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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 7 July 2017 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrea's Bookshelf Andy's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Grace's Bookshelf Joshua's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Mari's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf Moore's Bookshelf
Paul's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf
Suzie's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma and the Making of an American Epidemic
Alan Schwarz
c/o Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of The Americans, New York, N.Y. 10020
9781501105913, $28.00, 338pp, HC
9781501105920, $18.00, 352, PB
9781501105937, $14.99, eBook

Roger Keizerstein

One of the most profound developments in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry has been the recent medicalization of the "symptoms" associated with "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder."

Upon close inspection, "Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," is, at best, an artificial construct weakly supported by slight science; at worst, a fraud perpetuated on the public by a coterie of powerfully situated child psychiatrists and psychologists operating out of the most distinguished and respected medical institutions in the nation: Duke University School of Medicine, New York University Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. An unholy alliance between those institutions, their practitioners and the pharmaceutical industry made sure that Attention Deficit Disorder (1980) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (1994) made it into the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, enriching all concerned.

In his new book ADHD NATION: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic, author Alan Schwarz compiles a mountain of documentation that illustrates how the "science" underpinning ADHD does not justify its status as a psychiatric disorder--then surprisingly, near the end of the book, he pulls back Thor's Hammer and concludes that ADHD is here to stay and practitioners need to do a more judicious and discerning job of diagnosing it.

I know Alan Schwarz personally but we have not socialized since 2005. I have always admired his writing, especially his books on major league baseball, and more recently, his The New York Times exposes on the devastating affects of concussion on professional football players and the National Football League's attempt to conceal it. Mr. Schwarz's investigative reporting not only uncovered formerly unknown brain research but also kicked into high gear a nationwide discussion on the hazards of tackle football and whether or not parents should allow their children to play the game at all. The author brings great credibility to any subject, particularly the welfare of children.

Any analysis of the ADHD phenomenon must start with Dr. Charles Bradley and the children in his care at his residential treatment center in Rhode Island during the 1930's. Dr. Bradley, vexed by his inability to determine the organic nature of the children's impulsive behavior, attempted to get a clearer picture (x-ray) of their brains by performing spinal taps. This painful procedure not only failed to render any brain abnormalities but also left the children with chronic headaches.

To relieve the children's headaches Dr. Bradley decided to give them Benzedrine, an over the counter drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1936. Although the children's headaches did not dissipate, their behavior, most surprisingly, improved. Dr. Bradley observed a pronounced decrease in the children's impulsivity, allowing them to focus on and complete school assignments and to relate to others productively. Benzedrine, an amphetamine, "an upper," ironically, turned out to calm over active children down.

The medical community mostly ignored Dr. Bradley's findings on the use of Benzedrine to decrease impulsivity in children. The specter of giving drugs to children to treat impulsivity, in and of itself - no less a stimulant - was still socially abhorrent. Also, child psychiatry was still in its infancy and a much less sympathetic attitude toward unruly children, borne mostly of religious and moral codes, still prevailed.

It wasn't until the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, Edition II, published in 1968, that hyperactivity in children was recognized as a psychiatric disorder. It was called hyperkinetic reaction of childhood, or hyper kinesis, meaning over active muscles. This is a serious condition, impairing a child's ability to learn and form relationships. Imagine having to take care of or teach a child who reacts to external stimuli as if they were stuck in that developmental stage we affectionately call the terrible twos. The most nurturing parent, the most skilled and dedicated teacher, could quickly lose their patience and then lose their mind.

Dr. Bradley, perhaps more than anyone else in 1937 considered extreme impulsivity a neurological abnormality, not a moral failing of the child, (and in most cases, the family desperately trying to raise him), necessitating medical intervention. His attempts to get a clearer picture of their brains to see if there were any abnormalities - before giving the children Benzedrine for headaches - is evidence of this. Dr. Bradley would not have admitted a child into his facility simply because he was underperforming academically or was unable to sustain relationships. His criteria for admission was far greater impairment, least he divert resources from children truly in need of residential care.

The incidence of hyperactivity is difficult to empirically determine because the "condition" has been reformulated and renamed so many times. I believe that it is far less common than publicized. This summer will mark my 40th consecutive year working with children. I have worked in a mental health center, two therapeutic nursery schools, Head Start as a disability specialist and with hundreds of children in my private practice. I have given dozens of presentations on the parenting and teaching of children with special needs. I have only worked with a handful of hyperactive children and consulted with school districts regarding even fewer. And therein lies the rub. Or, if you prefer, therein lies my rub.

If hyperactivity were proven rare in children, as I suspect, the need and financial motivation to develop drugs to treat it would be minimal. Ritalin, chemically known as Methylphenidate, was approved by the FDA in 1955 and was usually the drug of choice to treat hyperactivity. Ritalin's efficacy was real, but prescriptions for Ritalin were relatively low and approved for adults only. The only way Ritalin or any other stimulant could be transformed into a blockbuster moneymaking drug was to create a wider market for it. Enter Dr. Conners.

The key figure in ADHD NATION is Dr. Keith Conners, the creator of the Conners Scale, a tool used by doctors, teachers and parents to assess the severity of behavior problems in children. At first it assessed for Minimal Brain Dysfunction (MBD); then Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD); after that Attention Deficit Disorder With or Without Hyperactivity (ADD/WH/WOH); and presently, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This evolution took 25 years.

Dr. Conners initially created his scale to assess the types of behaviors that Dr. Bradley encountered at his facility decades earlier. In fact, Dr. Conners attempted to replicate Dr. Bradley's drug studies at a psychiatric facility in Baltimore, Maryland. He gave 39 children Ritalin, 39 others a placebo. The results were striking: the children who received Ritalin improved behaviorally and academically, with minor side affects. (ADHD NATION did not report how the children given the placebo responded.) But keep in mind: these children had varying diagnoses and had behavior problems so severe that they couldn't be managed at home. Their parents had to give them up!

As the Connoers Scale made its way into the offices of pediatricians, school psychologists and the classrooms of elementary school teachers, the psychiatric establishment and the pharmaceutical industry joined forces to create a diagnosis that could capture more children and at the same time have some scientific validity. Attention deficit disorder was scientifically weak; its scientific underpinnings have always been soft. Buy hyperactivity - good old hyper kinesis - at least looked like a medical based condition, a "brain disorder", (although that hasn't been determined either).

Thus, in 1987 a wedding was arranged between Attention Deficit Disorder and Hyperactivity, creating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, and the rest is psychiatric and pharmaceutical history. Diagnoses soared and prescriptions sky-rocketed for the treatment of ADHD, peaking at 11% of the population of children between the ages of four and seventeen, 20% for boys and even higher rates of diagnosis and drug treatment in school districts in the South with higher percentages of African American children.

Even though ADD and ADHD have never been proven to be a psychiatric disorder by a preponderance of scientific evidence, at least two generations of pediatricians, teachers and an army of mental health professionals have acted as if the science underpinning ADD and ADHD were written in stone.

One startling and comical example of this lack of professional discipline is described in ADHD NATION, pages 67 and 68. In 1998, at a three day conference, held by the National Institutes of Health, brought together the country's leading experts on ADHD, including its godfather, the eminent Dr. Keith Conners. As the conference was wrapping up, a National Public Radio reporter asked the distinguished panelists "what does an ADHD child actually look like?"

The panel went silent. Minutes past. Panic setting in, someone summoned Mark Vonnegut, pediatrician and son of novelist Kurt Vonnegut, to give a description of what an ADHD child looks like. Maybe the son of a world-renowned writer of humorous science fiction novels could rescue them from complete and utter humiliation?

During an agonizing minute or two, Dr. Mark Vonnegut clumsily attempted to articulate an answer to a most simple question: What does an ADHD child actually look like?

"I think, I don't think the panel is saying anything different, although we've said it in more sophisticated ways, is the diagnosis is a mess," he concluded despondently.

The writer Philip Roth once said that truth is stranger than fiction, implying that novelists need not depend solely on their imaginations to conjure up material for their stories. This is certainly true. But when it comes to working with children - or anyone else - one's powers of imagination and creativity should be employed. Children with varying levels of attentiveness and physical reactivity that deviate from conventional norms should not be labeled disordered or treated as such. They should not - as if on an assembly line - be given pills or ushered off to special education classes to treat a so-called "brain disorder."

Children who find it difficult to concentrate on things that don't interest them, who are unable to overcome the boredom that a lack of interest imbues - need to have interactive classroom settings, teachers that are engaging and stimulating educational materials. (See Richard A. Friedman's A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D., The New York Times, October 31, 2014.) Video game computer learning in which a student achieves higher and higher levels as they deconstruct stories, score right answers in math or science and learn about our way of government or foreign lands, would be a good place to start. (See School Uses Video Games To Teach Thinking Skills, NPR, All Things Considered, June 28, 2010.)

Children who are more physically reactive should have educational programs that include a combination of innovative, easy-to-play sports activities and daily periods of yoga and meditation. They should learn the many simple ways in which they can reduce their anxiety, from counting backwards, naming states, temporarily sucking on a piece of peppermint candy to applying cold compresses to the back of their necks. Teaching children - when age appropriate - how and why the above interventions work - how certain parts of the brain modulate and manage emotion - and how they in turn can gain more control of their emotions can be incredibly empowering.

When it comes to preschoolers who are difficult to handle at home, parents should employ a schedule of constructive engagement. Although it feels like everything is going wrong, most parents can compile of list of activities that actually go right. Scheduling these positive activities - 20 minutes in length--into the structure of your day might help to alleviate the stress of having to care for a difficult child and prevent Mom or Dad from beginning to view their little one as the enemy.

What is absent from ADHD NATION is an analysis of the dramatic changes that have occurred in our culture during the last 25 years and how they have impacted our children and their ability to attend to conventional forms of schoolwork and work in general.

Children now have at their fingertips access to worlds of pleasure that were once unimaginable. It starts out with the remote control, then the mouse, then the IPod and IPad and finally the IPhone. Different forms of video game playing are the mainstay of their lives: hand held devices such as Nintendo's Game Boy and various DS's baby-sit children at risk of boredom in waiting rooms across the nation. Almost every home has a Sony Play Station, Wii System and/or Microsoft's Xbox. If the appropriateness of video game content sidetracks you, you'll miss the entire point. What all these devices have in common is the pleasurable stimulation of the senses.

By the time the average American male reaches Middle school he is sufficiently habituated to the pleasure "gaming" induces. Classroom work, homework assignments or studying pale in comparison to the many pleasurable activities at his immediate disposal. I argue that the baby boomer generation never faced such a stark dichotomy between work and play. Play was never as stimulating and pleasurable, thus schoolwork didn't become so burdensome or downright painful. When baby boomers complained of boredom they were usually told by their parents to go out and play or to use their imagination.

When baby boomers struggled in high school they were directed toward the trades by their guidance counselors or were encouraged to take civil service exams upon graduation.

The pressure on children to go college these days is overdone and the stress embedded in the college application process is unnecessary. The permissive use of Adderall in high schools and colleges as a way to achieve grades that too often other people - parents, misguided guidance counselors and pediatricians - want young people to achieve is disturbing to say the least.

Accepting a child, for who they are, strengths and weaknesses, is essential to good parenting, to good loving. Expecting a child to be someone who they are not and, in too many cases, forcing them to take medication for a brain disorder they do not have, puts the child at risk of being negated for who they are. Are there no future negative ramifications of that?

Although ADHD NATION does not provide an analysis of how social and cultural changes have shaped the lives of children and have impacted their ability to concentrate on that which doesn't interest or stimulate them, it is nonetheless a must read for all mental health professionals whether or not they work with children. I can only hope, as the author barnstorms the country promoting his book, that when he encounters the elites of the psychiatric establishment and the executives representing the pharmaceutical industry, he doesn't play nice with the truth about ADHD - a truth he so passionately articulates in these splendid pages.

The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman
Robin Gregory
Gatekeeper Press
9781942545002, $26.00 HC, $14.00 PB, 294pp,

Kirkus Review

In this YA coming-of-age novel, a disabled boy goes to live on his grandfather's farm, meets a mysterious clan, and discovers special powers.

All Moojie wants to do is belong, but he never seems to fit in. Discovered as a foundling in a small California coastal town in 1892 - with the name "Moojie" scrawled on his forehead - he's adopted by the Littlemans. As a very small child, he can make objects fly using only his mind, among other unusual abilities. But he "didn't talk or walk when he should have," and "his left arm seemed only half-awake"; he needs crutches and leg braces as well, which disappoints his Papa. Moojie grows up lonely with only one friend: a deaf cat named Phineas. His warm, loving Mamma dies when he's 8, and Papa takes the boy and his cat to his father Pappy's place, St. Isidore's Fainting Goat Dairy in the Valley of Sorrows.

Although he's warned against Hostiles in the surrounding wilderness, Moojie - now a teenager - glimpses a barefoot girl stealing eggs, and he's determined to know more: "He ached for friendship, to be a valued member of something. That girl couldn't have been alone." He seeks out her clan; they come from far away, speak in riddles, address Moojie as "my lord," and have much to teach him. He falls for Babylonia, the beautiful egg-stealer, and discovers within himself the ability to heal animals and people - but when trouble brews on several fronts, Moojie faces a difficult choice.

Gregory's debut novel weaves together familiar elements, such as an outcast with special powers, in unexpected ways. Moojie is endearing and sympathetic but never infantilized because of his disability. Despite the book's many serious themes, which Gregory handles well, it also has a light touch. The author's verbal playfulness adds to the book's fun, as when an aunt swallows Moojie "in a pentamorous hug, her body all tentacles and suction." The book's mysticism is lucidly presented, and its magical realism is effective, moving, and heartening.

A lively, original take on a story of a boy with more limits - and more magic - than most.

The World To Love and Not To Love
Horace E. Allen
Redemption Press
PO Box 427, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781683142140, $18.99, PB, 256pp
9781683142164, $9.99, eBook

Helen Cook

I had the privilege of receiving an advanced reading copy of "The World to Love and Not to Love" by Horace E. Allen. After reading this book I was amazed to realize the things of the world that I still loved that were against God's desire for us. Even Jesus' disciples tried to guilt Him from time to time.

The purpose of this work is to bring about greater awareness of the world Christians should love and the world they should not love. Its driving force began as a contemplation of 1 John 2:15 - 17, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." In the process of contemplation, it became clear to me that there was fogginess in the minds of Christians regarding the idea of "the world."

For the most part, Christians do not see how their social lives, entertainment, and politics define their world, and there is little difference between how some Christians and non-Christians live their lives. Both groups engage in the same social activities, enjoy the same entertainment, and choose their political stance on the same basis. It became clear that there is a need to define what the apostle John meant by the world we should not love. - from the introduction by Horace E. Allen

This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and I highly recommend it.

The Altar Boy
Phil Stephens
Phil Stephens Publications
9780997874501, $16.99, PB, 270 pages

Lois Baldridge, Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars

Quite nostalgic in that the events described during this time period are familiar and sparked old memories. The implications of the story were sad, dark in some instances, with long lasting consequences of people's choices and behavior, mis and non communication that impacted on everyone, as well as delightfully funny while participating in church as an altar boy. It moved along steadily and was insightful from a youthful viewpoint maturing into adulthood. I'd love to read a many unanswered questions that tie into an ending that left me wondering what happened. Well done!

Destiny to Willow
Colleen Hallas Bender
Montgomery Publishing
PO Box 188 Glen Campbell, PA 15701
9781537642376, $12.99, PB, 344 pages,

Mary Ann Laird

Destiny to Willow is a delightful tale about a lovely village, charming bed and breakfast and a host of tender hearted neighbors. Colleen Bender creates a comforting escape to a peaceful surrounding that warms your heart and makes you smile. Highly recommended!

Good Lies and Bad Lies
Robert Morocco
Montgomery Publishing
PO Box 188 Glen Campbell, PA 15701

Brenda Arnold

Good Lies and Bad Lies is a deftly created and well told story of corruption in local government. It had a very real feel and I would highly recommend to the legal thriller reader.

To Catch the Conscience of the King
Martin White
DiButrio Books
9781326553999, 9.99 Brit. pounds, 218pp,

Steph Coleman

Review: "I really enjoyed "To Catch the Conscience of a King". I enjoy historical fiction on occasion, but hadn't read any in a while, and nothing on Edward II, so I thought I'd give this one by Martin White a try. I'm not one for rehashing the plot (that's what the summary is for on the book description page), but it encompassed far more than I thought it would. It's not a fast and easy read by any stretch, but it will take you through whole different lives and experiences that you've never thought of before. I felt a connection with each of these characters that I didn't expect, and I thought the author's narrative prose was some of the best and most authentic I've read in a while, the way he brought the scenes to life, and the attention to historical and cultural details that gave this story genuine authenticity. World building is absolutely crucial in selling a believable historical fiction that can entertain yet stay true to the "facts" and realities of the past (in this case there are real historical figures and events mixed with fictional characters and events). Not only did I really enjoy reading this, I actually feel like I learned something more about this time period that I didn't know before. The flow was perfect, and keeps us hooked right until the end. Very literary, almost poetic writing and near flawless editing. Highly recommended for fans of historical fictions. (5 stars)."

Andrea's Bookshelf

Local Eats Paris: A Traveler's Guide
Natasha McGuiness, author
Anne Bentley, illustrator
Yellow Pear Press
9780997066425, $14.95, PB, 96pp,

"Local Eats Paris: A Traveler's Guide" by Natasha McGuiness is the perfect traveling companion for tourists and residents exploring the City of Lights, as well as armchair travelers simply delighted by all things French. The fabulous food found in the patisseries, bistros, fromageries, marches, cafes and more are described in delectable detail and accompanied by charming illustrations by Anne Bentley. A handy guide to ordering a meal, offering a description of favorite French cheeses, showcasing perfect picnic food pairings, and a 'what's what' of market food can all be found in the pages of this lovely and practical guide to Parisian gastronomy. The small format makes it the perfect guidebook to tuck into purse or backpack. Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Local Eats Paris: A Traveler's Guide" is an especially recommended addition to personal and community library European Travel Guide collections in general, and Parisian itinerary planning in particular.

Hitchin' Post
Julie Barker, author
Carolyn Altman, illustrator
Liferich Publishing
9781489708755, $26.99, HC,

Hard work and the cowboy life on the 6B's Ranch is nothing new to old jackrabbit Hitchin' Post. As he watches his beloved ranch go through a terrible drought, Hitch begins to look at life in a different way. He learns that despite challenges, there is always something to be thankful for. "Hitchin' Post", written by Julie Barker and illustrated by Carolyn Altman, is a unique and impressively entertaining read for children from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for family, school, and community library collections, and all the more impressive considering that "Hitchin' Post" marks Julie's debut into the world of children's literature, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hitchin' Post" is also available in a paperback edition ($18.99).

Andrea Kay

Andy's Bookshelf

101 Things That Piss Me Off
Herb Reich
Racehorse Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781631581885 $9.99

101 Things That Piss Me Off And Thousands Of Other Things That Suck Just As Much is a whimsical book about frustrating, obnoxious, inexplicable, or ridiculous things about modern-day life. The first 119 pages are a straight-up list of sanity-eroding irritations, from "the way my clothes shrink every year" to "my environmentalist neighbors who have their lawn sprayed commercially every month". Subsequent sections are collections of 100% sourced, bizzarely infuriating quotes from politicians ("The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It's only the people who make them unsafe." -Frank Rizzo, former police chief and major of Philadelphia); Great Denials in History ("I am not a wimp." -Adlai Stevenson, Illinois gubernatorial candidate), complaints at how new words and phrases in English have arisen to obfuscate the meaning of the old (such as "collateral damage" for "civilians killed in war"), and panning of formulaic television and movie plots. 101 Things That Piss Me Off lives up to its title and more, and is a fun read to blow off steam, or marvel at the human race's capacity for hypocrisy!

Nationalist Heroines
Olga Jimenez de Wagenheim
Markus Wiener Publishers
231 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
9781558766198 $26.95

Nationalist Heroines: Puerto Rican Women History Forgot, 1930s-1950s tells the true stories of Puerto Rican women who resisted American colonial rule in the decades spanning the 1930s to the 1950s. This resistance included armed rebellion and a plot to assassinate President Truman. Some of the women ultimately received a life sentence in prison for their nationalist actions. Extensive notes round out this exhaustively researched, meticulously presented, and utterly fascinating compendium.

A film by Handl Klaus
First Run Features
630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213, New York, NY 10036

Tomcat is a dark movie about a well-off gay couple, Andreas and Stefan, who live in Vienna's beautiful vineyards with their beloved pet tomcat Moses. A sudden and utterly inexplicable outburst of violence destroys the cat, leaving behind pain, misery, and desperation. Tomcat is an intense scrutiny of the darkness within the human soul, as well as the long and difficult effort to reform oneself amid soul-crushing remorse. It should be noted that Tomcat contains nudity and explicit sexual situations, and is a film intended for mature audiences. 118 min., German language with English subtitles.

Andy Jordan

Bethany's Bookshelf

Women, Work, and Economic Growth
Kalpana Kochlar, Sonali Jain-Chandra, Monique Newiak, editors
International Monetary Fund
PO Box 92780, Washington, DC 20090
9781513516103, $30.00, PB, 180pp,

Synopsis: Statistically, women make up a little over half of the world's population, but their contribution to measured economic activity and growth is far below its potential -- including the gender differential between men and women with similar employments in the United States. Despite significant progress in recent decades, labor markets across the world remain divided along gender lines, and progress toward gender equality seems to have stalled. The challenges of growth, job creation, and inclusion are closely intertwined. "Women, Work, and Economic Growth" brings together key research by International Monetary Fund economists on issues related to gender and macroeconomics. In addition to providing policy prescriptions and case studies from IMF member countries, the individual chapters also look at the gender gap from an economic point of view.

Critique: Comprised of twelve erudite and seminal articles by experts in their fields, "Women, Work, and Economic Growth" is a seminal body of work that is enhanced with the inclusion of an informative introduction by Christine Lagarde, a listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a fifteen page index. While strongly and unreservedly recommended for college and academic library Economics collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Women, Work, and Economic Growth" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.49).

Haunted Inside Passage
Bjorn Dihle
Graphic Arts Books
PO Box 56118, Portland, OR 97238-6118
9781943328963, $34.99, HC, 220pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and written by Bjorn Dihle, "Haunted Inside Passage: Ghosts, Legends, and Mysteries of Southeast Alaska" is collection of twenty stories showcasing the supernatural legends and unsolved mysteries of Southeast Alaska, with a focus on the region between Yakutat and Petersburg, where the author has lived his entire life, writing, teaching, guiding, commercial fishing, and investigating ghost stories.

Each individual chapter is rooted in Bjorn's own adventures and will intertwine fascinating history, interviews, and his reflections. "Haunted Inside Passage" ranges from legends such as Alexander Baranov, Soapy Smith, James Wickersham, and the Koshdaa Ka (Kushtaka), to lesser known but fascinating characters like "Naked" Joe Knowles and purported serial killer Ed Krause. From duplicitous if not downright diabolical humans to demons of the fjords and deep seas and cryptids of the forest, Bjorn presents a lively cross-section of the haunter and the haunted found in Alaska's Inside Passage.

Critique: An absolutely riveting read from beginning to end, "Haunted Inside Passage" is a 'must read' for anyone with an interest in the supernatural history of Alaska's Inside Passage. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Haunted Inside Passage" is also available in a paperback edition (9781943328949, $16.99).

From Fear to Love
Donna Lynn
Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 754, Huntsville, AR 72740
9781940265407, $11.00, PB, 110pp,

Synopsis: What would you ask if you could talk to the beings who inhabit your worst nightmares? And what would you do if they answered? From the time she was a small child, Donna Lynn experienced night terrors that were so disturbing they affected her waking life and relationships.

Eventually she chose to consciously venture into that territory of the unknown to do battle with otherworldly beings who had haunted her dreams since childhood?only to find out they were not here to do battle at all. They came with powerful messages of love and healing on both personal and planetary levels.

The underlying message from Donna Lynn throughout "From Fear to Love: My Private Journey" is one of hope that we as a species can overcome the pervasive consciousness of fear and anxiety in our world today.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and ultimately inspiring read, "From Fear to Love: My Private Journey" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "From Fear to Love: My Private Journey" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.61).

Hope in the Hood
Shirley Alarie & Colleen Adams
Privately Published
9780996808767, $14.95, PB, 197pp,

Synopsis: Imagine a world where children's role models are drug addicts and criminals. Where attending funerals of their friends seems as commonplace as hanging out at the mall and taking out the trash might result in being shot to death. Where electricity and functional plumbing aren't guaranteed. Is this some war-torn country or maybe a struggling third world nation? No. Such is the life of poverty-stricken inner city America today.

By stark contrast, Colleen Adams hailed from the racially segregated south in the 1940's and climbed her way to the elite end of the social scale. But after accomplishing hollow success as a fashion and publishing marketing executive, Colleen heeded her life's calling to tackle the hopelessness and despair of disenfranchised inner-city young men. But could one person provide the means for youth from the most crime-ridden and poverty-stricken neighborhoods to actually achieve the American Dream?

"Hope in the Hood: A U-Turn Out of Inner City Poverty and Crime with Empowered Youth USA" is a raw and emotional account of one woman's dream to offer a path out of poverty and crime, proving that one drop, even in the ocean, creates an expanding ripple.

With incredible insight and determination, Colleen carved an innovative path of hope by establishing Empowered Youth USA, but was ultimately forced to choose between the young men she had come to love and the financial security of her lucrative career. Would she turn her back on the boys?

With "Hope in the Hood", author Shirley Alarie (with the assistance of Colleen Adams) conveys the raw and emotional struggles and successes through the voices of the young men, and the magic as seen through their mentors and judicial system experts including valuable judicial insight is provided by criminal justice experts Carlos Martinez, Chief Public Defender, Miami-Dade County; Todd Bass, Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office: Juvenile Division; and Marie Osborne, Chief Assistant Public Defender. Foreword by Dave Lawrence, Jr.

Critique: An inherently absorbing and impressively informative read from beginning to end, "Hope in the Hood: A U-Turn Out of Inner City Poverty and Crime with Empowered Youth USA" is an extraordinary story that is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Contemporary Social Issues and Race Relations collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Hope in the Hood" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Tablets of Light
Danielle Rama Hoffman
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591432814, $20.00, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: Within each of us resides a diamond light seed of Divine consciousness, waiting to be activated. Transmitted to Danielle Rama Hoffman by Thoth, keeper of the Akashic Records and member of the Council of Light, the teachings that comprise "The Tablets of Light" enable each of us to reactivate the Divine consciousness that inhabits our souls and transition from separation consciousness into unity consciousness.

Engaging the reader in a multidimensional conversation directly with Thoth, each tablet transmission in "The Tablets of Light" includes embedded light codes of high vibrational energy and consciousness, which activate hidden keys to conscious evolution within your soul. Offering the opportunity to leave behind and evolve outdated ways of being, such as acting from fear, being restrained by self-consciousness, and hiding your brilliance, the teachings of the Tablets of Light enable the reader to awaken oracular vision, re-establish quantum consciousness, become vibrationally autonomous, and activate our Divine Light Body.

Including breathing exercises, hologram-inspired visualizations, and unity consciousness practices, "The Tablets of Light" allows the reader to create tangible results in their daily life as you move higher on the evolutionary scale of divine awakening and develop a divine partnership with Source. Guided by Thoth and his Tablets of Light, the reader will rediscover the undiluted version of themself and their soul's purpose, accept their Divine Light Mission as a Divine Incarnate, and set the stage to return in the next life as a fully resurrected Being of Light.

Critique: Danielle Rama Hoffman is a divine transmitter and scribe of ancient and innovative wisdoms for the purpose of elevating consciousness and inspiring personal growth. She is a leader in the shift into unity consciousness, living from joy, purpose and prosperity as divine creator beings. In "The Tablets of Light" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to present a uniquely informed and informative contribution to New Age, Spirituality, and Metaphysical Science collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of those seeking to awaken an oracular vision, re-establish quantum consciousness, activate their Divine Light Body, access spiritual energy technologies, and rediscover the undiluted version of themselves and their soul's purpose, that "The Tablets of Light" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Digestive Health Solution
Benjamin I. Brown, ND
Exisle Publishing
9781925335385, $14.99, PB, 272pp,

Synopsis: Benjamin Brown is a naturopath, science writer and speaker. He is a lecturer and on the advisory boards at the UK College of Nutrition and Health (BCNH) and guest lectures at various educational institutions and in university settings. In "The Digestive Health Solution" he takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery towards personalized, effective natural solutions for optimal digestive health.

Such symptoms as stomach cramps, pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation are collectively called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and affect 1 in 4 people. People can suffer tremendously from these symptoms, which often are not simply a digestive issue but also related to severe fatigue, muscle pain, headaches, depression and anxiety.

Remarkably, IBS symptoms are still considered an enigma with no known cause; but in fact extensive research has uncovered numerous ways to resolve them and enhance digestive health. "The Digestive Health Solution" explores the mind/body connection, food intolerance, gluten sensitivity, dietary changes and key issues in the digestive system and provides practical ways to transform your digestive health.

"The Digestive Health Solution" looks at research on popular natural medicines, sifting fact from fiction, and uncovering evidence-based, safe treatments that can enhance your digestion and improve, or even eliminate, symptoms fast. Using a personalized approach you can then follow an easy five-step plan for quick symptom relief, improve your health from the inside out and enjoy better digestive health, for life.

This newly updated and expanded second edition includes updated information on gut bacteria and parasites, the FODMAP diet, additives and preservatives, and a diet summary table.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Digestive Health Solution" is a complete course of study under one cover and very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general, and the IBS supplemental studies lists in particular for anyone, especially the non-specialist general reader, having to deal with this medical condition.

Zen Echoes
Beata Grant, translator
Wisdom Publications
199 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
9781614291879, $16.95, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: Too often the history of Zen Buddhism seems to be written as an unbroken masculine line: male teacher to male student. Aptly translated into English for a contemporary readership by Beata Grant (Professor of Chinese and Religious Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Washington University), "Zen Echoes: Classic Koans with Verse Commentaries by Three Female Chan Masters" shows us that women masters in Buddhism have existed down through the centuries from antiquity to the present day.

"Zen Echoes" is a collection of classic koans drawn from Zen Buddhism's Chinese history that were first collected and commented on by Miaozong, a twelfth-century nun so adept that her teacher, the legendary Dahui Zonggao, used to tell other students that perhaps if they practiced hard enough, they might be as realized as her. Nearly five hundred years later, the seventeenth-century nuns Baochi and Zukui added their own commentaries to the collection. The three voices (distinct yet harmonious) remind us that enlightenment is at once universal and individual.

In her introduction to her outstanding translation, Professor Grant tells us that the verses composed by these women provide evidence that -- "In a religious milieu made up overwhelmingly of men, there were women who were just as dedicated to Chan practice, just as advanced in their spiritual realization, and just as gifted at using language to convey that which is beyond language."

Critique: Enhanced with an informative Foreword by Susan Moon; a deftly presented Preface by Layman Zhang Dayuan; a two page listing of Abbreviations; a two page Bibliography; and a ten page Index, "Zen Echoes: Classic Koans with Verse Commentaries by Three Female Chan Masters" is a critical and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Zen Buddhism collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Zen Echoes" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Don't Settle
Scott Carroll M.D.
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504368094, $31.95, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: With teenage marriages having a 70% divorce rate, and marriages in general having a 50% divorce rate, getting (and staying) happily married is probably one of the hardest things most of us will ever attempt. In fact, marriage is so challenging that you have to marry well to start with to even have a chance of success. Even worse, the advice you've heard all your life is either wrong or at best incomplete.

Heartbroken after his second divorce, Dr. Scott Carroll was determined to solve the puzzle of how to have a successful marriage. Drawing on his professional expertise as a psychiatrist and a wealth of field research, he has written "Don't Settle: How to Marry the Man You Were Meant For" featuring a powerful yet simple system for finding your perfect match.

Using neuroscience, genetics, behavioral science, psychology, and Dr. Carroll's work with shamans and other spiritual healers, "Don't Settle" will teach you how to -marry- science with spirituality to attract the perfect man for you - the man you were meant for - and how to get him to the altar in as little as a year.

"Don't Settle" reveals: why the usual advice doesn't work; why amazing chemistry is a bad sign; what type of man is perfectly suited for you; how to energetically attract him; how to know he's really -the one; and how to get him to the altar!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, as well as thoroughly 'user friendly' in tone and practical in application, "Don't Settle" is especially recommended to the attention of anyone who has grown tired of the singles scene and frustrated by failed attempts at love. Offering a pragmatic, sensible, constructive, step-by-step, complete solution and alternative for women ages 18 to 88 who are 'looking for love in all the wrong places', "Don't Settle" is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Don't Settle" is also available in a paperback edition (9781504368100, $14.95) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up
Niklas Zetterling
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781612004600, $32.95, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: "Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up" by Niklas Zetterling (a military historian and researcher at the Swedish Defense College) is an examination of the German Blitzkrieg operations from Poland to Operation Barbarossa, as experienced by junior commanders and enlisted men, exploring why they were so successful.

The successes of the German Blitzkrieg in 1939 - 41 were as surprising as they were swift. Allied decision-makers wanted to discover the secret to German success quickly, even though only partial, incomplete information was available to them. The false conclusions drawn became myths about the Blitzkrieg that have lingered for decades. It has been argued that German victories in the early part of the war rested less upon newly developed tanks and aircraft and more on German military traditions: rather than creating a new way of war based on new technology, the Germans fitted the new weapons into their existing ideas on warfare.

These doctrines focused on independent action, initiative, flexibility, decentralized decision-making and mobility. The conduct of German soldiers, particularly the lower-ranking men, on the battlefield was at the core of the concept and German victories rested upon the quality of the small combat units.

"Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up" focuses on the experience of the enlisted men and junior officers in the Blitzkrieg operations in Poland, Norway, Western Europe and Russia. Using accounts previously unpublished in English, military historian Niklas Zetterling explores how they operated, for example how a company commander led his tanks, how a crew worked together inside a tank, and the role of the repair services. Zetterling aptly fits these narratives into a broader perspective to give the reader a better understanding of why the Germans were so successful in the Blitzkrieg operations of 1939-1941.

Critique: A work of simply outstanding scholarship, "Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up" is enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-two pages of Notes, an eight page Bibliography, and a four page Index. Informed and informative, impressively researched, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up" is a seminal work that is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library World War II Military History collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Blitzkrieg: From the Ground Up" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Prairie Defender
George R. Dekle, Sr.
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive
SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809335978, $34.50, HC, 248pp,

Synopsis: According to conventional wisdom, Abraham Lincoln spent most of his law career collecting debt and representing railroads, and this focus made him inept at defending clients in homicide cases. "Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln" is an unprecedented study of Lincoln's criminal cases, in which George Dekle (who worked as an assistant state attorney in the Third Judicial Circuit of Florida, where he prosecuted hundreds of homicide cases, and for the past ten years he served as the director of the prosecution clinic at the University of Florida Law School) disproves these popular notions, showing that Lincoln was first and foremost a trial lawyer. Through careful examination of Lincoln's homicide cases and evaluation of his legal skills, Dekle demonstrates that criminal law was an important part of Lincoln's practice, and that he was quite capable of defending people accused of murder, trying approximately one such case per year. After more than 150 years it is remarkable that there is still more to be discovered and written about the life and accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln.

Critique: "Prairie Defender" is an impressively researched, exceptionally well written, informatively organized and presented work of seminal scholarship. The result is a unique and singular study that will prove to be an outstanding and appreciated contribution to community and academic library 19th Century American History collections in general, and Abraham Lincoln supplemental studies reading lists in particular. Highly recommended.

Through an Indian's Looking-Glass
Drew Lopenzina
University of Massachusetts Press
PO Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004
9781625342584, $90.00, HC, 310pp,

Synopsis: Rescued from an undeserved obscurity, "Through an Indian's Looking-Glass: A Cultural Biography of William Apess, Pequot" is a detailed account of William Apess (1798 - 1839), who was a Pequot Indian, a Methodist preacher, and a widely celebrated writer of his time. Biographer Drew Openzina (Assistant Professor of English at Old Dominion University) provides a lens through which to comprehend the complex dynamics of indigenous survival and resistance in the era of America's early nationhood.

Apess's life intersects with multiple aspects of indigenous identity and existence in this period, including indentured servitude, slavery, service in the armed forces, syncretic engagements with Christian spirituality, and Native struggles for political and cultural autonomy. Even more, Apess offers a powerful and provocative voice for the persistence of Native presence in a time and place that was long supposed to have settled its "Indian question" in favor of extinction.

Through meticulous archival research, close readings of Apess's key works, and informed and imaginative speculation about his largely enigmatic life, "Through an Indian's Looking-Glass" provides a vivid portrait of this singular Native American figure.

Critique: Impressively well researched, written, organized and presented, new biography will sit alongside Apess's own writings as vital reading for anyone interested in early America and indigenous peoples. Of special note is the Conclusion (He Possessed the Real Traits of the Indian Character). Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-eight pages of Notes and a four page Index, "Through an Indian's Looking-Glass" is an especially recommended addition to community and academic library American History and Native American History collections in general, and supplemental studies lists about the Pequot Indians or William Apess in particular. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Through an Indian's Looking-Glass" is also available in a paperback edition (9781625342591, $29.95).

Information Literacy in the Workplace
Marc Forster, editor
Facet Publishing
9781783301331, $131.50, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Dr Marc Forster (a librarian at the University of West London, looking after the needs of the College of Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare), "Information Literacy in the Workplace" is comprised of eleven expert articles that collectively explains how information literacy (IL) is essential to the contemporary workplace and is fundamental to competent, ethical and evidence-based practice.

In today's information-driven workplace, information professionals must know when research evidence or relevant legal, business, personal or other information is required, how to find it, how to critique it and how to integrate it into their knowledge base. To fail to do so may result in defective and unethical practice which could have devastating consequences for clients or employers.

There is an ethical requirement for information professionals to meet best practice standards to achieve the best outcome possible for the client. This demands highly focused and complex information searching, assessment and critiquing skills.

Using a range of new perspectives, the contributors to "Information Literacy in the Workplace" demonstrates several aspects of IL's presence and role in the contemporary workplace, including IL's role in assuring competent practice, its value to employers as a return on investment, and its function as an ethical safeguard in the duty and responsibilities professionals have to clients, students and employers.

The eleven chapters are contributed by a range of international experts, including Christine Bruce, Bonnie Cheuk and Annemaree Lloyd, with a foreword from Jane Secker. "Information Literacy in the Workplace" provides examination of the value and impact of IL in the workplace; how IL is experienced remotely, beyond workplace boundaries; IL's role in professional development; organizational learning and knowledge creation; developing information professional competencies; how to unlock and create value using IL in the workplace.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Information Literacy in the Workplace" will prove to be applicably useful for librarians and LIS students in understanding how information literacy is experienced by the professions they support and academics teaching professional courses. It will also be of interest to professionals (e.g. medical, social care, legal and business based) and their employers in showing that IL is essential to best practice and key to ethical practice. While strongly and unreservedly recommended for both college and university library Information Library Science and Technology collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for students, librarians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Information Literacy in the Workplace" is also available in a paperback edition (9781783301324, $80.00).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness
Gordon C. Stewart
Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 West 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene, OR 97401-2960
9781532600678, $41.00, HC, 190pp,

Synopsis: In "Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness", author and public theologian "Gordon C. Stewart echoes the call of the Navajo sage and the psalmist who invited their hearers to stop -- "If we keep going this way, we're going to get where we're going" -- and be still -- "Be still, and know. . . .".

Like pictures in a photo album taken from a unique lens, the 48 succinctly presented essays zoom in on singular moments of time where the world is making headlines, drawing attention to the sin of exceptionalism in its national, racial, religious, cultural, and species manifestations.

Informed by Japanese Christian theologian Kosuke Koyama, Elie Wiesel, Wendell Berry, and others, "Be Still!" invites the reader to slow down, be still, and depart from "collective madness" before the Navajo sage is right. Told in the voice familiar to listeners of All Things Considered and Minnesota Public Radio, these poetic essays sometimes feel as familiar as an old family photo album, but the pictures themselves are taken from a thought-provoking angle.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "Be Still!: Departure from Collective Madness" is an extraordinary read that is enhanced for scholarship with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography and a twelve page Index. While unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Be Still!" is also available in a paperback edition (9781532600654, $21.00) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

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

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

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

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

Critique: Featuring a listing of the contributors and their credentials, "Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity" is comprised of twelve articles of seminal scholarship that will prove to be of immense interest to scholars and students with an interest in entrepreneurship and the role of gender in business. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Gender and Entrepreneurial Activity" is recognized as a critically important and ground-breaking core addition to both college and university library Contemporary Economics collections in general, and Gender Studies supplemental reading lists in particular.

Iran's Great Invasion and Why It's Next in Bible Prophecy
Mark Davidson
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781512775389, $9.95, PB, 82pp,

Synopsis: What if you stumbled across a message, a simple interpretation of scripture, much simpler than scholars had been telling us, and it opened your eyes and completely transformed your perspective of the end times? You knew in your heart and mind it was true because news events coming from the Middle East confirmed this message every day. What if millions of lives were about to be deeply affected and someone had to say something? And what if that someone had to be you? What would you do?

What Mark Davidson did is to sit down and write "Iran's Great Invasion and Why It's Next in Bible Prophecy" with a special focus on four events leading up to the biblically prophesied Tribulation. Using fictional dialog between two characters, "Iran's Great Invasion and Why It's Next in Bible Prophecy" tells the story of the next great event to occur in Biblical prophecy -- Iran's invasion of the Middle East as predicted in Daniel 8.

Critique: An inherently compelling read from beginning to end, especially in light of today's international conditions in the Middle East, "Iran's Great Invasion and Why It's Next in Bible Prophecy" is an especially recommended addition to personal reading lists for all Christians, regardless of their denominational affiliation, who have an interest in the coming Latter Days that will, of necessity, precede the second coming of Christ.

Compassionate Soldier
Jerry Borrowman
Shadow Mountain Publishing
P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City, Utah 84130-0178
9781629722924, $19.99, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: "Compassionate Soldier: Remarkable True Stories of Mercy, Heroism, and Honor from the Battlefield" by Jerry Borrowman illuminates some of the most fascinating and yet largely unknown stories of men and women whose humanity led them to perform courageous acts of mercy and compassion amid the chaos and carnage of war. Chronologically arranged by war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War (and global in perspective), "Compassionate Soldier" features extraordinary stories of grace under fire from valiant soldiers and noncombatants who rose above the inhumanity of lethal conflict and chose compassion, even knowing their actions could put their lives and liberty at risk.

Included in this outstanding collection are the stories of Richard Kirkland, a Confederate soldier during the Civil War who disobeyed orders and brought blankets and water to the wounded from both North and South during the Battle of Fredericksburg; Patrick Ferguson, a British soldier during the American Revolution who had the chance to kill George Washington, but refused to shoot a man in the back; and Oswald Boelcke, a German WWI flying ace who was one of the most influential tacticians of early air combat, but was known for making sure the airmen he shot down made it to the ground alive.

These inspirational stories illustrate that even in the midst of unspeakable horrors of war, acts of kindness, mercy, compassion, and humanity can prevail and, in doing so, expand our conventional thinking of honor and battlefield glory.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Compassionate Soldier: Remarkable True Stories of Mercy, Heroism, and Honor from the Battlefield" is a unique, extraordinary, and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Military History collections and supplemental studies lists. Simply stated, "Compassionate Solider" is one of those books that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Compassionate Soldier" is also available in a Kindle format ($16.14). Librarians should be aware that "Compassionate Soldier" is available as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781504795210, $19.95, MP3CD).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Photography and American Coloniality
Raoul J. Granqvist
Michigan State University Press
1405 South Harrison Road, Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5245
9781611862362, $39.95, HC, 348pp,

Synopsis: In "Photography and American Coloniality: Eliot Elisofon in Africa, 1942 - 1972", Raoul J. Granqvist (Professor Emeritus of English at the Department of Language Studies, Ume University) is the first to question the underlying assumptions of colonialist mythologies as represented by the work of photographer Eliot Elisofon persist.

Professor Granqvist documents and discusses a heterogeneous practice of American coloniality of power as he explores Elisofon's career as war photographer-correspondent and staff photographer for LIFE, filmmaker, author, artist, and collector of "primitive art" and sculpture.

"Photography and American Coloniality" focuses on three areas: Elisofon's narcissism, voyeurism, and sexism; his involvement in the homogenizing of Western social orders and colonial legacies; and his enthused mission of "sending home" a mass of still-life photographs, annexed African artifacts, and assumed vintage knowledge.

"Photography and American Coloniality" does not challenge Elisofan's artistic merit or his fascinating personality; what it does question is his production and imagining of "difference". As the text travels from World War II to colonialism, postcolonialism, and the Cold War, from Casablanca to Leopoldville (Kinshasa), it proves to be a necessarily strenuous and provocative trip.

Critique: Enhanced for scholarship with the inclusion of an appendix (LIFE Photo Essays by or with Eliot Elisofon); forty-six pages of Notes; a sixteen page Bibliography, and a twelve page Index, "Photography and American Coloniality: Eliot Elisofon in Africa, 1942 - 1972" is an extraordinary, original, and seminal work that is exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented. While very highly recommended, especially for college and university library History of Photography collections in general, and Eliot Elisofon supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Photography and American Coloniality" is also available in a Kindle format ($31.95).

Land!: The Case for an Agrarian Economy
John Crowe Ransom
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
9780268101930, $25.00, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: John Crowe Ransom (1888 - 1974) was an American poet and critic whose book "The New Criticism" (1941) provided the name of the influential mid-twentieth-century school of criticism. He taught English at Vanderbilt University and Kenyon College where he founded and edited the literary magazine The Kenyon Review. He published numerous volumes of poetry

As a teacher at Vanderbilt University he was also a leading member of the Southern Agrarian movement and a contributor to the movement's manifesto I'll Take My Stand. Professor Ransom's "Land!: The Case for an Agrarian Economy" is a previously unpublished work that unites Ransom's poetic sensibilities with an examination of economics at the height of the Great Depression.

Politically charged with Professor Ransom's aesthetic beliefs about literature and his agrarian interpretation of economics, "Land!" was long thought to have been burned by its author after he failed to find a publisher. Thankfully, the manuscript was discovered, and we are now able to read this unique and interesting contribution to the Southern Agrarian revival.

"Land!" presents the weaknesses inherent in capitalism and argues convincingly that socialism is not only an inadequate alternative but inimical to American sensibilities. Professor Ransom proposes instead that agrarianism, which could flourish alongside capitalism, would relieve the problems of unemployment and the "permanently unemployed". In particular, he argues that what he calls the "amphibian farmer" (one who can survive in both a monetary and a non-monetary economy) would never, so long as he relied on himself for necessities, have to fear unemployment. America, Professor Ransom claims, is unique in offering this opportunity because, unlike in European countries, land is plentiful.

Critique: An extraordinary and long thought lost to history work of John Crowe Ransom's Depression-era treatise, "Land!: The Case for an Agrarian Economy" is a highly valued and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Economic Studies collections and supplemental reading lists. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject it should be noted that "Land!: The Case for an Agrarian Economy" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.59).

The Lost World of Cham
David Hatcher Childress
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
9781939149725, $22.00, PB, 424pp,

Synopsis: In "The Lost World of Cham: The TransPacific Voyages of the Champa", David Childress (the star of the History Channel's popular show Ancient Aliens), reveals the incredible story of the Cham, who were the Egyptian-Hindu-Buddhist seafarers who ruled a realm that was as big as the Pacific Ocean.

The mysterious Cham, or Champa, peoples of Southeast Asia formed a megalith-building, seagoing empire that extended into Indonesia, Fiji, Tonga, Micronesia, and beyond, forming a transoceanic power that reached Mexico, the American Southwest and South America. The Champa maintained many ports in what is today Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia (particularly on the islands of Sulawesi, Sumatra and Java), and their ships plied the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, bringing Chinese, African and Indian traders to far off lands, including Olmec ports on the Pacific Coast of Central America.

Statues in Vietnam of the Champa show men and women distinctly African in appearance and the Champa royalty were known to consist of nearly every racial group. They had iron tools and built megalithic cities of finely-cut basalt and granite, such as the city of My Son in central Vietnam. Its construction is identical to that at Tiwanaku in South America.

The topics covered in this exceptionally informed and informative history include: Who Were the Champa?; Cham and Khem: The Egyptian Influence on Cham; The Search for Metals; Trans-Pacific Voyaging; The Basalt City of Nan Madol; Elephants and Buddhists in North America; The Cham and the Olmecs; The Cham in Colombia; The Cham and Lake Titicaca; Easter Island and the Cham; the Magical Technology of the Cham; tons more.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of black-and-white illustrations and color photography, as well as a four page Bibliography, "The Lost World of Cham: The TransPacific Voyages of the Champa" is an extraordinary and inherently fascinating read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for anthropology students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Lost World of Cham" is also available in a Kindle format ($20.88).

The Carbon Code
Brett Favaro
The Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4363
9781421422534, $22.95, HC, 232pp,

Synopsis: Despite the protestations of climate change deniers, our world is getting hotter, and it's our fault. Our addiction to fossil fuels is destroying not only our ancient planet, but our modern civilization. How can we protect our fragile ecosystems while preserving our way of life? How can we respond to climate change deniers who mock the fact that environmental activists use fossil fuels? In short, how can your average concerned citizen live a normal life in a carbon-based economy without being justifiably called a hypocrite? In "The Carbon Code: How You Can Become a Climate Change Hero", conservation biologist Brett Favaro (who is also a research scientist at Memorial University of Newfoundland) answers these thorny questions, offering simple strategies to help you reduce your carbon footprint?without abandoning common sense.

Favaro's Carbon Code of Conduct is based on the four Rs: Reduce, Replace, Refine, and Rehabilitate. After outlining the scientific basics of climate change and explaining the logic of the code he prescribes, the author describes carbon-friendly technologies and behaviors we can adopt in our daily lives. However, he acknowledges that individual action, while vital, is insufficient. To achieve global sustainability, he insists that we must make the fight against climate change "go viral" through conspicuous conservation.

"The Carbon Code" is a tool of empowerment. People don't need to be climate change experts to be part of the solution! In "The Carbon Code", Favaro shows you how to take ownership of your carbon footprint and adopt a lifestyle of conspicuous conservation that will spur governments and corporations to do the same. Climate-friendly action is the best decision on every dimension -- economics, health and well-being, and social justice. Saving the planet is, after all, about saving ourselves. "The Carbon Code" provides a framework to do this, and helps you to become a hero in the fight against climate change.

Critique: A critically important contribution to our on-going national debate about how to deal with climate change (now an even more pressing issue given President Trump's unilateral withdrawal from the Paris accords and surrender of world leadership on the issue) Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Carbon Code: How You Can Become a Climate Change Hero" is an urgently necessary and needed addition to both community and academic library Environmental Studies collections in general, and the Climate Change supplemental studies lists of students and non-specialists general readers with an interest in the subject.

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

Seriously... What am I Doing Here?
Ken Schneck
1984 Publishing
9780997813814 $21.95 hc / $9.95 ebook

Synopsis: Does the geographic cure actually work? Through a fast-paced journey of saying yes to the unfamiliar, pack your bags and set out into the world with a gay Jew determined to answer that universal question of Seriously...What Am I Doing Here?

Never having been on an adventure, Ken Schneck finds himself stumbling twice into rural Uganda; signing up for a 425-mile bike ride; stirring up drama at a Californian hippie, healing retreat; and somehow standing up straight with a colossal backpack strapped to his shoulders deep in the backwoods of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

This occasionally heartbreaking, often insightful, and reliably witty travelogue has at its core our never-ending search for meaning, our desperate need to grasp that elusive sense of place and community, and how we often fail to succeed (sometimes hilariously so!) but keep right on trying.

Critique: Seriously... What am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew is a laugh-out-loud funny travelogue. Author Ken Schneck has the gumption to travel to the most distant lands (think rural Uganda), a gift for witty insight, and a compassionate heart. Part ultimate armchair traveler ride, part philosophical delve into the eternal quest for meaning, and side-splitting funny from cover to cover, Seriously... What am I Doing Here? is highly recommended. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Seriously... What am I Doing Here? is available in as an ebook ($9.95).

Swap Club
Lauren Wise
WBS Entertainment Inc.
9780995827103, $19.99, PB,

Synopsis: An old seventies trend was making its way back into the suburban homes of Montreal, Quebec. Husbands and wives were having consensual sex with other married couples and trying to keep the secret under wraps, unsuccessfully. Swapping. Swinging. An organized sex agreement; and to a thirty-nine year-old mother of two, like Valerie Matthews, the idea was riveting.

With forty looming, Val wanted to spice things up by giving herself a birthday present- the sex life she desired, so she convinced her husband Ryan to join a club that would change their lives forever. Within 24hrs of meeting the madam of the club Celeste, Ryan and Val signed the contract that officially made them members of Swap Club, Montreal's secret sex club for married couples.

The second Saturday of every month: a text message and an address. At 8pm each husband knocks on a strange door and each wife opens her door to a stranger. Of course, Montreal can be a small town and no one is a total stranger.

Twelve months. Twelve encounters. Nothing out of bounds. Nothing taboo. Unbridled desire and the freedom to live out your deepest fantasies is hot and sexy but even with all the benefits-comes consequences.

Critique: In the pages of "Swap Club", author Lauren Wise introduces her readers to Valerie Matthews in the form of a recap of the lewdest year of her life. Recommended for mature readers only, "Swap Club" is a deftly crafted and inherently fascinating story that showcases author Lauren Wise as an impressively gifted novelist with a genuine flair for originality in adult fiction. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Swap Club" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

The Ayurveda Way
Ananta Ripa Ajmera
Storey Publishing
210 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
9781612128184, $18.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "The Ayurveda Way: 108 Practices from the World's Oldest Healing System for Better Sleep, Less Stress, Optimal Digestion, and More", Ayurveda teacher Ananta Ripa Ajmera draws upon years of experience and expertise to provide an inspiring and comprehensive introduction to an ancient Indian medical tradition, which complements and extends the health and wellness benefits of yoga. Comprised of 108 short essays readers will learn to approach optimal digestion, better sleep, less stress, and a more balanced life. Diet is key, and many essays are accompanied by recipes that incorporate into daily meals spices such as turmeric, cumin, ginger, and mustard seeds. In addition, meditation, yoga and breathing exercises, and self-care practices such as oil pulling and massage, make this time-tested wisdom available to contemporary holistic health enthusiasts.

Critique: Insightful, informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone, commentary, organization and presentation, "The Ayurveda Way" is an extraordinary and highly recommended for personal, community, health center, and academic library Alternative Medicine collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for medical students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Ayurveda Way" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Men
Rosemary Gladstar
Storey Publishing
210 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
9781612124773, $16.95, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: Rosemary Gladstar has long been known for her outstanding recipes for teas, tonics, oils, salves, tinctures, and herbal based medicines, now customizes her expertise on the use of herbs for healing the particular ailments especially associated with men. Dozens of delicious and simple formulas address men's most common health concerns ranging from sexual vitality, to prostate well-being, to heart health. and more. An A-to-Z compendium of these ailments details how to effectively treat them using a variety of safe and easy natural remedies, "Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Men" provides in-depth profiles of 29 herbs along with explanations of how men will benefit from each and suggest uses and accessible preparation tips. A handy and thoroughly 'user friendly' guidebook for men (and the women who love them and take care of them) provides a helpful introduction to this crucial, but often-overlooked, aspect of natural wellness.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Men" is practical-minded, reader-friendly, and will prove to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to both community and academic library Health/Medicine reference collections. It should be noted for personal reading and reference lists that "Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Men" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters
Louis Uchitelle
The New Press
120 Wall Street, floor 31, New York, NY 10005
9781595588975 $24.95 hc / $16.11 Kindle

Synopsis: In the 1950s manufacturing generated nearly 30 percent of U.S. income. Over the past fifty-five years that share has gradually declined to less than 12 percent at the same time that real estate, finance, and Wall Street trading have grown. While manufacturing's share of the U.S. economy shrinks, it expands in countries such as China and Germany that have a strong industrial policy. Meanwhile Americans are only vaguely aware of the many consequences - including a decline in their self-image as inventive, practical, and effective people - of the loss of that industrial base. And yet, with the improbable rise of Donald Trump, the consequences of the hollowing out of America's once-vibrant industrial working class can no longer be ignored.

Reporting from places where things were and sometimes still are "Made in the USA" - Albany, New York, Boston, Detroit, Fort Wayne, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. - longtime New York Times economics correspondent Louis Uchitelle argues that the government has a crucial role to play in making domestic manufacturing possible.

Combining brilliant reportage with an incisive economic and political argument, Making It tells the overlooked story of manufacturing's still-vital role in the United States and how it might expand.

Critique: Should American manufacturing factories be subsidized by government, like the agriculture, oil, and military industries are? Author and journalist Louis Uchitelle makes a strong case for public investment in the manufacturing industry in Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters. Chapters explain how changes in American policy can make corporations less likely to move their production overseas to benefit from foreign subsidies and low-wage labor. An index rounds out this persuasive manifesto for the postmodern era. "My fear is that this necessity [subsidized manufacturing] won't become apparent to most Americans; that we will acquiesce to manufacturing's shrunken role in the American economy, just as we gradually acquiesced to frequent large-scale layoffs in the late twentieth century.... Just as we acquiesced to layoffs, we have acquiesced to the numerous factory closings that produced, and still produce, so many of the layoffs."

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

Loving Your Neighbor: Surprise! It's Not What You Think
David Sanford
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781542505048, $20.00,

Oregon author, David Sanford uses the example of Jesus to explore how to truly love your neighbor in "Loving Your Neighbor: Surprise! It's Not What You Think." His fresh, unique approach, formatting technique and devotional style of writing encourage readers to be like Christ, to "speak little, listen much" and avoid being "nice "as we fulfill the great commandment to "love our neighbor as ourselves." (Matthew 22:39)

However, he believes acting "nice isn't nice, loving or true." Instead, David considers the descriptive word nice the "bastard child of Romanticism," which he considers "a condescending and sarcastic way to say someone is naive, ignorant and stupid." Such attitudes are incompatible with the Holy Spirit who David considers every believer's teacher and guide.

The books seventy chapters are divided into four segments that include Jesus' prayer life, how Jesus emulates the Father, His compassion for people and Christ's simple approach to touching people's lives. The segments are titled, "Act one," Jesus loves His neighbors," "Second Chances, more ways Jesus loves us all," "Third Glances, ways we can love our neighbors today;" and "Fourth and Long, learning to create inciting event's today."

While chapters one and two focus on Scripture and targeted quotes about Christ and the salvation message, the following chapters begin with a story similar to the one that opens chapter three which is about an Old Testament woman who heard her name called.

"'Mary!' Only one person said her name like that.

Mary turned and saw His eyes. Only one man ever looked at her like that.'"

This chapter ends with thought-provoking questions about how we view Jesus, whether we see Him as fully God and fully man and whether we use our "God-given sanctified imaginations to enter more fully into each Jesus story." Chapters conclude with "What Others Say," and

"Seeing Jesus Anew: Relevant Scriptures."

I found the dual focus of spiritual and geographical neighbors in chapter three especially interesting in addition to Joseph Aldrich's quotes, "Our goal is not to determine who our neighbor is, but to be one."

Overall, David's fresh approach is rhythmic, winsome and authentic as he creates word pictures and scenarios that engage readers with challenging conviction, which also provides readers with a fresh, new way to view sometimes overly familiar Bible stories. Because of the book's design I intend to use it more for devotional reading rather than a book to read from cover to cover.

The Divide (The Alliance)
Jolina Petersheim
Tyndale House Publishers
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496421449, $24.99,

Jolina Petersheim's thought-provoking, fictional suspense about a life-altering EMP attack that destroys America's power grid concludes with "The Divide" releasing June 7. The intriguing account of how the attack effects an Amish Mennonite community in northern Montana near Glacier National Park continues at an amazing pace.

"The Divide" picks up where "The Alliance" left off when an attack in early fall destroys the small communities defenses which forces them to flee into the mountains. They fear the winter ahead with few supplies and little time to prepare yet continue to pray and believe. Moses Hughes, the young Englischer pilot who crashed in the field next to Leora's cabin in book one, stays behind to defend their escape.

Moses fights the urge to join Leora as he watches her "ride away on the back of Jabil's horse." He knows the best way to protect her and the peace loving Amish families is to remain behind and provide cover, yet his heart says otherwise, especially when he knows Jabil loves Leora as much as he does. Still his aim is sure as he crouches behind the scaffolding next to the building and shoots as attackers step through the crippled defenses into the choking haze of fire and smoke surrounding him.

It happened when he stopped to reload. That's when he saw "a man leveling" his gun toward him. Although he knew the shot was coming, even braced for the impact, the shot to his stomach brought him to his knees forcing him down. That's where Sal found him after the attackers passed him by thinking he was dead. Leora's kiss, less than an hour ago, his last thought as pain swept him into oblivion.

Thus begins Jolina's riveting conclusion to her apocalyptic and emotional "what if" story of hope wrapped in romance, a fight for survival, sharp cultural and religious differences, terrorists, slavery and internment camps. The main characters, Leora, Jabil, Moses and Sal each face life-changing decisions that hasten the pages turning as their decisions bring about life-altering consequences for them and those they love.

Written in first person, the captivating story creates a close connection between the reader, the character and the story, enhanced by a thread of romantic tension. Since the main characters are written in first person point-of-view names of characters are in bold when characters voices change.

This is a beautiful story of testing, love and faith, a story of survival against all odds and it's also a story of "...supernatural peace that comes when all you have left is Him." Because the two books are so intertwined I would recommend reading "The Alliance" before "The Divide" for continuity of an unforgettable story.

A Little Book about Finding a New Norm
Elisa Morelli
WestBow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781512770872, $9.95,

Sometimes tough times bring about life-altering change that takes our breath away, changes our perspective and leaves us at a loss for what comes next. For some it may be the death of a loved one. For others an unwanted diagnosis or a change in circumstances so extreme it brings about a "new norm."

That's what happened to Elisa Morelli when she lost her husband, "confidant and friend, Jon Hobbs after their brief seven and a half year marriage. When Jon died unexpectedly from MRSA in 2012 Elisa began to see her life from an "eternal Triune God dimension" and that's what "A Little Book about Finding a New Norm" is all about - a new normal and healing. Because "since Jon's death," she writes, "God has rocked my world."

Elisa's brief vignettes are based on faith, prayer and belief in Christ as the "plumb line to her" faith. The first chapter is about Jon, prayer and a half-open Alabaster Box she compares to a heart that can only be fully opened with prayer.

It also tells the story of a "prominent heart surgeon" who put a heart transplant in a female patient. When the heart didn't begin to beat after the surgeon finished he leaned over and "gently whispered into the women's ear, 'Tell your heart to beat again'" and the heartbeat commenced. Just as lungs need blood pumping through the body to work, Elisa writes, "We have the heart of the Father, but it cannot beat on its own. It has to have the Alabaster Box of the one who has been given the new life."

She continues the analogy with God given "gifts, talents and abilities" that are left dormant and unused when hearts are consumed with loss and grief. Those are the times she writes, when she learned to say, "God, I am in need of your touch."

Other chapters on suicide, the breath of life, PTSD, quadriplegia, 'stinkin thinkin,' pain grief and more share experiences and lessons about life Elisa learned along the way. She shares her thoughts and stories with word pictures, poetry, quotes and scripture quotes. If you have suffered a loss and are in need of a "new norm," Elisa's new release is a thought-provoking quick read.

Unquiet Ghosts: A Novel
Glenn Meade
Howard Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781476797410, $25.00,

"Unquiet Ghosts" is a complex tale of chilling secrets, conspiracies and intrigue, a multifaceted mystery rooted in real life events so intense the pages almost turn themselves. The fast-paced story begins with the rich, influential and secretive Chad Benton's visit to the empty gravesite his divorced wife Kathy visited every anniversary of the plane crash that claimed her missing family eight years ago.

Chad had been close friends with Kathy's husband Jack, an Iraq war vet and no one was surprised when Kathy and Chad married several months after her husband's plane went missing. Even though Kathy grieved her missing family, especially eight year-old Sean and five year-old Amy, she accepted Chad's marriage proposal.

Now Kathy watched the man she'd divorced shortly after they married step from his "gleaming, silver chauffeured Bentley" and stride towards her. She knew it had to be important or he would never come here on this day. His normal self-assured gait was oddly hesitant and his eyes were dark and brooding when he reached her, his tone somber when he said, "They found Jack's aircraft, but only the pilot's remains."

Stunned, her attention caught by the "clatter of helicopter blades," she saw one of Chad's helicopters "land in the field beside the cemetery." Chad took her arm and guided her to the aircraft and strapped her in, waving away her questions until they landed.

Kathy's only thought was for her family. Could they be alive? If they were, where were they and why hadn't they come back to her? She was in shock, her mind ablaze with what had happened to Jack, Sean and Amy?

Twenty minutes later Kathy saw TV crews and reporters dotting the swampy waters and forested landscape below as the helicopter landed in the remote Smokey Mountain area of the crash site. As Chad helped her from the copter, Kathy couldn't sort out her feelings and didn't know where to begin. She couldn't know she was still asking all the wrong questions.

Thus begins a chilling thriller "inspired by actual events" from the 2003 Iraq war in Baghdad where priceless artifacts and eight billion dollars from the government vanished without a trace. Those events would forever change Jack, Kathy, her brother Kyle and Kathy's father, Colonel Frank Kelly who served alongside her husband in Iraq. Add political intrigue, corruption and well-kept secrets and you have a mystery impossible to unravel until the last page turns.

Well drawn characters and intense suspense, inspired by the complex and true-to-life plot keep pages turning with parallel plot threads that at times slow the story down as it moves back and forth in time. However, the complexity, intrigue and suspense make "Unquiet Ghosts" a gripping and memorable read.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Grace's Bookshelf

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
E. K. Johnston
c/o Joseph Mills Press
9781101994603 $10.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle 71 pages

The reason every poet is a change agent is there are no two exactly alike. Poetry is the voice and the breath and it's highly personal. Some poets tend toward originality. Others achieve it. And so we have Joseph Mills with a terrific idea. He titles each poem with a stage direction from Shakespeare. Here are some:

Exit Romeo, Enter Juliet

Exit at another door with the body of his son

Enter ghost

Enter prince of Wales

[Exit the Bastard]

In the back of the book is a page with the source of each stage direction - this poet knows his Shakespeare. The poem's themes spin off from their signposts to present-day references (Budweiser's, delis, Google, Amazon boxes - and daily experiences) Oh wait, there're also some classical poems. Altogether this book is original and fun with smart poeting. The poem "Kate" begins: "Before the banquet had even ended, someone had uploaded / her speech from an iphone, and it was being forwarded and /posted and linked..." The poem "Enter the King in his nightgown, alone" goes: "She doesn't know why he seems familiar/until he launches into a soliloquy,/and she recognizes something in his voice./He works at Modern Ford across town,/and last year he had tried to sell her/a used Taurus..."

Apparently, the poetry stage always has room for new ideas. Mills creates a unique environment in each poem and sees what others cannot - because he is, well, Joseph Mills, and no one else is. The functionality of using theater allows heroic moments, edgy ones, and humorous ones - just as plays do; and each of his monographs is different from the other. The Bard connects it all and the titles for once make an important and vital part of the poem. The extra pop is that Mills happens to be a terrific writer - in fact he's the book's best human resource besides Shakespeare. I don't want you to think there are poems that are not lyric, many times Mills has words dancing without losing the melody; other times he's colloquial, narrative, improvisational. On a scale of 1 to 10 for this book? A definite 11. The blurbs on the back cover are actual quotes from Shakespeare's characters: "'s the book I sought for so." - Brutus.

Enter Juliet

Later she would have regretted the naked photos
and lascivious tweets. She would have looked
through yearbook pictures and shook her head
at the hair and clothing and posing, at the sequins,
at how oblivious she was to her own gawkiness,
at how she had thought she knew everything
of importance. Later...

but there is no later for her.

No stepping from a shower in front of a mirror
and thinking, My God, what happened to my ass?
No dressertop of expensive creams for her hands.
No nights sprawled on the couch with someone
who, despite her weight and wrinkles and gray,
feels for her in a way that beggars description.
No waking, stiff, together, morning after morning.

Kafka's Shadow
Judith Skillman
Deerbooke Editions
9780997505146 $16.95 68 pages

I opened the book and thought I'd read one poem then pick it up for the morning - you know where this is going - I read and read and read. Biographical historians may know what Kafka did but only a poet can show how he felt. This is a record of sensibilities through every sensual gift a poet has. It occurred to me that perhaps no one likes his/her life's work more than a poet does - how else could we receive such proportions of thought and emotion, changing our lives with craft and ideas. These poems are congenial pieces that get the soul of Kafka as a feeling-thinker. I can't imagine what started Skillman on her search that resulted in such completeness. Why does one writer become obsessed with another? The closer Skillman comes to Kafka's life the broader the scope and the more she arrays his humanity. In this world, we welcome a heart's work about literary figures who might otherwise be unfathomable.

As Isaac

No anguish in the offering.
Hermann Kafka's already lost two sons.
This third one's not quite up to snuff.

Hermann tries with the old stories,
then the insults, table manners, rules.
Nothing eases the burden - Franz
will be unruly, wild, stubborn
in his refusal to take his place
in the family business.

No angst, and less suffering,
God's will be done. Yes, let's
sacrifice a boy who leaves
synagogue before the service is over.

What matter that letter,
sitting on the bedside table,
unread? The boy is as if dead already.
Get it over with, he mutters to the ass
who guides them along
the ancient path crevassed with ruins.

Said Not Said
Fred Marchant
Graywolf Press
250 Third Avenue North, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55401
$16.00 pbk / $9.99 Kindle 73 pages

The writer is a laborer, and an experimenter: Marchant is as well, and an expressionistic storyteller. He lets language make weird combinations (in a good way) and yet they flow. He's audacious (in a good way) as in the prose poems, "WOD - OR (Indo-European root for water)" poem "pollution" features sperm; "well well," the vulva; "oil" Armenians; "gulf" mother's bosom, yet it works because Marchant's loyalty to language shakes it all out to metaphoric sense. Sometimes his poems feel like journeys of a dream or dreams of a journey but filled with life energy. That's why they keep coming at us so strong (or bigly, as the president would say). Marchant invents himself every single poem making each word catapult and count.

Ghost Ranch
Slits in nothingness are not very easy to paint. -Georgia O'Keefe

Ram's Head
a horn curved like a petal
layered into a flute,
the bone made to sing
what is hiding in the hollows.

my friend says
a poem is a column of air,
or a sorrow-flower,
a yellow-white star.

Little Hills
the brown earth listens
to what the red earth says,
angry clouds gather
like the Lord's left hand.

Night Sun
after the killing
a search light
the color of bone
to sweep us clean.

Paula Cisewski
Diode Editions
9781939728111 $18.00 59 pages

Glamorous mysterious Paula Cisewski is in the present day but seems from another time - classical, still colloquial. She sweeps into a line with a level of emotion that moves with complexity. Her language singes with introspection and beautiful brooding. She's like a stage presence processing space with each note - intensity and interior power beneath every important line - She had me at the beginning: "I'm afraid/that there is a prison/at the heart of everything..." and then she proceeds to break through it picking apart stimuli toward song. She'll give you chills the way she delivers, like an opera singer singing the blues. I'm talking soul.

My Crow-Wife, Rene Descartes

I wanted awareness
and then my third eye popped out.
A crow was right on time to scavenge it. Hey! I said
feeling territorial. We're married, Crow said, so
this eye is half mine. She popped out
her own third eye and exchanged
her inner vision for mine, as if two rings.
Then she swallowed the third eye
that had been mine, and I saw
her inside out. When she flew
away, something inside me
felt like a jetted seedling,
like it started being
flowers underground.

Fast: Poems
Jorie Graham
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062663481 $25.99 84 pages

You have to read this slowly. Even in an MRI machine Graham knows more words and thinks more thoughts than any volume on your desk. The book is about the human body and its medical surveillance - the way we must relinquish ourselves to those helping us, who we hope are pure and strong. This book is a passionate commitment to what houses the life force and how we're to let it go. It' heroic because no one delivers like Jorie Graham - relentlessly - line after line, chant-like prayer, interior epics. What I like best about Graham is that she never hides herself away in her language, although there's a lot of it - and she never holds back. She doesn't stop until we hear her. This instructs the reader that each emotional connection is true. The poem "With Mother In The Kitchen" is energized with dialogue, interior monologue, and narrative. It becomes all of us. Every one of us has the same mother in the same kitchen in this poem. Another poem that must be read is "Mother's Hands Drawing Me." In this five- page poem she moves like liquid gold down page after page, not structured, but channeled, held in performance with an emphatic ending:

afternoon, just slipping,
no one here to see this but me, told
loud in silence by arcs, contours,
swell of wind, billowing, fluent -
ink chalk charcoal - sweeps, spirals,
the river that goes
nowhere, that has survived the
astonishments and will never
venture close to that heat again, is
cool here, looking up at what,
looking back down, how is it
possible the world still exists, as it
begins to take form there, in the no
being, there is once then there is the
big vocabulary, loosed, like
a jay's song thrown down when the
bird goes away, cold mornings,
hauling dawn away with it, leaving
grackle and crow in sun - they have
known what to find in the unmade
undrawn unseen unmarked and
dragged it into here - that it be

Pink Mist
Owen Sheers
Nan A.Talese/Doubleday
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385541749 $26.95 hc / $13.99 Kindle 83 pages

Three young boys in Bristol grow up playing war, and when in their teens Arthur, Taff, and Hads - from dead-end jobs - go off to Afghanistan to fight a real one. They come home different men and this book is in their voices, dramatic literature in verse. If you can read without your eyes stinging, you have excellent armor. 'Put a face on war, 'people always say, 'put a face on collateral damage;' and Owen Sheers does. The three women belonging to these men figure in the dialogue: a wife, a mother, a girlfriend who then become war victims as well.

Arthur, one day regrets drawing his buddies along with him to service.

Arthur: "But the seed was sown. /There in the Thekla's hull, with the cider inside us, /and Massive on the system. /I didn't say nothing to Hads right then, /but I knew, I did. /He would come to...Three boys off to Catterick./A suitcase each, a couple of cans./Off to war, like boys always have./Boarding a train, leaving home,/off to Catterick, to reap what I'd sown."

Hads loses his legs.

Hads: "I still feel them sometimes. /I'll wake and my ankle'll be itching, /or I'll need to scratch my toes. It's frustrating, /cos I can't do nothing can I? Just got to griz it out. /But yeah, my brain still thinks they're there."

His mother speaks of her son's first tattoo, "That wasn't Hads. But then, nor was this. A living lie - /This boy in the hospital bed,/dried blood below his ear,/the sheet going flat/a couple of feet too soon,/just nothing after his thighs...."

Arthur as narrator later speaks of Hads after the I.E.D explosion: " Every time./He lies there a moment, recovering in its wake,/his heart slowing, before moving on his side/to try and get some kind of rest./Let's leave him now, as he curls up under the sheets,/or does what he can./Hads Gullet, twenty-one, half a tall man trying to sleep,/ holding what's left of his legs to his chest,/as he tells himself,/on hearing his family come through the door,/that of the half of them gone and a half of them left,/it isn't the cursed he should count, but the blessed."

Arthur speaks of Taff who blew up civilians, maybe a child, like his own child: "Take this street he's walking down now, /deserted, empty, Sunday-morning dead./Harmless./But all Taff's feeling is the threat. /The echo of when a village went like this back there, /when the women and kids melted away. /That's what he's trying to keep at bay, /plugging in his headphones, /turning the volume right up... "

Taff's wife, Lisa speaks, of PTSD and what happened that night "Blue on Blue:" Taff was blown off a wall and broke his back in the fall.

Lisa: "'Friendly fire.'"/That's the one still makes more sense to me. /Being hurt by those on your side, /by those meant to protect you, /those meant to love you...The drink, the shouting, the lives./The hand on my throat while I slept,/the reaching in panic for the bedside light./The boy you married/lying by your side but somewhere else - /shrinking, out of sight. "

Lisa: "Pink mist. That's what they call it. /When one of your mates hasn't just bought it, /but goes in a flash, from being there to not. /A direct hit. An I. E. D. An R. P. G. stuck in the gut./ However it happens you open your eyes/and that's all they are./A fine spray of pink, a delicate mist/as if some genie has granted a wish..."

Arthur comes home for R&R but returns for just one more month, just 4 weeks, he tells Gwen - but for a roadside LDE he could not have foreseen.

Sheers' research was with British fighters "The Blues." I'm apologetic for ripping speeches from the pages, losing the arc, the complete control and flow of this playwright/poet. If horror can be illuminated by art, this book is its experience. In bringing things to life through death Sheers is a virtuoso. If you're a vet; or a career military wife as I was, this book will break your heart. Only good art can. In all cases, it's worthy of your best attention.

Winters Come, Summers Gone: Selected Poems
Howard Moss
Edited by J.D. McClatchey
Sheep Meadow Press
9781937679651 $22.00, 197 pages

Most of us knew Howard Moss as editor of the New Yorker magazine. There were standing jokes about lots of boats in the poems at that time; and his own poems were sometimes featured. This editor's taste was evident - beautifully structured poetry, often bucolic, always intelligent, conundrums, philosophical thought but never breaking from accepted form. He chose poems where he could see the mind's work and understand the working of it. He had a distinct idea what makes a poem last and it certainly wasn't deconstructed thought. Now we have a complete picture of the man in this handsome collection and we see his aesthetic nicely assembled. He's Keatsian (read "A Winter Come") he's urbane: and - what was once considered necessary for writers of poems - he was a cultured man. Knowledgeable in letters, art and music, Moss knew something about love through these; and here we find the spirit of his poetry. J.D. McClatchy writes a thoughtful and detailed intro for Moss and it's helpful. I liked finding McClatchy's taste and choices more than anything else. Howard Moss is unlike many poets who discover who they are through writing: Moss seemed to know all along. A great and lasting strength remains.

Small Elegy

In the smart room where Lennie lies,
French draperies are too silk for eyes
That like their hangings plain, like their ties
Thin-striped. Lennie will no more arise

And go now where the cocktail shakers shake
Their crystal energies and pianists fake
Some lovelorn valentines and, on the make,
Mirrored faces join, and part, and break.

And since those wretched limbs, not custom-made
But real, and common, in the last charade
Crumble into peace, who's to parade
Up Fifth and down with all his tricks of trade?

The chandelier, the chiffonier, the waste
By-products of the golden calf, Good Taste,
Surround his body. To his Never-Faced-
Reality, gentleman, a final toast!

Damn it, he had good taste! That's all he had.
He knew the nearly-good from the not-quite-bad.
Lennie wore the first vest made of plaid.
Lennie gave it up when it became of fad.

Goodbye, Lennie - fad, plaid, and Madras!
May artificial angel and high brass
Proclaim a high-fidelity Mass
When you step from, and into glass.

Meadow Slasher
Joshua Marie Wilkinson
Black Ocean
9781939568205 $14.95 61 pages

Well there's no information about the author because I'd love to find a context for this approach to poetry maybe by nationality, geography, inclination or occupation. This is a book-length poem. It's not language poetry, it's not constructivism, it's not lyric, narrative, or any form known to me. Maybe something better - beguiling and mesmerizing - one line after another nonsequential and deliberately unconnected - and the phrases are pictorial, interesting and desperate in their continuance. I'm interested in why authors make certain decisions and I believe the drive here is feeling as image because that's what excels - without reason. We don't need a reason for emotion. Black Oceans is the press that lets poets do what they were born to do.

Up at Olive & Clark with tea but
Silver Soul is on & I'm back to it
covering my face with a book, scaring some strangers.
I don't yield out for pity
just a question of what we look like to ourselves
from the bit of future
we're lucky enough to endure.
So it's night.
The shore's lapping.
Heartbreak is having the prepositions
pulse with slashers too.

BEST POEMS [and the books that contain them]

Fifteen Seconds without Sorrow
Shim Bo-Seon
Translated by Chung Eun-Gwi and Brother Anthony of Taize
Parlor Press
9781602358355 $14.00 70 pages

Treading on Footprints, I Head for the Future

They turn their backs first of all.
The dearest things
aimed their guns at memories.
Stay right where you are, guys.
If you want to live, die rather.
Disgusting, Sickening. Why
are things that are said to be eternal all like that?
I killed nine out of the ten longevity symbols,
I can't remember which one was left.
Is it a former sweetheart or an ex-wife,
or my footprints left beside them both?
They disappear first of all.
The things I loved most
turned memories inside out and all was just pitch black,

I become uglier day by day.
I smell bad.
Treading on footprints, I head for the future.
Let's live by the river, blistered feet!

Grace Bauer
University of New Mexico Press
MSC05 3185, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826357779 $18.23 pbk / $9.99 Kindle, 72 pages,


Make up your mind, we say
When we mean: choose. decide.

Makeup, we call the colors
some women wear to disguise
what they see as flaws.
(All the ads assure them
they have many worth hiding.)

We kiss and make up,
which makes light
of any anger or betrayal
we felt but now realize
is not worth making too much of.

You made that up! We'll say
of a story so good
we envy the maker
for the convincing lie
they have constructed and now
believe and live by

as if it really were
that way with the world
which makes up the minds
we are all made up by.

Where Is North
Alison Jarvis
Silverfish Review Press
9781878851680 $16.00 75 pages

Ask Me

You were not the kind of man to take
coffee to your wife in bed every morning,
but if I asked, you would and it pleased me.
I didn't do it often and I always thanked you
in a formal way like the kind of man you were.
One day before I realized I had stopped asking,
you said, I wish I could bring you coffee -
Still each morning you managed to make it,
leaning on counters for balance,
kitchen quiet except for the whistle
you need to cue yourself: Now move: One foot
in front of the other: this is the way
you do it. You tear open the bag
with your teeth.

Ampleforth's Miscellany
Michael Karl Ritchie
Winter Goose Publishing
9781941058626 $10.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle 73 pages

The Floating Library

(1967) A documentary on the Public Library's outreach to the Ohio River community, especially during the flood season.

When public libraries sailed out to sea,
books shivered their spines at watery graves;
animals were a faint memory
in bestiaries bound by briny staves.

And none aboard went two by two, but roared
a plenitude of conflicting tall tales
for the Cornucopian ear of God
who snored atop Braille pillows force-wind gales.

From salt to salt the crew evolved a pearl
that pooled its evanescent skein of stars
and leapt an oyster's tongue in onyx whorl
to dream from words the sounds that heal all scars.

For who knew where this raft of books would go
or which adults might find their inner child
within some scientific tract on snow
or some opulent Xanadu gone wild.

The Bloomsberries and Other Curiosities
Laurie Byro
Kelsay Books
9781945752667 $14.00 69 pages

Virginia's Constellations

Whatever actually happened at Yang-ping's house
during that winter, there were seasons before and after

in which nothing happened. Rowboats skiffled along
rain-washed river bottoms, rocky but not impassable.

There wasn't always a drunken moon or salty stars
in a black bowl of sky. A heron followed the boat

seeking clues about the lady in the wide-brimmed hat,
a blue ribbon trailing at the wind like its mates feathers.

The tale of Scorpio slashed the wild sky. The woman
blinded by icy stars, could have been mistaken for all wizened

"Chinaman," thousands of years old. The silent river spilled
no secrets about temptation or regret. The woman who navigated

these waters held a conference that could turn her boat around,
change to any direction. She planted her long legs solidly

on its wooden floor, a book open and faced down
beside her written by a man who traveled similar waters.

Many winters before, too many to record in a hand-painted chart,
Li Po paddled a river, his oars dripping stars.

Starlight & Error
Remica Bingham-Risher
Diode Editions
9781939728104 $TBA 73 pages


The mouth holds
a scar that trails the temple

cheek and chin of a man
sometimes called father.

And when the man spoke
even in his right mind

my husband recalls
he'd rehash old warnings:

I told you, you were going to hate me
after the mother or child

climbed the mountain
of his frame settling

near enough destruction
to trace its inward part.


Rattle Volume 23, No 1
Edited by Alan Fox
The Rattle Foundation
91 pages


4 p.m. Count, A Journal From Prison Camp Yankton (supported by the NEA)
Edited by Jim Reese
No price; provided free for educational purposes
246 pages

Grace Cavalieri, Reviewer
Washington Independent Review of Books

Joshua's Bookshelf

The Life of Andrew Jackson
Robert V. Remini
Harper Perennial Modern Classics
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway New York, New York 10007
9780061807886, $18.99 PB, $12.74 Digital Book, 464pp,

Robert V. Remini is famous for writing the prizewinning, three-volume biography on the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson- an incredible piece of scholarship and literacy. Remini's new addition, the one-volume edited The Life of Andrew Jackson, is a condensed version of his lengthy masterpiece, as the author points out the most important and impactful events of Jackson's fulfilled life and expands on them accordingly.

To prove his case that Andrew Jackson was one of our finest, yet most underrated Presidents in the nation's history (according to today's standards and history lessons), Remini utilizes various primary papers, letters, and state documents from the pen hands of Jackson. He also ventures into the broader atmosphere of the Jacksonian Era and touches upon subjects that Jackson was not necessarily related to but happened in the United States, using a variety of scholarly books on the Native Americans, Texas and California history, and sources on America's diplomatic relationships. I admired how the author connected Jackson's Presidency with the times of the nation, as the reader is able to immerse themselves into the time period with a little more detail. Even when the reader might not necessarily have much background on the nation's history under their belt, Remini's writing smooths the track, enhancing the fact that there were many topic discussions on happenings outside of the Jackson administration.

The biggest complaint I had with this book was the lack of discussion concerning Jackson's relationship with his wife and children. It is believed that Jackson had a fond and loving relationship with his spouse and three adopted sons. But that relationship goes astray in Remini's abridged book. This might be because the author chooses to focus on Jackson's relationship with America, and might have saw fit to leave much of Jackson's personal life to speculation as it did not fit into this over-arching message. Or it might be because there is little evidence still surviving to date regarding the close relationships Jackson had with his loved ones. I have still yet to read Remini's three-volume work on Jackson- I would presume, judging by the length, that the author does include more of Jackson's personal welfare in this book. I hope to indulge myself in that in the near future.

Remini's The Life of Andrew Jackson is a short masterpiece by itself. From birth to death, the book encompasses Andrew Jackson on a journey of misfortune and much successes, the perfect combination that each President lives to see. In this informative, well-rounded, and pure spell-binding account of scholarly research and narrative, the abridged version is a perfect read for any young historian willing to recapture the ethics and politics of one of America's 'greats.' Final Verdict: Highly Recommend.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
Barack Obama
Three Rivers Press
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307455871, $10.02 PB, $5.92 HC, $9.99 Digital,

Who knew that Obama was only a first-term senator before he became the President of the United States in 2008. The seeds of his historic campaign that year for the highest office in the lands are planted in this book, his second manuscript, The Audacity of Hope. In this New York Times #1 Bestseller, Barack Obama meshes the experiences of his first two years as a Senator from Illinois with his new 'vision' for American politics. He concludes that if the United States wanted to move forward to a brighter future, red states and blue states would have to come together in unity and harmony- the United States had to be united in its society and politics rather than bitterly divided and polarized by two political ideologies.

Obama calls for a centralist view in the national government, based on broad American values. The then-senator elaborates on his plan to unify the nation, accept the right-wing policies and compromises, and utilize the media effectively. One has to wonder if Obama was thinking about running for the presidency back in 2005-2006. His writing style and presentation are commanding, making the book a compelling read about values, morals, and politics. In addition, I liked how Obama used some of his personal stories to lighten the mood of the book and transition between different subjects- politics is rather a boring and dull subject if discussed over some time, and Obama probably knew he needed some happier distractions for his reading audience. I am very excited about the release of Obama's upcoming Presidential autobiography, and I am glad that this will complement the achievements Obama set out to do and succeeded in. Final Verdict: A Recommend.

Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South
Stephanie McCurry
Harvard University Press
79 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
9780674064218, $23.00 PB, $14.10, Digital Book, 456pp,

In Confederate Reckoning, Stephanie McCurry reshapes our understanding of the internal dynamics of the Confederacy, and discusses how the southern politicians had to fight a war on two fronts; one with the Union Army and one with their subjects. The author successfully argues that the forgotten players of the Confederacy, white women and slaves, each played a major role in deciding the fate of the Confederate government and the final outcome of the Civil War.

To prove her claim, McCurry pours over many scholarly material and personal records, including memoirs and letters. The book begins in 1860, where politicians from the southern states were the driving force in creating their own political project- the first slave-holding republic in the western hemisphere, where white supremacy was protected. The new political government might have sounded adequate on paper, but many unplanned consequences developed over the course of the war. The white men excluded their own people- white women and slaves. Women in the Confederacy were named 'subjects.' As they were not citizens, white women had no voice or vote in the Confederate Congress, angering many. When males left to fight on the front lines, the home front became dominated with women, who had stepped up to become heads of the households. Some women were also believed to be spies for Union forces, leading to much fear within southern communities. Women's power in the Confederacy gradually increased, and many became critical political opposers contesting the laws and actions of the government, concerning the welfare system, taxes, and education. The attempt to repress their own women backfired on the Confederate politicians. Slaves also played a major role in the downfall of the Confederacy. In March 1865, when there were few men left to fight on the battlefields, the Confederate Congress and President Jefferson Davis allowed slaves to enlist in the Confederate Army. This bold move indicated that the Confederacy had given up on preserving slavery, and was willing to give slaves opportunities so that the fight continued. Their slave-holding republic had disappeared. Negroes were now considered able-bodied men and not disgraced creatures only meant for labor. Now slaves were on equal footing with whites. In the end, the ambitious political project that was meant to save the institution of slavery and preserve white male supremacy was tried by its own people, contested upon, and failed.

As historians, we study the facts that happened. We don't evaluate the alternate reality, or what could've happened if an event in our present timeline didn't happen. However, upon reading this book, I realized that the establishment of the Confederacy opened new doors of opportunities for women, and assumptions could be made if the Confederacy had won the Civil War instead of the Union. This made me think in broader terms, as I questioned the theory: If the South had not lost, could the C.S.A. have become the grounds for the women's rights movement? This would've meant that the national suffrage movement of the early twentieth-century could've occurred earlier in our nation's history, disrupting the physical timeline. In addition, women could've played more prominent roles in male-dominated arenas of the time, including the American Congress, the Spanish-American War, and World War I. McCurry's primary intent for this book was to inform her audience about a forgotten chapter in the history of the Confederacy. She successfully discusses the social history of the C.S.A., evaluating the actions of white women and slaves in the south. In addition, the author allows the reader to pose questions on what could've happened if the Confederate government was not compromised by its own subjects. Confederate Reckoning is compelling, descriptive, and exhilarating in the writing and style it poses. McCurry's work has to be named my favorite Civil War book to date. I would highly recommend this book!

Mourning Lincoln
Martha Hodes
Yale University Press
PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040
9780300219753,$20.00 PB, $14.93 Digital Books, 408pp,

There have been many books detailing the last moments of Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. However, Martha Hodes looks beyond the shooting of the President and is the first author to examine the nation's personal reactions to the immediate death of Lincoln and the struggles of rebuilding during Reconstruction. In Mourning Lincoln, the author successfully argues that although there were mixed reactions concerning the assassination of President Lincoln, many questions and a period of uncertainty over the nation's future during the aftermath of the Civil War followed, which in time resulted in the government's failure to unionize the north and the south and recognize racial equality.

To prove her claim, Hodes examines over a thousand letters, diary entries, and personal memoirs. She successfully gives attention to the forgotten voices of the ordinary people. This includes whites and blacks from the north and the south, the rich and poor, soldiers and civilians. In the aftermath of President Lincoln's assassination, there was much grieving in the north. Buildings were draped in black and many watched the funeral railroad-procession pass through towns. During the period of mourning, many people reported that it was 'the saddest day' of their lives. Recently emancipated Freedmen volunteered to march beside the coffin of their great 'savior.' Some would never recover from the suffering. Mary Lincoln and Henry Rathbone, were both present in the theatre when Lincoln was shot, and would both fall into depression after the attack. Mrs. Lincoln locked herself in her bed chambers and refused to attend her husband's funeral procession. She became mentally unstable, confined to an asylum in later life. Mr. Rathbone would murder his own wife. Divisions were still present in the country after the Civil War, and the surprise death of Lincoln highlights this split. Some northern groups, such as the anti-emancipation Copperheads were glad when they found out the news of Lincoln's death. Many ex-Confederate soldiers and southern housewives rejoiced and celebrated on the occasion, praising the assassin John Wilkes Booth as a hero. Some in the south discarded the assassination, focusing on rebuilding their destroyed lands instead of grieving. Lincoln's Reconstruction plan on gently reunifying the nation was tossed away after his death, and the government gave too much power back to the ex-Confederate states. President Andrew Johnson continued to allow the divisions between the north and the south grow, as Lincoln's plan for racial equality disappeared. The rise of the KKK, the increasing suffrage of the negro, and the installation of the Jim Crow Laws in the south represented the vision of an unsympathetic Republican government who had turned their backs on the Freedmen and their dead leader.

I admire the way Hodes evaluates the role of faith in the aftermath of Lincoln's assassination. Faith and belief in God increased after the Civil War, as many in the nation took time to reflect upon their losses before they started to rebuild. Hodes describes in further detail the similarities between Jesus Christ and Lincoln. Both of these leaders lived short lives, but contributed much to society by helping their fellow citizens. They were both praised and named 'saviors.' The timeline of Lincoln's death resembles that of Jesus's death. Since he got shot on Good Friday in 1865 and then was mourned on Easter Sunday, many have pointed out that Lincoln might have been sent by God to save the Union at that specific time. Then, when the war ended, Lincoln had a 'predictable' death (Booth was able to kill him easily when the actor's accomplices had trouble murdering their own targets, and Lincoln had dreamt of his murdered self for many nights before April 14, 1865). It seems that Lincoln died on that day for a reason. Upon reading Mourning Lincoln, Hodes successfully questions the puzzling coincidence of Lincoln passing on Good Friday at the same time the Civil War came to a close. This book is a recommend.

Joshua V. Chanin, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living
Annie Corrigan
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350, 1320 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405-3907
9780253026293, $30.00, PB, 296pp,

Synopsis: Focusing on local products, sustainability, and popular farm-to-fork dining trends, "Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living" by Annie Corrigan (an on-air personality and producer for WFIU Public Radio and the host of the Earth Eats radio show.) with the assistance of Daniel Orr (who is the owner of FARMbloomington Restaurant and the author of several cookbooks) compiles the best recipes, tips, and tricks to plant, harvest, and prepare local food. "Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living" presents tips, grouped by season, on keeping a farm or garden in top form, finding the best in-season produce at a local farmers' market, and stocking kitchens effectively.

"Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living" showcases what locally produced food will be available in each season and is amply stuffed with more than 200 delicious, original, and tested recipes, reflecting the dishes that can be made with these local foods. In addition to tips and recipes, "Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living" provides profiles individuals who are on the front lines of the changing food ecosystem, detailing the challenges they and the local food movement face. With more than 140 color photos, "Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living" showcases local food at its finest and features everything the local grower and food enthusiast needs to know all year round, including how to cook up a healthy compost heap, nurture a failing bee colony, create an all-natural deer repellant, and ferment delicious vegetables.

Critique: Informative, insightful, and a delight to browse through from cover to cover, "Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living" is certain to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living" is also available in a Kindle format ($21.98).

Forever King: Surviving The Loss Of My Unborn Child
Diana Sims
Privately Published
9780692846988, $12.95, PB, 78pp,

Synopsis: Diana Sims was born in Los Angeles, California. Diana experienced a tragic loss of her unborn son by way of stillbirth in her last trimester of her pregnancy. After going through her journey of grief, she was inspired to write her own story to help other mothers and fathers know it is okay to grieve, to love their child, and to believe hope and miracles are coming their way. "Forever King: Surviving The Loss Of My Unborn Child" is that intimate and personal story.

Critique: Candid, compelling, and ultimately inspiring, "Forever King: Surviving The Loss Of My Unborn Child" is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Forever King: Surviving The Loss Of My Unborn Child" is also available in a Kindle format ($6.99).

2Brides 2Be: A Same-Sex Guide for the Modern Bride
Laura Leigh Abby
453 South Spring Street, Suite 302,l Los Angeles, CA 90013
9781941729175, $15.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Planning a two-bride wedding can mean twice the beauty and twice the stress, and with a shortage of inspiration and guidance for the modern lesbian bride, this is the book for the next generation of women planning a same-sex wedding. "2Brides 2Be: A Same-Sex Guide for the Modern Bride" is a wedding guide for the lesbian bride who exudes youth and style no matter what her age, who is inspired by innovation, and who wants to marry the woman of her dreams and do it her way. She is a visionary who is up to the task of blending tradition and rebellion, but she is looking for some practical wedding planning advice. She will find it here.

In "2Brides 2Be: A Same-Sex Guide for the Modern Bride", author Laura Leigh Abby shares her own experiences navigating the world of lesbian wedding planning with a sense of humor and a dose of sass. She has advice on everything from the logistics of walking down the aisle to wording the invites, and she's not afraid to throw all the rules out the window. With input from wedding industry professionals, "2Brides 2Be" will enlighten brides on booking vendors, wrangling family and pulling off the wedding of her dreams.

Critique: Now that same-sex marriage is lawful in every state of the union, "2Brides 2Be: A Same-Sex Guide for the Modern Bride" is the ultimate and thoroughly user friendly 'how to' lesbian wedding guide, and should be a part of every community and academic library collection's LGBTQ collection. As a personal lesbian wedding planning resource it should be noted that "2Brides 2Be: A Same-Sex Guide for the Modern Bride" is also available in a Kindle format.

A Sociology of Special and Inclusive Education
Sally Tomlinson
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138182769, $155.00, HC, 196pp,

Synopsis: "A Sociology of Special and Inclusive Education: Exploring the Manufacture of Inability" by Sally Tomlinson (Emeritus Professor at Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK, and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Education, University of Oxford, UK) brings sociological perspectives to bear on the social, political and economic policies and practices that comprise special and inclusive education, and the education of lower attainers. Increasingly governments have accepted the premise that education should incorporate all social and ethnic groups, especially those regarded as having special educational needs, disabilities and difficulties in learning, but despite a plethora of literature on special and inclusive education world-wide, governments are still unsure of the reasons for this sector's expansion in their national education systems.

Professor Tomlinson applies critical sociological perspectives to the social processes, policies and practices that comprise special and inclusive education, particularly in England and the USA. She clearly examines the way in which people or groups exercise power and influence to shape this area of education, and discusses the conflicts of interest that arise in resulting social interactions and relationships. Key questions asked include: Why and how has a whole sector of education dealing with young people regarded as having learning difficulties, low attainments, behaviour problems or disabilities developed?; How have special education programmes and resources become subsumed into variations of inclusive education?; Why have ideological beliefs in hierarchies of ability, limits to learning potential and IQ as measurement continued to legitimate the treatment of young people? What happens to young people after their special, included or lower attainers' programmes, in terms of work and life chances?

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, a list of abbreviations, an informative Introduction and Conclusion, as well as a nine page Index, "A Sociology of Special and Inclusive Education" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, guaranteeing that it will be of special and particular interest to educators, teachers, and education policy-makers concerned with contemporary educational issues. While very highly recommended for college and university library "Education Issues & Studies collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of undergraduate, post-graduate and research students and academics, as well as active classroom teachers, that "A Sociology of Special and Inclusive Education" is also available in a paperback edition (9781138182776, $53.95) and in a Kindle format ($53.95).

Melinda Camber Porter in Conversation with Octavio Paz, Cuernavaca, Mexico 1983
Octavio Paz, author
Melinda Camber, author
Joseph R. Flicek, editor
Blake Press
9781942231073, $49.99, HC, 134pp,

Synopsis: The late Octavio Paz Lozano (March 31, 1914 - April 19, 1998) was a Mexican poet and diplomat. For his body of literary works, he was awarded the 1981 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the 1982 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, and the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature.

The late Melinda Camber Porter (18 September 1953 - 9 October 2008) was a British artist, author, poet, journalist and filmmaker. Her paintings, poetry and films have been critically well received. As a journalist, Porter interviewed renowned writers, artists and filmmakers of the past several decades for The Times. Among these interviews was her conversation with Octavio Paz took place in August 1983 at his home in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Melinda traveled to Mexico to write an article on the John Huston filming of Under the Volcano (novel by Malcolm Lowery) for The Times (London). She took this opportunity to also interview Octavio Paz. Their wide-ranging conversation included the subjects of comparative art, literature, poetry and politics in Mexico, Latin America, Europe and America, as well as Paz's reflections on writer's block.

This conversation took place at the same time as the publication of the English language edition of Octavio Paz's book, "Marcel Duchamp".

In addition to Melinda's interview with Octavio Paz in 1983, this published edition from Blake Press also includes Octavio Paz' 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature lecture in the original Spanish and an English translation.

Critique: Enhanced with informed and informative Forewords by Laura Vidler (who holds the Spanish Chair at the University of South Dakota) and farmer poet Scott Chasky; color illustrations, a bibliography, and an index, "Melinda Camber Porter in Conversation with Octavio Paz, Cuernavaca, Mexico 1983" is the fourth volume in the Melinda Camber Porter Archive of Creative Works series. Unique, illuminating, instructive, and descriptively revealing, "Melinda Camber Porter in Conversation with Octavio Paz, Cuernavaca, Mexico 1983" is unreservedly recommended for both college and academic library collections 20th Century Literary Studies collections in general, and Octavio Paz supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Romina Paula, author
Jennifer Croft, translator
The Feminist Press
365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9781558614307, $16.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Traveling home to rural Patagonia, a young woman grapples with herself as she makes the journey to scatter the ashes of her friend Andrea. Twenty-one-year-old Emilia might still be living, but she's jaded by her studies and discontent with her boyfriend, and apathetic toward the idea of moving on. Despite the admiration she receives for having relocated to Buenos Aires, in reality, cosmopolitanism and a career seem like empty scams. Instead, she finds her life pathetic.

Once home, Emilia stays with Andrea's parents, wearing the dead girl's clothes, sleeping in her bed, and befriending her cat. Her life put on hold, she loses herself to days wondering how if what had happened - leaving an ex, leaving Patagonia, Andrea leaving her -- hadn't happened.

Both a reverse coming-of-age story and a tangled homecoming tale, "August" by playwright, novelist, director, and actor Romina Paula is in the form of frank confession to a deceased confidante. A keen portrait of a young generation stagnating in an increasingly globalized Argentina, August considers the banality of life against the sudden changes that accompany death.

Critique: Exceptionally well rendered into English for the benefit of an American readership by writer, translator and critic Jennifer Croft, "August" by Romina Paula is an impressively well crafted novel that is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inherently engaging and entertaining from beginning to end. One of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "August" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists it should be noted that "August" is also available in a Kindle format ($10.34).

Dolly on Dolly
Randy L. Schmidt, editor
Chicago Review Press
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9781613735169, $28.99, HC, 416pp,

Synopsis: Dolly Rebecca Parton Dean (born January 19, 1946), professionally known as Dolly Parton, is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, actress, author, businesswoman, and philanthropist, known primarily for her work in country music.

Dolly personal story is a rags-to-riches tale like no other. A dirt-poor Smoky Mountain childhood paved the way for the buxom blonde butterfly's metamorphosis from singer-songwriter to international music superstar. The undisputed "Queen of Country Music", Dolly has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has conquered just about every facet of the entertainment industry: music, film, television, publishing, theater, and even theme parks.

It has been more than fifty years since Dolly Parton arrived in Nashville with just her guitar and a dream. Her story has been told many times and in many ways, but never like this.

Compiled and edited by biographer Randy L. Schmidt, "Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton" is a collection of interviews spanning five decades of her career and featuring material gathered from celebrated publications including Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, and Andy Warhol's Interview magazine. Also included are interviews which have not been previously available in print.

Dolly's feisty and irresistible brand of humor, combined with her playful, pull-up-a-chair-and-stay-awhile delivery, makes for a fascinating and inviting experience in down-home philosophy and storytelling. Much like her patchwork "Coat of Many Colors", "Dolly on Dolly" harkens back to the legendary entertainer's roots and traces her evolution, stitching it all together one piece at a time.

Critique: Impressively informative and an inherently fascinating read from cover to cover, "Dolly on Dolly" is an absolute 'must' for her legions of fans and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Dolly on Dolly" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.99).

Landscapes and Landmarks of Canada
Maeve Conrock, et al.
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771122016, $33.95, PB, 245pp,

Synopsis: From the national anthem and the flag to the symbols on coins, the image of the "land" is an ongoing trope in conceptions of Canada. The land and nature remain linked to the Canadian sense of belonging and to the image of the nation abroad.

Linguistic landscapes reflect the multi-faceted identities and cultural richness of the nations. Earlier portrayals of the land focused on unspoiled landscape, depicted in the paintings of the Group of Seven, for example. Contemporary notions of identity, belonging, and citizenship are established, contested, and legitimized within sites and institutions of public culture, heritage, and representation that reflect integration with the land, transforming landscape into landmarks.

The Highway of Heroes originating at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario and Grosse le and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site in Quebec are examples of landmarks that transform landscape into a built environment that endeavours to respect the land while using it as a site to commemorate, celebrate, and promote Canadian identity.

Similarly in literature and the arts, the creation of the built environment and the interaction among those who share it is a recurrent theme.

"Landscapes and Landmarks of Canada: Real, Imagined, (Re)Viewed" is a collection that includes essays by Canadian and international scholars whose engagement with the theme stems from their disciplinary perspectives as well as from their personal and professional experience -- rooted, at least partially, in their own sense of national identity and in their relationship to Canada.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by the team of Maeve Conrick (Professor and Principal of the UCD College of Arts and Celtic Studies, University College Dublin); Munroe Eagles (Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Canadian Studies Academic Program at the University at Buffalo - State University of New York); Jane Koustas (Professor of French at Brock University); and Caitrona N Chasaide (a Lecturer at Limerick Institute of Technology), Landscapes and Landmarks of Canada: Real, Imagined, (Re)Viewed" thirteen impressively informed and informative articles, and enhanced for scholarship with the inclusion of illustrations, a listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a nineteen page index. An extraordinary body of work, "Landscapes and Landmarks of Canada: Real, Imagined, (Re)Viewed" is unreservedly recommended for academic library Canadian Cultural History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Julie Summers

Logan's Bookshelf

The Autobiography of James Monroe
Stuart Gerry Brown, editor
Syracuse University Press
621 Skytop Road, Suite 110, Syracuse, NY 13244-5290
9780815635086, $65.00, HC, 304pp,

Synopsis: First published in 1959 and now brought back into print for the benefit of a new generation of appreciative readers, "The Autobiography of James Monroe" collects the compelling fragments of Monroe's unfinished autobiography, written after his retirement from the presidency. The memoirs, trace his boyhood, education, and experiences during his long service as a public servant before becoming president.

Monroe vividly recalls his military experience in the Revolution, his law studies at the College of William and Mary, and his service as aide to Governor Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. From the early days of his political career, Monroe writes with passion about his opposition to slavery and his support for the Western farmer. He discusses his controversial first mission to France as a young and inexperienced minister to a country in the throes of a revolution, as well as subsequent missions in which he served as the key negotiator with France for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory.

Critique: Originally edited by Stuart Gerry Brown (formerly a Professor of American Civilization in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University), this new edition includes an introduction by historian and documentary editor William Ferraro (Managing Editor of The Papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia) who considers the lasting influence of Brown's edition on Monroe scholarship and surveys the most recent research, detailing the ways this founding father's legacy continues to unfold. A seminal contribution to understanding the life and work of James Monroe (April 28, 1758 - July 4, 1831), who was the fifth president of the United States, this enhanced autobiography is especially recommended for both community and academic library American Biography and American History collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of history students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Autobiography of James Monroe" is also available in a paperback edition (9780815610892, $29.95).

White Working Class
Joan C. Williams
Harvard Business Review Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
9781633693784, $22.99, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: In contemporary American and throughout Europe, populist movements are gaining traction among the white working class. Meanwhile, members of a professional elite comprised of journalists, managers, and establishment politicians are on the outside looking in, are left to argue over the reasons after repeated electoral defeats.

In "White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America", Joan C. Williams (Distinguished Professor of Law and Hastings Foundation Chair at the University of California) clearly explains why so much of the elite's analysis of the white working class is misguided, rooted in class cluelessness.

Professor Williams points out that many people have conflated "working class" with "poor" -- but that the working class is, in fact, the elusive and purportedly disappearing middle class. They often resent the poor and the professionals alike. But they don't resent the truly rich, nor are they particularly bothered by income inequality. Their dream is not to join the upper middle class, with its different culture, but to stay true to their own values in their own communities -- just with more money. While white working-class motivations are often dismissed as racist or xenophobic, Professor Williams shows that they have their own class consciousness.

"White Working Class" is a blunt, bracing narrative that sketches a nuanced portrait of millions of people who have proven to be a potent political force. For anyone stunned by the rise of populist, nationalist movements, and wondering why so many would seemingly vote against their own economic interests, or who simply feeling like a stranger in their own country, "White Working Class" is a convincing primer on how to connect with a crucial set of workers -- and voters.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, written with an extraordinary clarity and data-driven insight, "White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America" is a seminal work of exceptional scholarship and very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for political science students, aspiring and practicing politicians and policy makers, as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject the "White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.49). Librarians should note that "White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America" is available as a complete and unabridged CD audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781538470442, $29.95).

The Structure of Design
Leslie Earl Robertson
The Monacelli Press
6 West 18th Street, #2C, New York, NY 10011
9781580934299, $60.00, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: In "The Structure of Design: An Engineer's Extraordinary Life in Architecture", Leslie Earl Robertson recounts his own storied career in engineering which has generated among the most innovative and formally daring buildings of the modern era, as well as his extensive collaborations with several titans of the practice: Minoru Yamasaki, Philip Johnson, Max Abramovitz, Romaldo Giurgola, I. M. Pei, Pei Partnership, KPF, Kiyonori Kikutake, and Gunnar Birkerts. Robertson's large-scale projects with some of the leading sculptors of the day, including Richard Serra and Beverly Pepper, display the range of this engineer's craft.

As a restless student from modest origins, Robertson's first encounters with engineering were almost accidental, yet he would go on to be lead engineer of the landmark IBM buildings in Pittsburgh and Seattle while still in his early thirties. Immediately thereafter he embarked on what would become his most renowned project, the World Trade Center, to be followed by scores of major buildings around the world.

"The Structure of Design" is a personal and accessible chronicle of the partnerships and problem-solving that have forged classics of modern architecture, and a privileged look at how the key discipline of engineering influences design, as told by a genius and poet of structure.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Structure of Design: An Engineer's Extraordinary Life in Architecture" is impressively informative and profusely illustrated. A thoroughly engaging read from beginning to end, "The Structure of Design" is especially recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Architectural Studies collections in general, and the supplemental studies reading lists for architecture students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject in particular.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Happy Tales
Diane de Mere
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781512768268, $33.95, HC, 218pp,

Synopsis: Diane de Mere enjoyed a ten year successful career as a professional corporate trainer and motivator. Despite her success she felt that something was missing. Instead of teaching about managing stress and making the most of life, De Mere found that she wanted to actually live it.

After deciding to practice what she taught, De Mere embarked on a mission to gain control of her own stress, while helping others follow in her path. She has now published the result in "Happy Tales: How to Manage Stress and Find Peace and Joy" which documents and illustrates her own personal journey. She peppers her account with stories of her rescued dogs, cats, and the wildlife of the Pacific Northwest, where she currently lives with her husband and companion animals on Whidbey island off the coast of Washington state.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, deeply personal, deftly written true life adventure, "Happy Tales" is part memoir, part travelogue, and part self-help manual. Inspired and inspiring, "Happy Tales" is a life affirming and life enhancing read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended, especially for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Happy Tales" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).

Raising Cooperative Kids
Marion Forgatch, Gerald Patterson, Tim Friend
Conari Press
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950-4600
9781573246903, $18.95, PB, 288pp,

A happy and successful family is firmly based on a spirit of cooperation. That begins with the instilling of a spirit of cooperation in children -- resulting in a happy childhood, being "good" parents, and building a family that will hold up against the pressures that besiege and threaten the stability of every family.

In "Raising Cooperative Kids: Proven Practices for a Connected, Happy Family", research psychologists Marion Forgatch and Gerald Patterson (one of the original developers of Time Out), provide parenting techniques that tap deep-rooted human instincts, making them universal and easy to use no matter where you live or how your family is structured.

Developed over 40 years of practice and tested in clinical and prevention trials, these skills empower parents to teach their children new behaviors, change unwanted behaviors, and reduce family conflicts. Together the team of Forgatch, Patterson, and Friend give parents the formula to overcome family struggles and inspire children to cooperate from toddlerhood into their teenage years.

Specific guidance is included for issues ranging from how to share the bathroom during the morning rush to what to do when a child misbehaves. "Raising Cooperative Kids" reinforces the value and importance of play -- enjoying each other and sharing time and activities together is the cornerstone of a connected, happy family.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Raising Cooperative Kids: Proven Practices for a Connected, Happy Family" is extraordinarily informed, data-based, practical, and 'parent friendly'. Of special note is the inclusion of an Appendix (Strategies and Resources for Raising Cooperative Kids). While highly and unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Parenting instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for parents that "Raising Cooperative Kids" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.76).

Fierce Kindness: Be a Positive Force for Change
Melanie Salvatore-August
Yellow Pear Press
9780990537090, $16.95, PB, 112pp,

Synopsis: "Fierce Kindness: Be a Positive Force for Change" by Melanie Salvatore-August (a yoga and meditation teacher/trainer mentor for Yogaworks, as well as a CTA Yoga-Based Life Coach and Reiki healer) will show how ordinary people can shift the world from fear to love with a dose of 'Fierce Kindness' -- a movement of nonviolence poised to ignite positive change on a personal, community and global level.

This uplifting guide will inspire people to be effective warriors for positive change both within themselves and out in the world. Sections encouraging Accountability, Courage and Action guide the reader on a personal journey of transformation. Especially recommended reading when feeling discouraged, sad, angry, bored or hungry, one approach is to allow the book to open to wherever it falls, and in that moment begin there.

You can write in the book; scrawl on it with pencil, pen or marker; fill it with one's heart's desires, thoughts and inquiries. Keep it with you so instead of reaching to your phone when you want a moment of distraction, use it to reach into your heart, direct your mind and transform your actions with Fierce Kindness. Basically utilizing this instructional guide to become a part of the Fierce Kindness movement of non-violence as an answer to the turbulent world in which we live.

Critique: Original and informative, thoughtful and thought provoking, inspired and inspiring, impressively practical and directly applicable, "Fierce Kindness: Be a Positive Force for Change" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections.

Kitchen Matters
Pamela Salzman
Lifelong Books / Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780738219240, $22.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Pamela Salzman ( a certified holistic health counselor who teaches cooking classes full-time) shares a simple but powerful mantra with the students who attend her famed cooking classes: Eat well, live well, be well. Now, in "Kitchen Matters: More than 100 Recipes and Tips to Transform the Way You Cook and Eat -- Wholesome, Nourishing, Unforgettable", she draws upon her many years of experience and expertise to share recipes that have won the praise of Nicole Richie, Rashida Jones, Audrina Patridge, and other mega-fans. Customizable for vegetarian, vegan, and grain-free diets, the recipes rely on accessible veggie-forward ingredients that are anti-inflammatory and nutrient-dense. Both practical and elegant, "Kitchen Matters" offers a roadmap for new and busy home cooks to begin including more wholesome foods every day, for meals as nourishing as they are unforgettable.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Kitchen Matters" is an impressive compendium of palate pleasing, appetite satisfying, kitchen cook friendly recipes that would grace any and all dining occasions. The featured dishes range from Brussels Sprout and Quinoa hash with Fried Eggs; Roasted Broccoli and Lemon with Feta, Pickled Shallots, and Pine Nuts; Italian White Bean and Tuna Salad with Capers; and Slow Cooker chicken Tacos; to Grilled Lemon-Herb Shrimp; Sweet Potato and Quinoa Veggie Burgers; Grain-Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake; and Homemade Coconut Yogurt. Of special note is the inclusion of a Metric Conversion Chart; Suggested Seasonal Meal Plans; a listing of Resources, and an Index. While unreservedly recommended for both family and community library cookbook collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kitchen Matters" is also available in a Kindle format ($15.99).

Southern Seasons 12 Months of Tea-licious Recipes & Ideas
Linda J. Hawkins
Heart to Heart Publishing
528 Mud Creek Road, Morgantown, KY 42261
9781937008536, $29.99, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: ll kinds of reasons for a Southern Seasons & Tea-licious Tea Time! An engagement, a wedding, special birthdays, baby shower, celebrating an accomplishment, open house, spring has sprung, summer has arrived, butterfly tea with first a caterpillar sleep-over, fall has created a painted backdrop, (who can resist?) winter-warmth cozy fire side sipping, neighborhood celebration, homeschoolers serving/etiquette, classroom sharing, senior center pick-me-up, all these occasions and more will be enhanced with the ideas, suggestions, observations, and recipes that comprise "Southern Seasons 12 Months of Tea-licious Recipes & Ideas" by Linda J. Hawkins. Theme parties are fun, and this instructional volume will guide the reader through whatever the fun occasion might be with ease and grace.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated throughout, "Southern Seasons 12 Months of Tea-licious Recipes & Ideas" is an impressively informative and thought-provoking read that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. All of the commentary and recipes are shown in four major seasonally oriented sections: Winger (December, January, February); Spring (March April, May); Summer (June, July, August); Fall (September, October, November). Of special note are such specific entries as 'Tea Caffeine' which offers a succinct answer to the question 'Is there a difference in the amount of caffeine in black and green teas?' -- followed by an utterly charming one-page instructional for 'Baby's First Tea'. A thoroughly entertaining and memorable browse from first page to last, "Southern Seasons 12 Months of Tea-licious Recipes & Ideas" is absolutely certain to be an enduringly popular and appreciated addition to personal, family, and community library collections.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Larry Trivieri, Jr.
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757004469 $14.95

Synopsis: Find out why millions of people around the world have for centuries turned to apple cider vinegar as a powerful remedy for treating many of their most common health conditions and learn how you too can use it to resolve many of your own health complaints. For centuries, apple cider vinegar has been used as a folk remedy to treat a host of health issues, from indigestion and low energy to sore throats and toothache. It is also a remarkable beauty aid that can help remove unwanted blemishes and add strength and sheen to hair. And that's just the tip of what this amazing elixir can do.

Best-selling health author Larry Trivieri, Jr. has written this practical guide to the many well-known benefits of apple cider as well as the elixir's newly discovered powers as a natural anti-inflammatory.

This book begins by looking at the long history of apple cider vinegar use and examines the science behind its many benefits. It then explains how you can choose the best apple cider vinegar, and even tells you how to make it at home. The main section of this book is a complete A-Z guide that shows you how to use apple cider vinegar to prevent and reverse over 80 common health conditions, and to improve and maintain the health and appearance of your hair, skin, teeth and gums. Each entry includes a clear discussion of the topic, explains how and why apple cider vinegar works to help each condition, and then guides you on how to most effectively use it.

Critique: Apple Cider Vinegar: Nature's Most Versatile and Powerful Remedy is a handy guide to the many practical uses of this substance for health and well-being. Thoroughly accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Apple Cider Vinegar shows how this inexpensive substance can ameliorate everything from blood cholesterol to nasal congestion, indigestion, gum disease and much more. An index for ease of use rounds out this excellent supplement to health and home remedy shelves.

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men
Rhonda Stoppe
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, Oregon 97402-9173
9780736949774, $12.99, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, (herself a mom with two sons), knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman's life. Drawing from years of ministering to youth and to women and from her own parenting experience, Rhonda provides refreshingly relevant guidance, biblical and contemporary examples, and humorous insights to help each reader discover: how to guide a son without hovering and smothering; how every action and choice can serve a godly goal; ways to communicate so a boy will listen and be heard; God's power and grace to become (and give) her best. Packed from cover to cover with practical help from parenting experts and other moms, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Critique: Crafted from the wisdom of personal parenting experience, Moms Raising Sons to Be Men is a reader-friendly guide to the immensely difficult task of parenting Christian sons in the postmodern era filled with endless distractions. While very highly recommended for community library Parenting instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Moms Raising Sons to Be Men" is also available in a Kindle format ($8.91).

Wendy W. Fairey
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781628725377 $25.99 hc / $10.63 ebook

Synopsis: Wendy Fairey grew up among books. As the shy and studious daughter of famed Hollywood columnist Sheilah Graham - F. Scott Fitzgerald's lover during the last years of his life - she began as a child reading her way through the library Fitzgerald had assembled for her mother and escaped into the landscape of classic English novels. Their protagonists became her intimates, starting with David Copperfield, whose sensibility and aspirations seemed so akin to her own. She felt as plain as Jane Eyre but craved the panache of Becky Sharp. English novels squired her to adulthood, and Bookmarked is a memoir of that journey.

In a series of brilliant chapters that blend the genres of personal memoir and literary criticism, we follow Fairey, refracted through her reading, as student, wife, professor, mother, grandmother, and happily remarried writer. E. M. Forster's Howards End helps her cope with a failing marriage; Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Ramsay teaches important lessons about love and memory. Like Eliot's Daniel Deronda, she learns only as an adult of her Jewish heritage (and learns also the identity of her real father, the British philosopher A. J. Ayer). In this intimate and inspiring book, Wendy Fairey shows that her love of reading has been both a source of deep personal pleasure and key to living a fulfilling and richly self-examined life.

Skyhorse Publishing, along with our Arcade, Good Books, Sports Publishing, and Yucca imprints, is proud to publish a broad range of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs. Our list includes biographies on well-known historical figures like Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela, and Alexander Graham Bell, as well as villains from history, such as Heinrich Himmler, John Wayne Gacy, and O. J. Simpson. We have also published survivor stories of World War II, memoirs about overcoming adversity, first-hand tales of adventure, and much more. While not every title we publish becomes a New York Times bestseller or a national bestseller, we are committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked and to authors whose work might not otherwise find a home.

Critique: Reading is a pleasure and a passion for author Wendy Fairey; she shares how literature has influenced her life for the better at every stage. Bookmarked: Reading My Way from Hollywood to Brooklyn is a tribute to the well-crafted book as an aide in one's lifelong journey. Thoughtful, witty, and keenly insightful, Bookmarked is highly recommended for book lovers everywhere. It should be noted for personal reading lists that Bookmarked is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.63).

Margaret Lane

Mari's Bookshelf

Little Nothing
Marisa Silver
Blue Rider Press
c/o Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399185809, $16.00 PB, $13.99 Digital Book
9780399167928, $27.00 HC, 352pp,

"If nothing is little then it must be something indeed" (32). In an unnamed village (seems Eastern European), during an unnamed era (perhaps turn of twentieth century), Pavla ("Little") starts out a dwarf but changes forms over time. Or, perhaps she was never any one thing but all of them at once, like time, which circles in on itself, past, present and future layering until time both exists and doesn't. It isn't meaningless, it isn't nothing; it is something indeed.

Danilo assists in Pavla's changes and loves her unquestioningly. Cowardly, he never quite gets up the gumption to find her when she goes missing. Instead, he follows his fellow escapee from an asylum and adopted "son," Markus, when Markus can do nothing but find her. What they they hope to find? What changes have overcome Pavla? What has time does with her?

These are the questions at the heart of this moving novel full of the fantasy that makes life more real than it could ever be on its own. Reminiscent of two other recent novels, The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood and To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson, in its themes of wandering through desolate landscapes, encountering temporary associations, the relationship between animals and humans, hunter and hunted, the effect is equally brutal and tender.

At some point each character in LITTLE NOTHING does prison time, but, like a reader "trapped" by an engrossing tale, none of them allows confinement to break them. No, imprisonment serves to strengthen Pavla and Danilo and Markus to their next challenge. So too, this novel will embolden readers well after we've finished it. Its tone is lyrical, symphonic, sweeping through various tempi and volumes, including silence, like the clipped exclamations - "She looks just like..." (32) that hang open for interpretation. What makes this work superior is its unification: its means is its message. The fairly simple plot (a boy searching for a girl-dwarf-..., who isn't easily found) rendered beautifully becomes richly complex, mythical. We are left touched by the potential that it could be our story, too.

Faithful And Devoted: Confessions Of A Music Addict
Jenna Robbins
Redwood Publishing LLC
9780998176062, $14.99 PB, $7.99 Digital Book, 234pp,

There are many entry points into this 1993 week-long Spain trip memoir by longtime ghostwriter Jenna Rose Robbins. If you could care less about Jenna as a person (she won't give you a reason not to care, as relate-able as she is from page one), you might be curious to compare her college European travels - New York-style - to your own. Or, perhaps you are a Depeche Mode fan, like Jenna. Get the inside scoop on the band's fashion details and drinking habits, what hotels they chose and clubs they enlivened. You might use the book as a travel guide for your next trip to Madrid, Barcelona, Pontevedra and Leon. Jenna is also a model travel companion to her penpal-become-hostess, Marta, that is, a model both to exemplify and avoid following. Maybe you're agnostic, wondering what faith is all about. Learn what it's like to be faithful, devoted, AND an atheist. "...The crowd, as if partaking of a religious ceremony, stopped shoving and became one with the universe - or, at least, the arena" (140). However you approach this book, it doesn't disappoint. Jenna's no-nonsense, easy-going articulation of her experience makes the read well worth it.

Love Is Rich in Both Honey and Venom
Axel Kruze
Privately Published
9780984268528, $13.99 ebook on Indigo

Couple the title's colorful metaphor with the antiseptic Kruze's writing style and you get a juicy irony maintained throughout this mystery. Sophie's dad is her role model while her mom is her nemesis. She is a beautiful, sexy, capable twenty-something. Hank's dad dies before he's born and his mom is his best friend. He's a forty year old rich geek. Together, they enact a courtship and marriage based on a deadly promise about jealousy and revenge. What is it worth to keep this promise? Kruze creates suspense by interspersing narrating chapters with italicized chapters of commentary, as well as by jumping back and forth between time periods. We're tantalized hearing about a trial whose crime unfolds alongside the legal proceedings following it. The result is a creepy, compelling exploration of the lengths we go for love.

A Book of Revelations
A.C. Burch, author
Madeline Sorel, illustrator
Homeport Press
9780997432701, $12.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 285 pages,

"We all lie when we're cornered.... The irony isn't lost on me. While I've made a career out of uncovering the truth in others, I've never faced my own" (222). About to write off the one he thought was the love of his life, the narrator in this longest tale of the collection (a novella also published separately) comes to terms with his own duality - and his capacity to give and receive love. In the first story, which reminds of The Lady in the Van, one neighbor's drawn out secret allows the narrator's abrupt coming out. In the second story, a musician's admitted lack of ability with words gives way for a stunning moment: "the sacred, quiescent instant when each person in the audience reconciles the experience in his soul" (76). Two friends in the final tale get to the heart of one scoundrel's suicide plot, as well as to the heart of their indelible friendship. The conceit of these stories is superb: A Book of Revelations isn't so much about disclosure as the conflict surrounding it.

A.C. Burch is a quintessential observer, but without the distance that might leave the writing cold. Instead, Burch takes on voices - that of old women, young men, sex-crazed and sex-craven. We are touched by these players at the margins, artfully rendered by chapter illustrations that suit in their whimsy and wry lines. This unforgettable cast invites us to meet them "my life on my terms" (203). Think of it as less a threat than one of the several dinner invitations extended throughout the book. Black-tie, or black gown - or both! - 8pm; be there or be square!

The Day of the Tiger
Dallas Gorham
Seven Oaks Press LLC
9781530435548, $11.99, Paperback, 312pp
9781530435548, $3.99 Kindle, 274 pages,

"Be less like a sheep and more like a tiger," private investigator and narrator Chuck McCrary tells Al Rice, the man he's hired to help (216). This fifth book in the McCrary series might at first seem like a typical cat and mouse chase, but it's more than that; it's about finding truth, finding a reason to pursue right over wrong. Al has hit rock bottom. After a series of mistakes, this former college football star finds himself addicted to drink, drugs and self-pity. He's deep in debt to a nasty loan shark, Monster Moffett, who earns his name smashing Al's hand and threatening his mom when Al shows up empty-handed. Al's rich ex pro-footballer Tank, now a successful accountant, hires Chuck McCrary to get Al - and his mom - out of this bind. But can they convince Al to take better command of his life?

Among many colorful characters Chuck meets tracking villains and making new friends (despite his bad jokes) are Tegumetosa "Teddy" Ngombo and neighbor Yvet. Teddy is a born Tiger-like warrior from Africa who speaks perfect English and questions his boss, Monster's, methods. Does he, like Al, come to a follow-Jesus moment? Chuck finds more information than he bargains for knocking on Yvet's door looking for Teddy. (She's a sucker for a gunman, in more ways than one.)

Dallas Gorham doesn't wastes a dull sentence in this action-packed read. If you liked this one, the book includes excerpts from his other books.

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

Edward Weston: Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist
Graham Howe, author
Beth Gates Warren, contributor
Merrell Publishers
8755 Lookout Mountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
9781858946634, $60.00, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: Over the course of his fifty-year career, American photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958) blazed a path into Photo-Modernism rendering portraits, landscapes, still-lifes and nudes. In 1902, a sixteen-year-old Weston took up photography in Highland Park, Illinois, where he worked as an amateur for five years. In 1907, at the age of twenty-one, Weston moved to Tropico, California, now the city of Glendale in Los Angeles County, where he constructed his first studio and set about with great purpose to become a photographic artist.

Examining Weston's earliest sharp- and soft-focus photographs reveals that the young artist had already formed a perfect sense of composition that was to be the hallmark of his later work.

Presenting Weston's earliest work from a recently discovered family album, "Edward Weston: Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist" by Graham Howe (who is the CEO of Pasadena based arts organization Curatorial Assistance, which he founded in 1988) compares the artist's naive first artistic efforts with his latest masterworks to show the persistence and evolution of his singular vision to find essential form in the vernacular with an ever-increasing intensity.

As a young man deeply intuitive and original in his creative expression, Edward Weston demonstrates that his teenage work, beginning with his amateur snapshots, embrace the same significant form as the later work for which he is now considered a master.

Critique: Each beautifully reproduced black/white photo comprising "Edward Weston: Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist" is informatively captioned with title and date. Enhanced with the inclusion of two informative articles, one by Graham House (Finding True North in the West) and the other by Beth Gates Warren (A Lifetime of Seeing), as well as two pages of Technical Notes, a one page listing of Acknowledgments, and a two page Index, "Edward Weston: Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist" will have very special interest for students of photography and prove to be an enduringly popular addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Photography collections in general, and Edward Weston supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

You've Got 8 Seconds
Paul Hellman
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814438305 $17.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Every day at work, people do three things: talk, listen, and pretend to listen. That's not surprising - the average attention span has dropped to 8 seconds. To get heard, says high-stakes communications expert Paul Hellman, you need to focus your message, be slightly different, and deliver with finesse.

Through fast, fun, actionable tips, You've Got 8 Seconds explains what works and what doesn't, what's forgettable and what sticks. With stories, scripts, and examples of good and bad messages, the book reveals three main strategies:

FOCUS: Design a strong message - then say it in seconds.
VARIETY: Make routine information come alive.
PRESENCE: Convey confidence and command attention

You'll discover practical techniques, including the Fast-Focus Method(TM) that the author uses with leadership teams; how to stand out in the first seconds of a presentation; and 10 actions that spell executive presence. Whether pitching a project, giving a speech, selling a product, or just writing your next email, with You've Got 8 Seconds you'll get heard, get remembered, and get results.

Critique: You've Got 8 Seconds: Communication Secrets for a Distracted World is a guide to business presentations, public speaking, email, and other forms of communication in the postmodern era - when personal smartphones and other distractions ferociously compete with the speaker for the audience's full attention! Written in plain terms with a wealth of examples, You've Got 8 Seconds is an absolute "must-read" for aspiring and practicing professionals in all fields of business. Highly recommended! "Often, the only reason others know you're nervous is because you feel compelled to tell everyone. Don't."

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Offspring of a Paradise
Safia Abdi
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781410794093 $TBA

Safi Abdi's Offspring of Paradise's riveting narrative commences with Hana who is only six-years-old when her world is turned upside down.

Loved by her family, excited to realize a new baby will soon be born, Hana is too young to comprehend what it means for herself, her family and the land in which she lives when clan wars break out in Somalia.

Hana does grasp that amidst all the noise and tumult her father is dead by only hours, her older brothers are taking part in the rampaging, and her uncle is trying to remove his mother along with his brother's pregnant wife and young daughter as away from danger as he can when they are ambushed.

Her uncle is injured, mother faces an uncertain future at the hands of the enraged gang, and the premature little brother lays dead on the sand. Grandmother buries her little grandson before she and Hana join the throng trying to evade the warring factions.

Hana and her grandmother spend two nomadic years on the run, always moving from one site of refuge or another before finally reaching the indistinct sanctuary of 'the wall' where they will live for a time. Hana becomes a school girl, the pair meets Mulki and Rune who offer hope, her grandmother dies, and, for Hana life goes on.

First one then another seeming comrade comes into her life, evidences themselves as right or wrong, faithful or not and possibly fades away out of her life again. At last, the comes, and, Hana is on her way home to meet the mother lost to her when her sad journey began.

Writer Abdi states that the characters and explicit narrative in her work are fictional, the situations are not, as she details with the lucidity of one who has become all too aware of much of the horror of war and fear, apprehension and anxiety of the evacuees living in Somalia during the ethnic cleansing that took place during the last century.

The actual period of the Somalian Civil war lasted for over a decade. On the pages of her manuscript, Abdi brings to perspective some of the thousands who were slaughtered, raped and mutilated in the process in addition to the thousands more were displaced and forced to attempt to create some type of life and security for themselves.

From the inaugural lines set upon the pages of Offspring of a Paradise; Writer Abdi has fashioned a spellbinding, while alarming, work.

As Readers shadow Little Hana and her family making their despairing effort for escape, and, continuing on to the last passage when we discover a more grown up Hana who remains optimistic that she will one day have a better future.

Via a carefully chosen vocabulary; Abdi sketches the anxiety of an entire body of people. Those who were facing discrimination were now prepared to utilize any means obtainable for escape from the annihilation and danger that had become an all to true certainty in the nation that was once the Somalia Democratic Republic.

Reading Offspring of a Paradise transports the reader right into the dilemma of the oppressed; writer Abdi dexterously promotes the concept that reader are in the thick of what may well have taken place many times and in many areas all through that difficult, worrying period.

Author Abdi has constructed, on the pages of Offspring of a Paradise, a staggering, compelling volume occupied with generously fashioned characters set into a hazardous story line, where bereavement and devastation have caused a close to devastating circumstances, unyielding bias, and at times, to some extent a puzzling dissonance in this authoritative read.

Offspring of a Paradise is the second book written by this gifted novelist who is even now hard at work on her next offering. Moreover, Abdi also pens poetry and short stories which she posts on numerous writing sites found on the internet.

Note: While U.S. English is not Abdi's first language, there are some minor language issues for the American reader. These are easily resolved.

Offspring of a Paradise includes a glossary of terms to aid those who might not be conversant with some of the terms.

Offspring of a Paradise is an excellent book for a quiet, thoughtful afternoon, happy to recommend.

The Endless Place
W J Calabrese
Wings ePress
9781590889138, $TBA, Paperback, 184 pages

W.J. Calabrese's The Endless Place introduces Readers to one Kevin Shaw who has had little contact with his Uncle Joshua Harwood during the nearly twenty years preceding his uncle's demise. Thus, Kevin IS a bit more than staggered to discover that he is the legatee of the will set down by his elderly, deceased relative.

Kevin's only notion, following his coming to Hillsboro is to get the crumbling manse ready to sell. Taking guardianship of the massive old residence where his uncle had long lived Kevin was more than a little dismayed, and even surprised to discover the monstrous construction has no telephone, no electricity, none of any of available modern conveniences.

Meeting with Attorney Fowler and learning the terms of Uncle's will left Kevin with mixed feelings; he must sojourn in the house for three months. And, he cannot sell the old relic for a year. Nor, can he sell furnishings other than those set down on a list prepared by his uncle, lastly, Kevin is obliged to render a comprehensive floor plan of the residence from cellars to all three levels above ground.

Left with an unsettling notion following his first night in the dwelling; Kevin now realizes that something really strange, unusual, weird, maybe even ghostly, is taking place inside the walls of the old manse.

It does not take long before Kevin finds he has been involved in trickery he never anticipated, has never craved, and, is not certain he can foil. To his consternation, Kevin comes face to face with existences he has only seen before in his nightmares. Bizarre situations arise to confuse, to top it off, the priest down at Our Lady of Sorrows relates sufficient to shock if not frighten Kevin senseless.

Welcome to the eccentric creation of W. J. Calabrese, it is a world inhabited by ghosts and monstrous beings. Readers deal with imaginings and nightmares

Told in the first person, not an easy task to carry off with aplomb, the narrative arranged by writer Calabrese is a good fluid read from the initial, unnerving, foreword down to the satisfying, concluding paragraphs. The reader is caught right up in the account from the opening lines and is held fast on a breathless trek alongside Kevin as he attempts to deal with unworldly and frequently petrifying beings and circumstances presented in The Endless Place storyline.

Relating the account of a young man receiving an aging family home and the unexpected personal consequences the legacy conveys; is a tale best read in the daylight with others of the family nearby. NOT for the faint of heart, not for a dreary night when you are home alone and storms are wailing outside this narrative presents a tale for the Reader who is really into shock, fright and horror.

Writer Calabrese presents a dandy first-person account complete with superb writing, some comicalness to break up the fear and irony to further the narrative. The Endless Place is an inimitable, innovative tale sure to please purveyors of the horror genre.

I will admit I do not particularly enjoy the genre, Calabrese's well written narrative, however presents a satisfying tale. First person is a problematic method to write, Calabrese has carried it off with assurance. His characters are nicely represented, circumstances are plausible in the horror realm; the chronicle is presented in a style to cause the reader to wonder if mayhap, just possibly the situations and scenarios could actually take place.

The Endless Place is jam-packed with bizarre alarming entities, an enigmatic priest, ghost of one long dead and more than sufficient categorically unnerving to delight those who hanker a little horror in their reading materials. Kevin's bewilderment as he grows in mindfulness of the truth of the situation he has been moved into is presented in a calm, tolerable manner. Readers keep step with Kevin through Calabrese's adroit writing.

I was sent a pdf by the author for my first read and review. Recently I found the paperback version on the shelf of a local jumble shop and am delighted to know the book is available as paperback.

Recommended for those who enjoy horror, 4 stars

Listen to the Ghost
Beverly Stowe McClure
Twilight Times Books
PO Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
9781933353517, $16.95, Paperback, 164 pages,

Beverly Stowe McClure's Listen to the Ghost presents the Reader a sound of music, a pink mist, missing jewelry, a voice singing, swirl of leaves as well as a voice calling 'help me' to set the stage for a most unpredicted, startling summer.

Seventeen-year-old Jade Dalton, her long time best friend Elaine Morrow and Jade's nineteen-year-old brother David travel from their Texas home to Charleston, South Carolina to embark upon a house-sitting period of time for the Dalton Grandparents.

Even before their arrival, David already plans to work at the eatery where he typically works to earn college money while visiting his grandparents. Jade has brought art work to show during Piccolo Spoleto. David invites a college friend, Matt Logan, to come stay as well. The orphaned, family acquaintance appears with his saxophone within days of their arrival.

Before long the solitary thing keeping Jade from beginning to be certain of the notion that she has lost her mind, or is well in the process of doing so, are the revelations of Elaine and David that they too have heard mysterious sounds of singing.

Everything is going well, their summer is turning out to be even better than hoped for until Jade made that startling admission regarding what she maintained must be a ghost haunting the house.

Initially, David was pretty sure Jade was only stressed as she began swearing they were sharing the house with a ghost. All that soon changed as clothing or jewelry began moving or became missing, and to top it all, there was an unexpected fusillade of flying hamburgers with all the trimmings.

Slowly and surely each of the four-young people became convinced that something more than just an old house with old wiring was likely busy in the old Victorian mansion.

It was not until a pink mist materialized into a girl resembling Jade; that the four puzzled teens began to disentangle the mysterious goings on. Jade's great aunt Phoebe had had a sad ending to her life when in 1923, on her wedding day; she died on her wedding day.

The teens are now thrust into a competition with time to help Phoebe, locate her missing wedding rings before July 1 thus bringing her the peace she has long sought since her untimely death on her long past wedding day.

A stalker of an ex-boyfriend, Matt's finding that he has family he had never realized, and blossoming romance all play out to a satisfying conclusion as the narrative continues.

Author McClure has fashioned a real page-turner of a read in Listen to the Ghost. Reader interest is begun and maintained from the opening lines when we meet Jade puzzling over the music she hears coming from somewhere in the house.

Reader connection to the storyline quickly develops, is held fast as we chance meeting the blithe ghost, and is sustained past the persistence of the stalker former steady beau who just will not take no for an answer and remains high right down to the last paragraphs as we all attend Jade's eighteenth birthday party.

Listen to the Ghost while presenting tension and a bit of frenetic activity is not merely a tense work or one of little more than high-strung activity. Characters are well developed, have their own personalities, and interact well. Dialogue is filled with energy, moves the narrative forward and keeps the reader turning the page. Phoebe the ghost is a delight who 'borrows' the girls' jewelry and clothing, paints a mustache and beard on the portrait of the former boyfriend and chucks veggies and patties at the young people.

Settings are nicely detailed, visual imagery developed assists the reader visualize the scenes. Writer McClure creates a nicely polished work filled with spine tingling action, adroit situations, and well fleshed players in this adroitly penned narrative. Dynamic inspirations, perilous twists of story line, first class conversation fill the pages in this exciting read.

certain to please target audience of upper grades and young adult readers. Listen to the Ghost has earned a rightful spot in the home, school and public pleasure reading library, a good selection for the English lit reading list.

A must have for the hard to interest readers in class; Listen to the Ghost is a book I am happy to recommend.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

Seasons of the Heart
Yolanda Grace Guerra
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781524675554, $20.99 PB, $34.99 HC, 314pp,

Poetry offers a window into the character of an artist, as few mediums do. In Yolanda Grace Guerra's "Seasons of the Heart", readers are acutely aware of this window because the poet writes in a clear, straightforward voice - a voice that is compassionate, perceptive and wise.

Each poem in this collection is accompanied by a date. The poems cover approximately 40 years of effort. Although the compilation offers a thematic arrangement of the work, I tried to read the pieces in chronological order so that I could see how the poet evolved as she matured. Surprisingly, the early poems reflect, to a significant degree, the wisdom and insight of the later work.

For example, "My Father", written in 1964, describes Ms. Guerra's father in his declining years. The poem begins: "Each day that comes will bring the face of yesterday". These words are arresting in their mix of simplicity and understanding. As the poem progresses, Ms. Guerra is unflinching in her observation: "I wake each day to find a gray old man - who now stumbles in the dark as he thinks of yesterday". And finally, she ends with: "He cared for us, he must have once - he cannot be my father". Remarkably, Ms. Guerra was only 23 when she wrote these lines.

"Seasons of the Heart" was compiled by Ms. Guerra's daughter, Sylvia Stankewich, who has left her name out of the book. I credit her here because she has created a fine tribute to her mother and has given the rest of us a gift.

Not all the poetry in "Seasons of the Heart" is weighty and profound. Whimsy steals into the work, as in the fanciful "The Cat Who Wanted Wings". Here we meet a "foolish" cat who wants to sprout wings. However, we are advised, if this ambition is realized, the rats will grow fat. We are left at the end with the image of a fat cat, sitting on a branch. This misguided animal tries "to tweet, but only a meow would come".

Readers are fortunate that Yolanda Grace Guerra recorded her life as she lived it. And we are fortunate that her daughter saw the value in her mother's words and the merit in keeping a promise to publish these poems posthumously.

I highly recommend Yolanda Grace Guerra's "Seasons of the Heart".

To Climb a Mountain: Growing Up in the Canadian West Adventure Amid Turmoil and History
Jean Forbes-King
FriesenPress, Inc.
9780995859913, $15.99 PB, $26.99 HC, 276pp,

"To Climb a Mountain: Growing Up in the Canadian West Adventure Amid Turmoil" is a memorable book. It brings to life circumstances most of us will never personally experience, such as wrangling with a grizzly bear and panning for gold. The book follows the form of a classic Bildungsroman (novel of personal development), though "To Climb a Mountain" is not technically a novel. It falls somewhere between fact and fiction. The story is based on conversations and tapes provided by the subject, Bill Forbes-King, and is fleshed out in a spirited telling by his wife, Jean. In the book, young Bill Forbes-King confronts and survives challenges that mold his character. He struggles, stumbles and, ultimately, prevails.

"To Climb A Mountain" is not a perfect book. There are structural issues that disrupt the narrative flow. This is not a fatal flaw. The virtues of the book outweigh its defects. As I finished reading "To Climb a Mountain", I thought of an artist I had recently discovered, Clementine Hunter.

Neither Bill Forbes-King nor Clementine Hunter had the benefit of an advanced education. Hunter worked as a manual laborer. Through her days of physical labor she observed her environment. These observations she immortalized in paintings that lacked technical expertise but that revealed, brilliantly, the world in which she lived. From her pictures, we see her world.

Bill Forbes-King, also, gives an unsophisticated, unfiltered view of his world. Though his wife wrote this book, it is his young voice - adventurous, naive and discovering - that comes through.

Forbes-King began life with few advantages. He never knew his father, a WWI vet who died before his son was born. Forbes-King and his mother leave their native England and migrate to Canada. After years of struggling to support her son, the mother dies while the boy is still a teenager. At this point, the orphan is put into the foster care system. Here he has a varied experience, not all of it positive.

At 17, with WWII raging, Bill Forbes-King decides to join the battle. He signs up for service and is shipped out to Europe. For a good part of the book, readers are given eyewitness accounts of this young soldier at war. His war accounts are some of the most dramatic in the narrative.

Upon his return home, at war's end, Forbes-King transitions to civilian life with nothing but his wits and survival skills to support him. He takes a series of positions, mostly in the Canadian West, where he meets a host of colorful characters.

While "To Climb a Mountain" could use some reorganization and editing, it is a distinctive and original book. Ms. Forbes-King is a good writer. She offers readers a credible and entertaining account of her husband's life. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers.

Wisdom of the Heart
Diana Coogle and Barbara Kostal
Laughing Dog Press
9780966936438, $35.00 HC, 160 pp

The authors of "Wisdom of the Heart," Diana Coogle and Barbara Kostal, offer a vivid palette of verbal and visual art. Their response to stimuli is visceral, although it is evident that both women bring to their experience a honed sensitivity.

As Barbara Kostal (the painterly half of this collaboration) explains in the Introduction, her influences are many. These include, significantly, Native American traditions. I found the paintings with Native American symbolism to be the most memorable. That is my organic, not my intellectual response. I revisited several of these paintings as I perused the book. Among those that impressed me most were "Fiat Lux" and "Transcendence".

Diana Coogle offers a verbal counterpoint to each of the images painted by Kostal. Coogle does not analyze the pictures intellectually. She allows them to find a place in her psyche and her heart. She is clear that her responses are the product of experience and intuition. While the reader may bring a different perspective to the art, Ms. Coogle's observations enhance appreciation.

"Wisdom of the Heart" is highly personal. What makes the personal expressions in this book relevant to others is the intelligence and sensibility of the authors.

I recommend "Wisdom of the Heart". Even the most determined pragmatists will find, after spending time with this book, that they have enjoyed peace and inspiration. That is time well spent.

A. G. Moore

Paul's Bookshelf

A Mind of Your Own
Kelly Brogan
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
195 Broadway, New York NY 10007
9780062405586, $16.99 PB, $14.99 Digital Book
Blackstone Audio: 9781504696517, $26.95, CD
9780062405579, $26.99, HC, 338 pages,

For women, anti-depressant drugs are prescribed for problems ranging from depression to anxiety to PMS to insomnia. This book explores a very different approach.

According to the author, the assertion that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that is easily fixed by a drug like Prozac is total nonsense. Rarely do such drugs help at all. In fact, they may make things worse by permanently disabling the body's self-healing mechanism. Depression, and other such mental and emotional problems, are not separate diseases. They are symptoms of physical problems elsewhere in the body.

There is a well-known physical connection between the gut and the brain, as an example. A digestive or intestinal problem could easily manifest itself in the brain. Inflammation seems to be the cause of of most physical problems that are common today. Some inflammation is quite normal, then it goes away. When the inflammation is "on" all the time, that can be a serious problem, and needs to be addressed.

The author's prescription starts with getting rid of all processed food and going organic. The cause may be those unpronounceable chemicals that are listed in the ingredients. Next, get rid of your artificial cleaning products with more unpronounceable chemicals. There are household cleaners available that are a lot less harmful. The author also talks about what blood tests should be performed at the next doctor's visit. Get a good night's sleep, every night, and start exercising; they will help a lot.

This book is better than excellent. It is highly recommended for everyone. It is especially recommended for those whose anti-depressant does not seem to be working. Your problem may be somewhere else than in your head.

Who Rules the World
Noam Chomsky
Metropolitan Books
c/o Henry Holt and Company
175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010
9781250131089, $18.00 PB, $9.99 Digital Book
9781627793810, $30.00 HC, 308 pages,

Here is the latest book of political analysis by "America's most useful citizen" (so says the Boston Globe). Chomsky is a linguistics professor emeritus at MIT, and has been writing about political issues for many years.

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris has been called the most threatening assault on journalism and free expression in living memory. Evidently, the April 1999 NATO rocket destruction of Serbian state TV headquarters doesn't count. There were no calls for inquiries into western Christian culture in its aftermath.

Why wasn't the US military budget cut after the collapse of the Soviet Union? America must maintain its "defense industrial base" because of the growing "technological sophistication" of Third World countries. America invaded Panama, killed thousands of people, and installed a client regime with no Soviet threat. The pretexts given were nonsense, the invasion was a huge violation of international law and the media neglected to mention the US veto of a unanimous Security Council resolution condemning crimes by US troops during the invasion.

Elites and the political class consider Iran to be the primary threat to world peace. The average person does not agree. Polls in Europe show that Israel is the biggest threat to peace. In Egypt, only ten percent of the people regard Iran as a threat. Only a quarter of Americans regard Iran as an important concern. There is strong opposition to military engagement in an Israel-Iran war. A good step toward peace in that part of the world would to be declare it a nuclear weapons-free zone. America will never let that happen.

This book is a huge eye-opener. It has revelations on nearly every page, revelations that will never be mentioned by the US political class or US media. It deserves six stars, and is extremely recommended.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Bianca Lacasa, author
Gomez, Illustrator
9788494541575, $16.95, 40 pages

Fabio is a beagle with a major identity issue. He doesn't do normal dog stuff like wag his tail, or play fetch, or even bark. When his boy Max shouts "Bow-wow," he just looks puzzled. To Max's complete surprise he discovers that Fabio disappears "as if by magic" every night. He finds Max playing with a bunch of street cats and doing cat stuff like sharpening his claws, chasing mice, and climbing trees. He even purrs. Clearly Fabio is happier living his cat life. But can Max find a way to share his life with a dog that would rather be a cat? Lacasa cleverly uses a comical situation to introduce gender identity issues to young readers. Gomez's simple cartoon illustrations parody the variety of animal expressions and antics with playfulness. "Bow-Wow-Meow" is a whimsical story about love and acceptance.

Denise Orenstein
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
Blackstone Audio: 9781338194135, $25.99, CD
9780545925853, $16.99 HC, $10.99 Digital, 224 pages,

Pippi Longstocking meets Black Beauty in this satisfying summer read. Eleven-year old Yonder lives with her dad in a little crooked house in Shelter, Vermont. When her mom died four years earlier her dad said, "We can choose to stop moving up that rocky path or we can decide something else." Yonder chose to stop talking and her dad chose to withdraw from life in an alcoholic haze. Yonder and her dad are dirt poor and for that, as well as her name, she is bullied endlessly at school. When an unsympathetic principal suspends her for two days, Yonder decides she won't go back. In the midst of her stay-cation, Yonder finds a wayward pumpkin which attracts the neighbor's Shetland pony to her yard and they bond as he devours it. Even though the one-eyed pony is fat, rude, and caked with dirt, Yonder falls in love with him and aptly names him Dirt. But mean old Miss Enid plans to sell Dirt for horsemeat. So Yonder steals Dirt and hides him in her bedroom. Life is good for Yonder and Dirt until the authorities find out. Yonder shoos Dirt back to Miss Enid's and the authorities take her to a foster home. But that doesn't last very long. At first chance Yonder escapes and embarks on a rescue mission to save Dirt -- and herself -- before it's too late. "Dirt" is an emotional adventure that will tug at your heart strings and make you smile.

Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollution
Marcus Eriksen
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409
9780807056400, $26.95 HC, $25.99 Digital Book, 216 pages,

At the outset, author Marcus Eriksen exposes the truth behind the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, supposedly floating in the Pacific that is twice the size of Texas. In 1997, Captain Charles Moore's actual discovery was billions upon billions of tiny, colored plastic particles -- from micro to macro -- floating on the flat sea surface and encompassing an area about twice the size of Texas. But the floating garbage island meme was a better sell with the media and focused public attention on plastics and other pollutants in our oceans.

Eriksen is a veteran and environmental researcher and activist. Prior to establishing the 5 Gyres Institute (dedicated to fighting plastic pollution) with his wife Anna, Eriksen sailed across the Pacific on "Junk Raft," constructed with plastic bottles, plus 30 old sailboat masts for a deck and a Cessna 310 airplane as a cabin. Eriksen and his comrade in environmental advocacy Joel Pachal (an accomplished sailor) embarked on June 1, 2008, on a course set to imitate the route that trash follows when dumped into the ocean. What they observed was neither a garbage patch nor a trail of plastics. Instead they found micro and macro plastic particles so pervasive in the ocean environment they had become part of the food chain, ingested by and in most cases killing all species of marine life. In one instance the fish they caught for dinner were so polluted with microplastics they were inedible.

Their journey was not without incident and harrowing close encounters with death, as well as days on end of boredom adrift on the flat sea. The most astonishing event was a meet-up in the middle of nowhere for a food and water swap with ocean rower Roz Savage. Eriksen infuses his Robinson Crusoe narrative with an exposition of the ongoing battle to fight plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways. Though Eriksen supports public awareness campaigns, better waste management, and bag bans, he places the ultimate responsibility at the feet of the plastics producers to produce less, recycle more, and foot the bill for reclaiming the tsunami of toxic junk that saturates our environment. You will never look at plastic the same way. "Junk Raft" is an unforgettable expedition through the sea of microplastics that charts our course out of this morass.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

The China-America Alliance: East Asian and American Cultural Values Promote Global Harmony
Jack C. Westman
Scholars' Press
9783330650886, $39.98, PB, 476 Pages,


The China-America Alliance makes a compelling case that the USA and China hold the keys to the future of the condition of man and the health of the planet.

However, the question is... Does mankind have the strength to stand united, and fight as one for humanity, and the future of our wonderful world?

In this fascinating book Jack C Westman examines in-depth, the similarities and differences which makes an alliance between China and America the way forward, not only for global peace, but also enabling them to turning about the destructive influences which are sweeping our world, and threatening its future for our decedents.

Thoroughly researched, this book is overflowing with theories, examples and quotes from great people throughout the history of the world, who each have been passionate about their work or beliefs, humanitarians, scientists, leaders, politicians, psychiatrists, cosmologists, the list goes on.

Asia and America both share remarkably similar cultural values. Deep down they both believe in old fashioned family values, the importance of stability for children, good neighbourliness, and supporting local organisations and businesses. However, somewhere, each has lost its way in this modern world of instant gratification and materialism, which has become a throwaway society, where all around are examples of lack of accountability, chaos and violence. It is this that has set mankind on a downward spiral which could potentially be fatal for the future of the human race.

It is time to open our eyes to the truth, which is that human beings cannot be separated from our environment, for us to survive we must do something to help our environment now. The author explores how we can proceed by looking at realistic and unrealistic thinking, and examining how Asia and America can achieve this, by working together for global peace.

However, to go forward we must be able to examine ourselves objectively, and the roles we play, discovering who we are and what impact we have on the environment. Global unsustainability is rising alarmingly, with air and water pollution, global warming, the destruction of our seas by disposing of our rubbish in them. Then there is the ever present threat of nuclear weapons...

I found this book absolutely fascinating and compelling reading. It has laid out a firm strategy for China and America to independently rekindle their cultural values, then work together to control hostile and corruption in both societies, and achieve mutual economic dependence.

Jug Valley Mysteries PHOTOFIT MYSTERY (Jug Valley Mystery Series Book 4)
Anne Digby
Straw Hat
B06XSPQSD2, $2.97, 72 Pages

Genre: Children's book

In this exciting adventure Handles and Spouts Incorporated, or Hands for short have to use all their detective skills to discover the answer to the Photofit Mystery.

The Hands consist of twins, Tim and Amy, Amy's best friend Mini, Tim's friends Ludo and Ben. Together the five form a formidable team, which meets at its headquarters, an old caravan in the twins back garden.

Amy and Mini are friends with Esme, who lives at The Nook with her father. One day they notice that she is sad, and when she tells them why they understand. Esme only has her dad, and now he is off to a new life in New Zealand, the house is for sale, and Esme has got to live with her aunt, her dad's sister, in a nearby village. Leaving Jugminster, and her dad leaving her, when her mother has already died, is more than Esme can stand, and distraught, she asks the Hands to keep an eye on her old house until it is sold.

Of course the Hands agree, what are friends for? However over the next weekend strange things are happen at Esme's house, and late at night, a mysterious black car can be seen leaving the barn in the field which is behind the house, after dark.

Despite their very best detective work, the Hands have plenty of clues, but they still have nothing firm to go on, so Amy suggests Esme has a sleepover at hers, perhaps six heads will be better than five.

Esme happily agrees, and is even more excited when she is made an honorary Hand for the night. In their headquarters they ponder the clues, hatch a plan, then as night time is drawing in, they put it into action.

Will they discover what is happening at The Nook?

Also, why is the black car hidden away in the barn, and why does it only come out under the cover of darkness?

The importance of friendship and comradeship shines through in this exciting mystery adventure, and this story will keep you guessing until the very last page.

I can't wait to read the next adventure of Handles and Spouts Incorporated!

Safari Ants, Baggy Pants & Elephants: A Kenyan Odyssey
Susie Kelly
Blackbird Digital Books
9780995473577, $14.06 pbk / $5.49 Kindle, 260 Pages

Genre: Memoir

Is it a good idea to revisit your childhood? For Susie Kelly it definitely was as you will discover in this fantastic book. I first became a fan of Susie back in the UK when I read of her move to France, and her adventures and exploits since. In 2014 she released I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry, a poignant memoir, which included her wonderful childhood in Africa, and this is its long awaited sequel.

In this book we join Susie, and her husband Terry, as they take up an invitation from her old friend Vivien, owner of As You Like It Safaris, to go on a safari, and enjoy the experience through her beautifully descriptive writing and wonderful photographs.

And so, leaving her animals in France, under careful supervision, in August 2015, Susie and her husband Terry set off for an African safari. More than 40 years after leaving Africa, many things have changed, including Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya, which through her eyes as the plane landed now resembles a space station.

Immediately feeling like she has come home, Susie straight away treats the reader to the full African experience, as she vividly describes the sights, sounds, and if possible the smells of this amazing continent.

After meeting other safari members, and a well-deserved sleep in the Nairobi Serena hotel, Susie, Terry and their group start their safari by making their way to the Amboseli National Park 140 miles south of Nairobi, and Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain. I cannot begin to describe how much Susie's writing and reminiscing brings this book to life. Not only is the reader treated to stunningly vivid descriptions of the animals and scenery, but also the native tribes and the people who are guiding them. At this point I have to say that Susie has taken some amazing photographs throughout the safari adventure and they complement this book beautifully.

The safari group stayed at some wonderful and famous places, from the Mount Kenya Safari Club, with its touch of celebrity lifestyle, to camping in tents for an 'Out of Africa' experience in the Masai Mara. However, these were no ordinary tents, in fact it is only their canvas walls which gives them their name. These were beautifully furnished, double lined, insect proof rooms, on raised platforms with double and four poster beds, and they were situated on the bank of the Olare Orok river, so Susie and Terry could sit on the veranda and watch the hippos in the water.

Being an animal fanatic I enjoyed learning so much about African wildlife from this book and also the incredible people who care for, and protect it. After a childhood spent on this vast continent, time spent in England, and 20 years in France, Susie has used her own unique style of writing to bring together her African safari, and past alive, and has generously shared it with her readers.

Whether you are looking for a book about Africa, love wildlife, or are addicted to memoirs, I guarantee that you will not be able to put this one down!

Dynomike: Magical Space
Frankie B. Rabbit
Amazon Digital Services
9781548097318, $14.99 print / $4.99 Kindle, 56 Pages,

Genre: Children's Book

Some days you get up and everything goes wrong, it seems as if the world is against you. Poor Dynomike is having just such a day! As soon as the alarm clock goes off things start to go wrong, and before he even gets to the school bus disaster has struck three times, and so he is stressed, sore and grumpy.

However help is at hand, Bus Driver Chubb notices his distress and has the perfect remedy, what's more it is instant, costs nothing, and it really works!

So what is the remedy, well, I'm not going to spoil this wonderful story by telling you, but what I will say is that once you learn Bus Driver Chubb's trick you never need to be grumpy again.

I absolutely love reading my grandchildren the Dynomike series of children's books because they teach children how to cope with everyday problems in a positive way using rhyming verse. The books are especially appealing to youngsters because of they are beautifully eye catching, and wonderfully illustrated.

With so many extra pressures on our children and grandchildren these days I think it is lovely that this book teaches them, through Dynomike's, example how to incorporate simply relaxation and mindfulness into their lives.

Khaled Talib
World Castle Publishing
9781629896953, $12.99 pbk / $3.99 Kindle, 268 Pages,

Genre: Suspense Thriller

Khaled Talib is set to take the literary world by storm with this, his latest spy thriller, Incognito.

When Pope Gregoire XVII disappears, and no one claims to have any idea where he could be, speculation as to his whereabouts, safety, and fate escalate, and soon the frantic search to find him spreads from Italy to further afield.

As the tension mounts, The League of Invisible Knights, send Ayden Tanner, an 'officially dead' former member of the British SAS, and his team, to find him. However as soon as Ayden arrives in Geneva for his meeting with the Papacy's Press Secretary Rafael Rabolini, the problems begin.

This is a truly gripping read with a nail biting good vs. evil plot. Khalid Talib in his own vividly descriptive way, takes his readers on a worldwide adventure as Ayden and his team find themselves pitting their wit against a merciless enemy with a devastating plan...

Well written, with amazing characters and an action packed plot, this story will keep its reader on the edge of their seats until the very last page.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

The Society of Sh!tkickers
Nathaniel Rainey
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B071YW2NGK, $5.97, Ebook, 14 pages,


In a small country peace and tranquility exists. Unbeknownst to the townspeople a deal is being made with their government to bring a new factory into their land. They are led to believe this new establishment will bring them new jobs that will only be given to people who live in their community. They are over joyed at having a factory build that exclusively be for them.

At first when the doors were open and they were hired for the high paying positions they were ecstatic at having the opportunity to earn a living in place where they lived. Then one day a dark cloud revealed itself when it was found out that the company was hiring outsiders to work in "their" factory.

They refused to stand by and allow the company to lie to them. They employed The Society of Sh!tkickers to fight their battle. Will this dedicated group be enough to bring justice to their world?

THE SOCIETY OF SH!TKICKERS is a very entertaining book. It has a hidden undertone that reveals that this injustice is happening everyday around the United States. It provides the reader with an entertaining and realistic look at corporation corruption.

Nathaniel Rainey is an author who has an unlimited amount of talent. Whether he is writing about strong political beliefs or providing an entertaining look into corporate injustice there is never a dull moment when you pick up one of his books. I found this book to be short and to the point, and enjoyed reading every word of it.

Video Store in a Box: A Guide to Free Television and Movies on the Internet
Chris Mason
9781310138591, $TBA, ebook, 5,800 words


With the rising cost of cable bills, many people have sought out different methods that will allow them to cut the cord from the high priced cable companies. This book opens up a new world on how a person can use the internet to watch practically anything their heart desires.

What makes this method so unique is that it doesn't cost the user anything and doesn't require any high priced equipment. As I read each page I was amazed at how much free television shows were available on the internet. Another amazing item I never realized was how much "free" television was located on YouTube. With having a SmartTV I know that this tip will quickly be put into action.

VIDEO STORE IN A BOX: A GUIDE TO FREE TELEVISION AND MOVIES ON THE INTERNET is a fascinating book. I feel its concept is appropriate to today's cost cutting cord quest. I feel the book is beneficial this for anyone that is fed up with paying monthly cable dues.

Chris Mason has written another very informative book that is ensuring to be a huge benefit to anyone who purchases a copy. With every book that I read of this author, there is never a day that I don't go away in having learned something fresh and new.

Arcade in a Box: A Guide to Free Games on the Internet
Chris Mason
9781311068712, $TBA, 8,180 words


"We aren't in an information age; we are in an entertainment age." ~~ Tony Robbins

Step back into time when Pac-Man was a hit and where every teenager saved up their allowance money to hang out at the video arcade. In this decade the video game exploded. Years later, there are still 1000's of games that are available free on the web. What makes it so appealing is that all of them are free and legal.

This book would be an ideal tool to introduce a youngster to a computer and a means to give safe and proper age video games. There is no expensive equipment that required, besides a computer, mouse, and video monitor. There is an endless amount of joy throughout the pages of this one novel.

ARCADE IN A BOX: A GUIDE TO FREE GAMES ON THE INTERNET is a potpourri of some of the best games that were ever developed. Its content will make sure the reader learns of a method to find the best arcade games that the internet has to offer.

Chris Mason has written a very informative book that will appeal to anyone who loves video games. He has done an outstanding job in researching this book. I found so many websites that I never dreamed existed. I feel this book would be enjoyed by old and young.

Bookstore in a Box: A Guide to Reading and Listening to the Best Free Books on the Internet
Chris Mason
9781311982339, $TBA, 5,150 words


"Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that" ~ John Green

Books have a way to nourish your mind and relax your soul. They offer a form of peace and harmony to the person. This book is an excellent source of unlimited amounts of free books. Here you will find links to any type of gene that your soul craves or even textbooks that are required in college.

There were so many websites that I never knew existed. Some of my favorites included, "Choose your own damn adventure" and the "Public Book Shelf". The "Public Book Shelf" called out to my hidden vice of being a hopeless romantic.

BOOKSTORE IN A BOX: A GUIDE TO READING AND LISTENING TO THE BEST FREE BOOKS ON THE INTERNET is an outstanding reference book. I found myself getting lost in the pages of all of the useful information contained in this one book.

Chris Mason has mastered the craft of writing. His talent as an author far suppresses those of his competition. It is clear that he devotes much time and effort into anything that he publishes. He has quickly become one of my all-time favorite authors.

Fish from the Sky
Addison Marsh
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B06ZYZ7WJW, $2.99, Digital, 271 pages,


In the heat of war, a love emerges . . .

Will this newfound relationship be strong enough to survive a country torn apart?

Abigail Linneman has lived in Cambridge all of her life. She decides she is in need of a break from Cambridge. To earn extra cash, she starts work at a local pub. She loves her job, for it provides her life and excitement that she has been craving.

When the Royal Corps of Signals learned she spoken German, they recruited her. She accepted their offer. There she first noticed Sergeant James Marshall. He was so unlike the other men who she came in contact with, for there was a shyness in him that wasn't present in the others who sought her attention.

James fell in love with Abigail instantly. Together they shared a whirlwind courtship. When James proposed marriage to her, she was unsure if she wanted to marry someone who had such a dangerous career. It took her seven days to say "yes" to his question.

The two spend their wedding night together, and then James military career calls him away to participate in a special operation. Will his mission be a success and he come home to the comforting arms of his new bride?

FISH FROM THE SKY is an outstanding novel! I found myself being enthralled by each of the scenes as they play out before my eyes. This book has the power to reach out and pull you into its pages. Through the author's descriptive words, you are able to feel a magnetic pull that quickly wraps its way around your heart.

Addison Marsh should stand up and take a bow! She has proven to me that she is one magnificent author. With this being my first book that I found by this talented author I quickly knew that her writing was going to earn a spot on my keeper shelf. Each scene is so perfectly constructed, the characters are expertly defined, which makes for an unforgettable reading experience.

Painting Sage
Rachael K. Hannah
Amazon Digital Services LLC
9781544806020, $10.95, 212 pages,


A Mother's love knows no boundaries...

Julia had given birth to Sage at the age of twenty-two. On that day, her entire world changed. No longer was her life centered on her wants and needs, now she knew that she was responsible for someone other than herself. She found from the moment she first looked into Sage's eyes that she loved her unconditionally. She fought to keep her with her when her marriage ended and her husband wanted to have her live with him.

At fifteen, she discovered that Sage had a serious illness when she found her lying on the floor unresponsive. She rushed her to the hospital and was stunned to learn that she was exhibiting traits of being bi-polar. She couldn't believe that her lovely daughter was suffering from such a serious condition.

Julia blames herself for Sage's condition. Will she be able to give the love and comfort required to help Sage through this difficult time? Will she be strong enough to provide the assurance and motivation to encourage her daughter to want to get better, while not forgetting about her own needs?

PAINTING SAGE is a beautifully written novel. From page one this book exhibited its own special blend of emotional radiance. The words seemed to draw me into the story and I found myself powerless to put this book down.

Rachael K. Hannah is a superb author whom I predict is about to take the literary world by storm. PAINTING SAGE is absolutely one of the best books I have read in 2017! Her descriptive words project the reader into the world where a rollercoaster of emotions is felt. I found that her writing style was fresh, and projected its own special mix that made for one unforgettable reading experience.

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

If You Were Me and Lived on Mars
Carole P. Roman
Mateya Arkova, illustrator
9781540869722, $12.99, 44 pages, 2015

If You Were Me and Lived in Germany
Carole P. Roman, author
Kelsea Wierenga, illustrator
9781539135942, $14.99, 58 pages, 2017

If You Were Me and Lived in the American West
Carole P. Roman, author
Paula Tabor, illustrator
9781532877841, $10.99, 36 pages, 2016,

If You Were Me and Lived on Mars allows you to think into the future, maybe the year 2054 when you might be able to walk on the planet, Mars.

To be travel to and from Mars would have to be only when Earth and Mars were lined up for a quick trip which would take about two years. Children could also go there with their parents.

How can anyone possibly consider living on the red planet of Mars? The air pressure is too thin with too little oxygen and too much carbon monoxide and little atmospheric protection allowing too much radiation for humans to survive.

Also on the planet are no natural resources to provide housing as will as water, food, extreme temperatures, air and all of the everyday necessities. Outside the living area would uninhabitable without a special suit to compensate for the differences between Mars and Earth.

For this imagined book to be possible, all of us on this planet now need to aware of the facts of what we now know about Mars to make this dream a reality.

If You Were Me and Lived in Germany allows every reader to experience life in the country that is the most populated in the European Union.

What I adore about this book is the influence of the German people into the English language with words like league, cuckoo, folk, marinated, observatory, Oktoberfest, sauerbraten, throne, vinegar, and wurst.

If You Were Me and Lived in the American West has a setting in the Willamette Valley in Oregon which was a possible destination of the Oregon Trail in 1835.

Life was frequently difficult for many Americans settled along the east coast of the United States. Living off the land, made people depend on luck with the weather whether dealing with droughts or floods.

The dream of the Oregon Trail gave people hope for a new better life. With the possibility of finding gold, many settlers left their old lives for the east coast of the United States.

It is hard today to imagine putting everything you own into a covered wagon and slowly walk the distance across the country on trails, but not paved roads. You also needed to carry all the food and supplies needed along the route as well as to begin this new life while traveling with a group of people similar to you.

Would you want to be part of this experience?

Near the end of this book, a list of the well-known people associated with this time.

The illustrations perfectly match the text of theses educational and informational books. All three books include an appendix with the vocabulary and pronunciation guide unique for each.

With these three books of living in another place in the future, present, and past, Carole Roman transports readers of all ages into a realistic time machine of their imagination with her as their travel guide.

The Boob Girls VII: Ten Little Puritans
Joy Johnson
Grief Illustrated Press
1561232529, 2015, $14.95, 182 pages

The Boob Girls VIII: Learning to Love Willie
Joy Johnson
Grief Illustrated Press
9781561232628, $14.95, 203 pages

Benjamin Franklin once stated, " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." However, there is that says that at least you can have fun along the way.
That is the thought behind Joy Johnson's delightful Boob Girls series. For most retirees in a home, life is not uplifting

Author, Joy Johnson has discovered that aging does not mean that life ends. With a few close friends, their lives now consist of humor, excitement, mystery, romance and making the most of each day.

Home is Meadow Lakes Retirement Community for Mary Rose McGill, Marge Aaron, Robinson Leary, and Hadley Joy Morris-Whitfield. These women seem at first to have little in common except for their love of life and learning to enjoy each day sharing their friendships and adventures.

Scooter McKooter has invited the ladies to help at her Bed and Breakfast in Salem's Crossing, about one hundred miles away, serving a group of Puritan descendants. She hopes the women will help with the cleaning, cooking and whatever else is needed.

With Ten Little Puritans, the adventure is a little reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel of Ten Little Indians.

Representing each guest is a Puritan doll resembling their human counterparts with names like Diewell Barbones, Patience Evenow, and Abstinence Evermore.

Almost as soon as the guests arrive, they begin to disappear as well as their doll. When one of the girls also vanish, the mystery only intensifies with the appearance of an expensive carriage pulled by a black horse and a writer appearing at the Shut Up and Drink Tavern.
Learning to Love Willie is the eighth book in the series.

How should nightwear for older women look? Most of us can imagine granny gowns for grannies but is there something a little revealing, enticing perhaps?

The BOOB Girls and all the female residents at the retirement show are to be models wearing Winkie Wear created by the designer, Willie Winkie for a charity style show.

Mary Rose is the most reluctant of the girls to model and refuses to wear any of the designs that have actual dead squirrels on the shoulders.

Why has Meadow Lakes Retirement Community agreed to this? Simple, money.

Part of Willie's reason for choosing Meadow Lakes is because of Marge who is a retired homicide detective.

Willie has multiple problems. First, someone is trying to take over his business. Also, his friend Jack Sprat who owns an Italian Restaurant called Lotsa Dimples has someone who is always stealing all their lettuce from the salad bar. He also believes Dr. Fell is responsible for these crimes and is trying to kill him.

Does this resemble a nursery rhyme?

You need to read the book to find out the relationship.

These books can be read out of order and by themselves but are much more enjoyable if read in order.

Joy Johnson is the co-founder of Centering Corporation which is North America's oldest and largest bereavement resource and Ted E. Bear Hollow located in Omaha, Nebraska for grieving children. She has written over one-hundred books mostly for children about grief.

These books are fun to read. With the protagonists being people who most of society feels their lives are over, it is invigorating to see how these characters enjoy the most life has to give each day.

Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man
Book 2 in the Gertrude and Toby Fairy-Tale Adventure Series
Shari Tharp, author
Jim Heath, illustrator
Atlas Publishing
9781996967945 $16.99, Hardcover, 48 pages, 2016

Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf
Book 3 in the Gertrude and Toby Fairy-Tale Adventure Series
Shari Tharp, author
Jim Heath, illustrator
Atlas Publishing
9780996967976 $16.99, Hardcover, 48 pages, 2016

Gertrude is a goat and Toby is a turtle who are best friends and live at McFarland Farms.
They are in the farmyard observing Farmer Sam and his son, Ryan trying to load their prize pig into a trailer to show at the county fair.

Anxious for adventure, Gertrude and Toby decided to follow Farmer Sam, his son, and the pig.
As they were walking, they noticed a flying carpet that seemed to be following them. Almost immediately a girl and boy leaped onto the carpet while being chased by a witch.

Curious, Gertrude tossed Toby onto her back in pursuit of the children.

Surprisingly this how Gertrude and Toby meet Hansel, Gretel, and the Magic Carpet including additional visits from The Gingerbread and The Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk.

If Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf, the two friends sneak off the farm every Friday while the farmer is shopping.

This time the two decide to go fishing.

As they near Trout Lake, a boy rushes by screaming, "Wolf."

Quickly they hide in the nearby bushes for safety.

As they continue, the boy runs by again screaming.

After he passes, the twosome walk to the lake, enjoying their fishing.

Again they are interrupted when the boy shouts again only, this time Gertrude and Toby see the wolf dragging the boy.

That is when they decide to help.

They followed the wolf to his cave which is very brave for a goat and a turtle.

In Gertrude and Toby Meet the Wolf, the story intermixes The Boy Who Cried Wolf along with The Three Little Pigs.

Author Shari Tharp won a silver medal from IPPY, Independent Publishers Book Award for the first book in this series as an illustrated e-book with Gertrude and Toby's Friday Adventure.

Illustrator Jim Heath is a graphic artist and California resident.

The Gertrude and Toby books are for children from preschool to age eight who have a little background with the traditional fairy tales. The books are fun with vocabulary appropriate for the age level and the illustrations perfectly matching the text.

These are great books for expanding imaginations with young children and a creative step-off point into having the readers write and illustrate their own Gertrude and Toby fairy-tale adventure.

Brooklyn Graves: An Erica Donato Mystery
Triss Stein
A Worldwide Mystery
First published by Poisoned Pen
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464202193, $7.99, 280 pages

Who would steal a window from a family mausoleum?

Even more perplexing, why would the management attempt to cover it up and not report the problem to law enforcement?

Erica Donato has a busy life. She is completing her doctoral project, a single parent of a teenaged daughter, and working part time at the Brooklyn Historical Museum at a job that is one-step above an intern. Erica is to complete any task assigned to her at the museum.

Her newest project is to assist in an assessment of old letters and sketches long-ago forgotten in an attic. These appear to be related to the company, Tiffany.

Dr. Thomas Flint is a Tiffany expert. She is to assist on escorting him to a mausoleum.

As the rainstorm is subsiding, the two enter the cemetery only to be told of its closure. Through the sloppiness of recent rain, the two arrive at the neglected Konick Mausoleum. Although the damage seems to be more damaged by humans than nature, Erica is in awe at the inside of the museum in viewing a window made by Tiffany. Even knowing of the Tiffany reputation, actually seeing the beauty of the glass reaches beyond her wildest expectation.

Now Erica has another challenge, her daughter's long-time friend, Dima is shot with his body left in front of his home. The family has been close to Erica for years. Why was he killed?

Brooklyn Graves is the second book in the Erica Donato series but can easily be read and understood without having read the first book. Book One is entitled, Brooklyn Bones, book three is Brooklyn Secrets and the fourth books, Brooklyn Wars will be released in August.

Brooklyn Graves is a fascinating and engaging novel as the reader accompanies Erica with her entire investigation and attempting to discover who killed Dima while still learning about the phenomenal Tiffany art, especially in windows.

Brooklyn Graves perfectly balances history of the Tiffany windows into a fictional and engaging story interwoven masterfully.

Out of the Black
John Rector
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781477805046, $14.95, 235 pages,

Money can make people desperate. For Matt Caine, the is exactly his life now, desperate.

Matt's wife died in a car accident. His wife survived, but his daughter was permanently damaged requiring much rehabilitation and therapy.

Unfortunately, providing for Anna's special needs now requires this time and money. Another disadvantage is that now this single-parent has the challenge of also providing for his daughter and his night. Most businesses are not very understanding.

An old friend is now meeting with Matt, offering him a solution.

Jay believes an acquaintance of his has money. So now he has developed a scheme. He just needs Matt's help for it to be possible to solve both of their problems.

Added to his problem, Matt borrowed money to pay for Beth's funeral and his daughter's hospitalization and care. However, the mobster that he borrowed the money from, now wants it paid back.

His old time friend, Jay, is just out of jail. Matt also spent time in prison, but now hopes to rebuild his life now into a successful life where he can live comfortably with his daughter.

Matt has another problem. He is unemployed. His wife's parents have what he needs, time and money. They are extremely willing to care for Anna while he looks for another job. Their hope is that this is temporary, just until he gets on his feet.

Matt agrees to Jay's plan which involves kidnapping his wife. Naturally, the scheme doesn't quite work as expected and what begins as one small change, ends in disaster.

What happens when you are in trouble way to deep, and there is no solution now?

John Rector lives in Omaha, Nebraska. His book Already Gone was nominated for the 2012 International Thriller Award. His novels Lost Thing, The Grove, The Cold Kiss, The Ruthless, and recently released The Ridge are all best sellers.

Out of the Black catches the reader on the first page and does not release you until long after the book is finished. The problem of having no easy solution to the problem, without swallowing your self-respect by giving in to his former in-laws. They mean well but it 's hard to lose your pride.

The story is compelling, well-written and perfectly organized with characters that are very human in just looking for a better life.

All adults would enjoy this book. Even though dark in tone, there is a part of each of us that can easily relate to Matt's situation.

Read Out of the Black for a fast-paced and memorable novel.

The Midwife's Sister: The Story of Jennifer Worth by her Sister
Christine Lee
Pan Books
c/o Pan Macmillan Publishers
9781447282648, $14.95, 341 pages with additional photographs, 2015

Christine Lee is the sister of Jennifer Lee Worth who is the author of Call the Midwife series. Her perspective on their lives is quite different from her sister's viewpoint.

Jennifer is three years older than her sister, Christine. The two had a close relationship in their early years, relying on each other for companionship.

While their father was daily working, their mother was not nurturing, and for Christine, Jennifer was her big sister/mother.

Much of the novel regards their childhood, which privileged, was problematic with their mother suffering from a stroke when she arrived home early one day to discover her father with his secretary in their bed.

The girls' lives spun into turmoil as their parents split and their father remarried which eventually causes the sisters to be separated.

Christine states their lives as being middle-class. However, the girls were sent to boarding school and had servants in the home. Money did not seem to be a concern.

Although the book is subtitled, The Story of Call the Midwife's Jennifer Lee Worth, the story is as actually more about Christine with most of the pictures about her life and including her art when she met the queen, not about Jennifer.

I also felt that very little was written about her "midwife" time and much about Jennifer's isolation from her sister.

An issue I have with the book was that it was written and published until after her sister's death. It is not fair to Jennifer to have her life revealed strictly from Christine's perspective.

Besides the misleading title, the book is a reflection of Christine Lee as the little sister of the author and creator of the "Call the Midwife" series.

The story reads quickly but concentrates more on Christine's marriages, children, and life rather than Jennifer's.

Who would enjoy the book?

Call the Midwife fans are the obvious audience but would be disappointed in that the relationships are not at all like the series.

People who begin to read the book without the expectation of revealing the Jennifer Lee Worth story can enjoy the story of Christine Lee, artist.

Deadly Occupation: A Michael Stoddard, American Revolution Mystery
Suzanne Adair
Privately Published
9780988912939, $16.95, 250 pages

Imagine living in the year 1781 in South Carolina. Our country is just beginning but is still fighting for its independence. For many settlers, they are choosing whether their allegiances are with the British as Loyalists, the colonists as the rebels, or being neutral with no preferences.

At the time, no country had ever successfully broken away from a mother country to be independent as a new nation.

A British officer, Lieutenant Michael Stoddard is part of the Eighty-Second Regiment, currently occupying the small town of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Many of those loyal to the colonists are associated with the Regulators. With the British Invasion of this area, they flee the area along with the horses, carts, and ammunition.

For those who remain must surrender to British officer, Major Craig after their articles of surrender had been rejected. Now all the residents are prisoners of war.

One of their scouts is a free Negro named Teal. He is questioning the safety of the homes in the area, especially the possibility of traps as the troops inspect and move into the town. He reports of a nearby home owned by a loyalist merchant whose home is being attacked by about twenty men on horseback who are setting the out buildings on fire.

Michael is given ten men to assist in saving the Farrell home. Fortunately, their training gives them the advantage even while being outnumbered.

As Major Craig takes over command of the area, he assigns Michael as his lead criminal investigator answering only to him. With this unstable occupation, the Major needs someone he can trust.

Michael is allowed to hire an assistant to help investigate his many new duties. Among the rebel leaders leaving the area, their families still remain. Will their spouses return? Where do the family loyalties lie?

His assignment also includes the creation of a church which does not seem Anglican. Women are allowed positions in this church going against the teachings of the Anglican Church. The Major needs to know what Vicar Spivey if really doing which he expects is taking advantage of the local residents.

Added to that is the disappearance of a gunsmith's wife, Julia Garrett.

The Major expects these tasks to be completed within the next day or two.

How can an outsider possible accomplish all this within such a short length of time?

Author, Suzanne Adair currently resides in North Carolina even though she was born and raised in Florida. She has authored three books in her Mysteries of the American Revolution series as well as three books in her Michael Stoddard, American Revolutionary Mysteries with a fourth episode soon to be released this fall.

This book is exquisite in how the perspective from the British side as the protagonists and the rebellious revolutionaries as the antagonists leaves the readers supportive of the Redcoats. The reader is hoping for the success of the British forces along with understanding the viewpoints of the Loyalists, the British forces, those loyal to the rebel forces, and those who are neutral with showing no preferences towards either side. Showing the problems of the time period who within their own families were not always unified. Adding to that is the constant challenge of slavery of the time period.

The characters are realistic attaching the readers to their unique personalities while accompanying Michael on his investigation, understanding his past while visiting each witness and site. The action is fast-paced in this historical page-turner.

Who would enjoy this novel? Being that the story is historical and is teasing a future romantic relationship, women would likely prefer this book.

Deadly Occupation is a time machine to another time and place by the masterful storyteller, Suzanne Adair.

Teri Davis

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

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