetry anthologies. There are many Jewish poets (including Charles Reznikoff, a long-time favorite of mine, Louis Zukofsky, Alter Brody, Rose Drachler, George Oppen, Karl Shapiro, and others) and even more African-American poets (Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Richard Wright, Waring Cuney, Sterling Brown, Arna Bontemps, Robert Hayden and many more.) There are also selections from blues and popular songs.

Of the poets unknown to me, I enjoyed particularly Lorine Niedecker, Laura Riding, and Janet Lewis -- women are well represented in this volume.

Perhaps an emblematic single line for this volume would be "My hand in yours, Walt Whitman --so" -- taken from the "Cape Hatteras" section of "The Bridge" by Hart Crane. Crane has more pages devoted to him than any other writer in the volume and deservedly so. "The Bridge" and "Voyages" are presented complete together with some of the shorter poems. This tragic, tormented and gifted writer tried in "The Bridge" to present a vision of America mystical in character, celebratory of the American experience, and inclusive in its diversity. The poem is a worthy successor to the poetry of Whitman who is celebrated throughout "The Bridge".

This volume together with its companion volume in the LOA constitute an outstanding way to explore the richness, diversity, and artistic achievement of Twentieth Century American poetry.

Orpheus Descending, A Play in Three Acts
Tennessee Williams, author
Dramatists Play Service, Inc
9780822208655, $13.00

Williams' Orpheus Descending

Tennessee Williams (1911 -- 1983) currently (2004) is getting a great deal of attention in Washington, D.C. The Kennedy Center is presenting three of his major dramas performed by marquis stars. The Washington Opera is presenting an operatic version of "A Streetcar Named Desire" with music by Andre Previn. But another Washington theater, the Arena Stage, is taking a more adventurous approach. It is reviving Williams's little-known work "Orpheus Descending". It was my good fortune to see this production. It lead me to read the play and to think about it, about Tennessee Williams, and about passionate and romantic theater.

Orpheus Descending was first presented on Broadway in 1957 where it enjoyed a brief run and only modest success. The play is a rewrite of an early Williams effort, "Battle of Angels" which was written in 1940 and poorly received. Williams was attached to Orpheus and to the effort it cost him. When the play appeared in 1957, he wrote that "[o]n the surface it was and still is the tale of a wild-spirited boy who wanders into a conventional community of the South and creates the commotion of a fox in a chicken coop. But beneath that now familiar surface it is a play about unanswered questions that haunt the hearts of people and the difference between continuing to ask them, ... and the acceptance of prescribed answers that are not answers at all."

The play is a retelling of the Orpheus legend and deals, in the most elemental fashion, with the power of passion, art, and imagination to redeem life and return it to meaning. The story is set in a dry goods store in a small southern town marked, in the play, by conformity, sexual frustration, narrowness,and racism. Into the scene steps Val, a young man with a guitar,a snakeskin jacket, a past and undeniable animal and erotic energy and appeal. He gets a job in the dry goods store run by a middle-aged woman named Lady whose elderly husband is dying. Lady has a past and passions of her own and she is attracted to Val and to life as an antidote to her loveless marriage. The play describes the awakening of passion, love, and life -- and its tragic consequences for Val and Lady.

The play deals with passion, its repression and its attempted recovery. For Williams, I think it is about trying to live bravely and honestly in a fallen world. The play is replete with lush, poetic dialogue and imagery. On the stage, the production seems in the opening sections somewhat lacking in dramatic movement, but it picks up power as the characters are developed and the play moves to its climax. Val as Orpheus, represents the force of energy and eros which buried as they are in compromise and in humdrum everydayness have the tragic power to make life anew.

I felt lucky to have the opportunity to see this play. It shows, I think, how much remains to be explored in the world of art when we look just a bit below the surface. Those not in a position to see the play themselves will still have the joy of discovery in reading this obscure work by a great romantic American dramatist and poet. The play is also available in the Library of America compilation. "Tennessee Williams: Plays 1957 -- 1980".

City of God: A Novel
E.L. Doctorow, author
Random House
9780679447832, $13.99 (kindle), $10.00 (hardcover)

God In New York City

The late E.L. Doctorow's turn-of-the century novel "City of God" (2001) explores the nature of religious faith for those for whom traditional forms of religion have become difficult or lost their meaning. The book straddles the line drawn by some people between religion (in the sense of devotion to a traditional creed) and spirituality (a personal devotion to the transcendent separate from any church or group.) The predominant form of religion in the book is Judaism, but it is very evolutionist, modernistic, and personal, in many respects, and definitely not tied to the texts and practices of traditional Judaism.

The book is modernistic and episodic in tone with three principal voices: a journalist who seems to be a figure for at least some aspect of the author, a lapsed Episcopalian priest, and a woman rabbi of the Synagogue for Evolutionary Judaism. The three are drawn together by the theft of a cross from the Church and its mysterious appearance at the Synagogue. The "mystery" is dropped but it is mostly a vehicle to discuss the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, another theme of this complex book.

There are long chillingly written scenes of the Holocaust which forms a backdrop to at least some of the thought and action of the principal characters. Also, important discussions of the philosopher Wittgenstein, which I found very apropos to the spiritual questing theme of the book, contemporary physics, the big bang theory, and popular song and film.

Doctorow has New York City in his bones and the large secular city is artfully drawn. In fact, one of the main themes of the book is the secular city (to steal a title from Harvey Cox's book of many years ago) and of a secular America with its own Civil Religion. Contrary to what I remember of Doctorow from earlier books, such as "The Book of Daniel", Doctorow appears to me to cherish the city and America in their very variety and secularity for the purposes of spiritual growth and questioning that they afford. A wonderful development from the America-bashing of the 1960s.

The book also shows song and poetry, (in the line of Whitman, Reznikoff, Ginsberg, W.C Williams) as components of a spiritual journey towards self-understanding.

As befitting a book with a title from St. Augustine, the book explores questions of original sin, the nature and possibility of immortality and religious change. It shows the continual struggle of people with religious questions and, importantly, suggests an evolving religion, not necessarily bound to the forms of the past.

The book does not give answers but provokes questions and is an antidote to all-pervasive smugness or indifference.

Doctorow's "City of God" is a valuable book for those who want to think about religion and spiritual issues or to see why people think about them. Although difficult to read, the effort will be rewarded.

Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789 -- 1815 (Oxford History of the United States, Book 4)
Gordon S. Wood, author
Oxford University Press
9780195039146, $20.61 (hardcover)

Rip Van Winkle's America

At the outset of his history of the United States between 1789 - 1815, Professor Gordon Wood aptly describes his subject as "Rip Van Winkle's America". Van Winkle, of course, was the subject of a story by Washington Irving. Rip goes to sleep in his small village prior to the American Revolution and wakes up 20 years later to find a vastly changed United States, larger in size, disputatious, commercial, and substantially more democratic than had been the case when Rip began his long nap.

Rip's story captures the development of the United States as Wood portrays it. Beginning with the adoption of the Constitution, which was designed to cure the excesses of individualism and local government under the Articles of the Confederation, Wood sets a theme of the increasing democratization of the United States, as political parties come to play a central role in American life and Thomas Jefferson is elected president in 1800 on a platform of equality (for white males, in any event) and of a limited role for the central government. What Wood describes as the "middling" class as opposed to the budding aristocracy of Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and some of the other Founders, comes to set the dominant tone of American life.

Besides his use of the story of Rip Van Winkle, Wood sets the tone of his book with its title, "Empire of Liberty." Wood uses this term in a chapter titled "The Jeffersonian West" which describes the great expansion of the United States achieved by the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson himself used the term "Empire of Liberty" to describe his vision for the United States. As Wood explains the term: "`Empire" for [Jefferson] did not mean the coercive domination of alien peoples; instead, it meant a nation of citizens spread over vast tracts of land. Yet the British Empire had given enough ambiguity to the term to lend some irony to Jefferson's use of it. (p. 357, footnote omitted) Thus, another theme of Wood's study, in addition to democratization, is expansion. The United States grows in both area in population. The United States gradually frees itself of domination by foreign powers, both Britain and France, to form a growing sense of itself as an independent nation. At the end of the book, following what appeared to be a lucky avoidance of disaster in the War of 1812, the United States became "A World within Themselves", to use the title of Wood's insightful concluding chapter, as Americans looked to themselves rather that to Europe as the source of trade, economic growth, and culture.

Wood's long, thorough, and comprehensive study develops his themes in a variety of ways. He offers a political history of the United States beginning with the administration of George Washington and concluding with the administration of the fourth president, James Madison, through the end of the War of 1812. The tumult of this early period frequently is overlooked by those with only a casual familiarity with American history. Political disagreements were sharp, personal, and violent. There were near-wars with both France in Britain and an actual war with Britain in 1812, which sealed the result of the first war - the American Revolution. The era included a disputed presidential election in 1800, the trial of Aaron Burr, Jefferson's first vice-president, for treason, the impeachment of a Supreme Court Justice and much else. With the possible exception of the Civil War era, the early days of the United States were the most difficult time in our history.

Wood also offers insightful chapters on the development of American law and of the doctrine of Judicial Review under the John Marshall, the Great Chief Justice. He spends substantial space on slavery, with both the North and the South tragically miscalculating how this institution would come close to destroying the nation. In several chapters, Wood explores the growth of American culture during this period, a subject frequently overlooked. And there is an important chapter on the Second Awakening and on American religion. Wood shows that the separation of government from denominations, gave religion in the United States its own non-hierarchical, individual character and strengthened it, rather than having religion become a casualty of the Enlightenment.

Wood offers stories of commercialization, ambition and drive on behalf of his "middling" class with anecdotes of people who succeeded through their own efforts and of some individuals, such as Robert Fulton whose inventiveness and ingenuity made them famous. With slavery and its treatment of the Indians, Wood shows that the United States had serious failings. But the overall tone of this book is one of optimism, exuberance and hope for the promise of America. Thomas Jefferson is the single most dominating figure in this book. For all Jefferson's faults and for all the changes in his historical reputation, Wood clearly admires Jefferson immensely. Jefferson's vision, with its goal of democratization and independence, forms the heart of Wood's picture of what the United States could become.

Wood's book is the latest in a series called the "Oxford History of the United States." Each of these volumes is written by a distinguished scholar and presents, for the specialist and the interested lay reader, important and informed studies of periods in our Nation's history. It is a rare pleasure to be able to study American history through these books and through the differing perspectives of their authors. Wood's book, with its scholarship and emphasis on the Jeffersonian vision, is an exemplary addition to this series. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to read and review "Empire of Liberty" here as part of the Amazon "Vine" program.

Robin Friedman

Suanne Schafer's Bookshelf

On Wine-Dark Seas: A Novel of Odysseus and His Fatherless Son Telemachus
Tad Crawford
9781510772571, $26.99

Few books are more deserving of a sequel than The Odyssey. In his new book, On Wine-Dark Seas: A Novel of Odysseus and His Fatherless Son Telemachus, Tad Crawford continues the story of The Odyssey from the point of view of Telemachus, Odysseus's son. Telemachus tells his father's story to the court bard, Phemios. The first chapters revisit the events of The Odyssey and show some of Telemachus's twenty-year wait to meet his father, who departed for the Trojan War soon after his son was born. With chapter five, Crawford begins new aspects of Odysseus's tale and shows father and son heading out to make offerings to the god Poseidon, looking for a people who don't recognize a sail or an oar.

A few things I really like about this book:

Crawford's treatment of Odysseus. He is a man who flutters around the truth with stories that change from day to day, so that Telemachus is never quite sure which tale is true. Though Odysseus is not an unreliable narrator, his inconstancy makes for interesting reading.

Long-suffering Penelope, who has waited twenty years for her husband to return, learns he has been unfaithful with women and goddesses alike while she has remained true to her marriage vows. Understandably, she is bitter, put-upon, yet ultimately loyal to her spouse. In the end, they reunite but squabble.

The final third of the book is ultimately the most interesting. Crawford allows multiple characters to reweave their favorite stories from Homer, bringing new insights to the tales.

The author's notes at the end of the book itself were fascinating and detailed his many sources, revealing that On Wine-Dark Seas is a skillful blend of the Homeric stories and a goodly dose of inspiration. Maps and a glossary are included.

This book is brief, and I felt it could have used more words. The prose is quite nice, but, as with so many other recent retellings of the Greek myths, doesn't rise to the level of musicality of Madeline Miller in The Song of Achilles and Circe.

Costanza Casati
Sourcebooks Landmark
9781728268231, $26.99

Clytemnestra is a princess of Sparta; her parents are Tyndareus and Leda (of Leda and the Swan fame). The royal family includes Helen (of Helen of Troy fame), supposedly beget from the rape of Leda by Zeus in the guise of a swan, and several other children. In Sparta, women are taught to be warriors, and Clytemnestra, seeking the approval of her parents, becomes a great fighter. She overcomes the starvation, the beatings, and mental cruelty her parents inflict on her. When Clytemnestra is young, a priestess predicts that Leda's daughters will be twice and thrice married. And they will all be deserters of their lawful husbands. Clytemnestra's first betrayal comes early when her father conspires with Agamemnon to kill Tantalus, the husband she loves - and her still-unnamed newborn son. She is then forced to marry Agamemnon.

In her debut Costanza Casati's shows that Clytemnestra has the traits of a great woman. From the point where her family is murdered, she's subjected to the whims of men and, somehow, finds the inner strength to persevere and attain both revenge and a kingdom of her own. She has many traits of a wise woman, is capable of ruling, and deserves all she achieves. She is a strong, though flawed, female protagonist in a book worthy of the revisionist genre, which tinkers with and subverts past conventions in an attempt to speak to later generations.

I enjoyed this book but, though close, the prose never quite rose to the poetic, musical heights of Madeleine Miller's The Song of Achilles or Circe.

Hang the Moon
Jeannette Walls
9781501117299, $28.00

Hang the Moon blends true events in American history with those of the English Tudor dynasty with King Henry VIII and his multiple wives and his daughter who becomes Queen Elizabeth I. The names of the characters reflect this background: Seymour, Jane, Tom, Eddie, etc. "Duke" Kincaid runs a hillbilly Virginia town during the time of the American Prohibition. He's already on wife #3 when his daughter Sallie causes an accident that imperils his sole male heir. As punishment, she is packed off to live in poverty with an old maid aunt. Nine years later, Duke sends for Sallie, and she must learn her new place in her old world.

Though a woman, she wants a life of independence. Having seen the wanton emotional destruction caused by Duke's series of wives and encountered men, including the one man she nearly marries, who can't keep their pants on and who plow through women with a sense of droit de seigneur, Sallie refuses to marry. She's resilient, mouthy, and tough, with a strong back bone and a moral compass that defines her interactions with early 20th century American people and beliefs. As she grows into her new role as the Duke's sole heir, she faces misogyny, patriarchal beliefs, class divisions, racial segregation, religious persecution, and a feud between the Kincaids and the Bonds (the War of the Roses).

Author Walls wrote The Glass Castle which remains a New York Times bestseller, and Hang the Moon shows some of the same characteristics: a dysfunctional family with a weak wife and son, a dominating father who is adored by his daughter and whom he treats poorly. The prose here is surprisingly taut, and the characters ring true. I enjoyed reading this and pulling the strands of the Tudor era into the 20th century.

Play the Fool
Lina Chern
c/o Random House
9780593500668, $17.00

Play the Fool is billed as a thriller, but in reality it's more of a women's fiction with a mystery thrown in. Katie True is a strong female protagonist but at times her actions border on sheer stupidity. She's failed at an attempt to live in Chicago and came home to Lake Terrace, a suburb of Chicago, where she's living in a crappy apartment and holding down a crappier job at a shop that sells Russian tchotchkes. Katie's sole successful job has been at reading tarot cards.

She makes friends with Marley, a woman who works nearby, and this friendship makes Katie feel like she could actually succeed at something. The mystery arises when she sees a photo of Marley dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

The tarot aspect was intriguing but didn't get enough play in the latter half of the book. I liked that Katie, when she looked at someone, "saw" a particular tarot card representing that person's personality. She does undergo some character growth. However, the romance isn't quite strong enough to hold its weight. The prose isn't great nor is the mystery aspect. The first third of the book was far better than the rest of the book.

First Course
Jenn Bouchard
TouchPoint Press
9781952816499, $16.99

Janie Whitman, the protagonist in First Course, undergoes a life-changing twenty-four hours. First, she loses her job in Chicago and the boyfriend/boss there breaks up with her. Then, hard on those happenings, her parents die in a plane crash, and her sister, Alyssa, learns that her spouse has been cheating on her. Because her sister has fallen apart, Janie assumes the care of her nieces while simultaneously dealing with the angst of arranging her parents' funeral and serving as executor of their estate. The sisters and nieces move to the family's summer home in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, to try to recover. Janie's cure-all for their problems: cooking food, lots of great, delicious food.

This is a perfect summer beach or airplane read. The reader gets to indulge in mouth-watering descriptions of food while the two sisters negotiate new normals, rebuild their lives, and discover the potential for new loves.

The Lockhart Women
Mary Camarillo
She Writes Press
9781647421007, $16.95

The Lockhart Women by Mary Camarillo doesn't read as a debut novel. She captures the epitome of a modern dysfunctional family. Stranded through the novel is the television coverage of the 1994-1995 O.J. Simpson murder and later his robbery trials, and each woman becomes obsessed in her own way with the televised legal morass. The reader can see the parallels between the high-and-mighty Simpson and the lives of this commonplace family and realize that domestic abuse crosses all classes.

The character development is excellent, showing how a wife and two daughters handle the father moving out to live with a new love. His loss is more than an emotional deprivation as it increases their emotional stressors as it cuts their income and forces them to move to a less desirable neighborhood. The main characters are the mother (Brenda), the older, more serious daughter (Peggy), and the younger, more flighty daughter (Allison). Though they never seem particularly close-knit as a family, the sudden change in their lifestyle causes an increasing distance between them.

Told in alternating points of view, the novel shows the inner workings of the three women, their motivations, their consistently poor judgment (even Peggy's part) and misplaced loyalties to men who aren't worthy. The men here, with one exception, are egocentric, poor providers, physically and/or mentally abusive, and heavily into alcohol or drugs. The ending is satisfyingly rich as these women overcome their emotional issues and become their best selves, strong and emotionally independent.

The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human
Siddhartha Mukherjee
9781982117351, $26.99

The Song of the Cell has achieved myriad accolades, including a NYT Notable Book and Best Book of the Year by Oprah Daily, the Economist, BookPage, Book Riot, and the New York Public Library. In reading it, I found Mr. Mukherjee's prose to be elegant and near-flawless. He begins his story with the discovery of microorganisms and cells in the late 17th century and follows the history of biological science and medicine through to the current times, hitting high points along the way, up to and including stem cell therapies, AIDS, cancer, and Covid-19.

A Pulitzer Prize winner, Mukherjee is a physician himself, an oncologist and cancer researcher. This background gives him the authority to write knowledgeably on his subject matter. He, however, takes very complex subjects and not only breaks them down enough for the average reader to comprehend but somehow makes cellular physiology fascinating. He also includes anecdotes about his life and his patients that enliven the book. As a physician myself, I was captivated by his research and his writing skills, how much emotion he portrays as he talks about patients and cancer, and how he interweaves multiple storylines into a coherent whole.

All in all, this book is well-deserving of its accolades, and I plan on looking into Mukherjee's other works: The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, The Gene: An Intimate History, and The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes from an Uncertain Science.

A Day Like This
Kelley McNeil
Lake Union Publishing
9781542030441, $14.95

Annie Beyers, the main character of Kelley McNeil's debut novel, A Day Like This, seemingly has everything she wants in life: a beautiful yellow farmhouse, a loving spouse, and an adorable daughter, Hannah. When she takes Hannah to the pediatrician, she's involved in an automobile accident. Hours later, she awakens to doctors telling her that Hannah doesn't exist and her wonderful marriage is on the rocks. She no lives in the country but a condo in Manhattan. She adapts to these changes, but remains unsure of whether she is crazy or not, as she continues to have visions from her supposed life before the accident.

The characters are fully developed. The first half of the book flew by, but the second half seemed to drag a bit. The concept of this novel is intriguing, a skillful blend of novel and quantum mechanics and exploring the what-ifs of life.

Suanne Schafer, Reviewer

Susan Bethany's Bookshelf

The Woman Beyond the Sea
Sarit Yishai-Levi
Amazon Crossing
9781542037556, $16.99, PB, 415pp

Synopsis: An immersive historical tale spanning the life stories of three women, "The Woman Beyond the Sea" by novelist Yishai-Levi traces the paths of a daughter, mother, and grandmother who lead entirely separate lives, until finally their stories and their hearts are joined together.

Eliya thinks that she's finally found true love and passion with her charismatic and demanding husband, an aspiring novelist -- until he ends their relationship in a Paris cafe, spurring her suicide attempt. Seeking to heal herself, Eliya is compelled to piece together the jagged shards of her life and history.

Eliya's heart-wrenching journey leads her to a profound and unexpected love, renewed family ties, and a reconciliation with her orphaned mother, Lily. Together, the two women embark on a quest to discover the truth about themselves and Lily's own origins -- and the unknown woman who set their stories in motion one Christmas Eve.

Critique: A deftly scripted and inherently engaging read from first page to last, author Sarit Yishai-Levi's "The Woman Beyond the Sea" is a compelling and original story that will linger in the mind of the reader long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781799798446, $19.99, MP3-CD), "The Woman Beyond the Sea" will prove a welcome addition to community library Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, and Family Saga Fiction collections.

Editorial Note: Sarit Yishai-Levi ( is a renowned Israeli journalist and author. In 2016 she published her first book, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem. It immediately became a bestseller and garnered critical acclaim. The book sold more than three hundred thousand copies in Israel, was translated into ten languages, and was adapted into a TV series that won the Israeli TV award for best drama series. It also won the Publishers Association's Gold, Platinum, and Diamond prizes; the Steimatzky Prize for bestselling book of the year in Israel; and the WIZO France Prize for best book translated into French.

Healing Therapies for Long Covid
Vir McCoy
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781644117781, $18.99, PB, 240pp

Synopsis: In December of 2020, Vir McCoy contracted Covid-19, which then developed into Post-Acute Sequelae Covid (PASC), commonly known as Long Covid or Long-Haul Covid. Drawing on his journey to heal his chronic Lyme disease years earlier, McCoy began collecting intuitive information, as a medical intuitive, and scientific information, as a scientist, about the nature of Long-Haul Covid. Integrating his intuitive impressions with extensive scientific and medical research, as well as other protocols and support group success stories, he developed a comprehensive healing guide for a successful recovery from Long Covid.

With the publication of "Healing Therapies for Long Covid: An Integrative and Intuitive Guide to Recovering from Post-Acute Covid", McCoy discusses the primary symptoms and predispositions of Long Covid and outlines the basic steps for dealing with each of them, including brain fog, tinnitus, loss of smell and hair, debilitating headaches, hormonal dysregulation, immune malfunction, limbic system dysfunction, gut issues, mental instability, sleeplessness, and intolerance to certain foods.

Backed up by more than 350 scientific references, McCoy presents medicines and methods for healing Long Covid, ranging from pharmaceutical, herbal, and homeopathic remedies to breathwork practices, detox therapies, lymph drainage exercises, gut biome restoration, neuroplasticity retraining, immune modulation, and shamanic techniques, as well as meditations and mantras for calming the limbic system and the PTSD that can accompany chronic illness.

Detailing the art of "intuitive access", Mccoy teaches how to discover your own unique remedies and presents a guide for incorporating these intuitive therapies with modern medical treatments and other healing strategies. He also explores the deeper significance of disease and how the "disease" may be teaching us something greater: a way to reclaim our power.

Critique: 'Long Covid' is a debilitating condition that is effective millions of survivors of the Covid-19 pandemic. "Healing Therapies for Long Covid: An Integrative and Intuitive Guide to Recovering from Post-Acute Covid" by Vir McCoy deserves as wide a readership as possible. Especially for anyone suffering from what has come to be identified as Long Covid. While an essential, core, and unreservedly recommended addition to community, medical school, college, and university library Health/Medicine collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of medical students, doctors, Long Covid afflicted readers and their families that "Healing Therapies for Long Covid" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Vir McCoy ( is a teacher, healer, musician, and ecologist. He is also the author of "Liberating Yourself from Lyme".

The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook
Christina Burns
Prometheus Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781633888852, $22.95, PB, 356pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook", Dr. Christina Burns presents a no-nonsense holistic approach to fertility helping her readers naturally take charge of their reproductive destiny. Dr. Burns comprehensively breaks down the science of how lifestyle factors, like nutrition, exercise, clean living, and emotional balance can act as barriers to conception or pave the way to baby. Inspired by the wisdom of natural medicine, the result is the ultimate guide to getting pregnant.

As one of the top Integrative Fertility Specialists in NYC, and having overcome her own fertility challenges through the help of holistic medicine, Dr. Christina Burns provides an honest and relatable guidebook on how to naturally get pregnant. "The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook" outlines how to identify the underlying cause of any fertility issue and how to take action through daily lifestyle shifts to conceive a healthy pregnancy.

The principal mission of "The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook" is to provide a simple and easy instruction manual with proven tactics to help women tune into their body's natural "language" and increase their chances of conceiving. Dr. Burns introduces her readers to The Four Fertility Foes ("The Big Four") that may be compromising their efforts to get pregnant. These culprits (inflammation, insulin, stress, and toxicity) are more persistent in the lives of women today than any pre-existing medical condition. Identifying the issue is an empowering first step to taking action. Dr. Burns also provides the know-how to start a dialogue with their doctor when conventional approaches haven't been successful.

Critique: What makes "The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook" different and truly stand out from other 'how to' manuals on the subject of fertility and pregnancy is that the tone of the book is edgy and conversational, making the information relatable, less intimidating, and easy to implement. The style of Dr. Burns' writing holds the reader's attention and conveys the years of clinical experience and real stories that went into the creation of the book. The content and recommendations are the accumulation of 2 decades of clinical experience of the author, as well as evidence derived from well regarded research in the areas of nutrition, acupuncture, herbal medicine, mindfulness and more. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Holistic Medicine, Fertility, Pregnancy, and Childbirth collections. It should be noted that "The Ultimate Fertility Guidebook" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.50).

Editorial Note: Dr. Christina Burns ( has spent two decades helping thousands of women conceive healthy pregnancies through the combination of Eastern and Western medicine practices that address body, mind and spirit. She is a Doctor of Chinese Medicine (DOM) and a licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) and Herbalist who founded one of the most sought-after integrative fertility clinics in NYC. She is board certified by the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, and the National Board of Certification for Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture. Dr. Burns regularly speaks on the value of a holistic and integrative approach to reproductive care. She continues to collaborate with prominent fertility and obstetric specialists in New York City.

Breath for the Soul
Jan E. Patterson, MD, author
Phyllis Clark Nichols, author
Healing Leaves Publishing
c/o Integrative Medicine Strategies LLC
9798986987705, $18.99, PB, 302pp

Synopsis: Dr. Jan Patterson is a cancer survivor, bereaved parent, an integrative medicine and infectious disease doctor who has practiced and taught medicine for thirty years. Phyllis Clark Nichols is no stranger to grief either and has been the caregiver to her husband for ten years through three battles with cancer.

With the publication of "Breath for the Soul: Self-Care Steps to Wellness" they team up as co-authors to inform and inspire us about the importance and implementation of self-care because no one is immune from stress, anxiety, depression, and grief. The offer 'real world practical' methods and solutions that will empower us to help ourselves. We as readers will learn to use breath, movement, nutrition, and spirit to enhance your health and wellness.

"Breath for the Soul", offers a plan for self-care integrating ancient and modern practices that work, providing a practical, step-by-step approach that recognizes more than physical needs. The primary message is that you are a soul, a complex person, a total self, needing nurture and care.

"Breath for the Soul" is comprised of evidence-based information, inspiring stories, trusted resources, healthy recipes, and a simple plan to give you control over your self-care. Empower yourself with these simple tools using an innovative approach. Put yourself on the path to health, wellness, and wholeness.

Critique: Inspirationally motivating, articulate, exceptionally well written, organized and presented for the benefit of the non-specialist general readers with an interest in personal and spiritual transformation and DIY self-help/self-improvement, "Breath for the Soul: Self-Care Steps to Wellness" is unreservedly recommended personal, professional, and community library Alternative Medicine collections. It should be noted that "Breath for the Soul" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note #1: Phyllis Clark Nichols ( is an English major, a concert artist, an author, and a co-founder of a national cable network for people with disabilities. For over a decade she has worked in the orphanages of Guatemala and currently serves on several non-profit boards where she works with others who are equally passionate about bringing hope and light to those who need it most.

Editorial Note #2: Dr. Jan Patterson ( has been an infectious diseases physician and medical educator for more than 30 years. She has been involved with patient care, medical research, education, health care improvement, and administration during her career. Her most rewarding work endeavors have been in collaborative leadership of new programs. She is also passionate about using holistic therapies to integrate with conventional medicine for the care of the whole patient -- body, mind, spirit, and soul.

Holy Ghost Road
John Mantooth
Cemetery Dance Publications
9781587678608, $18.99, PB, 374pp

Synopsis: When she discovers Pastor Nesmith praying to a demonic entity in her family's barn, Forest knows she must run. Enraged at the possibility of having his true allegiance exposed, Nesmith pursues Forest as she flees on foot, hoping to reach the one person who will believe her - her grandmother. Unfortunately, Granny is forty miles away, and Forest has no car, no phone, and no friends. To reach her, Forest will have to learn to see the world true, even as the demonic and the sacred wage war for her soul.

Critique: With the publication of "Holy Ghost Road", author John Mantooth presents an original and deftly crafted novel that will have a very special appeal to readers with an interest in psychic and supernatural thrillers. While an especially recommended acquisition choice for community library Occult Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Holy Ghost Road" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99).

Editorial Note: John Mantooth is an award winning author of two novels and a short story collection. His first novel, The Year of the Storm, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. He has also published three crime novels under the pseudonym Hank Early. Heaven's Crooked Finger (written as Hank Early) was a Next Generation Indie Book award winner and 2017 Foreword Indies Award Finalist.

Susan Bethany

Willis Buhle's Bookshelf

Merging City & Nature: 10 Commitments to Combat Climate Change
Actar D
c/o Actar Publishers
440 Park Avenue S, 17th FL, New York, NY 10016
9781638400097, $44.95, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: After 40 years of professional experience developed in three areas of work (City-Territory, Landscape-Public Space and Building), the firm of Batlleiroig acquired a new commitment and positioned itself in the face of the climate emergency, generating a sustainability matrix through which to contextualize urban projects and architectural/landscape design urban strategies.

Batlleiroig has been about Landscape and Nature since their foundation in 1981. They are committed to the environment and involved in finding solutions to solve the climate emergency. The motto "Merging City and Nature" serves to bring together our improvement commitments in each of the actions we carry out. They work in three different disciplines: Urbanism, Landscaping and Architecture, blending their being specialists in each of them also creating the essential transversality that is required to develop any successful intervention. The climate change emergency becomes their main transversality and the one that guides their actions.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Merging City & Nature: 10 Commitments to Combat Climate Change" is an impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented study that will be of particular and special interest to students and professionals with an interest in Sustainability, Green Design, Landscape Architecture, and Land Use Planning. It is also unreservedly recommended as an appropriate and core addition to professional and academic library Urban Architecture/Climate Change collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

The Ronald S. Lauder Collection
Maryan W. Ainsworth, et al.
Prestel Publishing
9783791379302, $75.00, HC, 408pp

Synopsis: To celebrate the Neue Galerie's twentieth-anniversary year, an exhibition will be presented of selections from the collection of its co-founder.

"The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Medieval Art, Arms and Armor, Italian Gold-Ground and Old Master Paintings, Austrian and German Design " is the accompanying book that continues with the theme of the tenth anniversary exhibition. Whereas the earlier show and publication focused on pieces from the third century BC to the twentieth century AD from Austria, France, and Germany, this exhibition and book will represent various centuries and media, highlighting Greek and Roman works, and Italian thirteenth, as well as fourteenth-century gold-ground paintings.

Essays by a number of distinguished art historians and curators will reflect on the breadth of these special fields, providing a background for various works, and their incorporation into the collection of the Neue Galerie's co-founder.

Critique: The collaborative work of Maryan W. Ainsworth (former Alvaro Saieh Curator of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Keith Christiansen (former Chairman of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Elizabeth Szancer (Curator of the Ronald S. Lauder Collection), Valerio Turchi (A specialist for Greek and Roman Antiquities), William D. Wixom (former Michel David-Weill Chairman of the Medieval Art and The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Renee Price (Founding Director of Neue Galerie, New York), "The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections of Greek and Roman Antiquities, Medieval Art, Arms and Armor, Italian Gold-Ground and Old Master Paintings, Austrian and German Design" is a massive coffee-table style (9.75 x 2 x 11.56 inches, 7.05 pounds) volume that is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative compendium of full page, full color, captioned photos of museum treasures that is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Art History and Exhibition Catalog collections.

Editorial Note: Neue Galerie New York ( holds one of the finest private art collections in the world. On the First Friday of every month, the museum is open late and offers free admission from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Children under 12 are not admitted during First Fridays.

Willis M. Buhle

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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