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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 20, Number 12 December 2020 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Alex Phuong's Bookshelf Alexandra Suyazova's Bookshelf Andy Jordan's Bookshelf
Carl Logan's Bookshelf Carol Smallwood's Bookshelf Carolyn Wilhelm's Bookshelf
Elan Kluger's Bookshelf Gregory Stephenson's Bookshelf Heather Bergevin's Bookshelf
Jack Mason's Bookshelf John Burroughs' Bookshelf Julie Summers' Bookshelf
Karina Wiebenga's Bookshelf Margaret Lane's Bookshelf Marj Charlier's Bookshelf
Mark Walker's Bookshelf Mark Zvonkovic's Bookshelf Michael Carson's Bookshelf
Orangesinwater's Bookshelf Paul Lappen's Bookshelf Robin Friedman's Bookshelf
Suanne Schafer's Bookshelf Susan Bethany's Bookshelf Susan Keefe's Bookshelf
Willis Buhle's Bookshelf    

Alex Phuong's Bookshelf

And the Silent Spoke
Amy L. Greeson
Wisdom House Books
9780999429815, $29.99 Paperback, 372 pages

Speak Now, or Stay Silent

Amy Greeson is a very talented writer whose true stories are very enjoyable to read. Her insight into the cultures of indigenous villages reveals her sensitivity towards people of differing backgrounds. Her book entitled And the Silent Spoke suggests that people should not remain silent, and should instead speak up. This book is a powerful example about the beauty of all living beings as well as every human being in the world.

Alex Andy Phuong

Alexandra Suyazova's Bookshelf

Hellalyle and Hildebrand
Tagai Tarutin
SilverWood Books Ltd.
B08J8H8L65, $14.59
9781781328804, $13.99 Paperback, 244 pages

"A beautiful love story of a medieval knight and a noble princess written by Tagai Tarutin. The book allows us to go back in history and hear more about the exploits of the legendary Hildebrand and his beloved Hellalyle. The book is full of picturesque scenes of the events in Medieval Europe and it gives us the opportunity to immerse in the spirit of those times. It will be a good read for those interested in history, literature and romance."

Alexandra Suyazova

Andy Jordan's Bookshelf

Tough Company
Clem Colt
Sagebrush Large Print Westerns
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781785416989, $30.59, PB, Large Print, 228pp

Walt Bender is on the run from a murder charge for a killing he didn't do. Deef Lasham is a 'sheep king' who wanted Bender's land. Now Lasham is driving Bender into the Tres Pinos range in the hopes that he can use him to convert even more cattle range into his sheep enterprise and the oil that is under old Don Leo's property. Up against a crooked sheriff, a ruthless hired gun, and bewildered by Don Leo's lovely and demanding daughter, Bender seems to be in a no-win situation that will cost him his life! In the pages of "Tough Company" author and experienced western novelist Clem Colt has created another impressively original, deftly scripted, and simply riveting action/adventure western. This large print edition of "Tough Company" is a highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Western Fiction collections.

Andy Jordan

Carl Logan's Bookshelf

Winter 8000
Bernadette McDonald
Mountaineers Books
1001 SW Klickitat Way, Suite 201, Seattle, WA 98134-1161
9781912560387, $29.95, HC, 272pp

Synopsis: While most people would not expect climbing an 8000-meter peak in winter to be a popular activity, there have (as of 2019) been 178 expeditions to the Himalaya and Karakoram during the cruelest season to do just that. Polish alpinist, Voytek Kurtyka, termed the practice the "art of suffering."

The stories comprising "Winter 8000: Climbing the World's Highest Mountains in the Coldest Season" by Bernadette McDonald range from the French climber Elisabeth Revol's solo winter attempt of Makalu, to American Cory Richards and his dramatic effort on Gasherbrum II with famed Italian alpinist Simone Moro and Kazakh hard man Denis Urubko.

McDonald traveled extensively to interview many of the climbers featured in "Winter 8000" -- including Revol, the climbing partner of Tomek Mackiewicz, and Anna Mackiewicz, his widow, meeting them just a few months after Mackiewicz's death on Nanga Parbat. McDonald's many personal relationships with profiled climbers and her ability to tap into emotions and family histories lend Winter 8000 an intimacy too often lacking in mountaineering histories.

These accounts prove the point: Nature is not subservient to man.

Synopsis: A clearly 'must read' selection for any and all dedicated mountaineering enthusiasts, "Winter 8000: Climbing the World's Highest Mountains in the Coldest Season" is as entertainingly engaging as it is impressively informative. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Winter 8000" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Winter 8000" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781680512922, $21.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

Editorial Note: Bernadette McDonald is the author of eleven books on mountaineering and mountain culture, including Brotherhood of the Rope: the Biography of Charles Houston (Mountaineers Books, 2007) and I'll Call You in Kathmandu: the Elizabeth Hawley Story (Mountaineers Books, 2005). McDonald has won numerous awards, including her second Boardman Tasker Prize and the Banff Award for Mountain Literature for Art of Freedom (Rocky Mountain Books, 2017). In 2011 the American Alpine Club awarded her their highest literary honour for excellence in mountain literature. She was the founding Vice President of Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre and director of the Banff Mountain Festivals for 20 years. McDonald has degrees in English Literature and Music.

The Philosophy of Spider-Man
Titan Comics
9781787735361, $14.99, HC, 128pp

Synopsis: Spider-Man is a fictional superhero created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. He first appeared in the anthology comic book Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962) in the Silver Age of Comic Books. He appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, as well as in a number of movies, television shows, and video game adaptations set in the Marvel Universe. (Wikipedia)

Newly published by Titan Comics, "The Philosophy of Spider-Man" is profusely illustrated, wonderfully entertaining, and exceptionally informative little volume that reveals all the quirks and quick-wittedness that Peter Parker as Spider-Man revels in and dispels it for the pleasure of his dedicated fans!

How funny is Peter Parker really? How does he cope with J. Jonah Jameson's incessant barking? Is an upside-down kiss as easy as it looks? All this and more as the mind of the most popular superhero of recent history is unwebbed! With great power comes a great number of jokes, jibes and jovial wordplay as you delve into some of Spider-Man's most comedic comic book moments, laudable cover art, and pure Spidey-(non)sense. -- Excelsior!

Critique; Essential reading for all truly dedicated Spider-Man fans from 6 to 96, "The Philosophy of Spider-Man" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Comics & Graphic Novels collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Philosophy of Spider-Man" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle/Comixology, $14.24).

Carl Logan

Carol Smallwood's Bookshelf

Interview of Lois Ruskai Melina

The Grammar of Untold Stories
Lois Ruskai Melina, author
Shanti Arts LLC
9781951651411 $16.95 pbk / Kindle $5.99, 182 pages

A reviewer, Rene Denfeld, longlisted for an Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, observes about The Grammar of Untold Stories: "Each essay acts like the surface of water, inviting us to explore deeper. Family, children, infertility, and loss are just some of the issues explored in this brilliant book." After receiving a PhD in Leadership Studies, Lois Ruskai Melina taught in universities and her research focused on social movements and leadership. The word essay comes from "to try" and Melina's collection with its touches of humor rises to the challenge on several contemporary issues. The author lives in Oregon with her husband where she enjoys rowing, and women's soccer; she has a grown son and daughter, and two grandchildren.

Smallwood: The title essay, "The Grammar of Untold Stories," was a Notable Essay in Best American Essays, 2018 and a finalist for the North American Review's Torch Prize and the New Letters Prize for Nonfiction. What other prizes have you received?

Melina: Kiese Laymon chose my essay, "Down in the River to Pray," for the 2016 Best of the Net Anthology (Sundress Publications). "The Scent of Water" was a finalist for the John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize at Crab Orchard Review. My short story, "Goat-Song," was a finalist in the Lamar York Prize for Fiction contest at The Chattahoochee Review and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

The essay collection as a whole was a finalist in contests by three publishers before it was accepted by Shanti Arts.

Smallwood: Your economical use of words - lyrical to narrative with deft dialogue, covers several contemporary issues. Please share with readers some.

Melina: For personal essays to be meaningful for readers, they have to explore issues or experiences that resonate beyond the author's life. In "Bread and Roses," I describe my efforts to start a union at a newspaper I worked at in the 1970s, but I weave my experience in with historical material about women in the labor movement - many of whom were also newspaper journalists and suffragists. Of course, in talking about unions and activism, one has to talk about power. I consider how activism - from labor strikes to the 2017 Women's March - creates an awareness of how power is held in the body.

"Obstruction," which is about the last weeks of my mother's life, explores ethical questions about end-of-life issues (and also the power of the medical establishment - I often come back to "power" in these essays.) "Down in the River to Pray" describes my efforts to find a missing nephew who had been diagnosed with HIV after moving to New York City in the late 1980s.

Smallwood: What are some literary journals you have appeared? Are they essays also? Do you write poetry, fiction? When did you begin writing?

Melina: I've had essays in some wonderful literary journals: Colorado Review, Lunch Ticket, Sport Literate, Literary Mama, and The Carolina Quarterly are just a few.

I don't think of myself as a poet, but a couple of these essays were published as prose poems - "Still Life with Birds" in Entropy and "Wings" in Eastern Iowa Review. I wasn't getting acceptances from journals that I'd submitted them to as essays, and I considered that perhaps they were more lyrical than some nonfiction editors liked, so I decided to submit them as prose poems. But I wrote them as essays so they are included in the collection.

I wrote nonfiction for so much of my life as a journalist that I'd never considered writing fiction until recently. Blood Orange Review and The Chattahoochee Review have published both my fiction and nonfiction.

I began writing for my high school newspaper, continued in college as a journalism major and after graduation worked in public relations a bit before taking a job as a newspaper reporter. After my husband and I adopted in 1980, I realized there was very little information for new adoptive parents, so I started a subscription-based newsletter, Adopted Child, which I published for about 20 years. During that time I also wrote three books on adoption published by HarperCollins. After that, I wanted to write about something different, so I followed nine of the top female swimmers in the United States for eighteen months leading up to the 2000 Olympic Trials and published their stories in the book By a Fraction of a Second (Sports Publications). I was happy with that book in a lot of ways, but I also realized when I was finished that I wanted to tell stories differently, and I began taking creative writing classes and writing personal essays.

Smallwood: You include your grandmother and mother in your essay collection. How have they shaped your writing? What women writers have influenced your writing?

Melina: I loved to read when I was growing up - I think most writers say that. When I was little, the public library was at the end of our block, and my mother and I would walk there and check out books. I had two sisters several years older than I am, and I became acquainted with a range of books through their interests and recommendations.

The Nancy Drew mystery series was an early favorite of mine, probably because she was spunky and adventurous with a lot of agency. I didn't know until much later that the author Carolyn Keane was actually a pseudonym for a number of different writers, but most of the books were written by Mildred Wirt Benson. I still love to read mystery/suspense/thrillers - like those by Rene Denfield, which are literary and deal with contemporary issues in addition to being suspenseful.

When I read Lidia Yuknavitch's, memoir, The Chronology of Water, it totally changed the way I looked at writing memoir and personal essay. She takes risks and pushes boundaries in a way that I hadn't considered as a journalist who was trained in a particular relationship with narrative. Roxane Gay has also influenced me in that way.

I've been fortunate to take several of the Corporeal Writing workshops with Lidia. Many of the essays in this collection started in or were revised in one of her workshops.

I've been a fan of Terry Tempest Williams' books for a long time, and I think my comfort with weaving the natural world into my writing is influenced by her writing.

Smallwood: The sixteen essays in The Grammar of Untold Stories are divided into Family, Work, Home. How did you decide on the title? How long did it take to write?

Melina: The title of the collection is also the title of one of my favorite essays in the book. But I also thought it represented one of the themes that shows up throughout the collection, which is how we make sense of what we don't know. Grammar is the structure that we use to make sense out of words, and stories are the structures that we use to make sense out of experiences. But sometimes we have incomplete narratives, secrets, missing information. My interest in this goes back to my writing about adoption and the awareness of how often children who have been adopted must try to piece together their stories out of incomplete information.

The collection took about three years to write.

Smallwood: Have you seen changes in women getting published, the questions they are asking?

Melina: I definitely think women are breaking barriers in publishing in terms of getting greater recognition for their work and in challenging some of the norms when it comes to forms, characters, and topics. Writers like Maggie Nelson and Rebecca Solnit are demonstrating that there is a big audience for smart writing. But at the same time, I'm aware that this is still a struggle - still requires effort.

What I would like to see is the age bias addressed in publishing - particularly as it relates to women authors and women characters. A literary journal recently announced a themed issue for writers over 60. To me, that's an admission that older writers are marginalized and require an affirmative effort to accept their work. Older women often feel invisible and I think this bias is alive and well in the publishing world. I'd like to see more older women as protagonists - without them being stereotyped as sexless, clueless, and frumpy. I recently read a mystery by a male author in which the detective was a woman in her 60s who had not advanced in her job because of sex discrimination. She was an active hiker and skier and involved in a new romantic relationship. It was so refreshing!

Smallwood: Please share what you are writing now, and how living in Oregon relates to your work:

Melina: I've lived in Oregon since 2008. Before that I lived in Idaho for almost 30 years. I've been an active outdoors person that entire time. So my writing reflects the natural world - rivers and mountains and hiking and rowing. A sense of place is important to my work. I hope readers of "Wings," for example, feel the heat and dust and steepness of that hike. In "The Synchronicity of Healing," I hope readers get a sense of what it's like to row in the hours before dawn or in a race

I'm working on a novel that has three intertwined narratives set in France, Iceland, and the Pacific Northwest, chosen in part because of my fascination with each of those environments and how it shapes the people who live there. The protagonists are women of various ages who are in relationships with other women - as lovers, as friends, as sisters. It's a lot to take on for a first novel!

Carol Smallwood, MLS, MA, Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award recipient
Literary reader, judge, and interviewer
Author of Thread, Form, and Other Enclosures (Main Street Rag, 2020)

Carolyn Wilhelm's Bookshelf

The Kingdom of Back
Marie Lu
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
9781524739010, $18.99 Hardcover, 336 pages
9781524739034, $11.99 Paperback / $TBA audiobook
ASIN: B07STRWTGN, $10.99 Kindle

Beautifully written! A fairy tale weaves throughout the historical fiction novel of close siblings Nannerl (Maria Anna) and Wolferl (Wolfgang) Mozart, both musical prodigies. They shared an imagined story of the Kingdom of Back as they traveled by stagecoach from one performance to another to keep entertained. Their father is demanding. The children are often exhausted, trying to perfect their music.

Oh, you haven't heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's sister? Perhaps that was because she had to stop performing at about age eighteen as she was female. Men could have careers, so the world knows much of the talented male genius who continued to be in demand as a performer. The book explains Nannerl's situation in detail as it is written from her viewpoint.

The fictional kingdom and characters change as events in their lives happen, seemingly coinciding with illnesses. Sick children were the norm during that time. Smallpox makes an appearance which necessitates the cancelation of performances. Nannerl feels responsible for possible mistakes she creates when dealing with the imaginary fairy, Hyacinth. Bravely, she returns to the make-believe kingdom to solve the remaining issues, thereby helping her brother.

Historical fiction at its best, this highly-rated book is remarkable.

Legend (A Legend Novel, Book 1)
Marie Lu
G.P. Putnam's Sons
9780142422076, $11.99 Hardcover, 320 pages
B0052RDJAO, $7.99 Audio Book / $9.99 Kindle

Day (AKA David) and June are the fifteen-year-old protagonists. Legend is a dystopian action story that shows how these two people from such different walks of life meet. This atypical story includes survival, revenge, and homelessness. The Republic and the Colonies cause each person to choose one side, which is difficult during the plague. Surprising events announced on public JumboTrons weave through the story of children forced to grow up and care for themselves too soon.

The Forgotten Father: Coping With Grief
Gary Roen
Taylor and Seale Publishing
9781943789856, $15.95 Hardcover, 26 pages
B07FB8VFYG, $4.99 Kindle

The Forgotten Father is just that, forgotten. While coping with grief, men are supposed to be the strong silent types. Emotional support is given to women. This book of poetry explorers the feelings of the father in the case of SIDS for a few month-old child. The author states no one asked how he was feeling. No one asked how he was doing. His emotions were as strong as any woman's, and yet he had to suffer on his own. As men tell him the situation is the same today, this book should open society's eyes. Highly recommend!

Mementos: A Unique Collection of Short Stories & Flash Fiction - Book 2 (Mementos Anthologies)
Dr. Theodore Jerome Cohen
TJC Press
9798688365726, $7.99 paperback, 182 Pages
B08NHPPH48, $2.99 eBook Kindle

An anthology of flash fiction and short stories based on photographic prompts, this book is sure to entertain and delight. Cohen writes with an authentic dialog for diverse characters from bikers in Texas, detectives trying to solve a suicide jump, to a fox chuckling and thinking to himself. When he writes of locations such as New York, Paris, Clear Lake Iowa, or Nevada, his voice and perspective are as reliable as someone local to the areas. Be prepared for an insider's view of County fairs, reunions, sports memories, cooks in a farmhouse kitchen, glaciers in Antarctica, and (ahem) certain employers in "sporting" hotels.

The stories are masterfully written. It isn't easy to believe they were all written by one person, Cohen, yet they were. Enjoy!

Carolyn Wilhelm

Elan Kluger's Bookshelf

Emerson: The Mind on Fire
Robert Richardson Jr.
University of California Press
9780520206892, $29.99

Few books flip the world around. Mind on fire does that. Continuously. If one thinks of any aspect included within the intellectual life, Richardson describes it. It is more than a biography; it is the transplantation of the essence of Emerson's mind into one's own. Born in the early 19th century Massachusetts, Emerson's intellectual surroundings and theological foundations are clearly shaped by the clash of Unitarianism and the more established churches. His father was a preacher. He died early. The true intellectual leader was his aunt who attempted to lead the Emerson boys into a spiritual life. Yet happenstance and contingency left Emerson, after a few short years post-Harvard as a schoolteacher and part-time bookworm (not Man Thinking), to be the only preacher. He found success and a lovely wife. A gradual loss of faith due to the insurmountable arguments of David Hume and the death of his wife led him to leave for Europe, away from preaching. He traveled, read widely, and met many famous thinkers, most importantly Thomas Carlyle. Through his readings, conversations, travels, and travails Emerson found a vocation in writing and lecturing about his core principles. He soon published Nature, which was followed by the legendary The American Scholar. He published essays and enumerated his vision of transcendence and Transcendentalism which won him a good following. He remarried and had kids. He journaled as he had been used to. He lectured to the very end and at long last, died.

Emerson writes in The Poet that the best poem is the poet's life. Richardson captures the epic poem of Emerson's life. As Emerson writes at the end of Representative Men, we must write our own bibles. Richardson wrote his and I am sure to be returning to it for many years to come.

Elan Kluger, Reviewer

Gregory Stephenson's Bookshelf

The Point of Splitting
Sally Read
Bloodaxe Books
9781852246855, 7.95 Brit. pounds, 53 pp

Broken Sleep
Sally Read
Bloodaxe Books
9781852248451, 7.95 Brit. pounds, 64 pp

The Day Hospital
Sally Read
Bloodaxe Books
9781852249489, 8.95 Brit. pounds, 62 pp

The title of Sally Read's first collection, The Point of Splitting is taken from a line in "Confession," one of the poems in the volume: "Before a fruit dessicates / it colours, ripens to the point of splitting." That is the point - both in the natural world and in the realm of human affairs - that holds the poet's the attention and interest in these early poems. That stage, that phase, that exact position or instant, the fulcrum, the fracture, the boundary, the fissure, the rift, the definitive division of then and now, there and here, this and that, ardour and sorrow, life and death. Working as a psychiatric nurse, Read has known much brokenness at close quarters. She has washed and laid out the dead, performed medical tests, administered injections, and given care to demented and dying patients. With the hard-won composure of a combat veteran, these early poems by Read affirm compassion and courage, while encompassing at the same time, passion and sensuality.

Read maintains in her poems a level voice to match her steady eye. Her language is direct, taut, pared down, her words carefully set and joined, but alive with inventions and surprises: "mute blarney," "stuck delicacy," "clipped acoustics," "blanched seconds," "freeze-bruised," "chilled unsheathing." She savours and celebrates beauty and pleasure - music, art, love - but is ever conscious of their fragility and transience: the imminence, the inevitability of "the point of splitting." Loved ones depart or die, jasmine blossoms and withers, minds are erased by dementia, bodies grow ill, fruits rot, stars fall from the night sky, the tastes of cold beer or margaritas or kisses fade from our tongues. We can prevent nothing, we can only strive to see clearly and to carry on with such integrity and dignity as we can summon. Read offers her readers no easy consolations in these early poems, the cultivation of a stoic (or existential) acceptance is, in the end, the whole point of knowing the point of splitting.

Yet despite their surface poise a deeper urgency at times disturbs certain of Read's early poems, a latent metaphysical yearning - a longing for light. Imagery of light is recurrent: lamplight, sunlight, starlight, moonlight, neon signs, lighted windows, lightning, even lightning bugs. The primal desire for light is most explicit in a poem titled "Winter Light" where a woman gravely stricken with illness craves sunshine and arranges glass objects on a window sill in such a way as to capture and collect the pale light of the winter sun. Her illness and her craving may perhaps be seen to emblematize our common stricken state on this dark earth and our deep-rooted human longing for light, light that might "prize open / the constricted black whorls of nausea" that sometimes possess us in our more desolate hours.

Read's second collection, Broken Sleep, consists of two sections: "Broken Sleep" and "The Glass Eye." The first comprises a sequence of poems giving an account of the gestation, birth and infancy of the poet's daughter. The process catalyzes in the mind and spirit of the poet a corresponding development, suggested already in the opening poem of the series, "The Crossing," in which enclosed in darkness, deep in the hull of a ship - like a foetus in a womb - she traverses at night an expanse of water from one shore and one life to another shore and a new life there. The title of this section would seem to have two meanings: a reference to the interrupted sleep experienced by a nursing mother and a naming of the metamorphosis undergone by the poet-speaker, that is, an awakening from her former life which now seems to her a kind of sleep. The awakening is to a new awareness of the world and to the experience of a new and profound form of love. Even as the life of the foetus stirs within her, Read feels herself simultaneously diminished to the level of a bystander yet raised to a new, more acute perception of life, including the life of the natural world. Flowers, fish, birds, fruit, insects, leaves, the seasonal cycle and the diurnal cycle take on deeper meanings for her. Sensible of the slow, mysterious, miracle of budding life within her and later of the tender, precious newborn life in her care, she begins to enter into a fuller participation in the created world, partly a partaking in and partly a being partaken of. Communication with the unborn and the newly born child takes place at a pre-linguistic, pre-rational level, by means of odors, sounds, rhythms, gazes and touch, re-immersing the poet in the fertile pre-verbal world of infancy: "all words gone." Read finds herself drawn into and being carried along by a current of primal, powerful love, surpassing in depth and strength even that of lovers, a love that is the very measure and purest expression of all human love: the love between child and parent. Such love, Read writes, is "a calling," a summons from and sign of an ultimate Love, that very Love which, as Dante writes, "moves the sun and other stars."

The second section of the volume, titled "The Glass Eye," challenges and complements the tender mood of the first section, presenting imagery of disfigurement, disease, depravity, appalling crime, loss, sorrow, fear and death. Many of the poems in this section make for disturbing reading (as they are, no doubt, intended to do.) Read's newly achieved affirmative and expansive perspective on life as chronicled in the "Broken Sleep" sequence does not cancel her awareness of what is awful and evil in existence. But while acknowledging the raw tragedy of so many lives in the world - murder, matricide, life-blighting maladies and self-destructive obsessions - certain of the poems in this section honor the possibility of heroism and holiness. There is, for example, a poem titled "On Saint Gianna (1922-62) who died as a result of refusing essential medical treatment in order to save the life of her unborn child," and a poem dedicated to the memory of Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash, an American Indian activist who was brutally murdered by unknown assailants. Another poem, titled "The Baptism," recounts a sudden epiphany experienced by the poet-speaker regarding the deeper implications of Michelangelo's famed statue, Pieta. Encountering the sculpted figures, as if for the first time, the poet "hears" in the speechless, unspeakable suffering of St. Mary holding in her arms her dead son, "not Look what you have done / but "This is what I have." Human pain, loss and sacrifice may through faith at times be transformed by the sufferers into acts of love suffused with redemptive light. Taking as its subject a happier and more common level of human experience, the final poem of the volume, "Honeymoon in the Midnight Sun," is a celebration of light and love. The longing for light latent in certain of the poems of The Point of Splitting has discovered vital sources of sustenance.

An invisible, inviolable light of mind or of spirit informs the poems of Sally Read´s third and most recent volume, The Day Hospital, sub-titled "A Poem for Twelve Voices." The book is arranged as a sequence of twelve interior monologues taking place in the minds of twelve patients at the Day Hospital (an outpatient facility) in London's Soho district. The monologues occur in the course of a single day between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and are interspersed with evocative, impressionistic descriptions of the city during those hours: the sights, sounds and odors of the streets, the light and weathers and the rush of traffic and commuters travelling to and from urban workplaces. The individual persons in whose minds the monologues unfold as silent inner speech are isolated, aged and damaged, many are exiles far from home, some traumatized by war. They are Irish, Polish-Jewish, German-Jewish, Italian-Jewish, Jamaican, Russian and London-born English. Some are schizophrenic, others suffer from clinical depression or from Alzheimers, one has been lobotomized. Each monologue is preceded by a brief account of the patient, including age and ailment. Their thoughts and memories are rendered in an unchronological, fragmented, shifting, associative, stream-of-consciousness style, pronounced silently within the chambers of their minds in the dialect of and with the grammar and lexis of the individual.

A common denominator among these pinched and tragic lives is the presence in each maimed mind of some ineradicable core of selfhood, some still bright speck or splinter of consciousness that animates them yet, lending to them a hidden dignity and enabling them to defy or even triumph over their piteous state. For one patient, preservation of the innermost essential self expresses itself as a sly, minor act of resistance to the doctors; for another patient it takes the form of a cherished memory of childhood and home, while for another it is the precious memory of a kiss and an erotic encounter; for one preservation of the residual self takes the form of a physical compulsion to escape and evade; for another it is expressed as humour; one finds a curious consolation in the sound of urban foxes mating in the darkness of the small hours, while another patient finds transcendence of pain in a determined riding of her exercise bike; one preserves in relentless rituals of grief the dear memory of her murdered mother; another finds solace in words of kindness and mercy spoken to her by the nurses and therapists; and one despairing, haunted mind can only find freedom and surcease of sorrow in the act of self-murder.

The city that surrounds these unheard inward voices, the vast populous city of London in which they endure their isolated lives, is rendered here as harsh and hectic, clamorous and malodorous. Beneath the urgent rhythms of the workday there is a substratum of benumbed futility. Soho promises piquant diversions in the form of nude shows and "veined, pink rubber dildos" and crotchless red panties in the windows of sex shops. Yet there is still a flower stall at the Berwick Street Market and St. Patrick's Catholic Church on Soho Square still stands: "Romanesque arches and incense in open darkness." Grace - however unheeded and disbelieved in - remains available in natural beauty and in religion. And perhaps that unseen, silent, beleaguered, precious particle of selfhood to which utterance is given in these twelve monologues may be seen as occupying a "point of splitting" between uniqueness and universality, a point of intersection between the personal and the eternal, a point of convergence with a vaster whole.

Sally Read is a poet of many virtues and resources, including a broad tonal range and a firm command of pace and phrasing, a knack for arresting and apposite imagery, keen observation and empathy, clarity of apprehension and depth of meaning. Harrowing and humbling, fierce and lyrical, Read's work offers ample rewards.

Gregory Stephenson

Heather Bergevin's Bookshelf

The Blue Jeans Rebellion
Joanna H. Kraus
Leicester Bay Books
9798648800717, $9.95 PB, $5.00 Kindle, 60pp

I honestly was surprised by The Blue Jean Rebellion. I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I have. It's author, Joanna H. Kraus, isn't LDS and never has been, which was a bonus for me, as I often find insider stories of this type to be treacly, which this was not.

It has an older style illustration on the cover, which is nicely done, but might not be quite as attractive to middle-grade readers. It would be well done as a read aloud, however, and the addition of teacher discussion questions at the end of the book for historical context will be a good help to both parents and teachers of readers.

The story speaks to the common problem most of humanity has and seems to reject in some form -- at what point is wanting to look nice prideful, and at what point is it functional and good?

A young man, tired of wearing the same clothing styles as his grandfather, and even more tired of having grown out of his own pants which are several inches too short, prompting jeers from other children, covets a pair of blue jeans. When presented to a group in this fashion, this problem is instantly recognizable to both elementary and middle school children, and definitely to their parents.

Who among us has not wanted something cool we saw in a shop window, or on a person at school? What would we have done to get the coolest jeans in the eighties, nineties, or
in 2019? Adding in the idea that blue jeans are a new technology, being a hard-wearing but soft fabric that's brand new and fancy, with a completely new style of fastening and rivets...the draw is obvious. The problem, however, is not that the jeans are too expensive, or too far away, or even inaccessible fancy tech. The problem is that anything else except what has always been done is forbidden.

This will also be instantly recognizable to children and adults of all ages. Who among us has not wanted to try a new hairstyle, a new fashion trend, or a new idea, because it might be too trendy, too surprising, or too radical. For children to realize that for this young man, wanting a pair of blue jeans would be like getting a bright blue mohawk and skintight leather pants when your family usually dresses very conservatively, I think, will make them giggle, but also think. Seeing the conclusion of the taken-from-life-events story, and the way the boy's community finds a solution to the problem will make them think even more.

The book is a fast read with large words, a short chapter book. The characterizations are excellent, and in a brief space of time make you feel great empathy for the children, their families, and their concerned community. This book would pair well with conversations about fundamentalism with older children, and with the discussion that similar episodes happen today, only on a much larger scale, in some of our most conservative Mormon-adjacent communities.

The idea of shunning is not so far away from our own practices and is among the most dangerous forms of spiritual abuse.

I love the resolution of the story, which, although technically Gideon does not get to wear his jeans, he does. Read it to find out what I mean! I hope you enjoy this small treat, which would make a good book for a children's book club.

Heather Harris Bergevin, Reviewer
The Association for Mormon Letters

Jack Mason's Bookshelf

Revolutionary Pairs
Larry Ceplair
The University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008
9780813179193, $60.00, HC, 280pp

Synopsis: When examining history, we must be careful not to blame rapid political change solely on famine, war, economic inequality, or structural dysfunctions alone. These conditions can linger for decades without social upheaval. Rather, history has shown us that successful revolution requires two triggering elements: a crisis or conjuncture and revolutionary actors who are organized in a dedicated revolutionary party, armed with a radical ideology, and poised to act. While previous revolutions were ignited by small collectives, many in the twentieth century relied on strategic relationships between two exceptional leaders: Marx and Engels (Communism), Lenin and Trotsky (Russia), Ghandi and Nehru (India), Mao and Zhou (China), and Castro and Guevara (Cuba). These partnerships changed the world.

In "Revolutionary Pairs: Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Gandhi and Nehru, Mao and Zhou, Castro and Guevara", author, historian and biographer Larry Ceplair tells the stories of five revolutionary struggles through the lens of famous duos. While each relationship was unique (Castro and Guevara bonded like brothers, Mao and Zhou like enemies) in every case, these leaders seized the opportunity for revolution and recognized they could not succeed without the other. The first cross-cultural exploration of revolutionary pairs, "Revolutionary Pairs" reveals the undeniable role of personality in modern political change.

Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of thirty pages of Notes, a twelve page Bibliography, and a fifteen page Index, "Revolutionary Pairs: Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Gandhi and Nehru, Mao and Zhou, Castro and Guevara" is an original and seminal work of meticulous scholarship resulting in a unique and invaluable contribution to community, college, and university library Political Science and World History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academicians, political scientists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Revolutionary Pairs: Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Gandhi and Nehru, Mao and Zhou, Castro and Guevara" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $52.44).

Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher
Bill Demski, Alex Thomas, Brian Vikander
Influence Publishers
c/o Dexterity
9781645427100, $26.95, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Stephen Louis Dalkowski Jr. (June 3, 1939 - April 19, 2020), nicknamed Dalko, was an American left-handed baseball pitcher. He was sometimes called the fastest pitcher in baseball history and had a fastball that probably exceeded 100 mph (160 km/h). Some experts believed it went as fast as 110 mph (180 km/h), others that his pitches traveled at less than that speed. As no radar gun or other device was available at games to measure the speed of his pitches precisely, the actual top speed of his pitches remains unknown. Regardless of its actual speed, his fastball earned him the nickname "White Lightning". Such was his reputation that despite never reaching the major leagues, and finishing his minor league years in class-B ball, the 1966 Sporting News item about the end of his career was headlined "Living Legend Released." (Wikipedia)

For the first time, "Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher" unites all of the eyewitness accounts from the coaches, analysts, teammates, and professionals who witnessed the game's fastest pitcher in action. In doing so, it puts readers on the fields and at the plate to hear the buzzing fastball of a pitcher fighting to achieve his major league ambitions.

Just three days after his high school graduation in 1957, Steve Dalkowski signed into the Baltimore Orioles system. Poised for greatness, he might have risen to be one of the stars in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead, he spent his entire career toiling away in the minor leagues. An inspiration for the character Nuke LaLoosh in the classic baseball film Bull Durham, Dalko's life and story were as fast and wild as the pitches he threw.

The late Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who saw baseball greats Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax pitch, said "Dalko threw harder than all of 'em." Cal Ripken Sr., Dalkowski's catcher for several years, said the same. Bull Durham screenwriter Ron Shelton, who played with Dalkowski in the minor leagues, said "They called him "Dalko" and guys liked to hang with him and women wanted to take care of him and if he walked in a room in those days he was probably drunk."

This force on the field that could break chicken wire backstops and wooden fences with his heat but racked up almost as many walks as strikeouts in his career, spent years of drinking all night and showing up on the field the next day, just in time to show his wild heat again. What the Washington Post called "baseball's greatest what-if story" is one of a superhuman, once-in-a-generation gift, a near-mythical talent that refused to be tamed. Steve Dalkowski will forever be remembered for his remarkable arm. Said Shelton, "In his sport, he had the equivalent of Michelangelo's gift but could never finish a painting."Dalko is the story of the fastest pitching that baseball has ever seen, an explosive but uncontrolled arm.

Critique: Bringing him out of an undeserved obscurity, "Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher" by the team of Bill Demski, Alex Thomas, Brian Vikander is a 'must read' selection for all dedicated American baseball history fans. Impressively informative, exceptionally well written, inherently fascinating, "Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library American Sports History & Biography collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of baseball history buffs that "Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Jack Mason

John Burroughs' Bookshelf

Bigger Government
Marc Laurence Robinson
Arolla Press
9782970140139, $25.99, HC, 392pp

Synopsis: Advanced nations are headed for a new era of bigger government, with government expenditure set to increase enormously over the next three decades. In all advanced economies, health expenditure will be driven irresistibly upward by the cost of precision medicine and other new technologies, as well as by the need to repair weaknesses highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Governments will also be compelled to spend big on fighting global warming, fixing ailing infrastructure and providing adequate aged care for a rapidly graying populations. The combined effect of these and other spending pressures threatens to drive budget deficits and government debt through the roof. Substantial tax increases will be necessary, most of all in the low-tax United States.

Pruning welfare spending will also be high on the agenda in countries with the most comprehensive welfare states. Printing money (as proposed by advocates of modern monetary theory) is not a solution, but a sure route to disaster. Faced with this reality, the political right must abandon pipe dreams of small government. The left, on the other hand, needs to recognize that there is no room or need for costly projects like a universal basic income. Mankind is not facing the threat of mass technological unemployment, and government spending needs to be focused on addressing real problems rather than imaginary ones.

Critique: "Bigger Government: The Future of Government Expenditure in Advanced Economies" is a seminal and ground breaking study that is as impressively informed and informative as it is 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Public Finance & International Global Development collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists, it should be noted for students, academia, economists, governmental policy makers, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Bigger Government: The Future of Government Expenditure in Advanced Economies" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9782970140139, $17.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Marc Robinson is an internationally-recognized expert on government finances. As a consultant, he has advised more than thirty countries, on all continents and at all stages of development, on budgeting reforms. He has also been a senior civil servant, a professor of economics, and a staff economist at the International Monetary Fund. Dr. Robinson has published many books, monographs and articles on government budgeting issues. He has frequently participated as an invited speaker at conferences and symposiums held by international organizations (including the OECD, European Union, APEC, NATO) and national ministries of finance. He is a member of the OECD Advisory Panel on Budgeting and Public Expenditures. Resident in Switzerland, he is a Swiss and Australian dual national. He maintains a website at

Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic
Harry Wiland, et al.
Turner Publishing Company
200 - 4th Avenue North, Suite 950, Nashville, TN 37219
9781684423248, $29.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: The Opioid Epidemic is the worst man-made drug epidemic in the history of our nation. More people die each year from an opioid drug overdose than in automobile accidents. The statistics are staggering. "Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic" showcases experts, journalists, and public health crusaders who are combating the special interests of Big Pharma and informing the world on how an aggressive pharmaceutical mass marketing campaign for the new drug OxyContin misled doctors and the public into our current crisis of death and addiction.

"Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic" highlights the stories of those hit hardest by prescription opioid addiction and overdose death, and sheds light on how whole communities have been ravaged by the spread of addiction. Despite regional health experts, local government, law enforcement, journalists, and the DEA's efforts to combat the epidemic, people continue to die at an alarming rate from prescription drug overdoses.

The individual chapters of "Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic" chronicle this opioid epidemic in all its complexity from many perspectives including the plight of the millions of Americans who suffer from opioid addiction. In its pages, people both young and old who are on the rocky road to recovery tell their harrowing stories, current victories, and on-going struggles with the disease.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic" is one of those timely and relevant exposes that deserves as wide a readership as possible. Impressively informative, and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Contemporary Medical Issues & Substance Abuse Recovery collections in general, and Opioid Epidemic supplemental curriculum studies in particular, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Do No Harm: The Opioid Epidemic" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781684423231, $19.99), in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.39), and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Dreamscape Media, 9781690556251, $22.99, CD).

John Burroughs

Julie Summers' Bookshelf

Woman of Valor: A Story of Resistance, Leadership & Courage
Marty Brounstein
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757005039, $16.95, PB, 226pp

Synopsis: Eta Chait was a young Jewish woman who lived with her parents and siblings in Lukow, Poland. In 1939, the country was invaded by Nazi Germany marking the start of World War Two. Under the Nazis' brutal occupation, the Jews of Poland were rounded up, and segregated into ghettos. At first, they were able to work outside of these areas; within a short time, however, their movements were severely restricted and their food supplies limited. As Eta and her family found themselves crowded into one of these ghettos, they watched as their Jewish neighbors were pulled out of their homes, imprisoned, or summarily executed in the streets.

Facing this oncoming brutality, Eta joined a resistance group within the ghetto to escape. After fleeing, she returned to help free the rest of her family with unexpected consequences. From there, Eta and her remaining family made their way into the Polish woods for safety.

From that moment, Eta's mission was clear -- she would do everything she could to defeat the Nazis and save as many Jews as possible. The dense Polish forest served as a relatively safe haven for Poles fleeing from the Germans. It also served as the base of operations for the organized resistance. Eta quickly joined an all-Jewish armed resistance unit, which was part of the Polish Partisan fighters made up of Jews and non-Jews.

Through her cunning and bravery, she rose to become one of the leaders of an all-Jewish partisan unit. Led by Eta and others, this unit went on missions outside the forest. These units were armed and ready to engage in combat and defense activities against the Nazis and their collaborators. Because of their success, they became a top target of the Nazis.

To change from daughter into the role of a young soldier is no easy transition; however, this heroic evolution is at the heart of Eta Chait's story. "Woman of Valor: A Story of Resistance, Leadership & Courage " follows her journey, from the horrors of the ghetto into the hardships of survival in the woods under the most extreme conditions. And then through her eyes as a fighter, we witness the struggles and fears of those who were trapped by the Holocaust. This is the moving story of a young woman who refused to give up -- who chose to put her own life on the line in order to save the lives of others from certain death. Amidst the many tragic stories of the Holocaust, Eta's tale serves to remind us of the good in people.

Critique: With the publication of "Woman of Valor: A Story of Resistance, Leadership & Courage", author and biographer Marty Brounstein has brought out of an undeserved obscurity and story of heroic resistence to the Nazi campaign of genocidal extermination. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Woman of Valor: A Story of Resistance, Leadership & Courage" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Holocaust Studies and World War II History & Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Woman of Valor: A Story of Resistance, Leadership & Courage" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Marty Brounstein was an educator who taught history, including the Holocaust. The stories he now writes tell of the often unknown heroes of the Holocaust, such as his his previous book, "The Righteous Few". He travels extensively throughout the country speaking about the Holocaust, and sharing accounts of individual bravery.

Palm Beach Scandal
Susannah Marren
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
9781250772756, $30.99, HC, 336pp

Synopsis: Veronica and Simon Cutler and their dazzling adult daughters, Elodie and Aubrey, strike an enviable pose as the ultimate Palm Beach family. In a town where social aspirations, wealth and charm prevail, they are transcendent. While the sisters are polar opposites, they are fiercely loyal to each other. When Elodie receives the shocking news that she is no longer able to conceive a baby, she turns to Aubrey.

Aubrey, a free spirit, isn't interested in marriage or children, yet when her sister asks her to carry her child, she can't say no, despite her mother's warnings. And then one stupefying secret, meant to be buried forever, is unearthed and no one in the Cutler clan is able to turn back. As the family is shaken to their core, Aubrey and Elodie must realize their places in the world and the lives they want to lead.

In the midst of the unforgiving opulence of Palm Beach, "A Palm Beach Scandal" is a story reflecting our contemporary times as a captivating tale of discovery, sisterhood, and love for others where you least expect it.

Critique: Deftly written with a narrative style of entertaining storytelling that pays attention to background detail and the drafting of memorable characters, "A Palm Beach Scandal" by novelist Susannah Marren will be an enduringly popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Palm Beach Scandal" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9781250228086, $16.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Witch: A Cranky Little Tale
Ann Robinson
Peter E. Randall Publisher
9781942155096, $20.00, PB, 256pp

Synopsis: In a comedy of errors, Irene completes a mail-order course in the Craft, and enlists the aid of a 700-year old sorceress, Moldred of Breste, to enact revenge on her unfaithful husband, Teddy, who is recuperating from a stroke and is confined to a nursing home.

Shirleen convinces her mother to sell their house and move in with her; Deke, her rough-and-tumble husband; and their son Junior, who's very attached to his grandmom. Then along comes Rolfe, a handsome French-Canadian house painter, and Shirleen is smitten.

Alas, the course of true love never runs smooth. Several months pass. Shirleen tours Montreal with her French club, and who should appear? Deke tries to phone her, but she can't be reached. The tour guide is scandalized.

Two days later, a contrite Shirleen returns home. Good thing, too: Irene has developed a bogus bath product that will make her famous. When customers discover the ruse, a repentant Irene seeks solace in a neopagan lifestyle, but soon becomes disenchanted with life in a coven. Ultimately, she forgives Teddy, who has recovered his health and become a caterer.

The story concludes with the Wiccan marriage ceremony of Irene's grandson, Junior, and his pregnant girlfriend, Antoinette, the daughter of Teddy's former mistress, Rosalie. To everyone's delight, Shyrena Rose is born with midwyffe Moldred in attendance (is there no limit to this witch's talents?) At the novel's conclusion, Irene, having rediscovered the pleasures of traditional family life, contemplates a future without neopaganism that might even include Teddy.

Critique: An original and exceptionally entertaining novel that is all the more impressive when considering that it is author Ann Robinson's debut as a novelist, "Witch: A Cranky Little Tale" deftly blends humor, Wiccan precepts, as well as adroitly fashioned and memorable characters. A thoroughly and enjoyable read from first page to last, "Witch: A Cranky Little Tale" by Ann Robinson will prove to be a unique and welcome addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Women's Fiction collections in general, and personal Magical Realism/Humorous Fantasy reading lists in particular.

Julie Summers

Karina Wiebenga's Bookshelf

What Can You Do With a Line?
Gulsah Yemen, author
Cagri Odabasi, illustrator
Crackboom! Books
9782898022524, $14.95 hc, 22 pages

A playful little sprite carries readers into the world of lines! For the developing mind, this introduction is done in a colourful and fanciful way, capturing the inquisitive spirit that lives within children ages 3-7. They are seeking to understand the world they see around them and making sense of what they are seeing for the first time. What Can You Do With a Line? captures the wonder of something we see all around us - lines. It invites little ones to imagine and explore for themselves what a line can do.

The sprite begins with types of lines that can be created with all sorts of colours. With his toolkit of pencils, felts, paint brushes and rollers, he draws lines that are short, long, thin, and thick. Things get more interesting when lines curl into shapes and the sprite is hanging from circles, holding up ovals and framed inside squares. This is a great introduction to vocabulary of art. There is potential for great discussion between adult and child.

Later in the book comes the connection to how lines can express emotion - spreading happiness and working through sadness and confusion. Lines can create joy in music and beauty in nature. Then comes the invitation to children to experiment for themselves with chalk, pastel, crayon, paints, sponges, cotton balls and more.

The pictures are inviting, entertaining and instructional. The sprite moves around all over the page - sometimes standing painting with a long-handled roller with a paper hat and sometimes flying with a cape! Readers' eyes move all over the page as the illustrator makes great use of space. When the author introduces the concept of lines creating shapes, the shapes are painted with imaginative colours, designs and also made to look like recognizable objects - a mouth eating watermelon, fish swimming in a river which turn into musical notes on a musical staff with sprites playing musical instruments underneath. Finally, a connection is made to common drawings, and the viewer automatically searches for the lines that make up the drawings.

What Can You Do With a Line? is a delightful dive into playful exploration, something children are great at!

Karina Wiebenga

Margaret Lane's Bookshelf

Anne Neilson's Angels
Anne Neilson
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781400220403, $24.99, HC, 192pp

Synopsis: "Anne Neilson's Angels: Devotions and Art to Encourage, Refresh, and Inspire" is an exquisite 40-day devotional from artist, writer, and philanthropist Anne Neilson. Each individual section deftly explores one word along with a new angel painting by Anne, includes a thoughtful definition, as well as a Scripture reading and prayer, and two pages of Anne's reflections from her life that offer joy and comfort.

Known for painting with both passion and purpose, Anne donates a portion of her book proceeds to those experiencing homelessness and poverty in our world, ensuring that Anne Neilson's Angels will continue to give back for years to come. Let Scripture, prayer, and the beauty of Anne Neilson's Angels nurture your soul.

Critique: An inspiring and beautiful volume to browse through one page at a time, "Anne Neilson's Angels: Devotions and Art to Encourage, Refresh, and Inspire" is an extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, church, seminary, community, college, and university library Christian Inspirational & Devotional literature collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of clergy, seminary students, and all members of the Christian community that "Anne Neilson's Angels: Devotions and Art to Encourage, Refresh, and Inspire" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Editorial Note: Anne Herring Neilson is well known for her ethereal Angel Series paintings, which are inspiring reflections of her faith and recognized for their stunning use of color. In response to demand for more access to her acclaimed Angels, Neilson published two coffee table books and launched Anne Neilson Home -- a growing collection of luxury home products including candles, note cards, scripture cards, prints, and journals. Neilson also owns Anne Neilson Fine Art, an art gallery located in Charlotte, North Carolina. Representing more than 50 talented artists from across the world, the gallery is dedicated to being a lighthouse in Charlotte and beyond, illuminating the work of emerging and established artists.

Making Peace with the Universe
Michael Scott Alexander
Columbia University Press
61 West 62nd Street, New York, NY 10023-7015
9780231198585, $86.25, HC, 288pp

Synopsis: The world's great religious and philosophical traditions often include poignant testimonies of spiritual turmoil and healing. Following episodes of harrowing personal crisis, including addictions, periods of anxiety and panic, and reminders of mortality, these accounts then also describe pathways to consolation and resolution.

In "Making Peace with the Universe: Personal Crisis and Spiritual Healing", Professor Michael Scott Alexander reads diverse classic religious accounts as masterpieces of therapeutic insight. In the company of William James, Socrates, Muslim legal scholar turned mystic Hamid al-Ghazali, Chinggis Khan as described by the Daoist monk Qui Chuji, and jazz musician and Catholic convert Mary Lou Williams, Alexander traces the steps from existential crisis to psychological health. He recasts spiritual confessions as case histories of therapy, showing how they remain radical and deeply meaningful even in an age of scientific psychology. They record the therapeutic affect of spiritual experience, testifying to the achievement of psychological well-being through the cultivation of an edifying spiritual mood.

Mixing scholarly learning with episodes from his own skeptical quest, Professor Alexander demonstrates how these accounts of private terror and personal triumph offer a model of therapy through spiritual adventure. An interdisciplinary consideration of the shared terrain of religion and psychology, "Making Peace with the Universe" offers an innovative view of what spiritual traditions can teach us about finding meaning in the modern world.

Critique: Impressively informative and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Making Peace with the Universe: Personal Crisis and Spiritual Healing" is an extraordinary contribution to community and academic library Religious Philosophy collections in general, and Spiritual Healing reading lists in particular. Especially in this time of pandemic, economic crisis, political divisions, and the now global impact of climate change, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Making Peace with the Universe: Personal Crisis and Spiritual Healing" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780231198592, $30.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.19).

Editorial Note: Michael Scott Alexander is associate professor of religious studies and Maimonides Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Riverside. He is also the author of Jazz Age Jews (2001) and winner of the National Jewish Book Award.

Pea in a Pod: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth & Beyond, third edition
Linda Goldberg
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757004896, $19.95, PB, 496pp

Synopsis: Fifty years ago, mothers-to-be visited their obstetricians once a month, did exactly what they were told, and gave birth to their babies while heavily sedated or anesthetized. Their husbands, who most likely had never even once accompanied them to the doctor, paced nervously in the waiting room, barred from the inner sanctum of the labor and delivery rooms. Today, some expectant parents still stand on the sidelines. But more choose to be active players.

The labor and birth options available to modern parents-to-be are numerous, and "Pea in a Pod: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth & Beyond" by Linda Goldberg covers them all. Taking you from your first day of pregnancy through your child's first year, it presents everything from relaxation exercises to practice during pregnancy, to birth positions and breathing techniques -- a treasure-trove of information designed to make your labor and delivery easier. This comprehensive guide offers a month-by-month breakdown of the physical changes to expect during pregnancy; describes the emotional aspects of pregnancy; and discusses the do's and don'ts of sex during and after pregnancy.

"Pea in a Pod" also provides a nutrition plan for the pregnant woman; exercise plans for the mother-to-be, new mother, and cesarean mother; and a wealth of hints for the father-to-be, labor partner, and new father. In addition, the basics of infant care and an in-depth discussion of breastfeeding are included.

Now in an updated and expanded third edition, "Pea in a Pod" reflects current information on nutrition, prenatal testing, labor and delivery options, infant care, and more. Over 200 photographs and illustrations summarize and highlight the text, while witty cartoons offer humorous insights into parenthood and serve as welcome proof that you're not alone in your fears and frustrations.

Critique: Comprehensive and exceptionally 'user friendly' in both organization and presentation, "Pea in a Pod" is an ideal and invaluable guide to keep at your elbow until your child blows out that first birthday candle. A step-by-step handbook, a ready reference, and a source of practical advice, it is an instructional manual that will be turned to time and time again. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Pregnancy & Childbirth collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Pea in a Pot" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Linda Goldberg, RN, CCE, IBCLC, is a graduate of the Helene Fuld School of Nursing at West Jersey Hospital. She has taught childbirth classes since 1977, first with the CEA of Jacksonville, Florida, and then at Special Beginnings, an out-of-hospital birth center in Orlando. Currently, Linda is a lactation consultant and educator at Winter Park Memorial Hospital in Winter Park, Florida, where she teaches early pregnancy, breastfeeding, and Happiest Baby on the Block classes.

Margaret Lane

Marj Charlier's Bookshelf

The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew
Denise Heinze
Blackstone Publishing
9781982598648, $24.99 Hardcover, $8.69 Kindle, 212 Pages

This captivating historical novel, portraying two of the first women to immigrate to Jamestown in 1609, weaves together the author's vivid imagination with impressive research into the history of the settlement, delivering an unstinting yet not unempathetic tale. An unrelenting string of devastating events, poor leadership, and paucity of survival skills brought hunger, disease, murder, and war with the native Powhatan confederacy - which together nearly destroyed the colony and killed most of its residents.

Expecting to reach in Jamestown at the same time as her betrothed, Temperance Flowerdew and her capable indentured servant, Lily, arrive with optimism about the future of the new world and their new independence from family and expectations. Their hopes are dashed and their troubles intensify when Sea Venture, the main supply ship of the seven-ship fleet, is waylaid for nearly a year by a hurricane that forced it to land in Bermuda. The crucial ship not only held most of the food and other supplies that was supposed to sustain the settlement, but also Temperance's fiance, leaving her and the other settlers desperately clinging to life for a miserable year.

As reported in the history books, the colonists resorted to eating shoe leather and to cannibalism in their desperate struggle to survive. Heinze lays out the story in two time periods and modes: the arrival at Jamestown in 1609 in third person narrative, and in first-person diary entries a couple of decades later. I learned much more about Jamestown from reading this novel than in all the American history courses I've ever taken. Perhaps that's because Heinz's prose and storytelling were so compelling.

The Exiles
Christina Baker Kline
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
9780062356345, $27.99 Hardcover, $14.99 Kindle, 371 Pages

Christina Baker Kline's best-known work, The Orphan Train, is based on Depression-era true stories of abandoned children who were thrown at the mercy of a self-serving, callous organization that masquerades as benevolent and compassionate. The children are shipped across the country by train to be adopted by farmers and businessmen eager to take advantage of free labor in exchange for humble, sometimes cruelly miserly sustenance.

It's a similar theme here in The Exiles, only this time, it's both children and adult women who are at the mercy of a misogynist and racist civilization that wrests control of their lives on often trumped up charges and out of imperial entitlement. Also, a repeated theme is that of an indigenous child taken from her community and thrust into an alien, white world. Those similarities, as well as this book's basis in gruesome historical fact, are likely to please old fans even as they make new ones for the author.

One of the two main threads of the story involves the female prisoners sent to Tasmania (Van Dieman's Island at the time) aboard the slave ship Madea. These women, many of whom are accused and convicted of minor offences or trumped up crimes, are sent to the prisons on the island. Evangeline has committed no crime, but her lover's prominent family wants her to disappear, and they make it happen. First, she is sent to the squalid, overcrowded Newgate Prison, where she suffers all matter of indignities. Things aren't much better once she is on the ship headed for the other side of the earth, particularly when she garners the wrath of one very nasty pirate-cum-sailor. On the ship, she meets Hazel, a young woman sentenced to a life of hard labor for allegedly stealing a spoon. Hazel is the daughter of midwife, and despite her youth, she has picked up a lot of medical and medicinal knowledge that proves pivotal to her future. The second thread of the novel involves the tragic story of the indigenous tribes of Tasmania who were shipped off to a penal colony on an nearby island to make way for the white settlers and their labor-supplying prisons.

It can be difficult to hold onto readers when one of the main characters is lost in the middle of the narrative to a tragedy. But Kline carries it off creating more than one compelling character who can pull the narrative forward. In part this novel succeeds because of its basis in much historical research. Kline takes advantage of the treasure trove of academic and popular materials that have documented the Newgate Prison, the fleets of ships that delivered prisoners to Van Dieman's Island, and the penal colonies there, as well as the fate of the natives of the islands. As someone who has written novels with much less historical evidence, I am jealous of the plethora of information she had at her disposal. But having the resources isn't as important as having a great imagination and the kind of talent Kline has in composing a compelling fictional narrative.

Anxious People
Fredrik Backman
c/o Simon & Schuster
9781501160837, $28.00 Hardcover, $14.99 Kindle, 341 Pages

I had a tremendous amount of help from my book club in evaluating this novel. So, let me share the thoughts on which we had consensus: 1) The title is all wrong. It doesn't seem like these characters are anxious at all. 2) The plot twists are many and clever. 3) This is obviously a novel that was meticulously planned from the start, otherwise it could never have been pulled off. 4) Toward the end of the novel some of the dialogue is overly long and tedious. 5) The novel will make you feel good about our ability to connect with people we don't think are at all like us. 6) Although ostensibly about suicide, the novel really explores the fine line (perhaps a bridge railing?) that separates hopelessness from hope. 7) And although it is about suicide, it is at times very funny.

A robber tries to hold up a bank to raise money to pay a deposit on an apartment so the would-be perpetrator can see the bank robber's children again. In failing to raise the measly 6500 kroner (roughly $750), the robber runs out of the bank and accidently ends up at an apartment open house and accidentally ends up with a gaggle of hostages. The hostages are less anxious (hence our complaint) than they are surprised and sympathetic with the bank robber's dilemma. They order pizza. They help each other get along and resolve interpersonal issues. They smoke cigarettes and drink wine on the balcony and in a closet together. And they stare out the window and off the balcony at the bridge where both a suicide and an averted suicide took place.

Much of the giggles are delivered via the interviews the frustrated police officers - father and son - have with the hostages. The hostages all seem like idiots, and that's part of Backman's trick. Are they really idiots or is their agenda just different from the officers'? The author has said the book is about how all of us act like idiots at time, and the entire plot is set in motion by the bank robber's idiotic thought that holding up a bank could be a solution to any problem. Without telling too much, I can reveal that everything works out nicely in the end - some of it surprisingly, and some due to coincidences that could only happen in a well-plotted, purposively uplifting novel.

Just Like You
Nick Hornby
c/o Penguin Random House
9780593191385, $27.00 Hardcover, $14.99 Kindle, 355 Pages

In the midst of the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom, Nick Hornby puts two humans together who are clearly right for each other, in spite of all outward appearances. Thereby he creates a tale in which the outward appearances, not the private, intimate interactions, pose the threat to the success of the relationship. Disagreements and debates about Brexit affect the two lovers' lives outside of the relationship, but not the relationship itself, which creates a bit of a conundrum. Why is he talking about Brexit at all?

Actually, given the astute and clever things he has to say about the UK's debate and decision to leave the European Union, Brexit turns out to be as interesting, if not more so, than the love story that serves as an excuse to write about it. His observations would be just as insightful in explicating the political divide in this country.

"The referendum was giving groups of people who didn't like each other, or at least failed to comprehend each other, an opportunity to fight," one protagonist notes. After an argument in the school faculty lounge, another narrator observes that there had been arguments among the faculty before about school administration and policy. "But this was about whether Polly or Sam was a bad person. Neither of them was, of course, but it would be a while before they would be able to see it like that." Remind you of anything?

The story centers around a young Black man, who works at the counter of the local butcher - and also part-time as a babysitter, and part-time as a DJ - and a middle-aged, soon-to-be divorced white woman who fall in love. In order to spend time and ultimately be together, they have to navigate family and community issues that a biracial and upside-down May-September relationship raises. It's all managed through quiet and civil negotiation that brings everyone together (except for the ex, not surprisingly). Racial divides and prejudices appear, in the end, far more easily overcome than the political-economic divides over Brexit.

The book is easy to read, as all Hornby's novels are. In this one, he never brings any of his characters to their darkest hour. Nothing gets nasty or difficult, which makes for a fairly flat narrative arc. Everything works out. Everyone is accepted, and in the end everyone gets along. It's all very nice, and perhaps anodyne to our times. But it won't get your heart pumping.

Where We Come From
Oscar Casares
c/o Penguin Random House
9780525564928, $16.00 Paperback, $12.99 Kindle, 252 Pages

Where We Come From offers a fascinating and highly affecting portrayal of life in Brownsville, Texas, along the US-Mexican border, where there are no black and white answers to the issues of immigration and the Latin American diaspora, and residents and migrants alike live with the consequences of irrational and at times cruel government policy and police action on both sides of the border.

This suspenseful but quiet novel is about Nina, an older woman, herself an immigrant from Mexico many years before, who gets entangled with violent criminals who control the migrants brought across the border illegally by their coyote confederates. A police raid that apprehends the criminals frees her of their meddling, but it leads to a different kind of entanglement - with a young boy caught in limbo between the coyotes and an uncle in Chicago he has no way to reach. Harboring the lad is not just an act of kindness; it also gives childless and single Nina a reason to live and someone to care for.

But when her nephew sends his son to stay for a summer, she hides the migrant, afraid that if her grandnephew sees him, he will reveal her secret either intentionally or accidentally, putting both her and the refugee in danger. As if there is some natural irresistible force that pulls them together, the kids find each other anyway. And we are rewarded with a beautiful, intimate story of two young boys who instantly understand and protect each other despite the ugly, heartless, and violent world that surrounds them.

As I read this story, I thought of The Death and Life of Aida Hernandez (reviewed last year). It's the same story of migrants and residents torn between the old world of cross-border mobility and conviviality and the new violent world of today's border. One story a non-fiction and one fiction, both full of truth.

Marj Charlier, Reviewer

Mark Walker's Bookshelf

Bad News From a Black Coast
Moritz Thomsen
Independently Published
9781731544629, $12.00, Paperback, 370 pages, December 17, 2018

Like many Thomsen enthusiasts, I've wondered where his last, illusive manuscript was and how it might be published, bringing the number of travelogue classics to five. So when it appeared on Amazon, published - I jumped with joy - at last, 28 years after his death. And was not disappointed as it was worth the wait.

Thomsen began talking about this book in 1980 and sent some of the manuscript to fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and author, Christopher West Davis, who told him that it was some of his best work, "He was in the zone, in top form, etc. encouraging him to keep it up..." But later on Thomsen would lament the difficulties getting it published.

This first edition was created from a photocopy of the original typed manuscript and includes his handwritten notes. The book is over 300 pages, the chapters are untitled and the index only includes a brief "Editor's Note," "Forward," the book and "endnotes," which list where "unreadable texts" were located. Thirty vignettes, dating from his arrival in Ecuador as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1964 include snippets of characters from his previous books, making sense of the beauty and complex world of the Esmeraldas on the coast of Ecuador.

The forward entitled, "FAME ma non troppo, was written in 1996 by poet, personal friend and protector of Thomsen, Mary Ellen Fieweger, who would become his "Literary Executive" and would convince his niece, Rashani Rea, to "independently publish" the manuscript. Fieweger was one of several authors who knew Thomsen and were asked to write an essay about him by authors Paul Theroux and Tom Miller for a compilation publication they referred to initially as "Moritz Memories." In July, 1996 she sent Tom Miller a draft saying, "...You will note that it's within (just) the 5,000 word/20 page limit stipulated. You will also note that I've treated everybody with kid gloves. Well, sort of..."

Although those who have read Thomsen's previous books will recognize more details and insights into characters and circumstances, this book is a standalone publication and includes several spectacular stories like this treatise on creativity and an author's responsibility when facing human degradation and violence.

One bizarre story which reflects the intricacies of the creative process comes alive when Thomsen describes reading a story from Russian-born American novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote "Lolita," and, like Thomsen, has been compared to Joseph Conrad. While reading in his two- story writing "tower" on his farm, Thomsen realizes that Nabokov has written the same story, and says,

"I came to the end and sat there up above the farm stunned into an ecstasy of joy...Discounting the quality of the writing and my cowardice set against his courage, our stories were the same, enough the same, at any rate, to make me pant like a dog, make me laugh and cry at the same time. I sat there shaking all over, joined for what turned out to be somewhat less than the next minute into a sacred partnership with that writer I admired above all others, but I couldn't just sit there; I had to move, dance, fly. Feeling as though I had grown wings at my heels, I rushed down the stars, yanked open the front door, stepped out onto something I should have stepped out on, and now, flying at last, flying like a bird parallel to the earth with my wings like helicopter blades, fell out of my house...."

With that Thomsen lands on a pile of cement blocks, breaking his wrist and head, some ribs cracked and "blood al gusto." When he came to, Nabokov, who had recently died, knelt beside him, "Don't worry, my darling," he whispered." This, too, you will one day write about."

Thomsen provides a great appreciation and understanding of his eyes and ears in the local communities of the Esmeraldas, his friend, partner - the "Zambo" Ramon and his family. He gives him an entire chapter to tell his stories of the constant and varied forms that local thievery takes where locals constantly invent new ways not to work and to live off the labor of others.

But Ramon takes him to task for one of his stories,

You said...that when I was six years old, my mother ran off with another man and left her children, almost like a fallen woman. My God, how can you write things like that?

You told me: "It was the truth," I said, blushing with shame. "You know I've never liked your mother for what she did to her children. And neither did you, you told me." "My God," Ramon cried, "that was my mother. I told you. It was between us." He was so absolutely right that I felt sick and defenseless; in stripping him clean, to present a man who had suffered and had the scars to prove it, I had humiliated him. No one in the world is allowed not to love his mother. The miracle was that though I had translated all those parts to him - and many times - he had never caught on for twenty-five years.....

The book ends with one of Thomsen's favorite words, "Thunderstruck," when something makes no sense at all, as when you finally find out who stole all your cameras over the years... something Thomsen never failed to complain and wonder about in his previous books.
Hopefully, this will be the first of many editions followed by new versions, which will enhance the interest and circulation of this fabulous book. Although the book was published in December of last year, it only has two reviews - one, by John Thorndike, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. The book is ranked 1,347th for "Globalization and Politics."

I not only highly recommend this extraordinary compilation of tales to all those who appreciate Thomsen as one of the great travel, Peace Corps experience authors of our time, but have been inspired to write my second book tentatively entitled, "The Moritz Thomsen Reader: His Books, His Letters and His Legacy Told by the Writers Who Knew Him Best".

Mark D. Walker, Reviewer

Mark Zvonkovic's Bookshelf

Tiffanie DeBartolo
Woodhall Press
9781949116304, $19.95 pbk

In Sorrow, misfortune doesn't need to happen, but it does.

Sorrow tells a schizophrenic story that fluctuates between how despair and sorrow come to a person in a variety of degrees. One can be simply sad or one can be wretched. There is suffering and desolation, but then woe and misfortune can sail by, even if one is spineless. And then there is heartbreak. Sorrow, by Tiffanie DeBartolo, runs the gamut of the kinds of sorrow a person can experience. Most likely, when you read the novel you will find a few that startle you.

The protagonist of the novel, Joe Harper, is not a Holden Caufield knock-off and readers who dislike Holden Caufield should not shy away from Sorrow on account of a dislike of A Catcher in the Rye. Joe is a variegated character, not always predictable, often self-debasing, and sometimes self-congratulatory, which makes him quite human. He introduces himself at the beginning of the story as spineless and one who goes "the wrong way at almost every turn." At one point, he compares himself to fire, but it is a "safe kind of fire," of course, meaning a battery-powered candle, which is "no real fire at all." In contrast, his best friend is depicted as "combustion," and his lover, October, as "all sparkles and warmth."

Joe has his good moments. Ironically, most of these are brought on playing his guitar after his best friend, Cal, shows up as a nemesis. Cal is the successful musician Joe didn't become on account of his defeatism. After playing soft chords and lullaby notes for October Joe feels "electric." It was a "good kind of loneliness" he observed, which is about as positive a feeling as Joe ever has, until, that is, Cal elicits from him, after they write a song together, a realization that his heart is flowing, more than just beating.

There are brilliant parts of the story, where Joe's morose thinking is put in perspective by October and Cal. Since the novel is written from Joe's first person point of view, these alternative observation are present in dialogue, which is very skillfully written. In fact, the dialogue offers a clever counterbalance to Joe's interior, gloomy monologues. A significant aspect of the story's plot involves Joe's falling in love with October with whom his best friend is also in love. Joe believes he has to make a mordant choice of which one he will hurt. It's an example of Joe's defeated thinking, his immediate conclusion that no matter what the outcome he will be the one hurt, that he will be exposed for what he really is and his lover and his friend will "crush" him. October tells him that he lives "like someone who doesn't understand how fast the sand moves through the hourglass." Joe has a glimpse of the validity of October's observations, but in the end he ignores them, retreating into his moroseness like a wheel spider, doing frantic cartwheels away from danger. October's exasperation to the many times Joe retreats is reminiscent of a W.H. Auden poem: "Time will say nothing but I told you so, Time only knows the price we have to pay; If I could tell you I would let you know."

I had but one disappointment with Sorrow, but upon reflection I came to understand that it was not a criticism but a praise for Ms. DeBartolo's writing. Joe, through his many travails, is at times consumed with what seems to be a shallow millennial angst, something that fills so many new movie dramas, the ones you wish you'd not watched afterwards. But, ironically, that angst makes the story real, and that makes Joe's character believable. In other words, it is a part of the novel's carefully constructed plot. There are too many boring novels that are full of protagonists whose monologues include complex philosophical passages. One puts them down thinking at the end that a lecture is over. Not so with Sorrow. The reader can feel Joe's sorrow in Sorrow beyond the words on the page, the same as October felt when she touched the lobsterman's hand in the coffee shop in Willits. And, as the lobsterman did with Joe, the reader can feel Joe's rage over the sorrows in his life. One cannot help but think of Leonard Cohen's observation in Anthem, "every heart to love will come but like a refugee."

Universe of Two
Stephen P. Kiernan
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
9780062878441, $27.99
B07W66TB3X, $12.99

A beautiful and carefully constructed tale of survivor's guilt.

The woman narrator in Universe of Two is the perfect person to tell a difficult story. Brenda is both young and old, the story being told in retrospect by the older woman and the plot in which she participates occurring primarily in the War World II years, beginning when she is nineteen. That story begins as a romance with an eighteen year old mathematician, Charlie, working on a secret project for the war effort in Chicago. He is actually a second protagonist in the novel. Brenda is outgoing, vivacious and strong-minded. Charlie is a nerd and innocent, so much so it isn't until halfway through the novel, after he is sent to New Mexico, that it occurs to him that he is working on a component of a weapon that will kill hundreds of thousands of people at once. Brenda follows Charlie to New Mexico, where she witnesses the positive attitude that she has fostered in him go sour. The two each then endure a crisis of conscience.

The plot of Universe of Two is predictable. There is not much mystery here. Who doesn't know the story of the Manhattan Project and Los Alamos? The characters drive the story, which is a beautiful and carefully constructed tale of survivor's guilt. Brenda's story is presented in the first person point of view, told years after the event, but carefully presented to keep the reader engaged with her being, at first, a self-centered brat, and then a woman who falls in love and discovers responsibility. Charlie is presented in a third person point of view. It is a bit unconventional to mix points of view like this, but it's a brilliant device employed by the author to illustrate the differences between Charlie and Brenda. Simply said, she is comfortable talking about herself and taking risks, not to mention making observations about him. He is awkward when it comes to interactions with his self and unsure of why she would love him. As the subject is related to math, think of their relationship in the terms of a formula, the combination of fixed numbers and variables. And consider whether Brenda is, in fact, the third person narrator telling Charlie's story.

And, finally, there is music. Those who love music in novels shouldn't miss this one. The icing on the cake is the construction of organs, a lifetime of doing so, which Charlie and Brenda pursue to right the wrong of Charlie's atomic detonator. At the end, Brenda is not a brat when she sits at the last organ Charlie designed and thinks, "Don't fear your mistakes as long as you learn humility from them." She is speaking for both of them.

Ordinary Heroes
Scott Turow
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
c/o Macmillan
9780374184216, $25.00
B000OI1ADE, $7.99

A literary novel written by an author known primarily for his crime fiction.

Finally, a novel written by a lawyer that has heart and soul. And a narrator who isn't a lawyer. Or at least one of them is not a lawyer. The protagonists in Ordinary Heroes are a father and a son. The son, who is the story's narrator, Stewart, is a retired journalist. He is the instrument through which you hear his father's story, a story that would never otherwise be told, a story kept secret by the father, David, for sixty years, and uncovered only on account of Stewart's persistence in discovering why his father had died without letting his son know him, why he'd been a "crypt of a human being." David was a lawyer with JAG during World War II. The story involves the events leading up to David's allowing, against orders, a prisoner to escape in 1945 in Germany. Before his court martial, David's defense counsel goaded him into writing a detailed account of the events that led up to the charges against him, a memoir, in fact. It is this account that Stewart discovers and discloses, in effect making David the narrator of his own story. Ordinary Heroes has two first person narrators, one to deliver the plot, and the second, Stewart's, to fit the pieces together in a literary depiction of consequences wrought by World War II on a father, mother and son.

Ordinary Heroes is a literary novel written by an author known primarily in the court room genre. It is a refreshing departure from the overused plots in crime fiction. The characters are beautifully developed, and there is nothing formulaic about the plot. The story is one that illustrates their failures and successes, and their dreams and disappointments. It is a snapshot of lives, the picture in focus in some places, and not in others. The plot is clever and engaging, but it is not the primary force in the novel. The characters are the reason to read the story.

Ordinary Heroes is unlike Turow's other work, and an exemplary demonstration of his writing ability. Most likely, this wouldn't have been published by a major publisher if it were his first novel. To keep his other, bestselling, stuff coming, this piece of literary fiction was more than likely accommodated by them. The marketing people called it a leap from the courtroom to the battlefield. Seriously! It was a much further leap than that. And all of us should hope that Turow leaps again in this manner in the future. So far, nothing yet.

Mark Zvonkovic, Reviewer

Michael Carson's Bookshelf

Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower
Brandon J. Weichert
Republic Book Publishers
9781645720119, $29.95, HC, 375pp

Synopsis: When President Donald J. Trump announced the creation of America's sixth branch of the military, the United States Space Force, many in Washington scoffed. But, U.S. rivals in China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea took notice.

Since the end of the Cold War, these American foes have chafed under the full-spectrum dominance that the American superpower has enjoyed globally. They have identified space as a key strategic domain where they can challenge (and possibly defeat) the United States military. And, depriving the U.S. military and/or its economy of access to space during an international crisis could spell doom for the United States in other strategic domains (land, sea, air, and cyberspace).

After all, space is critical for America's vaunted information dominance. Satellites overhead are the backbone of America's global military. Remove them from orbit and U.S. forces worldwide are rendered deaf, dumb, and blind. What's more, space is a more than $1 trillion economy just waiting to be developed. Whichever country gets there first will have considerable economic and geopolitical power on Earth.

Despite President Trump's creation of the Space Force, Swamp Dwellers in Washington continue resisting his reforms to U.S. space and technology policy.

"Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower" by Brandon J. Weichert tracks the increasing competition the United States is facing in the technology sector and depicts how the United States has been engaged in a Second Space Race -- and how it has been losing.

"Winning Space" warns how the United States is at risk for a Pearl Harbor-type event in space and advocates for the full embrace of Trump's reforms for America's flailing space policy, while also calling for a minimum $1 trillion investment in advanced research and development here in the United States, to stay ahead of America's advancing foes.

Contrary to what many Americans may think, the United States has been declining in space and the high-technology development sector. Should it lose its dominance in these areas, it will surely lose its superpower status. The next decade presents U.S. policymakers one last chance to preserve the superpower status that America fought two world wars and the Cold War to build.

Time is not on our side. We are on notice, but we have not noticed.

Critique: A resounding wake-up call for the country, "Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower" is an impressively informative and exceptionally well presented advocacy that should be a part of every community, college, and university library American Military Policy, National & International Security, Astrophysics & Space Science collection. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, political activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Brandon J. Weichert is a geopolitical analyst who manages The Weichert Report: World News Done Right. He is also a contributor to The American Spectator and contributing editor at American Greatness . Recently, Brandon has become a contributor to Real Clear Public Affairs and his national security writings have appeared at Real Clear Politics, Real Clear World, Real Clear Defense, and Real Clear Policy. He also travels the country briefing elements of the Department of Defense and various private groups on national security and emerging technology issues. He also has a Twitter account at @WeTheBrandon

Crump the Cat
Anna Lussenberg
Fable House Books
9781777337513, $12.99, PB, 28pp

Synopsis: If Donald Trump was a cat, what kind of cat would he be? What kind of antics would he get up to? What would the other cats think?

In "Crump the Cat", author and political satirist Anna Lussenburg has collaborated with artist/illustrator/cartoonist Greg Perry, answer in these and other questions in an hilarious book of cartoons that takes Donald Trump and puts him through the spin cycle.

Crump turns the world inside out to fit his golden image and creates a dystopian world where only the 'right' cats are welcome. Of course, all his short-sighted policies allow for the perfect storm of repression and unintended effects. "Crump the Cat" is an entertaining allegorical tale in which all kinds of cats come together to triumph over inequality and discrimination.

Critique: Political satire at its wicked best, "Crump the Cat" is unreservedly recommended to the attention of fans of topical limericks and political humor. It should be noted that "Crump the Cat" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Anna Lussenburg is a political, cultural, and social satirist and a keen observer of human nature. As a writer of allegories, she takes on everything from politics to our impact on the environment. In her career, she has enjoyed the opportunity to share her many observations on TV and in print media.

Greg Perry is a Canadian-based syndicated editorial cartoonist and illustrator. He is the recipient of multiple journalism awards for both editorial cartooning and news reporting.

Michael J. Carson

Orangesinwater's Bookshelf

What Can You Do With a Color?
Gulsah Yemen, author
Cagri Odabasi, illustrator
Crackboom! Books
9782898022531, $14.95 hc, 22 pages

This was so cute!!! I honestly have not read a more adorable book on colors before. I'm way past the children's stage in my life, and I loved it so much; I'm sure kids of all ages would love and learn from this book. There is a little munchkin that narrates the whole book, and on each page, there's a new painting in a different color, explaining the world and it's shades to the reader. The illustrations truly make this book beyond adorable. I love the red birds, Nessie (not the twilight one, the Scottish one!) in the yellow lake, the yellow frogs (especially the one on the rocket!), the squirrel and the tree neighborhood, the little rose in the glass, the fox, and the bunny. The last couple pages dive even deeper into the education of colors and their abilities to make our world so beautiful. So much information on colors for little kids to learn from. The simplified language makes it so easy to teach children about colors and the primary and secondary ones, along with what happens when you mix colors to make new ones.

Everything about this book is so special and it melted me to read about this munchkin that changes colors for every new painting. I highly highly recommend this book be taught in all elementary schools, for kids aged 2-7 (and up!) and I highly recommend purchasing this book for any kids that you know because it is truly made with love and you should probably buy it even if it's just for yourself.

Also, the author's bio is so cute and funny, she wants to be a child when she grows up, how amazing is that!

Reviewer at Goodreads

Paul Lappen's Bookshelf

The Parable of the Young Priest
Melvin Douglas Wilson
Yorkshire Publishing
9781952320033, $18.95, 36 pages

This parable is about a young priest who is about to graduate from seminary through the Church of Religious Studies (CRS). An older priest from a far kingdom is invited to give the commencement address. He and his wife are treated like royalty during their visit. The older priest complains that today's priests are too soft, studying was much harder when he was in seminary, and the music at mass is much too loud (maybe he was just letting off some steam). The effect on the people was very noticeable. The joy and happiness felt by the people had vanished.

Some time later, the young priest, and his wife, find themselves in the homeland of the older priest. The young priest very much wants to spend some time in fellowship with the older priest. The older priest says that he is too busy getting ready for Sunday's mass, then he and his wife are going on a trip to a faraway land. Therefore, any fellowship is not possible. The young priest's wife gets similar treatment from the older priest's wife.

On their way back home, they stop at other CRS churches. Any joy or happiness felt by the people was gone. When they get home, they find that a new church, not from the CRS, is being built down the street. The young priest and his wife try out this new church, and are shocked by the love and joy shown by everyone. What is going on?

This parable may be intended for children, but adults will also learn from it. It is easy to read, and is very much worth the time.

Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy
Daniel G Newman and George O'Connor
First Second Books
Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership
120 Broadway, New York NY 10271
9781250295309, $28.99, 280 pages

In manga/graphic novel form, this book shows what is wrong with American democracy, and what the average person can do about it.

All of "the usual suspects" are here, including dark money, corporate control of Washington, gerrymandering and Citizens United, among many others. Did you know that all members of Congress are obligated to spend several hours a day, every day, on the phone looking for money, instead of doing the people's business?

Is there anything that the average person can do about it? In your town, or state, look for a group that, for instance, advocates for public financing of political campaigns, and get involved (don't just join and not go to any of the meetings). If no such group exists, what is stopping you from starting such a group?

This book includes many examples of people, and groups, who are standing up, and actually trying to do something about America's broken democracy. This book easily deserves six stars. It is very easy to read, and says a lot.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Robin Friedman's Bookshelf

African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song
Kevin Young, editor
Library of America
9781598536669, $45.00

African American Poetry In The Library Of America

The United States is blessed with a great and diverse literary tradition with reflection on the American experience and on its efforts and frequent failures to realize its ideals of liberty and equality. This tradition may be at its strongest in poetry. Even though the art is underappreciated by many, our country has produced many poets of high achievement. In furtherance of its mission to present the best of American writing, the Library of America has published large anthologies of American poetry from the 17th and 18th century, two volumes of 19th century poetry, two volumes of 20th century poetry, and a volume of American religious poetry. These volumes make an impressive collection.

The Library of America has now added a vitally important collection to its celebration of American verse in this new anthology of the poetry written by African Americans, "African American Poetry: 250 years of Struggle & Song". From pre-revolutionary times to the present, African Americans have made contributions to poetry which celebrate the beauty of language and creativity and reflect upon their experiences. Kevin Young, currently the Director of the Schomberg Center for Black Culture and the soon to be Director of the Museum of African American History in Washington, D.C. edited this volume and wrote a perceptive and lengthy Introduction to its contents. Young's poem "Money Road" also appears in the volume.

Reading this anthology can be overwhelming in terms of the quality and variety of the poetry and in terms of volume. The book includes the work of 248 poets spread over nearly 1000 pages. The volume also includes Young's introduction, biographical sketches of each poet included in the collection, and notes explaining references that may be unfamiliar to the reader. A strong impression of the range and themes of African American poetry can be gained by reading through the entire volume while many individual writers are worth spending time with on their own. The book can be approached in different ways: I recommend reading it through a little at a time and reading the poems together with the biographical sketches.

The book includes only published, written poems. A decision needed to be made at the outset to exclude works such as the spirituals, folk poetry, children's poetry, the blues, hip-hop and other more vernacular works. These sources might be explored in anthologies of their own.

The poetry in this volume shows many themes and styles of writing over its 250 year scope. Many poems celebrate individual experience of living and of love and death. Others describe the African American experience in the United States beginning with slavery and through the continued struggle for equality and for treatment as persons. The tone of the poems vary as do individual styles of writing. With the broad scope of the volume it is valuable to look for differences and continuities.

The book is organized into eight sections. The sections are chronological but the poets in each section are presented alphabetically. The sections are grouped into themes, and the work of some poets could fall within more than one section even though each writer appears only once. Some discussion of each section may be useful to see the scope and content of the volume. Section One, "Bury me in a Free Land 1770 --1899" is chronologically the longest part of the book and begins with Phillis Wheatley. Section Two "Lift Every Voice 1900 -- 1918" includes James Weldon Johnson's famous poem known as the "Negro National Anthem" together with poems by Paul Laurence Dunbar, among many others. Section Three, "The Dark Tower 1919 -- 1936" roughly covers the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, Jean Toomer, and many others, familiar and unfamiliar. Section Four, "Ballads of Remembrance 1936 -- 1959" includes Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, and Margaret Walker, among poets who wrote in Chicago and elsewhere.

The poets in Part Five, "Ideas of Ancestry 1959-- 1975" include Lucille Clifton, June Jordan, and Amiri Bakara. Part Six, "Blue Light Sutras 1976-1989" includes poems by AI, Rita Dove, and Yusef Komunyakaa. Part Seven is entitled "Praise Songs for the Day 1990 -- 2008" and the poets include the recent Pulitzer Prize winner, Jericho Brown, Elizabeth Alexander, and Natasha Tretheway. The final part, "After the Hurricane 2009 -- 2020" includes single poems by many contemporary writers including Joshua Bennett, Latasha Nevada Diggs, and Allison C. Rollins.

Each reader will find poems in this volume to love. Some readers may prefer more traditional forms of writing with other readers will like more modernistic themes and poetic forms. There is a wealth of poetry, both familiar and unfamiliar in this collection. Many of the latter sections of the book, in particular, feature winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Fellowship, Poets Laureate of the United States or of various states and cities, and recipients of other honors and recognitions.

It is difficult to single out poems in a collection as broad as this anthology. My favorites included poems I already knew well, including Sterling Brown's poem "Ma Rainey" about the great blues singer. I also continue to love Waring Cuney's poem "NO IMAGES" which helped introduce me to African American poetry when I read it in an earlier anthology many years ago. A third special poem is "Those Winter Sundays", Robert Hayden's remembrance of his father.

Kevin Young concludes his Introduction with the observation: "The African American experience, these poets know, is a central part of the nation's chorus, with Black poetry offering up a daily epic of struggle and song". Readers of this LOA volume will find their understanding of the African American experience and of the American experience enriched through the magic of art and poetry.

Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness
Henri Bergson
Martino Publishing
9781614278634, $14.50

Reading Bergson's Time And Free Will

Henri Bergson (1859 -- 1941) was the rare philosopher who received for a time a large popular following together with the Nobel Prize for Literature. From a time of great influence, Bergson's works fell into years of neglect. There has been a revival of late of interest in his philosophy. Bergson's best-known book is "Creative Evolution" (1907). For all the popularity of this work, it is highly difficult to read. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a reading group on Bergson in which we have read his first book, "Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness" and will soon begin the second, "Matter and Memory". These two books together with "Creative Evolution" are best read in sequence to try to understand Bergson.

"Time and Free Will" (1889) was Bergson's doctoral dissertation. An epigraph from Plotinus frames the book and offers an elliptical suggestion of its content: " If a man were to inquire of Nature the reason of her creative activity, and if she were willing to give ear and answer, she would say Ask me not, but understand in silence, even as I am silent and am not wont to speak." The book focuses on free human creativity and on the inadequacy of language for its expression and understanding. Bergson is at the outset seeing philosophy far differently than the linguistic philosophy and the "linguistic turn" that soon was to become prevalent in England and the United States.

F.L. Pogson, the authorized translator of the book into English (1910), says in his Preface explaining the nature of Bergson's project:

"The method which he pursues is not the conceptual and abstract method which has been the dominant tradition in philosophy. For him reality is not to be reached by any elaborate construction of thought : it is given in immediate experience as a flux, a continuous process of becoming, to be grasped by intuition, by sympathetic insight. Concepts break up the continuous flow of reality into parts external to one another, they further the interests of language and social life and are useful primarily for practical purposes. But they give us nothing of the life and movement of reality ; rather, by substituting for this an artificial reconstruction, a patchwork of dead fragments, they lead to the difficulties which have always beset the intellectualist philosophy, and which on its premises are insoluble."

Bergson's own Introduction explains how the problem of free will rests upon certain confusion, particularly between time as succession in space and an internalized time as duration, that his book aims to dispel. Bergson writes:

"What I attempt to prove is that all discussion between the determinist and their opponents implies a previous confusion of duration with extensity, of succession with simultaneity, of quality with quantity : this confusion once dispelled, we may perhaps witness the disappearance of the objections raised against free will, of the definitions given of it, and, in a certain sense, of the problem of free will itself."

The book is in three parts. In the first, Bergson analyzes mental and emotional states and argues that the intensity of feelings are properly qualitative and not quantifiable. In the second part, Bergson argues that conscious states form a seamless, non-verbal, non-discrete succession in duration which he distinguishes from a spatial conception of time as separable instances. The concept of number, for Bergson, is part of a spatial conception of time as discrete, separable, repeatable points. Spatial time forms the basis for mathematics, science, and most of the actions of everyday life.

In the book's third part, Bergson argues that conceptions of causality and determinism apply to spatial time and not to time in duration. Durational time allows for human freedom. One is lost when one tries to define freedom as definitions are products of conceptualization and spatialization rather than of duration and succession.

Bergson relies on a combination of introspection, an analysis of the psychology of his day, his understanding of the nature of number and of mathematics, and argument to explain his position, punctuated by beautiful evocative writing and metaphor. Much of this material is clogged and difficult to follow. The arguments and analyses appear to be intended suggestively as, by Bergson's own position, they are beyond and prior to reason and proof. Obscure as this account is, it offers a sense of reality and meaning beyond science and the quotidian. The aim is sufficiently suggestive and alluringly put to have influenced many, on at least a visceral level, including many writers and artists.

Bergson's philosophy aims to upend the more usual philosophical accounts of space and time, such as those offered by Aristotle or Kant, together with common sense. There were those swept away by this book and by Bergson's successor books notwithstanding their obscurity. "Time and Free Will" is a book that to me is unconvincing as a whole but that is evocative and suggestive. I learned from struggling with the book and from discussing it with fellow readers in my online class.

The Yid
Paul Goldberg
9781250117953, $16.99

"We are not ,,,,, What's that word?" "Farflokin"

Paul Goldberg's novel, "The Yid", madcap and highly serious, is set in Moscow during the week before the death of Stalin on March 1, 1953. The premise of the book is that Stalin had planned a large scale action against the Jews in the USSR, including pogroms and killings followed by mass deportations. The plan coincided with Stalin's death and was not carried out. Goldberg (b. 1959) was born in Moscow and immigrated at the age of 14 to the United States with his family. This book is his first novel.

In Goldberg's novel, a mixed group of characters come together in a plot to assassinate Stalin before the Soviet dictator's contemplated Holocaust. The group includes an aging actor from the former State Jewish Theater, a gifted Jewish surgeon, an African American engineer, a young woman immigrant, a former member of the Jewish bund, and an elderly Christian woman who had been a friend of the great poet Anna Akhmanova. The group observes the beginnings of the planned action, following the notorious and historical "Doctor's Plot" and works to take action with several preliminary killings along the way.

The novel is wordy with a varied tone. It is presented in the form of a three-act Shakespearean play with comments and editorializing from the narrator. The characters often speak in idiomatic and expressive Russian or Yiddish which is presented in the text and then translated. Portions of the story are told in play-like dialogue.

The book offers a detailed portrayal of life in Stalinist Russia and extends back through the Russian Revolution. The actor and the physician were both war heroes prior to assuming their roles in civilian life. The book describes their exploits in the army and in Moscow's celebrated Yiddish Theater and in the operating room. The book has a great sense of intellectual liveliness and of particularity with depictions of famous poets, novelists, scientists, actors, and others who for a time were attracted to what appeared to be the promise of Communism and of an egalitarian society. The book also shows the rampant anti-Semitism in the USSR with its libels and violence against Jewish people.

As a whole, the storyline of the book is broad implausible and involuted, and sometimes confusing. The reader is pulled in too many different directions. The flashbacks into the lives of the many characters often are intrusive making the book difficult to follow.

The book works best in its many individual scenes, even when these scenes do not hang together. The many scenes of violence and killing are sharply done and would not be out of place in a Tarantino film. The portrayals of the Yiddish Theater and its actors and writers are wonderfully done, as are the portrayals of Paul Robeson, Shmuel Halkin, Akhmatova, John Scott (an American who wrote a book called "Beyond the Urals" about his experiences working in the USSR) and many others. The portrayal of Jewish life, largely but not entirely secular, is fondly done. The thugs and criminals of Moscow are convincingly portrayed as are the insidious preparations for the planned pogrom and deportation.

In short, the book suffers from its organization, from attempting too many things, and from its shifts in tone. The book's many particular scenes, discussions of character and of ideas, and portrayals of Soviet life and of the madness of the totalitarian state outweigh these deficiencies and on the whole make the book rewarding.

Robin Friedman

Suanne Schafer's Bookshelf

The Girl Who Adored Rembrandt
Belle Ami
Tema Merback
B08CH747ZY, $2.99

The Girl Who Adored Rembrandt is an interesting concept: a woman and her fiance have been lovers throughout time, beginning with the 15th century and the artist Leonardo da Vinci and later Caravaggio. She is Angela Renatus, an art historian, and is a former Navy SEAL turned private investigator of stolen art works. Angela has dreams where she flashes back into time and these flashbacks lead to clues about the artworks they're investigating. With this book, The Girl Who Adored Rembrandt she begins to flash forward to see art crimes as they are being committed.

These two sleuths travel the world and Belle Ami's descriptions of the Netherlands and Indonesia seem correct as I have visited both places myself. She also is very good at describing the cuisine of both places. The sexual tension between the two seems a bit low-key and banal, however.

A Question of Betrayal
Anne Perry
Ballantine Books; 1st edition
c/o Penguin
9780593129555, $28.00

A Question of Betrayal is the second in Anne Perry's spy series set just prior to World War II. I found it worked well as a stand-alone novel.

Elena Standish's grandfather, Lucas, has retired from British Intelligence, MI6. She follows in his footsteps, and on her first official mission, she's sent to Trieste, using her photographic skills as a cover. There, in Mussolini's Italy, she's to recover a British agent, Aiden Strother, whose handler has disappeared. Strother is also her former lover who humiliated her when he dumped her. Precisely because of her prior intimate relationship with him, she is the only person equipped for the job as she can immediately recognize Aiden and make contact.

A Question of Betrayal has a very intricate plot which Perry juggles well, weaving the three threads of the story together. While Elena is involved in Trieste, her sister, Margot, is attending a wedding in Berlin - where her best friend is marrying an up-and-coming young Nazi. In the meantime, their grandfather and grandmother are investigating traitors within MI6 itself. All three story lines deal with the rise of Nazism and the overthrow of Dollfuss, the Chancellor of Austria, between 1932 and 1934. I also liked the emphasis on how closely tied some British families were tied to Germany, making for some complicated allegiances.

The ending is heart-stopping and brings the naive young Elena into a new light and definitively moves her into the category of being a potentially "strong female protagonist." I read this in one sitting and backtracked and pick up volume one of Elena Standish's story, Death in Focus. Overall, however, I felt both books were superficial and missing any depth of emotion. I cared for Lucas, the grandfather, most; and Elena seems not only naive but a bit of a flibbertigibbet, flying off half-cocked much of the time. Despite the fabulous settings (Trieste, Berlin, London, Paris), I didn't get any real sense of place.

Wild Horses On The Salt
Anne Montgomery
Independently published
9798649678124, $17.99

Wild Horses On The Salt deals with two main issues: domestic abuse and the plight of wild horses in Arizona.

Becca, a lawyer who hates her job and has always dreamed of being an artist, is also married to an abusive man who belittles her and her art. She's just been severely beaten, and her aunt takes pity on her and sends her off to a guest ranch in Arizona. Becca has PTSD and has trust issues and difficulty trusting or relying on others. At the ranch, she gradually opens up to the owners, Walt (a sculptor), Gabi, the owner of the Salt River Inn, and Noah, a neighboring rancher. As she heals, Becca resumes her lifetime dream of becoming an artist.

Having just come off reading Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, this book slipped right into place. The nature writing was beautiful and Montgomery clearly has a grasp of the local flora and fauna.

Montgomery deals with abuse, both of animals and humans, in an almost-too delicate manner, I suspect so that she doesn't traumatize her readers.

Her characterizations are a bit off. Becca seems the stereotypical abused woman. Gabi and Walt, a couple, are almost too good to be true as is Noah - no major flaws in any of them. The point of view is just a bit too distant for the reader to really feel for these characters. The romance between Becca and Noah occurred a bit too quickly and seemed rushed.

A Bend in the River
Libby Fischer Hellmann
The Red Herrings Press
9781938733673, $17.99

A Bend in the River derives its name from the Mekong River in Vietnam. In 1968 two young Vietnamese sisters witness the murder of all the members of their village, and the village is burned to the ground by American soldiers searching for Viet Cong. The sisters, Tam and Mai, flee to Saigon after their village on the Mekong River is attacked by American forces and burned to the ground. They steal a sampan and start paddling toward Saigon. Tam is older, more serious, scholarly while Mai is younger, flippant, and self-centered. Their personality differences lead them to very different life choices and ideologies. The bend in the river represents the vastly different turns their lives take after a relationship-ending argument. Tam heads into the jungle to help the Viet Cong while Mai becomes a bar girl, then a prostitute.

The reunion of the two sisters seems a bit too coincidental; however, I enjoyed the insights into the Vietnam War and seeing it "from the other side."

No Place to Hide
Opa Hysea Wise
Made For Success Publishing
9781641464772, $14.99

This book is billed as a "thrilling new mystery novel which encourages readers to explore the uncertain path of self-discovery" and "a captivating and fast-paced mystery thriller that is stunningly existential."

The thriller/mystery part was there but was so buried in the spiritual growth aspect that I found it entirely unenjoyable. For my part, it was not fast-paced as the long stretches of spirituality really slowed down the action. There are also places which are far too didactic in a thriller, such as "She recalled..." and the author gives the author and title and quote from a self-help book.

On the other hand, it was nice to read an #OwnVoices and LGBTQI book with a strong heroine. The book appears to be somewhat autobiographical as, if you look at Ms. Wise's website, she has had some of the experiences written about in No Place to Hide.

I received a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and impartial review.

Absence of Mercy
S. M. Goodwin
Crooked Lane Books
9781643855219, $26.99

S. M. Goodwin pulled me into Absence of Mercy immediately with her descriptions of Jasper Lightner, a Crimean War hero with post-traumatic stress syndrome and a traumatic brain injury. The second son of a cold-hearted duke, Jasper inherits enough money to become independent of his father and begins working as a Detective Inspector on London's Metropolitan police. In 1857 Jasper is sent to New York City to train American policemen on investigative techniques. He's immediately sucked into the case of a grisly murder which appears to be connected with two that occur earlier and another that occurs later.

Goodwin has created some marvelous characters, both major and minor, and populates them in a NYC that rings true to the times with pre-Civil War politics and Tammany Hall. Jasper faces both American fascination with and prejudices against titled Brits, the latter of which survives though the Revolutionary War ended some 80 years earlier. Though Jasper predates Sherlock Holmes by some years, he too has an addiction: opium helps the headaches generated by his traumatic brain injury.

This fantastic detective novel has plenty of twists and turns, yet there are no loose plot bunnies Eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

The Well of Ice
Andrea Carter
Oceanview Publishing
9781608093663, $26.95

The Well of Ice is the third in the Inishowen Mysteries series featuring lawyer Benedicta 'Ben' O'Keeffe, but it works as a stand-alone novel. Ben is trying to finish up a massive number of real estate sales before the Christmas holidays. In the midst of that stress, she learns that Luke Kirby, the man who killed her sister, has been released from prison after serving nine of the ten years he was sentenced to when his murder charges were downgraded to manslaughter.

In her home of Glendara, chaos - beyond that of the typical holiday season - has burst out all around. The local pub, the Oak, has burned down. Carole, the bar mistress is missing. Then, Ben and Sgt. Tom Molloy, discover a body face down in the snow. In addition to these two big ticket items, a lot of smaller odd occurrences plague Ben: the poisoning of her cat Guinness, the loss of her wallet, and spying Luke Kirby on the streets of Dublin.

Over the course of the prior two novels, a romance has bloomed between Ben and Molloy, though they think they are keeping it under wraps. But she senses that Molloy is pulling away, and she's beginning to regret trusting him with her heart.

Like most small towns, Glendara's exterior may be placid and quaint, but on the interior lurk secrets: covert relationships, bigamy, and past indiscretions. All these camouflaged links may - or may not - tie into the murder and arson investigations.

Andrea Carter manages to create fully-articulated characters, especially the Agatha Christie-esque Ben, along with a particularly adept sense of location. I'll have to backtrack and read the prior two novels.

Rethink the Bins: Your Guide to Smart Recycling and Less Household Waste
Julia L F Goldstein
Bebo Press
9780999595657, $24.99

The release of Julia Goldstein's first book, Material Value: More Sustainable, Less Wasteful Manufacturing of Everything from Cell Phones to Cleaning Products was timed with Earth Day 2019. Her follow-up, Rethink the Bins is even more direct and simple and includes fourteen worksheets to help readers track and reduce their waste.

I have a long-time interest in recycling dating from the first Earth Day way back in 1970. Back then I organized a clean-up of my high school's grounds - and was threatened with expulsion if us "hippies" did anything untoward. Thus I was eager to read both Goldstein's book, Material Value, and its followup, Rethink the Bins. She is highly qualified, having a PhD in materials science and has worked as an engineer before migrating to journalism. Despite her extensive intellectual prowess, I found both Material Value and Rethink the Bins to be easy to read and follow. They are goldmines of information.

Determining what is "green" and what isn't is harder to figure out than one would think - thus the worksheets are a big help. Goldstein reiterates time and again to check with the authorities in your city to be sure you're recycling appropriately.

If you're interested in saving our planet through greener living, these books are a good place to start your research and can guide you into further topics and into a greener life.

Suanne Schafer, Reviewer

Susan Bethany's Bookshelf

Imelda's Secret
Liza Gino
Independently Published
9781735807003, $32.99, PB, 210pp

Synopsis: Based on real-life accounts, "Imelda's Secret" by author Liza Gino delves into the story of two cousins who are grappling with the emotional scars of being forced to serve as 'comfort women' during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. Forced into sexual slavery, 'comfort women' were stolen from their families and stripped of their dignity. The stories of these women have been swept under the rug for far too long.

Critique: One of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Imelda's Secret" is also an inspiring story of hope, of redemption, and of strength. It exposes the experiences of 'comfort women' in the hopes of sparking awareness and advocacy in all who read it -- and so the lessons of history will not fade into obscurity. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Imelda's Secret" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Tom H. Boldt & Laura Cook Boldt
River Grove Books
c/o Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
9781632993199, $15.95, PB, 230pp

Synopsis: In the pages of "Unraveled: A Mother and Son Story of Addiction and Redemption", mother and son coauthors, Laura and Tom Boldt, share the raw accounting of Tom's journey into alcohol and drug addiction and how that trauma reverberated throughout their circle of family, friends, and extended family.

"Unraveled" also charts Laura, who has her own backstory. She is more than a mother standing by watching the life of her promising young son come undone. She has struggled with alcohol addiction firsthand but remains emotionally and physically sober and present for her son during his collision course with disaster. The Boldt family's love and compassion is palpable as they work their way through deep fear, sleepless nights, and crushing setbacks.

"Unraveled" is a riveting portrayal of the agonies of addiction and how one family faced their issues and found a stronger, more sustainable path forward. Many readers will undoubtedly see themselves in these stories and will come away with an abiding sense of hope -- not just for Tommy and Laura, but for themselves, too.

Of special note are Tommy's gift for zingy one-liners energizes the story and contrasts cleverly with Laura's witty yet measured and concerned maternal tone.

Critique: Candid, detailed, intimate and riveting, "Unraveled: A Mother and Son Story of Addiction and Redemption" is deserving of as wide a readership as possible with its uncensored portrayals of addiction and recovery. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Addiction & Family collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists of anyone having to deal with addiction with respect to themselves, their families or their friends that "Unraveled: A Mother and Son Story of Addiction and Redemption" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.19).

English-Hebrew The Story of the Diary of Anne Frank Children's Bilingual Picture Book
Richard Carlson, author
Suzanne Carlson, illustrator
Independently Published
9798555741653, $14.99, PB, 41pp

Synopsis: Being bullied by the Nazis because they are Jewish, Anne Frank and her family go into hiding with some of their friends. Anne keeps a diary about what life is like for them.

Richard Carison's "English-Hebrew The Story of the Diary of Anne Frank Children's Bilingual Picture Book" is a succinct and bilingual retelling of Anne's story for children.

Critique: Nicely illustrated throughout and thoroughly 'kid friendly' in presentation, "English-Hebrew The Story of the Diary of Anne Frank Children's Bilingual Picture Book" is unreservedly recommended for family, elementary school, and community library collections for young readers.

Editorial Note: Richard Carlson is an author of children's bilingual books who maintains a website at As an illustrator, Suzanne Carlson possesses a spectrum of artistic talents and enjoys creating a wide variety of projects and maintains a website at

Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt: Her Life and Afterlife
Aidan Dodson
American University in Cairo Press
200 Park Avenue, Suite 1700, New York, NY 10166
9789774169908, $35.00, HC, 184pp

Synopsis: Neferneferuaten Nefertiti (c. 1370 - c. 1330 BC) was a queen of the 18th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt, the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti and her husband were known for a religious revolution, in which they worshiped one god only, Aten, or the sun disc. With her husband, she reigned at what was arguably the wealthiest period of Ancient Egyptian history. Some scholars believe that Nefertiti ruled briefly as Neferneferuaten after her husband's death and before the ascension of Tutankhamun, although this identification is a matter of ongoing debate. If Nefertiti did rule as Pharaoh, her reign was marked by the fall of Amarna and relocation of the capital back to the traditional city of Thebes. (Wikipedia)

When a painted bust of the queen found at Amarna in 1912 was first revealed to the public in the 1920s, it soon became one of the great artistic icons of the world. Nefertiti's name and face are perhaps the best known of any royal woman of ancient Egypt and one of the best recognized figures of antiquity, but her image has come in many ways to overshadow the woman herself.

Nefertiti's current world dominion as a cultural and artistic icon presents an interesting contrast with the way in which she was actively written out of history soon after her own death. "Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt: Her Life and Afterlife " by Aidan Dodson explores what can currently be reconstructed with respect to the life of the queen, tracing the way in which she and her image emerged in the wake of the first tentative decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs during the 1820s - 1840s, and then took on the world over the next century and beyond.

All indications are that her final fate was a tragic one, but although every effort was made to wipe out Nefertiti's memory after her death, modern archaeology has rescued the queen-pharaoh from obscurity and set her on the road to today's international status.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt: Her Life and Afterlife" is impressively informative, exceptionally well organized, and a skillfully presented work of simply outstanding and meticulously detailed scholarship. The result is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, as well as a core addition to community, college, and university library Egyptology collections.

Editorial Note: Aidan Dodson is Professor of Egyptology in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Bristol, UK, and was the Simpson Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo in 2013, as well as Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society during 2011-16. He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 2003 -- and is the author of over twenty books, most recently Rameses III, King of Egypt (AUC Press, 2019) and Sethy I, King of Egypt (AUC Press, 2019).

Susan Bethany

Susan Keefe's Bookshelf

Atlanta's Concealment of the Baby Gun Club Landfill
Jerry Brow
Page Publishing Inc.
9781643349312, $31.95, 382 Pages

If I could turn back time.... I wonder how many of the people who have worked and are still working for the City of Atlanta, in the State of Georgia have this thought during recent times. As the saying goes, they had "Bitten off more than they could chew" when they forced Jerry Brow to accept their compulsory purchase of four investment properties he owned, located near the dumpsite, now known as Baby Gun Club Landfill.

Jerry Brow is the author of this shocking book which details the terrible disregard for public health and safety throughout decades which the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta, have sanctioned just to satisfy their greed and to solve a problem quickly and with total disregard for environmental and public health. The location? Northwest Atlanta, Georgia, about five miles from downtown Atlanta.

However the story begins back in the 1940's when the civil rights of the "black" people were non-existent, however, the effects are haunting the lives of people to this day, in both health, environment and financially. The "white" people way back then didn't want their copious amounts of waste on their back doorstep, so they simply dumped it on the doorsteps of the "black" people, who had at that time no voice and no rights. The site, The Gun Club Landfill.

Through thorough research, the obtaining of official documents and talking with those who know, or remember, Jerry Brow describes in detail the permitted landfill trickery which took place over time, which allowed the city to accomplish their task of making the Baby Gun Club Landfill site disappear into or within the Gun Club Landfill! Jerry found a living witness, Mrs. X who, in the 1960's remembers the dumping of waste over the years, and is an eye witness to the injustices which have been perpetuated over the years by a government who just didn't care. Now a grandmother, she has watched the continual development of housing project homes for "black" people adjacent to the dump, where the residents not only had to see and smell the waste, but also suffer illnesses, skin lesions, and respiratory problems because of it. Health problems are no surprise when there are toxic gasses being released, cocktails of chemicals, asbestos and hazardous waste, and not only that but it is also adjacent to Procter Creek which leads directly into the national Chattahoochee River.

Deception and deceit, and total disregard for public health has continued through the years. In the early 90's the city shut down Gun Club Landfill due to complaints, however, nothing was done to Baby Gun Club Landfill, and no attempt was carried out to inform citizens or investors like Jerry Brow, who bought four parcels near there with an eye to the future. They had no idea Baby Gun Club was a dumpsite, and how what lies beneath their homes would come to affect their lives in every way.

So, why did Jerry write this book? Well, he is not only a licensed builder and international developer, dedicated to preserving the environment, he is also a husband and father. He was the founder of the Humanitarian Medical Relief and Ayuda Medica Humanitaria and was cofounder in The experience has motivated him to found the new movement called OUR PUBLIC TRUST (OurPublicTrust. com), which has been designed to get the people of our world to unite and start talking freely about the dependence upon our government for the public's air, water, and land.

As a father, environmentalist and humanitarian he feels passionately that he can't let this travesty of environmental injustice to go unnoticed. He wanted, and has successfully, through the pages of this extremely interesting, shocking book, exposed the City of Atlanta and State of Georgia's incredible lack of scruples, and derelictions of duty both to their people and the environment. This is a story which needed telling and he has done so, for the sake of the health and wellbeing of generations to come and our planet.

Tiny Blunders/Big Disasters: Thirty-Nine Tiny Mistakes That Changed the World Forever, revised edition
Jared Knott
Jefferson Central Publishing
9781735972909, $15.95, 456 Pages

If history books were all written like this one, there would be many more people interested in the subject; it's simply fascinating!

Meticulously researched, the author, Jared Knott, entertains his readers with incredible examples of disasters which have occurred throughout history. Skilfully written, he illustrates wonderfully the consequences of the butterfly effect of tiny blunders, accidental changes in plans, and not so good intentions have changed the course of history for people, countries, and indeed in some instances, the world.

I studied Modern History and knew the details of some of the events he writes about. Yet, he has uncovered tiny details, omissions, or slight mistakes which occurred at the time, and in telling them, reveals how these moments in time had enormous impacts on our world today. I love the quotes he uses throughout, however one especially highlights the message that we learn by our mistakes.

"Success in life is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually the result of experience. Experience is usually the result of bad judgment. - Anthony Robbins"

Whatever period of history you are interested in, there will be a story to entertain you, proving in the immortal words of Robert Burns written in 1785, "best-laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley [go often awry]." Personally, I loved reading the chapter on sibling rivalry, discovering sibling pairings which I never realized, and marvelled at the rifts which are created in families, and which in some cases last a lifetime.

Jared Knott is a father of five and he lives with his wife, Kathryn, in the Atlanta area. He is a decorated war veteran who went on to have a successful career in sales and marketing, and the home improvement industry. The author of numerous articles on a variety of subjects, "Tiny Blunders/Big Disasters," is his first book and one which I recommend highly as not only informative but extremely entertaining.

What Empty Things Are These
J. L.Crozier
Regal House Publishing
9781947548121, $16.95, 330 Pages

Readers of this captivating historical novel are taken by its author, J. L. Crozier, on an incredible journey back in time to Victorian England. With a fascination with English history, the author as a Masters in Creative Writing from Melbourne University, and has also won awards for short stories. Born in Malaya, after having lived in south-east Asia, Burma, Vietnam, and Australia, she now lives in France with her sons.

The time is 1860, and young Adelaide Broom is like other girls of her era, shy, yet dreaming of romance and the handsome young men who she meets and dances with, whilst being carefully chaperoned. However, she soon discovers that her fate has already been decided, she is to marry the elderly, respectable friend of her fathers, George Hadley. In this strict period of history she does her duty, yet, inside she has a spirit which is expressed in her secret writing, a pastime which allows her to pour out her feelings, and observations, unrestrained.

It is Mr Collins's sensational (at the time) novel, The Woman in White, which is to lead to her husband's undoing. Arriving home and furious at finding her reading something he considers so unsuitable he, as husbands had the right to do at that time, beats her. Ironically, it is this action which causes him to suffer an apoplectic fit, which results in him becoming comatose.

Suddenly the household is very different, and Adelaide has to learn to adjust to the changes in her circumstances. Now, with the support of her Ladies Maid Sobriety, this young wife and mother must manage everything, and keep up appearances, not only for herself, but also her eight year old son Toby.

However, as her horizons expands, she soon discovers the flip side to the perfect world she has grown up in. This is the one which lies beneath the silver and damask of the drawing room, and instead lives in the shadows and tunnels below London. In this world which reeks of deception, greed and treachery, her naivety is cruelly stripped away from her...

This story is more than a story, it's a real experience! Through the authors vividly descriptive writing the reader finds themselves in Adelaide's shoes, and the pages just come alive!

Beautifully written, wonderfully detailed and entertaining, I highly recommend this outstanding story to lovers of historical fiction.

Early Thursday: A War, A Hurricane, A Miracle!
Linda S. Cunningham
9781098304805, $15.99, 290 Pages

The author as a child lived in Lake Charles, near Cameron which is the location of this story, when Hurricane Audrey hit the area in June 1957. She has, through thorough research, and listening to first-hand accounts of the local Cajun-French inhabitants of Cameron, written this heart-rending book. The sheer terror this natural disaster caused could be felt through the pages, as she revealed what it was like to experience first-hand what has been called one of the deadliest tropical cyclones in U.S. history.

Walt LaCour the protagonist, is a twelve years old boy. He lives in Cameron with his mother, younger brother Bobby and baby sister Faye. His father is a drunken fisherman, a man whose dreams have been destroyed, and who enjoys physically and mentally abusing his oldest son, for a reason Walt can't understand. Avoiding his father, and with recurring drowning nightmares haunting his sleep, Walt's only true friend and loyal companion is his beloved dog Pooch.
The beach-town of Cameron is located on the Gulf of Mexico, it is a close-knit community, and the village bar is its hub. Like all communities, its inhabitants have lived there for generations, their histories intertwining, memories go way back, and some of the current generations remember the WWII POW Camp nearby, and the impact its inhabitants had on the residents. Walt is to discover that it only takes a photo or a long lost letter to trigger a memory or even reveal a long-buried secret.

It is in the bar that Walt, his family, and friends discover on the news that a tropical storm has formed in the Gulf and is heading straight for them in southwest Louisiana. As the storm is upgraded to Hurricane Audrey, nothing could have prepared the inhabitants of this peaceful beach town for the devastation which was to follow, and the terrible loss of lives. However, it is a fact that community spirit is at its best in an emergency. Cameron's residents pulled together, saved who they could, grieved, and then, as is human nature moved forward with their separate lives, forever linked by the common bond of the memories they share. For some, moving on is more difficult, and Walt finds himself troubled by regrets, guilt, and unanswered questions. However, one fateful day everything changes when he meets a stranger confronts him, and discovers he isn't a stranger at all...

Many of us have watched on the television the damage hurricanes cause, however, the true magnitude of the devastation experienced by those who have lived through them is palpable in this incredible story. Walt's path through life wasn't an easy one, he suffered tragedy, love, pain, and a myriad of other emotions along the way, however, his and other stories like it deserve to be told, in memory of those who didn't survive so they too can be remembered.

The author's descriptive writing brings the swamps of southwest Louisiana, its people, wildlife, and climate to life. From Eli, an idiot savant with an incredible gift for violin playing, to Walt's mother, a woman whose dream's and life changed. This fictionalized memoir makes compelling reading and I highly recommend it.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Willis Buhle's Bookshelf

Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews?
Peter Den Hertog
Frontline Books
c/o Casemate Publishers
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781526772381, $32.95, HC, $14.99

Synopsis: Why was Adolf Hitler such a genocidal anti-Semite?

It is often said that the strongly anti-Semitic atmosphere in pre-war Vienna, in which Hitler failed to achieve his dream of becoming an artist, was when his hatred of the Jews first began to stir. We also often read that such feelings were compounded by the so-called 'stab in the back' by Jewish-Marxists at the end of the First World War, which led to Germany's humiliating capitulation. The Darwinian science of natural selection is often included in the debate as well, which to Hitler meant keeping the Germanic race 'pure' and untainted by the 'inferior' Jews.

However, as Peter den Hertog sets out in the pages of "Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews?: The Origins of Adolf Hitler's Anti-Semitism and its Outcome", such external, cultural and environmental factors were also experienced by most of Hitler's contemporaries, and they did not all turn into rabid Jew-haters. This study investigates what we do know about the roots of the German leader's anti-Semitism. It also takes the significant step of mapping out what we do not know in detail. This allows the reader to understand which information needs to be looked for in the search for a complete explanation.

Historians will be historians and so have their own way of looking at the world. This fails to provide us with complete clarity in this matter. That is why this study also employs insights from Psychology, Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry. Readers even take a trip 65 million years back in time to the field of Evolutionary Psychology. "Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews?: The Origins of Adolf Hitler's Anti-Semitism and its Outcome" reveals how Hitler was a man with highly paranoid traits. The causes of this paranoia are clarified for the first time and its connection to Hitler's anti-Semitism is explained in depth. It also explores, and answers, whether the Führer gave one specific instruction ordering the elimination of Europe's Jews, and, if so, when this took place.

In "Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews?: The Origins of Adolf Hitler's Anti-Semitism and its Outcome", author and historian Peter den Hertog is able to provide an all-encompassing explanation for Hitler's anti-Semitism by combining insights from many different disciplines. He also succeeds in clarifying how Hitler's own particular brand of anti-Semitism could lead the way to the Holocaust.

Critique: An inherently fascinating study and a work of meticulously presented and seminal scholarship, "Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews?: The Origins of Adolf Hitler's Anti-Semitism and its Outcome" is an extraordinary read that is ably translated into English by Lynn Coleman, and includes an informative Epilogue, eighteen pages of Notes, a six page Bibliography, and a six page Index. While very highly recommended for community, college, and university library Jewish Holocaust History, 20th Century German History, and World War II History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Why Did Hitler Hate the Jews?: The Origins of Adolf Hitler's Anti-Semitism and its Outcome" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Editorial Note: Peter Den Hertog is an historian and author who specializes in the history of Germany in the first half of the twentieth century, and, in particular, that of Adolf Hitler. A regular guest on radio programs in the Netherlands and Belgium, speaking about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, he also lectures on these subjects at universities and teacher training colleges. Having studied history, biology and cultural studies, and written novels and thrillers, Peter also teaches the art of writing and is frequently sought-after as a ghost writer.

The New Long Life
Andrew J. Scott & Lynda Gratton
Bloomsbury Press
9781635577143, $27.00, HC, 256pp

Synopsis: Smart new technologies are leading to longer, healthier lives. Human progress has risen to great heights, but at the same time it has prompted anxiety about where we're heading. Are our jobs under threat? If we live to 100, will we ever really stop working? And how will this change the way we love, manage and learn from others?

One thing is clear: advances in technology have not been matched by the necessary innovation to our social structures. In our era of unprecedented change, we haven't yet discovered new ways of living.

In the pages of "The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World", and drawing from the fields of economics and psychology, co-authors Andrew J. Scott and Lynda Gratton offer a simple framework based on three fundamental principles (Narrate, Explore and Relate) to give you the tools to navigate the challenges ahead. Both a personal road-map and a primer for governments, corporations and colleges, "The New Long Life" is the essential guide to a longer, smarter, happier life.

Critique: Deftly organized into three major sections (Human Questions; Human Ingenuity; Human Society), and featuring an informative Introduction and Postscript (Moving Forward), "The New Long Life: A Framework for Flourishing in a Changing World" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of eighteen pages of Notes, three pages of Image Credits, and a twelve page Index. Impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "The New Long Life" is especially and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Aging and Workplace Culture collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The New Long Life" is also readily available in a paperback format (9781526615176, $22.00), and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Andrew J. Scott is currently Professor of Economics at London Business School and Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research. Having previously held positions at All Souls, Oxford University, Harvard University and the London School of Economics.

Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at the London Business School and works for the World Economic Forum. In 2018 she was appointed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Council for Designing the 100-Year Life Society.

Willis M. Buhle

James A. Cox
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