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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 19, Number 1 January 2019 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Alma's Bookshelf Andrea's Bookshelf
Andy's Bookshelf Ann's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Clint's Bookshelf Grace's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Pedro's Bookshelf
Suanne's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Hollywood: Hollyweird, How People Survive and Make It
Art Norman Jr.
Yorkshire Publishing
9781947491670, $9.95, Softcover, 96 pages

Christina F. Kennison, Reviewer

Does everyone want to go to Hollywood at some point in his or her life? Art Norman Jr. believes many people do and in his book, he shares his experience while in Hollywood with a caution. His book is a firsthand account of a young man who experiences a period in the limelight of Hollywood, and although he learned a lot and had fun, he did learn of Hollywood's dark side. Norman, who earned a B.A. in psychology, shares his 96 page, matter-of-fact account, which contains numerous chapters. The book is a quick read. He covers long periods briefly and readers must stay absorbed to follow. His point of view is in both the first and the second point of view, which flavors the account. Although the two views still support his wish to provide insight and caution. Anyone who makes the decision to live in Hollywood should weigh their decision with broad opinions and information. Norman's message could be a part of that.

Norman comes from North Carolina, where he lived with his grandmother a number of years, although he lived for a time in Maryland with his mother and then in Chicago with his father, a "big-time news anchor" (15), before his experience in Hollywood. After spending a few years in Tinseltown, Norman realized Hollywood was not where he wanted to be. Fatigue and changes to himself bothered him. Paranoia had niggled its way into his thoughts causing a "psychological war" (98). Norman explains that others caught in the same situation can beat the "nightmare" (93) just as he did. Norman shares life there, events, fun, and worrisome times. Finally, he shares the moment he decides Hollywood is too weird for him and leaves for home. Though Norman shares thrills, he also shares truths from the frame of mind he believes Hollywood had caused.

Hollywood: Hollyweird makes up a part of the information one should use when considering a move to Hollywood with only tinsel and limelight in their eyes. Norman's account and interpretation is one man's account.

Goodbye for Now: Practical Help and Personal Hope for Those Who Grieve
Welby O'Brien
Deepriver Books
PO Box 310, Sisters, Oregon, 97759
9781632694805, $12.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 158 Pages,

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Counselor, teacher and author, Welby O'Brien, offers sensible advice, practical help and spiritual hope in her 2018 release, "Goodbye for Now: Practical Help and Personal Hope for Those Who Grieve."

Welby designed this very hands-on book as a three-in-one guide and begins with "The Practical," where she provides "checklists of things to do" in the initial days of loss and grief. "The Personal" segment offers encouragement, comfort and guidance for how to take care of yourself when wracked by grief, a time when you least want to but need to for necessary "healing and growth." The last segment is filled with scripture "Promises" that point to the "reality of our hope in God."

Because of the sensible advice found in these pages I believe the book is a necessary addition for anyone due to its sound common sense and encouragement at a very difficult emotional time, a time everyone will face. For example, at death some very practical things need to be decided, such as if there's organ donation, who will take care of the body and what funeral arrangements need to be made.

If advance funeral planning has not taken place choices between cremation or traditional burial arise and costs can rise quickly as well at a time when we are most vulnerable and least likely to make good financial choices, yet budgets must be considered because of the wide range of costs. For example, if traditional burial is selected Welby writes, "...caskets begin at about $400 and can cost as much as $20,000."

Other things to consider are the number of certified death certificates needed; bank accounts, social security payments and other financial and legal matters; planning the funeral and notifying friends, family members and social media. Welby's checklists and suggestions for organization are the best I've seen.

However, the appendices are even better. Appendix A includes samples of obituaries, prices and funeral notices. Appendix B offers a sample funeral service and Appendix C is how to talk to children about death, the process of grief and suggested do's and don'ts.

Appendix D, "Preparing Your Own Goodbye," includes checklists for items done in advance that makes things easier for loved ones left behind. Items such as bank account numbers, passwords, safe deposit boxes, will or trust information, medical directives and prepaid funeral services.

Appendix E contains a touching salvation message, while F is about "walking through the valley of "death with a loved one and why we should "fear no evil."

This faith-based book is an exceptional resource filled with detailed checklists, spiritual encouragement, comfort and hope regardless of where you are in the spectrum of grief and I give it the highest recommendation.

Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice
Jonathan Kahn
Columbia University Press
97802311184243, $26.63, Paper, 291 pages

Hollene Davis

As psychologists and social scientists seek ways to measure implicit bias, in this book, Kahn recognizes there has been unintended consequences that have arisen in our society, law and in science. Like many college students and public school professionals, I have taken the Implicit Association Tests (IAT) and was relieved when the results came back showing that I had "no preference" in regards to race. The IATs can also perpetuate the binary thinking in our society with respect to race, gender, age, sex or disability thus clouding one's own implicit bias and also how these biases operate in our society. Kahn's thoughts brought me back to my own experiences taking the IATs and a recognition of the binary data collected on thousands of people who have taken these tests.

After reading Kahn's book however, l recognize how these tests cannot be a primary source to alleviate one from their biases and also caution how the tests can deny the importance of history. After carefully defining implicit bias and exploring the research that has been completed on implicit bias over the last 20 years, Kahn provides a synopsis of the impact of these tests and how "debiasing" must occur in our society. Kahn connects the election of Trump, micro-aggressions, and acts of explicit racism to creating a larger racial divide in our country. As a public school administrator, Kahn's book "Race on the Brain" caused me to reflect on our education system and how the system perpetuates racism in our country through implicit biases, microaggressions, the erasing of our history in textbooks and the denial of our present reality.

In the preface, Kahn hooks the reader by referencing a 20 year study on implicit bias out of Oxford University that shows the beta blocker propranol could eliminate implicit bias (p. 218). I have observed that the desire for a quick fix to eradicate racism in our country is not surprising and aligns to our societal reliance on the drug industry. So as a drug cannot eradicate biases, one must recognize that "Implicit bias cannot be understood apart from its social and historical context which has been suffused with explicit bias for generations" (p. 225). Throughout the book, Kahn references various studies and historical events of how the legal system has perpetuated racism. He also gives suggestions of how society can "debias" beyond seeking to hire a diverse team. He notes that some states are providing videos and training to dismantle and override bias in the courts and workplace. Kahn refers to the research and findings of Kang and Banja (2012) which suggests that exposing people to "countertypical" exemplars; for example " exposing people to the names and images of positive black people" as well as exposing students to "counter typical teachers" in schools may reduce implicit bias (p. 51). Knowing that visuals can reduce bias, teachers and administrators can ask themselves, what visuals are in your classroom? What screensavers are on the computers in your classroom? How do your students see themselves in the room? The intent is by providing students with new role models through images, implicit bias can decrease.(p. 51)

Historically, the courts have focused on the intent of the accused party. Behavior realism also has a tendency to reinforce the conservative frame perpetuate the legal systems color-blind ideal and "leave behind society's history of race and racism" (p. 111). Kahn argues that to "debias" the legal system,judges must move away from focusing on intent and move towards the harm experiences by the acts of the discrimination. He cites many court cases and research that support this premise. He also notes that typical diversity training does little to increase workplace diversity and does not reduce implicit bias over time. To uphold the doctrine separate but equal is limiting and does not take into consideration the human personal experience. Kahn acknowledges the important work of Crenshaw in 1989, bringing forth the concept of intersectionality and the complexity of identity (p. 123). As in administrator in several Colorado school districts over the past 17 years, I have seen the challenges of increasing racial diversity among the educators and administrators in school districts across the Denver metro area.

Kahn clarifies that "Implicit bias is primarily a function of cognition, racism is a function of power" (p. 129). With a recognition that we all have biases, Kahn explains one should consider if one's implicit biases are suppressed or perhaps repressed and we perhaps have chosen to turn a blind eye (p. 143). To stay in the mindset of implicit bias and not acknowledging how our biases affect other people can impact relations of power and not hold us personally accountable for our civic responsibility. This is particularly true as an educator and my ethical responsibility to ensure equity for each, individual student. In Detroit schools, a suit, "filed in September 2016, argued that students at some of the city's most underperforming schools serving mostly racial minorities - had been denied "access to literacy" because of under-funding, mismanagement and discrimination. Judge Stephen J. Murphy III said that "access to literacy" which he also referred to as a "minimally adequate education" was not a fundamental right. And he said the lawsuit had failed to show that the state had practiced overt racial discrimination.(New York Times, July 4, 2018). After reading Kahn's book, it is hard to rationalize how this Detroit Court finding is not a function of power.

Kahn explains we must go beyond focusing on ourselves and think of all members of our society. We must recognize that racism lies in all forms in our society: individual, structural conscious, unconscious and everything in between (p. 234). In order to change racism in our country, we must be willing to challenge science and the legal system to bring justice to all. After reading "Race on the Brain", my awareness of how the implicit bias tests have blinded us from looking at systematic racism and power relations has re-awakened my ethical responsibilities as an administrator.


Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics, University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol 12, Article 8.

Fortin, Jacey. (2018, July 4). 'Access to Literacy' Is Not a Constitutional Right, Judge in Detroit Rules. The New York Times, Retrieved from

Kahn, J. (2016). Race on the Brain. What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice. New York: Columbia University Press.

Kang, Jerry and Banaji, Mahzarin R., Fair Measures: A Behavioral Realist Revision of 'Affirmative Action'. California Law Review, Vol. 94, pp. 1063-1118, 2006; University of California, Los Angeles - School of Law Research Paper No. 06-08. Available at SSRN:, Los Angeles - School of Law

Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
Public Affairs
c/o Perseus Book Group
9781610397315, $27.00

Jistine O. Harrison

"What? Teenagers have brains?" (Blakemore, 2016, p. 1). As a matter of fact they do, and quite complex ones at that. In her book, Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore sets out to share what is known about the adolescent brain. Through an analysis of a vast library of studies, this book aims to show readers the way the human brain develops during the adolescent years, its impact on adolescent behavior, and how both of these come together to define what becomes of them. Providing a strong defense of adolescents, Blakemore challenges her audience to think about this critical stage of life as more than just an era when teenagers are often criticized for their social priorities, lack of responsibility, attitudes, and risky behavior.

As an accomplished neuroscientist and cognitive neuroscience professor at University College London, Blakemore has published over 100 papers in journals as well as multiple books, including the highly recognized The Learning Brain: Lessons for Education (2005), which was co-authored with developmental disorder expert Uta Frith. A majority of Blakemore's research focuses on social cognition, brain science, and decision-making in the adolescent brain.

In this book, she builds upon research that spans back to the mid-nineteenth century with the well-known case of Phineas Gage, an American railroad foreman responsible for leveling ground by using explosives, gun powder, and tamping rods. Gearhart (2018) details an unfortunate accident that triggered a premature explosion that sent a tamping rod through Gage's skull. Yet miraculously, he survived for 12 years continuing to work with no motor, speech, and memory impairments before passing away as a result of epileptic seizures. Those who knew Gage, however, reported significant changes in his personality after the accident. Gage's story and the research that followed led to a better understanding of frontal lobe damage and its effect on personality and intelligence.

Utilizing a growing body of evidence from Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Blakemore supports the argument that the human brain continues to develop beyond childhood, contributing to the influence and turbulence felt in the adolescent years. Considering a compilation of definitions, Blakemore concludes that adolescence is defined as beginning at puberty, usually around age 11 or 12, and ending sometime between the late-teens and the mid-twenties. Blakemore dives deep into the adolescent brain examining its structures and functions as well as the notion of brain plasticity and the structural and neurological changes that occur over the course of one's lifespan. She focuses further on the sense of self within adolescents and their need to fit in with their peers. The looking-glass self is described as the period when adolescents begin to compare themselves more and more to others and begin to understand that others make judgments and comparisons about them, with more value being put on these judgements. For example, the author discusses both the imaginary audience phenomenon and audience effect, which explain, to a certain degree, evidence that adolescents perform differently on cognitive tasks when they believe they are being watched. Their own image in the eyes of their peers is of utmost important to them. Additional areas of focus in this book include:

- The role of developmental changes in the brain that help to explain risk-taking and a possible link to why the onset of mental illness is much higher before the age of 24.

- How various styles of advertising influence adolescents differently.

- The implications of adolescent brain development for educational philosophy and policy.

As an educator and school administrator with 17 years of experience in elementary and secondary general and special education, this book provides insight on adolescent behavior and brain development that is helpful to the profession. Blakemore shares implications of her work in educational design and policy development that secondary educators could benefit from when understanding the complexities of students as they make the transition from elementary to middle school. Take this educator perspective away and I am the parent of a 12 year-old son, and both of us are navigating these delicate waters for the first time. As a parent I am looking for assistance in supporting my child and Blakemore succeeds at connecting both the educator, parent, and neuroscience lenses to the research and implications discussed.

Overall, this book provides great insight into the continuing development of the adolescent brain and its impact on our youth. As an educator, the detailed research discussions and neuroscience lens was complex and, at times, difficult to understand. From a parent's perspective, the neuroscience lens could be quite challenging. The detailed illustrations throughout help to clarify this discussion's complexity. Regardless, this is a highly recommended read for anyone intrigued by brain science and education professionals who want to dive more into the mystery of the adolescent mind. Parents, too, can walk away with some eye-opening revelations that will support their journey through this critical stage of life.


Blakemore, S. (2018). Inventing ourselves: The secret life of the teenage brain. New York, NY: Public Affairs.

Gearhart, S. (2018, June 27). Phineas Gage. Retrieved November 29, 2018, from

One-Eyed Man and Other Stories: Short Stories
Geoffrey Craig
Golden Antelope Press
9781936135578, $21.95, 300 pps

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

From immigration in the Trump era, to the War on Drugs, to the Depression and industrialization, with a hint of Morocco thrown in at the end, One-Eyed Man paints American masterpieces with pithy prose.

A Harvard grad turned banker then writer, the author, Geoffrey Craig, takes on several voices nothing like his own. The stories in Part I feature ambitious Mexican immigrants in the Hudson River Valley, an old lady activist their staunchest supporter. Part II tells the tale of Brandon Forsythe, who commits his only felonies (drug dealing and related crimes) after serving his prison sentence. He turns his trade into a successful, and honorable, business. Part III takes place around the small town of Carmichael outside New York city, from which some characters escape and to which others retreat. Part IV builds on the lynching of a black soldier returning from war. The final story follows two independent female friends bonding in adversity during travel. Craig reveals a common humanity writing as an "other" unlike his characters.
Notions of justice, home, forgiveness get turned on their heads as thoughtful characters grapple with these themes. Once mayor of a Hudson River Valley town, a Mexican immigrant loses popularity fighting to give other immigrants the chance no one gave him. A black drug dealer is more at home around rich white folks than his hooker sister - until she proves herself above her line of work. Can a black farmer forgive a hospital for failing to treat his snake-bit son because of his skin color? These stories ask more questions than they answer. The entertainment is in the probing unexpected twists and turns.

Although all but one of the stories is set in America, the perspectives of each is as exotic and eye-opening as a foreign country. The characters offer hope in their capacity to change their minds. A winning combination of condensed writing and big impact.

How We Learn, second edition
Knud Illeris
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138689800, $170.00, HC, 286pp, 2016,

Paige McEvoy

Knud Illeris's How We Learn: Learning and Non-Learning in School and Beyond 2nd Edition (ISBN 978138689800, $28.48) provides a fully revised examination of how learning takes place. Knud Illeris is a Danish professor of learning who is more widely known for Contemporary Theories of Learning for which he edited/authored when in 2008. It would seem upon a glance of the reviews of Contemporary Theories of Learning that his other work is more of a presentation of some of Illeris's own theories compared to How We Learn, which he authored. In keeping with Illeris's style however, both texts are long on reference material and may serve as a great starting point for readers new to learning theories looking for a large swath of information in one place.

The first edition of How We Learn was published in 2007 and provided a comprehensive assessment of learning types as well as the obstacles that many learners face. In this second edition, Illeris' goal was to address the changes that had occurred since 2007, particularly "neoliberal ideas about management, measurement and effectivity, and the dominance of so-called competition state as a governing ideal" (2018, p. xiii). One standout point, related to Illeris' writing, is how the content reads like a literature review that is very well researched but never seemed to go into great detail about where the aforementioned neoliberal ideas and management and measurement changes were taking place. The reader is left to assume the changes were taking place in the teaching and learning communities globally, or perhaps in a more general sense related to educational realms as a whole.

Once I broke through the two introductory sections I enjoyed the exploration of learning concepts and theories both familiar and unfamiliar to me. A graduate student such as I might find the reading to be helpful if not a bit tedious. Illeris sticks to the facts without much anecdotal detail to help ease the monotony of the reading. It is clear that Illeris is passionate about learning theory, and one of the strengths of this book was the broad array of resources from which a reader could choose to develop an interest in. I feel that this book was geared toward a very narrow target audience of readers who are newly interested in the science of learning but unfamiliar with the details of broadly discussed and widely accepted concepts of learning. I believe researchers with any advanced grasp of the concepts of learning theories, might find the work more of an overview or introduction rather than work that adds to the currently accepted body of knowledge in the field of lifelong learning.

At times the material seemed overly verbose, particularly in the middle chapters where Illeris explores learning dimensions, while other sections were fascinating. For example, Chapter 2 was a brief but interesting summation of the physiology of learning which readers such as me who are interested in brain science and the biology of learning would enjoy. Other early chapters on the basis and understanding of learning provide a solid jumping off point for readers interested in the psychology of learning. Later chapters seemed heavily worded while at the same time not nearly in depth enough. I had trouble navigating Illeris's exploration of broader topics such as "barriers to learning" (Chapter 9), and "learning and society" (Chapter 13) as perhaps the material was lacking in specifics related to the important factors affecting a pupil's ability to learn.

As a doctoral candidate looking at research on equity issues, I would have appreciated greater detail on some of these topics such as those in Chapter 12. For example, when discussing interest-based activities Illeris writes:

While public enlightenment, study circles and folk high schools took care of such movements, today it characteristic that these possibilities for education are under increasing political pressure to become qualifying and vocationally oriented activities that can receive public support, while the interest-determined activities must often go it alone and thus are more left up to those who can muster the resources necessary. (Illeris, 2016, p. 217)

I would have liked specifics and clarity on this topic such as whom is exerting the pressure and who would benefit from described changes.

In summary I found the book to be a dense read for those newly interested in learning theory. While the book was somewhat long, it does offer a very helpful review of the science of learning. My biggest critique is that in some sections of the book I detected bias related to the equity issues and neoliberal ideals Illeris was to be addressing with this revision. Perhaps more specifics would have altered this perception of bias. Because Illeris is Danish and bases much of his theory on Danish ideals, it could be harder for readers to relate to his perspectives, particularly those in other parts of the world or from different backgrounds, such as myself. I hope to see in the future, a third edition where Illeris goes into greater detail about inequity in learning areas such as e-learning and the manner in which modern educators and learners use technology to enhance learning, how that impacts learning theory or how a lack of this technology might adversely impact learners through creation of additional barriers to learning.


Illeris, K. (Ed). (2009). Contemporary theories of learning: Learning theorists... in their own words. New York, NY: Routledge

Illeris, K. (2016). How we learn: Learning and non-learning in school and beyond. New York, NY: Routledge

Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel
Gary Dorrien
Yale University Press
9780300205619, $45.00

Robin Friedman

The Black Social Gospel And Martin Luther King

With the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. several excellent books have explored King's mission and achievement. Among the most thoughtful studies of King is this new book by Gary Dorrien, "Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel." The book explores the Black Social Gospel Movement in depth and shows its influence on King. Surprisingly, the Black Social Gospel has received relatively little detailed prior study. Dorrien's earlier study, "The New Abolition" traces the influence of earlier thinkers in the movement on W.E.B. DuBois. Dorrien, the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary has a background in social activism and has written widely cross-cutting the fields of ethics, social theory, theology, philosophy, politics, and history. These subjects all are in play, in Breaking White Supremacy". Dorrien is heavily influenced in his thinking by post-Kantian German idealism which he regards as the greatest intellectual movement of the modern world. This philosophical approach heightened the book's interest for me.

This book is long, difficult and at times difficult to follow. It succeeds in its aim of showing the importance of the Black Social Gospel Movement and is an inspiration to read. Dorrien focuses on the life and work of six individuals in Black Social Gospel, Mordecai Johnson, Benjamin Mays, Howard Thurman, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Martin Luther King, Jr, and Pauli Murray. Dorrien offers detailed discussions of their lives, works, and influences on each other. The work of King is at the center of the book and receives the most attention.

The social gospel movement of Walter Rauschenbusch and his followers has received considerable academic attention, but the Black Social Gospel is far less known. Defining the movement precisely is difficult, but Dorrien offers the following summary.

"The full-fledged black social gospel stood for social justice religion and modern critical consciousness. It combined an emphasis on black dignity and personhood with protest activism for racial justice, a comprehensive social justice agenda, an insistence that authentic Christian faith is incompatible with racial prejudice, an emphasis on the social teaching of Jesus, and an acceptance of modern scholarship and social consciousness" (p. 3)

Dorrien argues that Black Social Gospel was critical to King's thought and to his actions as leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Different scholars have taken different aproaches to King's thought with some tending to downplay the philosophical doctrine of personalism he learned during his graduate study. Commendably, Dorrien stresses the continuity between the Black Social Gospel influence on King and the philosophy he learned. The book stresses the earlier and perhaps more fundamental Black Social Gospel because its influence pervaded King's life and is probably less well-known than the philosophy of personalism.

Of the six figures Dorrien discusses, the first three were born to hard lives of Southern poverty and struggled to work themselves up to academic and theological distinction. Each of the three were direct influences on King. Johnson was president of Howard University and had an important role in introducing King to the thought of Gandhi. Mays was the president of Morehouse College where King took his undergraduate degree and a lifelong mentor. Thurman was a lecturer, preacher, and writer with a profound sense of mysticism to go with his commitment to the poor and the downtrodden. I found the discussion of these three individuals the most fascinating part of this book as Dorrien explores their lives and writings. I wanted to learn and read more about Mays and, in particular, about Thurman. At a key point in his life, Thurman studied with the Quaker philosopher and mystic Rufus Jones at Haverford College. I didn't know anything about Rufus Jones but Dorrien's discussion made me want to learn about him. Thurman wrote a book titled "Jesus and the Disinherited" that King loved together with other books of a broader mystical tenor. Dorrien shows he is a writer worth knowing. Thurman was less an activist than others in the Black Social Gospel Movement but he supported activism. Dorrien offers this wonderful quote from Thurman.

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." (Dorrien, p. 162)

Following the discussion of these three Black Social Gospel pioneers, Dorrien offers a lengthy discussion of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. who served as Congressman from Harlem for 20 years and whose checkered career made him a rival to King. There was much to Powell that I learned from Dorrien in terms of his contribution to activism and to themes from the Black Social Gospel.

Martin Luther King's work is at the heart of this book and is discussed in two lengthy chapters. The book describes King's thought and the influence of Black Social Gospel and personalistic idealism. Much of the discussion of King, however, involves a recounting of his career and activism that can be found in many other studies.

The final chapter of the book discusses black theology in the person of James Cone and other thinkers. The key figure in this section, however is Pauli Murray who had a long, brilliant career as an activist, attorney, scholar, and minister and is only recently receiving the attention she deserves.While the remaining figures in the book influenced or were contemporaneous with King, Murray, particularly late in her life, drew on King when she entered the clergy and attempted to expound and expand upon his work in the Black Social Gospel.

Dorrien's book offers a moving, inspiring account of the Black Social Gospel movement both in its influence on King and in its own account. Dorrien concludes that the Black Social Gospel "played a key role in creating America's greatest liberation movement and played a large role in carrying it out. And it remains the basis on which many hold fast to the dream of the Beloved Community." (p. 504) I found much to learn from this book.

War of the Wolf
Bernard Cornwell
HarperCollins Publishers
9780062563170, $28.99, 333 pages

Teri Davis

How could anyone teach about life in the late 900s or early 1000 A.D.? The time of Saxons, Mercians, Danes all battling over land that would become England. Along side the land issue is the decision of religion. Christianity is being followed by most of the inhabitants while the many of the Danes hold on to their beliefs and loyalties to the Norse Gods. Naturally, among each side are inner battles of ambitious rulers fighting and acquiring loyalties for power and possessions.

War of the Wolf is the eleventh book in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon series explaining how England became a single country. All of these books feature Uhtred, who in my mind resembles one of the larger fighting men in Game of Thrones with numerous scars and battle wounds from constant altercations.

War of the Wolf is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, now an older and wiser man. In the first book, I viewed him with distaste as his taste of fighting seemed impulsive. Throughout the series, Uhtred grows more interlining from his experiences and challenges so that now he thinks, plots, and attempts to outwit his enemy. Now, it is easier to see Uhtred as wise and even caring and protective of his friends, allies, and family.

Uhtred now has reestablished his life in his northern family home of Bebbanburg which took many years. He is comfortable in his northern home and would rather be home than fighting. He realizes that even though home, peace is always temporary with the constant threat of the Viking invaders, the wild fighting Scots from the northern lands and the battling for power from the Mercians, now in control of England.

Uhtred is summoned to King Edward in Wessex to decide the next king whether through oldest illegitimate sons, legitimate heirs, or other lesser leaders. Uhtred has no intention of going until he discovers the problems of his son-in-law. The needs and vengeances of the family outweigh the dangers.

In War of the Wolf, Uhtred proves his leadership and acquired wisdom in this battle of kings as well as a new challenger proves a threat to him, his family, and his ancestral homeland. His skills or lack of skills in this new world of diplomacy as well as his strategic fighting abilities demonstrates that peace is never permanent. There is always a new, younger, stronger, and perhaps smarter challenger.

War of the Wolf is thoroughly enthralling as Uhtred enters of a world of constant change.

For a reader unfamiliar with this series, I would strongly recommend to read at least the first book or to watch the television series The Last Kingdom before this particular novel. Being acquainted with the characters, especially the names is extremely helpful as well as understanding the people. Personally, I enjoy how each person matures and their previous life choices affecting their life in this eleventh book.

How could anyone learn of life in the 900s and 1000 A.D. in England. Read the Saxon series by Bernard Cornwell.

Bernard Cornwell is a master storyteller with this newest book in the Saxon series, War of the Wolf.

Children of a Good War
Jack Woodville London
Vire Press
9780990612186, $18.95 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 440pp,

Kirkus Reviews

In the third entry in the author's French Letters series (Engaged in War, 2018, etc.), two brothers cope with the aftermaths of two wars. In Colorado in 1983, Woodrow Wilson Hastings jumps off a Colorado overpass into oncoming traffic, and "Will Hastings' time on earth was over." At the funeral, his sons, Peter and Frank, quarrel bitterly. Peter calls Frank "an actual bastard" whom Will had brought home from World War II in France, where Will had been a combat surgeon. Peter's written apology never reaches Frank, and hard feelings grow as Frank tries to prove that he's not the adopted son of a French whore - but the discovery of old wartime letters shakes Frank's understanding of who he is.

They're very different characters: Peter had been a star athlete, an Air Force Academy graduate and a gunship pilot in Vietnam, and now he is a Pan Am pilot who loves "the freedom of flight." Frank has a learning disability and "grew up largely invisible but observant." He fought as a grunt in Vietnam and now reports for the local paper while writing a war novel on the side. Meanwhile, their mother, Virginia, sits in Loving Arms rest home, "demented as a bedbug."

Each squabbling brother then faces his own life-changing event, and Peter's is a doozy. He's deadheading - a pilot riding as a passenger - on a 747 that's hijacked and flown to Karachi. Frank flies to France to find his grandmother and learn more about who he really is. His travels through Normandy and small towns such as Saint-Lô combine with Will's wartime backstory to bring a rich feel to the tale.

While readers wonder whether the brothers will reconcile, interesting surprises await. Fraught relationships, wartime letters, and complex characters make this a satisfying read.

Maryam Miller
Independent- Scholart Literary Agency
9781520641362, $9.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 158pp,

Porscha Burke

"...and again writing beautifully about...slices of life I think...we don't read enough of."

Editorial Note: Porscha Burke is the former Editor for Maya Angelou at Penguin Random House.

Julia Watts
Three Rooms Press
9781941110669, $15.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 300pp,

Kelly Grabato

Liberty Hazlett is the oldest of six children. Well, seven counting the baby on the way. Nine with the two angel babies that died in utero. Each child is named after a Christian virtue: Justice, Patience, Faith, Valor, Charity. They live in rural Tennessee, where father James has his own small business (Hazlett and Sons Pest Control), and mother Becky homeschools them. The kids (the girls in particular) have little contact with the outside world, and their everyday lives are strictly regulated. (For real: they're allowed ten minutes for a shower, as "it's not good to stay in the bathroom too long because it leads to temptation").

Libby and her family are part of the Quiverfull movement: a Christian patriarchy that doesn't practice any form of birth control, including so-called "natural family planning." (Think: the Duggars.) Rather, they "trust the Lord" to give them as many children as he desires/thinks they can handle - each of which is to become an arrow in the Lord's quiver, a Christian soldier in His army, hence the sect's (read: cult's) name.

At sixteen years old, Libby is barreling towards marriageable age. This means wedding a virtuous Christian man of her father's choosing; accepting her husband as the head of the household; and obeying him in all matters, from sex to finances to child rearing...even what opinions she should adopt on any given topic under the Heavens. It also means churning out children like a baby factory, until her body wears out. Only, pray as she might, Libby doesn't want this life for herself. She knows it's sinful, but she has two eyes and a fully functioning brain, and she can see the toll it's taking on her mother.

Zo Forrester and her family - younger brother Owen and parents Jen and Todd - just moved into "the old Dobbins place" next door. Life in Knoxville was wearing them all down, so they traded it in for a simpler existence in the country. Todd traded in his nursing job for one at the department of health, and Jen homeschools the kids and does some weaving on the side.

The Hazletts might define Zo as an uppity young heathen woman, but Zo's gender identity is more complicated than all that: she's gender fluid.

In contrast to the "tragic queer" narratives that dominate fiction (yes, LGBTQ folks face higher levels of violence across the board, and it's important to explore this - but we need uplifting, happy stories, too!), the Forresters are incredibly accepting of both their kids. They're also super-progressive and open-minded, basically the exact opposite of Lord James, so much so that I wish they could retroactively and imaginarily adopt me.

For reasons that no doubt include loneliness and isolation, the Hazlett and Forrester kids - Libby + Zo and Val + Owen in particular - are drawn to each other, despite their differences. Even the women find companionship and understanding in their unlikely friendship. At first, Mr. Hazlett allows limited socialization, viewing it as a means to an end: namely, converting the sinners next door. But when an ice cream social goes sideways, he forbids his family from having anything to do with them. But teens are gonna teen, am I right?

I thought I'd like Quiver - I have a strange can't-look-away, car-accident fascination for the Quiverfull movement - but it's even better than I expected. Libby and Zo are complex, compelling protagonists; no surprise there. But Becky has great backstory that's equal amounts engaging and depressingly predictable. (Just look at the Jonestown recruits.) Jen and Todd are both awesome too; how could you not love a dad who describes himself as a "feminist vegetarian atheist socialist who votes for Democrats because that's the best you can hope for in this country" and "believe[s] in labor unions, gun control, LGBTQIA equality, contraception, and separation of church and state." Like I said, adopt me please!

The story is told from the alternating perspectives of each girl; given their radically different worldviews (or indoctrination, in Libby's case), it's really neat to read such different accounts of the same event. Watts paints each girl with depth and nuance, which is no small feat in Libby's case - she could all too easily become a caricature. Tattletale/Little Miss Perfect Patience kind of skirts that line, but I feel like the ending really speaks to the complete and utter indoctrination she's experienced. I felt rather bad for her by the last page. Again, no small feat, since she acts like such a terrible sister/daughter/Sister throughout the book.

As someone who's been on the atheist/Zo side of the friendship equation, there was actually quite a bit to which I could relate here. Additionally, the idea of showing civility towards uncivil people - people who would kidnap migrant children and keep them in cages, for example - is especially relevant now. (As I write this, it is the last day of June, and #KeepFamiliesTogether protests are happening around the world.) Regarding the 'rents, most of whom were trying to "be civil" for the sake of their kids' friendships, should one really smile and nod when a Mr. Hazlett tells your wife to shut up because women aren't allowed to have opinions? Should you smile and nod even if it's his own wife he's talking to?

In sum, Quiver is entertaining and engaging and even kind of fun, between the depressing and infuriating bits. Most of all, it's hecka relevant today, which is perhaps the most depressing and infuriating thing of all.

Theme and Variations: Musical Notes by a Neurologist
Carl Ellenberger, M.D.
Sunacumen Press
9780999561232, $16.95 PB, $6.99 Kindle, 292pp,

Maria Corley, Reviewer

In Theme and Variations: Musical Notes by a Neurologist, Dr. Carl Ellenberger creates a fascinating bridge between anecdote and science. Hundreds of years ago, William Congreve made the anecdotal claim, "Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast." I suspect that people who can't think of a single instance when their mood was either enhanced or changed by music are rare.

Brain training

Ellenberger examines research on the interaction between music and human brains (particularly his). After establishing his theme - which includes the positive ways music can affect neuroplasticity - he takes on a variety of topics, from Thomas Jefferson to Prince.

Each chapter, or "variation," written in meticulously documented yet readable (even cheeky) prose, could be a standalone essay. Ellenberger invites the reader to peruse the first three chapters, then explore the rest of the book as their interest dictates.

Topics in part one, "Exploring Music in the Brain," include love, sex, dystonia, music's ability to heal, and the declining fortunes of classical music in our current culture. Topics in part two, "Reflections on a Musical Life," include "The Rubato Queen of Shaker Heights," "Old Goats Playing the Flute," and my favorite, "My Illustrious Career as a Non-Pianist."

Aside from being a Yale-trained neurologist, the author studied flute at the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music and performed for years in professional orchestras. He also established and became a regular performer at Gretna Music, which was singled out by TIME magazine as one of the best small festivals in the nation (Philadelphia-based luminaries David Kim, Allen Krantz, Joel Thome, Suzanne DuPlantis, and Cyrus Chestnut have performed there, to name just a few).

"Cheeky" prose

Ellenberger says he learned how to write from a medical colleague (my 2017 podcast interview with him, which took place he was still writing the book, is here). As anyone who has read Ellenberger's program notes can attest, his mentor gave him a firm foundation. Consider, for example, this sample from his chapter on the Audubon Quartet, whose regular appearances at Mount Gretna helped the festival flourish before the ugly court battle that led to the group's demise.

"A young quartet faces years of daily rehearsals with no guarantee that anyone will ever hear the results... If a member drops out to attend veterinary school or proves to be incompatible, musically or personally, the others, after searching for and auditioning a replacement, must start again, almost from the beginning... As a consolation, you have the regular collegiality of three other humans and some strength in numbers, as each member may contribute a different non-musical skill, like... driving the van. That is a better life, perhaps, than that of your pianist friends who spend most of their time with a large immobile instrument that cares nothing for their fears or dreams."

Did I mention he could be a tad cheeky? Or just plain wrong, dammit? Because my piano cares. I know it does!

Simply put, Theme and Variations: Musical Notes by a Neurologist makes a wonderful read. Carl Ellenberger appeals to experts and the relatively uninitiated alike ("long ears and short ears," to paraphrase Mozart). He defines complex terms - musical and medical - clearly and succinctly while making a case for the fundamental value of music, particularly "art" music with Western European roots.

Thank God (who also garners a mention): the void left by the sublime Oliver Sacks has finally been filled.


The Weirdest Movie Ever Made
Phil Hall
Bear Manor Media
P. O. Box 1129, Duncan, OK 73534-1129
9781629333564, $14.95, PB, 120pp,

Carl F. Gauze, Reviewer
Ink 19

In the world of cryptozoology, the 800-pound gorilla is the similar looking "Bigfoot". And of all the purported unseen creatures, only Bigfoot has any even plausible evidence: the 948 frame long "Patterson/Gimlin" film. This book delves into the story but quickly comes up for breath. The arguments put forth here are plausible, but not so plausible as to convince a majority of those who don't really care.

Back in 1967, rumors abounded about a large ape-like figure in Northern California. Mr. Patterson and Mr. Gimlin took a 16 mm camera, two rolls of film, and their horses and went up county. They film trees and each other, and then as their film was nearly spent, a large apelike creature appeared, striding along and quickly looking at the men. It then went on its way into the woods apparently undisturbed by their presence.

Is the tape real? Or a clever fake? Are Patterson and Gimlin frauds or just lucky campers? This thorough and neutrally toned book examines all the data available, but never takes a stand much past: "It might be." By page 52, the author reveals about all that can be known, short of additional footage or a corpse to dissect. The "sighting," real or contrived as it may be, lead to a boom in Bigfoot cinema that we explore for a chapter or so, then we read a dozen or so opinions by other experts, all of which boil down to "It MIGHT be, I WANT it to be, but the evidence is just too darn thin." Along the way the chapters are separated with single page "Bigfoot Interludes" that reveal interesting facts or historical points that don't fit into the main text. I confess I'm a septic, and this book didn't move me one way or the other, but I appreciated its neutral, matter of the fact tone, and that it collects most of what can be knowing one, nicely indexed and bibliographic place. Well-written and well-researched, it's a nice little look at the whole business of legendary creatures that just never seem to show up for dinner.

A Surgeon's Odyssey
Dr. Richard Moss
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781480859517, $32.99 HC, $8.99 Kindle
9781480859524, $17.99, PB, 367pp,

Rita Hoots

"Travel through Southeast Asia with Dr. Richard Moss, an otolaryngology surgeon as he treats patients afflicted with ear, nose, throat diseases. Watch as he operates under less than optimal conditions, and helps train the staff at various hospitals within Thailand, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Listen as he wrestles with his conscience over errors made, and experiences the mental anguish inflicted when medical treatment is useless. Travel with this Odysseus as he bikes across the terrain of the countries he visits, gasp as he escapes life threatening perils, listen as he describes the different regional cultures and reflects on the unique characters he encounters. Gaze at the challenging diseases witnessed and share in his successes and disappointments. Coming from a poor New York upbringing, this sharp, multitalented, surgeon followed a yen to see other parts of the world instead of reaping the rewards of his professional status by opening a profitable office. As part of his character, he had the chutzpah to ignore familial and professional advice and to pursue his travel itch. We are fortunate to share his exploits in this gripping account of his three year sojourn in Asia. Each of the more than seventy brief chapters read as spellbinding essays that fascinate the reader."

Alma's Bookshelf

Courting Doubt and Darkness
J.M. West
Sunbury Press
PO Box 548, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
9781620065488, $19.95, PB, 366pp,

Dying for Vengeance is Jody McGibney West's first murder mystery/romance featuring Detectives Christopher Snow and Erin McCoy in The Carlisle Crime Cases series. In the second Carlisle Crimes Case, Courting Doubt and Darkness, Homicide detectives Snow and McCoy tail a killer who stymies the police with multiples MO's. While McCoy testifies at the trial of sisters who kidnaped her in Dying for Vengeance Snow and fellow detective Savage recover a nude body from the Letort Spring. In tracking sparse clues, another killing surfaces that rings alarms: the victims were connected. The chase leads to an active Marcellus gas well. As police tangle with hostile suspects, they are courting doubt and darkness, leaving the comfort of Carlisle to the wilds of the Racoon Mountain. When eight-months pregnant McCoy joins the case, she discovers her Native American relatives are involved. Then she stumbles into the killer's path.

Courting Doubt and Darkness by J.M. West is a well written mystery novel with two strong protagonists and several unusual twists of plot. Carlisle Homicide Detective Erin McCoy is partnered with Senior Detective Christopher Snow, her loving husband. The interaction between the two is extremely well done, and the development of the romance is beautifully demonstrated from the first book to the second, in which the couple has a baby, Ian. The baby is portrayed so lovingly one wants to pick him up and hug him. Another fine portrayal of McCoy's is of Shadow, McCoy's officer police dog. Her activities are described so realistically one wonders where the author got her information and if she ever had such a dog.

The book is extremely well written for a mystery, as one would expect from a writer who has been a professor of literature for forty years. The book is creative writing, as well as a thriller. At the same time, it is full of suspense, and kept me sitting on the edge of my seat eagerly awaiting what would happen next. I particularly enjoyed West's beautiful use of language, such as, "They walked into beauty- the night a mosaic of muted colors, a starry navy sky overhead, and a few gauzy clouds flitted across a gibbous moon." It is language that one would not expect to find in an ordinary mystery. But then Joan West is no ordinary mystery writer...

Since the book is so well written it is difficult to find much in it to criticize. It begins a little slowly for my taste, but speeds up as one gets more deeply into it. Nevertheless, Courting Doubt and Darkness is a highly readable book which once it captures the reader's interest swiftly carries him or her through the fascinating story. It is an exciting valuable book, which I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery, particularly those readers who like their
mysteries wrapped in true literature.

Dying for Vengeance is the first in the Carlisle Crime Cases series of murder/mysteries featuring Homicide detectives Christopher Snow and Erin McCoy, and Courting Doubt and Darkness is the second in the series by Jody McGibney West, pseudonym for Joan W. West, Professor Emerita of English studies at Harrisburg Area Commuity College, The Gettysburg Campus. She also taught at Messiah College and Shippensburg University as an adjunct and served as Assistant Director of the Learning Center (SU). She previously has published poetry and Glory in the Flower, her debut novel, which depicts four coeds who meet during the turbulent sixties. West and her husband live near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. They have two sons and two grandsons. In her spare time, West volunteers at the Bookery - Bosler Memorial Library's delightful used bookstore, participates in two book groups, and reads voraciously.

Dead of Winter: An Alexa Williams Novel
Sherry Knowlton
Sunbury Press
PO Box 548, Boiling Springs, PA 17007
9781620068434, $19.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 271pp,

Dead of Winter is the latest in the exciting series of Alexa Williams mysteries by Sherry Knowlton. Ms. Knowlton is a fine writer, who writes beautiful prose as good as that of much of our finest fiction, beginning with her very first sentence, "At first, she smiled, thinking the splash of red was a strand of sumac in the rusty fall glory." It wasn't. It was a bullet-riddled body.

The book is an intriguing, suspenseful story which grabs the attention of the reader from the very first page. Trying to shake her gruesome discovery, Alexa Williams, the major sleuth of the series, returns to her busy law practice and personal life. Her former lover, Reese has returned from Africa and lives at nearby Harpers Ferry. We see a lot of Reese before the ending of the book, as they tiptoe through a delightful dance in the resumption of their romance. Alexa is taking Krav Maga lessons to learn how to protect herself from attackers.

Knowlton's descriptions of the lessons are so good I almost feel I could practice them myself. The owner of the studio, the widow of a soldier killed in Iraq, and Alexa become friends, which adds an interesting aspect to the story. Alexa's parents drag her into an unwanted flurry of social commitments as they host an International Fellow of the U.S. Army Heritage in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, an Iraqi General, and his colleague, a decorated American colonial. Incidentally, Knowlton's descriptions of Carlisle are vivid enough to make any former occupant of the town homesick.

When another victim is found dead near harpers Ferry, Reese becomes a suspect and even Alexa wonders how much his African visit has changed him. After yet another casualty is found, a fear of Islamic terrorism spreads like wildfire through the small Pennsylvania town. When the police arrest the oldest son of the refugee family as a suspect in the murders, Alexa's Syrian clients become the focus of mounting anti-Muslim rage. A dangerous militia group targets Alexa, who discovers how all these murders are connected and races to stop an attack that possibly could kill hundreds of people. If she fails, she will lose everyone she loves. Knowing Alexa Williams, we know that she cannot fail.

If I have any criticism of this excellent book, it seems to me that the author jumps around too much. When I am deeply involved in a book, as I was with this one, I personally do not like to be yanked out of what is holding my interest and schlepped to another time or place.

Nevertheless, despite this possible shortcoming, Alexa Williams again proves a formidable heroine in this suspenseful tale of international corruption and hatred,. The ins and outs of the story will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and wishes to learn about the workings of crime in a small town. Unlike with most mysteries, readers also will enjoy the beauty of Sherry Knowlton's writing.

Sherry Knowlton is the author of the Alexa Williams series of crime thrillers, including Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer and Dead of Spring. When not working on her health care consulting business or traveling around the world, Knowlton lives in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania.

Dr. Alma H. Bond, Reviewer

Andrea's Bookshelf

Bare Minimum Parenting
James Breakwell
BenBella Books
10300 N. Central Expressway, Ste 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781946885326, $16.95, PB, 256pp,

Overachieving parents want you to believe the harder you work, the better your kid will turn out. That lie ends now. The truth is most kids end up remarkably unremarkable no matter what you do, so you might as well achieve mediocrity by the easiest possible route. The goal of "bare minimum parenting" is to turn your child into a functional adult with only a fraction of the effort spent by super moms and dads. If you do it right, your kid will be no better or worse off than their kids, but with more free time left for you. That's more valuable than all the participation trophies in the world. In "Bare Minimum Parenting", amateur parenting expert James Breakwell (a professional comedy writer and amateur father of four girls, ages eight and under) will teach you to stop worrying and embrace your child's destiny as devastatingly average. To get there, you'll have to overcome your kid, other parents, and yourself, all of whom will push you to do more than is absolutely necessary. A wonderfully entertaining and occasionally inspiring blend of wit, wisdom, and practical realities, "Bare Minimum Parenting" is unreservedly recommended for community library Parenting instructional reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bare Minimum Parenting" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.98) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982599300, $29.95, CD).

Sustainable Health
Susan L. Roberts
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393712834, $17.95, PB, 192pp,

Ancient healers understood the universe as an interconnected conscious relationship between natural elements. As Western medicine took hold, there was a loss of confidence with respect to traditional intuitive healing and practices. In the pages of "Sustainable Health: Simple Habits to Transform Your Life", occupational therapist Susan L. Roberts (who also has a degree from Harvard Divinity School) gives her readers the tools they need for self-care based on the five-element theory of traditional Chinese medicine. These elements (fire, earth, wood, metal, and water) can also be linked to contemporary science and the elements of energy, matter, time, and space. Through focus on these elements, readers will learn how to impact tangible experiences of living, such as sleeping, eating, working, and understanding one's own body. Roberts persuasively argues that our bodies communicate with the world, and that symptoms we may experience, such as headaches or exhaustion, can be mitigated by tapping into our ability to take care of ourselves -- the essence of sustainable health. Featuring an impressively informative and accessibly organized text, "Sustainable Health" is an especially recommended addition to both community and academic library Alternative Medicine collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Sustainable Health" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

I Love You, Elizabeth
Annabelle V.
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781983836824, $14.95, PB, 326pp,

For as long as she can remember, Ashley Wade has wanted to be a mother. But when the father of her unborn daughter accuses her of infidelity and walks out of her life, Ashley suddenly finds herself alone, unsupported, and unwilling to repeat her own mother's many mistakes. About choice in a world of imperfect choices, "I Love You, Elizabeth" follows Ashley as she imagines beautiful and terrible futures for herself and her unborn child (the daughter she's always wanted, the daughter she's not sure she can keep) and builds to a shocking and unprecedented conclusion that promises to reshape the way we look at motherhood, adoption, abortion, and the often heartbreaking decisions thousands of pregnant women face every day. A deftly crafted and compelling novel by an author with a genuine gift for narrative storytelling, "I Love You, Elizabeth" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "I Love You, Elizabeth" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Andrea Kay

Andy's Bookshelf

Police Craft
Adam Plantinga
Quill Driver Books
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721
9781610353311 $16.95

Adam Plantinga (a sergeant of the San Francisco Police Department whose years on the job also include police service in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) presents Police Craft: What Cops Know About Crime, Community and Violence, a no-nonsense, insider's view of the art, craft, and duty of police work. Written in plain terms and thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Police Craft speaks openly about police shootings, shootings of police, the sociology of crime and criminals, the psychological toll of policework, and all aspects of the police job from handling evidence and conducting interrogations to the risk of violence or death. "Gang injunctions, which prohibit documented gang members from associating with each other within a defined geographic area [...] need to be vetted judiciously - you don't want to deem a kid a gang member just because he was seen shooting hoops with some hard-core bangers [...] But I have seen the positive, even transformative effects such court orders have had on inner-city blocks. The loudest critics of gang injunctions often seem to be people who have never psent any meaningful time in the kinds of communities that gangs torment with everything from drug dealing to drive-bys." Police Craft is holds sympathy as well as hard truth for victims on all sides of the law - including those who suffer from crime and criminals, honest police who endure injury or death in service of the public, and people who fall prey to cases of police corruption or incompetence. Police Craft is highly recommended for both public library collections and personal reading lists, as is Plantinga's previous book "400 Things Cops Know" (9781610352178, $14.98).

No Quarter
John Jantunen
ECW Press
9781770412057, $16.00, PB, 384pp,

Rene Descartes is a recently released ex-con and living in a ramshackle trailer only a short distance from Hidden Cove, a secluded paradise where the country's rich and famous relax in opulent gated summer retreats. A savage attack against Rene by the son of the fourth richest man in the country spurns a brutal act of revenge that will ignite this paradise into a fiery vision of hell on earth. As the flames threaten to engulf rich and poor alike, only Deacon Riis, a small-town reporter haunted by his own past, suspects it wasn't Rene who set Hidden Cove ablaze but someone with a far more sinister agenda: to write into life the apocalyptic world imagined by the late George Cleary, a local novelist who was convinced that the end of times is now. "No Quarter" is intense and gripping novel from an author with a well honed gift for narrative driven storytelling, John Jantunen's "No Quarter" is a riveting and original story of violence played out against the bucolic and picturesque background of northern Ontario's cottage country. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "No Quarter" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.33).

The Winning Advantage
Raymond Houser
Book Baby Publishers
9781543941838, $27.95 HC / $4.95 Kindle, 188pp,

Throughout a notable career that spans selling books door-to-door while in college to running his own companies, Raymond Houser learned that certain actions and attitudes can either reinforce your goals or prevent you from achieving them. In "The Winning Advantage: Tap Into Your Richest Resources" he has created an invaluable resource that packed from cover to cover with first-person stories and inspirational quotes. His readers will learn that there are routes to success they might not know exist. But before venturing out onto those paths, it is necessary to understand some fundamentals that were likely not taught in school. Filled with insight and 'real world' based practical advice, "The Winning Advantage" is an impressively informed and informative read for anyone starting on a career. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Winning Advantage" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.95).

Andy Jordan

Ann's Bookshelf

I Can't Remember the Title but the Cover is Blue
Elias Greig
Allen & Unwin
9781760529451, A$19.99, paperback, 240 pages

Many years ago, as a very green university student about to enrol in Philosophy 100, I went into the university bookshop and asked for a book by Des Karts. "Ah Yes", said the shop assistant, "Rene Descartes". He pronounced it in the correct French way and, keeping a straight face, he went off and came back with Principles of Philosophy. I was lucky that the assistant was not Elias Greig or I might have ended up in this book of "anecdotes from the other side of the bookshop counter".

Greig writes in his introduction that he began the book "For my own sanity and as a small creative outlet between part-time work and a Ph.D thesis". He works in a Sydney bookshop inside a busy shopping centre and he describes his book as a collection of "weird, sometimes appalling, sometimes touching and hopefully funny anecdotes about our bizarre historical moment". Actually, it is a weird, sometimes appalling... etc. collection of funny anecdotes about his customers and quite what this means for 'our bizarre historical moment' is never clear. Today, after all, is no different to any other era - people, everywhere, behave in funny ways and always have.

The results of Greig's bookshop research reveal, amongst other people, "a woman in pearl earrings and a purple tracksuit" (dubbed "Pearl Tracksuit" by Greig) who wants "a children's picture book about the Holocaust". A clearly distressed lady dubbed "Misery Fringe" wanting a book about divorce. And an elderly man with puckered lips ("Old Pucker") who noticing fountain pens on display which take "real ink", confides that he used to use school ink to poison his mother's aspidistra. Along the way, we meet a "medley of weary females" having a "Fun Time Shopping for Men", harassed mothers, and children who mistreat the books or give Greig a serious lecture on sharks.

The style of the book reflects Greig's daily encounters with "the idle, the elderly, the lonely, the romantic and the legitimately mad", and with those who want to drop off their children "Just for an hour, they're no trouble" or who declare, after Greig has done the internet research for them, that they will now buy the book on Amazon. Entries are brief, his exchanges with customers neatly encapsulated, and although he sometimes assumes that all his readers will be well-read and enjoy jokes about, for example, Samuel Beckett or "Goose-Tev flow-BERT", most of the entries are easy reading and often very funny.

Elias's responses to his customers, as he notes, range from nodding sagely, "tight-jawed approval" and delight, to helpless laughter. And the cartoon-like illustrations by Phillip Marsden add to the humour and include one of Greig himself.

Seeing the benign-looking man in this picture and aware that he is secretly recording his customers' foibles, I am tempted, for my own sanity, and as revenge for my own embarrassing experience in that university bookshop, to copy Greig's idea and his style and begin a book on my own encounters with book writers, some of whom may also be book sellers:

Wednesday 3.30 p.m.

Bespectacled man, neatly bearded, friendly-looking, hiding a notebook for documenting funny customer encounters (Bearded Bookman): *smiling benignly* Hi there! How can I help?

Me: *nervously* Can I ask you something without you writing it in your book?

Bearded Bookman: *looming over me and looking as if he may not be joking* Only if you promise to write me a good review.

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume II: 1956-1963
Peter Steinberg & Karen Kukil, editors
9780571339204, A$69.99, hardback, 1025 pages

This second volume of Sylvia Plath's letters takes up her correspondence from where Volume I left off and completes what must be one of, if not the, most comprehensive collections of letters of any major 20th Century literary figure. As with the first volume it has been meticulously edited, footnoted and indexed, and will be of immense value to Plath scholars and to general readers who wish to know more about Sylvia Plath's life. It contains 1,400 letters to more than 140 correspondents but the bulk of the letters are to her mother, Aurelia, who previously edited and publish Sylvia Plath: Letters Home (Faber, 1976). These letters are now published in full for the first time, and it seems that Aurelia had chosen to leave out not just irrelevant details but also critical and sometimes offensive references to people, such as Sylvia's in-laws, who were still living. The most interesting letters for many readers of this latest volume will be those which Sylvia wrote to her psychiatrist Ruth Beuscher during her marital breakup. These are published here for the first time but take up only the last 179 pages of the 1025 pages of the book.

The first letter in the book is dated 28th October 1956. Sylvia and Ted Hughes are now married but Sylvia still has to get "all the proper sanctions and consents" (p.2) from the Fulbright officials and from Newnham, the Cambridge College where she was studying and where, as she puts it with typical exaggeration, "the virginal victorians" "titter incredulously" at the notion that a woman can "think and cook at the same time" (p.85). With approvals granted, she and Ted move to their own flat, and Ted takes a job teaching English and drama to boys who Sylvia describes variously, according to the intended recipient of her letter, as "secondary modern boys", "individual simple little minds", "near cretins" and "a gang of 40 teddy-boys, teen-age, who carry chains & razors to school and can't remember their multiplication tables for two days running". She also writes that she told Ted that if he allowed her to be his literary agent she would "guarantee 15 poems sold each year" (p.13) and her letters show how, by keeping the work each of them produced in constant circulation, she brilliantly succeeded in establishing the creative careers of both Ted and herself.

Sylvia completes her degree and in June 1957 they sail to America, a country she is plotting "subtly to make [Ted] fall in love with" (p 80). Already she has started his make-over, asking her brother to "go get him a summer suit", shirts and an overcoat, because "we must get him fitted up in a nice wardrobe which he likes, very subtly"(p. 39). She plans for her second, American, wedding, but she eventually decides against this in preference for a home-coming party and gifts from friends: "I've given up all ceremony & presents belonging to a new bride" (p 15).

After a brief holiday in Cape Cod (a wedding present from Sylvia's mother) Sylvia starts teaching at Smith College, where she took her first degree. Her letters show how keen she was to take the job:

"I want to work: to earn a salary, not live off a grant: I want to remember how young & unread 17-year-old girls still are. I want, above all, to make them love their work & shock & stir them into new awareness. Which will teach me immeasurably much & also give me a sense of joyous pride". (p.99)

But she is desperate not to fail the expectations of her former teachers, who are now her colleagues. The letters show how hard she worked and how difficult it often was for her. And Ted's Birthday Letters poem, 'The Blue Flannel Suit' describes succinctly her "flayed nerve" and her fear of "the eyes that waited at the back of the class / To check your first professional performance / Against their expectations". Sylvia expresses her great relief when she chooses not to accept a renewal of her employment at Smith but all this time, as throughout the book, her letters to her mother are almost relentlessly upbeat.

Postcards cover Sylvia's and Ted's tour of America, then Sylvia's letters follow their move to Boston for a year of just writing, their two months at the artists' retreat at Yaddo, their return to England and their lives in London and Devon from then on.

The letters also show how much in love they were and how closely she and Ted worked together in everything, forging a unique partnership in which they shared every aspect of their lives. Early in their marriage Sylvia wrote: "we read, discuss poems we discover, talk, analyse" (p.21); and they continued to suggest topics, plots and titles for each other, to criticise each other's work, and to share working-time and baby-care. Also, these letters provide an impressive, ongoing, catalogue of their publications and rejections, prizes, awards, readings, and earnings. In December 1961, Sylvia wrote to her friend Marcia Stern:

"It isn't accurate to say we live on writing, as we've been lucky with writing grants & prizes which have seen us over the financial humps which the weekly trickle of earning won't cover"(p.695). And in September 1962, she told her mother: "Together we have earned about $7,000 this year, a fine salary, I earning a third".

Only a couple of times does Sylvia outline her techniques and meanings in particular poems, but the source of many of her stories and poems, and of Ted's Birthday Letters poems, is clearly evident. There are also three detailed pages of notes to her publisher about The Bell Jar, identifying the changes Sylvia made in order to avoid libel (p.683-5).

There are brief moments of self-analysis and worrying moments when she identifies with Virginia Woolf or writes that Ted "even fills that huge sad hole I felt having no father" (p 21). In her last very sad and moving letter to Beuscher, she writes:

"I have just read the Fromm [Eric Fromm's The Art of Loving, suggested to her by Beuscher] & think I have been guilty of what he calls 'Idolatrous love', that I lost myself in Ted instead of finding myself, and this is why deeply underneath the marvellous loving, the writing, the babies I feared his loss, his leaving me & depended on him more & more, making him both idol and father". (p. 967).

The letters in this book, however, do not show the whole Sylvia. For that, they must be read alongside her journals and notebooks, her stories and her poems. It is also necessary to read some of the memoirs of her written by others who knew her, such as Lucas Myers, Dido Merlin and Richard Murphy, all of which are included in Anne Stevenson's Bitter Fame (Viking, 1989).

My own reaction to the letters was complex, and my feelings about Sylvia changed as the book progressed. I admired her drive, her energy, her wholehearted determination to succeed in spite of her fears and insecurities, and her resilience and her genius. But I found it hard to understand how she, whilst constantly claiming in her letters to have little money, could pay a cleaner, a babysitter and, after Ted left, hire a nanny and take riding lessons. In 1963 I was in a similar situation to Sylvia, having moved with a toddler and a new baby to a strange Lancashire town away from family and friends. My husband worked full time (so no shared daytime baby-minding, as Sylvia and Ted had) and I was studying by correspondence. We were not quite "working class", as Sylvia disparagingly calls her in-laws in her later letters, but we were only just able to survive on my husband's professional salary. Our situation was not unusual for a young married couple in England at that time but employing someone to do the ironing and clean the house would never have occurred to most people like us.

My other feeling, from quite early in the book, was that in her letters to her "Dearest mother" Sylvia made constant requests for Aurelia to send her things from America (cake-mix, cookie sheets, oven thermometer, bra and pants, sheets of stamps etc. etc.) and do things for her (handle banking, sponsor Ted for an American visa, make dental and doctors appointments for them, check out available flats in Boston). She comes across as very demanding daughter, and without Aurelia's side of the correspondence there is no way of telling whether or not she invited this. I was shocked, therefore, to read, in July 1957 that Sylvia had written a story called 'The Trouble-Making Mother' and was planning to send it to the Saturday Evening Post. Sylvia's outlined of this story in her journal (20th July 1957) describes it as "close to my experience" and notes that it is about a daughter fighting for freedom and integrity, and trying to break free of a mother who dominates her daughter and flirts with her daughter's boyfriends. The second shock, after all the letters from a seemingly very loving daughter, was Sylvia's angry letter to her mother telling her "my business in this town is my business, & for goodness sake learn to keep your mouth shut about it" (p.874).

Something not mentioned in Sylvia's letters but about which there are many pages in her journal, are her consultations with Ruth Beuscher with whom she had therapy whilst she and Ted were living in Boston. In her Journal, on December 12th 1958, Sylvia wrote:

Ever since yesterday I have been feeling like a new person...Better than shock treatment "I give you permission to hate your mother".

"I hate her, doctor". So I feel terrific. In the smarmy matriarchy of togetherness it is hard to get a sanction to hate one's mother. Especially a sanction one believes in.....

What do I do? I don't imagine time will make me love her. I can pity her: she's had a lousy life; she doesn't know she's a walking vampire. But that's only pity. Not love". (Kukil (ed.), The Journals of Sylvia Plath, Faber, 200, p. 428).

Another shock, to me, was her account of Olwyn's verbal attack on her whilst she and Ted were spending Christmas with his parents in Yorkshire. At least one of the claims Sylvia makes in her two accounts of the quarrel is untrue. She writes of "Olwyn and two friends" and that Olwyn wanted them to stay in the small flat she and Ted were renting. Sylvia omits to say that one of the friends was Lucas Myers, who she knew well, as her letter to him in March 1957 shows (p. 85). Also, as Lucas writes in his memoir of Sylvia, Olwyn and her friend were staying together in the friend's flat and had no need of accommodation. He writes, too, that Sylvia completely ignored Olwyn's friend on that occasion, not even acknowledging her the whole time they were there, and that he had never before seen Olwyn disconcerted, as she was by this. Knowing Olwyn, I am sure she spoke her mind bluntly, as she always did, being the Yorkshire lass she was. But with five people in a small house in winter, one of whom is an American stranger, and with Sylvia (who, as she admits, was never easily able to hide her feelings) very critical of her mother-in-law, the stresses must have been considerable. In a letter from Yorkshire to her uncle and aunt, Sylvia writes:

"Ted's mother's not a good cook. She boils everything, including steak, and her pastries which she makes without any recipe would sink like a battleship....I do love to cook and I can't understand how anybody can be a bad cook when the recipes are so simple and easy to follow. Of course I try to make as much as I can whilst I'm here, but it's a battle in a tiny messy kitchen with no supplies" (p. 380).

Later, she writes to her mother:

"I must be a real terror of a daughter-in-law. (Ted always brags of my cooking), typing away all day & measuring my ingredients & eating meat rare & not falling into the rhythm of starches, sweets & tea..." (p.389)

Olwyn may or may not have been jealous of Sylvia, as Sylvia claims, but Sylvia was never able to tolerate other women in Ted's life, as she admits to Beuscher in one of her last letters to her, and she clearly never forgave Olwyn.

Perhaps the most important perspective on these letters is offered by Sylvia's and Ted's daughter, Frieda, in her 'Foreword' (pp. xv-xxv). There, she tells of how she came to see extracts from her mother's correspondence with her psychiatrist, Ruth Beuscher, published in an advertisement from a rare books dealer and how she, finally, got to read these letters after many others outside the family had already done so. She discusses some of the content which the media have sensationalised; and she disproves, to her own satisfaction, some of the accusations made against her father. She also offers a rational and believable view of the marriage and the separation as a whole:

"In my view, they were both flawed and impassioned human beings and I love them more for this. They both suffered, they both made mistakes, they were going through the same kind of hell that literally thousands of couple go through every day, and, in fact, the letters are profoundly illuminating in this respect" (p. xxv).

Dr Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Gut Reactions: The Science of Weight Gain and Loss
Simon Quellen Field
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781641600002, $17.99, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: How much do you really know about how the human body works and how it reacts to food, exercise, nutrition, and the environment? While most people have read about at least one fad diet, they're left wondering about the greater biochemistry, psychology, sociology, and physiology of the obesity crisis in the United States.

"Gut Reactions: The Science of Weight Gain and Loss" by chemist Simon Quellen Field (who created the popular web site shows his readers how their bodies react to food and the environment and how their brains affect what and how much they eat. Field reveals why some diets work for some people but not for others, based on genetics, previous weight history, brain chemistry, environmental cues, and social pressures.

Fields also explores how dozens of hormones affect hunger and satiety and interact with the brain and the gut to regulate feeding behavior, while also explaining the addictive nature of foods that interact with the same dopamine and opioid receptors in the brain as cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and nicotine.

"Gut Reactions" is an invaluable source of 'real world' information for anyone looking to lose weight, put on muscle mass, or simply understand how their metabolism or gut microbiome impact their food cravings.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "Gut Reactions: The Science of Weight Gain and Loss" features an deftly crafted Introduction, with individual chapters devoted to: Sugars and Other Carbohydrates; Fats and Proteins; Physiology and Psychology; Hormones; Gut Microbes; Genetics; Environment; When We Eat Affects Homeostasis; How to Tell Which of the Weight-Gain Factors Apply to You; and Remedies. Of special note is the inclusion of an eighteen page Bibliography and an eleven page Index. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Health & Medicine collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Gut Reactions" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99) as well as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781982600037, $29.95, MP3 CD).

Creating a Beautiful Life
Elizabeth George
Harvest House Publishers
2975 Chad Drive, Eugene, Oregon 97408
9780736967587, $15.99, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: Each new day presents opportunities to grow our faith, manage our work and our goals, and make good use of the time God gives us. But making the right choices moment by moment isn't easy. And the first decisions of our day can affect the next 16 hours -- for better or for worse.

In "Creating a Beautiful Life: A Woman's Guide to Good-Better-Best Decision Making", Bible teacher Elizabeth George helps us to navigate the options we might encounter today, thereby enabling us to: get up and power up for a great day; establish your priorities; make the most of your time; choose good, better, and best options; pour yourself into the people in your life.

Basically and essentially, "Creating a Beautiful Life" is an instructional guide to prepare us to create a more beautiful and productive life and make each day more meaningful when we choose to live our daily lives God's way!

Critique: As 'real world practical' as it is inspired and inspiring, "Creating a Beautiful Life: A Woman's Guide to Good-Better-Best Decision Making" is a life affirming, life enhancing, life celebrating read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Creating a Beautiful Life" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.76).

True Wellness
Catherine Kurosu, MD & Aihan Kuhn, CMD, OBT
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594396304, $16.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Essentially, "True Wellness: How To Combine the Best of Western and Eastern Medicine for Optimal Health" is a step-by-step guide to optimal health, blending the best of each medical tradition. The authors, Catherine Kurosu (an ob-gyn, general practitioner, specializing in acupuncture and Oriental medicine) and Aihan Kuhn (a medical doctor trained in both Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine) are both Western-educated physicians who also trained in Eastern medicine. They have more than sixty years of combined clinical experience and have helped thousands of people through the use of surgery, pharmaceuticals, acupuncture, herbs, qigong, tai chi, meditation, and lifestyle counseling.

With "True Wellness", non-specialist general readers will: Discover the strengths and benefits of both Eastern and Western medicine; Use journaling topics, questions, worksheets, checklists, and practical advice to prepare for and begin new, healthy behaviors; Learn to create a multidisciplinary care team for a strong alliance between your Western health-care providers and Eastern practitioners.

"True Wellness" explains how exercise, nutritious food, stress management, acupuncture, and qigong affect the body, so better and healthier choices can be made. Of special note is the inclusion of practical advice and worksheets to start simple daily exercise routines, eat a plant-based diet, and begin qigong practice.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "True Wellness: How To Combine the Best of Western and Eastern Medicine for Optimal Health" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Alternative Medicine collections and supplementary studies lists. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "True Wellness" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

A New Key to the Bible
Bruce Henderson
Swedenborg Foundation
320 North Church Street, West Cester, PA 19380
9780877853084, $13.95, PB, 166pp,

Synopsis: If the Bible is a divinely-inspired moral guide for personal and social good, why does it contain so many stories that seem to glorify violence and the mistreatment of others? Why does God sometimes seem so angry and cruel? And what about the parts of the Bible that just don't make sense?

In his vast writings, eighteenth-century spiritual teacher Emanuel Swedenborg offered an erudite clarification: beneath the often-confusing literal text of the Bible is a clear inner meaning that directly points to an inclusive, always-loving, always-present God.

In "A New Key to the Bible: Unlock Its Inner Meaning and Open the Door to Your Spirit", author Bruce Henderson guides the reader through Swedenborg's interpretation of the Bible, offering up a thought-provoking yet digestible way to understand the Creation story, as well as other famous parables such as Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, the life of Jesus, and the apocalyptic imagery of Revelation. At each step of the way, Henderson shows how these Scripture stories written thousands of years ago reflect our own spiritual paths and give meaning to the challenges we face along our journey in the present day.

For readers new to Swedenborg, "A New Key to the Bible" serves as an excellent and informative overview of the thousands of pages Swedenborg wrote about the inner meaning of the Bible. For spiritual seekers who feel a connection to the Bible but are sometimes troubled by its contents, Swedenborg reassures with a transcendent level of understanding about how God wants to inspire us through sacred text.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented for the benefit of both academia and non-specialist general readers, "A New Key to the Bible: Unlock Its Inner Meaning and Open the Door to Your Spirit" should be considered as a critically important 'must read' for all students of Emanuel Swedenborg life and thought. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Biblical Studies collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A New Key to the Bible" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

The Fourth Moment
Carole J. Garrison
2Leaf Press
PO Box 4378, Grand Canyon Station, NY, NY 10163-4378
9781940939636, $18.99, PB, 318pp,

Synopsis: A child of humble beginnings, Garrison paved the way for herself to accomplish great things, but for her, the journey was far from your typical "rags to riches" tale. Through a series of tragedies and triumphs, blunders and epiphanies, Garrison's life has been filled with a number of unusual detours from being a suburban housewife in Miami, to becoming a single mom and police officer in Atlanta, to returning to school to become a seasoned ethics and women studies professor in Ohio and Kentucky, to working in Cambodia as it emerged from decades of civil strife, all the while growing into the passionate humanitarian she is today.

"The Fourth Moment" is a simply remarkable series of recollections from a woman whose experiences cover an extraordinary range of places, people, and interests. Eschewing the formulaic conventions of autobiography, "The Fourth Moment" consists of short stories (vignettes) that move back and forth across time and space to describe in vivid detail events and observations from a fascinating life.

These stories from Carole's life reflect the acute perceptions of a woman for whom every day is a new adventure and a fresh opportunity to learn. In "The Fourth Moment", Carole reveals truths not always within everyday reach, but certainly within everyday aspirations, something that readers will be able to connect to.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "The Fourth Moment: Journeys from the Known to the Unknown" is a candidly personal and deftly crafted memoir by Carole J. Garrison that is certain to be an enduringly valued addition to community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fourth Moment" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat, third edition
Nicole A. Heinrich, et al.
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781482225969, $149.95, HC, 312pp,

Synopsis: Now in a significantly revised and thoroughly updated third edition, "Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat" by the team of veterinarians Tim Nuttall, Melissa Eisenschenk, Nicole Heinrich, and Richard G. Harvey, informatively encompasses the huge growth in knowledge about skin conditions in feline and canine companions over the last decade, including the discovery of new conditions, the development of new approaches to management, and effective new treatment options.

There are 13 chapters covering over 120 skin, claw and ear conditions classified by their principle presenting sign; Concise, systematically structured texts covering definition, aetiology and pathogenesis, clinical features, differential diagnoses, diagnostic tests and management; Flow charts in each chapter to help clinicians get to the right diagnosis; A special focus on diseases affecting pediatric patients as well as chapters discussing paw, ear and nasal planum diseases; Explanations of new treatments for atopic dermatitis.

Of special note are the more than 350 color photographs and diagrams, most of which are new to this third edition; A focus on clinical practice and the need to explain the disease to the owner.

Completely up-to-date and fully referenced throughout, "Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat" is impressively updated in response to developments in veterinary dermatology over the last decade; Presents a clear and user-friendly design with one condition per page (or spread of pages); and is referenced throughout to give the clinician access to the literature.

Critique: "Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat" is complete, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, making it an ideal curriculum textbook and an enduringly valued reference guide for veterinarian students and practitioners working with dogs and cats having any manner of skin condition. While an absolutely essential and indispensable addition to veterinary clinic, college and university library Veterinary Medicine collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Skin Diseases of the Dog and Cat" is also available in a paperback edition (9781138308701, $59.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $39.95).

Inspirational Musings: Insights Through Healing
Barbara Sinor
Loving Healing Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615994069, $24.66, HC, 102pp,

Synopsis: On our life's journey there are major turning points. Falling, fracturing her hip, and then having surgery were experiences that forced retired psychotherapist Barbara Sinor to travel an unknown path. These experiences took her beyond her normal life to exploring emotions and thoughts in foreign regions.

While Barbara was confined to a rehabilitation facility to recover, her inner journey took her through territories of fear, doubt, pain, guilt, and down other emotional paths. Regardless of your personal struggle, the lessons laid out in the pages of "Inspirational Musings: Insights Through Healing" offer courage and insights to awaken and transform.

Critique: Perfect for browsing, with each page showcasing a bit of insightful, thought-provoking, or inspirational observation, "Inspirational Musings: Insights Through Healing" is a truly life enhancing, life affirming read from beginning to end. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Inspirational Musings: Insights Through Healing" is also available in a paperback edition (9781615994052, $13.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Responsible Investing
Matthew W. Sherwood & Julia Pollard
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138560062, $160.00, HC, 290pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively written by Matthew W. Sherwood (Director of Public Markets Investments at MMBB Financial Services and an Investment Committee Member and Head of the ESG/SRI Working Group for the Plan Sponsor Council of America) and Julia Pollard (Financial Associate with Bernstein Private Wealth Management, a division of AllianceBernstein)."Responsible Investing: An Introduction to Environmental, Social, and Governance Investments" is a textbook that provides students with the first holistic resource on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing for undergraduate and graduate programs.

Providing a thorough background and history of ESG investing, as well as cutting-edge industry developments, in a way that introduces the reader to the rapidly developing field of responsible investing, "Responsible Investing"offers an excellent overview of the growing trends in ESG investing, as well as a close analysis of ESG theories and their practical application both today and in the future.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Responsible Investing: An Introduction to Environmental, Social, and Governance Investments" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of tables, figures, a five page index, and a complete listing of the contributors and their credentials, making it ideal for college and university curriculums as a textbook that will be a great instructional and informational resource for both undergraduates and graduate students. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Responsible Investing: An Introduction to Environmental, Social, and Governance Investments" is also available in a paperback edition (9781138560079, $59.95) and in a digital book format (eTextbook, $47.36).

One Nation Under Drones
Capt. John E. Jackson, USN (Ret.), editor
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781682472385, $29.95, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: Following a 27-year career as a Navy logistics officer, Capt. John E. Jackson, USN (Ret.) has spent more than three decades as an educator, author, and researcher in the field of technology and military operations. As a senior course moderator at the U.S. Naval War College he designed and regularly teaches a highly regarded course entitled "Unmanned Systems and Conflict in the 21st Century." He is a frequent lecturer on this subject and testified before the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs in 2010.

Compiled and edited by Jackson "One Nation Under Drones: Legality, Morality, and Utility of Unmanned Combat Systems" provides an impressively informed and informative review of how robotic and unmanned systems are impacting every aspect of American life, from how we fight our wars to how we play to how we grow our food. Featuring chapters contributed by a dozen experts, researchers, and operators of the sophisticated systems that have become ubiquitous across the nation and around the world the primary focus is on unmanned aerial vehicles, officially designated as UAVs, but more often referred to as "drones."

"One Nation Under Drones" takes the reader behind the scenes and describes how Predators, Reapers, Scan Eagles, and dozens of other pilotless aircraft have been used to fight the Global War on Terrorism. Although these systems seemed to emerge fully-developed into the skies above America's distant battlefields following the attacks of September 11, 2001, readers will discover that they actually trace their lineage to World War I, when the "automatic airplane/aerial torpedo," designed and built by the Sperry Gyroscope Company, made its first flight just over a century ago. Unmanned aircraft were used by various combatants in World War II and took many forms: from converted manned bombers to intercontinental attacks on the American homeland by rice-paper balloons. Technology developed in the latter decades of the 20th century enabled crews stationed thousands of miles away to attack targets on remote battlefields. Such long-range and remote-controlled weapons have been extensively used but are controversial from both legal and ethical standpoints.

Critique: A groundbreaking and deftly organized historical examination of a technology that has become ubiquitous with respect to military engagements, security surveillance, corporate business experimentation, and domestic recreation, "One Nation Under Drones" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, government policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "One Nation Under Drones" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $13.02).

One Truth and One Spirit
Keith Readdy
Ibis Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari (distributor)
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9780892541843, $35.00, HC, 436pp,

Synopsis: Born Edward Alexander Crowley (12 October 1875 - 1 December 1947), Aleister Crowley was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Aeon of Horus in the early 20th century. A prolific writer, he published widely over the course of his life. (Wikipedia).

Based upon academic research at the University of Amsterdam's Center for the History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents, "One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley's Spiritual Legacy" by Keith Readdy is a much-needed work that covers a previously unexplored history of the modern religious movement known as Thelema. This work details the theoretical framework of Aleister Crowley's spiritual legacy in the O.T.O. and the A?A? and covers the years of Thelema since Crowley's death in 1947.

"One Truth and One Spirit" approaches a complex topic with a complex history, with exhaustive citations and sources, but it is written for anyone interested in the subject of Thelema. Author and skilled researcher Reddy utilizes published source material as well as previously unavailable information, which makes this a unique contribution to the available literature.

Critique: "One Truth and One Spirit" will be of particular interest to the novice, the scholar, and the seasoned practitioner of Thelema. The work provides a general historical overview of Thelema from a theoretical vantage point, explores the historical development of the movement from the 1960s to the 1990s, and applies the author's own critical discussions on the topic itself.

Exceptionally well organized and presented, offering enlightened and informative insights, "One Truth and One Spirit: Aleister Crowley's Spiritual Legacy" is a critically important and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections in general, and Aleister Crowley supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "One True and One Spirit" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.99).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Area 51
Nick Redfern
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Road, #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578596720, $19.95, PB, 400pp,

Synopsis: It's no secret that, roughly 100 miles north northwest of Las Vegas, in the middle of a remote dessert, sits an extension of the Edwards Air Force facility commonly known as Area 51, but its clandestine purpose and operations remain shrouded in secrecy. It's a highly classified, restricted area, but, cloaked in conspiracy theories, its history and true function remain a mystery. Is it only devoted to flight testing experimental aircraft and building black ops weapons systems as some contend? Or is it home to a dead alien, crashed UFOs, and extraterrestrial technology? Or all of the above?

Taking a thorough review of the historical record, eyewitness accounts, whistleblower testimony, and deathbed confessions, "Area 51: The Revealing Truth of UFOs, Secret Aircraft, Cover-Ups and Conspiracies" by Nick Redfern peers behind the classified secrets to understand the nature, history, and scope of the most controversial base in the United States. Redfern investigates the Cold War years, U-2 spy plane, SR-71 Blackbird, and chemical and nuclear weapon research as well as the base's link to an extraterrestrial presence on Earth, reports of alien autopsies, recovery of non-terrestrial spacecraft, and attempts to duplicate the fantastic, alien technology.

From UFOs to secret aircraft and the CIA, shadowy government programs and unexplained events surrounding Area 51 are illuminated, including: The government's Nevada land-grab at Paradise Ranch; The U-2, the Blackbird, and the A-12 tests, refinements, and flights; The Robert Scott Lazar revelations; Roswell Incident and Project Mogul; The development of "black helicopters"; The "Autopsies - Bodies Unknown Origin 47" file; Intelligence gathering through ESP, parapsychological, and mind control; Secret research on teleportation; Vast, hollowed-out chambers, tunnels, and hidden underground facilities.

Critique: Encyclopedic in comprehensiveness, impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Area 51: The Revealing Truth of UFOs, Secret Aircraft, Cover-Ups and Conspiracies" should be considered as an essential addition to community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated UFO enthusiasts that "Area 51: The Revealing Truth of UFOs, Secret Aircraft, Cover-Ups and Conspiracies" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.95).

WikiLeaking: The Ethics of Secrecy and Exposure
Christian Cotton & Robert Arp, editors
Open Court Publishing Company
70 East Lake Street, Suite 800, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812699883, $19.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: WikiLeaks is both famous and infamous for its practice of publishing secret material, including classified government documents, confidential videos and emails, and information leaked by whistleblowers, some of them anonymous, others revealing their identities. Indeed, WikiLeaks currently claims to have compiled a database of more than ten million "forbidden" documents. Its founder and leader, Australian activist Julian Assange proclaims that the public is entitled to the truth and that "information wants to be free".

WikiLeaks activities have polarized opinion, with some claiming its operations are traitorous and harmful, and others defending its releases as necessary exposure of wrongdoing. Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by independent scholar Christian Cotton and philosopher/historian Robert Arp, "WikiLeaking: The Ethics of Secrecy and Exposure" features professional philosophers with diverse opinions and backgrounds deliver their provocative insights into WikiLeaks.

"WikiLeaking: The Ethics of Secrecy and Exposure" will prove to be thoughtful and thought-provoking reading for such issues and question as: If leaking secrets sometimes causes harm, can this harm be outweighed by the benefit of more people knowing the truth?; How much of WikiLeaks information is true, and does it matter that some of it might be erroneous or misleading through lack of context?; Is the prevalence of leaking an automatic outcome of the value of free expression, as enshrined in the First Amendment?; If it's wrong to lie, does this imply that it's always right to speak the truth?; Does selective media bias require to be countered by unpredictable leaking?; Can there be too much information? And if so, how can citizens protect themselves against information overload?;

WikiLeaks activists are guided by a code of ethics but: How does this compare with the professional ethics of conventional journalists?; When French politician Emmanuel Macron included deliberate falsehoods in his emails, knowing they would be leaked, he showed the relation between leaking and "bullshit," as defined by Harry Frankfurt. Can we expect the prevalence of leaking to increase the volume of bullshit?; The existence of government necessitates the practice of subterfuge and double-dealing by statesmen, but the culture of democracy calls for transparency. How can we fix the boundary between necessary deception and the public's "right to know"?:

Leaking exposes what some powerful person wants to be kept secret. Is leaking always justified whenever that person wants to keep their own immoral actions secret, and is leaking not justified when the keeper of secrets has done nothing wrong?

Critique: A timely and invaluable contribution to our on-going national discussion with it's special relevance to the 2016 election of Donald J. Trump as president, "WikiLeaking: The Ethics of Secrecy and Exposure" is deserving as wide a readership as possible and therefor unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. 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 "WikiLeaking: The Ethics of Secrecy and Exposure" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.69).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Where the Colors Blend
Stephen Copeland
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
9781683509677, $17.95, PB, 292pp,

Synopsis: Stephen Copeland is a writer and storyteller. He is a former staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum Magazine, a national faith-based sports magazine, and his articles have also been published in Christianity Today.

In "Where the Colors Blend: An Authentic Journey Through Spiritual Doubt and Despair ... and a Beautiful Arrival at Hope", Stephen's self-discovery and God-discovery is told over a period of six years in the context of an annual retreat to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Roanoke, Virginia, where an obscure, forty-year-old church softball tournament takes place each summer to raise funds for mission work in Paraguay.

In stepping into these stories, and sharing them with the reader, Stephen simultaneously journeys deeper within himself, discovering the divine in the process and taking readers deep into the throes of doubt, deconstruction, and depression. But it's there, in the darkness, that an authentic hope finds him. Throughout the narrative, readers experience with Stephen a number of paradigm shifts in the areas of Spirituality, Relationships, Art, Writing, Work.

Stephen's present-tense narrative, mysteriously unfolding all the way, is free-thinking and free-flowing, swinging from humor to complex theology, from someone else's story to sudden introspectiveness and application, creating a unique experience for readers as it challenges them to adopt their own lifestyle of introspection and contemplation.

Critique: A deftly crafted and compelling read from beginning to end, "Where the Colors Blend" is one of those extraordinary reads that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Where the Colors Blend" deserves as wide a readership as possible in this troubled times. While very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Where the Colors Blend" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.89).

The Little Book of Cannabis
Amanda Siebert
Greystone Books
9781771644044, $12.95, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: Cannabis (also known as Marijuana or Weed) has been known to be a health aid, a comfort, and quality of life-enhancer for humankind for more than three thousand years. But while cannabis is used by hundreds of millions of people around the world, more than a century of prohibition has resulted in confusion about its status: Is it healthy? Is it medicinal? Will it make you crazy?

"The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life" by Amanda Siebert (who award-winning journalist and photographer best known for her work as the first-ever cannabis editor at the Georgia Straight) is fun, illuminating book that delves deep into the latest research to separate marijuana fact from fiction, revealing ten evidence-based ways this potent little plant can improve your life.

"The Little Book of Cannabis" draws from some of the world's top researchers, medical professionals, and consultants to answer questions such as: Can cannabis help you get a full night's sleep? Does it aid in exercise and weight loss? Can it really cure cancer?

"The Little Book of Cannabis" also offers practical advice for maximizing its benefits including easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for how to enjoy everything from joints to edibles, CBD oil to oral sprays, as well as providing examples of real people who have used cannabis to enhance their lives.

The ultimate and documented message of "The Little Book of Cannabis" is that this powerful plant could be life-changing as it can enrich any diet, slow down aging, and even spice things up in the bedroom!

Critique: An absolutely fascinating and informative read from beginning to end, "The Little Book of Cannabis: How Marijuana Can Improve Your Life" is an invaluable and timely contribution to our presently on-going national discussion over the legalization of marijuana. While especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library Alternative Health & Medicine collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, marijuana legalization activists, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Little Book of Cannabis" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.44) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Tantor Audio, B07JL8LLHK, $15.30, Audible Audiobook).

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

Verses for the Dead
Preston & Child, authors
Read by Rene Auberjonois
Hachette Audio
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9781549142222 $40.00

Synopsis: Preston & Child return with their #1 bestselling series, confronting FBI Special Agent Pendergast with the one challenge he never expected: a partner.

After an overhaul of leadership at the FBI's New York field office, A. X. L. Pendergast is abruptly forced to accept an unthinkable condition of continued employment: the famously rogue agent must now work with a partner.

Pendergast and his new colleague, junior agent Coldmoon, are assigned to investigate a rash of killings in Miami Beach, where a bloodthirsty psychopath is cutting out the hearts of his victims and leaving them with cryptic handwritten letters at local gravestones. The graves are unconnected save in one bizarre way: all belong to women who committed suicide.

But the seeming lack of connection between the old suicides and the new murders is soon the least of Pendergast's worries. Because as he digs deeper, he realizes the brutal new crimes may be just the tip of the iceberg: a conspiracy of death that reaches back decades.

Critique: Part of the Pendergast mystery series, Verses for the Dead is a chilling tale of the hunt for a serial killer that feeds into an even more monstrous web of evil. Gripping, nuanced, and brought to horrifying life by the superlative performance of Emmy-nominated reader Rene Auberjonois (known for his roles on the television shows "Boston Legal", "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", and "Benson"), Verses for the Dead is highly recommended for connoisseurs of the genre. 10 CDs, 12 hours.

Blood Echo
Christopher Rice
Thomas & Mercer
9781503904354, $24.95, HC, 387pp,

Synopsis: Kidnapped and raised by serial killers, Charlotte Rowe suffered an ordeal that made her infamous. Everyone in the world knew who she was. But no one in the world has any idea what she's become. Charlotte is an experiment that has turned her into a weapon.

Enabled by a superpower drug, she's partnered with a shadowy pharmaceutical company to hunt down and eliminate society's most depraved human predators. But her latest mission goes off the rails in a horrifying way. Unsettled by her own capacity for violence, Charlotte wants some time to retreat so she can work on her new relationship with Luke, a sheriff's deputy in the isolated Central California town she now calls home.

Something sinister is evolving in Altamira, California in for form of a massive network of domestic terrorists with ties to Charlotte's influential and corrupt employers. As a vast and explosive criminal conspiracy grows, the fate of Charlotte's hometown hangs in the balance. With everyone she cares about in danger, Charlotte has no choice but to bring her powers home.

If only the threats hadn't followed Charlotte there, but now Charlotte Rowe has been triggered, and she will have to take matters into her own powerful hands.

Critique: Original, riveting, and deftly crafted novel (and the second volume in the 'Burning Girl' series) by an author with an impressive knack for an inherently engaging narrative storytelling, "Blood Echo" by Christopher Rice will prove to be an especially popular addition to community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blood Echo" is also available in a paperback edition (9781503904330, $15.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Clint Travis

Grace's Bookshelf

(only 2019 copyrights will be reviewed as of January)

Leopard Lady: A Life In Verse by Valerie Nieman. Press 53. 78 pages.
Wilder by Claire Wahmanholm. Milkweed Editions.74 pages.
The Astrologer's Sparrow by Panna Naik. New Academia/Scarith.89 pages.
Stet by Dora Malech. Princeton University Press. 63 pages.
Abandoned Poems by Stanley Moss. Seven Stories Press. 165 pages.
Green Target by Tina Barr. Barrow Street Press. 81 pages.
The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics, edited by Diane Lockward. Terrapin Books. 307 pages.
Remembrance of Water; Twenty-five Trees by John Taylor with paintings by Caroline Francois-Rubino. The Bitter Oleander Press.103 pages.
Man Overboard: New and Selected Poems by Michael H. Levin. Finishing Line Press. 32 pages.
Stars Shall Bend Their Voices: Poets' Favorite Hymns & Spiritual Songs edited by Jeffrey L. Johnson. Orison Books.151 pages.
with the dogstar as my witness by John Fry. Orison Books. 97 pages.

Also On Best Books List: Linda Schandelmeir, Lauren Camp, Steve Kronen and Martin Bidney

Leopard Lady: A Life In Verse
Valerie Nieman
Press 53
$14.95 78 pages.

This is a story about a lost child moving through the world as woman, understanding it only through those she meets - fortunetellers lead her way. In "a rolling show" there's marriage with a man named Shelby, "...One night he didn't come back to our wagon..." and so she goes, always fulfilling a prophecy she never understands.

In The Leopard Lady at the Market, we get a self-description of how it is to be "other." "...Now I am half one thing half another/they say, but I am only one creature/in this world. My father's skin set me/out as a Negro, so called, but only half/of me harks to my father..." and again, in Fearfully, Wonderfully: "I know you been speculating, /are them spots just painted on, / but you spy them for genuine as I go about/offering these souvenir cards - just ten cents.../walking around so's you can see this is my own veritable skin. Us folk, /here in the show, are a lesson/in the flesh; see, the blood of my body shows/through the white like it's paper. /Buy my card, just ten cents, gentlemen,/one thin dime..."

Traveling showfolk, river towns, Siamese twins, the rubber man - and there's a professor that tell stories reverberating through the Leopard Lady's contemplations and ruminations. Some parables are funny, some sad, all are profound in Lady's innocence and discoveries. The Leopard Lady is the product of a powerful writer who knows what she wants and sets the Lady out to find it. Nieman, with vivid language, writes what Leopard Lady believes - including Bible teachings, dramatized and characterized through a fictional mind that suddenly becomes wholly real to us. This is about the stages of life for one whose perseverance is to seek pieces of the puzzle and even a piece of love. The poems are images of truth with stunning versatility.

Birth Day, 1935

I was born of a Wednesday
and full of woe, so they say.
My mother died in childbed and my father
seen only in that mirror I now hold up,
skin brown as a nut.
My red-haired mother died
before she could name me - a blessing,
someone said that, sure, a blessing.
Landlady took me out that rented room
where the ticking was sodden in blood
and gave me over to the Gastons,
grown old as Abraham n Sarah
waiting a child.
I gained a name and a sort of love
that kept me warm and fed
until scarce feathered, I fled.

Claire Wahmanholm
Milkweed Editions
9781571315069, $16.00, 74 pages

Wahmanholm is a terrifyingly exquisite writer who takes us on a dream from inside the universe of the body to an outside world reduced to dystopia. But the ruin is rich with surreality that clutches to us like a second skin. Danger is the same as beauty here, which is the most seductive thing of all. The second half of the book is a journey through apocalypse in prose poems; but is it an inner state of being shining upon an outer existence? Poets are sometimes able to risk everything. The measure is how much they're willing to chance. Wahmanholm does not back down. She builds a powerful influence in a nether world, incrementally, poem by poem, with constant tension and poetic will.

Where I Went Afterward

On Earth I had been held,
not just by honeysuckle
but by everything - marigolds,
bog after bog of small sundews,
the cold smell of spruce.

This planet is nothing like that.
Here, I comb lank alien grass out of my hair.
I wade through monochrome swarms
of weeds and ankle-high piles of ash.

I used to miss desire, but that was eons ago.
I used to miss the sound of my voice,
but that was before I pulled my name
from my throat like a pit and set fire
to the field of my face. If I stumbled
upon this place again, I would not know it.

When I say my skin is lace, I mean
I used to find it lovely. Now there is nothing
I miss. I hold myself in my arms.
I bend against myself like grass, like this.

The Astrologer's Sparrow
Panna Naik
New Academia/Scarith
9781732698819, $20.00, 89 pages

Panna Naik is an Indian writer who's been distinguished by her Gujarati poetry with a worldwide audience in that field. After 10 volumes written of Gujarati literature, The Astrologer' Sparrow is Naik's first in English. I've long known that words can be truer in meaning when a writer is not a native of the English language. It's as if all the camouflage of daily usage and erosion is lifted to find the exact meaning for each word. So it is with Naik. There are poems from her old home in India; and of her present life here - as she brings the past to present time in harmonious clear beautiful language. Naik can be playful, nostalgic, introspective and reminiscent - and each time she puts words into motion which educate our imagination; because she purifies, through a lingual lens, her heartfelt message.


The Aashadh monsoon
may arrive on time or not
piercing the dark face of clouds
but this lake of tears
keeps overflowing. What if it should dry up!
Won't these two little fish,
thirsty for years,
waste away?

Dora Malech
Princeton University Press
9780691181448, $17.95, 63 pages

This is a package of dynamite that could go off at any moment - combustible words that separate and come together like a gorgeous debris. They tweak the page with hidden truths made of language and utterances that are puzzle solvers - but what is the puzzle? Perhaps dimensionality on the page that speaks only if you want it. The last section features nine prose poems titled After Plath: Metaphors. You won't find Plath narratives but perhaps a hologram. Some pages are electro-pop, some are written by a spirit animal, but Malech's got pipes, and by God they sing.

This, Certain

Ich streue das weisse Nichts . . .
Unica Zurn

I scatter the white nothing.
Tonight cites thin weather.
I trace twine to thighs, then
wrist, then tighten. I echo at
teeth, chatter this: I, no wing.

Abandoned Poems
Stanley Moss
Seven Stories Press
9781609808914, $18.95, 165 pages

The man is indomitable. Moss is now in his 90's. His 10th decade, and so how can we not see this book as heroic? Through the years, Moss has produced excellent poetry and published multiple books by other writers. Music and artistry do not diminish with age. I say amen to that. These poems are strong footed and - as is his tradition - bow to great art and music. He sees life and writes of it purposefully through the riches of the intellectual world, his friends, and experiences. The constant motion of a rich inner life makes Moss a terrific storyteller. There's strength in every line; he takes no prisoners; says what he wants just the way he wants it until it shines the way he wants. He brings his A-Game to every line, and it could be that this is one definition of greatness.


You loud in cloud. You end in mend.
You light in flight. You age in language.
You other in mother. You know in snow.
You ought in autumn. You fly in butterfly.
You low in willow. You rye in rhyme.
You rest in forest. You cunt in country.
You mud in Talmud. You man in woman.
You cry in Christ. You hell in shell.
You awe in law. You odd in God.
You ache in break. You bell in humble.
Your ear in fear. You art in heart.
Your sobbing breaks my speech apart.

Green Target
Tina Barr
Barrow Street Press
9780999746158, $16.95, 81 pages

Barr is inspired, every page, and fearless. For example, In Ghost Variations (on a painting by Joyce Thornburg,) we get horrific examples of death and decay but written as if poetry is to fulfill a purpose that cannot be organized; instead it must be a force that brings emotion. Perhaps this can come from vivid writing. Perhaps, also, not all dreams are good dreams and not all art is pretty. Whatever the resolve of language, Barr does not shirk from its rescue. There are also moments of illness were the body is betrayed - a mother who must be put in diapers, a "bulb" under the tongue, chronic fatigue syndrome turns into a Blakean poem infectious with imagery. Barr makes words soulful; and her dreams happen using every element of nature touched with human endeavor - every grass, every butterfly is named to showcase the wild theater of her imagination.


Through crushed August grass
a child's gray shoelace tugs itself,
its tiny pebble of a head triangular,
a wedge, therefore venomous.
Laced through a sneaker's eyelets,
it nips a finger, a tiny prick. One
worries in the mountains. Goldenrod
seeds our heads with bites from some
insect. Meanwhile upright red rod
flowers burn for hummingbirds.
Portable shield on his back, a turtle
labors, feels with splayed paws, shows
off his orange splotched arms, leopard
patterned, bright as marigold, as
oranges bowled all along the railroad,
where a supermarket truck, pulling
across, got its back half sheared off.
Cop cars beetles up and down the road.
A boy on vacation by a lake said, "Let's
go in," but my husband refused. The
boy, and another who went after him,
drowned. Each night of his childhood
my husband dreamed it, woke just
before dying. One's death is the period
that ends the sentence. In Cairo
on the sidewalk men links arms, like
paper dolls I cut as a kid. All at once
a waterfall of bodies bows to Mecca.

The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics
Edited by Diane Lockward
Terrapin Books
9781947896079, $20.99, 307 pages.

Here's a handbook that's really a handbook! First there are real "craft tips;" then, poets who exemplify these with poems. Here are the sections. One: Discovering New Material; Two: Finding the Best Words; Three: Making Music; Four: Working with Sentences and Line Breaks; Five: Crafting Surprise-----then 6,7,8,9,10, each with sub sections with writer's tips and examples by noted poets. Editor Lockward is invincible. This book is the third in a series of teaching writing and it proclaims "pushing poets beyond the basics." If you're lonely, just read the sample poems by some of our hottest writers today; if you have a bit of energy, try a prompt. No one's watching and you may wind up writing beyond your boundaries. This is practical, not ethereal, wisdom; and therefore, one of the best books of tools out there; and, of course, with wonderful delicious poems - otherwise what's it all about, anyway?

Bonus Prompt: The Chant Poem

Begin your first line with I believe. Complete the thought, then
keep going. Begin each new line with the same phrase. Keep
going for 15-20 lines. Write rapidly.

Go back and either delete 2-3 I believe phrases (keep the rest
of each line), or insert 2-3 new lines that do not use I believe.

Keep in mind that pattern is good, but too much pattern becomes
predictable and tiresome. It encourages the reader to skim
read. Set up your pattern, then break it. Joe Brainard does this
in his famous poetic memoir, I Remember. Again and again he
begins a sentence with I remember, but just when we expect
another repetition, he surprises us, e.g., I remember the only
time I ever saw my mother cry. I was eating apricot pie. His
first sentence pursues the pattern of repetition; the second
sentence breaks the pattern.

Read your poem aloud and notice the musical effect of the

Other starter phrases for another day:

I want
Because I could not
I wish
Forgive me if
I remember
He broke

Remembrance of Water; Twenty-five Trees
John Taylor
With paintings by Caroline Francois-Rubino
The Bitter Oleander Press
9780999327913, $21.00, 103 pages

Our creative team is seasoned by an association where sometimes the work comes first, sometimes the painting. In this book the noir masterworks appear to follow the verse in that they amplify and describe so accurately. Taylor is an ex-pat living in France who calls upon his childhood in Iowa as well as his explorations in Europe to memorialize nature's great sentinels. It's an art book, and a poetry book. At the center of each landscape is a voice of wonder and appreciation as well as a memory and mortality. Being alone in nature will do that, lets you know what you think and remember - an inner porthole to the past in the beauty of today's surroundings. But Taylor is not alone; the paintings give another authority to what is said and a chance to feel something more. The paintings are not simply innate skill. They are a spiritual power.

The Paper Birch

your father's birch bark canoe
glides by

again and again
over the years

in his drawing
he once made at Christmas

you are standing on the shore
of an Iowa lake

just today
on the north bank of the Loire

the mists lifts
reveals the distant island
with its chaos of shrubs
and crooked trees

you knew was there
could no longer see

Man Overboard: New and Selected Poems
Michael H. Levin
Finishing Line Press
9781635346190, $24.99, 32 pages

The takeaway in reading Levin is how many places he tackles and how many ideas he generates. It's a kaleidoscope of pop culture, high culture, and personal experience. He's learned in a sweet unpretentious way with a knowledge of sculpture, history and artifacts - these embedded, not dominating the writing. I would say variety is a good word for poetry. This writer has a trained ear for this; each poem is different and there's no repetition to be seen. The talent in Man Overboard is tonal with a repudiation of ugliness in the world.

Our Sixties
(Kent Island MD: a party)

Twist and shout friends
you look quite fine;
in tonight's back beat
no gray or loose flanks
show. Survivors
of brown rice, lies
and chemo, flushed
as Watteaus and stretched
down pine floors in
dance-dazed space
like murals in a mastaba,
you are as you were -
husked kernels of brightness,
a slow smooth swirl extending,
till the sedge at the skyline
turns salmon. Until
the music dies.

Stars Shall Bend Their Voices: Poets' Favorite Hymns & Spiritual Songs
Edited by Jeffrey L. Johnson
Orison Books
9781949039214, $18.00, 151 pages

Editor Johnson believes the hymns we learned stay and guide us forever. For this reason, he invited an array of poets and essayists to write of their choice hymns. Johnson said, "They became like a temporary congregation to me." Among essayists, Kwame Dawes writes a magnificent ten-page piece (Song chosen is "Great Is Thy Faithfulness.") Dawes states this is as not only a grounding principle of faith for him but one shared equally with his wife, Lorna - It is 'their hymn.' It's a privilege to read the various hymns that are life-changing, and because poets feel as they write, it makes tender reading. The hymns' lyrics are produced in their entirety which give us the key to each essayist's experience; and makes the book a dialogue between the speaker and his/her hymn. Johnson serves in high office here with an encyclopedia of all religions represented by those who have been both blessed, and troubled, witnessing their sacred songs.

Breath on Me, Breath of God

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity.

(Edwin Hatch 1835-1889)

with the dogstar as my witness
John Fry
Orison Books
9781949039207, $16.00, 97 pages

I see this as a book-length prayer where Fry claims ownership of his faith and dedication to "The Lord" along with the New Testament. His own demise is delayed, one could read, by feeling the freedom of faith. His allusions are well documented Bible stories and his responses are part chant, part hymn, part dream of salvation. There are variable moods in each piece but there's something always truthful about poetry, and Fry's truth shines like a living thing. He loves his religion and by the love seems to make it even greater. That could be one definition for eternity.


I was walking when
there was this edge

that was a problem:
words went missing &

dressed in sackcloth & ashes
I needed more than a gust

of God - in wind
blown upon - to believe

in more than a word
like loneliness was

I this hole in the
(dancing inside my chest

where no one saw)
heart do you still

shine in the dark
did you want

to be found
I fell in


Blue Birds And Red Horses, Inna Kabysh, translated by Katherine E. Young. Toad Press. 39 pages.

These are not simply poems. They are the heart of Russia in verse.


Coming Out of Nowhere
Linda Schandelmeier
University of Alaska Press
9781602233607, $14.95, 70 pages

A fascinating account of growing up in a homestead six miles south of Anchorage. "...There was no road access when my father filed for the land in 1946..." These poems are 'appointments' with life - beautiful, bold, harrowing, and true.

Homage To Mistress Oppenheimer
Steve Kronen
Eyewear Publishing
9781912477135, $14.99, 55 pages

To read this book is to know a man. I can't think of a better accolade for authenticity. Each poem captures moments that praise the genuine. This kind of poetry makes us depend on more of the same. Learned language, modest rendering.

Turquoise Door
Lauren Camp
Three: A Taos Press
105 pages

Every time I read Lauren Camp, I'm reminded of how extraordinary she is - the complexities managed with sophistication and grace. This time, Camp honors Mabel Dodge Luhan, creating a myth and culture of her country, orbiting New Mexico with icons D.H. Lawrence, Willa Cather and Georgia O'Keefe, Ansel Adams. But the poet's relationship - in dialogue with her creation - is the book's main character.

Plus, two by Martin Bidney:

Book of The Amphibrach: First Journal In Verse. Dialogic Poetry Press. 245 pages.

Book of The Floating Refrain. Dialogic Poetry Press. 261 pages.

Grace Cavalieri, Reviewer
Washington Independent Review of Books

Julie's Bookshelf

Linda K. Schmilmeyer
Artists' Orchard, LLC
9780996459259, $18.95, PB, 374pp,

Synopsis: Linda began her 40s as a part-time college writing teacher and stay-at-home mom. A decade later, she was the family breadwinner, a single mother of sorts, and the caregiver for her husband, Steve Schmilmeyer.

Initially, Steve was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but when he failed to improve, the diagnosis was changed to schizoaffective. Both were disorders they and most people didn't understand in the 1990s, when few talked openly about mental illness. "Rambler: A Family Pushes Through the Fog of Mental Illness" traces their challenge of living with Steve's illness.

The family's downward spiral begins when Steve abruptly quits his job with an engineering society after a fight with his boss. Following a string of unsuccessful other jobs, his focus shifts from providing for his family to taking down the society's executive director. As Steve's questionable behavior intensifies, Linda leaves him, but their separation is brief. Police are summoned to an engineering conference two months later, and Steve is taken away in handcuffs. Linda's confusion deepens when she learns the FBI is tailing him.

"Rambler" takes readers through a series of baffling and traumatic events resulting from Steve's illness and explores various aspects of the family's experience: How does Linda explain an illness that affects behavior and thinking to their young children? Can she trust her intuition when responding to a psychotic episode? How does Steve's and Linda's upbringing affect their approach to the family's challenge? Why is the support of others so critical in overcoming a mental illness? What hurdles does Steve face as he works his way back to being the father and husband he wants to be? Why does their marriage survive and thrive, when so many others fail?

Told through the lens of intimate family scenes, as well as Steve's and Linda's personal writings, "Rambler" is about a family finding a way forward through the fog of mental illness.

Critique: Impressively candid, exceptionally well written, and offering unusually perceptive insights, "Rambler: A Family Pushes Through the Fog of Mental Illness" is an inherently engaging read that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Rambler" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Meet the HENRYs
Pamela N. Danziger
Paramount Market Publishing, Inc.
274 North Goodman Street, STE D-214, Rochester, NY 14607
9781941688588, $34.95, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: For the foreseeable future, millennial HENRYs (High Earners Not Rich Yet) will be the consumers that every brand manager, marketer and retail executive, will need to know well. This subset of the largest generation of Americans, earns between $100K and $250K -- which is the income cohort that accounts for 40 percent of all household spending. Most importantly however, these are the consumers who are on track to become the ultra-wealthy ($250K +) of the future.

"Meet the HENRYs: The Millennials That Matter Most for Luxury Brands" by public speaker, author, and market researcher and retail expert, Pam Danziger examines trends and profiles emerging disruptive brands that millennial HENRYs are drawn to, and she explains how many of these innovative brands are setting themselves apart from the traditional top-tier luxury brands.

Danziger also takes her readers on a deep-dive into the steps the smartest of the traditional luxury brands and retailers are taking to keep up with a new generation of consumers who are anything but traditional in their approach to luxury spending.

Showcasing 'real world' practical advice that can be immediately applied, "Meet the HENRYs" also explains why they are the customers to watch and learn from as well as revealing 15 specific qualities and types of luxury that appeal to these younger trend-setting HENRY shoppers. "Meet the HENRYs" provides invaluable new perspectives on brands that deliver on convenience, simplicity, health and wellness, discovery, authenticity, and of course, performance.

Basically, "Meet the HENRYs" is a kind of road map to the future of the luxury market will provide six transformative approaches to brand positioning that will help any entrepreneur or corporate executive to create a brand that HENRYs love.

Critique: A groundbreaking and truly exceptionally instruction manual offering a wealth of marketing insights and information, "Meet the HENRYs: The Millennials That Matter Most for Luxury Brands" is impressively well written, organized and presented, making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to community, corporate, and academic library Business Management collection and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of entrepreneurs, marketing managers, corporate executives, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Meet the HENRYs" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.95).

Shadow King
Susan K. Hamilton
c/o Inkshares Inc.
95 Linden Street, Suite 6, Oakland, CA 94607
9781947848986, $17.99, PB, 366pp,

Synopsis: Centuries ago, the Faerie Realm was decimated by a vile and corrupt spell. To survive, the different faerie races (led by the Fae) escaped to the Human Realm where they've lived ever since.

As the Fae Patriarch of Boston's criminal underworld, Aohdan Collins enjoys his playboy lifestyle while he works from the shadows to expand his growing empire, until one night when he shares a shot of whiskey with the lovely Seireadan Moore.

A Fae Seer, Seireadan is haunted by a vision of the Fae responsible for destroying Faerie and murdering her family. Common sense tells her to stay away from Aohdan, but his magnetism and charm are irresistible.

As their passionate affair intensifies, Seireadan is pulled into the center of the underworld. And while her heart is bound to Aohdan, she cannot let go of her lifelong quest to hunt down the Fae who haunts her visions -- especially when she realizes Aohdan might be the key to helping her find him.

But is revenge worth betraying the one she loves?

Critique: An impressively crafted and inherently riveting read by a fantasy author with an exceptional gift for originality, character development, and the narrative storytelling arts, Susan Hamilton's "Shadow King" will prove to be a welcome and popular addition to community library Fantasy Fiction collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated fantasy fans that "Shadow King" is also available in a inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

Modern Spanish Women as Agents of Change
Jennifer Smith, editor
Bucknell University Press
Bucknell University, 1 Dent Drive, Lewisburg, PA 17837
9781684480333, $99.95, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Jennifer Smith (Associate Professor of Spanish and Interim Chair of the Department of Languages, Cultures, and International Trade, Southern Illinois University in Carbondale), "Modern Spanish Women as Agents of Change: Essays in Honor of Maryellen Bieder" brings together cutting-edge research on modern Spanish women as writers, activists, and embodiments of cultural change, and simultaneously honors Maryellen Bieder's invaluable scholarly contribution to the field.

The eleven essays by experts in their fields are innovative in their consideration of lesser-known women writers, focus on women as political activists, and use of post-colonialism, queer theory, and spatial theory to examine the period from the Enlightenment until World War II.

The contributors also study and presents women as agents and representations of social change in a variety of genres, including short stories, novels, plays, personal letters, and journalistic pieces. Canonical authors such as Emilia Pardo Bazan, Leopoldo Alas "Clarin," and Carmen de Burgos are considered alongside lesser known writers and activists such as Maria Rosa Galvez, Sofia Tartilan, and Caterina Albert i Paradis.

The critical analyses comprising "Modern Spanish Women as Agents of Change" are situated within their specific socio-historical context, and shed new light on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spanish literature, history, and culture.

Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a fourteen page informative Introduction by Jennifer Smith, a sixteen page Bibliography, a ten page index, and a four page listing of the contributors and their credentials, "Modern Spanish Women as Agents of Change" is an outstanding work of collaborative scholarship and unreservedly recommended for community Women's Studies sections, as well as college, and university library collections Literary & Iberian Studies 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 "Modern Spanish Women as Agents of Change" is also available in a paperback edition (9781684480326, $34.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $34.95).

Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction
Anne-Marie Oomen, editor
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814345672, $19.99, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Anne-Marie Oomen (who teaches at Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College, Interlochen's College of Creative Arts), "Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction" showcases twenty-three of Michigan's most well-known essayists. In the first section of the book, "Earth," Jerry Dennis remembers working construction in northern Michigan. "Water" includes a piece from Jessica Mesman, who writes of the appearance of snow in different iterations throughout her life. The section "Wind" houses essays about the ungraspable nature of death from Toi Dericotte and Keith Taylor. "Fire" includes a piece by Mardi Jo Link, who recollects the unfortunate series of circumstances surrounding one of her family members. The literary strength of "Elemental" learning from the past in the hope of defining a wiser future.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, and an inherently engaging read throughout, this compilation is truly extraordinary and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Elemental" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.64).

Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health
Kati Morton, LMFT
Lifelong Books / Da Capo Press
c/o Hachette Book Group
53 State Street, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02109
9780738234991, $20.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: Everyone struggles with mental health issues from time to time, but the greatest level of misunderstanding comes from knowing the difference between mental health and mental illness, figuring out whether we need professional help and, if so, how to find it.

Kati Morton is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Santa Monica, CA. She is also an entrepreneur and YouTube creator who has built a global mental health online community

In "Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health", Kati walks her readers through the most commonly asked questions about mental health and the process of getting help such as: What are the red flags of a mental health issue; How do you go about making a first therapy appointment; How do you know if your therapist is a good fit for you; What are the best ways of talking about mental health with your family, friends and colleagues.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, Kati Morton writes in a thoroughly down-to-earth and conversational tone that makes "Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health", making this a welcome and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Julie Summers

Logan's Bookshelf

Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill, author
Jeffrey Gitomer, author
Amazon Publishing
9781503942011, $19.95, HC, 243pp,

Synopsis: Twenty years before the publication of his magnum opus "Think and Grow Rich", Napoleon Hill was an instructor, philosopher, and writer at the George Washington Institute in Chicago, where he taught courses in advertising and sales. These rare, never-before-seen lectures were thought to be lost to history.

Until now.

Given exclusive access to the archives of the Napoleon Hill Foundation, author and public speaker Jeffrey Gitomer has unearthed Hill's original course notes containing the fundamental beliefs in hard work and personal development that established Hill as a global leader of success and positive attitude.

In "Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill", Gitomer has fully captured Hill's foundational wisdom for the twenty-first century. These easy-to-implement real-world strategies for life, family, business, and the bottom line prove as energizing and inspiring today as they were nearly one hundred years ago.

Critique: Featuring an informative introduction (The First Thoughts of the father of American Achievement and Wealth), an epilogue (The Truth, the Whole Truth, So Help Me Hill), and an appendix (Books You Ought to Read -- Hill's Original Recommended Reading), "Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill" is an absolute 'must' for community, college, and university library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Truthful Living: The First Writings of Napoleon Hill" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781978641426, $19.99, MP3 CD).

Winged Brothers
Ernest Snowden
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781682472965, $29.95, HC, 280pp,

Synopsis: Winged Brothers recounts the service exploits of two brothers through more than forty years of naval aviation history in both peace and war. They were deeply committed to each other and to advancing their chosen profession, but due to the vast difference in their ages and the fourteen years between their respective graduations from the U.S. Naval Academy, they experienced carrier aviation from very different perspectives.

The older brother, Ernest, entered naval aviation in an era of open-cockpit biplanes when the Navy's operations from aircraft carriers were still taking form, when Fleet Problems were still the primary means of determining aviation's warfighting utility and proving its merits to the fleet. He would build on those early lessons to assume a pivotal role in World War II, leading first a squadron, then an air group to one of the most distinguished combat records in the Pacific theater.

Macon's story guides the reader through the Navy's transition from piston-engine aircraft to jets, inside the inter-service disputes at the start of the atomic age, from straight to angled flight decks, through the perils of flight testing high performance aircraft, and eventually to supersonic combat over the humid landscape of Vietnam. He returned from Vietnam to step into a contentious struggle inside the Washington beltway over the future of the Navy's next fighter, becoming a key player in the development of the F-14 Tomcat.

For the entirety of their time in uniform, the one constant was a close fraternal bond that saw Ernest as mentor and Macon as devoted admirer and protege, only to see those roles recede as the younger brother's achievements transcended those of the older brother. Through personal letters, official reports, first-hand accounts, and first-person interviews, their symbiotic relationship is revealed to the reader. Their motivations to follow long and committed service in naval aviation are explored and laid bare: Ernie was propelled by equal parts patriotism, longing for risk and adventure, and yearning to leave the family farm; Mac was driven by the desire to serve, love of flying, and desire to emulate his older brother whom he lionized as father figure and role model.

Critique: A unique and intrinsically fascinating story, "Winged Brothers: Naval Aviation as Lived by Ernest and Macon Snowden". It is interesting to note that this biography of two brothers takes place with a military perspective and framework that is itself inherently interesting and informative. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Winged Brothers: Naval Aviation as Lived by Ernest and Macon Snowden" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.78).

Handbook of Foodborne Diseases
Dongyou Liu, editor
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781138036307, $299.95, HC, 1224pp,

Synopsis: The primary author of more than 50 original research and review articles in peer-reviewed international journals, Dongyou Liu undertook veterinary science education at Hunan Agricultural University, China, and postgraduate training at Melbourne University, Australia. Over the past two decades, he has worked at several research and clinical laboratories in Australia and the United States of America, with focuses on molecular characterization and virulence determination of microbial pathogens (e.g., ovine footrot bacterium, dermatophyte fungi and foodborne listeria) and more recently on the development of nucleic acid-based quality assurance models for security sensitive and emerging viral pathogens.

Compiled and deftly edited by Dongyou Lie, the "Handbook of Foodborne Diseases" summarizes the latest findings on more than 100 foodborne diseases and their causative agents. With contributions from international experts on foodborne pathogens, toxins, and toxic agents research, this volume provides state-of-the-art overviews on foodborne diseases in relation to their etiology, biology, epidemiology, clinical presentation, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Apart from offering a comprehensive textbook for undergraduate and postgraduate students in food, medical, and veterinary microbiology, this deftly organized and presented volume constitutes a valuable reference on foodborne diseases for medical professionals and health authorities, and forms an informative educational resource for the general public.

Critique: The 110 articles comprising the "Handbook of Foodborne Diseases" are accessibly organized into five major sections: Foodborne Diseases Due to Viruses; Foodborne Diseases Due to Bacteria; Foodborne Diseases Due to Fungi; Foodborne Diseases Due to Parasites; Foodborne Diseases Due to Toxins. Of special note is a listing of the contributors and their credentials, as well as a comprehensive twenty-three page Index. An ideal curriculum textbook, the "Handbook of Foodborne Diseases" is a part of the CRC Press 'Food Microbiology Series' and unreservedly recommended for college and university library Health & Medicine collections in general, and foodborne diseases supplemental studies lists in particular.

A Lakeside Companion
Ted J. Rulseh
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299320003, $22.95, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: Ted J. Rulseh writes the newspaper column "The Lake Where You Live" and is active in lake-advocacy organizations, including the Wisconsin Citizen Lake Monitoring Network. The editor and publisher of several books on the Great Lakes region, he is the author of On the Pond: Lake Michigan Reflections. He currently resides in the lake-rich region of northeastern Wisconsin.

In "A Lakeside Companion", Ted draws upon his years of research, experience and expertise to address a variety of issues and questions such as: Why do fish jump? Why don't lakes freeze all the way down to the bottom? Which lake plants are invasive? What are those water bugs? Is that lake healthy?

Whether fishing, paddling, swimming, snowshoeing, skiing, or just gazing upon a favorite lake, browsing through "A Lakeside Companion" will significantly deepen appreciation for the forces that shape lakes and the teeming life in and around them.

"A Lakeside Companion" deftly reveals the interconnected worlds of a lake: the water; the sand, gravel, rocks, and muck of the bottom; the surface of the lake; the air above; and the shoreline, a belt of land incredibly rich in flora and fauna. Explained, too, are the physical, biological, and chemical processes that determine how many and what kinds of fish live in the lake, which plants grow there, the color and clarity of the water, how ice forms in winter and melts in spring, and much more.

Of special note is the wealth of useful and 'real world practical' advice that will help the reader look out for their particular lake and advocate for its protection.

Critique: An exceptionally well written, impressively informative, and inherently engaging read from cover to cover, "A Lakeside Companion" is an especially timely (given the increasing effects of climate change) and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Environmental Issues collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, environmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "A Lakeside Companion" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Renaissance Nude
Thomas Kren, et al.
Getty Publications
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1682
9781606065846, $65.00, HC, 432pp,

Synopsis: Thomas Kren is an independent scholar and adjunct professor of art history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. A specialist in medieval and northern Renaissance manuscripts, he founded the J. Paul Getty Museum's Department of Manuscripts in 1983. He recently retired from his position as associate director of collections.

Jill Burke, is a senior lecturer in art history at the University of Edinburgh, specializes in Italian Renaissance art.

Stephen Campbell, is the Henry and Elizabeth Wiesenfeld Professor and acting chair of the Department of the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University, is a specialist in Italian art of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Andrea Herrera is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Birmingham. She teaches art history at Riverside City College and is a curatorial assistant at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Thomas DePasquale is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He teaches there and at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

Together, this outstanding team of academicians have collaborated to compile, edit, and present "The Renaissance Nude", a scholarly and beautifully illustrated volume that explores the emergence and acceptance of the nude as an artistic subject in Europe.

"The Renaissance Nude" informatively engages with the numerous and complex connotations of the human body in more than 250 artworks by the greatest masters of the European Renaissance. Paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, and book illustrations reveal private, sometimes shocking, preoccupations as well as surprising public beliefs -- the Age of Humanism from an entirely new perspective.

While "The Renaissance Nude" presents works by Albrecht Durer, Lucas Cranach, and Martin Schongauer in the north and Donatello, Raphael, and Giorgione in the south; it also introduces names that deserve to be known better.

A publication this rich in scholarship could only be produced by a variety of expert scholars and the sixteen contributors are preeminent in their fields and wide-ranging in their knowledge and curiosity. The structure of the volume essays alternating with shorter texts on individual artworks, thereby permitting studies both broad and granular. From the religious to the magical and the poetic to the erotic, encompassing male and female, infancy, youth, and old age, "The Renaissance Nude" examines in a profound way what it is to be human.

It should be noted that this volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center October 30, 2018 to January 27, 2019, and at The Royal Academy of Arts, London, United Kingdom, February 26 to June 2, 2019.

Critique: Elegant, exquisite, erudite, scholarly, informative, profusely and beautifully illustrated, exceptionally well organized and presented, "The Renaissance Nude" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, college, and university library European Art History collections in general, and Renaissance Art History supplemental studies lists in particular.

Taste of Home Christmas, second edition
Taste of Home
Reader's Digest Trade Publishing
44 South Broadway, White Plains, NY 10601
9781617657641, $17.99, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Taste of Home is the leading multi-platform producer of information on food, cooking and entertaining, serving home cooks engaging media that capture the joy and comfort received from food made with love. Taste of Home magazine has a circulation of 2.5 million and publishes Simple & Delicious magazine six times a year; top-selling bookazines; newsstand specials; and popular cookbooks.

Now in a fully revised and expanded second edition, "Taste of Home Christmas" showcases recipes, crafts projects, and Christmas themed ideas for the holiday season. Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, there are more than 400 recipes that are especially appropriate for the Christmas season, more than 70 recipes for cookies, bars and candies that are perfect for gift giving and party celebrations, 13 complete menus, more than 150 special tips for iconic recipes and 'make ahead' dishes for entertaining, 19 do-it-yourself craft projects for gift giving, and a very special bonus chapter featuring a Thanksgiving Day feast!

Critique: Impressively organized and presented, "Taste of Home Christmas" is a delight to browse through and ideal for planning Christmas menus with. For a taste of Christmas all year round, this wonderfully 'user friendly' and inspiring holiday culinary compendium is unreservedly recommended for personal, family, professional, and community library Holiday Cookbook collections. It should be noted that "Taste of Home Christmas" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).

Adita Yrizarry-Lang
SuperPower Blue Print
411 Video Information
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
9781732535114, $14.95, PB, 197pp,

Synopsis: A message to her readers from Adita Yrizarry-Lang:

I folded laundry, made breakfast, dropped my kids to school, filled my car with gas, and am now sitting to write this passage to you..... all before 8 a.m. This is life for me and I know it is for many of you too. We have two choices: we can either dwell on being overworked or we can ramp up our SuperPowers to make each day better than ever!

SuperPowers are in all of us but they need the right set of ingredients to stay nurtured and strong, if not they are left to fizzle down to a mere speckle of a dream, leaving us drained and feeling "maxed out" and "overwhelmed". You see, SuperPowers are not only for your favorite crime fighting SuperHero, they are within each and every woman who multi-task and do so much more.

I introduce to you to "SuperPowers, a Busy Woman's Guide to a Health and Happiness". Within us lies an array of powers and I will teach you how to tap into them with great easy recipes, efficient workouts, relaxation rituals, and fun things to smile about, all designed to make you shine your brightest and best every day. These are true SuperPowers.

Critique: Profusely illustrated by Janis A. Saffell in black-and-white, "SuperPowers: A Busy Woman's Guide to Health and Happiness" fully lives up to the promise of Adita Yrizarry-Lang with respect to sharing her impressive insights into how women can become the very best that is in them, deal successfully with whatever stresses life tries to impose upon them, and improve the quality of their lives from themselves and their loved ones no matter what their current circumstances might be. With special attention to nutrition, exercise, sleep, and simple happiness despite life's complexities, "SuperPowers" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "SuperPowers" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Travel Guide to Port Charles
Lucy Coe
c/o Disney Book Group
1200 Grand Central Avenue, Glendale, CA 91301
9781368019378, $15.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Travel Guide to Port Charles: When to Go, Where to Live, Who to Love and Who to Never, Ever Cross in America's Most Dramatic City", Lucy Coe, the once mousy librarian who turned into a villainous liar, schemer, vixen and unlikely heroine takes us on a tour of Port Charles where, she says, you're as likely to encounter a den of not-so-secret agents as you are a gold-hearted, gun-toting "coffee importer." But Lucy isn't our only guide. Other storied characters from the show step in to take a leg of the tour.

In these pages, reader's find the lowdown on the history of their fair (if not always just) city, where to settle, what to eat, how to have fun, whom to befriend and whom to avoid. Please don't be put off by some of the more evocative tidbits you'll find within.

There are walking tours (even though Lucy says the best way to see any city is in the back of a chauffeured limousine or better yet, by helicopter). For economy conscious travelers Lucy also offers a slew of tours that will cost the tourist nothing but the indignity of being seen in sturdy footwear.

Every stop along the way provides gossip, history and sordid details. There is section devoted to the town's heroes, tips on "Where to Gorge", "Where to Worship", a suggested scavenger hunt, reviews of the many Port Charles Balls, and, of course, quizzes the reader can take to determine where they would fit if they were lucky enough to be a Port Charles resident.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Travel Guide to Port Charles: When to Go, Where to Live, Who to Love and Who to Never, Ever Cross in America's Most Dramatic City" is part travel guide, part local history, and all fun from beginning to end. Impressively well organized and presented, "Travel Guide to Port Charles" is very highly recommended -- especially for anyone contemplating spending time in Port Charles whether for business or pleasure!

Bear No Malice
Clarissa Harwood
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10004
9781643130521, $25.95, HC, 369pp,

Synopsis: Beaten and left for dead in the English countryside, clergyman and reformer Tom Cross is rescued and nursed back to health by Miranda and Simon Thorne, reclusive siblings who seem to have as many secrets as he does. Tom has spent years helping the downtrodden in London while lying to everyone he meets, but now he's forced to slow down and confront his unexamined life.

Miranda, a skilled artist, is haunted by her painful past and unable to imagine a future. Tom is a welcome distraction from her troubles, but she's determined to relegate him to her fantasy world, sensing that any real relationship with him would be more trouble than it's worth. Besides, she has sworn to remain devoted to someone she's left behind.

When Tom returns to London, his life begins to unravel as he faces the consequences of both his affair with a married woman and his abusive childhood. When his secrets catch up with him and his reputation is destroyed, he realizes that Miranda is the only person he trusts with the truth. What he doesn't realize is that even if she believes him and returns his feelings, he cannot free her from the shackles of her past.

Critique: An impressively and deftly crafted novel that will engage the readers complete attention as the author presents more unanticipated plot line twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster. Absolutely and unreservedly recommended as what will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bear No Malice" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $22.73).

The New Order
Karen E. Bender, author
Read by Tavia Gilbert
HighBridge Audio Books
270 Skip Jack Road, Prince Frederick, MD 20678
9781684416608 $29.99

Synopsis: The National Book Award finalist for Refund returns with a new collection of stories that boldly examines the changes in American culture over the last two years through the increasing presence of violence, bigotry, sexual harassment, and the emotional costs of living under constant threat.

In the title story, the competition between two middle school cellists is affected by a shooting at their school, and it is only years later that they realize how the intrusion of violence affected the course of their lives. In "This Is Who You Are," a young girl walks the line between Hebrew school and her regular school, realizing that both are filled with unexpected moments of insight and violence. In "Three Interviews," an aging reporter must contend with her dwindling sense of self and resources, beleaguered by unemployment, which sets her on a path to three increasingly unhinged job interviews. In "Mrs. America," a candidate for local office must confront a host of forces that threaten to undermine her campaign and expose her own role in the dissonance between what America is and what it should be.

The New Order explores contemporary themes and ideas, shining a spotlight on the dark corners of our nature, our instincts, and our country.

Critique: National Book Award finalist Karen Bender presents The New Order, an anthology of original stories that reveal how violence precariously tips modern-day life toward potential dystopia. Here are dark tales of the long-term repercussions of a middle school shooting; a young girl must beware the dangers of both a Hebrew school and her regular school; an aging, unemployed reporter's sanity gradually slips during her increasingly desperate job interviews; and more. An element of psychological horror threads through these cautionary tales of society's dark side, in this captivating audiobook rendition bought to fearsome life by Tavia Gilbert's exceptional performance. Highly recommended. 6 CDs, 7.5 hours.

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

Sustainable Coastal Design and Planning
Elizabeth Mossop, editor
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498774543, $189.95, HC, 470pp,

Synopsis: Because of the increasingly rapid effects of climate change, all coastal coastal settlements in the Anthropcene landscape are faced with increasing uncertainty as to their viability as sea levels rise and must therefor consider using methods of design that offer new strategies for developing and testing solutions to the problems they face.

These complex problems require collaboration across disciplines, with scientists, planners, engineers, designers, and others able to work together in finding new ways of living in coastal and changing landscapes.

Compiled and edited by landscape architect and urbanist Elizabeth Mossop (who is Professor and Dean of the School of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology Sydney), "Sustainable Coastal Design and Planning" is a simply outstanding collection of erudtie and insightful essays by leading practitioners and academics from across the globe on design and planning for coastal resilience in the face of climate change.

"Sustainable Coastal Design and Planning" thoroughly explores the questions of coastal change at different scales and provides international case studies that illustrate diverse strategies in different geographies and cultures. Taken as a whole, they canvas a broad palette of approaches and techniques for engaging these complex problems.

Divided in two parts, "Sustainable Coastal Design and Planning" focuses on how to develop solutions through multidisciplinary design thinking and informs all stakeholders on specific methods and practices that will be needed to work effectively in this dynamic space.

Critique: The twenty-four essays comprising "Sustainable Coastal Design and Planning" are deftly organized and presented in four thematic sections: Shifting Realities; Methods and Practices; Deltas, Bays, and Estuaries; Sites and Structures. An impressive body of contemporary scholarship, "Sustainable Coastal Design and Planning" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to governmental, college, and university library Environmental Studies collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of environmental studies students, governmental policy makers, and environmental scientists that "Sustainable Coastal Design and Planning" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $54.95).

2019 National Home Improvement Estimator
Ray F. Hicks, editor
Craftsman Book Company
6058 Corte del Cedro, Carlsbad, CA 92009
9781572183452, $88.75, PB, 568pp,

Synopsis: With an accompanying and free estimating software download, "2019 National Home Improvement Estimator" focuses on current labor and material prices for home improvement projects. With "2019 National Home Improvement Estimator", professional contractors can easily take advantage of home improvement jobs they may never have bid on before by relying on the solid cost figures in this professional reference work. It's worthy of noting that many home improvement contractors simply use this manual as their company price book for home improvement projects.

Contractors will be able to quickly locate hard-to-find costs for demolition, foundations, framing, structural repairs, decking, deck repairs, window repair and replacement, door repair and replacement. wall and ceiling repairs, floor repair and replacement, kitchen and bathroom improvement prices, and much more.

Providing manhour estimations for each job, recommended crew size, and the labor cost for the removal and installation work, many assembly prices are included to help contractors speed up the time frames for their estimates by just adding linear or square feet to complete the estimate.

Material prices are current, with location adjustment factors and free quarterly software updates on the Web.

Critique: Aptly considered the contractor's 'bible' for bid preparations, the "2019 National Home Improvement Estimator" is an essential and invaluable addition to all professional contractors working with home improvement projects. It should be noted that "2019 National Home Improvement Estimator" also has enormous and practical value in helping homeowners understand what their desired home improvement projects will cost.

American by Choice
Farouk Shami
Privately Published

Synopsis: Farouk Shami is an immigrant who came to America with $71, became a US Citizen and is now living the American Dream. He is the true definition of perseverance and his incredible life's journey is a must read. He is a family man, a mentor, a leader, a self-starter, an inventor, a peacemaker, an artist, a hairdresser, a philanthropist, a hard worker, a motivator and entrepreneur. His story takes you from early childhood and the devastating affects of war, to the quest for a better life. The story takes you on a man's journey to be the best at what he does and then to overcome adversity in his industry due to illness and harmful chemicals. His love of the beauty industry and people drove him to find answers and solutions. Environment, Education and Ethics are his company's mission and his personal motto.

Critique: Featuring an inset section of color photographs, American by Choice is the rags-to-riches story of an immigrant to America who became a successful entrepreneur. Author Farouk Shami, a.k.a. "The CHI Man" founded a company expressly devoted to hairdressers and providing professional hair care products. His challenges, drive, and dedication make for fascinating reading, and his life story is inspirational to any who aspire to greatness. Highly recommended.

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

The Doorbell Rang
Author/Illustrator Pat Hutchins
9780688092344, $7.99, Paperback, 24 pages

Writer Pat Hutchins' The Doorbell Rang continued as an Osage County First Grade Favorite from first reading to the last. Offered in paperback, hard cover and audio book is just plain a fun book. And, the children finding it as an offering in their classroom 'reading' book only made the book more popular.

Ma's enticing cookies appeal to her own two children, plus, to their friends as well.

Smiling with anticipation Osage County First Grade rush to calm themselves on the rug for Reading Time.

Cookies are pleasures six-year-olds know well, enjoy often and relish more than most other treats in the K Primary classroom.

Warm from the oven, Ma has prepared a welcome, nice fresh, batch of cookies. Sam and Victoria ready themselves to share the dozen cookies by moving the cookies into two comparable groups. As we count the cookies, one for Sam and one for Victoria, my students quickly realize that dividing the dozen cookies in half will deliver each child 6 cookies to enjoy.

And then the doorbell rings.

Waiting in the open door are two of Sam and Victoria's friends. A little hasty calculation, 1 for you, and you and you and me, and Sam and Victoria understand how quicly each percentage of the dozen cookies is beginning to lessen. However 4 plates with 3 cookies each is still a nice group of cookies.

Because 4 kids will be sharing the 12 cookies, there will be 3 cookies per child. Not as many cookies as when there were only 2 children sharing the dozen cookies. However, the illustrations note that the cookies are hefty cookies in size, AND, sharing cookies, whatever the size, with friends is very nice too. So, Osage County First Grade agree: the smiles Sam and Victoria wear show they are not dissatisfied by sharing and decreasing their own stash of cookies.

And the doorbell rings. And rings ....

Not much time passes and now there are a dozen children sitting around the table; thus Sam, Victoria along with ten of their friends now each have 1 cooky each to eat.

And the doorbell rings.

The children send anxious glances from the cooky on their plate to their friends, and back, to Ma who is again heading for the door.

On the other hand, this time, the pending problem is resolved.

Grandma has come just in time with a big tray of her wonderful, fresh baked, cookies.

And, ...

A small, non-difficult to read publication, The Doorbell Rang is an excellent choice for children's book shelves.

Class use of this, child friendly book, in our classroom was ongoing. I appreciate the chance for conversation per relationships and sharing that the tome delivers. As a rule, I always found little people very willing to share, most often without encouragement, even to the point of breaking their cookie or a small box of raisins, or dry cereal, and handing half to the child sitting next to them at the table during a work period.

Dialogue using Math potentials is an essential part of the action as we read the book. During the early weeks of our new term counting out actual cookies or using counters or circles cut from colored paper was a common activity. The word dozen is frequently an unknown for little people. Seeing the 12 cookies and watching the physical moving of them between two children soon launches the comprehension that 12 is this many and half a dozen is quite a bit less.

The word, and, concept half, is another new term for little people, and is one, to be addressed in First Grade.

During the school term we continued working with math concepts presented as we read The Doorbell Rang. Whole, half, third, half, quarter, fourths are all terms addressed in First Grade. How many more, how many less, add, subtract are Math terms First Graders learn and use. Cookies help solidify the concepts as we work.

As I read the narrative aloud the first time; Osage County First Grade listened mainly for the entertainment of the account. It did not take long before the children were so caught up in the narrative that they began to forestall how each child's share of cookies would be diminished by the advent of more friends.

In spite of the fact that the portion of cookies for each child continues declining with the arrival of each visitors as I read, I like that Mom does not appear to become dismayed with influx of so many visitors, and neither do Sam or Rebecca. The children remain pleased to greet old friends even though they will share the ever-decreasing quantity of cookies.

Twenty-two thumbs up say Osage County First Grade. I am happy to recommend The Doorbell Rang for the classroom, public, and elementary school library and for gifting a special Little Reader, or sending with a Little Reader as their gift to the class at the beginning of the new school term.

12th & McGraw
Forrest Haskell
First Published: Top Publications
Bell Books; 2nd edition
1929976291, $16.00, Paperback, 272 pages

Forrest Haskell Sr's formative years where as a twelve-year-old busy with an egg route marketing eggs for .12 a dozen, began in Attleboro, Mass. Even then the writer's father was earning and saving a tidy sum.

Hard times living on a hard scrabble farm during his early childhood triggered the earning of money to become one of the most noteworthy life stimuli for the writer's father.

Haskell recognized the time to leave home and a father having a demanding, punishing streak was directly subsequent to his sixteenth birthday and graduation from high school.

Young Haskell shortly found himself arriving in Boston astraddle a second-hand motorcycle. Without delay he set about locating a sleeping room to rent, and, was hired as an orderly at a nearby hospital.

From that quiet beginning Haskell's moved next during 1934 to Michigan. In Detroit he drove a Checker cab, as always saved money, looked-for more, found a second job driving truck for the Sunshine Biscuit Co, before he realized more money was to be garnered from the amusement park industry.

In 1940, when the author was four-years-old, the Mobil Gas Station on 12th and McGraw was established into the seat for Haskell's growing businesses. Legal and illegal actions were both carried out from the site.

Haskell bought a house for Marie Roberts, one block from the Mobil station. Marie, a French emigre, married to a man she had antipathy toward leaving for fear she might be deported intended to rent out rooms. Young Will Roberts was always very involved in his father's life. Will, as was writer Haskell, was given the family name of Marie's husband, notwithstanding that he was Forrest Haskell's son.

Childhood included being perched in the trunk of the car with other children during a rain, eating bologna sandwiches and drinking Nu Grape pop while covered with a blanket. Pearl Harbor 1941 was prompting car repair toward becoming big business during the war when new cars were not being produced. All figure in the narrative.

Real estate, illegal gambling carried out in the rooms of the many houses owned by Haskell SR, book making, transporting in Canadian liquor, along with a boat launching near calamity all abetted shaping the writer's personality. A candy machine that was actually a gun safe, loan sharking, a warehouse jam-packed with tires were likewise part of the life writer Haskell experienced during his growing up years in Detroit.

Young Haskell's life was rat killing cats/cat killing rats, Carnie Talk, horse betting, and a considerate father who taught his son to work, understand the value of money and practiced safe sex.

The secret life Forest's father shared with a second family was revealed when Forrest was not yet a teen.

Teeming with captivating characters bearing ingenious names; 12th & Mc Graw is easily read. Fast Eddie, Swede, Jesse James, a forty-year-old college grad numbers man, Tommy Streeter Bain was known as Streeter, and 'Doctor Freddie', 12th & Mc Graw provides the reader a glimpse into the life of a thought-provoking man who did not always play by the rules. The affection and esteem felt by novelist Haskell for his father is obvious beginning to end.

12th & McGraw divided into chapters is a bewildering quick read on all sides of the lifetime of a colorful enthusiastic man who lived life to the fullest. Forrest Wilfred Haskell was a compelling man who was able to commence with little, amass a fortune, and raise two families in comparative ease during the mid 1900s.

Haskell's later years were lived in reasonable quiet as he retired to a small farm, endured strong in the lives of both spouses and their individual groups of children. Writer Haskell tells of the poignant times spent following his mother's death when the writer and his wife, along with his father and 'the other wife' met for a trip to Mexico.

Writer Haskell was powered with hope that he would become the peacemaker bringing all the siblings together. His father's stroke, demands for DNA testing from the other family, along with their apparent shielding of his father's resources, followed ultimately with his father's death, eventually brought only sadness.

The anguish Haskell felt when he understood his father's second group of grown children were more concerned in conserving his money rather than in consenting to proper medical care for the Sr Haskell following his stroke, comes through in spite of writer Haskell's thoughtfully chosen words to not appear biased.

Haskell's talented writing causes the reader to hope that the second family will begin treat their father with more care and esteem.

That hope is crushed as we read that Haskell Sr lay in an unmarked grave for two years awaiting the writer's discovery of the delay and had an appropriate memorial set in place.

Thought provoking read. Not for melancholy times, but is a first-rate book to read on a long sultry afternoon when time is ample: book is best read cover to cover rather than in snippets.

Available AMAZON paperback

Lovely tribute by a loving son, Happy to recommend

Love A Tangled Knot
Eichin Chang-Lim
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2 edition
9781974628704, $15.00, Paperback, 340 pages

Eichin Chang-Lim's Love a Tangled Knot If love is true ... How long should you wait?

Kayla O'Neill unlike her best friend Breeana who seemed to fall into and out of love at the slightest provocation, tended to look upon even a crush as commitment.

Kayla's sister Veronica, mother of two small children is a waitress, her husband Robert is a cross country trucker. While Veronica and Robert are devoted to each other and to their children; Kayla has watched Veronica's future plans take a nosedive during high school when an unplanned, unwed pregnancy became reality. Kayla wants an education and doesn't plan to let anything stand in the way of that dream.

Kayla finds herself living with her sister and Veronica's young family following her oft married mother's decision to move from California to Oklahoma following her recent marriage.

On Earthday as high schoolers were cleaning the beach, Kayla found herself drawn to a handsome boy, Russell, member of the water polo team who asked if he might share Kayla's seat on the bus ride back to school. It is only a month later, following several dates with Russell that he presents her with a one-month anniversary, zirconium right. A few weeks later she meets Russell's family and is treated to the family. Kayla is looking forward to her high school Senior year during summer break, she begins investigating college plans, she and Russell are going steady when during a usual noisy dinner with Veronica and the kids; Kayla, her stomach churning realized something was amiss. After several days with Kayla avoiding everyone Veronica guesses the problem and encourages Kayla to be open with Russell about the positive pregnancy test Kayla administered for herself.

From that point the narrative moves quickly forward, Kayla gives birth to their daughter Alexis, Russell in a moment of youthful indiscretion is sentenced to a seven term in prison, Kayla enters into a hurried wedding so that she and Alexis can visit Russell.

Seven long years finally end and Russell comes home.

I am not fond of 'romance' genre as a rule, when asked to consider this book for review I wondered if it was one of the to much sexual detail, too little storyline, put forth with poor writing; I am delighted it was not!

Love a Tangled Knot, bittersweet tale of youthful recklessness, energy, growing up, maturation, facing reality and moving on is well worth the read.

Writer Eichin Chang-Lim has crafted a highly readable, well written narrative filled with poignancy, moments of hope, harsh reality, and restructuring of views regarding marriage, independence, parenting, education, dealing with public opinion regarding those who have served time in jail for any cause and picking up the pieces of shattered dreams, hopes, expectations and understanding.

While it may be true that love can be a tangled knot, the larger question may be can it also become untangled?

The commencement of the narrative moves a little slowly setting the backdrop, introducing characters and preparing the reader for the continuing story. Kayla, a bright capable student becoming pregnant and continuing her schooling is something I viewed first hand more than once teaching in a small K - 12 school for several years. This novel delves into both sides of that issue in this wellwritten tale that all too often results in a single mom giving up hope for future, and educational dream.

We all make choices, and, we all must deal with the results of our decisions.

Kayla and Russell's story as developed on the pages of Love a Tangled Knot presents possibility as characters' chronicle sweeps onward and The Reader learns how Kevin and Russell as well as the many secondary characters through the difficulties of reality. Packed with commanding declarations Love a Tangled Knot is a delightful drama filled work which I believe will interest many of the YA and upper middle grade reader. The book is a smooth well paced read, having enough romantic thought to interest the target audience, melding into a love permeated, inspiring read without sounding preachy. Young readers may identify with the Russell and Kayla's characters, middle grades and high school is often marred by mistakes which too often may lead to life changing consequences both good and bad depending upon the decisions we make. The tale Love a Tangled Knot deals well with reality of life that we all come to realize both good and not so good things do happen no matter how good or not so good a person is. Awful outdomes may well take place even when it not our fault; being in the wrong place or not thinking through a situation as was the case with Russell caused him, and causes others to makes a poor choice that can affect the life of everyone involved.

Learning that poor choices can lead to paying a heavy price for years into the future is a lesson not always learned easily or soon for the most vulnerable of our society. Love a Tangled Knot is a good read, I am happy to recommend for the target YA audience, and for parents, school and other counselors, for those who work with pre teens and teens as they face those tough life decisions.

Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting
Sara Louise Harper
Martingale & Co Inc
9781564778185, $TBA, Paperback, 80 pages

Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting offered by master knitter Sara Louise Harper is an 80 page work jam-packed with fourteen designs highlighting cables, cables, cables. Pattern designs are provided for knitting an afghan, pillows, scarves, and several sweaters.

Today, I find big box stores do not give the impression they care to offer many knit usage materials, in addition I don't see very many women knitting; however way back in the days when I was attending college in California, it seemed just about every young woman could be seen with a canvas bag holding yarn and knitting needles.

The clickety-click of needles sounded cheerily as our instructors lectured.

Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting offers knitters a primer re basic textured knitting. While my own favorite sweaters patterns to knit are those knitted using round needles and working from the neck down, Harper's book does not feature neck down and raglan sleeve pattern. No problem, cables can be adapted to nearly any pattern and knitter wish.

My neck down, raglan sleeved sweaters are very often completed with cables. During my years while standing yard duty during my tenure teaching in public school classrooms; cables added a bit of extra weight, depth and texture creating a wonderfully warm garment enjoyed especially on those cold, San Joaquin Valley, winter days.

I find often that even knowledgeable knitters, thinking cable designs may prove daunting to produce and are uncertain toward attempting designs featuring cables. Certainty is, all knitting, including cables is simply a series of knits and purls. Even the most novice knitter who has mastered basic knit and purl stitches already has the foundation for creating dazzling cable filled sweaters. I like that the design comes from where you place the knit or purl stitch as you knit that creates the design, unlike crochet which often means learning a new stitch for the piece being worked.

I am delighted to note today knitting does seem to be enjoying a beginning of revival. For those who knit, Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting speaks to the desirability of our reflective, sustaining skill.

Along with well written basic patterns for generating beneficial warm sweaters appropriate for men and women, Harper's book indicates supplies for the knitter include a convenient carry bag for holding knit supplies and the current knit project. I have knitted for years for myself, my own children as they grew up and for making sweaters to donate to one of the local charitable groups offering Christmas goods for parents. I too find the informative reference pages highlighting process and methods in addition to the how-to for creating designs, sizing, and adjusting patterns to fit the particular wearer to be advantageous information for all knitters.

Various types of yarns, the reason for keeping a die-cut needle gauge guide handy and the importance of the gauge ruler are all explained.

While the book guides the anxious or novice knitter through the commencement steps for producing cabled work; the book need not be consigned as usable only for beginning knitters, many veteran knitters too have never attempted a cable pattern.

Sara Louise Harper's Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting delivers an assortment of projects, envisioned to assist all knitters while dispelling the uncertainty encountered when first learning to read stitch charts, use cable stitch holders, and decipher all the tricky subtleness built-into formation of lovely cable rich items.

Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting is planned to be a trainee friendly guidebook debuting the easiest patterns first before moving on to more multifaceted ones. I find all cabled knitting appears to the non-knitter, or the non-cable knitter to be more complicated than they are to actually create. Novice knitters can create a stunning sweater or scarf without shedding tears!!

Taking each design one step at a time; writer Harper describes in comprehensible, easy to follow terms how and why to use stitch charts, cable needles, choose a pattern, modify it if necessary, produce a swatch of knitting, follow gauge, and more.

Everything a knitter needs in order to be prepared for generating good-looking knit pieces is included on the pages of Harper's Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting. Graph paper for plotting dimensions as well as a handy needle inventory page at the back of the book is included. There are special sections added for recording works in progress, keeping track of completed projects, and planning future creations.

A word of caution the stunning cables all over the work shown on the cover of the book may not be the best choice for a first cable attempt. Working the more simplified beginning patterns will prepare the beginning cable knitter with confidence that everyone can knit lovely cables leading to less frustration and more success when the cover sweater or another HAVING lots of cables IS planned as the next project to tackle.

Sara Louise Harper offers simple to follow directions, lovely attractive, eye catching cable designs and much for the knitter to consider

Happy to recommend Cable Confidence: A Guide to Textured Knitting.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom
David Neilsen
Random House
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
9781101935811, 230 pages, $6.99

The children who live on Hardscrabble Street are upset to learn that an abandoned house, their favorite playground, is no longer abandoned. It has been purchased by Dr. Fell, a man of indeterminate, but advanced. age. Attired in a long, black coat and a purple top hat, he is accompanied by many crates and large boxes.

The next morning, the children see the ultimate in playgrounds in his front yard. It has everything a child could possibly want in a playground. The children spend every spare minute at the playground. All of the elementary schools in town establish regular school bus routes to Dr. Fell's playground.

With any group of children playing, there are going to be bruises, skinned knees and other minor injuries. Dr. Fell takes them into his house to get fixed up, and they emerge brainwashed. Even more serious injuries are fixed by Dr. Fell like they are nothing.

As time goes on, the popularity of Dr. Fell's playground grows to the point where every elementary school within twenty miles sends their children to him. The brainwashing includes the parents, who want Dr. Fell to do their children's yearly physical (even if they have just had their yearly physical).

Jerry, Gail and Nancy are the only ones not under Dr. Fell's spell. Can they discover his evil plan before it is too late? Does Dr. Fell plan to take over the world, starting with the children?

Intended for children 8 - 12 years old, this is a gem of a book. It works really well as a mystery, and it will certainly keep the reader's interest.

First Amendment for Beginners
Michael J Lamonica
For Beginners LLC
30 Main St., #303, Danbury CT 06810
9781939994745, $15.95, 232 pages

The forty-five words that make up the First Amendment to the US Constitution embody some of America's most basic rights. Among them are the right to follow the religion of your choice, and the right to express their opinions in public without fear of government interference. This book looks at the court cases that have turned those rights into reality.

The concept of a "wall" between church and state was never in the US Constitution. It comes from letters between President Thomas Jefferson and a group of Connecticut Baptists in the early 1800's. They were complaining because Connecticut had established Congregationalism as the official religion and did not guarantee religious freedom for other faiths.

When it comes to religion in public schools, in 1948, the Supreme Court struck down an Illinois law that set aside class time in public schools for religious instruction. Several years later, in 1952, the Court upheld a New York program that let students out of school to attend private religious instruction.

The Supreme Court has said that the First Amendment protects only speech, not conduct. What about "symbolic speech" like burning the American flag? The book also explores the question of whether money equals speech, like in the Citizens United case.

This is an excellent book. It is easy to understand for the average reader. It is also recommended for law students who need a First Amendment review. This is very much worth reading.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Pedro's Bookshelf

747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other Adventures from a Life in Aviation
Joe Sutter
Smithsonian Books
9780060882419 $TBA

As the Boeing 747 reaches the end of its operational life, it is perhaps an appropriate moment to reflect on its origin and the vision of the man behind its design.

The twentieth century witnessed one milestone in aviation quickly followed by another. By the mid-1960s, what was by many standards the golden age of aviation, commercial aviation was enjoying the excitement and glamour of the jet age. Airplanes like the Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8 and Convair 880 actively competed for passengers and the acquisition of lucrative routes. Flying had become the favorite way for Americans to travel, other than in the family automobile or by rail.

Joe Sutter, the designer of the Boeing 747, envisioned an airplane with two aisles that would comfortably seat up to 500 passengers. The two-aisle designation gave the 747 the name "jumbo." The airplanes of that time were all narrow-body and had a single aisle. The fuselage of the Boeing 707 was under 13 feet in width, while the 747 was over 20 feet. This is why the 747 was such a new concept in passenger travel.

After the creation of the 747 other jumbo jets were built. These included the Lockheed L-1011 and the Douglas DC-10. Of the three original jumbos, only the 747 is currently transporting passengers.

747: Creating the World's First Jumbo Jet and Other adventures from Life in Aviation chronicles Sutter's design of the formidable 747, from the planning stage, to the day the aircraft went into production. 26 airlines placed an order for the 747 before the aircraft had been built.

Sutter's book describes the difficulty that building such a cutting-edge passenger airplane entailed. One of these problems was having to create buildings at Boeing's Everett, Washington facility that could house the airplanes and the machinery necessary to build them.

Joe Sutter was born in Seattle, Washington in 1921. As a boy, Sutter was so fascinated with aviation that he wanted to design airplanes. Seattle is the birthplace of the Boeing Corporation.

Sutter's account of the wide-body Boeing 747 is a story that is equally compelling because in planning and building the 747, Boeing was literally betting on the company, for the 747 cost about 1 billion dollars to develop. The book also brings the reader in touch with the culture and economy of the late 1960s in America, in addition to the adventure of the space age. The Boeing 747's maiden flight took place in 1969, the same year that Americans landed on the Moon.

Sutter's book was published in 2006. The book is important and timely because few people know much about the effort that went into creating the American industrial success story that is the 747. Of equal importance to building the first jumbo jet, Sutter's book puts on display the vision of an engineer, and the level of commerce that his aspiration and work gave birth to. Joe Sutter passed away on August 30, 2016.

Jenny Was No Lady: The Story of the JN-4D
Jack R. Lincke
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

The first two decades of the twentieth century, what was truly the century of aviation, was a time of fascinating discoveries in aerodynamics. First, came the lure of flight. This led aviation pioneers to pay heed to problems of aerodynamics, later came advances in engineering.

After the Wright Brothers took to the sky in their Wright flyer II in Huffman Prairie Field in Dayton, Ohio, many other pioneers got the aviation bug, as it were. For the vast majority of American aviators trained to fly during those two majestic decades - some say about 95% of all pilots - flew the Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" at some time.

Introduced in 1915 by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company, the JN-4D was mass produced in order to enter service in WWI. Over 6,813 of these airplanes were built. At a cost of $5,465 each, the Jenny, as the airplane came to be known, was considered the Model-T of early aviation.

Jenny Was No Lady: The Story of the JN-4D is Jack R. Lincke's chronicle of the Curtiss JN-4D. The title alludes to the Jenny's not always reliable OX-5 engine, which is blamed for the death of many early aviators.

Lincke's writing is crisp and clear, and very funny. The narrative of the book is a dynamic story of man and machine. The book contains many animated descriptions of pilots, flying and airplanes that are made possible by the author's imaginative and lively metaphors. One such example is his description of pilot's love of their airplanes, perhaps more than the women in their life. Lincke explains this and offers lots of examples that are insightful and help the reader understand the psyche of pilots. The pilots who flew the Jenny, the author contends, had to be "characters" in order to match Jenny's often fickle disposition.

Lincke includes a very informative appendix, where he details the Jenny's general construction in fine detail. This section is an essential contribution to aviation history, especially where restoration of the JN-4D is concerned. The technical specifications included in this section are difficult to find in books of a more recent vintage.

The Jenny became the first airplane to fly U.S. air mail and the airplane of choice for barnstorming pilots. Given the dangers of the early pioneering days of aviation, Lincke explains that careful pilots learned to respect the limitations of the Jenny - or else. This, the author assures the reader, was a condition that built pilot character. Because the book was published in 1970, Lincke goes on to contrast the pioneering days of aviation with flying in the jet age. Either way, there is no comparison, he concludes.

Pedro Blas Gonzalez

Suanne's Bookshelf

Rapid Falls
Amber Cowie
Lake Union Publishing
9781503904743, $24.95

I chose to read Rapid Falls because I had heard it was a good psychological thriller. It is the debut novel of writer Amber Cowie. The book follows Anna and Cara, two sisters born a year apart, through dual timelines (the late 1990s and 2016). They are involved in a fatal accident the night of Cara's high school prom. Anna, who was supposed to serve as the designated driver, is charged with a felony DUI and sentenced to three years in prison. the story moves between the late nineties and 2016.

Cowie reveals the events leading to the accident slowly, so the reader begins to parse together what really happened. Anna's life goes down the drain after her term in prison while Cara achieves her perfect life with a wonderful husband, daughter, and job. However, not all is as it seems, and twists are rampant.

Rapid Falls deals with unpleasant topics as revealed by two unpleasant sisters. Sparked by a truly toxic family background, sibling rivalry, drug and alcohol addiction, and jealousy percolate through the book, slowly simmering to a full-blown boil. Anyone who has experienced challenging relationships with their parents and/or siblings will immediately recognize the authenticity of the family dynamics.

It's difficult to spend much time at one stretch with the book. In the beginning this is because Anna is such a noxious personality. As Rapid Falls progresses, Cara, the protagonist, becomes the more unlikable character. Many of the other characters, like her husband, are minimally developed, seen only through the narrow slit of Cara's point-of-view., making it difficult to spend an entire book with her. None of the other characters are well developed. We only get to know them through the narrow spectrum of Cara's viewpoint.

I would not consider this so much a thriller, as a tense family drama about a sociopath. If you are feel a villain should get a just punishment, you'll probably be disappointed by the ending.

The One That Got Away
Joe Clifford
Down & Out Books
9781948235426, $17.95

I chose to read this book because I have read everything else Joe Clifford has written. Best known for his Jay Porter series, Clifford writes what can only be called elegant noir. I always highlight multiple lines that are "zingers" for their fresh turns-of-phrase.

The One That Got Away is set in Upstate New York, and having spent many years visiting my in-laws in Little Falls, I know the area well and can guarantee that Clifford fully captures the bleak ambiance of the little towns in the area, dying on the vine because factories closed years ago. This line proves it: "...there's nowhere like Upstate New York. It's a dirty, ugly place that's never possessed the hope to lose."

Better yet are his characters. Told from the points of view of Alex Salerno (a thirty-ish young woman, who's an anti-hero, a complex character, strong, intelligent, yet ultimately self-destructive) and Benny Brudzinski (a man with progressive degenerative neurological deficits that cause him to be intellectually challenged). Alex returns to Reine, NY, to look into the death of Kira Shanks, a young woman who disappears twelve years after Alex's own kidnapping at the age of seventeen.

Clifford uses Benny's chapters to reveal the pathos of a man "locked" into himself, incapable of verbal communication beyond a few grunts, but whose brain clearly continues to function. Though I found the thought patterns and vocabulary to be inconsistent with the supposed degree of Benny's retardation, these chapters are poignant and elegant. Though he is featured in fewer chapters than Alex, Benny is the axis around which this mystery revolves. It is particularly appealing that the twist is revealed in Benny's POV.

If you like mysteries with a clear-cut ending, you will be disappointed, but I loved the ambiguity of Clifford's ending.

Hunting Annabelle
Wendy Heard
9780778369349, $16.99

Wow! Hunting Annabelle grabs readers from the start. Told in first person by Sean Suh, who has served three years in a psychiatric prison, the reader is immediately dragged into his lonely, dark, seemingly-twisted mind. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Sean lives with his Korean mother, a well-known, well-respected physician, but a cold unloving mother.

Sean is an anti-hero deluxe. He knows he's a monster and does his best to stay away from temptation, to avoid giving in to his urges to throttle women. Sean "loses time," frequently feels drugged out by his psych meds, and has some PTSD symptoms from his time on the psych ward. There are enough hints that perhaps he isn't as crazy as his diagnosing physicians assumed when they planted the schizophrenic label on him.

One day, at his usual hang-out, he is attracted to Annabelle - and, surprisingly, she to him. When Sean sees her being kidnapped, the lack of instant access to information slows the police investigation, so Sean launches his own investigation.

Heard does a superlative job capturing the 1980s with its lack of cell phones, faxes, and email. I have both worked in a psych ward and, during my medical school days in the early 1990s, had rotations in psych wards. She captures the milieu of the psychiatric world and the medications used to treat schizophrenia at the time and their side-effects. She also does a terrific job getting the reader to empathize with the oddball Sean and to feel his confusion at his momentary episodes of lucidity followed by feeling out of it.

Underneath the book lurks a current of menace - enough that I almost put the book down, fearing I wouldn't be able to sleep. However, I was completely sucked in to Sean's twisted mind.

Hunting Annabelle is twisted and dark and a bit creepy with a couple of totally unpredictable, yet very logical, twists at the end. I read this back-to-back with Joe Clifford's upstate New York noir The One that Got Away and found the two books really complemented each other.

Fate Forged
B. P. Donigan
Red Adept Publishing, LLC
B07KV589HT, currently only available on Kindle and Nook

A woman named Mauve is the protagonist of Fate Forged. Once a homeless teen, she has pieced together a new life by working hard at under-the-table at restaurants and volunteering at the homeless shelter that took her in. When nightmares of torture take over her dreams, she loses sleep because of them, then starts to miss shifts at work. Her life begins to fall apart; she's no longer sure she made enough that month to make her rent. Her life undergoes a quantum shift when, desperate to get rid of the horrific scenes, she follows these visions to a fortune cookie factory in Boston, the scene of the torture she'd dreamt about which ended in the death of the victim. Instead of answers, she discovers she has previously unknown magical abilities, but in wholly unable to control her magic. Her magic soon makes her the target of two powerful groups of magical beings, the Council and the Brotherhood, both of which want access to the magic locked inside Maeve. She strikes a deal with the Council's Guardian, Silas Valeron. She is suspicious of his motives, finds his arrogance is frustrating, but is drawn to him sexually. More visions send her deeper into the world of magic. She must learn to control her power, or the magic that ties all life forms to the Earth itself, could fall into evil hands.

The writing flowed well and had few grammatical errors. What bothered me were multiple instances where a paragraph combined two characters' actions/thoughts/dialogue. For example, Silas has a line of dialogue followed by Maeve's internal response to that dialogue. I was pulled out of the story momentarily trying to re-orient myself.

Overall, an interesting premise with a page-turning plot with multiple twists, superb world-building, an compelling protagonist who often acts in her own best interest because she's a bit of a smart aleck, and a love interest who is as emotionally tormented as the protagonist all make this a good read.

A Light of Her Own
Carrie Callaghan
Amberjack Publishing
9781944995898, $24.99

I chose to read this book because I am a former artist and photographer with an interest in art history.

Judith Leyster (1609-1660) was the first female painter admitted to the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke. After her death, her works were attributed to males, and she was essentially lost to the world of art history. A Light of Her Own, the debut novel of Carrie Callaghan, is a vivid fictional account of Judith's life which brings her out of the shadows.

The book in told in dual timelines, switching between Judith, an apprentice in Franz de Grebber's atelier, who shares a room with de Grebber's daughter, Maria, another female painter. Judith has the ambition to open her own studio, but Maria is stifled by her Catholic faith and her obsession with her sins. Their friendship and the stresses their divergent drives occupies a large portion of the book. Judith's ambition was a welcome contrast to Maria's religious idee fixe, though her point of view did reveal the lasting effects of the Reformation in which Catholicism was banned and Calvanism becoming the state religion.

One of the best things about A Light of Her Own is the painterly detail Callaghan paints with her prose. Everything Judith sees is described in terms of color, the quality of the light, or the way her model's eyes crinkle with his smile. If you have seen the paintings of Rembrandt or Hals, you know how exacting the painting of the time were. Callaghan's precision allows the reader to visualize not only Judith's paintings but every day life in Haarlem. Moving the plot along was a mystery of involving linseed oil, a key ingredient in the paints each artist manufactured himself. Supplies had dried up, and the price risen to the point that only the most profitable painters could afford it. I particularly liked that Judith stood up to the leaders of the Guild and revealed the truth.

Overall a fascinating story of women painters during the Dutch Golden Age of painting. It's art history light - enough fiction to bring Judith to light without weighing the reader down with too many art historical facts.

Suanne Schafer, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

Cucina Tipica
Andrew Cotto
Black Rose Writing
9781684331239, $17.95, 281 Pages

I just loved this book! In it I was transported from the first page, with American Jacoby Pines and his fiancee Claire, from my adoptive country of France into beautiful Italy. The author, Andrew Cotto, who lives in Brooklyn, is a writer whose articles have appeared in many national journals. He is also a teacher and has taught composition courses and creative writing workshops in New York City. This Italian adventure is his third novel and in it his wonderful storytelling abilities shine through.

When the story begins the disheartened Jacoby is unemployed following an unfortunate incident at work, and he finds himself soaking up the food, culture and customs of Italy with his accomplished travel writer fiancee Claire.

Arriving in France, together they travel along the French Riviera, then onto the eye-opening Italian Autostrada, enjoying the marvellous coastal views, and staying at a beautiful coastal hotel. Then the next day they head inland to the villa they have rented, in the hills above Florence, for the coming year.

However, although they are primarily in the region for Claire's assignment for the prestigious Haxby's Travel Guide, Jacoby has his own agenda. Having never known his mother, he discovered upon the death of his father a box containing a photograph of a woman standing on a great lawn, and written on the back is 'Villa Floria-Zanobini 1939.' Thoroughly intrigued, the newly orphaned Jacoby looks upon this opportunity to join Claire at this disastrous stage in his career as the hand of fate at work.

With him, we join Claire on her research trips, as she travels the countryside meeting people from all walks of life. These experiences give the reader a wonderful introduction into the food and culture of this part of Italy, and a very entertaining look into the mentality of the Italian males' mind, regarding women.

However, this story is primarily Jacoby's adventure, and left to his own devices, he finally tracks down a Hotel Floria-Zanobini, which he discovers is run by another expat American, the eccentric Bill.

When he shows Bill his picture, its story begins to unfold, and an excited Jacoby finds himself beginning an incredible adventure, with Bill showing him the Italy he has become part of in the previous 35 years. Together the friends set out on a mission to track down the mysterious lady in the photograph and discover the link she has with Jacoby.

Encounters with wild boar, incredible museums and artwork, wonderful buildings, and the marvellous traditional recipes, wines, and experiences, this story has it all. The author brings Florence and the countryside surrounding it to life, as with Jacoby his readers embark on a fantastic voyage of discovery of the beautiful experiences this country has to offer. Whilst throughout the story the tumultuous love story between Jacoby and Claire rides a roller coaster, helped in no mean way by Claire's outrageous cousin Dolores.

Whether you love Italy, dream of visiting it one day (like myself) or just want to enjoy an incredibly enjoyable book set in a beautiful part of the world, I thoroughly recommend this story as the best I have ever read!

Available from Amazon:

The Plastic Pollution Adventure (The Rescue Elves 1)
Monty J. McClaine
9781973899525, $7.99, 34 Pages

This book must be the best way ever to get the message across to children about the dangers of plastic to wildlife, the amount of items of rubbish it accumulates, where it is dumped, and also how important recycling is.

I recently read Santa's Rescue Dog, Super Speed Sam, Book 5, by the same author to my granddaughter and we enjoyed it so much that this story caught my eye. You see, it is in Santa's Rescue Dog that we first meet the relves. These are special rescue elves tasked with rescuing Santa, should he have a catastrophe on Christmas Eve, and their names are Sparkle, Holly, Jack and Charlie. Of course, everyone knows to be good at rescue like Firemen you have to practice, and the relves do the same. Mrs. Claus sends them, on special missions around the world throughout the year, just to keep them on their toes.

Their mission this time is to go to the beautiful Pacific Ocean and explore it, and the creatures which live near and in it. After all, you never know, one day Santa's sleigh could break down going over the sea and they would have to know what to do if it was stuck under the water, wouldn't they?

Now the Pacific Ocean is so different from the North Pole that the relves didn't know what to expect, but being relves they are well prepared for anything. However, they can't believe their eyes when they arrive and see a mysterious grey island. As they draw nearer they realise that it is made from all things plastic.

"How strange, I wonder where all this came from," they ask themselves as they climb over it. Then suddenly they hear cries for help, and find some very special baby creatures in real distress. Luckily for them, rescue is what the relves do. The incident makes the relves wonder how such a terrible thing could be in the middle of a lovely ocean. However, all is explained when the babies' mommies arrive they tell them what is happening to the environment and our beautiful planet.

Something must be done, the relves decide. So they demonstrate to the reader what can be done, what a difference recycling can make, and how everyone can play their part.

This beautifully illustrated story was listened to avidly by my two grandsons and was the perfect way to explain to them that the environment is everyone's responsibility, the dangers caused to wildlife by rubbish, and how important it is to take care of our world.

I think this book should be read to all children wherever in the world they live, the message it contains is so important and it will empower them with the knowledge that 'they' can make a difference!

Available from Amazon:

Are We French Yet? Keith & Val's Adventures in Provence
Keith Van Sickle
Dresher Publishing
9780998312057, $9.99, 240 Pages

I absolutely loved Keith Van Sickle's first book 'One Sip at a Time,' and so was delighted to discover this new release.

Keith and his wife Val's path in life changed five years previously when Keith was offered a work assignment in Switzerland. The experience opened their eyes to new opportunities and so back in America they took the bull by the horns and became self-employed. This brave move enabled them to take their destiny in their own hands and gave them the freedom to split their time between America and France.

The story commences with a restless Keith impatiently waiting for the time to pass so they can close down their American house and spend spring in Provence. However, his wife's suggestion that they have a relaxing bike ride backfires when a squirrel decides to join in...

Finally, back in their beloved Provence, complete with their dog of course, Keith and Val settle into their rented property and become reacquainted with the area and their French friends. They are keen to learn conversation French so they take lessons with a teacher called Geneviève who takes no prisoners where pronunciation and attention to details are concerned.

Throughout this informative story the open and helpful characters of the French people they meet and befriend shine through, and also the completely different attitudes of the French and Americans to things in life. Perhaps to everyone the most obvious is the pace of life in each country, and this is something which you immediately notice whether you are an expat or you are just on holiday. However, as you spend more time here you can't fail to notice the French peoples attitude to work and family life are so different.

The author's wonderfully descriptive writing brings alive the warmth, culture, food and wine enthused life in Provence, with meals out with friends, visits to vineyards, and of course the marvellous scenery. On this visit amongst other things we find out what it is like to go gluten free in France, discover the French reaction to the Eurovision Song Contest, and experience the famous Courses de Camarguaise.

To be able to live in two totally different countries must be a wonderful experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to savour Provencal life, and meet through his writing some of its people.

However, there is one thing which anybody new to France is in peril of getting wrong and that is the kiss, or is it kisses you give and receive when greeting, and also how many? Not to mention the worry of which side of the cheek you start on. Fear not, the answer to these questions and many more are weaved within the pages of this thoroughly entertaining book which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to relax and enjoy France from the comfort of their armchair.

Available from Amazon:

Mr. Tortoise on a Mission
Simons Acquah
Independently Published
9781718018099, $8.99, 33 Pages

The author Simons Acquah was originally from Ghana and now lives in North Beach, Maryland. He is passionate about promoting reading, and supporting children's literature, and works with several non-profit organisations to help achieve this. This desire to help build children's characters through his wonderful stories shines through from the first page of this lovely story which I downloaded to read to my granddaughter.

It is the tale of a little sparrow who lives in the forest with lots of other animals. Every day she watches them as they diligently stock their larders with food, in preparation for the forthcoming drought. The other animals, and even her own family try and tell her that she needs to be prepared for the hard times ahead, but the little sparrow ignores them and thinks that she knows best - that is until the drought arrives...

Then, desperate for food she asks the other forest animals and birds for help, but only one would help her, the tortoise. Because of his kindness she survives the drought, however, despite her promise she has no intention of repaying Mr. Tortoise's kindness, and he is very unhappy when he discovers that he has been tricked.

Luckily, when he angrily relays his unhappiness to the owl, the wise bird offers him some good advice, and after consideration Mr. Tortoise takes it and discovers that the saying 'wise old owl' is true (although we don't know if this one really is old.)

What was the good advice, and what happened next? Well, to discover the answer to these questions and more you will have to read this wonderful heart-warming story yourself.
My granddaughter and I loved this enchanting yet educational story which has been beautifully illustrated by H. Likhon. The illustrator brings the authors wonderful forest creatures to life, and we are looking forward to reading more books in this lovely series.

Available from Amazon:

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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