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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 8 August 2017 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andy's Bookshelf Avraham's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Grace's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mari's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Moore's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf
Polk's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

Prisms, Particles, and Refractions
Carol Smallwood
Finishing Line Press
9781635342338, $18.99, PB, 108 pages,

Alex Phoung

Blending Beauty with Science

Some might believe that art and science are nothing more than two different academic subjects that are part of school. They might also make the argument that art involves imagination while science involves reasoning. Nevertheless, the world actually needs those two opposing concepts because the world will not be what it is without the both of them. Carol Smallwood has a poetry collection entitled, Prisms, Particles, and Refractions. Smallwood effortlessly blends science with art because of her profound examination of those two topics.

Carol Smallwood analyzes light from both a scientific and an artistic perspective to reveal how light contains scientific aesthetics. People with proper vision might be able to see light with their naked eyes, but they might not truly comprehend its beauty. People would not be able to function without light because light symbolically represents knowledge. Smallwood has a very wise introduction because she teaches readers to treasure light for its ability to let people function. Not much might be known about light, but people can still appreciate that blessing. Smallwood also briefly discusses how people take light for granted, and that light is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

Smallwood divides her poetry collection to cover three topics about physics. The first section is called, "Prisms," and Smallwood reveals how precious life truly is. Specifically, the poem "Cuttlefish" is about natural beauty. The cuttlefish symbolize the majesty of natural wonder that people are blessed to have. Even though some animals might be dangerous, like snakes, other animals offer companionship. The lines, "survive by matching their / environment" (1-2) reveals the power of adaptability, and that people are capable of dealing with change. There is the classic saying that the only constant in life is change, which means that people need to learn to adapt to their environment filled with variety and diversity. In a way, people are like cuttlefish because all people are fundamentally creatures. Therefore, Carol Smallwood offers interesting perspectives on humanity.

The second section of this poetry collection also reiterates the fact that people are just small beings within the vast universe. There is a very powerful poem entitled "Live With It" that deals with coping. Within this poem, the main subject has vision problems, which might or might not have been caused by light. Smallwood offers a different look at light as a symbol because it can be interpreted as a blessing and a curse. Nevertheless, people have to deal with the fact that good and evil are just fundamental aspects of reality. The poem contains repetition of the line, "When the doctor said cataract surgery wouldn't help, I sighed." Sighing is symbolic of being able to breathe, and that the air people breathe really is a blessing. People might have to encounter tough times, but life can still continue just as long as people are able to take their sacred breaths. Life might be dismal at times, but there is still hope for a brighter future. Because of these fundamental facts, Smallwood once again reminds readers to not take their lives for granted. Life really is a gift after all.

The final section is entitled, "Refractions," and it deals with possible changes of the path that light travels on. In spite of the complexity of this concept within physics, Smallwood still masterfully gives this concept a sense of beauty with her poetry. For example, the poem, "The Sun Acquires" reveals how sunlight really is a blessing. That is because the sun is constantly, "battling clouds to warm shorn fields" (2). Furthermore, sunlight also has the power of "granting light to those who seek it" (3). The notion of people seeking opportunities means that there are those yearning to live meaningful lives. The light once again serves as a symbol of the knowledge that people acquire when they persevere. Ultimately, light is powerful because it allows people have truth and knowledge in spite of the bleakness of reality.

Even though light might represent knowledge, reality is still very subjective. Smallwood addresses that paradoxical truth with the poem, "Icons." The last two lines of this poem are, "The more icons are studied in plain sight / the less (like cats) we understand" (6-7). The shift from an optimistic view on light to a more pessimistic outlook suggests that nothing really is what it seems. In one way, light can bring about knowledge, hope, and creativity. At the same time, though, light and knowledge reveal harsh truths, such as the inevitability of death. People might also make the argument that they truly understand something when they really do not. Additionally, people are also fundamentally creatures by default, much like the cat in this poem. Because of these complex and contrasting ideas, Smallwood suggests that there really is no such thing as absolute truth. Some critics might also go against that notion as well, all of which reveals how reality is very subjective, and that truth is a very mysterious concept.

Carol Smallwood has the talent of making scientific concepts artistic. Her previously published poetry collection entitled In Hubble's Shadow also deals with science and the mysteries of the universe Smallwood actually defies conventional poetry because her writing includes a unique combination of traditional poems along with contemporary creations. It can be very challenging to create art, but Smallwood has done it again with Prisms, Particles, and Refractions. Readers really should enlighten themselves with the knowledge and wisdom that Carol Smallwood provides in her creative writing. The world really does need artists in order to educate others while providing beauty within the monotony of daily life. Life might be tough at times, but hope allows people to move on in spite of the darkness that is an essential element of reality. Because of the universal fact that there are both positives and negatives within all aspects of reality, it is a blessing to know that poetry can enlighten the mind and soothe the soul. Thank you, Carol Smallwood, for writing about fundamental truths within human existence!

Jasper Meets the Martians!
Donald W. Kruse, author
Donny Crank, illustrator
Zaccheus Entertainment
P.O. Box 23, Minong, WI 54859
9780998197258, $14.95, PB, 52pp,

Andrea Kay

Officer Jasper is on routine patrol at night when he encounters a very frightened crow standing in the street, frantically flapping its wings. When Jasper stops to investigate, the crow points upward just as a flying saucer zips silently across the night sky directly overhead. Officer Jasper alerts headquarters, then he and the crow give chase, pursuing the saucer beyond city limits and into the countryside. The saucer lands in a cornfield and Officer Jasper arrives on scene... without any backup. As he steps out of his patrol car and cautiously approaches the colossal spaceship, a door in the craft suddenly slides open and a ramp silently and simultaneously slides downward to the ground below.

A mysterious figure is back-lighted in the open doorway, staring down at Jasper. Then it begins to descend the ramp, walking slowly and deliberately toward Jasper. At first Jasper is terrified. Where are his backup officers? But when the strange-looking creature reaches the bottom of the ramp, it shakes hands with Jasper and introduces himself as a Martian!

The friendly Martian invites Jasper and the crow on board his spaceship, and he introduces them to his Martian family: his wife, two boys, and a little girl Martain. As Jasper and the Matian visit on board the ship, the mother Martian and three kids go outside to explore the surrounding farm on which they've landed. The little girl Martian ends up getting lost just as Jasper's back-up officers arrive on scene. They all pitch in and search for the lost little girl Martian. Eventually it is the least among them who finds the little girl Martian and brings her back safe and sound.

Written in verse by Donald W. Kruse, and featuring full-page, full-color illustrations by Donny Crank throughout, this highly entertaining story, "Jasper Meets the Martians!" will delight young readers ages 4 to 9. Simply stated, "Jasper Meets the Martians" is unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.

In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer's
Joseph Jebelli
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781473635739, 20 Brit. pounds, hardback, 301pages, John Murray (British Edition)
9780316360791, $28.00 HC, $14.99 Kindle, 320pp,

Dr. Ann Skea, Reviewer

"Scientists talk about Alzheimer's like detectives solving a crime - evidence versus speculation....But Alzheimer's isn't like this for families. For us it's something terrifying and abstract".

Joseph Jebelli is a neuroscientist whose grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He knows how devastating it can be for the family, the carers and the sufferer, and he also knows just how little Alzheimer's is understood. His quest to find out as much as he can about Alzheimer's has taken him around the world talking to scientists, examining current research, discovering communities where Alzheimer's is genetically inherited and those where it is almost unknown. But he has also talked to those suffering from the disease, those who may or may not carry a genetic predisposition to it and those who look after them.

He has followed sufferers over a number of years, talking to them and their carers, noting their progress and the various ways in which each person adapts to the changes and challenges. He has talked to women who know they may carry a gene which predisposes them to developing the disease and who must decide whether or not to be tested for it. And he has talked to scientists who are foremost in the many branches of Alzheimer's research.

Always, the human element is uppermost in his investigations and, like Oliver Sacks, he writes vividly about the people he meets and the problems - scientific and personal - which they face. But he can also explain in simple language the science behind the disease, the theories about its causes, and the research which has been, and is being, done to better understand it and find a cure for it.

Jebelli has divided his book into five sections: Origin, Research, Prevention, Experimentation, Discovery. But this dry-sounding summary is no indication of the fascinating and often moving chapters each contains, and Jebelli manages to bring his scientists to life as they talk to him about their research, their successes and their failures. He discusses the diagnostic tests which are used and the treatments which are currently available. And he examines various possible preventive measures such as exercise, diet, sleep and brain-training.

In India, Jebelli visits the long-lived people of the village of Shahpur Kalan in Ballabgarh, who have been the subject of a sixteen-year investigation by the US National Institute of Aging. The cross-cultural problems faced by researchers in conducting tests in a rural community, where even the concept of a test is alien to them, are fascinating. So, too, is his suggestion that the commonly-used curry spice turmeric may have preventive properties for Alzheimer's. The results of many tests undertaken to find proof of this are, says Jebelli, interesting but speculative.

In Hong Kong, Jebelli meets the family of a man who rose from poverty to become a multi-millionaire and whose Alzheimer's was unexpectedly, although temporarily, reversed after a blood transfusion for an unrelated medical condition. He comments on the cultural taboo which still exists in Chinese communities about discussing Alzheimer's. Nevertheless, this accidental blood transfusion result has led to scientific experiments which involve conjoining the blood supplies in genetically engineered Alzheimer's rats and young Alzheimer's-free rats and noting the results. The squeamish may wish to skip this chapter but, as Jebelli points out, such experiments have led to new and possibly important information about the disease and every bit of information gained increases our understanding of Alzheimer's and offers hope of finding ways of preventing and/or curing it.

Jebelli quotes the chilling prediction made by a leading neurologist, Professor Nick Frost, that one in three of us will develop Alzheimer's and one in two of us will care for someone with the disease. Given the fear that this arouses, In Pursuit of Memory is a necessary and important book which not only covers the present understanding of the disease and its diagnosis, its various forms, its possible causes, and the wide range of research which is currently being undertaken but also lets the sufferers themselves and their supporters and families speak about their experiences.

Jebelli is passionate about the need for better government funding for Alzheimer's research and he is convinced that a cure will be found. In his final chapter, he writes: "I have witnessed extraordinary minds catapulting neuroscience into unimaginable futures. And I have seen breathtaking acts of human courage and unalloyed sacrifice. We are closer than ever to the abolition of Alzheimer's".

Daryl Gregory
Penguin Random House
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
9781524731823, $27.95

Nate Hawthorne

On the first page of Spoonbenders, Matty Telemachus accidentally projects his conscious outside of his body while fantasizing sexually about his cousin. The scene can be read as a kind of nutshell version of all seven of Daryl Gregory's fine novels: the genuinely impossible combined with the genuinely human, specifically those ordinary human experiences that feel impossible, like poor Matty's living through the emotional tumult that is puberty. Each of Gregory's novels weaves this combination to provide the sci-fi/fantasy kicks and twists - evoking reactions like 'this particular impossibility is captivating and AWESOME, I would love to have that phenomenon in my life, but wait maybe I wouldn't because it has these costs I never imagined and OMG I TOTALLY did not see THAT coming!' - and the empathetically narrated character-driven relationship drama - evoking reactions like 'this particular person is living through something hard that I can identify with, that reminds me of a personal experience or relationship that is a key part of who I am as a person and is also still something of a raw nerve, other people have similar experiences as I do.'

What this means is that Gregory works on two planes. If you're a slow, thoughtful reader looking to reflect on themes of family, place, and relationships, he's a writer for you. If you're like me and you mostly just like to inhale good stories told in good prose without slowing down to think too much about them along the way - maybe you'll think about it afterward by typing or talking about it with a friend, but during the reading you just want cram a novel into your brain as fast as possible can in a rush to find out what happens - he is also a writer for you. The above goes for all of his novels. Now let's get back to the specifics of this novel about Matty Telemachus and family.

The Telemachuses have ordinary problems - coping with grief, struggling to make ends meet financially, trying to raise their children well, maintaining a sense of meaning in the face of aging and loneliness, navigating relationships with difficult relatives, sometimes doing things they're not entirely proud of. They also have extraordinary powers. There's Matty. Irene, Matty's mother, always knows if someone is lying or not. Frankie, Matty's uncle, can move things with his mind, if he can just keep calm and focused. Buddy, Matty's other uncle, can see the future, and can't stop seeing the future. Then there's Teddy, Matty's grandfather, who doesn't have any supernatural powers but seems like he does due to a combination of stage magic and colossal egotistical bravado. That's the first part of the set up. I'm not giving anything away by telling you that, but you should know it's better experienced than summarized, like all good stories. In the second part of the set up we learn that the Telemachuses also have extraordinary problems, include dealing with the difficulties their powers cause in their daily lives, and conflicts with both mobsters and government officials. I would give something away if I told you much more so I won't. Instead, just one highlight out of many.

The novel takes place in the mid-90s, just as the internet and personal computing was coming into Americans' lives. There's a sequence where Irene gets onto AOL for the first time and discovers chat rooms. Gregory very effectively depicts the kind of emotional intimacy and rapid sense of connection that happens in spaces like that, and what it was like for that to be new to people. This speaks to his power as a realist writer and how his novels' (and, to be fair, his genre's) combination of realism and impossibility works so effectively. Irene's psychic power means she always knows if someone is lying or telling the truth to her, but it only works in person. Sometimes that's useful, and sometimes it's a burden - imagine if you could tell whenever someone said 'nice to see you' but didn't mean it. As a result Irene finds the absence of her power in online space a relief that frees her to be less inhibited. This is compelling as character-driven fiction, and it's thought-provoking. It made me think about how we all lack cues in electronic communication, and how that makes electronic spaces disorienting at first but also exciting. It also made me wonder if people who grew up post-internet experience this same feeling of newness about electronic communication as a social setting or if it's there in their world from the beginnings of
their memories.

Spoonbenders rewards pausing to mull over if you're so inclined. If you're not so inclined then you can just enjoy it as a pageturner that doesn't let go (I stayed up way too late two nights in a row reading it). As with all of Gregory's novels, there's a crescendo, or whatever it's called when the pace picks up. The plot gets faster and more intense - among other things there's a bit of kissing, more and more gunshots, and an explosion, delivered with a subtext of philosophical reflection on whether or not it's possible to be free while also knowing the future. Then there's a twist or three at the end, all genuinely unexpected yet believable. It's great fun and a great book.

Giant of the Senate
Al Franken
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781455540419, $28.00 HC, $14.99 Kindle, 416pp,

Teri Davis

Senator Al Franken of Minnesota has quickly become one of the most well-known U.S. Senators of the United States of America.

Giant of the Senate is an autobiography of Al Franken beginning his journey as a child growing up in Minnesota, to becoming a writer of Saturday Night Live and finally becoming a respected Democratic U.S. Senator.

"Here in America, of course, we're all immigrants. Except, of course, for Native Americans against whom we committed genocide."

With the present political leadership in Washington, this quote is gutsy. Remember, he is a democrat.

Who could imagine a comedy writer being the unlikely Democratic candidate for a congressional seat?

Being a child of typical middle-class America from the liberal state of Minnesota gives a young Al Franken a strong, independent foundation for his future life choices. When his older brother became the first in the family eventually graduating from MIT with a degree in physics, Al made his own way by attending Harvard. Surprising, his brother became a photographer and Al, a comedian. How would your parents feel about those outcomes from a college education?

After becoming part of a comedy team, Franken and Davis, perceived as an updated Bob and Ray Radio Show, both were asked to submit a writing sample which was considered for a new comedy show being created and produced by Lorne Michaels in becoming Saturday Night Live.

Franken and Davis became part of the original show along with Chevy Chase, Garrett Morris, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Laraine Newman, and John Belushi. Combining the current day news and politics into a comedy show pushing the limits of political correctness with a multitude of social challenges.

After being in comedy for thirty-five years, Al Franken made the choice to enter into politics.

The book concentrates on this unlikely candidate into along his journey to being a United States Senator. Now, he is unquestionably memorable with a strong contributing social agenda, into being a possibly Giant of the Senate.

Giant of the Senate is a fabulous book to read. It combines Franken's humor, family, passions, dreams, and ambitions perfectly reflecting the author's personality as monitored through his staff. His unlikely journey to success has made Franken a legend, now for the Senate.

Whether or not you are a Democratic, Republican, or Independent, Al Franken's Giant of the Senate is a story for every American.

Lost in Shangri-La
Mitchell Zuckoff
Harper Perennial
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780061988356, $15.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 432pp,

Vicki Hill

LOST IN SHANGRI-LA by Mitchell Zuckoff has a remarkable balance of military operations and human interest in a true adventure story. I read books about polar exploration, accounts from World Wars I and II, and biographies of writers and scientists in search of heroic deeds and people. Some people think that attention paid to the human heart and its trajectory is soap-operish. To the contrary: I look for real characters who inhabit exotic and dangerous environs, and who face far more trouble than I ever have.

The author, who also wrote 13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI, structured a narrative revealing truly astounding events that were well publicized at the time (in the last months of World War II, in New Guinea). His purpose was to make this story more widely known. He accomplished much more: writing a true adventure story (with enticing chapter titles), illuminating the suffering and human growth that comes with tragedy, and showing cultural and psychological impacts on the survivors, the rescuers, and the valley inhabitants heretofore isolated from modern society.

How it happened: Base Maintenance sponsored a sightseeing flight over a newly discovered valley (dubbed "Shangri-La"), located in an inaccessible location, 150 miles away. After the flight crashed, survivors overcame appalling medical and environmental conditions as well as a high level of risk from both natives and dug-in Japanese troops. Rescuers daringly mounted flights out with the most unlikely aircraft maneuvers and equipment, and we readers went through it all, surprise after surprise. Reminding us of today, there was intense press interest, driven to new heights by the attractive WAC who was one of the survivors. All participants grew in maturity and understanding; we are there and see their evolution as a vital part of the story.

One puzzling thing to me is why the book starts with the delivery of the "missing" telegram to the WAC's family - somewhat of a cliche in this genre. I would have started with the incredible feat of a survivor who removed one last impediment, enabling take-off from the valley. But maybe that would have given the game away. It's an unbelievably suspenseful and rewarding story - read it!

The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle
Stuart Samuel, author
Nathaniel Dailey, illustrator
Jupiter Scientific
9780965517607, $14.95, 18pp, HC,

Crystal Crichlow, Reviewer
Book Explosions Reviews

There are 3 things a child can take away from reading "The Adventures of Thomas the Turtle": (i) Listen to your parents, (ii) wild animals belong in their natural habitat, (iii) pray in times of trouble and never give up. This is a beautifully illustrated book that teaches children very valuable lessons. For additional reviews, see

Most Blessed of the Patriarchs: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination
Annette Gordon-Reed & Peter S. Onuf
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780871404428, $27.95, HC, 400pp,
9781631492518, $17.95, PB, 400pp,
B00ZAT8WTM, $14.98, Kindle,
9781501909986, $45.98, Audio Book, Recorded Books

Matthew McCarty, EdD

Thomas Jefferson is, arguably, the most recognizable of American revolutionary figures. Americans who study the Declaration of Independence and the early history of our country are familiar with Jefferson's impacts on the founding of America. Virginians most certainly know him as the founder of the University of Virginia. "Most Blessed of Patriarchs" Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination, by Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf, Jeffersonian scholars of the highest order, is a work that shows Jefferson to be more than a politician, plantation owner, and philosopher. The authors show Jefferson as a man torn between his world in the public eye and at home "on the mountain" at Monticello.

As a trained historian, I have always had a fascination with Jefferson, especially with his private and intellectual side. Jefferson's wide breadth of thought and writing on subjects as varied as history, agriculture, and religion are indicative of his world-view. His thoughts regarding the political stance of America as it attempted to find a place in the modern world are compelling and influence so many aspects of American life.

Jefferson remains an enigma. His writing, expressing a desire that "all men are created equal" did not match with his plantation lifestyle which included an enslaved population that allowed Jefferson to be a man of letters. Gordon-Reed and Onuf describe Jefferson as a man who knew that all people should be free and was consumed with the idea that freeing his slaves was not as easy as it sounded. Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings, written about widely over the last several decades, is written about in " Most Blessed of the Patriarchs" as a relationship that was extremely complicated but was probably Jefferson's most intimate relationship.

"Most Blessed of the Patriarchs" should be required reading for any one who is interested in Thomas Jefferson as both the patriot who guided the government and the man who ached for constant human companionship and comfort. Gordon-Reed and Onuf have written a work that is honest, treats Jefferson in a fair and considerate light, and underscores the complicated world of Virginia in Jefferson's time. It is an easy read, suitable for both academics and general readers, meticulously researched, and contributes much to the man who wanted nothing more than to retire from public life.

The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed & Lorraine Warren
Gerald Brittle
Graymalkin Media
9781935169222, $14.99 PB, $7.99 Kindle, 320pp,

Dr. Pedro Blas Gonzalez

Ed and Lorraine Warren are demonologists. This means that they study entities that, in the Christian faith, are referred to as preternatural beings. Unlike human beings who are created souls that have a body, preternatural entities are beings that have never existed in the flesh. Angels and demons are said to be praeter naturam (beyond nature).

The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren is a work that presents the reader with some of the most interesting cases that the long-time married paranormal investigators experienced in their extensive research into the paranormal. This biography of the Warrens is written by Gerald Brittle, the paranormal investigator and writer of the 1983 bestseller The Devil in Connecticut.

Some of the Warren's investigations include the Amityville and Enfield cases, and the now popular Annabelle. While the Demonologist does not solely concentrate on exorcism, it is complimentary to other excellent studies on that subject such as Father Gabriel Amorth's An Exorcist Explains the Demonic: The Antics of Satan and His Army of Fallen Angels, the excellent work by the Spanish priest Jose Maria Fortea's Interview with an Exorcist and Malachi Martin's classic book Hostage to the Devil. Amorth and Fortea are Vatican sanctioned exorcists.

The Demonologist highlights the difference between haunting by ghosts and demonic influence and possession. The Warren's cite many vivid examples that help the reader distinguish preternatural entities from ghosts. The book makes the case that ghosts are dislocated souls that exist in a state of limbo; the realm of disembodied souls that no longer are incarnate. While ghosts may make their presence known in places where they once existed as embodied people, the writers argue that this is a vastly different category from the demonic realm.

The book, then, concentrates on the differences between the levels of demonic influence: obsession, oppression, infestation and possession. About demonic possession, Ed Warren has the following to say: "The demonic spirit may either dislodge the human spirit or cohabit the body with the human spirit. When this happens, both the possessing entity and the person may speak from the body at the very same time."

According to the writer of The Demonologist, the Warrens not only point out the existence of demons and the reality of possession, they also suggest the prevalence of demonic oppression in persons throughout history. Demonic oppression brings to light a physical realm where good and evil do battle - the world - what John Milton calls "darkness visible" in Paradise Lost.

These are some of the strong points of the book. Some of the many examples or cases presented in the book can be somewhat overwhelming, not because they may not be true or because they may appear exaggerated, but because once compressed into coherent language in a work that is intended for mass consumption, the hideous, surreal essence of demonic forces can become dulled. Yet clear discernment remains the purview of discerning readers, for the vital qualities that inform good and evil do not easily adhere to scientific prejudice.

The Demonologist challenges scientific assumptions regarding the nature and extent of the physical laws that inform physical reality. The book enables Christian readers to reflect on the nature of a supreme being (God) and the supernatural, creation and the different kinds of entities that God may have created. In addition, it is also mindful of the role of Grace and the degree of evil that God is said to allow the human person to withstand. The latter concerns are staple questions that inform orthodox Christianity.

As books go, especially in a time in history when many books merely represent the fluff that informs not a few editorial boards, The Demonologist introduces the reader to the time immemorial interplay of good and evil. This work presents the sentient, alert reader with a world of conceptual possibilities that can foster reflection on spiritual-existential matters that all persons, sooner or later, must concern themselves with. The Demonologist places the laws of nature in a broader, supernatural context.

Andy's Bookshelf

China's Great Migration
Bradley M. Gardner
The Independent Institute
100 Swan Way, Oakland, CA 94621-1428
9781598132229 $27.95 hc / $14.63 Kindle

Synopsis: China's rise over the past several decades has lifted more than half of its population out of poverty and reshaped the global economy. What has caused this dramatic transformation? In China's Great Migration: How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation, author Bradley Gardner looks at one of the most important but least discussed forces pushing China's economic development: the migration of more than 260 million people from their birthplaces to China's most economically vibrant cities. By combining an analysis of China's political economy with current scholarship on the role of migration in economic development, China's Great Migration shows how the largest economic migration in the history of the world has led to a bottom-up transformation of China.

Gardner draws from his experience as a researcher and journalist working in China to investigate why people chose to migrate and the social and political consequences of their decisions. In the aftermath of China's Cultural Revolution, the collapse of totalitarian government control allowed millions of people to skirt migration restrictions and move to China's growing cities, where they offered a massive pool of labor that propelled industrial development, foreign investment, and urbanization.

Struggling to respond to the demands of these migrants, the Chinese government loosened its grip on the economy, strengthening property rights and allowing migrants to employ themselves and each other, spurring the Chinese economic miracle. More than simply a narrative of economic progress, China's Great Migration tells the human story of China's transformation, featuring interviews with the men and women whose way of life has been remade. In its pages, readers will learn about the rebirth of a country and millions of lives changed, hear what migration can tell us about the future of China, and discover what China's development can teach the rest of the world about the role of market liberalization and economic migration in fighting poverty and creating prosperity.

Critique: Part modern history, part economic study, China's Great Migration: How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation examines the largest economic migration in the history of the world, and its overall success in improving national prosperity as well as lifting individual quality of life. What lessons can be learned from China's Great Migration, and applied to other nations? Author Bradley M. Gardner (Research Fellow, Independent Institute) examines the many benefits of migration, which are all-too-often overlooked among populist concerns and fears of wage depression. Notes and a bibliography round out this choice pick for public and college library economic studies shelves. It should be noted for personal reading lists that China's Great Migration is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.63).

Donald Trump: The Making of a World View
Charlie Laderman and Berndan Simms
I. B. Tauris Publishers
9781788310482 $8.95

Synopsis: On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump won the American presidential election, to the surprise of many across the globe. Now that Trump is Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful country on earth, Americans and non-Americans alike have been left wondering what this will mean for the world. It has been claimed that Trump's foreign policy views are impulsive, inconsistent and that they were improvised on the campaign trail. However, drawing on interviews from as far back as 1980, Charlie Laderman and Brendan Simms show that this assumption is dangerously false. They reveal that Trump has had a consistent position on international trade and America's alliances since he first considered running for president in the late 1980s. Furthermore, his foreign policy views have deep roots in American history.

For the new President, almost every international problem that has confronted the United States can be explained by the mistakes of its leaders. Yet, after decades of dismissing America's leaders as fools and denouncing their diplomacy, Trump must now prove that he can do better. Over the past three decades, he has been laying out in interviews, articles, books and tweets what amounts to a foreign policy philosophy. This book reveals the world view that Trump brings to the Oval Office. It shows how that world view was formed, what might result if it is applied in policy terms and the potential consequences for the rest of the world.

Critique: Charlie Laderman (Lecturer in International History, King's College London) and Brendan Sims (Professor in the History of European International Relations, University of Cambridge) present Donald Trump: The Making of a World View, a scholarly work that lives up to its title. Donald Trump: The Making of a World View is neither pro-Trump nor anti-Trump; rather, it presents a balanced, serious-minded analysis of how Trump views international trade and America's alliances with other nations. Drawing directly from Trump's own interviews, articles, books, and tweets over the decades of his life, Donald Trump: The Making of a World View explores the ramifications of Trump's vision on American foreign policy, and is a "must-read" work of modern political science. Highly recommended.

Andy Jordan

Avraham's Bookshelf

Payment in Kind: Revised Edition
Joseph M. Luguya
Original Books
9780971330993, $12.95, PB, 254 pages
9780971330986, $5.95, Kindle, 201 pages

Payment in Kind by Joseph M. Luguya is a novel that centers on Africa, yet takes readers on a journey both geographical and psychological, exploring complex issues of culture, politics, religion, justice and race. The novel is told in several layers, each complementing the other, in a highly ambitious structure that excels in keeping the reader's interest.

While the novel encompasses multifaceted intellectual disciplines, historical dramas, and social-justice discussions, the author often hones in on human emotions and conflicts with a sharp eye and sensitive perceptions that result in rich imagery. For example:

"The hairs on Father Campbell's dome stand on end as he mentally seeks escape routes from the difficult position he sees looming up."

The tackling of serious and complex issues, which is quite ambitious here (and could be challenging to some readers), is lightened up by observations that touch on the comedic. For example:

"The seminarian's face wears a quizzical air. His wide-eyed stare is briefly interrupted when he becomes overwhelmed by an unexpected urge to yawn. His struggle to stifle the yawn is futile."

Perhaps most exceptional in Payment in Kind is the wonderful intermingling - and contradictions - presented in the context of African culture and traditions, contrasted with Christianity and its adherents. For example:

"But even as they turn to leave in the face of the practical problems that beset their mission, the representatives of the tribal elders in Namwinkholongwe predict that worse will befall the lad. They are supported in their prediction by not a few of the practicing Christians who watch them leave."

An especially fascinating thread in the story is the exploration of psychology and, more specifically, sanity and madness, which is even more engrossing in such cross-cultural novel. For example:

"Without pausing, the balding professor adds as an aside: "I keep telling my students that insanity could well boil down to a trait of the mind - an aversion for thinking in cheerless straight lines or an avowal that one's thinking will be in abstruse vicious circles!""

In summary, the author's unique point of view, extensive familiarity with his subject matters and a talent for lively storytelling combine to create a realistic novel that spans across borders, oceans and continents, yet succeeds in remaining solidly anchored in the lives of interesting, genuine, flesh-and-blood characters. Highly recommended!

Humans, The Untold Story of Adam and Eve and their Descendants: 3 Volumes
Joseph M. Luguya
Original Books

Humans, The Untold Story of Adam and Eve and their Descendants, Three-Volume Set
ISBN-13: 9780971330948, 1,085 pages, Kindle $9.59

Humans, The Untold Story of Adam and Eve and their Descendants, Volume One (The Thesis)
9781517447847, $8.95, PB, 204 pages
9780971330962, $2.99, Kindle, 206 pages

Humans, The Untold Story of Adam and Eve and their Descendants, Volume Two (Mjomba and the Evil Ghost)
9781517433314, $24.95, PB, 490 pages
9780971330979, $5.99, Kindle, 491 pages

Humans, The Untold Story of Adam and Eve and their Descendants, Volume Three (The Demoniac)
9781517434922, PB, $16.95, 278 pages
9780971330955, $2.99, Kindle, 278 pages

Humans: The Untold Story of Adam and Eve and their Descendants is a substantial novel in three parts by Joseph M. Luguya, which explores good and evil through human, mythological and supernatural characters, much of it in the form of a grand debate, delivering an intricate theological saga.

Humans includes three volumes: "The Thesis" (Volume One), "Mjomba and the Evil Ghost" (Volume Two), and "The Demoniac" (Volume Three). The scene that launches Humans appropriately involves both mystery and magnificence: "The International Trade Center literally sat on the edge of downtown Dar es Salaam, the beautiful metropolis ... whose name fittingly signified "Heaven of Peace". Christian Mjomba's office was located on the twenty-seventh floor.

In an unusual move, using a key he took from his wallet, Mjomba unlocked a side door to his office and slid furtively inside." And from this opening of a mysterious door, Humans builds up to a complex yet compassionately humane story of Mjomba's fascinating journey.

In his earlier days, Mjomba had been a seminarian whose tangling with a monumental assignment on the "Original Virtue" led to an immensely challenging intellectual and spiritual quest - as well as a "Devil's bargain" of sorts. He fences with Satan and with its good counterparts while bringing into stark question many of the basic tenets of the church. In fact, "having in effect enlisted the help of Satan in the task of turning out a winning thesis on the subject of "Original Virtue," Mjomba finds himself "feeling quite uncomfortable filling the role of scribe to a creature that the sacred scriptures had pointedly referred to as "Accuser of our Brethren" (Revelation 12:10)."

And so, in a twist that makes Humans uniquely intriguing, Mjomba's sincere efforts to turn the most evil force into good and, thus, save souls, ends up placing our hero himself in a highly questionable - and dangerous - position.

Author Joseph M. Luguya brings to this novel enormous knowledge of religious concepts and historical records. Through the protagonist and the secondary characters, the reader becomes privy to a wealth of ideas and detailed arguments, many of them new and daring. While much of the book offers a multi-faceted, extensive dissertation that might appear dense to some readers, the author's creative use of Satan's own voice makes it hard to put down, not only when provocative arguments begin to attain logical flair, but also when the author brings in controversial historical figures whose legacy is open to debate - and to literary license - as Satan claims them to his side: "Take the so-called 'reformation' that I engineered. Believe it or not, but it was my idea. I used Martin Luther, a Catholic friar - yes, and a good one at that - and a reformer, to set it in motion." Or this one: "... Joan of Arc who was labeled a witch and burned at the stake! You may or may not like to hear it, but I also succeeded in using that innocent girl to confound and drive other good souls in the Church to virtual despair."

Some of the arguments in fact ring true not only in the historical context, but in our current world, festering as it is with religious tensions and ethnic prejudices: "Later, during his oral defense of the thesis, Mjomba would comment that one of the legacies of original sin was the perennial tendency of humans to never see evil in themselves, and to see nothing good in other humans - especially those who were different from themselves in some respect." How true!

The author is especially deft at merging abstract ideas and structural visualizations into symbols that our hero's mind ponders in ways reminiscent of Dan Brown's symbologist Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code: "But the image of an inverted pyramid balancing on top of another pyramidal shape flooded Mjomba's mind with a force that made him feel like he might pass out. He attributed his ability to stay afloat and not drift off into a swoon to the fact that he was able to focus his mind on the peculiar design Primrose had produced using the blurb's material and its similarity to the letter "X"!"

Humans is also distinguishable in telling a story within a story, cleverly utilizing several layers of imaginary characters. For example, here is our protagonist reflecting on his own created protagonist: "Mjomba shut his eyes and paused to think about Innocent Kintu, the central character of his 'masterpiece'. As images of the nurse's beguiling manner came flocking back, he came close to concluding that a non-fictional character like Kintu could in fact be considered fictional when contrasted with a character like Flora!"

In summary, Humans: The Untold Story of Adam and Eve by Joseph M. Luguya creates a dramatic confrontation between a virtuous young scholar and the most malevolent character of all, delivering an extensive, all-encompassing confrontation that becomes a metaphor for the very core of human existence. This thought-provoking, sprawling novel explores unresolved issues of faith and spirituality while the leading character valiantly defends all that he holds dear in the struggle between good and evil, life and death, and the opposing forces of divine creation. Readers will be enticed to contemplate the most fundamental questions of human existence and come away with a deeper understanding of both differences and commonalities that define us. Significant and Memorable!

Avraham Azrieli, Reviewer
The Columbia Review of Books & Film

Bethany's Bookshelf

Global Education Guidebook
Jennifer D. Klein
Solution Tree
555 North Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
9781943874637, $37.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: Educators worldwide are striving to connect their students to classrooms and experts in ways that humanize the world, while preparing students to thrive in the 21st century. "Global Education Guidebook: Humanizing K-12 Classrooms Worldwide Through Equitable Partnerships" by Jennifer D. Klein (Director of Educator Development for World Leadership School, coaching teachers in global integration and facilitating projects between North American classrooms and schools around the world) is practical guide takes readers through the steps and strategies needed to set up an equitable and global learning alliance that benefits all learners, founded in the tenets of global citizenship and cultural competence.

"Global Education Guidebook" will enable the reader to: Explore examples of elementary, middle, and high school partnerships that target the critical thinking and 21st century skills students need for life in a complex world; Gain wisdom from global education leaders and practitioners who have firsthand experience building successful and transformative global education partnerships for students; Consider educational technology, communication platforms, organizations, and strategies for finding and fostering a long-term global partnership for education; Understand the equity pitfalls of global partnerships and explore cross-cultural management strategies for building equitable relationships with other communities in the world; Learn about assessing intercultural competence and partnership programs, as well as ways to expand global learning opportunities across your community.

Readers will also have access to reproducible worksheets and assessments for setting up and evaluating their cooperative learning partnerships. This edition of "Global Education Guidebook" is perfect for specialists, after-school program leaders, camp counselors, and anyone seeking to foster global citizenship and encourage collaborative action in young people.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Global Education Guidebook: Humanizing K-12 Classrooms Worldwide Through Equitable Partnerships" is unreservedly recommended as a core addition to college and university library Teacher Education collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that the "Global Education Guidebook" is also available in a digital book format ($24.23).

And the Spirit Moved Them
Helen LaKelly Hunt
The Feminist Press
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781558614291, $18.95, PB, 248pp,

Synopsis: A decade prior to the Seneca Falls Convention (July 19 - 20, 1848) which was focused on the issues of women's rights, African American and white women had joined together at the 1837 Anti-Slavery Convention, which was the first known instance of political organizing by American women, for American women.

United by their determination to reshape a society that told women to ignore the mechanisms of power, these pioneers converged abolitionism and women's rights. Incited by "holy indignation", they believed it was their God-given duty to challenge both slavery and patriarchy. Although the convention was written out of history largely for both its religious and interracial character, these women created a blueprint for an intersectional feminism that was centuries ahead of its time.

Part historical investigation, part personal memoir, In "And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost Radical History of America's First Feminists", feminist philanthropist, activist, and scholar Helen LaKelly Hunt traces how her research into nineteenth-century organizing led her to become one of the most significant philanthropists in modern history. Hunt's journey to confront her position of power meant taking control of an oil fortune, being deployed on her behalf but without her knowledge, and acknowledging the feminist faith animating her life's work.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost Radical History of America's First Feminists" is a unique and extraordinary study that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Women's History collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that ""And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost Radical History of America's First Feminists" is also available in a digital book format ($10.99).

Equally Wed
Kirsten Palladino
Seal Press
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781580056700, $17.99, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: By and large, most wedding books in the market are still centered around one bride and one groom. And yet, the advent of full marriage equality in the United States has made a new, polished wedding planning book dedicated to guiding LGBTQ couples both timely and essential. In "Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding ", Kirsten Ott Palladino (founder and editorial director of -- the world's leading online resource for LGBTQ wedding planning) draws upon her considerable experience and impressive expertise to will fill that need with definitive instruction guide and manual specifically written to inspire same-sex couples everywhere who are seeking a meaningful, personal ceremony and a momentous beginning to legally married life. "Equally Wed" covers such issues as: Vetting vendors for equality-mindedness; Handling homophobia and transphobia among family members; Working with a realistic budget; Workable wedding-planning timelines; Etiqueete for nearlyweds; and even LGBTO+ fashion advice!

Critique: Absolutely 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding" is inspired and inspiring, and fills an urgent need now that same-sex marriage is now legal in every state of the union. While unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted that "Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding" is also available in a digital book format ($11.99).

Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales
Sacchi Green, editor
Cleis Press
101 Hudson Street, Suite 3705, Jersey City, New Jersey 07302
9781627782289, $16.95, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: Aptly compiled and edited by Sacchi Green, "Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales" is a unique and downright sexy anthology of fantastical short stories in which women are no longer just damsels in distress. Instead, these individual erotic fairytales showcase strong, passionate females race to the rescue of their female lovers.

The stories comprising "Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms" are masterfully crafted to lead your mind down unexpected paths to your favorite fantasy adventure, ranging from the classic fairy-tales of Little Red Riding Hood, to Rapunzel, to the modern marvel of Game of Thrones. These are short stories that will wash over you in an epic sea of words meant to entice and embolden your inner princess, heroine, or both.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and unfailingly entertaining read from cover to cover, "Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales" is unreservedly recommended for mature readers with an interest in a feminist approach to the female image in the wonderful world of fairytales. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Witches, Princesses, and Women at Arms: Erotic Lesbian Fairy Tales" is also available in a digital book format ($10.99).

Snooze: The Lost Art of Sleep
Michael McGirr
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781681774190, $26.95, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: A former Jesuit priest, essayist, reviewer, prize-winning short-story writer and teacher, Michael McGirr always had trouble sleeping. The arrival of baby twins, however, made him realize that he'd never before known true exhaustion. And while he celebrated these small children who brought him so much joy and tiredness, he found himself on a desperate and bone-weary journey in search of just a few extra winks a night.

Parenthood was an adventure that would teach him more about what exactly sleep is, why we need it, and what it means when we don't get enough of it.

In "Snooze: The Lost Art of Sleep", McGirr delves into the mysterious world of sleep, including its many benefits, its stubborn elusiveness, and exactly what our brains really get up to while we're in bed. He offers readers a tour through the odd sleep patterns of some of history's greatest minds, including Aristotle, Homer, Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Edison, and more. He looks, too, at the demise of sleep in our increasingly fragmented modern world -- and examines what that means for everyone from the Average Joe in the workplace to those with serious sleep disorders.

Critique: A truly exceptional, original, and deftly crafted study, "Snooze: The Lost Art of Sleep" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. As entertaining a read as it is informed and informative, "Snooze: The Lost Art of Sleep" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections. Of particular appeal to anyone suffering from insomnia, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Snooze: The Lost Art of Sleep" is also available in a digital book format ($12.99).

Natural Defense
Emily Monosson
Island Press
2000 M Street NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781610917186, $30.00, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: For more than a century, we have relied on chemical cures to keep our bodies free from disease and our farms free from bugs and weeds. We rarely consider human and agricultural health together, but both are based on the same ecology, and both are being threatened by organisms that have evolved to resist our antibiotics and pesticides. Patients suffer from C.diff, a painful, potentially lethal gut infection associated with multiple rounds of antibiotics; orange groves rot from insect-borne bacteria; and the blight responsible for the Irish potato famine outmaneuvers fungicides. Our chemicals are beginning to fail us.

Fortunately, scientists are finding new solutions that work with, rather than against, nature. In "Natural Defense: Enlisting Bugs and Germs to Protect Our Food and Health", environmental toxicologist Emily Monosson (Adjunct Professor, University of Massachusetts - Amherst) explores science's most innovative strategies, from high-tech gene editing to the ancient practice of fecal transplants. There are viruses that infect and bust apart bacteria; vaccines engineered to better provoke our natural defenses; and insect pheromones that throw crop-destroying moths into a misguided sexual frenzy. Some technologies will ultimately fizzle; others may hold the key to abundant food and unprecedented health. Each represents a growing understanding of how to employ ecology for our own protection.

Critique: In ""Natural Defense: Enlisting Bugs and Germs to Protect Our Food and Health" Professor Monosson gives readers a peek into the fascinating and hopeful world of natural defenses. "Natural Defense" offers optimism, not simply for particular cures, but for a sustainable approach to human welfare that will benefit generations to come. An extraordinary study that is impressively 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Natural Defense" features twenty-six pages of Notes, as well as a five page Index. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Science collections and environmental toxicology supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Natural Defense" is also available in a digital book format ($12.99).

Essential Living
Shelley Uram, MD
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757319600, $15.95, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: It is commonly thought that the key to happiness and fulfillment is having more money, greater career success, or a loving relationship or family. Yet even when we achieve these goals, we ultimately still find ourselves not fully satisfied or happy, and in an endless cycle of wanting more or something different. Why is this?

In "Essential Living: A Guide to Having Happiness and Peace by Reclaiming Your Essential Self", Dr. Shelley Uram (a Harvard trained, triple board-certified psychiatrist and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry) shows us, when we peel back the layers to reveal what we really want most in life, it turns out to be the qualities that are already present at our very core -- our Essential Self. They include peace, joy, love, a sense of freedom, and a sense of connectedness. However, until we reconnect with our Essential Self, most people do not remember who they are at their very core.

In "Essential Living", Dr. Uram explains how our ancient survival brain mechanisms short-circuit our connection to our Essential Self, starting when we are young children, which ultimately leads us away from who we really are and down a path of unnecessary suffering. She then provides readers with self-assessment exercises, frameworks, and tools to chart a personalized return to the Essential Self. By learning how to quiet the ancient survival brain and reclaim our essence, we can discover an unlimited wellspring of what will truly sustain and fulfill us.

Critique: Remarkably informed and informative, extraordinarily thoughtful and thought-provoking, exceptionally well written, organized and presented so as to be of practical and applicable value for the non-specialist general reader, "Essential Living: A Guide to Having Happiness and Peace by Reclaiming Your Essential Self" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Essential Living" is also available in a digital book format ($11.130.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Avian Medicine and Surgery
Neil A. Forbes & David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498703512, $49.95, PB, 384pp,

Synopsis: This completely revamped second edition of "Avian Medicine and Surgery: Self-Assessment Color Review" includes over 260 all-new color illustrated cases, with questions and answers fully exploring a breadth of diseases and disorders. Avian patients are a routine part of the veterinary case load and are being seen by many clinicians across the world. "Avian Medicine and Surgery" provides a unique quick reference for clinicians and a useful self-test for students by offering comprehensive, clinically-oriented information that can be quickly accessed, easily understood and applied. With contributions from leading international authorities with diverse fields of expertise, "Avian Medicine and Surgery" covers a wide range of disciplines, organ systems and species. The cases are presented in a random order, just as they would appear in daily practice, challenging the reader to address real clinical situation and offering, where possible, a comprehensive solution.

Critique: Simply stated, no college or university library Veterinary Medicine collections can be considered up-to-date or comprehensive without the inclusion of this newly revised and expanded second edition of "Avian Medicine and Surgery" as collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Neil A. Forbes (Great Western Exotics, Swindon, U.K.) and David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman (School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis, California). An ideal veterinary instruction manual and reference, it should be noted for veterinary students and practicing veterinarians that "Avian Medicine and Surgery" is also available in a digital book format ($38.28).

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

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

In "Drunks: An American History", author Christopher Finan reveals the history of the American struggle with alcoholism and the emergence of a search for sobriety that began among Native Americans in the colonial period. Finan introduces the reader to the a colorful cast of characters beginning with a remarkable Iroquois leader named Handsome Lake, who was a drunk that stopped drinking and dedicated his life to helping his people achieve sobriety.

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

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

Finan also tells the dramatic story of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, who helped each other stay sober and then created AA, which survived its tumultuous early years and finally proved that alcoholics could stay sober for a lifetime. This is narrative history at its best: entertaining and authoritative, an important portrait of one of America's great liberation movements.

Critique: A unique and extraordinary study, "Drunks: An American History" is impressively informed and informative, exhaustively researched, exceptionally well written, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library American History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of academicians and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Drunks: An American History" is also available in a digital book format ($28.99).

Violent Men
Hans Toch
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433827839, $29.95, PB, 352pp,

Synopsis: Now brought back into print as a 25th Anniversary edition for a new generation of appreciative readers, "Violent Men: An Inquiry Into the Psychology of Violence" by Hans Toch (Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University at Albany of the State University of New York) is seminal book that offers an insightful portrait of chronic predatory offenders, problem police officers, and others with a demonstrated propensity for violent conduct. Professor Toch deftly explores the personal motives, attitudes, assumptions, and perceptions of men who are recurrently violent. "Violent Men" addresses such questions as: How patterned and consistent is the violence of such men?; What are the dynamics of their escalating encounters?; What personal dispositions and orientations are most apt to lead to violence?; What can these observations tell us about the nature of human interaction, and violence itself?

Critique: "Violent Men" offers not only scholarly research on violence, but also a sense of the humanity of its subjects. Of continuing and up-to-date relevance in terms of contemporary and on-going debates over police violence, new clinical applications to chronic male violence, and offering thought-provoking reflections, "Violent Men" should be considered a key and core addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Psychology & Criminology collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Coding iPhone Apps for Kids
Gloria Winquist & Matt McCarthy
No Starch Press
245 - 8th Street, San Francisco, CO 94103-3910
9781593277567, $29.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: Apple's Swift is a powerful, beginner-friendly programming language that anyone can use to make cool apps for the iPhone or iPad. In "Coding iPhone Apps for Kids" by the team of Gloria Winquist (who is a iOS developer at LumiraDx) and Matt McCarthy (a software engineer at LumiraDx), aspiring app makers will learn how to use Swift to write programs, even if they have never programmed before.

With "Coding iPhone Apps for Kids" the aspiring app maker will learn how to work in the Xcode playground, an interactive environment where they can play with their code and see the results of their work immediately! They will learn the fundamentals of programming too, including how to store data in arrays, use conditional statements to make decisions, and create functions to organize your code--all with the help of clear and patient explanations.

Once mastering the basics, they can build a birthday tracker app so that you won't forget anyone's birthday and a platform game called Schoolhouse Skateboarder with animation, jumps, and more!

"Coding iPhone Apps for Kids" also covers: Building programs to save time, like one that invites all of friends to a party with just the click of a button; Programming a number-guessing game with loops to make the computer keep guessing until it gets the right answer; Making a real, playable game with graphics and sound effects using SpriteKit; Challenging players by speeding up a game and adding a high-score system

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, it should be noted that while "Coding iPhone Apps for Kids" is specifically intended for children ages 10 and older, it is so well constructed as a do-it-yourself instructional guide and manual that is unreservedly recommended for adults as well who would like to learn how to create iPhone apps of their own. While very highly recommended for both school and community library Computer Science collections, it should be noted for students in grades 5 to 8 that "Coding iPhone Apps for Kids" is also available in a digital book format ($23.40).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Rules for Resistance
David Cole & Melanie Wachtell Stinnett
The New Press
120 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005
9781620973547, $15.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Many people living today in America (especially first generation immigrants from third world countries) direct experience with living in societies where an autocrat has seized control. Others have seen charismatic, populist leaders come to power within democracies and dramatically change the rules of the road for the public, activists, and journalists alike. In "Rules for Resistance: Advice from Around the Globe for the Age of Trump", writers from Russia, Turkey, India, Hungary, Chile, China, Canada, Italy, and elsewhere reveal to Americans what we can expect under our own new regime, and give us guidance for living (and for resisting) in the Trump era.

Advice includes being on the watch for the prosecution of political opponents, the use of libel laws to attack critics, the gutting of non-partisan institutions, and the selective application of the law.

A special section on the challenges for journalists reporting on and under a leader like Donald Trump addresses issues of free speech, the importance of press protections, and the critical role of investigative journalists in an increasingly closed society. An introduction by ACLU legal director David Cole looks at the crucial role institutions have in preserving democracy and resisting autocracy.

A chilling but necessary collection, "Rules for Resistance" distills the collective knowledge and wisdom of those who "have seen this video before".

Critique: An absolutely mandatory read for anyone who is now alarmed at how Donald J. Trump and his minions are tearing down long established American institutions, norms of civil conduct, and treasonous collaborations with an every growing list America's enemies as embodied by dictators like Vladimir Putin. Nothing less than our very liberties and freedoms are at stake. "Rules for Resistance" should be a part of every community, college, and university library in the country. If your local library does note have a copy of "Rules for Resistance" -- then donate one to them, its just that important if our children and our grandchildren are not to grow up in a bleak and authoritarian state that will be the political legacy of the Trump administration if it is left unopposed. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rules for Resistence" is also available in a digital book format ($10.42).

The Three Battles of Sand Creek
Gregory F. Michno
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611213119, $29.95, HC, 212pp,

Synopsis: The Sand Creek Battle, or Massacre, occurred on November 29-30, 1864, and was an armed confrontation between Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians and Colorado volunteer soldiers. The affair was a tragic event in American history, and what occurred there continues to be hotly contested.

Indeed, labeling it a "battle" or a "massacre" will likely start an argument before any discussion on the merits even begins. Even questions about who owns the story, and how it should be told, are up for debate. Many questions arise whenever Sand Creek is discussed: were the Indians peaceful? Did they hold white prisoners? Were they under army protection? Were excessive numbers of women and children killed, and were bodies mutilated? Did the Indians fly an American flag? Did the chiefs die stoically in front of their tipis? Were white scalps found in the village?

Three hearings were conducted, and there seems to be an overabundance of evidence from which to answer these and other questions. Unfortunately, the evidence only muddies the issues.

In "The Three Battles of Sand Creek: In Blood, in Court, and as the End of History", author and historian Gregory Michno divides his study into three sections. The first, "In Blood," details the events of November 29 and 30, 1864, in what is surely the most comprehensive account published to date. The second section, "In Court," focuses on the three investigations into the affair, illustrates some of the biases involved, and presents some of the contradictory testimony. The third and final section, "The End of History," shows the utter impossibility of sorting fact from fiction.

Using Sand Creek as well as contemporary examples, Michno examines the evidence of eyewitnesses, all of whom were subject to false memories, implanted memories, leading questions, prejudice, self-interest, motivated reasoning, social, cultural, and political mores, an over-active amygdala, and a brain that had a "mind" of its own. These were and continue to be obstacles that make factual accuracy an illusion.

Michno's extensive research includes primary and select secondary studies, including recollections, archival accounts, newspapers, diaries, and other original records. "The Three Battles of Sand Creek" will take its place as the definitive account of this previously misunderstood, and tragic, event.

Critique: A comprehensive and definitive work of seminal research and scholarship, "The Three Battles of Sand Creek: In Blood, in Court, and as the End of History" is an extraordinary study that is impressively well written, organized and presented from beginning to end. Enhanced with the inclusion of two appendices (Ghosts Busted at Sand Creek; List of Killed and Wounded in the First and Third Colorado Cavalry at Sand Creek); a nine page Bibliography; and a four page Index, "The Three Battles of Sand Creek" is a critically important and core addition to both community and academic library 19th Century American History collections in general, and Native American History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Three Battles of Sand Creek" is also available in a digital book format ($17.97).

Critical Studies of Innovation
Benoit Godin & Dominique Vinck, editors
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781785366963, $155.00, HC, 352pp,

Synopsis: Different theories, models and narratives of innovation compete for both legitimacy and authority. However, despite the variations, they all offer a consistent pro-innovation bias, dismissing resistance as irrational, and overlooking the value of non-users and collateral impacts. Knowledgeably compiled and deftly edited by academicians Benoit Godin (Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Canada) and Dominique Vinck ( Universite de Lausanne, Switzerland ) "Critical Studies of Innovation: Alternative Approaches to the Pro-innovation Bias" that explores what has been left out in such approaches.

"Critical Studies of Innovation" collectively offers a reflexive view and invites researchers to consider new avenues of research, through a critique of current representations of innovation.

The fifteen individual studies provide a different viewpoint on innovation by exploring what has been omitted from traditional innovation studies. "Critical Studies of Innovation" examines imitation, non-innovative roles, resistance to innovation, slow innovation, the rationale of non-users, failure, withdrawal, collateral impacts and alternative models. Calling for new definitions and frameworks, the editors have created a critical program for innovation studies with new avenues for future research.

Critique: Offering state-of-the-art discussion of theories, models, narratives and ideologies of innovation and alternative approaches, "Critical Studies of Innovation" will be an essential resource for scholars in technology and innovation, management, engineering, political and social sciences. It will also have immense value to policy-makers in the science and technology sector. Enhanced with the inclusion of figures, tables, a listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a twelve page index, "Critical Studies of Innovation" is a critically important and seminal work of outstanding scholarship that is unreservedly recommended for both college and university library collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Nobody Here Will Harm You
Shawn Selway
Wolsak and Wynn Publishers Ltd.
280 James Street North, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8R 2L3
9781928088097, $24.99, PB, 300pp,

Synopsis: "Nobody Here Will Harm You: Mass Medical Evacuation From the Eastern Arctic 1950 - 1965" by Shawn Selway begins with a thorough investigation of the evacuation (from 1950 to 1965) of 1,274 Inuit and Cree sufferers of tuberculosis from the Eastern Arctic to Mountain Sanatorium in Hamilton. Selway considers not only the political culture, and the systemic racism within that culture, in which the decisions were made, but also the technological and economic changes that made these relocations possible. Selway carefully documents the impact of the evacuations on the Inuit community and has included an assortment of archival images in "Nobody Here Will Harm You".

Critique: Nobody Here Will Harm You is a unique and informative contribution to community and academic library Canadian history collections in general, and Aboriginal Canadian supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It is interesting to note that while author Shawn Selway is a millwright specialized in the conservation of historic machinery, has a strong interest in the wobbling path of his hometown, and contributes to the local municipal affairs blog, it was his mother, a retired TB and surgical nurse, who made him write this book -- much to the benefit of present and future generations of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject.

The Spirit of Villarosa
Horace Dade Ashton, Marc Ashton, Libby J. Atwater
Two Harbors Press
322 First Avenue N, 5th floor, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781634138475, $19.95, PB, 408pp,

Synopsis: When Marc Ashton was kidnapped, thoughts of his famous father, Horace Dade Ashton, filled his mind. The elder Ashton became a founding member of the Explorers Club, and showed his passion for adventure by visiting many perilous, yet captivating, corners of the world at a time when travel was not easy. Marc believed the key to his escape lay in his father's exploits.

Dubbed the ''original Indiana Jones'' the elder Ashton had shared his journeys through his countless lectures, films, prize-winning photographs, and writing. In 1940, he became the cultural attache to the U.S. embassy in Haiti and moved his young family to the island, where they remained until 2001.

"The Spirit of Villarosa: A Father's Extraordinary Adventures; A Son's Challenge" is a glorious account of Horace Ashton's remarkable adventures juxtaposed with Marc Ashton's own harrowing captivity by armed, drug-crazed thugs seeking a staggering ransom.

Critique: A clear example of an occasion where real life exceeds any work of action/adventure fiction novel, "The Spirit of Villarosa" is an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling read from cover to cover. This is the stuff of which block-buster movies are made. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Spirit of Villarosa" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead
Kenneth W. Gronbach
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814434697, $27.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: Demographics not only define who we are, where we live, and how our numbers change, but for those who can read beyond the raw figures, they open up hidden business opportunities that lie ahead. What will happen when retiring Boomers free up jobs? How will Generation Y alter housing and transportation? Which states will have the most dynamic workforces? Will American manufacturing rebound as Asia's population boom stalls? Upside puts this powerful yet little-understood science to work finding answers.

In "Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead" demographer Kenneth Gronbach synthesizes reams of data to show how generations impact markets and economies, and how to target promising trends. Lively and full of surprises, "Upside" explains: What each age cohort is likely to buy now and in coming decades; How profits dovetail with consumer numbers; What sectors are likely to grow or lag; How to make sense of the numbers to chart your own path; and a great deal more.

Critique: Informative, insightful, thoughtful, and comprehensive, "Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead" is especially commended to the attention of investors, marketing executives, entrepreneurs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Business collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted that "Upside" is also available in a digital book format ($9.78). Librarians should be aware that there is an audio book edition of "Upside" (Brilliance Audio, $19.99, MP3 CD).

Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments
Norbert Steigenberger, et al.
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498796606, $149.95, HC, 180pp,

Synopsis: Despite intense research on decision-making in action, we still know little about when decision-makers rely on deliberate vs. intuitive decision-making in decision situations under complexity and uncertainty. Building on default-interventionist dual-processing theory, "Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments" studies decision-making modes (deliberate vs. intuitive) in complex task environments contingent on perceived complexity, experience, and decision style preference.

"Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments" supports the perception that relatively inexperienced decision-makers respond to increases in subjective complexity with an increase in deliberation and tend to follow their decision style preference. While experienced decision-makers are less guided by their decision preference and respond to increases in subjective complexity only minimally.

"Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments" contributes to a developing stream of research linking decision-making with intra-personal and environmental properties and fosters our understanding of the conditions under which decision-makers rely on intuitive vs. deliberate decision modes. In doing so, it further advances a comprehensive theory of decision-making in action.

Critique: The collaborative work of Dr. Norbert Steigenberger (Assistant Professor at Jonkoping International Business School, Sweden); Thomas Lubcke (Head of Research and Development at the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service): Dr. Heather M. Fiala (a professional staff member of the Center for Controlling & Management at the Institute of Management Accounting and Control of the WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar, Germany); and Alina Riebschlager (who studied Business Administration at the University of Cologne), "Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments" is an extraordinary and seminal work of outstanding scholarship that is unreservedly recommended for corporate and academic library Ergonomics & Human Factor Decision Making Studies collections. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Decision Modes in Complex Task Environments" is also available in a paperback edition (9781138748460, $79.95) and in a digital book format ($66.94).

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

Ancient Alien Ancestors
Will Hart
Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591432531 $20.00 pbk / $14.99 Kindle

Synopsis: In the early 1970s, Nobel Prize-winning DNA co-discoverer Sir Francis Crick and his colleague Leslie Orgel proposed that in the distant past, an extraterrestrial race sent a spacecraft loaded with microorganisms to seed the Earth with life. Now, more than 40 years later, the fields of space research and biotechnology have advanced to the point where they can back up Crick and Orgel's claims about our ancient alien ancestors.

Sharing scientific evidence of alien involvement with life on our planet and with the very landscape of Earth itself, Will Hart refines the theory of directed panspermia--that life was intentionally seeded on Earth by extraterrestrials--to reveal that the same ET agency also created humans and generated civilization. He shows how the Earth was terraformed through an engineering program so sophisticated and vast that it has escaped our attention so far--for example, the major rivers on Earth are precisely aligned through geo-engineering with the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Revealing the Great Pyramid as an alien message in stone, the author explains how the Giza pyramids could not have been built by the ancient Egyptians and examines the extraterrestrial energy technologies used to move the pyramids' massive stone blocks, methods later rediscovered by Nikola Tesla and the builder of Coral Castle, Edward Leedskalnin. He details how an advanced race implanted the basic genome on Earth as well as genetically engineered the human race and shows how our spectrum of blood types supports the theory of panspermia while directly contradicting the conventional "out of Africa" theory of evolution.

Investigating how the extraterrestrial agency behind the origin of civilization is still working behind the scenes today, the author examines the strongest modern UFO accounts, including the Russian Roswell case and the suppressed UFO sightings of NASA astronauts. He shows that this advanced ET civilization is not an alien race in the way we normally think of "aliens"--they are our ancestors and as human as we are.

Critique: Writer and photojournalist Will Hart provides compelling evidence that life on Earth could be due to the deliberate intervention of an extraterrestrial civilization. Regardless of whether one agrees with each point of contention (from interpreting the Great Pyramid of Giza as an alien message in stone, to harshly criticizing the "out of Africa" theory of evolution), Ancient Alien Ancestors is fascinating and thought-provoking when pondered as a whole. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Ancient Alien Ancestors is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

The Polygamist
William Irvine
Trouble Publishing Ltd.
9781785898860, $13.99, PB, 384pp,

Synopsis: Set at the end of the seventies, a time when experimentation with alternative lifestyles and sexual relationships was rife, "The Polygamist" follows the fortunes of Omar Al Ghamdi, Saudi-born but educated in the West; a man who is the product of two irreconcilable cultures.

After two decades he has come to experience philandering as increasingly superficial; but vehemently opposed to monogamous fidelity, turns to polygamy as the solution to his high turnover existence. His hope is that taking several wives will provide him with a more honest and satisfying alternative, allowing him to engage in deeper relationships whilst still giving a long enough leash to his sexuality.

Having pursued his goal without compromise by entering into serial arranged marriages, he lives with his household on a remote house on Colva Beach in Goa. Does the reality live up to the dream? And, what is it like for the women? How can one man possibly satisfy multiple female partners?

Critique: Deftly written from an decidedly male perspective by author William Irvine, "The Polygamist" will appeal to those wishing to understand male sexuality and the desires that shape all of our lives and relationships. An consistently absorbing, entertaining, thought-provoking novel, "The Polygamist" showcases author William Irvine's genuine flair for originality and compelling storytelling. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Polygamist" is also available in a digital book format ($1.99).

Trumpocalypse Now!
Kenn Thomas
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
9781939149787, $16.95, PB, 184pp,

Synopsis: Kenn Thomas has written about parapolitics (conspiracy theories) for thirty years. Now in "Trumpocalypse Now!: The Triumph of the Conspiracy Spectacle" he turns his attention to the controversial 2016 election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States and a deeper dynamic has been put into play with respect to contemporary American politics which reveals that conspiracy theory has moved from the fringe onto America's central stage. "Trumpocalypse Now!" examines The Donalds's history of creating alternative realities with "alternative facts" and the authentic conspiratorial points of view from which they arise. "Trumpocalypse Now!" takes a look at Trump's career as a conspiracy theory celebrity, his trafficking in such notions as birtherism, Islamofascism and 9/11, the conspiracies of the Clinton era, and the JFK assassination. It also examines the controversies of the 2016 election, including the cyber-hacking of the DNC, the Russian involvement and voter fraud. Readers will learn the parapolitcal realities behind the partisan divide and the real ideological underpinnings behind the country's most controversial president.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Trumpocalypse Now!" is an inherently fascinating, riveting read from cover to cover and will have a particular appeal to anyone seeking a clearer understanding of the behavior and activity of the Trump administration and its supporters. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Trumpocalypse Now!" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99).

A Perfect Murder & Other Stories
S. R. Nair
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781535334228, $9.99, PB, 170pp,

Synopsis: A divorcee estranged from her father resorts to extreme measures; a newly-wed woman is brutally raped by her father-in-law and seeks justice; a charming young man plans to seduce a beautiful, blonde tourist; an orthodox Muslim man struggles to adjust to life in the United States. These are some of the tales in "A Perfect Murder & Other Stories", an anthology of fourteen captivating short stories by S. R. Nair.

Critique: Each story is a succinct literary gem and, collectively speaking, an unfailingly entertaining read from cover to cover. While "A Perfect Murder & Other Stories" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Perfect Murder & Other Stories" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Jerusalem Ablaze
Orlando Ortega-Medina
Cloud Lodge Books
9781526202536, $14.95, PB, 184pp,

Synopsis: "Jerusalem Ablaze: Stories of Love and Other Obsessions" is an anthology of thirteen gripping and intriguing short stories by Orlando Ortega-Medina about sexuality, death, obsession, and religion. Sometimes bleak, occasionally violent, and often possessed of a dark humor, each individual short story contains characters who are flawed individuals trying their best to make sense of their lives.

Critique: A consistently compelling and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end, each deftly crafted tale is a uniquely rewarding literary experience. "Jerusalem Ablaze" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections.

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

3 1/2 Seconds to Live
Don Baker with Kate Thomas Baker
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781512767995, $17.95, PB,

In "3 1/2 Seconds to Live," Don Baker with Kate Thomas Baker recount Don's lifelong struggle with anger, PTSD and depression. It's a riveting true story of hope, forgiveness and restoration about an ordained minister, husband, father and author that includes Don's "loss of job, income, marriage, family, reputation, credibility, publishing rights, home and friends."

Yet Don, like all of us, didn't know what the future held when he left Portland, Oregon to join the Army, an enthusiastic eighteen-year-old eager to be independent, learn new skills and serve his country. The Army Air Corp trained him in cryptography, the study of codes and cipher systems and he served in World War Two's Pacific theater with the 141st Army Airways Communication System.

Before Don left his father gave him a New Testament and asked him "to carry it in his shirt pocket over his heart." When he gave it to Don, he said, "it just might stop a bullet or worse." Don kept the Bible with him and often used it when his buddies asked him to preach. Don also asked his family and church to pray that "God would allow him to come home with his tongue intact," so he could fulfill his lifelong dream to "preach the Gospel." However, there was nothing that could prepare the young man or protect him from the ravages of war or the life-altering affect it would have on him.

He writes, "The United States entered the war in 1941. A total of 11,260,000 Americans served in that war...407,300 died." Don felt he was spared and writes, "Only part of me died."

Thus begins Don's personal story of his decades-long downward spiral into a black hole of PTSD and depression that finally led him to Central California's V.A. hospital to "seek competent psychiatric care." Although he often ministered to others in psychiatric care this was Don's first time as a patient when he was admitted to Ward 7E of Fresno's V.A. psychiatric hospital. He would stay four months and had never felt more scared and exposed. He thought, "...the life I have known is now over."

Written with transparency, humility and rare vulnerability, Don's story of loss, brokenness and God's grace is compelling as reader's share Don's journey in the psychiatric ward, the breakdown of his marriage and his consideration of suicide. I liked the book so much I emailed a friend who struggles with similar issues and said the book is "must buy." Although Don's issues were caused by war, his problems are common to all who long for love, fear rejection and failure.

A Night on Kingwood
Jayson Derowitsch
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publisher
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781512771640, $13.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle,

"A Night on Kingwood" is a fantasy with an allegorical twist wrapped in a story about a suicidal high school senior who felt like a nobody because he couldn't excel at anything unlike his parents. His mom was a doctor and published author and his father an Army colonel who returned from two tours in Iraq with a Purple Heart and Silver Star. All of which made their son, Kyle Redding think, "good luck living in their shadows!"

Especially when his father frequently said, "The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary." Because of his parents stellar successes Kyle believed his life would never work out like he had "hoped and planned."

Then a new girl arrived at school and asked if she could "hang out with" Kyle. Not only did his outlook improve, so did his grades and he gathered enough nerve to ask Marah to be his girlfriend and go to the homecoming dance with him. When she said no because she had already said yes to Billy Hillman, the high school bully, Kyle was crushed. However he expected Marah's attitude to change and attended the homecoming dance alone. That's when Marah yelled at him to stop bothering her and screamed, "Get out of here! I never want to see you again." Embarrassed, angry and crushed Kyle went home and opened his father's gun safe determined to "put an end to his miserable life."

Thus begins a fantasy about a teenager who's supernaturally directed to Kingwood Street, an otherwise ordinary street except this street leads to magical places where mysterious events take place. There Kyle would meet the "Wind Voice," see trees bow and speak and see homes along the street reflecting their owners personalities, whether pride, irresponsible or contemptuous.

He also meets Aletheia who tells Kyle the back story of Kingwood before she warns him about Leviathan, a giant snake whose name was changed to "Soul-Devourer, for that is what he did to those who rebelled against the King." It's a place where hedges morph into arched doorways and click-clacking typewriter keys guide travelers through a dangerous and dense fog. It was here Kyle would learn about Meshiach and "Pantokrator," who they were and why he should seek them and learn about the "unknown truth" of life.

The fast-paced story, set in Salem Oregon, is patterned after the likes of C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan writings. It's a tale of growing up and good versus evil that illustrates the importance of actions over words. I really liked the fantasy development and recommend the book even though the story itself was weakened when the author intruded to directly address the reader as well as a sudden character change which undermined the believability and symbolism of the story. Still, the fantasy will capture readers with an intriguing plot that keeps pages turning to see what happens next.

Peace in the Face of Cancer
Lynn Eib w/Leather like Binding
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496417985, $15.99,

Lynn Eib, former reporter turned author, stage three colon cancer survivor and long-time patient advocate's new release, "Peace in the Face of Cancer" inspires "feelings of hope, peace and comfort" for patients diagnosed with cancer or their caregivers.

However, after reading Lynn's book I would expand that to include anyone dealing with any devastating diagnosis or life issue. Or as Jim Kelly, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback who endorsed the book writes, "'s about rising above your circumstances and finding peace regardless of what life throws at you."

Lynn's greatest desire is to encourage "hope, courage, comfort and especially peace" for anyone challenged by cancer. She includes her own story and stories of those she's worked with as a patient advocate. She writes from a Christian perspective, includes Scripture and uses bright spots of subtle humor.

Forty thematic chapters share "true cancer survivor stories" that offer "true biblical hope" without being preachy. Chapters begin with a thought-provoking quote "from a famous person" that introduces that chapters theme. For example, Charlie Brown's humorous quote from chapter 11: "I've developed a new philosophy...I only dread one day at a time."

After Lynn was diagnosed with "nearly obstructing colon cancer that had spread to several lymph nodes," she decided she would not become "a pure optimist or a pure pessimist." Instead she would hope and pray for a cure, but she "would have her affairs in order" just in case.

She writes, whether "you're a pessimist like Charlie or an optimist like his beagle, Snoopy" Lynn recommends becoming what she calls a "realistic optimist," sometimes called an optimalist.

Forty well-crafted chapters feature different aspects of peace with an overall theme of peace. She warns against using the internet for information because some of what is found will be outdated or not apply to your situation. She recommends learning to be a friend with a shoulder to lean on, a loving friend without an agenda who will just be there for you with lots of hugs.

She also writes about the role of hope, benefits of laughter, support groups, different types of therapies and differences between generic and brand name drugs. All chapters end with a nugget of truth and the last three chapters focus on patients with incurable cancers. The book concludes with a topical index by chapter number.

Early in Lynn's journey she writes she decided, "...whether I lived or died was up to Him, but how I lived my life was up to me." This powerful and practical devotional reflects Lynn's genuine and authentic approach to life, to cancer and to God and clearly reveals how much she cares for her readers and anyone challenged by cancer. I give it the strongest recommendation!

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Grace's Bookshelf

Plato, Symposium (or Drinking Party)
Plato & Peter Kalkavage, authors
Eva Brann, Peter Kalkavage, Eric Salem, translators
Hackett Publishing Company
P.O. Box 390007, Cambridge, MA 02139-0001
9781585105977, $12.95, PB, 122 pages,

Symposium, the text (circa 380 B C) by Plato, presents men of great importance discussing Love as represented by the Greek God Eros. The book begins with an Intro where clear thinking and good writing guide us to another reality, a text that's readable, accessible and enjoyable.

In the Symposium six notable men, including Socrates and Aristophanes, gather for a drinking spree. However, they're all so hung-over from the night before, they choose to exchange drinking for talk; taking turns arguing/exploring, one by one, a case for Love, expanding on it - while defining themselves in the process.

Each party guest becomes a story teller in a battle of ideas colored by his own personality. The poet Agathon hosts the group, with verbal glitter; He's a bit of a showboat. Agathon praises Eros as "happiness," a blend of goodness, wisdom and beauty (of course connected to his own art.)

Aristophanes, the comedic playwright, gives us a myth about the beginnings of humankind, how we are all part of one original embodiment (with the proper mix of body parts) until some of us are sliced as women loving men, other "slices" turn women to women, and men to men.

Another guest, Pausanias, speaks of the virtues and vices of boy-love according to custom and convention. Eryximachus, a physician, begins with the body, "the filling up and emptying out," then moves to cosmic love. Each man's a prism with his own belief system, talking as much about his own self-creation as the form Love takes.

While the speakers consider Love as an otherworldly force, as well as a human condition, what of the most common thought - Love as sexual union? Does it cause happiness? Or is it need that brings us back for more?

Socrates, with tales of his own enlightenment, turns arguments inside out with logic and wit. Most delightful is the12-page question/ session between Socrates and his magical teacher Diotima; and, also the 5-page dialogue between Agathon and Socrates - Socrates refutes Agathon's ecstatic claims that love is all good, beautiful and noble - and bursts that balloon of mindless chatter using philosophic rhetoric. A fascinating interchange, step by step.

Poet W.S .Merwin says 'translation is impossible and yet we do it.' Any translation is a reimagined text, no matter how faithful, but I have nothing with which to compare this; and so I'm left with my own sensibilities. When I read I don't want to slog through the incomprehensible; or the unfathomable. This book is an antidote. It's a colloquial and silky read. Since the topic is Love, the Greek God Eros is the subject of physical and exotic love - sexual desire. But the inquiry leads beyond primal origins to the sublime, connecting to the soul.

We wonder how the classics remain relevant in our society, with twitter, and electronic images substituting authenticity; where intellectual health is thought to be medicine. And although I'm a reader, I also watch trash TV; I like hip-hop& rock 'roll; I know the names of all the celebs and their ex-husbands - and this book has been the most exciting and fulfilling time I've spent this summer.

There's a black folk adage, "God don't like ugly;" and that's what these great men ponder. The opening words in the book tell us: "...its theme is Eros - erotic love, the all-consuming passion that has inspired countless poems, plays, novels, songs, operas, and ...even movies;" so you will see how wonderful it is to wake up to new notions of old definitions.

This translation by world-class philosopher Eva Brann and renowned scholars Kalkavage and Salem should be in every college classroom; and, with today's turbo kids, perhaps high schools. The second part of the book is an essay commenting on the dramatic frame of each episode, the speeches, and the characters in turn. There's also a schematic "conjectural" drawing depicting where each Symposium guest was located. Bonuses like this are also in the glossary and appendices.

I thought if a part of this book were memorable I'd put a sticker on the page; and here's a book now with a sticker on every page, and one I'll keep on my bedtime table to pick up and read anywhere it opens.

There'll always be something to make me think about because excellent conversation is never boring; humor and high spirits are the hydraulic for this book which is one of the most important texts in human history.

This particular edition of Plato's Symposium is a good gateway drug to reading other classics.

Lessons on Expulsion
Erika L. Sanchez
Graywolf Press
250 Third Avenue North, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781555977788, $16.00 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 73 pages,

Some art is terrible beauty. And this book is among the most beautiful. I'm serious: every line is astonishment. Each poem, a climactic moment. I told my friends once that the trouble with women is they don't go where men dare to go. Women stop short on the page. Sometimes poems and plays are hampered by that last red line that we can't (because of DNA's conventions) cross. Here's a poet who breaks the boundaries. She doesn't care about taboos; she writes to the moon. She makes emotional connections magnetizing the body to words that reverb with sensuality. Every line can be seen, tasted, heard. Sanchez throws down poetry like a biblical chant from a religion she's now inventing. I showed the book to students to show how much human capital there is other poets are not spending; how honesty is the climate of hope; how fiction, diction, sleight-of-hand, structure, benefit a new world of writing. Who could apprentice to her? How many are willing to take off their masks to see such truths? Can we illuminate where we are holistically - body, mind, spirit, intellect - so when crumbled and dragged through mud - everything shines? From the dark, this diamond is Sanchez's debut book.

The Loop

The silences are copulating again. Look,
a woman so hungry her insides eat her other insides.
What are you crying about now? See, a black hole
of a mouth: eat, eat, eat. The cupcakes
are porno pink and they make you feel sexy!

It's the everyday accretion
of desire - the American
glory hole. A boss-man yelping and yelping
in a corner. Who are the office harpies
and who are the buzzards? (So many
mouth-breathers!) Beelzebub flaps
his frozen wings and it's getting chilly in here.

What has the television taught the girls to say?
With their lips all plumped with hot goo.
Pixel this. Pixel that. Pixel your ugly face!
Your silence is a sealed jar of water,
little pariah. Outside, men and women
carry pictures of dead fetuses.

The children hold them, too.
Every day, you say, I am a person, I am a person.
It's winter and your feet are wet
again. You wave hello to the friendly rats.
Why do you flounder so easily in holes?

Do you suffer from cholera of the brain?
Check yes or no. The day goes on picking
the meat from its teeth.

Holly Karapetkova
Cloudbank Books
9780982486757, 16.00, PB, 70 pages,

I know why this book won the Vern Rutsala poetry prize; because the other competitors couldn't match these poems of myth, folklore, and allegory - and couldn't possibly make them relevant to present day as Karapetkova does. These are lifetime experiences drawn through new forms paying attention to the past and today's culture at once. It's a hallmark book gripped with poetic tension, and emotional immediacy, in a multiverse of time zones. The Story of My Father, "He spoke seven languages and was never allowed to leave the/country.//He'd gone to school in Paris, which made him an enemy of the people.//... The story goes that after a broken heart from losing many beloved things, the interpreter changed his translations during the Cold War to suit himself. "The diplomat said, 'We will not stand for this! We have boats full// of heat - seeking missiles ready to destroy you. 'He translated, /unwavering, / 'We will send boats full of flowers on your country's birthday. '/ The other party looked bewildered, 'We can annihilate your half of /the world.' / He said, 'The mothers in your country are the most beautiful in the world.' They decided he'd gone /senile, //retired him at 62...but it wasn't about flowers or mothers anyway, and now a new/war's on, / one he couldn't translate for. He only knew seven languages."

The image maker has to carefully control her environment or tools of the trade would mean nothing. Some of the poems are adapted from songs and oral folklore of a nomadic tribe that once traveled through reaches of Bulgaria and northern Greece. These are part of a strong political through line to the benefit of the book. The Electrician creates a narrative of barbarian tactics from cruel regimes in East Germany, Chile and Argentina and more. "In my previous life I was a torturer. /The electrician, they called me. /Go fetch the electrician, they'd say/when they were ready.... When I died with Alzheimer's, I was greeted/on the other side by saints of five faiths. /They brooded over my spirit, wanted answers:/why had I done it, would I now regret it... They brought out the electrodes // and plugged me in. I knew the drill./I said, What do you want to hear?/They said, Apologies all around./I said, Sure, though I was proud of my career.// No they clenched their teeth, like you mean it./I'm sorry! I screamed in pain with every buzz. /I'm sorry! Finally, they got bored. /I passed out and reawakened in a womb."

And there's an unforgettable personality at the soul of this multifaceted book. Overseas ends "... Tomorrow you'll grab//the towline of a single language/and ride it out to sea, counting the ripples//on the surface as the banks widen. / But tonight you drag your belly on the bottom, //knees and elbows scraping stones, /water entering every opening it can find."

Wedding Song

A bride stands out on the high cliffs
looking for something down
in the clear water -

a fish, a glass shoe, the cow
stranded out on the rocks,
ships slouching like fat swans.

A bed waits on white sand,
metal frame rusting and peeling paint.
So this is it, she thinks,

and dives like a seabird, her white veil
billowing on the surface, floating
where her body will not.

Philadelphia Poems
Lynn Hoffman
Kelsay Books
9781945752124, $17.00, PB, 82 pages,

This homage to place is a "strapped in and write" victory for the city of brotherly love. Lynn Hoffman changes the landscape page by page, voice by voice, with every anecdote newsworthy and poetryworthy because of his powers of surveillance, wit, and humor; using his city slang as springboard for character studies. There are serious events since cities are human history, yet the feeling is buoyancy, even happiness in memorializing a time and place that can never exist again and can be compared to no other. Our poet achieves magic-making by visiting neighborhoods where time has left. There's nobility in walking the alleys, a man crying in Washington Square, the vacant slotted benches in Rittenhouse Square. Sharp writing and lyrical patterns move us through carpenter's woods, shucking oysters on Sansom Street, walking Addison Street, where vital information and loss pierce the page. What determines memorable poetry? What's the key to making new ideas from old memories? This book will give another reason to love poets and poetry.


I was barking here before you and you
and youse especially.
When there was a room to hide
on downwind side of brownstone stoop
or in the alley by Carmine's
where me and Eddie
doo-wopped, doo-wopped.

I owned the street.
It was wild then
feral, forest, lamppost trees
offa parking lot steppes.
and we were the wolves
or the pups anyway
and we feasted: red-gravy sheep
christmas geese.

and bitches-man, there was bitches.
There was gods here then,
the hydrants, mailboxes and mammas
it was like Easter Island and
everybody watched and nobody saw.
Now the Christmas lights on the Avenue
are all white and polite and there's
nobody left to sniff the ground,
to bare their teeth,
to howl.

Marjorie Stelmach
Cascade Books
c/o Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781532606199, $14.00, PB, 84 pages,

The book begins with the poem Nothing, " And if the Eternal/ stooped to you, swooped/down upon you, linking/ you, lifting you out of/your body,//or, no,/ if the Light/ came upon you, came/ into your skin - skinning you /whole, and insiding you/out - each cell perceiving/its singular purpose./And then, before/you found words/to speak of it,//what if/you felt it - /the shutter - click grip/of your consciousness,/slamming you/back into flesh,//and yet,/in that slimmest/ of interims, something/had slipped into your synapses,/staking/your future/...

All writing is from the spirit but not all writing is of the spirit. This is a book of faith, beautifully crafted poems that slow your breathing because you don't want to leave the situation on the page. The poet observes the world of faith from a place of retreat; but this is not sanctimonious platitudinous writing. These poems come from a deep clear evaluation and perspective. The first poems cry for a vision - an understanding of what is holy in our material world. To be human is to struggle with crises of faith - and to state them as honestly as our speaker does, raises hope for the rest of the book. The middle section (bearing the title Falter) is from a silent retreat of reading and meditation. Pop culture would call it finding your "why." The poems are a watermark for voices in our heads, sophisticated with intellect but only coming alive in a place of primitive naturalism. This is a moving collection as the writer never loses control of her own gravitational field of beliefs. Life and death are always close together, and to make such a significant statement in the interim is a contribution to sacred literature.


Monks pass mute in the churchyard,
dragging shadows across the stones,
engraving a human stain
in the mortar of the chapel walls.

It is Ascension:

no one rises. All day, the unbending sun
polices the headstones; bells starch the ivy.
Chiseled with unreadable names,
the sky's only promise is distance

In ancient ceremonies at the grave, the living
passed their children, howling,
from hand to hand above the turned soil,
their terrified eyes a votive lit
against the dead's return.

We expect so little. In our doubting hearts,
we know the dead stay dead.
This day, too: we'll rise from our prayers
with incomprehensible lines engraved
in the soft meat of our knees.

And nothing will happen.

First, Do No Harm: New and Selected Poems
Laura Brylawski-Miller
Poet's Choice Press
9780449222904, $7.99, 146 pages

The poet's title comes from her experience as a physician's assistant. Before that, Brylawski-Miller came to America, unable to speak the English language, having been raised in Milan. She now travels between homes in Northern Virginia and Bellagio. The book is an elegant travelogue, because imagination and reality can transform an ordinary life; and even more so when it's from a cultured writer. Choosing a scientific profession assists the poems - Brylawski-Miller sees things as they are, representing and then purifying with images. These poems travel from America to Nepal; Lubeck, Germany; Cabo De Las Huertas, Spain; and Lucca; Volterra; Lake Como; Moterosso, more of Europe and much of Italy, etc. I love these places and now love to see them reshaped by aesthetic insight and elevated language. The evening news is depressing and we'll find a better order for the world here - a lighter place from this reading, for good artistry is a kind of moral consciousness, choosing the highest instincts to counter oppression and denigrating language. Brylawski-Miller's poetry is about vulnerability, vision and the senses. It's also humanism and resiliency from a woman writing a life of self-creation, through difficult adjustments, believing confidently she can do anything. You'll become involved because this poetry communicates clearly and passionately; and it doesn't hurt, on a gray day, to visit magical places.

November 2nd

"He's not here," your Venetian houseman said
the last time I called. I didn't know
you were dying in a clinic, in Rome. But today
on this beach swept clean of every hope of summer
I know how here, really, the dead are - they walk
in the void at my shoulder. If I turn around
I surprise only air, nothing moves,
but the dead are here. My father
walks out of the home woods
with his shot gun, becomes you
standing at the edge of the rice fields,
in other Novembers, unloading the shells,
while the dogs run ahead, cross down to this sand
nose to the wind, sniffing
the snows soon to come.

Itzhak Perlman's Broken String
Jacqueline Jules
Evening Street Press
2701 Corabel Lane, #27, Sacramento, CA 95821
No ISBN, $10.00, 30 pages,

Through poetry the poet renews herself by interweaving story, diction, and cadence. Jules writes of a certain time in her life. It's about grief, and if done well this subject is one of poetry's highest callings. We never find the exact deeds that inspired these poems but that's not necessary. We have the systemic healing in clean verses that reorient reader each page with a vivid reality transformed by metaphor. Each poem has an interesting dynamic, bending and refracting variations on the theme of loss. I like these presentations, not compounded by discursive editorializing within the poem, not calculated to make a certain effect. There are coherent trails blazed by truth and illuminated with granular details, investigating a woman's interior world.

Handling Knives

To saute onions, you must
peel and dice amid tears.
Apples don't bake in a pie
with stems and seeds.
Even a bagel needs a blade
to separate halves and schmear.

If we want to cook,
we must handle knives,
expose tender flesh
to razor sharp edges.

Nothing worth tasting
escapes the risk of blood.

Bistro In Another Realm
Shirley J. Brewer
Main Street Rag Publishing
PO Box 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001
9781599486352, $14.00, 73 pages,

Shirley Brewer excites. She dresses up a poem and sends it to a party, taking us along. It's rare to find a poet who's fun, truthful, vulnerable and entertaining - she makes "boring" just plain unfashionable; and as for sadness, her poems say, "Hang a look at this" then she makes it dance. This isn't to say Brewer doesn't shed powerful light on profound life yearnings and chaos. Yes, but she changes it to a good conviction that life's worth the trip, transforming her finely tuned intuition to crisp metrics. Sometimes poetry has a game face; sometimes it wears glitter, but each of Brewer's performances has an emotional connection that we believe with all our heart. Especially moving are the poems about family with their vivid portraitures. This is ekphrastic writing - not where one looks at a painting and writes a poem, but where poetry is so colorful and painterly, we could turn it to a visual art.


A goddess in gold earrings and a metal walker,
my feet stutter along hospital floors

while my mind conjures rhinestones stilettos -
my pelvis whole again.

I'd trade these non-skid socks
for silk stockings that shimmer in the dark.

When my bones heal,
I will shop for sandals with sequins, slingbacks -

sway and strut in six-inch heels,
pivot like a model dazzling the runway.

Oh, tango shoes with red satin straps,
lift me up, release me.

Train Ride to Bucharest
Lucia Cherciu
The Sheep Meadow Press
P.O. Box 84, Rhinebeck, NY 12572
9781937679699, $19.93, PB, 165 pages,

If one were to ask what book to buy or gift today - poetry as meaningful as it is accessible - my first thought is Lucia Cherciu's, I'm reading now. I like a foreign land that I may never see with people who are not really ordinary but in a fairytale reality (even when under communist regime.) This is a marriage of truth-telling and curiosities, quaint customs, quirky superstitions, heightened experiences. There's a human face on every page: homeless Saghina, sitting on stones throwing away food given her when no one is looking; a school were children are punished by slapping each other's faces; Mama Culita who washed her hair with lye "she brewed by simmering ashes;" (in another poem she rinses with petroleum;) Mama spinning wool, unloading carts of hay, saying, "Do you want death to find me idle?" In Rusalie, the tale of fairies who select a young man but if he speaks of it "he will be paralyzed;" the mother who knits 50 cardigans to be found after her death; Father's "sandpaper hands" from lifting crates of milk, etc. Who would not want to be among them, with their bitter cherries and plum-brandy? These poems touch us; connect us to fanciful and credible tales, from a poet/picture-maker sharing her history.

August Heat Wave

At twenty one I traveled across Romania
as an interpreter for two weeks, carrying

only a small duffel bag with extra clothes,
a long skirt with pharaohs that I had sewn myself,

stitched by hand, and a couple of books. I also
brought along a bulging bag my mother gave me.

When the American I translated for
saw it and asked what was inside, I unzipped it

in the parking lot in the secrecy of the open trunk:
twenty pounds of pears my mother had just picked

from our garden. She knew I was going to need them
in that fiery August - hard fruit she said would ripen

in the car during seven hours of driving every day
on roads with no names on the map, no grocery stores.

Perhaps Bag
Carol Rumens
The Sheep Meadow Press
P.O. Box 84, Rhinebeck, NY 12572
9781937679712, $22.95, PB, 497 pages,


What I like about quotations
is their loneliness

what I like about loneliness
is seven and a half vodkas-and-blackcurrant

what I like about blackcurrants
are the sharp little stones inside their burst cushions

what I like about cushions
is their lack of backbone

what I like about the backbone
is its perfection

what I like about perfection
is academic

what I like about academics
is the way they curl two fingers when citing quotations

Marc Vincenz author
Art by Dennis Paul Williams
Ampersand Books
9780986137068, $12.77, 43 pages

vii. Light through glass in Annunciation


The lion, the divine love.

Spaces of unpredicted clarity;
the turbulent light
that emerges
through the darkness.

Across the altar
in the mass
as the glory
of angels
suffuses in light.

& in the down-glow,
dogs play
just enough

to convince us
to believe.

Marc Vincenz

To Each Unfolding Leaf, Selected Poems (1976-2015)
Pierre Voelin, translated from the French by John Taylor
Bitter Oleander Press
4983 Tall Oaks Drive, Fayetteville, New York 13066-9776
9780986204968, $25.00, PB, 309 pages,

Only Snow is Missing

The mild martyrs
those wounded by blueberries
those renewed by the breaths of stones

old men with snail-like eyes
women with weighty breasts
babies who die in their cribs
- the mutilated

May they now shamelessly
slip away and vanish
go in front of you Lord

Bear them away this time on a boat of snow

I sing with the thumbs of the cold
and the branches and the black of the bark

with the father's handed-down voice

I sing and through my song invite
with flames at bay

to the table of snow

A Lover's Art, The Song of Songs in Musical English Meters, plus 280 Love Poems in Reply
Martin Bidney
Dialogic Poetry Press
9781544624167, $16.49, 409 pages


We know the children's honey of the written word,
The honey of the apple dipped, the autumn gift
That helps the coming year be sweeter and will lift
The spirit, amply to a gratitude bestirred -

But taste and see, O taste and see, the hymnal said,
The goodness of the God to Whom by love we're led.
My harvest years are come: the fruits about me fall:
Your eye gleam, willow-wand-like hair - a silent call

Repeated fills the heart: I deeply breathing know
I'm where I want to be and where I want to go
At once: the root and height, the rising-fountained

Of you are Life and Being, deeper New Year truth.
O miracle and teacher, honey of my days,
I've tasted and I've seen, and in amazement praise.

December, volume 28.1
edited by Gianna Jacobsen
December Publishing, Inc. 217 pages. 49 contributors.
No ISBN, $12

3 A.M.
By Marisol Ramirez

I'm in this citrus skin again,
itching at the thought of spiders.

So I shine a yellow light
down the underbelly of the sheet,
talk to my insides
and compartmentalize. Brain, tingle.

The pulp of my calves peel and curl.

How do you lay down
to your thoughts
and not devour yourself?

Seeded minutes spit away.

I think about an apple,
the way you eat your way inward

past skin and fruit
to a single core -

nothing shredded,
nothing really lost.

Grace Cavalieri, Reviewer
Washington Independent Review of Books

Julie's Bookshelf

Proust and His Banker
Gian Balsamo
University of South Carolina Press
718 Devine Street, Columbia, SC 29208
9781611177367, $39.95, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 - 18 November 1922), better known as Marcel Proust, was a French novelist, critic, and essayist. He is considered by critics and writers to be one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.

What Marcel Proust wanted from life most of all was unconditional requited love, and the way he went after it (smothering the objects of his affection with gifts) cost him a fortune. To pay for such extravagance, he engaged in daring speculations on the stock exchange. The task of his cousin and financial adviser, Lionel Hauser, was to make sure these speculations would not go sour. In "Proust and His Banker: In Search of Time Squandered", Gian Balsamo reveals that Proust was quite aware of the advantageous trade-off between financial indulgence and artistic inspiration; his liberal squandering of money provided the grist for fictional characters and incidents of surprising effectiveness, both in the artistic sphere and later on in the commercial one. But Hauser was not aware of this odd aspect of Proust's creativity, nor could he have been since the positive returns from the writer's masterpieces were late in coming.

Focusing on more than 350 letters between Proust and Hauser and drawing on records of the Rothschild Archive and financial data assembled from the twenty-one-volume Kolb edition of Proust's letters, Balsamo reconstructs Proust's finances and provides a fascinating window into the writer's creative and speculative process. Balsamo carefully follows Proust's financial activities, including investments ranging from Royal Dutch Securities to American railroads to Eastern European copper mines, his exchanges with various banks and brokerage firms, his impetuous gifts, and the changing size and composition of his portfolio. Successes and failures alike provided material for Proust's fiction, whether from the purchase of an airplane for the object of his affections or the investigation of a deceased love's intimate background. Proust was, Balsamo concludes, a master at turning financial indulgence into narrative craftsmanship, economic costs into artistic opportunities.

Over the course of their fifteen-year collaboration, the banker saw Proust squander three-fifths of his wealth on reckless ventures and on magnificent presents for the men and women who struck his fancy. To Hauser the writer was a virtuoso in resource mismanagement. Nonetheless, Balsamo shows, we owe it to the altruism of this generous relative, who never thought twice about sacrificing his own time and resources to Proust.

Critique: An impressively well researched, written, organized and presented study that is a masterpiece of original and seminal scholarship, "Proust and His Banker: In Search of Time Squandered" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections in general, and Marcel Proust supplemental studies lists in particular. Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, figures, fourteen pages of notes, an eight page listing of Works Cited, and an eight page index, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Proust and His Banker" is also available in a digital book format ($37.80).

The Trauma Heart
Judy Crane
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
9780757319815, $16.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: What is not commonly known it that the majority of people addicted to substances or process addictions such as relationship disorders, eating disorders, self-harming behaviors, gambling or pornography are trauma survivors. Many people caught in the web of addiction aren't identified as trauma survivors until their personal, familial, intergenerational, and in-uterine history is exposed. Unfortunately, relapse is inevitable without trauma resolution that can only take place once their history is exposed. It is only when that happens that the behavior disorders will finally make sense.

For almost 30 years Judy Crane (who is a Certified Addiction Professional in Florida, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, a Certified Hypnotist, EMDR and a specialist for healing trauma and PTSD) has worked with clients and families who are in great pain due to destructive and dangerous behaviors. Families often believe that their loved one must be bad or defective, and the one struggling with the addiction not only believes it, too, but feels it to their core. The truth is, the whole family is embroiled in their own individual survival coping mechanisms -- the addicted member is often the red flag indicating that the whole family needs healing.

"The Trauma Heart" explores the many ways that life's events impact each member of the family, revealing the essence of trauma and addictions treatment through the stories, art, and assignments of Crane's former clients and the staff who worked with them, offering a snapshot of their pain and healing.

Critique: "The Trauma Heart: We Are Not Bad People Trying to Be Good, We Are Wounded People Trying to Heal--Stories of Survival, Hope, and Healing" is an extraordinarily insightful and occasionally inspiring read from cover to cover. Impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Trauma Heart" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections in general, and addiction/trauma recovery supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for psychology and social work students, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, that "The Trauma Heart" is also available in a digital book format ($11.01).

The Essentials for Standards-Driven Classrooms
Carla Moore, Michael D. Toth, Robert J. Marzano
Learning Sciences International
c/o Marzano Research Laboratory
555 N. Morton St., Bloomington, IN 47404
9781943920150, $19.95, PB, 120pp,

Synopsis: To reach true academic rigor, student learners need high levels of both cognitive complexity and student autonomy. Moving them in this direction, however, requires classroom teachers to become skilled at using research-based strategies to make the critical instructional shifts that deepen student learning. The Essentials for Achieving Rigor model of instruction and corresponding series of books were developed to help teachers provide that caliber of truly rigorous instruction.

"The Essentials for Standards-Driven Classrooms: A Practical Instructional Model for Every Student to Achieve Rigor " is guide, developed by authors of the Essentials series, brings it all together. Carla Moore, Michael D. Toth, and Robert J. Marzano provide valuable tips and guidance to help teachers leverage essential strategies to: Conduct standards-based planning and instruction; Establish conditions for learning and criteria for success; Use formative assessment data to make decisions; Practice strategies in a unified system of instruction.

Each book in the Essentials series details one of 13 research-based strategies that facilitate the delivery of rigorous, standards-based teaching. This specific guide supplements that work, providing a big-picture view of the Essentials model's components, purposes, and practical use in the classroom. Complete with templates for performance scales, student evidence, and lesson details, it empowers educators and leaders to transform their schools into thriving, sustainable communities of practice.

Critique: A continuing hallmark of this series is how well written, organized and presented the individual volumes are, and "The Essentials for Standards-Driven Classrooms: A Practical Instructional Model for Every Student to Achieve Rigor" is no exception. While unreservedly recommended for school district, college, and university library Teacher Education collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and active classroom teachers that "The Essentials for Standards-Driven Classrooms" is also available in a digital book format ($18.93).

Alice's Adventures
Alice Hawkins
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500292907, $29.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Alice Hawkins is a British photographer who graduated from Camberwell College of Art in 2002. Her work regularly appears in POP and LOVE magazine. She has also created editorial content for PonyStep, Vogue, Arena Homme+, SHOWstudio, Harpers Bazaar, and The Financial Times, and has shot campaigns for Agent Provocateur, Topman, Tommy Hilfiger, and Diesel, among others. In "Alice's Adventures" she displays an uncommon flair for storytelling that imbues each of her images with a sense of wonder in a body of work that explores the importance of individuality, role play, dressing up, fantasy, and playfulness.

Her extended series of stylized "fashion portraits" from around the world question and ultimately celebrate beauty and the representation of the feminine outside of the mainstream. Her photographs for some of the world's leading fashion magazines document the men and women Hawkins has encountered on "road trips" in far-flung locations, focusing on people she sees on the street or locals whose particular style or appearance she has sought out in lieu of fashion models'.

An intimate and eclectic volume that includes some 230 illustrations, "Alice's Adventures" chronicles Hawkins's creative process, from sketchbooks and behind-the-scenes Polaroids to final images. Organized by location and interspersed with short contributions from some of Hawkins's key mentors and collaborators, "Alice's Adventures" is a mesmerizing and highly original visual journey.

Critique: An inherently fascinating work from cover to cover, "Alice's Adventures" is a unique study that will have immense appeal to students of photography. Of special note is the two page spread showcasing a photograph of Playboy's Hugh Hefner. Exclusive, uncommon, impressive, thought-provoking, entertaining, "Alice's Adventures" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Contemporary Photography collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book
Beatrice Beebe, Phyllis Cohen, Frank Lachmann, authors
Dillon Yothers, illustrator
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393707922, $35.00, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: Using video microanalysis (which captures moment-to-moment sequences of interactions) Beatrice Beebe, (Clinical Professor of Psychology, Columbia University Medical Center); Phyllis Cohen (Director of the New York Institute for Psychotherapy Training in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence); and Frank Lachmann (a member of the founding faculty of the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Subjectivity) focus on the primary of relationships, mother and infant in "The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book: Origins of Attachment".

This process becomes a "social microscope", enabling readers to see subtle details of interactions which are too rapid and complex to grasp in real time with the naked eye. These moment-to-moment sequences teach us to see how both infant and mother affect each other. We see that infants at four months are already extraordinarily communicative and responsive to the movements and emotions of the partner.

These interactions can be used to predict a range of future attachment styles. They enable researchers to translate infants' nonverbal language and provide a unique and rare window into child development.

"The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book" is superbly illustrated with 236 images by Dillon Yothers revealing the emotions, but concealing the identities of specific mothers and infants.

Critique: As impressively informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Mother-Infant Interaction Picture Book" is a seminal work of simply outstanding scholarship that will prove to be a unique and exceptional addition to college and university library Parent/Child Bonding collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Miniature Bonsai
Terutoshi Iwai
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9784805314388, $16.95, HC, 80pp,

Synopsis: Terutoshi Iwai is the Bonsai researcher and instructor who first developed the idea of creating super-small Bonsai just a few inches tall, which anyone can grow and enjoy at home. In "Miniature Bonsai: The Complete Guide to Super-Mini Bonsai" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to reveal the Japanese art of super-mini bonsai gardening. As rewarding as full-scale bonsai cultivation, mini bonsai is affordable, easy to learn and kind to your busy schedule. This is a complete gardening experience -- a plant raised from seed or cutting, carefully potted, grown and maintained over time - a world of green in a pot no bigger than a demitasse or a thimble.

From mixing the right growing medium to choosing the perfect pot to displaying your mini bonsai, this Japanese gardening book gives you basic techniques and valuable tips to help you grow miniature: flowering trees; pines; maples; oaks; junipers; and other varieties of tiny trees and potted plants that are readily available and last for years

With "Miniature Bonsai" you'll learn how to: Select plants that thrive as mini bonsai; Work with seeds and small cuttings; Match the right plant to the right pot; Buy and prepare the growing medium; Maintain and drain your miniature bonsai; Display and enjoy your prized bonsai plants; and so much more!

Critique: Comprehensive, profusely illustrated throughout, and thoroughly family gardener friendly in organization and presentation, "Miniature Bonsai: The Complete Guide to Super-Mini Bonsai" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Gardening & Horticultural Studies collections.

Julie Summers

Logan's Bookshelf

Nicholas Foulkes
Editions Xavier Barral
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9782365111348, $69.95, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: An automaton is a self-operating machine, or a machine or control mechanism designed to automatically follow a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to predetermined instructions. Some automata, such as bellstrikers in mechanical clocks, are designed to give the illusion to the casual observer that they are operating under their own power. Richly illustrated with etchings, manuscripts, and old documents, "Automata" by author and historian Nicholas Foulkes retraces the epic tale of the automaton from ancient times up to the present day.

Wondrous objects that are at once scientific and magical, automata testify to the technical research and inventiveness of their designers. In 1675, the astronomer and mathematician Christian Huygens invented the spiral spring that would play a leading role in the development of smaller and more precise watches, with highly complex mechanisms.

The creation of more complicated wheelwork and the use of extremely meticulous spiral springs gave free rein to clockmakers' imaginations, who invented animated objects that fascinated philosophers and scientists alike. Doctors, thespians and thinkers of the modern world all saw these increasingly lifelike automata: wonderful simulacra of life.

These articulated figurines were to inspire thought, science, literature, the performing arts and more. Continuing this tradition, the house of Van Cleef & Arpels has harnessed all of its designers' talents to create an exceptional automaton: a fairy, whose movements celebrate the art of the inventors of past centuries. Immersed in its designer's studio, the reader sees an automaton come to life.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, impressively informed and informative, "Automata" is the most substantial survey of this popular topic currently available for both scholars and non-specialist general readers on the subject, and is a very highly recommended core addition to both community and academic library collections with respect to automatons.

Deep in the Shadows
Hipolito Acosta
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558858442, $17.95, PB, 276pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Deep in the Shadows: Undercover in the Ruthless World of Human Smuggling", Hipolito Acosta recounts his often-dangerous exploits as a law enforcement agent over a more than 30 year career, which frequently included going undercover as a human smuggler or an undocumented immigrant. He targeted those who took advantage of immigrants, stuffing them into car trunks for hours-long drives from the border to the north; counterfeiters who, for the right price, provided false social security cards and other papers; and even corrupt agents who earned significant financial rewards on the backs of desperate migrants.

Though catching drug dealers wasn't in his job description, when the opportunity to take them down presented itself, Acosta enthusiastically complied even if he had to do it without the support of governmental agencies. And later in his career, diplomatic postings in the Philippines and Mexico expanded his experience with immigration issues.

Critique: "Deep in the Shadows" is an incredible and inherently fascinating memoir of a life spent in pursuit of human traffickers. Providing an eye-opening look at smugglers and other criminals involved in the sale of counterfeit documents, narcotics and weapons, "Deep in the Shadows" will have a special appeal for readers with an interest in the on-going war against human trafficking. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted that "Deep in the Shadows" is also available in a digital book format ($9.99).

Pinery Boys: Songs and Songcatching in the Lumberjack Era
Franz Rickaby, Gretchen Dykstra, James P. Leary
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299312640, $25.95, PB, 328pp,

Synopsis: As the heyday of the lumber camps faded, a young scholar named Franz Rickaby set out to find songs from shanty boys, river drivers, and sawmill hands in the Upper Midwest. Traveling mostly on foot with a fiddle slung over his shoulder, Rickaby fell into easy conversation with the men, collecting not just the words of songs, but the tunes, making careful notes about his informants and their performances. Shortly before his groundbreaking and much-praised Ballads and Songs of the Shanty Boy was published in 1926, Rickaby died, leaving later folklorists, cultural historians, and folksong enthusiasts with little knowledge of his life and other unpublished research.

"Pinery Boys: Songs and Songcatching in the Lumberjack Era" now incorporates, commemorates, contextualizes, and complements Rickaby's early work. It includes an introduction and annotations throughout by eminent folklore scholar James P. Leary and an engaging, impressively researched biography by Rickaby's granddaughter Gretchen Dykstra. Central to this edition are Rickaby's own introduction and the original fifty-one songs that he published (including "Jack Haggerty's Flat River Girl," "The Little Brown Bulls," "Ole from Norway," "The Red Iron Ore," and "Morrissey and the Russian Sailor") plus fourteen additional songs selected to represent the varied collecting Rickaby did beyond the lumber camps.

Critique: A unique and invaluable work that is the latest addition to the outstanding University of Wisconsin Press 'Languages and Folklore of Upper Midwest" series, "Pinery Boys: Songs and Songcatching in the Lumberjack Era" is enhanced with historical photographs, an inventory of Franz Rickaby's Notebooks, a seven page Glossary, a three page Index of Titles, a three page Index of First Lines, and a two page Index of Singers and Song Sources. Providing an authentic and informative glimpse into the past lives of woods poets and singers in an era of the lumberjack, "Pinery Boys" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library collections and will have a special appeal and relevance for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in American Folk Music.

Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-148
Hugh Bicheno
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781681774282, $28.95, HC, 432pp,

Synopsis: England, 1462. The Yorkist Edward IV has been king for three years since his victory at Towton. The former Lancastrian King Henry VI languishes in the Tower of London. But Edward will soon alienate his backers by favoring the family of his ambitious wife, Elizabeth Woodville. And he will fall out with his chief supporter, Warwick "the Kingmaker," with dire consequences.

Told with extraordinary authority and narrative verve, "Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-148" by British historian Hugh Bicheno is the second part of a two-volume history of the dynastic wars fought between the houses of Lancaster and York for the English throne from 1450 until 1485. In this second and concluding volume, Bicheno tells the story of the Wars of the Roses as an enthralling, character-driven saga of interwoven families, narrating each chapter from the point of view of a key player in the wider drama.

This latest volume describes three Lancastrian attempts to overthrow the Yorkists, ending with the death of Edward's successor, Richard III, at Bosworth in 1485 -- and the accession of Henry VII and the rise of the Tudor dynasty.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally well researched, written and presented, "Blood Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1462-148" also features 8 pages of color illustrations, as well as family trees, maps, six appendices, a seven page bibliographic listing of Further Reading, and a seven page Index, making it unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library British History collections in general, and War of the Roses supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject that "Blood Royal" is also available in a digital book format ($14.99). Also highly recommended is the first volume, "Battle Royal: The Wars of the Roses: 1440-1462" (9781681773063, $27.95 HC, $17.95 PB, $14.16 Digital, 416pp).

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Treasures in Trusted Hands
Jos Van Beurden
Sidestone Press
9789088904400, $120.00, HC, 230pp,

Synopsis: "Treasures in Trusted Hands: Negotiating the Future of Colonial Cultural Objects" by Jos Van Beurden is a pioneering study that deftly charts the one-way traffic of cultural and historical objects during five centuries of European colonialism. It presents abundant examples of disappeared colonial objects and systematizes these into war booty, confiscations by missionaries and contestable acquisitions by private persons and other categories. Former colonies consider this as a historical injustice that has not been undone.

Former colonial powers have kept most of the objects in their custody. In the 1970s the Netherlands and Belgium returned objects to their former colonies Indonesia and DR Congo; but their number was considerably smaller than what had been asked for. Nigeria's requests for the return of some Benin objects, confiscated by British soldiers in 1897, are rejected.

As there is no consensus on how to deal with colonial objects, disputes about other categories of contestable objects are analyzed. For Nazi-looted artworks the 1998 Washington Conference Principles have been widely accepted. Although non-binding, they promote fair and just solutions and help people to reclaim art works that they lost involuntarily.

To promote solutions for colonial objects, nine Principles for Dealing with Colonial Cultural and Historical Objects are presented, based on the Washington Conference Principles. The nine are part of a model to facilitate mediation in disputes about them. This model can help to break the impasse in negotiations between former colonizers and colonies.

The underlying message of "Treasures in Trusted Hands" is that Europe, the former colonizers, should do more pro-active provenance research into the acquisitions from the colonial era, both in public institutions and private collections.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, exceptionally thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Treasures in Trusted Hands: Negotiating the Future of Colonial Cultural Objects" is a unique and highly recommended study that should be found in every community and academic library collection on the subject. It should be noted for policy makers, students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the issue that "Treasures in Trusted Hands" is also available in a paperback edition (9789088904394, $40.00).

The Women: A Family Story
Kerry William Bate
The University of Utah Press
295 South 1500 East, Suite 5400, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0860
9781607815167, $39.95, HC, 480pp,

Synopsis: Family history, usually destined or even designed for limited consumption, is a familiar genre within Mormon culture. Mostly written with little attention to standards of historical scholarship, such works are a distinctly hagiographic form of family memorabilia. But many family sagas in the right hands can prove widely engaging, owing to inherent drama and historical relevance. They can truthfully illuminate larger matters of history, humanity, and culture.

In "The Women: A Family Story", Kerry Bate (who has authored or co-authored four family histories) proceeds on the premise that a story centering on the women of the clan could provide fresh perspective and insight. He portrays real people with well-rounded, flawed characters; builds from deep research; writes with a bit of style; and includes the rich context and detail of these lives.

His main subjects are four generations of impressive women: the pioneer Catherine Campbell Steele; her daughter Young Elizabeth, the first Mormon child born in Utah; Kate, an accomplished community leader; and Sarah, a gifted seamstress trapped in an unhappy marriage. To enter their hardscrabble lives in small southern Utah communities is to meet women who pioneered in their own modest but determined ways.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "The Women: A Family Story" is an inherently compelling, impressively informed and informative read from beginning to end. Featuring occasional black-and-white historical photos, fifty-six pages of Notes, an eight page Bibliography, and a thirteen page Index, "The Women: A Family Story" is an extraordinary work of seminal scholarship and a very highly recommended addition to both community and academic library Women's Studies and Mormon History collections. For non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "The Women: A Family Story" is also available in a digital book format ($31.64).

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?
Jennifer Grant
Herald Press
1251 Virginia Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
9781513801384, $29.99, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: From writer and veteran columnist Jennifer Grant comes an unflinching and spirited look at the transitions of midlife. "When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?: Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife" plumbs the physical, spiritual, and emotional changes unique to the middle years: from the emptying nest to the sagging effects of aging. Grant acknowledges the complexities and loss inherent in midlife and tells stories of sustaining disappointment, taking hard blows to the ego, undergoing a crisis of faith, and grieving the deaths not only of illusions but of loved ones. Yet she illuminates the confidence and grace that this season of life can also bring.

Critique: An inherently absorbing, entertaining, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?: Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife" will have special appeal for readers experiencing the life-changes associated with middle age. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?" is also available in a paperback edition (978-1513801315, $16.99) and in a digital book format ($12.99).

Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos: The New Feminine Aesthetics
Thorsten Botz-Bornstein
Lexington Books
c/o Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781498500463, $80.00, HC, 212pp,

Synopsis: Tattoos, nudity, and veils do not seem to have much in common except for the fact that all three have become more frequent, more visible, and more dominant in connection with aesthetic presentations of women over the past thirty years. No longer restricted to biker and sailor culture, tattoos have been sanctioned by the mainstream of liberal societies. Nudity has become more visible than ever on European beaches and on the internet. The increased use of the veil by women in Muslim and non-Muslim countries has developed in parallel with the aforementioned phenomena and is just as striking.

Through the means of conceptual analysis, "Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos: The New Feminine Aesthetics" by Thorsten Botz-Bornstein (Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Gulf University for Science and Technology in Kuwait) reveals that these three phenomena can be both private and public, humiliating and empowering, and backward and progressive. This unorthodox approach is traced by the three's similar social and psychological patterns, and by doing so, "Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos" sketches the image of a woman who is not only sexually emancipated and confident, but also more and more aware of her cultural heritage.

Critique: A unique and seminal work of extraordinary scholarship, "Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos: The New Feminine Aesthetics" also features a twelve page Bibliography and a four page Index. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Feminist Studies and Islamic Culture collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Veils, Nudity, and Tattoos" is now also available in a paperback edition (9781498500487, $42.99) and in a digital book format ($39.99).

A Girl Walks Into a Book
Miranda K. Pennington
Seal Press
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781580056571 $16.99 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: How many times have you heard readers argue about which is better, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? The works of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne continue to provoke passionate fandom over a century after their deaths. Bronte enthusiasts, as well as those of us who never made it further than those oft-cited classics, will devour Miranda Pennington's delightful literary memoir.

Always a precocious reader, Pennington's father gave her Jane Eyre at the age of 10, sparking what would become a lifelong devotion and multiple re-readings. She began to delve into the work and lives of the Brontes, finding that the sisters were at times her lifeline, her sounding board, even her closest friends.

In this charming, offbeat memoir, Pennington traces the development of the Brontes as women, as sisters, and as writers, as she recounts her own struggles to fit in as a bookish, introverted, bisexual woman. In the Brontes and their characters, Pennington finally finds the heroines she needs, and she becomes obsessed with their wisdom, courage, and fearlessness. Her obsession makes for an entirely absorbing and unique read.

"A Girl Walks Into a Book" is a candid and emotional love affair that braids criticism, biography and literature into a quest that helps us understand the place of literature in our lives; how it affects and inspires us.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, thoughtful and thought provoking, and an inherently absorbing read from beginning to end, "A Girl Walks Into a Book: What the Brontes Taught Me about Life, Love, and Women's Work" is a unique and extraordinary literary memoir and one that is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Girl Walks Into a Bar" is also available in a digital book format ($11.99).

Disarming Beauty
Julian Carron
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268101978, $25.00, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: Julian Carron is a Catholic priest and theologian from Spain, the President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, as well as a Professor of Theology at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.

Fr. Carron's "Disarming Beauty: Essays on Faith, Truth, and Freedom" is the English translation of an engaging and thought-provoking collection of essays by one of the principal Catholic leaders and intellectuals in the world today. Adapted from talks given by Fr. Carron, these essays have been thoroughly reworked by the author to offer an organic presentation of a decade-long journey. They present the content of his elaboration of the gospel message in light of the tradition of Fr. Giussani, the teachings of the popes, and the urgent needs of contemporary people.

In "Disarming Beauty" Fr. Carron offers a broad diagnosis of challenges in society and then introduces their implications in contexts such as families, schools, workplaces, and political communities. In a dialogue with his listeners, he inspires and encourages them to lay out a new path for the Catholic church and the world.

Throughout his essays, Fr. Carron addresses the most pressing questions facing theologians today and provides insights that will interest everyone, from the most devout to the firm nonbeliever. Grappling with the interaction of Christian faith and modern culture, Fr. Carron treats in very real and concrete ways what is essential to maintaining and developing Christian faith, and he invites an ongoing conversation about the meaning of faith, truth, and freedom.

Critique: A thoroughly absorbing, thoughtful and thought-provoking read, of special note is what Fr. Carron has to say about the loss of connection between Christian marriage and the common good; what America can learn about faith from Europe; and the problem with wanting to make life easier for the next generation. While very highly recommended for all members of the Catholic community, as well as seminary, college, and university Catholic Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of clergy and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Disarming Beauty" is also available in a digital book format ($9.59).

Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity
Albert N. Link, editor
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9781785364730, $155.00, HC, 328pp,

Synopsis: There is growing interest in the relationship between gender and entrepreneurial activity. Compiled and edited by Albert N. Lin (Virginia Batte Phillips Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro), "Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity" is a compilation of contributions by 37 eminent scholars drawn from diverse academic disciplines and presenting cutting-edge research that addresses, from a gender perspective, three general areas of importance: key characteristics of entrepreneurs, key performance attributes of entrepreneurial firms, and the role of financial capital in the establishment and growth of entrepreneurial firms.

Each individual chapter focuses on original, burgeoning themes related to gender and entrepreneurship, with forward-looking research that highlights key findings. For example, some contributors show how the so-called 'gender divide' in patenting is greater than in publishing for academic entrepreneurs. Others explore the corruption in business practices, which is less for women entrepreneurs than their male counterparts, and explain why gender diversity is higher in equity crowd funding than in other entrepreneurial finance markets.

"Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity" takes a global approach, offering examples of entrepreneurs from around the world.

Critique: Comprised of twelve impressively informed and thought-provoking articles, "Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity" features a list of the contributors and their credentials, as well as a seven page Index. An extraordinary work of exceptional scholarship, "Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity" will have a special attraction for scholars and students interested in entrepreneurship and the role of gender in business. Providing an impressive series of landmark studies under one cover, "Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity" is unreservedly and emphatically recommended for both college and university library Gender & Economics collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Margaret Lane

Mari's Bookshelf

Dark Water
Simon Thould
Thistle Publishing
9781786080271, Paperback 10 Brit. pounds, 3.99 Brit. pounds Ebook, 306 pgs

"Well, I rescued you. Think I can rescue the girl, don't you?" (83) Rafter asks his dog, Lonely. A loner and ex-soldier, Rafter is known to the locals by his solitary walks through the woods of New Forest in all black. He drinks Blue Label vodka and black coffee. More than once bar-mates comment that he "sticks out like a spare part at a wedding." Are the girl and the dog the only ones who need rescuing? When asked by sexy car saleswoman, Madeleine, to find her missing daughter, Jac, Rafter puts his military skills to work and makes friends in the process. Gabriel and his wife Li Li supply him liquor, trust and a boat while Ferret looks after Lonely. The Southampton Hells Angels also become his unlikely friends as he looks for Jac among their seedy neighborhood. When the search finally comes to an end it isn't exactly as Rafter planned, but, luckily he's good at dealing with the unexpected. The best part of the story (after the high intensity fight scenes) is unlocking some mysteries surrounding Rafter through his newfound acquaintances, including loyal Lonely. Like Rafter, Thould's writing style is to the point and sparse, emphasizing action over poetics.

Thread and Other Stories
Eric Halpenny
9781543900682, $14.00 HC, $3.99 Kindle,

"Thread" is the title story in this collection by first-time author and chemical engineer, Eric Halpenny, but it also refers to the thread of conversation woven between the stories (always cut short by one unwilling conversation partner until the final dialogue), as well as the theme that ties together these tales: what really motivates our actions, what calls to us from outside the ordinary. In the first story, siblings eke out an existence for themselves and manage to help one weaker than themselves, too, who ends up giving back beyond the scope of his short life. Then comes a sad narrative about a soldier in Vietnam so traumatized by what he has to do that he becomes like the living dead, "not dead enough that anyone would dig him a grave" (67). Third is a ghost story in which a child makes a doll that summons a witch, an eidolon. "Conflict" is historical fiction, based on real experiences by the 7th battalion of the 1st Canadian infantry in WWI. Jump from real-life to science fiction in the next story about time travel and sociological studies. What happens when our subjects become The Subject, someone to whom we can relate? Lastly, the spy is spied upon in a story about Soviet Russia and Ukraine. The collection ends with the conclusion of the on-going conversation. Two unnamed conversants try to understand the other's viewpoint and come to common ground. What is our understanding based on? Upon what do we rely in our experiments? Can we believe everything we know? The author leaves us with both questions and answers, all explored through introspective characters and twists of plot. What I liked best is the unpredictability of each ending and the sparse, pithy prose.

De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland
Judy Juanita
EquiDistance Press
9780971635210, $15.95, PB, 230pp,

"De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland" begins with several reprinted works mostly from The Weeklings (, an online forum dedicated to essay, and ends with an original piece comprised of letters between Faith, a writer, and Alexis, the wife of Faith's deceased teacher. The latter brings all the formers to an intense close filled with both grief and joy, making a story of what started out as a manifesto. Essays on the N-word, guns, cleaning, the Beatles, black chick-lit, growing up in Oakland, and the Black Panthers flesh out what Judy Juanita means by de facto feminism: women who define feminism simply by doing what they must do, and what they do best. They make the word, not it them. So, too, the author, like the heroes and heroines she describes, exploits what might exploit her when she uses words and music as tools for change in her high school and college years and later, her own life as a source of creative material. In the final piece, "Acknowledge Me: a true ghost story/epistolary essay," instead of cowering beneath a powerful, successful, charismatic, not to mention alluring, older white male teacher, the author (Faith) becomes his medium. She writes to his widow about their unconventional conversations and through him they become not only friends but collaborators. This last piece is a brilliant play within a play, showing Juanita's true talent for showing (not telling) character development while also developing ideas she explores in the previous essays - the artist/writer lifestyle, the role of "the establishment" in her work, friends/loved ones' support and the spirit world.

At first, I felt threatened by this book. How could I relate as an affluent, caucasian, Midwest woman? Even as fellow artist and writer, am I the establishment even if I don't intend to be, because I'm white? But, as the essays became more personal (and when she mentions a fellow writer she likes because she is Midwestern, with a dry sense of humor), I felt inspired. We're not enemies. The enemy might lie within us or outside us, but whatever it is, it keeps us apart, not together, as we are when we work for a common cause, listening to one another as Judy Juanita so graciously and wittily does with herself, her peers, students and those who have blazed the trail for her, to whom she dedicates the book.

A Penny for her Heart
Alretha Thomas
Diverse Arts Collective, Inc.
9780692895481, $14.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 318 pages,

Vanessa Rossi's best friend Penelope Newhouse has been brutally murdered at City Hall, where she worked in a position senior to Vanessa. Friends and competitors since USC, Vanessa learns more of Penny's secrets after her murder than she knew before. As Penny clamoured her way to the top, did political candidates use her to undo their opponents? Did one of them murder her? It's easy to pin the blame on those corrupt politicians, but perhaps, Detective Rachel Storme surmises, someone closer to Penny had more of a motive to want her dead and the politicians aren't as bad as they seem. "Unbeknownst to the average person, the rapists, child molesters, and murderers aren't lurking in the shadows; they're the neighbor, the friendly teacher, or coach. They're the co-worker or even the boss" (291).

Vanessa and Rachel's distinct voices as co-narrators help Alretha Thomas weave a personal as well as a stark and creepy who-done-it story. While Vanessa plays the part of empathizer, knowing and accepting Penny warts and all, Rachel is a skeptic from beginning to end. She's not satisfied until she considers all angles of the case and each suspect in turn. The two narrate every other chapter, ending each with a cliffhanger. Alretha Thomas excels at suspense; with a false ending that deepens the plot, she keeps us rapt until the very end. This third in a series of Detective Rachel Storme mysteries includes book club questions.

Mr. Either/Or: A Novel in Verse
Aaron Poochigian
Etruscan Press
9780997745528, $15.00, PB, 184 pgs,

With an ancient legend, warring gangs (including a septic group of misfit-zealots and an interplanetary crew), politics and two savvy agents, fashioned in epic verse, Aaron Poochigian creates his own genre. In MR. EITHER/OR, he saves the world through poetry, with the help of a student-cum-FBI interlocutor, Zack Berzinski (aka Bob), and his "would-be wife," Li-Ling, a PhD curator at the Met. Or, characterized by the author: "the young man universal;/she, your trusty sherpa, showpiece/and better half" (171). These two first force a phoenix and statue to outdo each other. Then, they combat aliens ready to take over New York. Not the usual content for a saga in meter, but that's what makes it alive. The words want to leap off the page as, in their innovative usage, they transport us to our imaginations. We can imagine the scenes taking place on a stage. "Chill til chance/chooses a path" (30) describes our mindset while reading. Like Mr. Either/Or's temporary side-kick, "a dork," we witness heroism riding right along on a half-urban-half-fairy-tale adventure through sub-cultures and big ideas. Poochigian tackles forces of good and evil facing us today in a jaunty, on-edge style that inspires and jars. With Independence Day looming, I came away from this read with jazz in my ears and pride in my heart. "No Marx for you, though. Nope, to you this land,/like, Duh, is, was, and always must be free/from Alcatraz to Lady Liberty" (157).

The New Odyssey
Patrick Kingsley
Guardian Faber Publishing
9781783351053, 14.99 Brit. pounds PB,

In THE NEW ODYSSEY:THE STORY OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY REFUGEE CRISIS, journalist Patrick Kingsley follows one Syrian refugee, Hashem Al-Souki, as well as a host of other asylum seekers entering Europe from north Africa, Greece, and Eastern Europe. He highlights both the individual story and the international phenomenon facing us today. Kingsley became the Guardian's inaugural migration correspondent at a time when the crisis was just reaching its height. He bears witness to the events - voicing smugglers', politicians, and travellers' perspectives - and offers his own insights, namely, to European leaders bent on keeping migrants out, that "by denying the existence of these real root causes [wars and dictators] you simultaneously absolve yourself from the duty of providing sanctuary to those feeling from them" (71). "What values will there be to uphold if we abandon our duty to protect those less fortunate than ourselves?" (230). "The choice is not between the current crisis and blissful isolation. The choice is between the current crisis and an orderly, managed system of mass migration. You can have one or the other. There is no easy middle ground" (296). Kingsley cites instances of the latter in Croatia, where citizens are willing to help refugees, having been refugees themselves in the not-so-distant past. He rides with Hans, a wandering shepherd who voluntarily "shepherds" refugees in his car, just as good samaritans helped his Jewish parents during WWII. It is hard not to get wrapped up in this story, but Kingsley is not a sentimentalist. He is a reporter; distant, engaged but not invasive. The end is cautiously hopeful. Hashem gets his own say and the others Kingsley updates the status of others he meets.

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico
A. Gabriel Melendez
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806155845, $19.95, PB, 248pp,

Synopsis: In the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico's Mora Valley harbors the ghosts of history: troubadours and soldiers, Plains Indians and settlers, families fleeing and finding home. There, more than a century ago, villagers collect scraps of paper documenting the valley's history and their identity - military records, travelers' diaries, newspaper articles, poetry, and more -- and bind them into a leather portfolio known as "The Book of Archives".

When a bomb blast during the Mexican-American War scatters the book's contents to the wind, the memory of the accounts lives on instead in the minds of Mora residents. Poets and storytellers pass down the valley's traditions into the twentieth century, from one generation to the next. A path breaking dual-language volume, "The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico" by A. Gabriel Melendez (Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico) joins their ranks, continuing the retelling of Mora Valley's tales for our time.

A native of Mora with el don de la palabra, the divine gift of words, Melendez mines historical sources and his own imagination to reconstruct the valley's story, first in English and then in Spanish. He strings together humorous, tragic, and quotidian vignettes about historical events and unlikely occurrences, creating a vivid portrait of Mora, both in cultural memory and present reality.

Local gossip and family legend intertwine with Spanish-language ballads and the poetry of New Mexico's most famous dueling troubadours, Old Man Vilmas and the poet Garcia. Drawing on New Mexican storytelling tradition, Melendez weaves a colorful dual-language representation of a place whose irresistible characters and unforgettable events, and the inescapable truths they embody, still resonate today.

Critique: A unique, impressively informative, bi-lingual study, "The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico" is the latest addition to the outstanding University of Oklahoma Press 'Chicana & Chicano Visions of the Americas' series. An inherently fascinating and entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico" is also available in a digital book format ($12.84).

Living with the Living Dead
Greg Garrett
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780190260453, $24.95, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: When humankind faces what it perceives as a threat to its very existence, a macabre thing happens in art, literature, and culture: corpses begin to stand up and walk around. The dead walked in the fourteenth century, when the Black Death and other catastrophes roiled Europe. They walked in images from World War I, when a generation died horribly in the trenches. They walked in art inspired by the Holocaust and by the atomic attacks on Japan. Now, in the early twenty-first century, the dead walk in stories of the zombie apocalypse, some of the most ubiquitous narratives of post-9/11 Western culture. Zombies appear in popular movies and television shows, comics and graphic novels, fiction, games, art, and in material culture including pinball machines, zombie runs, and lottery tickets.

In "Living with the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse", Greg Garrett (Professor of English, Baylor University) shows us, has become an archetypal narrative for the contemporary world, in part because zombies can stand in for any of a variety of global threats, from terrorism to Ebola, from economic uncertainty to ecological destruction. But this zombie narrative also brings us emotional and spiritual comfort. These apocalyptic stories, in which the world has been turned upside down and protagonists face the prospect of an imminent and grisly death, can also offer us wisdom about living in a community, present us with real-world ethical solutions, and invite us into conversation about the value and costs of survival. We may indeed be living with the living dead these days, but through the stories we consume and the games we play, we are paradoxically learning what it means to be fully alive.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, impressively informative, exceptionally thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "Living with the Living Dead: The Wisdom of the Zombie Apocalypse" is a unique work of outstanding scholarship that features sixteen pages of Notes, as well as a nine page Index. While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Living with the Living Dead" is also available in a digital book format ($15.54).

Expert Internet Searching
Phil Bradley
Facet Publishing
9781783302482, $136.04, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: In an environment where increasing amounts of information (and fake news) flood the internet on websites and social media, the information professional's job is getting harder. It is important that they are skilled at finding and using the appropriate information and assisting users in working out what information they need and the best way of getting it.

"Expert Internet Searching" by Phil Bradley (an information specialist, internet consultant and conference speaker specializing in cyberspace search) provides library and information professionals with in-depth practical information on how to search the internet quickly and effectively to help their users and make their lives easier.

Now fully revised for its fifth edition, "Expert Internet Searching" covers the basics of search before going into detail on how to run advanced and complex searches using a variety of different search engines. This new edition has been updated to include current trends in search, such as social media search, fake news, and discussion of the authority and validity of search results. It will ensure that information professionals, whether complete beginners or more experienced, are able to work efficiently to obtain accurate information in a timely fashion.

Key topics covered include: an introduction to the internet and search engines; the Google experience and a discussion of its disadvantages; directory, clustering and similarity search engines; visual and image search engines; specialized search engines incorporating academic search and services for children; academic and other specialized search engines; news-based search engines including traditional media resources and a discussion of fake news social media search engines; hints and tips on better searching.

"Expert Internet Searching" will be useful reading for any information professional who is seeking to gain an in-depth understanding of the search process and the search industry. It provides a vital guide to the basics in search, but will also help experienced professionals stay up to date with the latest trends and information in the industry.

Critique: "Expert Internet Searching" is impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented. A standard work in the field, this newly updated and expanded fifth edition of "Expert Internet Searching" should be considered an indispensable and core addition to personal, professional, community, corporate, governmental, and academic library Internet Security collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Cherokee in Controversy
Dan B. Wimberly
Mercer University Press
1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, GA 31207-0001
9780881466072, $29.00, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: Jesse Bushyhead was a detachment leader during the forced Indian removal on what has become known as the Trail of Tears. In this capacity, he was responsible for the safe conduct of more than 900 emigrants from Tennessee to Indian Territory in eastern Oklahoma.

After the journey, Bushyhead was a principal participant in the formation of the new Cherokee government, providing stability in the turbulent and often internecine struggle between factions. And although without legal training, he served the new government as a chief justice of the Cherokee Supreme Court. Yet during these challenges, Bushyhead, also a Baptist minister, assisted missionary Evan Jones in establishing a vibrant Baptist presence among Cherokees.

However, some aspects of Bushyhead's life are more complex. As an interpreter and member of the middle class, he was a key figure in bridging the gap between the white world and Cherokees. But the removal issue divided his tribe and family, resulting in the murders of two close family members. Bushyhead himself received several death threats.

Finally, his views on slavery provoked negative responses from abolitionists within Baptist ranks and sparked the separation of denominational lines between North and South.

Critique: "Cherokee in Controversy: The Life of Jesse Bushyhead" is an impressively well researched, written, organized and presented biography by Dan B. Wimberly (who is a retired professor of History from Oklahoma Wesleyan University where he taught for twenty years, and continues to have a professional interest in Native American History, the Old South, and Baptist History) that is impressively informed and informative. A seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "Cherokee in Controversy" is enhanced with the inclusion of a twelve page Bibliography and a five page Index, making it unreservedly and highly recommended for both community and academic library Native American Studies collections, as well as the personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Cherokee nation.

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Glenn Lazar Roberts
Dark Lotus Books
9780967580920, $7.99, Paperback: 164 pages

Genre: Avant Garde, Science Fiction

A massive hurricane is nearing Houston, Texas as Glenn Lazar Roberts' Frenzy commences.

Carmen Niles, Carm, is relatively troubled to know that while countless of the residents of the area are by now firming their plans to leave before the storm hits, and schools are closed; she and fellow employees at MacDonald Cancer Research Institute are not only projected to come to the work site; but are to be prepared to conceivably even stay for possibly extended hours during the storm.

Carm, microbiologist, recently remarried widowed wife, and mom; drops Cheyenne and Burke at daycare despite their avowals of not wanting to go, touches base with new husband Carl who has just returned Houston following a business trip, and is now stuck in traffic on the other side of town, before she starts her day working in the lab.

In a short time the storm hits with full force, Carmen, hurricane party attendees bidden by Carl, along with varied Research Institute personnel take shelter in the high-rise building's underground area where they soon learn to their dismay; they are stuck for at least 24 hours due to the Institute security device triggered when Carm places a research genechip in the computer to deliver clarification to the party goers concerning just what type research is being conducted at the site.

The Reader is carried along on a frantic rush beginning in the computer lab, out into the swiftly flooding tunnels through a little used access all but forgotten below the streets of Houston, as Carm ventures into the route with a mixed group of revelers in an effort to locate a way to reach street level via the passageways.

Writer Roberts explains 'my third novel, FRENZY, is the first and only novel to be based on Houston's underground pedestrian tunnel system (yes, most tunnels are underground), a horror/sci-fi tale that builds on the ideas of the physicist Stephen Wolfram'.

Roberts presents a diverse assemblage of characters beginning with Carm, the now and then rattled researcher desperate to reach safety and pinpoint her children, in addition to an enigmatic couple; the man with owl round eyes and woman with stealthily turning grey hair, over and above the hurricane party goers some of whom Carm recognized, but none she recognized by name.

There were computer programmer Cliff, a black man clad in brown slacks, Terry and Cracker, two young men garbed in outback shorts, Terry's green-eyed, spouse Melanie who favors tons of lipstick, along with the amulet toting Ed, and, Marlena, both of whom disavow knowing Carl and insist the other invited them to the festivity.

Bill of ABI Construction who is keen on cowboy hats did the rewiring for the Institute site, is there as well. Armani suited Gary is a law office partner with Frost, Lank, and Frere. The attorney group represents biotech firms.

Alice is an employee of the genomic transference technology Institute and elderly Nicholas MacDonald is the person in charge of the Institute. Because MacDonald will be joining the Mayor's reelection party held in the tunnel area; It is left to Carm to show Gary the 'Monster Mash' cellar area housing the computer core of the Institute. Scrubs attired Ruben, keeps the computers humming.

Genechips, the focus of the research, are kept in a large plastic tray.

Action filled writing moves the Reader rapidly from one situation to another, characters are presented some disappear along the way, Carm, and a minor collection of party goers continue in their mission to find exodus out of the tunnels.

Frenzy seems to this reviewer more Avant Garde, and not so much science fiction in sense of the word, nonetheless the genechips and their usage does lend to that appellation.

A copiously established account Frenzy is jam-packed with anticipation, some a good bit of manufacturing scheming, intrigue and espionage, stock fraud, and pure greedy machinations abound.

Characters are well-fleshed, some are amiable others are not, even a biker drug running gang, as well as, a cluster of homeless people appear in the tunnels.

Imagery is well defined, note - Houston does actually have a series of tunnels where shops, eateries and the like are situated. Author Roberts has merged them with aplomb into his narrative.

Conclusion of the chronicle may hold a few surprises for Readers, heads up- watch for clues to keep on the right track.

While not really my genre, I did find the theme provocative, set down in clear comprehensible prose, the writing maintains reader interest from opening paragraphs and keeps the reader turning the page to the end of the book.

Interesting Read ... Recommended for the target audience of those who like a bit of the Avant Garde, and or Science Fiction. ...

Courage the Monkey
Mark Jordan
Decere Publishing; 1st edition
9780971701373, $TBA, Paperback, 40 pages

Genre: children's inspirational

Mark Jordan's Courage the Monkey commences as do many stories ...'Once upon a time', nevertheless, this precise anecdote concerns a pretty common animal children may have viewed at a nearby zoo. He is a spider monkey living not in a menagerie, or safari park, Courage the Monkey's hero lives in the wild, in a primate village in a jungle. His name is Jonathan and he lives high above the jungle.

Jonathan is a spider monkey living on top of Mount Kenomy. Mount Kenomy is thought to be the loftiest mountain in the whole wide world by Johnathan and his family, and the whole spider monkey community. It is home to the largest community of spider monkeys in the whole wide world.

As the chronicle begins; Jonathan is excited since his birthday is only two days away. This is a special birthday for young spider monkeys in his village; Jonathan will be eleven-years-old. And eleven is when all spider monkeys in Johnathan's village clamber to the very top of their first tree.

Actually; there is even a special tree in the village that is always used for a young monkey's very first tree climb. At no time in the antiquity of the community had a young monkey ever been too fearful to climb his first tree, however, as Jonathan stood gazing up, up, up at the tree; he became very, very fearful.

Even though Jonathan's younger brother David tried to encourage him, Jonathan just could not get past his apprehension, as a result, he even became too uncomfortable to play with his friends. Many days passed as Jonathan remained too petrified to climb and too embarrassed to play with his friends.

One day while Jonathan was by himself he heard a cry for help. It was David. His brother had fallen and tumbled down to a shelf in the rock. What was Jonathan to do?

I will admit, when I received this book during my first term back in the classroom after a ten-year break, I did like the story line, still, I did not care for the artworks.

Nonetheless, I did as I always did during teaching and reviewing years, I took children's books received for review to read to my resident critics; in this case, my first fourth grade class. The students take their career as investigative listeners very seriously.

At first, the class eyed the book appearance; it gives the impression that the edition is a picture book intended for younger children. As with other picture books I was reviewing at the time; the children settled down to listen to the reading of that 'little kids' storybook' preceding their verbalizing an assessment concerning the book.

During the oral reading by myself, the class, ten-year-olds became drawn into the action. It was plain the students recognized and sympathized with Jonathan's trepidation, as well as his confusion and his anxiety regarding the safety of his little brother.

As I finished the narrative one student voiced, 'I believed at first that this was really a little kids' book, but then it is really meant for us!' The other students, most of whom had younger siblings and cousins at home or nearby, nodded their agreement.

When quizzed; the students acknowledged that they too supposed at first, that they didn't think they would really like the story.

The scholars, most of them ten or nearly ten-year-olds, were also put off initially with the humanizing of the spider monkeys as represented in the artworks, nevertheless during the recitation of the account they found themselves drawn into the action and they changed their minds regarding the narrative as only little kid material.

By the time the story concluded the class decided that the illustrations did go with the story. And, while the book per se, more picture book than chapter book, is undoubtedly planned for younger kids, 'it is not too young for fourth grade.'

The story line provided an outstanding point of departure for the class to use while deliberating re situations in which they too faced fear and overcame it.

I added Courage the Monkey to the class library shelf, where it became an essential during the ensuing years; including one more class of fourth grade, and then back to my first teaching love of First Grade for another eight.

Courage the Monkey was frequently selected for 'free reading' time, or by the student of the day to be read by teacher during the closing moments of our school day as students sat on the rug winding down from the day's activities preceding their setting out for home. Courage the Monkey was regularly borrowed by all students for overnight 'read at home' to family.

And, for the reason that the book was often selected by the Fourth Graders to read to the 'little' kids during weekly student mentoring or was used by pairs or trios for classroom reading and discussing life experiences the children have faced; I am happy to recommend Courage the Monkey for home and classroom use.

Courage the Monkey has a place on the classroom reading shelf, the home school or public school library and children's pleasure reading list.

As a choice for gift giving Courage the Monkey is a read-to book for the 3 - 5 set, a read with help for 7 - 8s and a 'I'll read it to you' for the 9 - 10 year old.

Inspiring, Motivating Read ... Recommended

Reviewed first for Scribesworld

Poetry Books Don't Sell!
Harry Gilleland
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781105473470, $12.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 172 pages,

Genre poetry

Poetry Books Don't Sell! A Collection of Poetry by Harry E Gilleland. Jr. is a work comprising of 89 poetries presented in several set-ups and styles athwart a multiplicity of subjects. Free verse, Acrostics, story-poems storoems, political poems along with a few of the ba,rds older favorites and prize winners, are included.

The table of contents empowers readers to inspect the many works included in this 160 page volume. Unlike novel which needs be read beginning to end or the reading makes little sense if we open and begin reading and then trek back and forward again, Poetry is something we can read at whim depending on the listing in the Table of Contents.

Are Fairies For Real? Is the initial submission, and I hurried to read, I enjoy thinking fairies, little folk, sprites and the like might actually be real and sitting somewhere close and quietly unseen. The dilemma of a grandfather trying to answer a four-year-old granddaughter's query concerning whether or not fairies might be factual is a sweet reading as g'pa elucidates that fairies only appear at dark, and, they keep a lantern near to light their way. And, they turn the light on for short durations only creates a sense that perhaps fireflies are there. G'pa is delighted that his explanation seems to mollify the moppet he wants to please. Then, just as he is feeling that he has escaped the horns of his dilemma; "Thanks, Grandpa. What about unicorns?"

Other subjects enumerated in this assortment of Storoems and Rhyming Poems encompass a varied multiplicity of subjects including the account of a barbarian horde and the heart of their leader told in Two Mother's Bravery, an meditative look at life in 7 stanzas with title My Life Thus Far, and a touching look at end of life including Why Did My Grandmother Have to Die, Talons of Death, a Dis Ash Ter, and The Bad Old Days cause us to stop and ponder for a moment.

Two works are especially moving, The Tuskegee Airmen and Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial while I Live In A Land of Peace Loving People is thought provoking and philosophical.

Part 2 of the index lists five political poems This is Not My America, Uncle Sam Has A Rude Awakening, President Obama, United States of Corporate America and The Gulf Oil Spill - 2010 which the writer states are highly opinionated, they are told from what I believe is merely a southern viewpoint, much as I remember from my own upbringing by my Southern Daddy who believed in the quality of the person, and was one of the most non prejudicial persons I have ever known.

I have personally always relished Acrostic poems, and find the ones offered in part three of bard Gilleland's book of poetry to be agreeably invigorating. Secretariat a horse of legend is best understood by one who has sat astride a noble beast whether in pasture field or on racetrack and may be only interesting to one who has never had an up close and personal moment with the most noble of critters.

Edible Fungi bespeaks of mushrooms, of course, the touching An Unobtainable Dream leaves the reader contemplative considering where we have all gone so wrong that Peace On Earth seems so out of reach, and Hunting Bargains is an elegy for all who enjoy taking part in an Estate Sale. Ancient Enemies as Hyena Vs Lion gives insight into why modern dog may hate the cat. The 'River Horse' helps us understand the Hippopotamus.

Free Verse Poems are found in section 4. They run the scope of verses to spring, reflective views of Savages, and who they really were, a tribute to an uncle never known, lost in a war fought on European soil during WW2 reminds me of my own uncle lost in France during WW1.

It Was Time, Rusty; It Was Time brought tears to my eyes. The pain felt with the passing of a cherished fur member of the family is wrought well, and brings a lump to the throat of all who have had to say goodbye after many companionable years. The poems continue with a loving memorial tribute to an Auntie, a Whitewater Trip, feeding pigeons, the so called glory of war, A Hero's Tale offers a moving tribute to Huey pilots Cpt Ed. W Freeman and Maj Bruce P Crandall whose bravery and stalwart courage were finally recognized with a well deserved Medal of Honor for action during the Battle of Ia Drang, Vietnam, Nov 1965.

America is a Christian Nation offers much to contemplate, deliberate and perhaps lament.

Drought, summer heat and amnesty in the form of rain are heralded, among the assemblage of 29 free verse poems.

The book closes with a Bit of Lagniappe. While this is a book of poetry writer Gilleland reminds us that he also writes prose. A look back to A 1930s Christmas to Remember is a reminisce in the tear-jerker realm, as it should be when telling of hard scrabble and familial love.

The last 7 poems branded as A Little Bit More Lagniappe round out the book with two of the wordsmith's all-time favorite poems from 2002 as last. The Canine's Howling at the Moon educates concerning the meaning of the canine call given so that Man might continually recall the offense causing loss of faultlessness; wretchedly, too soon mankind has forgotten.

The Mockingbird Sings at Night is an additional instructional type sonnet relating an optimistic note; the nighttime vocalist sings to bid Mankind hope during all the blackest periods of life as the singing reminds us that life's beauty, while unseen in the darkness is still present.

Interesting Read ... Recommended ... 4 stars

Girl 15, Charming but Insane
Sue Limb
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385732147, $15.95, Hardcover: 224 pages,

English author Sue Limb's Girl 15, Charming but Insane presents to the reader Jess Jordan who is deskbound in history class. The day's task, specified by her instructor was to pen a paper concerning King Charles 1 and list details indicating why the monarch was disliked by his subjects.

Actually, while her pencil is moving, Jess is really sketching and not writing at all, and, not particularly well either. Even so she is drawing and the creation is either the spectacular Ben Jones, or, a senseless iguana.

The reader is drawn into the narrative promptly. Each chapter inaugurates with a ludicrous horoscope. We learn later in the book that Jess' dad texts them to her each morning.

Jess is agreeable, and not covetous or unpleasant as some might think, to distinguish that she lives in the wake of her best mate, who in Jess' words: is the spectacular, brilliant, and so very empathetic, Flora.

Regarding Jess and her best friend; hers is pretty much a representative case of teen angst.

Novelist Limb captures the essence of a somewhat nonconforming teen character and her friends in this merrily offered version having British implications. Told in the first person by Jess herself, Girl 15, Charming but Insane is a nicely penned, pleasure of a volume. It is an outright entertaining, at times hilarious, rib-tickling work, one of the few I have reviewed in a long time targeting upper middle grades - high school readers. It is one, which produced in this reviewer chuckles, at times uproariously so throughout the read.

Jess's life story is pretty representative, it seems, of that of so many teens; whatever the country of their residence. The teen years just seem to be fraught with so many growing up and becoming adult type issues.

Fifteen-year-old Jess resides with her librarian mom who is captivated in causes, in her case it is demonstrating against war, any war, wherever it may be taking place. Dad is an absent parent who lives some miles away. Jess has a longing for the best-looking, most sought after boy in her class; the so so gorgeous Ben Jones.

I found Jess to be an unquestionably charming character, she is intelligent and witty, is sliding through classes, a potential comedienne having a spectacular vivacity and dandy comedic timing, not that anyone notices.

Jess admires the faultless Flora who is her best girlfriend, nonetheless Jess depends on her longtime old friend, Fred, for solidity, fidelity and when necessary, a shoulder to cry on.

Spending time in class, attending somewhat half-heartedly to lessons, desperately hoping for the appearance of cleavage, feeling that she just does not measure up to any of her classmates, and most principally not to Flora the gorgeous. Jess attends, a party where, unbeknownst to the girls, a camera has been hidden in the loo, wailing problems to her friend Fred. Giving aide to Flora, Ben and his cousin to help them improve their band which is extremely awful, writing a script for her part in the school talent show, then getting sick and not being able to perform the stand-up routine only to have Flora do it and get all the acclamation. And, at last starting to appreciate a solid rock of a friend may be more noteworthy than trying to snag a fellow every girl in school is pursuing openly or covertly, Girl 15, Charming but Insane is just plain fun to read.

This tome written by a British author is jam-packed with British slang which American readers may need to interpret, not a problem sez this reviewer, if anything it may broaden the teen vocabulary. I have noticed the Midddle Grades and Teen students frequently enjoy adopting a word or phrase or more in a language not spoken by everyone else in the class.

I find, based on many years in the classroom, and juxtaposition to scores of teens over the years; the characters presented in Girl 15, Charming but Insane are neither sex crazed nor goody two-shoes, they are pretty normal kids with commonplace kid responses to school, associations and family.

Kissing is mentioned, but nothing more in depth, which makes the book fine for the younger reader.

Girl 15, Charming but Insane targets upper middle grade reading audience into high school readers, in particular it will appeal to 11-15-year-old girls. Nevertheless virtually anyone, pre-teens, teens, moms, grandma's and aunties can appreciate and relate to Jess' selections, and difficulties she faces, as she is finding herself and her place in the world of middle school and beyond.

Good entertaining read, happy to recommend for middle grades and older readers.

Small Steps
Louis Sachar
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385903332, $19.99, Library Binding, 272 pages,

Louis Sachar's Small Steps begins with Armpit holding a shovel, however this time he is getting paid to do so.

Employed by Raincreek Irrigation and Landscaping he was in the process of digging a channel along the side yard of a dwelling belonging to the mayor of Austin. Her name is a little out of the ordinary; Cherry Lane.

A follow up to Holes; Small Steps focus centers on teenager Armpit- Theodore Johnson, an African-American previous inhabitant of Tent D at Camp Green Lake. Now that he is home again, is finishing high school, and has a job doing landscape work after school the youngster feels he will be able to make positive changes to turn his life around.

Small Steps takes place subsequent to Armpit's release from the confinement center, he was fourteen when he went to Camp Green Lake and now the 16-year-old is employed by a landscaper in his hometown of Austin, TX where he is doing his best to advance his life. Armpit knows he must continue taking small steps toward redeeming his life and remaining on the straight and narrow path to success.

The most difficult part of his circumstances may be the realization that everyone, including his own parents, now assumes the worst of him. Armpit recognizes that he caused himself to be sent to the juvenile detention center. However, he is fully dedicated to starting afresh, which does not keep him from being opposed with his parents, making some really poor choices and being absolutely foolish now and then. That may be the foulest of what is going on and will continue going on in his life.

To be his own worst enemy is frequently the misery of many younger and often even some older, supposedly mature, persons.

To his enormous irritation following his homecoming from Camp Green Lake, Armpits' parents brought home a drug testing kit.

His father's refrain is now - I want a sample-.

Armpit has yet to cause is parents to recognize that the cause for his being sent to the detention center had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol.

Armpit's chum, X-Ray, also a prior detainee at the youth detention center, comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme. X-Ray has a strategy for scalping tickets for a teenage pop star Kaira DeLeon concert.

X-Ray has a plan, however he has no money, so if Armpit will put up the cash they both can expect to make lots of money.

Aiding X-Ray in his wacky creativity, Armpit rapidly finds himself intertwined in a sequence of activities that end with his not only making friends with, but dating Kaira DeLeon. Armpit has been toiling diligently to continue those necessary small steps toward the life he is struggling to shape for himself. Now, after funding X-Ray in his foolish plan, Armpit once more realizes himself in risk of running afoul of the law.

Kaira, may just be the supreme pop star alive. To his consternation Armpit apprehends that by growing close to her, he is facing difficulty in putting his past behind him. Adding to the problem; Jerome Paisley, Kaira's corrupt agent and business manager plans to use Armpit's legal record to his benefit. If he succeeds, Armpit may be headed for a grave predicament.

Kaira, a seventeen-year-old African American is becoming an authentic teen idol. Kaira has been receiving letters asserting her beauty, flattering her singing all the while declaring that the writer plans to kill her.

Found in the words and paragraphs of Small Steps novelist Sachar continues his engaging writing development jam-packed with jocularity, social commentary, pathos and confidence. Armpit's patient understanding with his ten-year-old neighbor Ginny who battles Cerebral Palsy is occupied with serenity and empathy. She is conceivably the first person to really look up to him, to truly have fondness for him and to offer connotation to his reality.

Small Steps is a stirring anecdote of regaining, doing the right thing, self-sacrifice, of the triumph of the human spirit. As always Writer Sachar is an authoritative reporter who produces memorable, resounding wholly human characters complete with all the peculiarity, quirks and oddities as are we all.

As we have come to suppose from this author; he will not shy from - sensitive- subjects. Armpit continues having to face unemotional and not so noticeable racism. He recognizes there are times when he is viewed by a diversity of people grounded solely on his physical appearance, his racial background. Armpit acknowledges that there are some episodes that he faces that would likely not occur, were he not black. He does not dwell upon it, but realizes it.

On the pages of Small Steps author Sacher once more confronts events and circumstances designed to draw young readers into the narrative. Characters are fleshed so readers can recognize with them instantly. Qualms, uncertainties, absolute blunders are all offered in a style that young readers can identify, concede and converse with thoughtful understanding as they read.

Sacher's prose vocabulary is within the possibility of target readers.

Small Steps is certain to pique interest of the target audience of middle grade and high school readers. Sachar's book is a good one for the school, public and personal library as well as for the counselor's shelf of books for youngsters to borrow. While the tale is presented as fiction the behaviors and situations the teens in the narrative exhibit are not.

Happy to recommend for target audience of youngsters 11-16, parents, teachers, counselors, and gift giving to any and all of these.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

The Battle of Turkey Thicket
Christopher Russell
Baritone Books
9781365913327, $21.28, PB, 252 pp,

On June 27, 1950 Harry Truman ordered American forces into South Korea. The purpose was to help repel North Korean troops that had crossed the 38th Parallel. Two and and half months later United Nations soldiers arrived to reinforce the small American contingent. By that time, the hero of this book, Private Philip Thomas Hughes of the 19th Infantry, 24th Infantry Division, had fallen in battle. His demise came just three days before the U. N. intervention and a mere twelve days after his eighteenth birthday. The Battle of Turkey Thicket offers insight into the chaotic early days of the Korean War and provides an explanation for how young Philip Hughes found himself at the front line in a war for which he, and the United States, were poorly prepared

Philip, and his brother, Frank, had run away from home in 1949, when they were teenagers. After that, neither boy was welcome back home. They ended up in a reformatory, though they had not committed a serious offense. Their mother simply found them to be unmanageable, so she turned them over to the state. Under the circumstances, the military seemed like a reasonable option to Philip. The country was not at war, he would have the opportunity to travel, and he would receive training. His mother did not object.

Philip was sent overseas, to Japan, where U. S. Occupation forces were supervising Japan's post-WWII transition. It was while he was in Japan that the North Korean incursion occurred. Philip and other soldiers stationed in Japan were sent into combat. These soldiers were not seasoned fighters. Battlefield equipment was left over from WWII and it was not in great shape. Supply transport for the soldiers in the field was haphazard. The troops were cold, hungry and sometimes actually got lost in the rough South Korean terrain. Clean water was in short supply, sanitation was "abysmal" and medical care was substandard. According to Christopher Russell, "During the first year of the Korean War, 60 percent of U. S. troop evacuations were disease related."

Russell has ably managed a difficult task in writing this book. He has researched the scant details of Philip Hughes life and has noted when sections of the book are not supported by the record. Much of the narrative is derived from extrapolation or third person accounts. Russell does not blur the line between what he knows for certain and what is likely to have happened. As a result, the reader is grateful that story as told can be relied upon, and yet...there is a desire to know more about the young soldier. To Russell's credit, he does not give in to the temptation to fill in the blanks with a faux account.

I wish everyone would read this book. The Korean War is largely forgotten in the United States, although Korea is so much in the news these days. The soldiers who fell in that war are a minor footnote to history for many people. But their lives matter and we should understand their sacrifice.

The Battle of Turkey Thicket is the story of an orphan, of a soldier, of an American War. I highly recommend this book.

Art Alone Enduring
Mary H. Steenson
Privately Published
c/o Zoradesign Inc.
9780692829547, $24.99, PB, 343pp,

Art Alone Enduring is a poignant story of two sisters, Hughberta and Zora Steenson, who were social pioneers and artists. Zora established herself as a freelance artist when most women did not work outside of the home. Hughberta joined the Marine Corp during WWII and became one of the first women ever admitted into that branch of the service. Both women created brilliant art that is just today beginning to gain well-deserved recognition. Art Enduring offers vivid color reproductions of this work. The pictures alone are worth the price of the book.

Mary H. Steenson, author of Art Alone Enduring, is related to the Steenson sisters by marriage. Her husband, Robert, was their nephew and helped to oversee their care near the end of their lives. The journey traveled by these sisters is one that takes readers through Depression-era hardship, WWII and the post-war boom in the United States.

This book is based on the lives of Zora and Hughberta, but it is also a work of imagination. It is impossible to separate the known details from the fictional embellishments. No matter. Ms. Steenson has created a viable vehicle for introducing two remarkable artists to the public. She had sufficient objective record to craft a credible outline for parabola of their lives. These lives began in a hardscrabble family in the Midwest and ended, many years later, in a Tacoma, Washington nursing home.

Hughberta was the younger sister, filled with sibling rivalry. Zora was the protective older sister. After drifting their separate ways and finding their separate destinies, the sisters moved in together in midlife and stayed together until Zora was removed to nursing care. However, a determined and resourceful Hughberta found her way into that home and stayed with Zora. In 1998, Hughberta died after a bout with the flu. Zora lived on for another three years. Today, the sisters are buried together near their parents' graves, in Minnesota.

I cannot recommend too strongly that readers seek out the work of Hughberta and Zora. Their art is arresting and unforgettable. A website maintained by Mary Steenson,, displays some of that work.

This is a lovely book to hold and peruse. It is the sort of book that reminds us why sometimes reading the physical copy of a book is an experience that cannot be matched by consuming the material through an electronic device.

The Accidental Anarchist
Bryna Kranzler
Crosswalk Press
P.O. Box 928723, San Diego, CA 92192
9780984556304, $18.00, PB, 351pp,

Bryna Kranzler's The Accidental Anarchist traces the adventures and misadventures of Jacob Marateck, the author's grandfather. The book is based on Jacob's diaries, which were written from memory. The diaries document Jacob's personal history and are part of the Marateck family legacy.

Jacob Marateck was witness to dramatic events in Russian history. He fought in the Russo-Japanese War, conspired with revolutionaries and was exiled to Siberia. Eventually, he followed the only path that would insure his survival: He emigrated.

Jacob's saga begins when he is conscripted into the Russian army. The naive youth stumbles through a series of calamities from which he manages, improbably, to escape. He brings along with him on his travels three abiding tools that get him through the adventures: a clever mind, an abiding sense of humor, and an unshakable faith. That faith, in my view, more than anything else, becomes the spine of this story.

When Jacob sets off for the army, his family, and just about everyone who knows him, gather and bid him goodbye. Ahead of him lies the unknown. Behind, an insular society, one that has provided family, friends and moral compass. What will the world, what will the Russian army, do to Jacob? His father offers advice that will stay with Jacob and protect him from the mischief of outside influences. "Be a Jew", his father instructs. We see throughout the book that it is this injunction, and Jacob's adherence to it, that determine the course of his life and his character.

His father's words ring in Jacob's ears as he marches to war. They provide strength as he struggles to resist temptations . "Be a Jew". Conforming to his mandate means conforming to the laws of the Torah, even when hunger and carnal desire strike.

Of course, being a Jew in imperial Russia is not an identity Jacob can easily deny. Antisemitism pervades every aspect of Russian society. It is inescapable in the marketplace, the courts and the army.

Although Jacob's journey takes him to war, prison and exile, his tone is never grim. The book has an almost picaresque quality. Even more than Bryna Kranzler's art, I believe it is Jacob's humor that makes his story enjoyable.

The essential truth of Jacob's recollections is born out by other material from the same era. Tolstoy's Resurrection, for example, describes an irrational court system, a decadent military and a brutal process of exile. Resurrection is not simply a novel. It was Tolstoy's attempt to expose flaws in Russian society and government. The book has been faulted for being a screed rather than a work of fiction.

Byrna Kranzler has done a skillful job editing and organizing her grandfather's diaries. After his death, associates and family recognized the value of his unique record. They preserved the diaries and transcribed them. Kranzler explains that she is third in the line of this legacy project. She edited and consolidated the material further. Consolidation involved taking liberty with details to create an entertaining story. The result is a blend of history, memoir and novel.

Overall, The Accidental Anarchist may be taken as a genuine reflection of the diarist's experience. I would have enjoyed reading the originals, in translation, but most readers would probably prefer this more organized rendition. The Accidental Anarchist is a well-written and worthwhile book.

A. G. Moore

Paul's Bookshelf

Dylan's Cosydoze
Elsa Joseph
New Generation Publishing
9781787192645, $16.99 HC, $10.80 PB, 32 pages,

Dylan is a very happy little boy. He is happy because he, and his parents, are off to Grandma's house to spend the weekend. Dylan can barely contain his excitement, but curling up with his cosydoze (his favorite blanket) puts him right to sleep.

Dylan has a great time playing with Grandma. When Dylan's bedtime comes, his cosydoze is suddenly missing. A diligent search of the house fails to find it. Grandma tries to substitute one of her blankets for the cosydoze. Dylan replies with the little child equivalent of "No Way." Dad tries to distract Dylan with food; Dylan does not cooperate. Mom suggests that a trip around the neighborhood in an old pram (baby carriage) will put him to sleep. Dylan is very much not interested. It looks like the weekend visit to Grandma will have to be cut short. Where is Dylan's cosydoze?

What child does not have a favorite item (toy, blanket, stuffed animal, etc.) that they can't live without? How many times has that item been misplaced or lost? This is a very good and heart-warming story, told all in rhyme, with which many children can identify. Yes, this is worth reading anytime.

A Short Guide to a Long Life
David B Agus MD
Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
9781476730950, $17.95 HC, $13.99 PB, $10.99 Kindle, 190 pages,

This short book attempts to answer some of the most common health questions.

What should I eat? Real food (that does not come with a label). Understand basic bio-vocabulary; know the difference between vitamin and supplement, or define inflammation. Consider getting a dog; it will force you to get some exercise, along with leaving your desk and forgetting about multi-tasking. There seem to be a million different diets available. Find the diet that works for you, and stick with it. Grow a garden (or, at least, a window box). Practice good hygiene. Maintain a healthy weight. Caffeine is OK in sensible amounts. Consider getting a DNA test.

Get in the habit of taking a baby aspirin daily. Be smart about being sick. Maintain good posture and strengthen your core. Adopt a positive attitude. Smile. Try an activity that is out of your comfort zone. Eat at least three servings of cold-water fish per week. Never skip breakfast. It's a good idea to be a little obsessive-compulsive about washing your hands. There is no such thing as doing it too often. There is no shame in asking for help.

The book also includes things that should be avoided. They include: fad diets, detoxes, dangerous sports and risky behavior, sunburns, airport x-ray scanners, insomnia, juicing, smoking and vitamins and supplements (!)

No one is expected to immediately do (or not do) everything in this book. Pick just one thing, incorporate it into your daily life so that it becomes a habit, then pick another. Anyone who cannot find just one health aid here needs more help than this book can provide. For everyone else, this book is short, very easy to understand, and very much worth reading.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Polk's Bookshelf

My Shorts
Arthur Doweyko
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781546882190, $8.99, paperback, 196 pages
B0714K69J8, $2.99, Kindle,


Looking for a comfortable sci-fi read for a rainy afternoon? You need look no further. My Shorts, by Arthur M. Doweyko will fill the agenda admirably. My Shorts is a collection of thirteen award winning sci-fi short stories gathered in one thought-provoking volume with a tongue-in-cheek title with a cover guaranteed to invoke a grin. Beginning with a story about computer that predicts the future and progressing straight through to a story about the ghost of an Indian girl I found these stories to be quick and entertaining read.

The stories comprising My Shorts are:

The Probability Machine - can the machine predict a doubter's death?

Linda - A young girl fights for her family to flee Cuba

P'sall Senji - Do aliens really want to assassinate the President?

Harry and Harry - How does one travel in time to obtain a disease cure?

The Catch - Others hunt for food too. Some of them hunt us.

Little Snowy Mountains - How did I get 65 million years into the past?

Mars1 - Are there alternate ways to survive on Mars?

The Boy Who Couldn't Lie - What? The dog ate my homework?

Cold Heart - Bizarre planet; smart inhabitants

Companion - Is it possible to murder a computer chip?

Blue Ice - Why do people always die on the date of death predicted for them?

Andrew the Last - If you had the last organic human brain, would you know it?

Cherry Creek - A good-timing, rowdy accident; now there's hell to pay

My Shorts should appeal to sci-fi lovers, to any reader who likes speculative fiction or any reader who turns the plot of a story over in his mind for hours after the reading is finished. These stories are like that.

A.G. Riddle
Riddle, Inc.
9781940026091, $10.58, Paperback, $15.83, Hardcover, 696 pages
B06Y382BHS, $4.99, Kindle,


People begin to die in Africa of a strange viral illness. CDC responds by sending its best and brightest; Dr. Payton Shaw, a world-class epidemiologist, who leads a team of field response epidemiologists.

Desmond Hughes awakes in a hotel room in Germany with no memory of his past; not even his name. There is a dead man in the room with him; apparently an employee of Rapture Therapeutics. A vague code suggests a phone number and a message to deliver; "Warn her". The "her" is Payton Shaw.

With these cryptic events begins the bizarre tale of a world-wide pandemic that infects and kills millions; and a massive conspiracy with more twists and dead-ends than a human DNA strand.

Each and every one of the complex characters has personal relationships, and obscure family and inter-family relationships that span generations leading as far back as World War II. I can't say much more without including spoilers, except to say these relationships unfold at critical points of the story to neatly sew pieces together in way nothing else could. They will keep the reader guessing throughout. They did me.

Pandemic is an extremely well written and edited novel of epic proportions; one that will keep practically all readers on the edge of their chairs until all hours of the night. It is, in my humble opinion, a job well done.

Saturn Run
John Sandford & Ctein
G. P. Putnam's and Sons
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York, 10014
9780698411678, $8.40, Hardback, $7.48, Paperback, 491 pages
ASIN: B00USMCJX6, $9.99, Kindle,


Human political competition carried to critical extremes.

When an unknown object is observed entering Saturn's rings on a trajectory that implies intelligent control a political space race is touched off between the United States and China causing the Chinese to scrap their Mar's colonial expedition and the United States to re-purpose a space station and cobble together a makeshift space-craft capable of flying Saturn and, perhaps, even returning.

In the capable hands of Captain Naomi Fang-Castro, and Chief Power Engineer, Rebecca Johanassen the spaceship Richard M. Nixon undertakes an unprecedented voyage carefully documented by Sandy Darlington and Cassandra Fiorella. Powered by a unique propulsion system, the Richard M. Nixon held certain advantages over the Chinese space craft, a re-purposed Mars colonial freighter; advantages that were not advantageous in all circumstances.

The story focuses on first encounters with alien civilizations and their technology and the human nationalistic competition that renders mankind incapable of being entrusted with advance alien technology. Human politicians readily gamble human lives for political expediency without consideration for safety, technical and engineering expertise.

Personally, I love science fiction but found Saturn Run to be bland. Late in the story, sufficient activity occurred to make it interesting and the ending is exciting, however, I felt the background buildup and the Sandy/Fiorella documentation story was distracting from the real story which was could humans be trusted with alien technology, what would they do with it if they had it, and is humanity ready to take its place among more advanced alien cultures. Having said that, I did find the concept of converting an existing orbital space station into an interplanetary spaceship intriguing if a bit far-fetched.

Nevertheless, many science fiction fans will love it.

The Rift
Walter Jon Williams
9780061052941, $TBA print, 948 pages
B00G8VNFZC, $0.99, Kindle,


Jason Adams is a young boy caught in a natural disaster as is everyone else along the Mississippi River and its tributary river basins.

What's happening? Continental plates and overlying sediments are shifting to relieve stress once again just as they did in the fall of 1811...before the area was thickly settled by white settlers; before the area became the industrial axis of the United States.

The scenario is realistic and ultimately frightening. It is a stark testimony to the powerlessness of humanity to control and manipulate nature; and to mankind's vulnerability to both natural disasters and the darker, baser, more sinister predilection for violence, prejudice and taking advantage of others who have been hurt.

Using a cast of complicated well-developed characters, the author paints a picture of both the good and the bad in people who are all facing a struggle to survive whether they all realize it or not.

The Rift is a great read. It should be required reading for everyone who believes that Earth will remain unchanging in its present form forever.

Clabe Polk, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

Rule #1 Don't Be #2
Daniel Milstein
Gold Star Publishing
9781947165038, $19.99, 248 Pages

Genre: Business & Money

If you don't sell yourself nobody else will!

This book is a true gem, it is empowering, inspirational, ruthlessly honest, but most importantly it is probably the most outstandingly motivational book you will ever read, if you REALLY want your dream to come true.

Why? Because it's written by a man who knows what he's talking about. You see, in 1991, Daniel Milstein and his parents arrived in America, they were fleeing the religious and political persecution which raged in their native Soviet Union. Daniel Milstein at 16, had only 17 cents in his pocket, however even at that young age, he was richer than most, why, simply because he had a win/win mind-set, a positive outlook, guts and determination. With these assets, from that moment, although he himself didn't realise it, he was already on his way to achieving the American Dream.

What I liked about this book is that it is so full of inspiring stories. However, this doesn't mean his message is sugar coated, certainly not! This is a man who tells it as it is, and freely admits that his philosophy runs along the lines of a swift kick in the pants.

Throughout he insists that success lies in attitude, and action, dreaming is no good, it is futile to wait for luck to come your way, the right time, approval from others. You MUST work hard, grab those chances, and not fear failure. Should things not go well, then use the experience as a learning curve, and take a lesson from Arianna Huffington's mother, who told her daughter (Founder of The Huffington Post) 'Failure is not the opposite of success; it's a steppingstone to success.'

Complacency is another very important factor Daniel Milstein covers. It is essential that you remember you can never rest on your laurels. "Success is never owned. It is rented and the rent is due every day!" is his motto. When you succeed be pleased, but don't become content with your lot, your competitor is waiting to step in your shoes as soon as you lapse, so make sure you don't!
Persistency is vital. Whatever your dream, go with it, and don't give up. Should you fail the first, second, third... time then continue to persevere. He provides examples of many well-known names from the MacDonald brothers, Henry Ford, to the inspirational Jim Eisenreich, people who didn't give up, or listen to those negative influences. Through the motivational quotes and messages strewn copiously throughout the book, the reasons why those who succeed do so, are laid out in plain sight for you to see. Be brave, think outside the box, follow that dream, and then dream bigger, and better. Remember success might not happen overnight, but if you never go for it, you can never win. So stick with it, work hard and learn from those around you and, you will make it.

Eighty-six percent of millionaires are self-made, and two thirds of the world's billionaires made their fortune from scratch - so what's stopping you?

Pick up a copy of this book and follow the authors guide to success, learn from him, and others then show the world just what you can achieve!

Odinsmal: Rise of Jotunheim
Sammy Zakaria
National Library of Sweden
9789163930386, $8.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 363 Pages,

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy

This intriguing adventure takes the reader on an incredible journey into the realms of Norse mythology, one which will never be forgotten.

The story begins on the island of Algir Oya where a seventeen year old halfbreed Odin, is angry because his father Bor has refused to let him take part in an ambush against Jotun General Farbauti, and his men. Bitterly disappointed, Odin is left with strict instructions from his father to look after himself and his mother, and take care of a strange pendant which has been handed down through the generations.

That night, a bloody battle is fought between halfbreeds, the Jotun, and their terrifying wolf like beasts, the Berserkers. Defiantly disobeying orders, Odin leaves the others and witness a scenes which will be etched in his memory forever.

Fleeing for his life, the evil Berserkers follow him back to the retreat, and Odin, and his people, find themselves forced to leave their homeland and sail across the water to Midgard.

However, once there, as halfbreeds, they find themselves struggling against ingrained prejudice, and mistrust by the humans. Nevertheless it is eventually reluctantly agreed that they can stay, and they join forces against Loki the evil ruler of the Jotunheim, whose armies are enslaving humans, and forcing them to mine Blostein (a precious metal), under terrible conditions.

The situation is so desperate that Odin and his new friends Thedrick, and the twins Ve and Vili, decide they must travel beyond Midgard in their search for allies in the battle against the Jotun... before it is too late!

Their quest finds them travelling cross unknown lands, where they discover the Giant, and a race of people who are keepers of a centuries old secret, and a legend which, if true, will change Odin's destiny forever.

With Farbauti's troops in hot pursuit, what does the future hold for Odin and his friends, and will Odin live to reap his revenge on the General?

And Loki, why does he want the Blostein?
So many questions...

This exciting adventure takes the reader on an incredible journey through lands only written about in legend, inhabited by creatures whose names are only spoken in whispers. Odin's bravery is legendary, but what will be his fate?

A real page turner, guaranteed to keep its reader on the edge of their seats until the very end.

What Dogs Really Talk About
Nick da Costa
Penright Publications
B073P9ZVKT, $5.02,75 Pages

Genre: Animals

Do you ever wonder what your dog thinks, or what they talk about when they are together?

The author of this thoroughly entertaining book obviously loves dogs, and has given the subject much consideration, resulting in this hilarious, yet thought provoking book.

Every night six dogs meet under an old oak tree, and like humans, they discuss matters of great importance to them. But what do YOU think are important subjects to our canine friends and companions? Well, the answers are in this book, and not surprisingly, they are very similar to subjects we would discuss - although sometimes from a totally different perspective...

Of course, everyone wants to know where they come from, and dogs are the same, so evolution, how they became tame, or indeed who tamed who is debated, along with why different breeds of dogs evolved into their various shapes and have taken on diverse jobs.

Until you read enlightening book, very few humans can really appreciate how vital our canine friends are to us, and importantly they take their responsibilities. Through the writing of Nick da Costa we discover how they spend their lives looking after, and worrying about us, even if we don't always see it that way.

A myriad of topics from social networking, to the Dog Star, walkies, playing, vets, Christmas, and of course the arch enemy c.a.t.s., make this book a fantastic addition to any dog lovers bookshelf.

Silver Dollar
Alan Trustman
9781596875340, $24.95, 104 Pages

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Is this story your dream?

A young Betsy, new to New York accepts a date because she is alone, on the rebound, and he has been introduced to her by her only friends in the city. Their foursome is at a Greek restaurant, where a flippant remark sends them on an impulsive whirlwind world tour, but when the plane finally lands at JFK, everything changes. And we begin our journey along the rollercoaster which is Betsy's life, a myriad of emotions, and dashing, yet mysterious men.

An intelligent career woman, romantic, sexy, yet sometimes lonely, Betsy, despite having husbands, children, and a busy lifestyle, finds herself exposed to the same day to day tasks, worries and anguish 'ordinary' women do, and deals with them as best she can, undaunted, hopeful and spirited even into her 70's. The person who said 'Life begins at 50,' obviously hadn't met Betsy.

This is an irresistible story, completely absorbing, and very enjoyable to read. The reader is able to enjoy complete escapism, and at the turn of every page wonder, what will happen next, and what will the future hold.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

Unbound - Ellison Frost - Bound Book 1
R.C. Butler
Bulldog Press
Amazon Digital Services LLC
0987995871, $13.95 PB; B00ZGS5HXQ, $4.99, Kindle,

Genre: Erotic

Hidden secrets have a way of coming to light . . .

Ellison Frost has a high fascinating for BDSM lifestyle. She is a regular customer of Madame Angel's Escort service. With each escapade, she finds a sexual freedom that her body craves. Each session is like a drug that she can't resist.

Ellison hides the fact that she is into the S&M life for that knowledge could cause damage to her police career. At work, she goes by the name Lieutenant Ells Frost. When Ells is called to investigate the death of high-profile socialite, Deedrie Bouton she never anticipated that her secret life would cross into her professional career for Deedrie was found to have died in a provocative BDSM pose.

The investigation leads her to the doors of Madame Angels and one of Ell's favorite escorts. Will she be able to solve this crime and still be able to hide her secret obsession?

UNBOUND is one OUTSTANDING erotic novel! This book had so many elements that appealed to my senses which included a strong heroine, a murder mystery, and explicit erotic scenes. All of this made for the person reading experience.

R.C. Butler has quickly gained my attention as an expert in writing an unforgettable erotic novel. His research and experience allowed the book to feel as though I was not reading fiction. I am impressed that he managed to combine an erotic with a mystery, I felt like I was receiving double the reading pleasure. I highly recommend this author's work and look forward to reading more future titles.

The McGregor: The Lavender Moon: A Dark Erotic BDSM Fantasy
Anita Gallagher
Pocket Pleasures Press
c/o Amazon Digital Services LLC
B073THBKTZ, $0.99, 14 pages

Genre: Erotic

Climax builds upon the anticipation of the arrival . . .

Krista of Harknor enjoyed knowing that she was the one selected to please The McGregor. It was the custom of her village to sacrifice their unwed and motherless daughter to the demon God. It was a duty that she volunteered to sacrifice herself for the God.

As her body is prepared with bath and anointed with oil to serve the master she finds she has no fear. She knew as The Lavender Moon appeared in the sky she would give herself to the beast of the land. She didn't mind the chains that held her to the bed, for she knew this experience had the power to change her life.

The McGregor appeared before Krista, she saw a man of beauty with fire in his eyes. The glow of his eyes mesmerized her to want to give herself freely to him. Will this encounter be her last? Or will she discover a love that will last?

"The McGregor: The Lavender Moon: A Dark Erotic BDSM Fantasy" is one sizzling novel. I loved how the author built up the arrival of The McGregor. With her descriptive words, I was able to see in my mind's eye the beast appear but quickly he became tame to the beauty.

Anita Gallagher has written a very compelling erotic romance. I love how she entwined a Beauty and the Beast theme into the overall context of the story. I admired Krista's bravery at how she was willing to face the unknown without knowing the final outcome. This is the type of book that showcases the author's true talent. I look forward to discovering more of her wonderful titles in the future.

Claire Rye
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B073HJ7217, $2.99, Kindle, 83 pages,

Genre: Erotic

When you play with fire, there is a chance you will get burned . . .

Sensibility is a word that describes Jane's life. From her practical shoes to uneventful job, she lives her life as a true introvert. Her world changes the day a stranger introduces herself as Ruby. Ruby is the exact opposite of Jane. She lives her life to the fullest with her flaming hair to provocative clothes there is never a dull day in her life.

Jane and Ruby become instant friends, and Jane invites her to share her flat with her. Jane admires Ruby's world and wishes that she was brave enough to become as daring and outgoing as her roommate. Ruby see Jane as a solid foundation that helps her stay grounded.

In the background, there is a stalker who is keeping tabs on Ruby and all of her escapades. This admirer watches every one of her revealing videos and lives in the heated moments of the sexual adventures Ruby shares on her blog. Who is this mystery man, and what is his intent with Ruby? Could Ruby's life be in danger?

TELLING is a masterfully crafted erotic romance. Each scene is so expertly written that I could feel myself getting lost in the author's very descriptive passages. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart, for each scene is very descriptive.

Claire Rye you DEFINITELY know how to write one sizzling novel! Your book was like a breath of fresh air that hit on my literary library. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and you have earned a loyal fan. I highly recommend this author books for her talented pen delivers one breathtaking experience.

The Fat Bitch Diet
A. R. Khan
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B073T9MM78, $2.99, Kindle, 297 pages,

Genre: Fiction

Words have a way of bringing you down or they have the power to help you rise from the despair that you find yourself in . . .

Twenty-nine old Viola Ginamero was comfortable in her life. Even though she weighed 190 lbs. and had dated Franklin for the past nine years she didn't want to change a thing about her life. Franklin is soon to become a Doctor, and she dreams of the day he proposes.

Her world comes crashing down on her one day while she was working at The Protein Hut. She was listening to her favorite talk show and recognizes her boyfriend's voice come over the air. She quickly began to envision this was his romantic way of asking for her hand in marriage.

Her dreams are suddenly shattered when she hears him ask the audience advice on whether he should break up with her. He then goes into explicit detail describing her as a goal-less, drive less, overweight woman. He ended the interview by saying she was nothing but a 'Fat Bitch'.

Will Viola be brave enough to rise above this assault? Will these harmful words drive her to change her life? Or will she sink into a deep depression where food is her only friend?

THE FAT BITCH DIET is one hilarious book that I have ever had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. Shortly after reading the first page I caught myself laughing out loud. This book is priceless for there is no way that you could be able to read it without getting in a better mood.

How Existentialism Almost Killed Me: Kierkegaard Was Right (The Max Brown Tetralogy Book 4)
Michael Bernhart
Hough Publishing
PO Box 811, Hiawassee, GA 30546
B01LDX9K3A, $2.99, Kindle
9780997616040, $12.16, PB, 343 pages,

Genre: Fiction

"All human evil comes from a single cause, man's inability to sit still in a room" ~ Blaise Paseal

There was never a dull day in Max and Sally's life because through their twenty-three years of marriage they have experienced a variety of dangerous situations that only have strengthened their family love and commitment.

They find themselves living in Geneva and the tennis matches that Max participates in is not enough to keep their adrenaline flowing. CIA Agent Malkowitz approaches them and requests their help in working to solve a case. As he describes the details that surround the mission they know they want to play a part of bringing justice to light.

Their mission is to find the source of counterfeit drugs that are plaguing Southeast Asia. There is a sinister evil that surrounds the clues as they unravel the mystery that surrounds it. Will Max and Sally outwit the perpetrators? Or will they find their lives are in grave danger?

HOW EXISTENTIALISM ALMOST KILLED ME: KIERKEGAARD WAS RIGHT (THE MAX BROWN TETRALOGY BOOK 4) is like taking a roller coaster adventure on the faster amusement park ride. Max and Sally are so perfectly suited. Their joint efforts make for one fast paced novel.

Michael Bernhart works bring the reader closer to the story. His descriptive passages filled with unforgettable scenes will have the reader craving more. Although this book is fourth in a series, it can easily be read as a standalone novel. When I saw that the author was declaring this as his last book I felt the literature world cried out that it couldn't be so! I hope the author finds the motivation to keep writing these great books.

The Secret Executive Orders
Richard A. Stephens
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B073CGMR5B, $0.99, Kindle, 273 pages,

Genre: Fiction - Science Fiction

In the blink of an eye, all that we know could change . . .

The year is 2028, in the middle of the Nevada desert, Colonel Jake Allen of the United States Air Force finds himself appointed as the Director of a top-secret mission known as "Project Alamos". Three journalists have been given the distinctive opportunity to learn all about "Project Alamos".

Aliens from Planet Kroko are plotting to evade Earth. An invasion of this size would surely destroy all of mankind. Colonel Allen and President Elizabeth Schaefer join forces to ensure they don't succeed. Will his mastermind, a supporting President, and rock solid comrades be strong enough to prevent this travesty from occurring?

"The Secret Executive Orders" is a masterfully crafted book. The characters are richly developed and the storyline is one where you can almost believe that this actual event could occur in the future. The author's descriptive words bring the story to full light. Each scene provides a breathtaking experience that you don't want to see come to an end.

I think Richard A. Stephens is an author who had done extensive research to write a book that has the reader question if this event could actually occur. The talent this author so effortlessly exhibits makes this book a high action packed novel. I feel this book could easily be turned into an unforgettable series. The literary world will rejoice to know they have such a gifted writer to join the prestigious world of Science Fiction

Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Shortcut to Oz
Eddie McPherson
c/o Amazon Digital Services LLC
B0727XRYJX, $2.99, Kindle, 130 pages,

Genre: Fiction - Young Adult

Fairytale dreams so come true . . .

Thirteen-year-old Dereck Dillinger is the man of the house. Since his death of his Father, he has looked out for his Mother and five-year-old sister Jessie. When their Mother has to go out-of-town, he assures her that he will look out for her; he knows to keep her entertained he just needs to plan on reading her a bedtime story.

A sudden storm appears and Dereck finds himself spiraling below to the cellar steps. As he makes a downward plunge to the bottom he fears for his sister's life. Dereck prepares himself the best he can for the impact, but the destination never comes for he finds himself waking in the mysterious land of Oz.

At Oz, he meets some of his Sisters beloved book characters. This magical world is one that he never anticipated visiting, but he knows that he must make it home to his family. Will Dereck travel the yellow brick road and find the pathway to his homeland? Or will he find his life is in danger as the Wicked Witch threatens his existence?

"Fractured: Dereck Dillinger and the Shortcut to Oz" has all the elements that I absolutely love in a novel. Being a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz, and having seen the Broadway show Wicked four times I can fully appreciate the overall theme of this book. This book deserves a place to stand beside these beloved Oz offerings.

I found Eddie McPherson's book is a fresh breath of air with having used the theme of a beloved childhood story and weaving it into a way that puts a fresh new spin on the tale! This book rates high on my keeper's shelf. As I read the first chapter, I felt as though as I was a kid at Christmas as I had a unique experience to revisit one of my favorite fairy tales. To say that this book impressed me is an understatement. After I finished reading this book I knew that the name Eddie McPherson was one that I was going to keep on my reading radar.

PARASITES: the TRUTH behind the Myth (A Journey to Wellbeing Book 1)
Nina Reweti
NMR Books
B072ZZM7JK, $2.99, 47 pages

Genre: Non-Fiction

"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." ~ Oscar Wilde

No matter how you live your life know that parasites are a hidden part of your anatomy. These creatures live inside your body and can wreak havoc on your immune system. It has been proven that parasites left untreated have been attributed to such harmful conditions as insomnia, flu symptoms, and pneumonia.

Although these creatures can't be completely flushed from a person's body there are steps one can take to keep them under control. This book explores different techniques that a person can use with diet and exercise to help combat their harmful effects to make sure that they do not take over their life.

PARASITES: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MYTH (A JOURNEY TO WELLBEING - BOOK 1) provides a very eye-opening look into discovering how Doctors have misdiagnosed serious health conditions because they refuse to believe that parasites could be making their patient ill. This well-researched book will educate the reader and offer the insight of what steps will help cure what ails them now and in the future.

Nina Reweti writing and in-depth research will have a great impact on all of mankind, for its overall content will erase hundreds of useless doctor visits. Until I discovered this author I was clueless of how much harm a parasite could do to a person's body. I feel after I finished this book that I was more ready to recognize those common ailments could have a hidden undertone of being associated with a parasite.

Chook Named Chuck Has Amazing Luck (Friendship Series Book 3)
Kimberley Kleczka
Amazon Digital Services LLC
9781548363628, $9.87, Kindle, 21 pages,

Children age Level: 2 - 6

"Being different simply means you have something unique to offer the world." - Scarlett Vespa

When relaxing in the sun with her Mom Klara the cow noticed an unusual bird. With his brightly colored feathers and unique personality, the two become instant friends. The bird was known as a chook whose name was Chuck. Even more interesting was how the bird could mimic different sounds.

A fire siren disrupts the peacefulness of the farm. From the high altitude, a pigeon alerts the group that two farms are on fire. The farm animals devised a plan that they hoped would help alert other nearby farms of what was going on. Will their idea be enough to prevent other farms from feeling the effects of the fire?

CHOOK NAMED CHUCK HAS AMAZING LUCK is an outstanding book! Each page is such rich in color it seems that the characters seem to leap off the page. With these masterfully crafted illustrations, this book provides a visually entertaining look into a delightful story.

Kimberley Kleczka has written a beautiful and appealing story for both youngster and adults. Her rhyming sequence keeps the story flowing at a wonderful pace. I can easily see this book become an all-time bedtime favorite of a child.

The True Language Of Love: The Book Of Life
Sean Azimov
B072PV9PR8, $2.99, Kindle Edition, 260 pages
9781533491343 $15.40

Life as we know it can change in a blink of an eye with the proper mindset . . .

Life is a very complicated process where each we find ourselves faced with major obstacles that prevent us from living the life we deserve. From the time we are each born we're exposed to elements that shape us into the people that we are today. These life experiences often play a negative force into how we perceive our self.

If you find that your life is lacking clarity, happiness, and success than the pages of this book will be an invaluable resource. Through the in-depth research, you will discover the techniques that will allow you to love yourself. Once you learn how to end these negative traits you will stop sabotaging your happiness.

THE TRUE LANGUAGE OF LOVE: THE BOOK OF LIFE is remarkable, life changing book. I found that the advice in this one book has made me stop, reflect, and realize what I have done wrong that is preventing me from living a happy life.

Sean Azimovh has proven to me that he is an outstanding author who has the knowledge and skills to write a book that will literally change your life. I felt like I should have taken a before and then after picture of myself as I started and finished this book. I truly believe that the advice and guidance I received from this book opened my eyes to what I had done wrong to prevent me from living the life I deserve. I highly recommend this book and feel that it is one that will become a beneficial addition to the literary world.

Suzie Housley

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

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