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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 18, Number 7 July 2018 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrea's Bookshelf Andy's Bookshelf
Ann's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mari's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Polk's Bookshelf Suanne's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

My Absolute Darling: A Novel
Gabriel Tallent
Riverhead Books
c/o Penguin Random House LLC
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
9780735211179, $27.00 hc / $11.99 Kindle

Bonnye Matthews, Reviewer

Synopsis: This coming of age story lays bare the lives of a young girl, Turtle, who is horribly abused; her intellectual, survivalist father, Martin; a school friend, Jacob, whose world is the target of Martin's hatred. Turtle's life is minimalist and brutal against an inspirational backdrop of acres of valuable water view property that supports the neglected, deteriorating, plant-invaded house where she lives with her father and a trailer where her grandfather lives along with a dog and a dying orchard. Occasionally Turtle disappears into the wilderness alone, knowing in detail the plants and animals of the area. She has excellent ability with her guns she carries. Although people reach out to Turtle, she cannot bring herself to reach back, conflicted over her concept of love/hate for her father, not really knowing what love is. Her encounters with Jacob show her other ways of seeing, and in the end his influence affects her potential for breaking free of her captivity. It is her protective attitude towards Jacob that ultimately provides her opportunity for freedom made more complex by her conflicts of feeling for her father.

Critique: This book is a gripping read and moves rapidly, while its focus is on things one might wish to avoid seeing. You follow the story through Turtle's eyes and feelings. At the same time the number of plants could give one the need for a wild plant handbook of the area (e.g., bishop pinecone, wild ginger, wild mustard, coyote brush). It is real, current, and poignant. A compelling, if not enjoyable, read. For those sheltered from the brutalities of life, it is informative. I highly recommend this book for academic and community libraries.

Nuns, Nazis, and Notre Dame
Gerald Ambrose O'Reilly
As told to Tim Pletkovich
Vandamere Press
PO Box 149, St. Petersburgh, FL, 33731
9780918339829 $199.95 168 pages

John Tuohey

I came upon this book because Tim Pletkovich and I share the same publisher, and Tim had kindly read my book, which is due out in the coming months.

I was caught by the subject matter, as I worked for years with veterans, and am well aware that WW II veterans are dying off, taking their stories with them.

In addition, as an Irish Catholic, I was raised with tales of Nazis, close contact with nuns, and a hard to explain loyalty to Notre Dame.

This book is written for the general reader, and should appeal to a wide range of readers. This includes Irish descendants, WWII buffs, Brooklyn Dodger fans, Notre Dame grads, and history enthusiasts. It is the life of one of "the greatest generation." It encompasses the depression, WWII, and post-war America, as lived by a man who dealt with what life threw at him without complaint.

It is a story of a man and a generation who still believed in family ties, religious fidelity and patriotism. It is a story of families who stood together in good times and bad. It is the story of a decorated hero, who saw nothing heroic about his actions.

It is also, peripherally, a look at famous people, such as William F. Buckley and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as the extended Buckley family, into which the author married, and who were there for him when he found himself with five children under the age of six, after his wife's fatal stroke.

This book is the story of a life, told as he speaks by a man in his nineties, unvarnished and genuine. Tim Pletkovich, a teacher and former baseball scout, spent countless hours interviewing his subject, allowing him to tell his story, and organizing it with the same detail he brought to his book, Civil War Fathers: Sons of the Civil War in World War II.

Forbidden Archeology
Michael A. Cremo & Richard L. Thompson
The Bhaktivedanta Institute
0963530984, $39.95, 914 pages including index

Marty Duncan, Reviewer

From the Introduction: "...the primary point we are trying to make in Forbidden Archeology, namely, that there exists in the scientific community a knowledge filter that screens out unwelcome evidence." (xxxi) Cremo and Thompson review eoliths, paleoliths and neoliths 'hand-worked' stone tools indicating hominids and Homo sapiens were on the Earth at 2.0 to 5.0 my b.p. The authors point out that today's scientists declare they are open to new ideas but their careers are at risk if they choose to declare the validity of new evidence. They report vendetta and black-listing against archeologists who tried to report their findings.

All my life I have believed in the scientific process: examine the evidence and accept new ideas. This book is a veritable 'tome' of details of how those archeologists who were brave were mistreated by their peers. In fact, 'peers' is a blatant misnomer for those 'so-called' scientists who closed their minds and distorted the facts.

Ditch the Player, Get the Good Guy: The Good Relationship Advice to Getting a Man, Keep a Man and Get Rid of Time Wasters
Madeline Boyd
Privately Published
Page Count: 114, Print

Suzie Housley

Beware the Big Bad Wolf exists in the single world . . .

In today's dating world every single person long for the day that true love will enter into their life. The prospect of finding "the one" keeps them kissing those frogs in hopes that one day it may turn into a handsome price.

Often in these uncharted lands there resides a creature known as "a player". On the outside, he looks are everything that we have dreamed of in a mate. While inside he is plotting the next move that will lead him to his own self-gratification.

It is essential that every single woman knows how to know what to look for in a player. This guy will be the one that will drain your bank account dry as he quickly exits without looking back or caring that he has left your heart in pieces. This book is a must read for it educates the reader on what to look out for so they can easily see through this so-called Prince Charming dressed in wolf sheep's clothing.

Madeline Boyd has written a book that is a must-read for all single women. She provides an in-depth look into what a player is and provides the insight of what qualities a genuine guy possesses. Being single myself and have had my fair share of players in my dating circle, this book reaches out and spoke to me and my single situation. I learned so much through this information she shared and would highly recommend it to every single woman who needs an eye-opening experience.

Death Logs Out
E.J. Simon
9780991256426, $27.99 HC, $8.99 Kindle, 360pp,

Alex Lopez

Technology permeates our society and dictates how we socialize, work, and experience life.

What if we were able to harness technology so that death logs out?

Michael Nichols has talked to his brother, Alex, every day for two years since he was murdered. This AI-Alex has all of Alex's memories, mannerisms, and persona that Michael recognizes as his brother. But is this being with a conscious the real Alex? Or is it just a sophisticated program running on a machine?

While Michael keeps his conversations with Alex to himself, the kidnapping of his daughter makes Michael turn to Alex for help. With Alex 'alive' again, outside forces, ranging from gangsters to the Vatican itself, will stop at nothing to put an end to Alex, and his family, once and for all.

Death Logs Out is the first novel I read by E.J. Simon. While it is the third installment in his Death series, I had no issue jumping into the story and considering it as a stand-alone work.

I've read quite a number of thrillers and mystery novels this year and I must say that Death Logs Out is an exceptionally thought provoking work where Simon delves into the very heart of existentialist questions. There are quite a number of interesting proposals in Death Logs Out including the concept of self and if technology can replicate who we are or, in essence, become an extension of us that remains immortal.

Simon was able to reach to audiences through riveting writing that encompassed the themes of familial and marital relationships, technological advancements, and deadly secrets. Overall, through Death Logs Out, Simon created narrative that resonates with the vibrancy of work by authors Clive Cussler, Stuart Woods, and Lilian Jackson Braun.

Death Logs Out is an incredibly suspenseful and captivating thriller that is built on tension, drama, and character developments that will have readers logging in for the rest of the series.

Rats, Mice and Other Things You Can't Take to the Bank
Leslie Handler
0999412736, $14.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 177pp,

Phyllis Ring, Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars

When I begin to think of others with whom I want to share a book, even start ordering copies for them before I've finished reading it, I've found a book that serves the heart.

Leslie Handler's warm, transparent -- sometimes fearless -- perspective clears out inner cobwebs like a rush of springtime air. Her writing strikes a welcome balance between humorously forthcoming and gently poignant. I've previously enjoyed essays she publishes as syndicated columns. This collection shines a lovely light on life's true wealth, the willingness to develop and apply the healing capacities of compassion, fair-mindedness, and kindness, along with fortitude, forbearance, and faith. Faith in grace, in others, and in life itself.

The author has experienced a pretty large serving of difficulties along her path. Her response is, for me, one of the gifts of this book as it reminds of the freedom, and power, of reaching for appreciation, humor, and joy together with honesty that's not afraid to face life fully. Her willingness, at times, to write from deep vulnerability helps this reader feel a lot better, and hopefully kinder, about being human. There's much sweet wisdom woven in with the observant wit here.

Evil in Disguise
John M. Vermillion
Independently Published
9781980359722, $12.25 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 323pp,

Jeffrey Fleishman

Evil is Disguise is an excellent book. Strong and well-paced. The moving back and forth in time works - and that's no easy task. The writing is clean and evocative. Montana - as a terrain and an emotional canvas works well, as it did in the previous book. You know when a writer is not faking it when it comes to locale. It's a bit of an iceberg metaphor; don't need to see it all, just have to feel the weight of it beneath the surface. It wins the reader's trust. I think Evil in Disguise is John M. Vermillion 's best novel. The dialogue is pared and scenes breathe in their moment and move on. Certain passages had a cinematic vividness that flashed in the mind's eye. It will stay with me. Congratulations.

My only quibble is with the villain, Blaise Paschal - We need to get into his head more, feel what he feels. A horrific thing happened to his buddies. It is the atrocity that fuels his evil. I think a touch here and there of having him recount the incident: the bodies, scents, blood, bridge, water, clamor, gunfire, dust, sunlight, the pure and acrid danger of adrenaline, and the free-fall of loss. The men he knew are no more, scraps of bone and flesh scattered over a foreign land. We need to see them better if we are to understand him. A little more recounting in a kind of eerie nostalgia would make him more empathetic. The best villains are those we can relate to.

My suggestion is minor and falls under what my agent calls "the five percent rule." It's a matter of shading here and there, nothing big, just an accumulating nuance. It's a damn fine book, John. Through the series your readers have gotten to know Pack and the nation. That's quite an accomplishment. And a gift.

Bipolar Wellness: How to Recover from Bipolar Illness
Michael Rose
Bipolar Wellness Foundation
9780999111208, $19.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, 306pp,

Robin Goodfellow, Reviewer
San Francisco Book Review

Bipolar Wellness, by Michael Rose, is a self-help guide for those who suffer from bipolar disorder. The book is separated into different parts, each part corresponding to a stage in a model for helping those with bipolar disorder. The first stage, Body-Mind Connection, explores the different aspects of bipolar disorder. The second stage, Recovery--An Inside Job, describes the various obstacles that are associated with bipolar disorder. In the third stage, Connecting the Dots with Support Networks, Rose shows that many sufferers of bipolar disorders aren't alone and that there's a community out there that can help them in their time of need, such as friends, family, and support groups. In the final stage, Bringing Your Recovery Into the World: Becoming Proactive, Rose describes how to cope with living with bipolar disorder.

There were many aspects of the book that I enjoyed. Rose is very particular about labeling those who have a mental illness, ensuring that they are treated with respect. Rose offers a helpful model as to how bipolar disease can be dealt with holistically and how to balance it in a way that's healthy. He encourages bipolar sufferers to engage in support groups and hobbies in a way that helps stabilize these patients, thus promoting an atmosphere of cooperation rather than hostility. What's more, Rose goes into describing a potentially new treatment involving nutrition, all the while involving the input of the psychiatrist. is part of the book was a rather beautiful description of the integration between traditional and alternative medicine.

One important detail in the book that I was thrilled by was how Rose continually kept engaging the reader. There were various questions and activity sheets that the reader could do in order to manage the disease. As a result, this book isn't just an informational tool; it can serve as part of a treatment plan that can assist individuals living with bipolar disorder. His clear explaining of the models helped as well. However, they were just a bit repetitive at times. Because Rose has the image of these models scattered throughout the book, I found this a bit distracting. Personally, I have quite a few friends who have bipolar disorder. After all, bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects many people daily. And while I myself don't have it, this book allowed me to gain insight into the disorder as well as the holistic approaches that ensure the health of the patient. Because of this, I'd recommend the book to those who suffer from bipolar disorder as well as those who are interested learning about the disease.

Finding the Bunny
Samantha Paris
Voice Haven Productions
9780999312117, $16.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle, $21.95 (French Flap), 308pp,

BookLife Prize Critic's Report

Plot: Paris's memoir is a great read. "Finding the Bunny: The secrets of America's most influential and invisible art revealed through the struggles of one woman's journey" is structured well and the story flows smoothly and at a good pace throughout.

Prose: The prose is smooth, clear, and readable. Paris's unapologetic voice is compelling and true to her story. Readers will find this an enlightening introduction to the fascinating world of voice-over acting.

Originality: Finding the Bunny is truly an original work. Not only is the memoir refreshing and authentic, it also explores a relatively unknown industry.

Character Development: Samantha Paris's character is engaging and vivid and evolves throughout the memoir. The secondary characters are also well developed.


Plot/Idea: 8
Originality: 10
Prose: 8
Character/Execution: 9
Overall: 8.75

A Line Intersected
David Grant Urban
Fat Dog Books
PO Box 15591, Long Beach, CA 90815
9780999137017, $16.95 PB, $6.95 Kindle, 422pp,

Don Houts, Reviewer

Michael Collwood was a young professional, an architect with a great firm in San Diego. He was in love with and married to a wonderful woman. On a warm night, they were enjoying an outing in downtown's Gaslamp District when disaster struck. They were grabbed at gunpoint and pushed into a dark building where Michael was drugged and his wife was assaulted, raped, and murdered. When Michael unexpectedly recovered from a coma three months later, he learned that he was the prime suspect in his wife's murder. He was fired from his job and lost his home when he could not pay the mortgage. After two more years of struggling, Michael decided it was time to end his life and he hiked into a remote canyon near Borrego Springs with enough pills and booze to do the job. When a small plane crashed near Michael's remote campsite, that's when things changed.

A Line Intersected is a well-told story with strong subplots. Michael thought an old homeless man might have witnessed their kidnapping and could support what no one else believed. The author took us on a deep dive into the homeless population of San Diego to find "Books" who had seen them being taken at gunpoint. In the search, one learns about the size of the homeless population, where and how they live, and the variety of people who have ended up on the streets. Urban humanized a part of our society that often seem to stay invisible. The story also takes the reader into city corruption, the movement of drugs across the border, the gangs that distribute this product, intrigues with law enforcement, friendship, and romance. And, you'll get an excellent tour of the entire San Diego area.

Great plot, great character development, skilled writing - this book has all of that.

Goodnight Irene
James Scott Byrnside
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9780692098165, $13.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 268pp,

Helen Combe, Reviewer

Goodnight Irene by James Scott Byrnside is an excellent example of a locked-room whodunnit, reminiscent of Agatha Christie at her most devious. So let us all gather in the library, and we will examine the evidence.

Exhibit 1. The detectives. Rowan Manory is a private detective whose health and confidence have been shattered by a disastrous case where a woman and her baby died. After being out of work for four months, Manory and his sidekick, Walter Williams, are invited to investigate a death threat received by one Robert Lasciva. Not only will this case pay well, it also has links to an unsolved rape and murder from 20 years ago. Manory's mother was involved in the original investigation, and it haunted her all her life. Manory decides to take the current case in the hope that he may also solve the historical one. The detectives arrive at Lasciva's mansion but are unprepared for the unaccountable, perplexing and bloody events of the night.

Exhibit 2. The clues. It is possible for the reader to solve most if not all of this crime, as many of the clues seen by the detectives are also seen by the reader. However, I felt that some of the clues were rather overstated. But that doesn't mean that the solution was easy to achieve. The book is exciting and very hard to put down. When I wasn't reading, I found myself doing mental gymnastics as I pondered the conundrum.

Exhibit 3. Research and editing. Set during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, this book is very well researched and well written. The author has a love of words, and I expanded my vocabulary to include cachinnate, chatoyant, tenebrous and cerulean. I learned quite a few new slang terms as well. The book looks to have been professionally edited, though I did find a few errors in the text and the formatting. I also found one blip in the research. Charles's father died of Legionnaires' disease, but that strain of pneumonia wasn't identified and named until 1976.

Exhibit 4. Lightening the mood. It's not all murder and mayhem. The easy relationship between Manory and Williams, and their gentle banter is indicative of a long and close friendship and provides a lift to the story. Manory also has the amusing habit of correcting 'who' and 'whom', regardless of the situation.

The closing statement. I really enjoyed this book. The story was exciting and perplexing, and there was never a dull moment. This book will appeal to anyone who likes a good crime mystery of the Agatha Christie ilk. The characters even gathered in the library for the denouement in true Poirotesque style, and there is also a butler who may or may not have 'dunnit'.

The verdict. If half points were allowed, I would rate this 3.5, halfway between 'amazing' and 'recommended'. A rating of 3 would be churlish and wouldn't reflect how immersed I became in this book, so I am awarding it 4 out of 4 stars.

The defense rests.

Tiernan's Wake
Richard T. Rook
9780244051334, $14.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 370pp,

Joe Kilgore, Reviewer
Pacific Book Review

When discussing a novel written in the twenty-first century about an American pursuing questionable lineage dating back to the sixteenth century, it may seem odd to quote a German writer born in the nineteenth century. But frankly, it feels appropriate. Hermann Hesse is said to have written, "Without words, without writing and without books, there could be no history, there could be no concept of humanity." Hesse's quote hits the nail on the head as it relates to Richard T. Rook's Tiernan's Wake, for this is a book rich in history, but even richer in humanity.

Michael is a Boston lawyer no longer enthralled with his vocation. Though comparatively successful financially, given the years of detail, repetition, and the changing nature of the business from being based on human, face to face interaction to nowadays based on computerized contact has left him with the feeling his thirty-plus years as an attorney may well be more than enough of a commitment. For some time he's been less enamored with his job and more intellectually engaged with tracing his Irish ancestors. One day he receives a mysterious envelope from a historian in Ireland who seems to know a lot about him and his genealogical pursuits. The envelope contains a lot of money and a proposition - a proposition which will set Michael on a quest to help unearth secrets from the past that just might affect his own future.

Richard T. Rook does an exceptional job of surrounding his protagonist, Michael, with a fascinating supporting cast. Aedan is the enigmatic Irishman who almost seems too good to be true. He's exceptionally clever, wealthy, particularly generous, and lives life to the fullest. Sara is Michael's wife, an artist as quick with a quip as she is with a brush stroke. Michael's law partner is Glenn, is battling what may be inoperable cancer. Their assistant-cum-associate, Anna, is a tall, dark beauty of Hungarian extraction who keeps her own counsel while keeping Michael and Glenn at the top of their form. Add a Japanese fixer, a nonagenarian ex-professor, sleuths, nuns, innkeepers, plus an eclectic assortment of long-dead relatives and you have the makings of pages populated with a cast of interesting characters. They all figure into a search for information about the famous female pirate, Grace O'Malley, whose secret political machinations may have changed the course of history.

Rook has constructed a compelling mystery thankfully bereft of car chases and gun battles. Rather than spicing his story with gratuitous physical action, he relies on intense intellectual pursuit and convincing emotional attachments to move his narrative along. Writing with humor, and a style which doesn't try to draw attention to itself, his choice of words fit snugly into each character's individual persona. Rook's subplots also blend seamlessly into his story, and one continually remains interested in what happens to both tangential and prominent players.

Tiernan's Wake is a rare book for today's times. Combining wit and charm with affable prose and tart dialogue, it adds its own branch to the family tree of good stories well told.

The Crystilleries of Echoland
Dew Pellucid
Nothing but the Story
9781987565164, $13.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 374pp,

Kirkus Reviews
March 11, 2018

In this middle-grade fantasy novel, a young hero must ally with his alter ego in an intricate parallel universe in order to rescue his sister and save his own life.

Twelve-year-old Will Cleary was only 2 when he and his twin sister, Emmy, became two of hundreds who "simply vanished" without a trace, whose disappearances were recorded in a dusty tome known as the "gravestone book." Only Will returned, brought back a week later by Dea and Damian, a wolf and a falcon who became his inseparable companions.

Now Will, with Dea and Damian at his side, sets off to rescue his sister. His quest leads him to unexpected, magical destinations, including a land where a boy relived his birthday over and over before uncovering the secret of Echoland, a shadow version of Earth. There, everyone has a translucent counterpart -- an "Echo," who can only live while their "Sound," or earthly equivalent, remains alive.

Will's Echo, the Prince of Echoland, has dangerous enemies; they plan to murder Will in order to destroy the Prince. Will must negotiate the dangers of this strange world to help the Prince before the murderous Fate Sealers kill them both.

Author Pellucid appears as a character in this novel. In Echoland, she creates a complex, detailed world, filled with crystalline imagery. The relationship between Sounds and their Echoes is intriguing, if sometimes confusing, and the narrative weaves in elements of Hamlet (the prince must avenge his dead father) and Christianity (both young heroes were born on Christmas).

The plot features several twists as Will painfully learns who his friends and enemies are. Some of the action scenes are chaotic, and there are some grisly scenes, but the suspense is handled well. The ending leaves several loose ends unresolved, suggesting a future third volume.

A gripping, if sometimes dark and perplexing, fantasy coming-of-age novel.

Bonjour! Let's Learn French
Judy Martialay
Polyglotkidz Press
9780997468700, $16.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 35pp,

Normandy D. Piccolo
Normandy's Book Reviews

Buckle your seat belts for Pete the Pilot is not your ordinary airline pilot in the book, Bonjour! Let's Learn French: Visit New Places and Make New Friends. While in flight to France, Pete teaches his young passengers some important French words to help them navigate around the country easier. And, that is only the beginning of the adventure. While at the beach, the children, Arlette, Jacques, Marie and Pierre unwittingly construct a special château (castle) and help make a little escargot's (snail's) dream of being King come true.

The beginning of the book transports the reader to France, while the following pages incorporate some lessons in elementary French language use. Ms. Martialay has added practice exercises for the reader to learn colors, objects, days of the week, art, music, and the culture to help the reader further expand in French speaking skills. An adventure with Louis the escargot, who goes into town and must use French to get around, adds to the reader's practice for using the French language. The one thing Bonjour! Let's Learn French: Visit New Places and Make New Friends could use would be a breakdown on how to properly pronounce the French words.

The illustrations in Bonjour! Let's Learn French: Visit New Places and Make New Friends are displayed in a variety of tones - from light pastels, to vibrant colors that leap off the page. One cannot help but to develop a love for snails after seeing the adorable drawings of Louis the Escargot. It is quite evident Ms. Martialay is very talented when putting brush in hand. To add further flavor to the book are actual pictures of some delicious French food, along with the French flag and a few other surprises.

If you or your child want to begin to learn French, then Bonjour! Let's Learn French: Visit New Places and Make New Friends, is the perfect book to get you started. Au revoir! (Goodbye!)

Frescoes by the Bay: Art, Artists, and Their Stories (Vol. 1, Vol. 2)
Karen Norton-Sinell
Tayen Lane Publishing
Vol. 1: 9780999080702 $39.99 hc, 238 pp.
Vol. 2: 9781944505301 $39.99 hc, 274 pp.

Rachel Jagareski, Reviewer
Kirkus Reviews

Frescoes by the Bay is a two-volume visual tour of the wealth of fresco murals in the San Francisco Area. Karen Norton-Sinell provides detailed research and extensive commentary about the frescoes' history, composition, iconography, and the identity of their many figures.

High-quality color reproductions of Norton-Sinell's photographs of the frescoes are critical, rendering the outsized paintings on a small scale. They allow for examination of the smallest details, right down to the titles on painted books and newspapers.

The 1930s mural and public art revival, largely supported by the federal Public Works of Art Project, kept unemployed artists working through the Great Depression and fostered an American national art identity. The author leads off her first volume with analysis of the twenty-six artists whose frescoes of Californians at work and play adorn the walls of the iconic Coit Tower.

While Diego Rivera, who graced San Francisco with four mural projects that are still on view today, may be familiar, many other local fresco artists are also importantly documented here. From Clifford Wright's heroic rendering of a surveyor and steelworker to John Langley Howard's Social Realist scenes of miners, these images of California history are well examined and described.

The books can be purchased as a set or as stand-alone volumes. As such, they each have the same bibliography and identical first chapters describing the elaborate and highly skilled buon fresco process and history of mural art. Since murals by Diego Rivera, Bernard Zakheim, and Victor Arnautoff are featured in each volume, there is also repetition of text introducing these artists.

Descriptions of artists' lives and work are authoritative and written in unadorned, easily accessible prose, avoiding esoteric artspeak. Norton-Sinell is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide to the Bay Area's frescoes and has created a useful resource that art aficionados, tourists, and regional history buffs alike can use and enjoy.

Andrea's Bookshelf

Otter In My Tub
Zoe Bowers
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781541364950, $11.95, PB, 326pp,

"Otter In My Tub" by Zoe Bowers is the true story of an injured and abandoned North American river otter, adopted by her and her husband, when as a young couple in Alaska were afflicted with a wanderlust that coincided with the creation of an interstate highway system that opened up the heretofore isolated communities of that state. The fearless fur-ball became a well-traveled companion to the couple as well as an otter-daughter to the young wife. The secrets to a life of otter-bliss are finally revealed in this heartwarming tale that is an inherently fascinating and deftly crafted read from beginning to end -- making it an ideal and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library collections.

Adrenal Fatigue Relief
Sorrel Davis
The Book Publishing Company
PO Box 99, Summertown, TN 38483
9781570673535, $12.95, PB, 136pp,

Fatigue, lethargy, and stress top the list of the most common health complaints. Natural and alternative health practitioners have adopted the term adrenal fatigue to describe the collection of symptoms frequently experienced by people suffering from stress-induced exhaustion. But is that label accurate? Can the adrenal glands actually become fatigued? What are the physiological repercussions and manifestations of severe or ongoing stress? Are tests available that can pinpoint mild adrenal deficiencies? Sorrel Davis is a natural-health researcher and has been a longtime advocate of the healing properties of herbal remedies and a proponent of the adage "let food be thy medicine". In "Adrenal Fatigue Relief" she draws upon her research, experience, and expertise to answer these questions and a great deal more including useful insights, practical guidance, and immediately applicable self-help suggestions. Sticking to evidence-based science rather than hype, Davis gets to the heart of what's making us tired so that we can regain our strength, recover our health, and reclaim our lives. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Adrenal Fatigue Relief" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections and supplemental studies lists.

Behind Her Back
Jane Lythell
Head of Zeus
9781786690760, $28.95, HC, 368pp,

A new Head of Sales and Marketing, the scary Lori Kerwell, has arrived at the station and started to build her power base. Lori soon joins forces with the News Editor, who hates Liz for knowing his explosive secret. Liz must fight to retain control of the show.? Meanwhile at home Liz has started to date again, but her 15-year-old daughter deeply resents the new man in her life. "Behind Her Back" is a deftly crafted and thoroughly gripping novel of power, rivalry, and backstabbing. Clearly, author Jane Lythell draws on her years of working in the glamorous, pressurized world of live TV to augment her genuine flair for narrative storytelling. An impressively engaging and entertaining read from first page to last, "Behind Her Back" is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Behind Her Back" is also available in a paperback edition (9781786690784, $12.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.38).

The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story
Darcy Pattison, author
Peter Willis, illustrator
Mims House
9781629440828, $23.99, HC, 32pp,

Do not believe everything you read in the newspaper! Early in August 1937, a news flash came: a sea monster had been spotted lurking off the shore of Nantucket Island. Historically, the Massachusetts island had served as port for whaling ships. Eyewitnesses swore this wasn't a whale, but some new, fearsome creature. As eyewitness account piled up, newspaper stories of the sea monster spread quickly. Across the nation, people shivered in fear. Then, footprints were found on a Nantucket beach. Photographs were sent to prominent biologists for their opinion. Discussion swirled about raising a hunting party. On August 18, news spread across the island: the sea monster had been captured. Islanders ran to the beach and couldn't believe their eyes. Written by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Peter Willis, "The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story" is a nonfiction picture book that includes back matter discussing the freedom of the press as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Quotes from Thomas Jefferson make it clear that fake news has always been one of the costs of a free press. A Timeline lists actual events in the order they occurred. A vocabulary list defines relevant words. While highly recommended for school and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Nantucket Sea Monster: A Fake News Story" is also available in a paperback edition (9781629440835, $9.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).

Ten Sheep to Sleep
Nidhi Kamra, author
Eugene Ruble, illustrator
Guardian Angel Publishing
9781616338602, $10.95, PB, 20pp,

Sammy Jo counts ten sheep to put her to sleep, but tonight, ten more sheep appear. The new sheep are creating a ruckus. Sammy Jo has to find a way to calm the sheep down, count twenty sheep, and ensure everyone is happy so they can get a good night's sleep. Engagingly written by Nidhi Kamra and charmingly illustrated by Eugene Ruble, "Ten Sheep to Sleep" is a wonderfully entertaining picture book story for children ages 5 to 8, making it unreservedly recommended for family, preschool, elementary school, and community library collections.

Kindergarrrten Bus
Mike Ornstein, author
Kevin M. Barry, illustrator
Sleeping Bear Press
315 East Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585363988, $16.99, HC, 32pp,

Yo ho ho! It's the first day of kindergarten. Just imagine all the fun things to learn and experience! And who better than a pirate captain to drive the bus to school? He's ready to share all the rules one needs to know to ride the bus and to get along with mates at school. But with the anticipation of the first day of school there also comes a bit of anxiety. And it turns out that being a big, blustery pirate captain is no guarantee against feeling insecure and a little frightened in strange and uncomfortable situations. Who can help a rough and tough pirate captain get over his fears and back to driving the school bus? Using humor and pirate-speak, "Kindergarrrten Bus" is a delightfully entertaining and thoroughly 'kid friendly' picture book by the team of author Mike Ornstein and illustrator Kevin M. Barry that addresses some of the concerns and anxiety that many children ages 5 to 7 feel on their first day of school or at the start of any new undertaking. While enthusiastically recommended for family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Kindergarrrten Bus" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.14).

Andrea Kay

Andy's Bookshelf

Winning the War on Cancer
Sylvie Beljanski
Morgan James Publishing
11815 Fountain Way, Suite 300, Newport News, VA 23606-4448
9781683507253, $33.95, Library Binding, 254pp,

In the pages of "Winning the War on Cancer: The Epic Journey Towards a Natural Cure", Sylvie Beljanski tells the true story of how when a new, natural, and non-toxic way to address cancer is discovered, (and it is a genuine medical 'game changer' for the treatment of cancer) it does not go unnoticed in the scientific community. But instead of being hailed and embraced, it is fiercely opposed by prominent scientists with strong ties with the pharmaceutical industry and the might of the government is called to the rescue.

Mirko Beljanski was one of the first green molecular biologists, and was called upon by President Mitterrand of France to treat his prostate cancer, allowing him to reach his second term in office, but upon his death, Beljanski became the subject of relentless persecution aimed at wiping out this information. In "Winning the War on Cancer", his daughter, Sylvie Beljanski, outlines her journey of learning about her father's discoveries, and ensuring his legacy is available to all those struggling with the disease today.

A 'must read' for all medical professionals in the field of cancer research and treatment, "Winning the War on Cancer" is an absolutely riveting read, While unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Health & Medicine collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, physicians, medical research policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Winning the War on Cancer" is also available in a paperback edition (9781683507246, $19.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.80).

Home and Castle
Thomas Benz
Snake Nation Press
9780997935325, $20.00, PB, 124pp,

Author Thomas Benz has a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Notre Dame and recently won the 2017 Serena McDonald Kennedy Award for a short story collection sponsored by Snake Nation Press. He has had sixteen stories published with magazines such as The Madison Review, William and Mary Review, the Mud Season Review, Blue Penny Quarterly, the Beacon Street Review, Willard and Maple, Blue Lake Review, Carve and others.

He has written several feature articles for the Evanston Roundtable and won the Solstice Short Story Contest in 2011. He was a finalist in the Flannery O'Connor Short Fiction Collection Contest in 2013 and 2015. He received honorable mention in the New Millennium Short Fiction Contests in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

He has also been associated with a few writers' organizations in the Chicago area, including Off Campus Writers Workshop, Northwestern professor Fred Shafer's novel workshop, the Writers Workspace and Story Studio Chicago. Further information on the body of his literary work and career can be found at and

The deftly crafted short stories comprising the latest anthology of his work, "Home and Castle" continue to reveal and showcase Thomaz Benz's genuine flair for narrative storytelling and his undeniably skill at engaging the full and rapt attention of his readers. A brilliant, original, and yet quite representative collection of Benz's literary abilities, "Home and Castle" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections and reading lists.

Andy Jordan

Ann's Bookshelf

Madeline Miller
Bloomsbury (UK)
9781408890073, A$29.99, paperback, 336 pages

Little, Brown (USA)
c/o Hachette Book Group
9780316556347 $27.00 hc / $13.99 Kindle

"When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist. They called me nymph, assuming I would be like my mother and aunts and thousand cousins....In our language it means not just goddess, but bride".

Circe's mother was a nymph, "a naiad, guardian of fountains and streams". Her father was Helios, the sun god who "glowed bright as just-forged bronze" and could ignite a log of wood or turn men to ashes just with his gaze. And Circe grew up in her father's vast, dark, silent, obsidian palace.

She was not beautiful like her mother and sister. Her nurse named her 'Hawk' (Circe), for her yellow eyes, her brown streaked hair and her strange voice. Her siblings, Perses and Pasiphae taunted her. Only her youngest brother, Aeetes, was close to her and it was he who taught her the power of herbs, of pharmaka, and the art of pharmakeia. It was he who made her aware that all her siblings were skilled in using these powers and that she, too, was a pharmakis - a Witch. But by then she had already experimented with herbs and transformed Glaucos, the first mortal she had ever met, and loved, into a sea god. More worryingly, she had also used the "flowers of true being" on the malicious nymph, Scyilla, who was her rival for Glaucos's love, and had unwittingly transformed her into a terrible monster. This was a transformation she would always regret.

At the time Circe was born, the old gods, the Titans, her father amongst them, were in uneasy peace with the Olympian gods who had largely usurped their powers. Circe watched her uncle, Prometheus's terrible punishment for giving humans the gift of fire, which allowed them to develop and prosper. She heard her father dissemble when prompted by the old gods to challenge Olympian Zeus over this. And she learned, early, that the words of gods should never be trusted.

When her father banished her to the Island of Aiaia for turning Scylla into a monster, she was told by the fickle messenger god, Hermes, that Helios had negotiated this with Zeus who, with the other Olympians, felt threatened by the witching powers of the sun god's family.

Alone on Aiaia, rejected by her family and constantly watched over by the Olympian gods, Circe wards off her fears and isolation by working to perfect her herbal knowledge and her magical arts. "At first, of course, all I brewed were mistakes", she tells us. And "each spell was a mountain to be climbed anew". But she listened to the plants and learned until "the spell could sing with its pure note, for me and me alone". She tames the wild animals, who become her companions, and as the years pass (gods are immortal) she uses her magic to great effect.

As Circe tells us about her life, we come to know her. She is not the 'dread goddess' who arbitrarily uses 'evil drugs' to turn Odysseus's men into pigs, as Odysseus portrays her in Homer's Odyssey. She is strong and determined and powerful but she is a woman alone and she has good reason to use drugs for her own protection against the pirates and war-hardened sailors who turn up on her island and who feast and carouse in her halls then abuse her hospitality. But she also uses her magic to help and protect others.

Every so often, Hermes turns up with messages and cryptic prophecies and, briefly, she takes him as a lover. But she is fated to fall in love with humans whose life-span, she knows, is so short that she must face the grief of losing them. When she bears Odysseus's child (unbeknown to him), she does it alone: "I did not go easy into motherhood", she tells us, "I faced it as soldiers face their enemies, girded and braced, sword up against the coming blows. Yet all my preparations were not enough". She struggles alone with this difficult baby and, as he grows, with a wilful young boy. She names him Telegonus, weaves spells to protect him from Athena who wants him dead, and goes to the depths of the sea to challenge the terrifying god, Trygon, "older than all the lands of the world", in order to obtain his deadly tail as protection for Telegonus when he leaves Aiaia to go and find his father in Ithica.

As Circe tells her story, the highly complex family tree of the gods becomes easier to follow and well-known Greek mythology drops into place. Circe's watches her sister Pasiphae marry Minos, a son of Zeus and king of Crete. Years later, Pasiphae sends for her to act as midwife when she gives birth to the terrifying Minotaur. Daedalus, who is trapped on Crete with his young son, Icarus, helps with the delivery and creates the cages in which this monstrous baby is kept and the labyrinth where it will ultimately live. Circe uses her magic to keep the Minotaur tamed for most of the year, but cannot stop its hunger for human flesh at harvest time.

Circe's brother, Aeetes, is father of Medea, who turns up on Circe's island with her lover, Jason, asking for katharsis, "cleansing by smoke and prayer, water and blood", for having used witchcraft and bloodshed in order to steal the Golden Fleece from Aeetes.

And, as Homer's Odyssey recounts, Odysseus and his men arrive on Aiaia. Circe confirms much of Homer's story of that stay but it is clear from her account that Odysseus is not held there by her magic but chooses to stay longer than is necessary and is then given magical protection by Circe to help him return safely to his wife, Penelope, and this son, Telemachus, in Ithaca.

The final part of Circe's story recounts the meeting of Telegonus and Odysseus and the subsequent visit of Penelope and Telemachus to Aiaia. As in the rest of the book, Madeline Miller has imaginatively added to the brief glimpses we have of Circe in the ancient texts and has elaborated on the ancient Greek myths. Her Circe is no cold-hearted, autocratic Olympian goddess. She has the strength and power of the old gods but she also has too many of our own, human, feelings and emotions for her own good. We come to understand her and to like her.

Mrs Moreau's Warbler: How Birds Got Their Names
Stephen Moss
Faber and Faber
9781783350902, A$32.99, hardback, 357 pages

Mrs Moreau's Warbler is a small slender bird "Brownish buff, with a long, thin bill, and an orange chest, throat, head and neck". It looks, Moss tells us, "rather like a robin whose red breast has extended upwards to cover its whole face and neck".

As a ten-year-old boy, reading about it in his weekly issue of Birds of the World magazine, its name caught Moss's imagination and set him wondering about its origin. Fifty years later, we find him trekking through forest on the Uluguru Mountain in Tanzania, trying to see one of the few remaining birds which bear that name. I will not spoil the story by describing the outcome, but he beautifully captures the excitement, anticipation and disasters of the trip in a few brief paragraphs.

And Mrs Winifred Moreau, it seems, was the beloved wife of Reginald (Reg) Ernest Moreau, and an equal partner in his study of African bird migration patterns. Together, whilst living in Africa, they discovered an obscure and endangered songbird which Reg, "in perhaps a surprising act of marital devotion", named Scepomycter winifredae. And after their thirty years in Africa, Reg acknowledged her support, knowledge and ornithological expertise in his superb 1972 book, The Paleoarctic-African Bird Migration Systems.

Reg and Winifred Moreau were, according to their son and others who knew them, an unpredictable and most unusual couple. Moss recounts some of the anecdotes about them and about some of the many other colourful characters associated with the naming of birds. He tells of the early tradition of naming newly discovered species after a particular person; of the accepted rules for this; and of the rivalries this engendered. He also writes of the men, and the few women, who have made important discoveries and collections; and of the long-running and often heated debate among birders about the best way to regulate and classify the names.

Mrs Moreau's Warbler: How Birds Got Their Names may be focussed on British Birds, but the use of English bird names amongst birders around the world, whatever their native language, is common. Local species may have local names and, as in Australia, may be unique to a particular country, but common English bird names (as opposed to specific Latin names) are, Moss tells us, the global lingua franca. Moss's passion for birds is obvious and his wide-ranging exploration of how folk-names for birds originated, evolved and have lasted through the centuries is full of fascinating details which will interest any general reader who loves birds.

How, for example, did the dirty underwear of Princess Isabella of Spain come to be linked with three English birds? The popular story (probably fanciful) is that during the 1601 siege of Ostend by Spanish troops against the Dutch and English occupiers, Isabella vowed not to change her underwear until her husband, Archduke Albert, had won the city back. That took three years, by which time her underwear was, understandably, a dirty shade of greyish brown - just the colour of the birds which now incorporate 'Isabella' in their names.

Although the English language has evolved through centuries of invasions and cultural change many English bird names have remained unchanged. Moss identifies some which are unchanged, some which still survive in some country areas, like the name 'gowk' for what is more generally know as a 'cuckoo'. And he refers to the many references to birds in the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare and, in particular, John Clare.

He also tells of international meetings of birders, and of competitions, like the biannual Champions of the Flyway, in which teams from around the world gather at the Red Sea resort of Eilat to see which team can count the most species of birds as they fly, on a single day in Spring, across the narrow migratory route which divides the land between the Middle East and Africa.

Towards the end of the book, Moss tells of the latest developments in the naming birds. New species are still being discovered. And DNA analysis and other scientific methods have resulted in much discussion about whether particular birds belong to the species to which they have been assigned or to another, new, species altogether. This, as Moss tells us, can cause long-time birders some anxiety. "The good news is that there are suddenly all sorts of new birds to go out and see - or if they are lucky, to 'tick off' their list while sitting at home, as they have seen them without hitherto realising that they were actually separate species". The bad news is that unless the birder has kept meticulous notes on the birds they have identified on their birding travels, it may be "impossible to work out which of two or more new species they have actually seen".

Many of the birds Moss discusses are endangered and he is ambivalent about the latest practice of selling the naming of a newly discovered species to the highest corporate bidder. On the one hand it provides money for the protection of birds: on the other hand suggested potential names, like "Kellogg's corncrake" or "Durex Shag" have prompted responses which "ranged from outrage to laughter".

Finally, as an Appendix, he lists a number of English bird names under headings such as 'Long and Short Names'; 'Politically Incorrect Names'; 'Birds Named After States in the US'; and, best of all, 'Thirty Three Amazing Names', which includes the "bearded mountaineer", the "giant cowbird" and the "bokikokiko".

The Yellow House
Emily O'Grady
Allen & Unwin
9781760632854, A$29.99, paperback, 314 pages

WINNER OF The Australian/Vogel LITERARY AWARD 2018

"Even before I knew anything about Granddad Les, Wally and me sometimes dared each other to see how close to the knackery we could get. It was way out in the bottom paddock, and dad had banned us from going further than the dam".

Cub is a likeable, ordinary ten-year-old girl growing up on a rural Australian property next door to an abandoned cattle farm. She is still learning to make sense of the adult world and she desperately wants a friend of her own other than her twin brother, Wally, who, in any case, is starting to do 'boy' things and doesn't always want her tagging along. So, when her aunt Helena and her twelve-year-old cousin Tilly move back into their yellow house next door, she hopes Tilly will be that friend. For some reason this does not happen. Cub knows there is some secret - something which Wally and her teenage brother Cassie know but keep from her. And she is determined to find out what it is.

Cub tells us of her probing curiosity and of her family's reactions too her insistent questions. She tells us, too, of her own feelings as she discovers more and more about the dark secrets which haunt the family's past. Gradually, through the kids at school, through Cassie's creepy friend Ian (whom Cub vehemently dislikes) and, eventually, from her brothers, she learns that her dead Graddadd, Les, had murdered a number of young women and buried their bodies on the farm.

Cub sees how her father tries to protect her from this knowledge, how he supports her mother, who is becoming increasingly distant and disturbed, and how he tries to understand Cassie, who, under the influence of Ian, is starting to be strange and secretive. Her feelings and emotions swing between curiosity, horror and self-protective indifference as she sees the family changing around her.

The Yellow House is a powerful novel about the legacies of a notorious, violent crime in a family and in a small rural community where everyone knows everyone else's business. Without referring to the old Biblical saying about the iniquities of the fathers being visited on the sons to the third and fourth generation, Emily O'Grady realistically shows the long-lasting effects such a crime has on Cub and her family. Curiosity, gossip and suspicion still exist in the local community, some of whom ostracise everyone in the family, but because the crimes made national news, strangers also come from outside the area to ghoulishly try and see where it all took place.

How long does such a legacy last? How do those who were closest to the perpetrator deal with the horror? Cub's uncle drove his pick-up truck into the dam and drowned, but Cub discovers that there are secrets there, too. Through Cub's delightfully natural and chatty account, we seen how her strong personality and her down-to-earth assessment of the people around her help her come to terms with her discoveries and with the ways in which her family is still affected by them.

The Yellow House is a compelling and accomplished first novel.

Patient X : The Case-Book of Ryunosuke Akutagawa
David Peace
Faber and Faber
9780571333462, A$29.99, paperback, 299 pages

This is a curious and difficult book. David Peace has lived in Japan for many years and his passion for the work of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, one of Japan's greatest writers, underlies this patchwork biography of Patient X. Using Akutagawa's own stories, essays and letters, Peace has stitched together Akutagawa's own accounts of his life, his struggles with writing, his obsessions and his fear of madness, but Peace has done this, often, in his own words and often with his own interpretation, paraphrasing and retelling of some of Akutagawa's stories.

Just how much of this book is in Akutagawa's own words, is hard to tell. Passages in italics suggest they are quotations but that is uncertain. What is meant by the sub-title, "A Case-Book of Ryunosuke Akutagawa", is the first puzzle. Then, the 'Author's Preface' suggests that Peace actually interviewed Akutagawa, listening "with the physician in charge" as Akutagawa "told his stories at some length and in close detail". But this preface ends in a mad tirade of words ..."You voyeur! Quack!,quack! Get out! Just save the children..." and the reader is left wondering if any of it is true.

Peace begins the book with a parable in which Jesus and Guatama in Paradise look down of Ryunosuke (Ryunosuke and Akutagawa are used interchangeably throughout the book) who is "floating and sinking in the River of Sins". Can he be saved?

Then, in a chapter called 'Hell Screens' there comes a description of Ryunosuke's birth. His father has his mouth to his mother's vagina and is calling "Can you hear me in there? Do you want to be born?". But in spite of his refusal, Ryunosuke is swept into the world: "In the year of the dragon, in the month of the dragon, on the day of the dragon, in the hour of the dragon, at the sinking of the moon, at the rising of the sun, you first see the light of the world, and you weep and you scream, alone, alone, you scream and you scream".

In the same chapter, we learn of the madness of Ryunosuke's mother, of her death, of how his father gives him away to his aunt and uncle, and about Ryunosuke's compulsion to read and collect books.

In the twelve chapters of this book, Peace charts Ryunosuke's biography but sometimes it is characters in Ryunosuke's stories, or people he corresponded with or worked, or newspaper cuttings about something which interested Ryunosuke, which are used in this method of collage. If you do not know the stories or anything about Ryunosuke's life (Wilkipedia has a useful page on this), you are lost.

As he got older, Ryunosuke was apparently medicated for his growing mental disturbance and this was reflected in his work and in his other writings. At times Peace's book seems equally mad, but maybe that is deliberate. I cannot tell.

The final chapter of Patient X deals with Ryunosuke's suicide at the age of thirty-five. Typically, for this book, this chapter follows the meanderings and thoughts of a character called Yasukichi (who in earlier chapters has been Ryunosuke's ghostly double) until he tries to buy some matches from a woman in a shop and she appears not to see him. She goes to the back of the shop, returns with a box of sweets, unwraps one, puts the sweet in her mouth and starts to read a newspaper on which Yasukichi reads the headline: "Ryunosuke Akutagawa, renowned author, commits suicide at Tabata home". The chapter, and the book, end with Yasukichi trying to cry out "Not yet -" and with the woman picking up a box of matches from the floor, returning to her seat and continuing to read the newspaper.

Dr. Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Work: The Last 1,000 Years
Andrea Komlosy
20 Jay Street, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201-8346
9781786634108, $26.95, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: By the end of the nineteenth century, the general Western conception of work had been reduced to simply gainful employment. But this limited perspective contrasted sharply with the personal experience of most people in the world -- whether the resided in colonies, developing countries, or in the industrializing world.

Moreover, from a feminist perspective, reducing work and the production of value to remunerated employment has never been convincing.

In "Work: The Last 1,000 Years", Andrea Komlosy (who is a Professor at the Department for Social and Economic History at the University of Vienna, Austria, where she is coordinator of the Global History and Global Studies programs) argues in this important intervention that, when we examine it closely, work changes its meanings according to different historical and regional contexts.

Globalizing labor history from the thirteenth to the twenty-first centuries, Professor Komlosy sheds light on the complex coexistence of multiple forms of labor (paid/unpaid, free/unfree, with various forms of legal regulation and social protection and so on) on the local and the world levels. Combining this global approach with a gender perspective opens our eyes to the varieties of work and labor and their combination in households and commodity chains across the planet -- processes that enable capital accumulation not only by extracting surplus value from wage-labor, but also through other forms of value transfer, realized by tapping into households' subsistence production, informal occupation and makeshift employment.

As the debate about work and its supposed disappearance intensifies, "Work: The Last 1,000 Years" provides a crucial shift in the angle of vision.

Critique: A substantial work of exceptional scholarship, "Work: The Last 1,000 Years" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an informative six page Introduction; and appendix (A Lexical Comparison Across European Languages); eighteen pages of Notes; and a twelve page Index. Expertly written, impressively organized, "Work: The Last 1,000 Years" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library Labor History collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Work: The Last 1,000 Years" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Cost of Living
Deborah Levy
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781635571912, $20.00, HC, 144pp,

Synopsis: "The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography" by author, playwright and poet Deborah Levy deftly explores the subtle erasure of women's names, spaces, and stories in the modern everyday.

This "living autobiography" is infused throughout with warmth and humor as she critiques the roles that society assigns to us, and reflects on the politics of breaking with the usual gendered rituals. What does it cost a woman to unsettle old boundaries and collapse the social hierarchies that make her a minor character in a world not arranged to her advantage?

Levy draws on her own experience of attempting to live with pleasure, value, and meaning such as the making of a new kind of family home, the challenges of her mother's death, and those of women she meets in everyday life, ranging from a young female traveler reading in a bar who suppresses her own words while she deflects an older man's advances, to a particularly brilliant student, to a kindly and ruthless octogenarian bookseller who offers Levy a place to write at a difficult time in her life.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, thoughtful and thought-provoking read from beginning to end, "The Cost of Living" is a compelling compilation of intensely personal stories so relevant to our turbulent times. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Cost of Living" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (HighBridge Audio, 9781684413683, $19.99, CD).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Disaster Survival Guide
Marie D. Jones
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578596737, $19.95, PB, 432pp,

Synopsis: Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Floods. Wildfires. Earthquakes. Epidemics. Droughts. Landslides. Now matter where you live you are at risk of some kind of natural or man-made disaster. These kinds of sudden and unexpected events make it feel as if chaos rules the world, but expecting the unexpected can mitigate the damage and loss to an individual, a family, or a community. It pays to be prepared. When catastrophe strikes, no matter how big or small, being ready and knowing how to respond can be the difference between the loss of life and survival.

"The Disaster Survival Guide: How to Prepare For and Surviving Floods, Fires, Earthquakes and More" by Marie D. Jones shows how to prepare and respond to any crisis, man-made or natural, wherever it might occur and however small or large it might be. Using what has been learned from previous disasters, this indispensable instructional guide and reference manual illustrates how others survived past crises. Just as important as learning how to survive the worst is learning how to survive everyday emergencies ranging from bee stings, snakebites, and allergic reactions to house fires, gas explosions, and more. It's all important, and it's all in this comprehensive guide.

Covering the basics needs from food, water and first aid to shelter, security, and self-defense, "The Disaster Survival Guide" walks readers through the steps it takes to create their own personal emergency action plan. It provides a catalog of the skills, tools, and items needed to endure and overcome a variety of situations and circumstances. It pinpoints hazards unique to different terrains, locations, situations, and settings, too, and it helps identify and understand possible threats.

Furthermore, "The Disaster Survival Guide" provides insights into how to react and respond when disaster does strike. Critical decisions faced during an emergency are considered: whether to stay or to go, where to go, how to stay informed, and more. Truly essential, "The Disaster Survival Guide" takes a comprehensive and clear-eyed look at what to do should the worst happen -- as sooner or later it surely well.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Disaster Survival Guide: How to Prepare For and Survive Floods, Fires, Earthquakes and More" is a critically important and thoroughly 'user friendly' addition to personal, family, community, and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Disaster Survival Guide" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $18.95).

John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age
Brian C. Wilson
Wayne State University Press
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814345306, $34.99, HC, 344pp,

Synopsis: John Earl Fetzer (March 25, 1901 - February 20, 1991) was a radio and television executive who was best known to the general public as the owner of the Detroit Tigers from 1961 through 1983.

"John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age" by Brian C. Wilson (Professor of American Religious History in the Department of Comparative Religion at Western Michigan University) follows the spiritual sojourn of Fetzer as a Michigan business tycoon.

Born in 1901 and living most of his life in Kalamazoo, Fetzer parlayed his first radio station into extensive holdings in broadcasting and other enterprises, leading to his sole ownership of the Detroit Tigers in 1961. By the time he died in 1991, Fetzer had been listed in Forbes magazine as one of the four hundred wealthiest people in America.

And yet, business success was never enough for Fetzer-his deep spiritual yearnings led him from the Christianity of his youth to a restless exploration of metaphysical religions and movements ranging from Spiritualism, Theosophy, Freemasonry, UFOology, and parapsychology, all the way to the New Age as it blossomed in the 1980s.

Professor Wilson demonstrates how Fetzer's quest mirrored those of thousands of Americans who sought new ways of thinking and being in the ever-changing spiritual movements of the twentieth century. Over his lifetime, Fetzer's worldview continuously evolved, combining and recombining elements from dozens of traditions in a process he called "freedom of the spirit".

Unlike most others who engaged in a similar process, Fetzer's synthesis can be documented step by step using extensive archival materials, providing readers with a remarkably rich and detailed roadmap through metaphysical America. Professor Wilson also documents how Fetzer's wealth allowed him to institutionalize his spiritual vision into a thriving foundation (the Fetzer Institute) which was designed to carry his insights into the future in hopes that it would help catalyze a global spiritual transformation.

"John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age" offers a window into the rich and complex history of metaphysical religions in the Midwest and the United States at large. It will be read with interest by those wishing to learn more about this enigmatic Michigan figure, as well as those looking for an engaging introduction into America's rapidly shifting spiritual landscape.

Critique: A seminal work of original and definitive scholarship, "John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age" is an extraordinary study and an inherently fascinating one. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "John E. Fetzer and the Quest for the New Age" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $24.99).

Justifying Revolution
Glenn A. Moots & Philip Hamilton, editors
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806160139, $45.00, HC, 336pp,

Synopsis: The American imagination still exalts the Founders as the prime movers of the Revolution, and the War of Independence has become the stuff of legend. But America is not simply the invention of great men or the outcome of an inevitable political or social movement. The nation was the result of a hard, bloody, and destructive war. Justifying Revolution explores how the American Revolution's opposing sides wrestled with thorny moral and legal questions. How could revolutionaries justify provoking a civil war, how should their opponents subdue the uprising, and how did military commanders restrain the ensuing violence?

Drawing from a variety of disciplines and specialties, and assembled to examine the Revolutionary War in terms of just war theory: jus ad bellum, jus in bello, and jus post bellum -- right or justice in going to, conducting, and concluding war, the individual chapters comprising "Justifying Revolution: Law, Virtue, and Violence in the American War of Independence" situate the Revolution in the context of early modern international relations, moral philosophy, military ethics, jurisprudence, and theology.

"Justifying Revolution" raises important questions about the political, legal, military, religious, philosophical, and diplomatic ramifications of eighteenth-century warfare -- questions essential for understanding America's origins.

"Justifying Revolution" invites readers to reconsider the war with an eye to the justice and legality of entering armed conflict; the choices made by officers and soldiers in combat; and attempts to arrive at defensible terms of peace. Together, the contributions form the first sustained exploration of Americans' and Britons' use of just war theory as they battled over American independence.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Glenn A. Moots (Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Northwood University, Midland, Michigan) and Philip Hamilton (Professor of history, Christopher Newport Universtiy, Newport News, Virginia), "Justifying Revolution: Law, Virtue, and Violence in the American War of Independence" is a collection of 13 seminal and erudite contributions by scholarly experts that is further enhanced for academia with the inclusion of an informative introduction, a listing of the contributors and their credentials, and a fourteen page index. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Justifying Revolution" will prove to be a welcome and valued addition to both community and academic library American 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 "Justifying Revolution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $39.95).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

The Travels of Ibn Battuta
Albion M. Butters, editor
Noel Q. King, translator
Markus Wiener Publishers
231 Nassau Street, Princeton, NJ 08542
9781558766334, $64.95, HC, 226pp,

Synopsis: Ibn Battuta (1304 - 1369) was the best-known Arab traveler in world history. Over a period of thirty years, he visited most of the Islamic world and many non-Muslim lands.

Following his travels, he dictated a report he called "A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling," known simply in Arabic as the Ri la.

This dramatic document provides a firsthand account of the nascent globalization brought by the spread of Islam and the relationship between the Western world and India and China in the 14th century.

As an Islamic legal scholar, Ibn Battuta a served at high levels of government within the vibrant Muslim network of India and China. In the Ri la, he shares insights into the complex power dynamics of the time and provides commentary on the religious miracles he encountered.

The result is an entertaining narrative with a wealth of anecdotes, often humorous or shocking, and in many cases touchingly human.

Critique: Ably translated into English for the benefit of a new general of American readers by the late Noel Q. King (University of California), and edited by Albion M. Butters (University of Turku), "The Travels of Ibn Battuta: To India, the Spice Islands, and China" is an inherently fascinating and impressively informative read from beginning to end. "The Travels of Ibn Battuta" is an especially recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Historical Travelogue, Middle Eastern History, Asian History, and World 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 "The Travels of Ibn Battuta" is also available in a paperback edition (9781558766341, $24.95).

Murder, Lies, and Cover-Ups
David Gardner
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
9781510731400, $24.99, HC, 292pp,

Synopsis: Five deaths stopped the whole world in its tracks. These were the deaths of people so well known that we all can recall where we were and what we were doing when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when Elvis Presley was discovered dead in his bathroom, when Princess Diana perished in a tragic car accident, Michael Jackson was found dead in his mansion, and when Marilyn Monroe was discovered, the apparent victim of a drug overdose. Each of these deaths were to result in a wealth of questions, rumors, speculations, and conspiracy theories that persist down to this very day.

After combing through thousands of recently declassified FBI files and interviewing key witnesses, crime analysts, and forensic experts during years of research, investigative writer David Gardner has unearthed new information that will transform the way we look at these iconic tragedies that have long fascinated and intrigued the general public.

In the pages of "Murder, Lies, and Cover-Ups: Who Killed Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and Princess Diana?", Gardner reveals that Elvis Presley died not as a self-obsessed caricature but as a genuine hero who may have signed his death warrant going undercover for the FBI; how Marilyn Monroe's secret affairs with JFK and his brother, Robert, left her in the crosshairs of a lethal conspiracy; why Princess Diana's death was no accident; who ordered President John F. Kennedy's assassination; and how on three occasions Michael Jackson "died" of painkiller drug overdoses in the months before his death.

In the wake of new evidence and testimonies, "Murder, Lies, and Cover-Ups" provides many of the answers that have been elusive for so long, while explaining what it was about these enduring legends that made their legacies burn so bright.

Critique: Exhaustively researched, impressively informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Murder, Lies, and Cover-Ups: Who Killed Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and Princess Diana?" is an inherently fascinating and compellingly iconoclastic read from beginning to end, -- and will prove to be an immediate and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Murder, Lies, and Cover-Ups" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.74).

Being Present
Darren Cockburn
Findhorn Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781844097463, $16.99, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Darren Cockburn has been practicing meditation and mindfulness for over 20 years, studying with a range of teachers from different religions. As a coach and teacher, he has supported hundreds of people in meditation, mindfulness, and finding a connection to spirituality, with a focus on applying spiritual teachings in everyday life to cultivate a peaceful mind.

In "Being Present: Cultivate a Peaceful Mind through Spiritual Practice" Darren shows his readers how they can free themselves from unhelpful thoughts and emotions while learning to live peacefully in the present

" Being Present" provides practical exercises, meditations, and reflections centered on mindfulness, breath, and immersion in nature to simplify your life and anchor you in the present.

Readers will learn to use their bodies as a tool for raising consciousness, work with occurrences like tiredness, illness, and pain as spiritual teachers, as well as identify and release addictions, including harmful thought patterns

The concepts presented in "Being Present" can be integrated with any religion or spiritual teaching with examples pertaining to everyday experiences in the Western world

Offering a synthesis of spiritual teachings viewed through the lens of modern personal experiences, "Being Present" also provides practical insight into how to cultivate a peaceful mind, live skillfully, and nurture a spiritual connection through the power of the present moment.

Darren deftly shares practical exercises, meditations, and reflections, revealing how to free ourselves from becoming lost in unhelpful thoughts and emotions, while bringing acceptance to what life presents us with. He explains how to generate true mindfulness through connection to our breath as well as immersion in nature. He details how to use our body as a tool for raising your level of consciousness as well as how to weave exercise, diet, breathing techniques, and sexuality into your spiritual practice. He explores how to work with occurrences like tiredness, illness, and pain as spiritual teachers for enriching your presence of mind and being.

Darren also explains how simplifying life where possible will also bring a better understanding to all types of existing addictions, including harmful thought patterns, providing precious breathing space for our overly busy minds. In addition, he shows how a stable practice of mindful presence can enhance the quality of communication with others, be it with family, with friends, or at work.

Alongside an introduction to meditation techniques and supportive wisdom teachings from Buddhist and other spiritual traditions, "Being Present" provides useful guidance on successfully integrating a regular spiritual practice into our day-to-day activities. Also included are useful pointers on how to create our own unique and personal structure in order to support our ongoing spiritual practice, the fruits of which will ultimately be a peaceful, calmer, and more connected experience of life.

Critique: Impressively informative, insightful, thoughtful provoking, inspired and inspiring, "Being Present: Cultivate a Peaceful Mind through Spiritual Practice" is a life-affirming, life-enhancing, life-changing read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections, it should be noted for personal reading list that "Being Present" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $10.99).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Concrete Changes
Brian M. Sirman
University of Massachusetts Press
PO Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004
9781625343567, $90.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: From the 1950s to the end of the twentieth century, Boston was transformed from a city in free fall into a thriving metropolis, as modern glass skyscrapers sprouted up in the midst of iconic brick row houses.

After decades of corruption and graft, a new generation of politicians swept into office, seeking to revitalize Boston through large-scale urban renewal projects. The most important of these was a new city hall, which they hoped would project a bold vision of civic participation.

The massive Brutalist building that was unveiled in 1962 stands apart -- emblematic of the city's rebirth through avant-garde design. -- And yet Boston City Hall frequently ranks among the country's ugliest buildings.

"Concrete Changes: Architecture, Politics, and the Design of Boston City Hall" by Brian M. Sirman (who teaches history, architecture, and writing at Boston University and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences) seeks to answer a common question for contemporary viewers: How did this happen?

In a lively narrative filled with big personalities and newspaper accounts, Professor Sirman argues that this structure is more than a symbol of Boston's modernization; it acted as a catalyst for political, social, and economic change.

Critique: An expertly researched, written, organized and presented study, "Concrete Changes: Architecture, Politics, and the Design of Boston City Hall" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of twenty-four pages of Notes and a four page Index. An extraordinary work of original scholarship, "Concrete Changes" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Boston History collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Concrete Changes" is also available in a paperback edition (9781625343574, $22.95).

After the Fact
Nathan Bomey
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633883772, $25.00, HC, 270pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "After the Fact: The Erosion of Truth and the Inevitable Rise of Donald Trump", award-winning journalist Nathan Bomey insightfully argues that Donald Trump did not usher the post-truth era into being -- instead, his election to the presidency of the United States was its inevitable outcome.

Bomey points to recent trends that have created the perfect seedbed for spin, distortion, deception, and bald-faced lies: shifting news habits, the rise of social media, the spread of entrenched ideologies, and the failure of schools to teach basic critical-thinking skills

The evidence supporting Borney's argument is all around us: On Facebook, we present images of our lives that ignore the truth and intentionally deceive our friends and family. We consume fake news stories online and carelessly circulate false rumors. In politics, we vote for leaders who leverage political narratives that favor ideology over science. And in our schools, we fail to teach students how to authenticate information.

"After the Fact" deftly explores how the convergence of technology, politics, and media has ushered in the misinformation age, sidelining the truth and threatening our core principle of community.

Critique: The past five thousand years of recorded human history clearly reveals that all kingdoms and all nations rise, for a time are vigorous, but ultimately fall -- and in most cases their downfall was a direct result of being weakened withing by corruption making them vulnerable to outside hostile forces. The United States is no exception to this historical cycle.

"After the Fact: The Erosion of Truth and the Inevitable Rise of Donald Trump" is a compelling and persuasive read. The corruption of once commonly held social norms can quite clearly be held accountable for the rise of political corruption now propagated by the current occupant of the most influential political position in our country.

Elections have consequences. But they also have causes. "After the Fact" is an insightfully informative exploration of that fact, making it an essential and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Political Science collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of all concerned citizens that "After the Fact" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Waterloo: The Truth At Last
Paul L. Dawson
Frontline Books
c/o Casemate
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781526702456, $44.95, HC, 568pp,

Synopsis: Why did a military genius like Napoleon Bonaparte lose his final great battle at Waterloo?

Paul L. Dawson is an historian, a field archaeologist and an author of more than twenty books, whose speciality area is the French Army of the Napoleonic Wars. As well as speaking French and having an in-depth knowledge of French archival sources, Dawson is also an historical tailor producing museum quality replica clothing, the study of which has given him a unique understanding of the Napoleonic era.

During October 2016 Dawson visited French archives in Paris to continue his research surrounding the events of the Napoleonic Wars. Some of the material he examined had never been accessed by researchers or historians before, the files involved having been sealed in 1816\. These seals remained unbroken until Paul was given permission to break them to read the contents.

The result of his original research is the necessity to rewrite everything traditional assumed about the battle on the Mont St Jean on 18 June 1815. For example, the understanding that the start of the battle was delayed because of the state of the ground - not so. Marshal Ney destroyed the French cavalry in his reckless charges against the Allied infantry squares - also wrong. The stubborn defense of Hougoumont, the key to Wellington's victory, where a plucky little garrison of British Guards held the farmhouse against the overwhelming force of Jerome Bonaparte's division and the rest of II Corps - that's just not true. Did the Union Brigade really destroy d'Erlon's Corps, did the Scots Greys actually attack a massed French battery, did La Haie Sainte hold out until late in the afternoon?

All these and many more of the accepted stories concerning the battle are analyzed through accounts (some 200 in all) previously unpublished, mainly derived through French sources, with startling conclusions. Most significantly of all is the revelation of exactly how, and why, Napoleon was defeated.

"Waterloo: The Truth at Last" demonstrates, through details never made available to the general public before, how so much of what we think we know about the battle simply did not occur in the manner or to the degree previously believed. This historical study has been justly and deservedly been described as 'a game changer' by academia, and is certain to generate enormous interest, and will alter our previously-held perceptions about the battle at Waterloo forever.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read, as well as an enormously important work of dedicated and original investigative inquiry, "Waterloo: The Truth at Last" is a definitively documented, exceptionally well written, and deftly presented work of iconoclastic scholarship that should be a core and essential addition to every personal, community and academic library Napoleonic Wars collection in general, and Battle of Waterloo supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

The Russians are Coming, Again
Jeremy Kuzmarov and John Marciano
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583676943 $19.00 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Karl Marx famously wrote in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon that history repeats itself, "first as tragedy, then as farce." The Cold War waged between the United States and Soviet Union from 1945 until the latter's dissolution in 1991 was a great tragedy, resulting in millions of civilian deaths in proxy wars, and a destructive arms race that diverted money from social spending and nearly led to nuclear annihilation. The New Cold War between the United States and Russia is playing out as farce - a dangerous one at that. The Russians Are Coming, Again is a red flag to restore our historical consciousness about U.S.-Russian relations, and how denying this consciousness is leading to a repetition of past follies.

Kuzmarov and Marciano's book is timely and trenchant. The authors argue that the Democrats' strategy, backed by the corporate media, of demonizing Russia and Putin in order to challenge Trump is not only dangerous, but also, based on the evidence so far, unjustified, misguided, and a major distraction. Grounding their argument in all-but-forgotten U.S.-Russian history, such as the 1918-20 Allied invasion of Soviet Russia, the book delivers a panoramic narrative of the First Cold War, showing it as an all-too-avoidable catastrophe run by the imperatives of class rule and political witch-hunts. The distortion of public memory surrounding the First Cold War has set the groundwork for the New Cold War, which the book explains is a key feature, skewing the nation's politics yet again. This is an important, necessary book, one that, by including accounts of the wisdom and courage of the First Cold War's victims and dissidents, will inspire a fresh generation of radicals in today's new, dangerously farcical times.

Critique: In the wake of President Trump's ties to Russia, and alleged Russian attempts to tamper in U.S. elections through computer hacking and the public release of confidential material, the Democratic Party has taken an increasingly hostile stance toward Russia. A second Cold War could potentially be in the making, and authors Jeremy Kuzmarov (Assistant Professor of American History, University of Tulsa) and John Marciano (Professor Emeritus at SUNY Cortland) argue persuasively that nothing good can come of a such a conflict - not for American democracy, the American people, the world at large, or even the Democratic Party itself. Thought-provoking and disconcerting, "The Russians Are Coming, Again" is highly recommended reading for public and college library political science collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Russians Are Coming, Again" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Dunwich: A Novel
Peter Levenda
Ibis Press
Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari (distributor)
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9780892541805, $27.95, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: Beginning with the harrowing experience of an alien abductee in a small New England town and continuing through a series of encounters with a renowned mathematician, mercenary geneticists, an international ring of pornographers, the human trafficking cult of the Islamic State, and practitioners of an arcane form of sexual occultism, "Dunwich" by Peter Levenda is a fascinating saga that follows the adventures of religion professor Gregory Angell as he attempts to discover a shocking secret encoded within an ancient book of magic that, once deciphered, will cause the eruption of a force so prehistoric that its earthly temples (once submerged beneath the seas) will rise to the surface again!

Critique:"Dunwich: A Novel" is based on the themes in H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" and is the continuation of Peter Levenda's novel "The Lovecraft Code". Esoteric, suspenseful, and horrifying, "Dunwich" is very highly recommended for community library and personal collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dunwich" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).

Pleasure and Power
Doug Brendel
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781984923844, $14.95, PB, 236pp,

Synopsis: In 1950, in a world before #MeToo, charming Jake plays fast and loose with the women -- until the conservative Alice stops him short. Their romance changes the rogue -- or at least seems to.

On the other side of the tracks, a brain-damaged teen in the "crazy house" delivers a mixed-race baby. Her sister Ruby races to rescue the child -- and find the white man who did this.

When the baby brings them all together, each one (Jake, Alice, and Ruby) has secrets to preserve, as they wrestle with rage and fear, doubts and suspicions.

Victims and villains merge and morph in this deeply emotional story of competing and intertwining motives. Can racism be right? Can sexism be acceptable? Can violence be justified?

Critique: An inherently fascinating and skillfully crafted read from beginning to end, "Pleasure and Power" showcases author Doug Brendel's genuine flair as a novelist for originality and narrative driven storytelling -- making it very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.

Clint Travis

Julie's Bookshelf

A History of Tea
Laura C. Martin
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9780804851121, $14.99, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Wether green, black, white, oolong, chai, Japanese, Chinese, Sri Lankan, American or British, tea is one of the world's most popular and widespread beverages.

In "A History of Tea: The Life and Times of the World's Favorite Beverage" author Laura C. Martin tells the compelling story of the rise of tea in Asia and its eventual spread to the West and beyond.

From the tea houses of China's ancient Tang Dynasty (618-907) to the tea ceremonies developed by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks, to the current social issues faced by tea growers in India and Sri Lanka "A History of Tea" is an inherently fascinating study that deftly explores the complex history of this universal drink. It illuminates the industries and traditions that have developed as tea spread throughout the world and it explains how tea is transformed into the many varieties that people drink each day.

"A History of Tea" also features a quick reference guide on subjects such as proper tea terminology and brewing.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a section of thematically relevant and interesting illustrations, "A History of Tea: The Life and Times of the World's Favorite Beverage" is impressively informed and informative. Accessible organized and presented, "A History of Tea" is especially recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated tea drinking enthusiasts that "A History of Tea" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.24).

10 Minute Short Stories
Zack Rehfeld
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781977538536, $4.99 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 92pp,

Synopsis: "10 Minute Short Stories" by Zack Rehfeld is a compendium of 38 short stories that run the real life gamut of sketches on such subjects as loaning money to friends, crating self-reliance and independence, as well as some morality lessons.

The original tales showcase author Zack Rehfeld's mastery of the short story format, "10 Minute Short Stories" includes 'Morpheus', a stirring story poem that takes the reader on a reflective journey into life's joys and mysteries.

Critique: As entertaining as they are thoughtful and thought-provoking, "10 Minute Short Stories" is unreservedly recommended for school and community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "10 Minute Short Stories" is also available in an inexpensive digital book format (Kindle, $0.99).

On the Brink of Everything
Parker J. Palmer
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
9781523095438, $19.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: Drawing on eight decades of life as a writer, teacher, and activist, Parker J. Palmer explores the questions age raises and the promises it holds in the pages of "On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old".

"Old," he writes, "is just another word for nothing left to lose, a time to dive deep into life, not withdraw to the shallows."

But "On the Brink of Everything" is not for elders only. It was specifically written to encourage adults of all ages to explore the way their lives are unfolding. It's not a how-to-do-it book on aging, but a set of meditations in prose and poetry that turn the prism on the meaning(s) of one's life, refracting new light at every turn.

From beginning to end, "On the Brink of Everything" is laced with humor as well as gravitas.

It should be noted that "On the Brink of Everything" is beautifully enhanced by access to three free downloadable songs from the gifted singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, which were written in response to Palmer's themes.

Critique: Inspired and inspiring, "On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old" is a life enhancing, life affirming, life celebrating read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended for senior citizen center, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "On the Brink of Everything" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (DreamScape Audio, 9781974905362, $19.99, CD).

Respecting Animals
David S. Favre
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633884250, $18.00, PB, 272pp,

"Respecting Animals: A Balanced Approach to Our Relationship with Pets, Food, and Wildlife" by legal scholar and expert on the humane treatment of animals David S. Favre (Professor of Waw at Michigan State University College of Law) offers fresh approach to the animal rights debate, arguing for a middle ground between the extreme positions that often receive the most public attention.

Professor Favre advocates an ethic of respectful use of animals, which finds it acceptable for humans to use animals within limited boundaries. He looks at various communities where humans and animals interact: homes, entertainment, commercial farms, local wildlife, and global wildlife.

Balancing the interests of the animal against the interests of the human actor is considered in detail. "Respecting Animals" deftly examines the following questions, among others: Is it ethically acceptable to shoot your neighbor's dog for barking hours on end? Is it ethical for a zoo to keep a chimpanzee in an exhibit? Is it ethical to eat the meat of an animal?

Finally, "Respecting Animals" aptly discusses how good ethical outcomes can best be transported into the legal system -- and suggesting the creation of a new legal category, living property, which would enhance the status of animals in the legal system.

Critique: An informed and thoughtfully informative, well-argued, and elegantly written, organized and presented study that amply provides the reader with a comprehensive and practical context in which to consider their own personal and social relationships with animals, "Respecting Animals: A Balanced Approach to Our Relationship with Pets, Food, and Wildlife" is strongly and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Respecting Animals" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

JELL-O Girls: A Family History
Allie Rowbottom
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10104
9780316510615, $28.00, HC, 288pp,

Synopsis: In 1899, Allie Rowbottom's great-great-great-uncle bought the patent to Jell-O from its inventor for $450. The sale would turn out to be one of the most profitable business deals in American history, and the generations that followed enjoyed immense privilege - but they were also haunted by suicides, cancer, alcoholism, and mysterious ailments.

More than 100 years after that deal was struck, Allie's mother Mary was diagnosed with the same incurable cancer, a disease that had also claimed her own mother's life. Determined to combat what she had come to consider the "JELL-O curse" and her looming mortality, Mary began obsessively researching her family's past, determined to understand the origins of her illness and the impact on her life of JELL-O and the traditional American values the company championed. Before she died in 2015, Mary began to send Allie boxes of her research and notes, in the hope that her daughter might write what she could not. "JELL-O Girls" is the liberation of that story.

A gripping examination of the dark side of an iconic American product and a moving portrait of the women who lived in the shadow of its fractured fortune, "JELL-O Girls" is a family history, a feminist history, and a story of motherhood, love and loss. In crystalline prose Rowbottom considers the roots of trauma not only in her own family, but in the American psyche as well, ultimately weaving a story that is deeply personal, as well as deeply connected to the collective female experience.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and informatively detailed history, "JELL-O Girls" is an extraordinary and memorable read from beginning to end. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "JELL-O Girls" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, 9781549144769, $35.00, CD).

Julie Summers

Logan's Bookshelf

Coding with Minecraft
Al Sweigart
No Starch Press
245 - 8th Street, San Francisco, CO 94103-3910
9781593278533, $29.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: Minecraft is a sandbox video game created by Swedish game designer Markus Persson who later was fully developed and published by his company Mojang. The creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build with a variety of different cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, resource gathering, crafting, and combat.

Al Sweigart is a professional software developer who teaches programming to kids and adults.

In "Coding with Minecraft: Build Taller, Farm Faster, Mine Deeper, and Automate the Boring Stuff", Sweigart shows Minecraft players how to create a virtual robot army with Lua, a programming language used by professional game developers. Step-by-step coding projects show how to write programs that automatically dig mines, collect materials, craft items, and build anything that can be imagined. Along the way, players will explore key computer science concepts like data types, functions, variables, and more.

"Coding with Minecraft" covers: Programing robots that make smart decisions with flow control; Reusing code so that robots can farm any crop wanted, including wheat, sugar cane, and even cacti; Programing a factory that generates infinite building supplies; Designing an algorithm for creating walls and buildings of any size; Coding a pickaxe-swinging robotic lumberjack; Creating a robot that digs mine shafts with stairs so they can be explored safely.

Bonus activities in each chapter will help Minecraft players take their coding skills to the next level. By the end of "Coding with Minecraft", they will understand how powerful coding can be and have plenty of robots at their beck and call.

Critique: Profusely illustrated throughout, "Coding with Minecraft: Build Taller, Farm Faster, Mine Deeper, and Automate the Boring Stuff" is an extraordinarily 'user friendly' instructional guide, reference and manual that should be on the personal reference shelf of every dedicated Minecraft player. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Coding with Minecraft" is impressively 'user friendly' and unreservedly recommended for school and community library Computer Science collections for children ages 10 and older in general, and the supplemental studies reading lists of dedicated Minecraft players of all ages!

The Fiery Angel
Michael Walsh
Encounter Books
900 Broadway, Suite 601, New York, NY 10003
9781594039454, $25.99, HC, 280pp,

Synopsis: Without an understanding and appreciation of the culture we seek to preserve and protect, the defense of Western civilization is fundamentally futile; a culture that believes in nothing cannot defend itself, because it has nothing to defend.

The past not only still has something to tell us, but it also has something that it must tell us.

"The Fiery Angel: Art, Culture, Sex, Politics, and the Struggle for the Soul of the West" by journalist, author, and screenwriter Michael Walsh is a profound and wide-ranging historical survey illuminating the ways that the narrative and visual arts both reflect and affect the course of political history, outlining the way forward by arguing for the restoration of the Heroic Narrative that forms the basis of all Western cultural and religious traditions.

Abraham Lincoln advocated that we must listen to the better angels of our nature -- and for better and worse, they have much to tell us if only we will listen.

Critique: With political, ethical, cultural, and social fundamental American values under constant assault by authoritarian politicians, hostile foreign governments, rapacious corporations, the 1% class economic exploitation of the other 99%, and the inevitable stresses of a changing national demographic with respect to race, ethnicity, and ages, "The Fiery Angel: Art, Culture, Sex, Politics, and the Struggle for the Soul of the West" is essential and unreservedly recommended reading. While very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fiery Angel" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.33).

Treating the Traumatized Child
Scott P. Sells & Ellen Souder
Springer Publishing Company
9780826171870, $55.00, PB, 392pp,

Synopsis: "Treating the Traumatized Child: A Step-by-Step Family Systems Approach" by Scott P. Sells (Associate Professor at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada) and family therapist, trainer and public speaker Ellen Souder (currently serving as Vice President of Parenting With Love and Limits) is the first instructional study that addresses trauma treatment for child and adolescents using a Family Systems Trauma (FST) model which goes beyond individual therapy to include the child and their entire family.

"Treating the Traumatized Child" delivers to the reader a research-based, step-by-step approach that incorporates the child's immediate family along with their extended family to treat the traumatized child or adolescent.

Using a "stress chart", the child or adolescent's trauma symptoms are quickly identified. This strategy guides therapists in accurately diagnosing root causes of the child's trauma and culminates in the creation of co-created "wound playbooks" to heal trauma in both the child as well as other family members.

Additional helpful features include extensive case examples, a menu of trauma techniques, wound playbook examples, evaluation forms, client handouts, and other practical tools to provide the therapist with a complete guide to implementing this approach.

Key features of "Treating the Traumatized Child" are the provision of a step-by-step, practice focused, time-limited model; the utilization of a family systems approach for addressing child and adolescent trauma; and the inclusion of useful diagnostic tools such as checklists, client handouts, and evaluation forms.

Critique: An ideal curriculum textbook, "Treating the Traumatized Child: A Step-by-Step Family Systems Approach" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. While a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to both college and university library Child Psychology & Counseling instructional reference collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of psychology students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Treating the Traumatized Child" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $41.80).

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Daughter in Retrograde: A Memoir
Courtney Kersten
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299317003, $24.95, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: Courtney Kersten is an essayist and scholar. A native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, she teaches creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her essays can be found in River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, and The Master's Review.

When she isn't eavesdropping on family gossip or gazing at taxidermy squirrels in smoky dives, Courtney Kersten charts the uncertainty of her midwestern homeland by looking to the stars and planets.

As a teen she had plunged deep into the worlds of signs, symbols, and prophecy. But as her mother (her traveling companion into these spheres) lies dying, Kersten must learn to navigate without the person who always lit the way.

Their last journey together, to swim in a Wisconsin lake, is a bittersweet, darkly comic, poignant climax to this transformative memoir.

Critique: An exceptionally and impressively well written and deeply personal memoir, "Daughter in Retrograde" is an extraordinary and inherently fascinating and entertaining read from beginning to end. While very strongly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Daughter in Retrograde" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

The Greater You
Russell Clayton
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781504392242, $33.95, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: "The Greater You: The Journey of Awakening" by physician, surgeon, author and spiritual teacher, Russell Clayton is a calling to evolve. It is a call to awaken beyond the ego mind to the higher self. An extraordinary way of life is within our reach. "The Power of Life" lies in our alignment with our authentic, true self. When we discover our buried true nature, we will awaken to our truth. Fear and doubt are then extinguished by the fire of love in our heart. When our fear disappears, freedom rings. Everyone has one thing that they are born for. Our signature frequency lies inside of our loving center. With the wisdom comprising "The Greater You: The Journey of Awakening" we can claim our divine gift of inner knowing, and the world shall know the awesome power of the greater us.

Critique: A life-changing, life-enhancing, life-affirming read, "The Greater You: The Journey of Awakening" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted that "The Greater You: The Journey of Awakening" is also available in a paperback edition (9781504392259, $15.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.03).

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: In Her Own Words
Helena Hunt, editor
Agate B2
c/o Agate Publishing
1328 Greenleaf Street, Evanston, IL 60202
9781572842496, $11.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: As one of only nine women in a class of 500 at Harvard Law School when she enrolled in 1956 and one of only four female Supreme Court justices in the history of the United States, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is frequently viewed as a feminist trailblazer and an icon for civil rights.

Ginsburg has always been known as a prolific writer and speaker. Now, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg: In Her Own Words" offers a unique look into the mind of one of the world's most influential women by collecting 300 of Ginsburg's most insightful quotes.

Meticulously curated from interviews, speeches, court opinions, dissents, and other sources by Helena Hunt, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg: In Her Own Words" creates a comprehensive picture of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in terms of her wisdom and her legacy.

Critique: A unique, informative, and simply fascinating read that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg: In Her Own Words" should be a part of every community, college, and university library collection. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Ruth Bader Ginsburg: In Her Own Words" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.35).

Tarot of the Future
Arthur Rosengarten
Paragon House
3600 Labore Road, Suite 1, St. Paul, MN 55110-4144
9781557789334, $24.95, PB, 336pp,

Synopsis: Arguably the most comprehensive and revolutionary book to be written about Tarot's Major Arcana in decades, "Tarot of the Future: Raising Spiritual Consciousness" by clinical psychologist and tarot expert Arthur Rosengarten is a bold and entertaining exploration of Tarot and Consciousness filled with stimulating, original ideas about the future.

The juxtaposition of psychology, spirituality, and Tarot might seem strange to a fortune teller, meditator, or scientist stuck in their competing worldviews, but Dr. Rosengarten explains how, in an integral world, these competing practices may nourish one another in ways that can lead to rich and creative spiritual development.

Readers will learn about the philosophical underpinnings of Tarot's template, called The Matrix, and its mysterious method of operation, divination. By applying Tarot's native meta-logic, the Tarot is re-tuned for the 21st century, with Jungian, Eastern, and Western metaphysical and scientific principles enlarging the scope and relevance of this timeless spiritual tool. In addition, Tarot has been expanded to approach the emerging archetypes of our time and present a completed map of higher consciousness.

Further, Tarot's internal code is used to expand and complete its body of sacred knowledge for new and seasoned users alike, in a timely revisioning for Spiritual Travelers in search of their authentic selves.

This revolutionary use of the Tarot not only applies to the spiritual development of individuals, but can apply to putting social institutions on a more spiritual path, leading to a better, more peaceful, world.

Critique: Original, iconoclastic, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Tarot of the Future: Raising Spiritual Consciousness" is an extraordinary and inherently fascinating read throughout. While unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections, it should be noted that "Tarot of the Future" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

West To Montana
Christine Wortman-Engren
Farcountry Press
PO Box 5630, Helena, MT 59604
9781560376972, $19.95, PB, 496pp,

Synopsis: On a homestead in the rugged Missouri River Breaks of Montana, the Wortman family carved out a brittle existence from the sagebrush and guembo, all while enduring the brutal weather, a harsh land, and dark family tragedies.

"West To Montana is a sweeping historical saga of homesteaders that showcases all the grit and determination of generations of the Wortman, Godsey, Gilmore, and Ness families as they move west from the Atlantic colonies to post-Civil War Missouri farms and on to the Montana Territory.

Based on richly detailed family diaries and letters, "West to Montana" brings our American story to life in a classic family epic from author Christine Wortman-Engren.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from first page to last, "West To Montana" is an extraordinary story of an exceptional family written by an remarkably gifted author who is able to bring a now time-lost world back to life. Enhanced with the inclusion of 31 black-and-white historical photographs, "West To Montana" is and especially and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library 20th Century American History collections.

Widow: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in Your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Years
Joanna Romer
MSI Press
1760-F Airline Highway, #203, Hollister, CA 95023
9781942891901, $14.95, PB, 152pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Widow: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in Your 2nd, 3rd & 4th Years", author and former academician Joanna Romber takes widows beyond the difficult days of the first year of widowhood into new opportunities for growth and discovery.

Along the way her readers will learn: How to handle emotional challenges connected with dating, sex and starting a new relationship; How to tackle difficult tasks such as re-entering the job market or developing a new mission for your life; How to handle the long-terms effects of grieving without having it take over your life.

Guidelines are provides for each new phase, making "Widow: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in Your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Years" a practical tool anyone can use as they embrace their widowhood with confidence!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Widow: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in Your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Years" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' and 'real world practial' in dealing with sensitive issues and emerging opportunities alike. While very highly recommended for community library, senior citizen library, and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Widow: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in Your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Years" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99).

Midlife Maze
Janis Clark Johnston
Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group
4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781442272699, $33.00, HC, 250pp,

Synopsis: Midlife can be a time of reflection, rebellion, or reconnecting to old or new interests and activities. It can also be a time when losses start to happen or begin to pile up such as divorce, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or home, the moving out and on of grown children -- and learning how to move forward can be a challenge.

In the pages of "Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss", seasoned psychologist Janis Clark Johnston looks at the geography of loss in midlife, the way it can affect us, and what we can do to get back on track or redirect ourselves when necessary.

Through first hand stories and practical exercises, "Midlife Maze" aptly leads readers through the midlife maze to a place of recovery, purpose, and peace.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, impressively informative, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss" is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring. Thoroughly accessible for the non-specialist general reader, and having extraordinary value for academia as well, "Midlife Maze" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Midlife Maze" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $30.30).

Cubism and Futurism
R. Bruce Elder
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
9781771122450, $85.00, HC, 591pp,

Synopsis: Cubism is an early-20th-century art movement which brought European painting and sculpture historically forward toward 20th century Modern art. Cubism in its various forms inspired related movements in literature and architecture.

Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It emphasized speed, technology, youth, and violence, and objects such as the car, the airplane, and the industrial city.

Cubism and futurism were closely related movements that vied with each other in the economy of renown. Perception, dynamism, and the dynamism of perception -- these were the issues that passed back and forth between the two.

"Cubism, Futurism, and Technologies of the Spirit: Spiritual Machines and the Cinematic Effect" by R. Bruce Elder (who is an award-winning filmmaker and who teaches Media at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada) shows how movement became, in the traditional visual arts, a central factor with the advent of the cinema: gone were the days when an artwork strived merely to lift experience out the realm of change and flow.

The cinema at this time was understood as an electric art, akin to X-rays, coloured light, and sonic energy. In this book, celebrated filmmaker and author Bruce Elder connects the dynamism that the cinema made an essential feature of the new artwork to the new science of electromagnetism. Cubism is a movement on the cusp of the transition from the Cartesian world of standardized Cartesian coordinates and interchangeable machine parts to a Galvanic world of continuities and flows. In contrast, futurism embraced completely the emerging electromagnetic view of reality.

"Cubism, Futurism, and Technologies of the Spirit" examines the similarity and differences between the two movements' engagement with the new science of energy and shows that the notion of energy made central to the new artwork by the cinema assumed a spiritual dimension, as the cinema itself came to be seen as a pneumatic machine.

Critique: An impressively original and comprehensive work of seminal but fully accessible scholarship, "Cubism and Futurism" is enhanced for academia with the inclusion of sixty-one pages of Notes, a twenty-four page Index, an online Appendix (A Shot analysis of Ballet mecanique), an online Bibliography, and a two page list of the Wilfrid Laurier University Press books in the Film + Media Studies series. A seriously impressive, pioneering study that is unreservedly recommended for college and university library Television & Media collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Margaret Lane

Mari's Bookshelf

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky
Jana Casale
Alfred Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9781524731991, $27.95

Leda wants to be linear. In Jana Casale's debut, The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky, Leda wants what most women do: to be thin and likeable and smart and happy. A realistic narrative, the novel mirrors more than it inspires.

Leda is an aspiring writer at college in Boston. But life gets in the way of her aspirations. She tracks boys and worries about her appearance and goes to parties she doesn't really want to attend. She eats two scones in one day. When she falls in love and moves to San Francisco for a few years, she hardly writes at all, instead choosing domestic life over the arts. She and husband, John, settle in Boston with their daughter, who remains close to her mother even as she has a family of her own.

Leda first develops through a minute lens, like looking into well crafted shoebox displays of everyday modern life. For example, she looks at baby booties in a boutique window. "There seemed no greater aspiration than to make a baby's feet look like bees" (175). She nicknames her classmate Pinched Bralette. She stages spills at the coffeeshop to gain a cute boy's attention. The delicious irony of her pursuit of linear-ness at the beginning of the book, that ardent desire that she hopes will define her life, shines through in her idiosyncrasies. She's linear by being complex.

After she marries and the perspective widens to capture broad swaths of time, she becomes more a caricature of herself. She fails to do the things she sets out to do: she attends a writing group only one time, she loses track of her friends, quits a job, starts to garden but leaves the job to a landscaper, she never does read Noam Chomsky. She's happy, though, loved by her own mother, husband and daughter. Still, there's something sad about her. She comes to the conclusion that being a woman is lonely. Indeed, she becomes a mere dot, a shadow of the linear self she once imagined. This is reflected in the writing: once vivid with details illuminating facets of her quirky personality, the prose in the second half serves more to move her from one age to the next. The pacing becomes more abrupt. It's disruptive.

In the end, Leda rises above her earlier insecurities, all the underachieved expectations that come with being a modern suburban girl. She settles into who she is, a lonely wife who sticks with it and becomes a confidant to her daughter the way her mother was to her. She's as comforting as any woman's good friend. But she carried the promise of being someone worth writing about, someone whose life warranted a story, only to become someone just like the rest of us. What started out a comedy turns tragedy.

The Tyre
C.J. Dubois & E.C. Huntley
Thistle Publishing
978176080646, 3.99 Brit. pounds, ebook

Should one try to shape destiny, or, accept and follow the course life draws? When untouchable, Ranji, finds a tyre on the road, he sees an opportunity to achieve his dreams. In The Tyre, co-written by C.J. Dubois and E.C. Huntley, the story of Ranji and his family unfolds succinctly and tenderly, celebrating ingenuity as well as brotherly love.

In the countryside of Kerala, India, Ranji is content collecting wood to sell, earning just enough to keep his family afloat. The appearance of the Apollo brand tyre sets his mental wheels turning. Wife, Meena, believes it a bad omen, because of its somber color, black, and because it drives Ranji mad. As Ranji becomes more and more consumed in planning the tyre's sale, Meena must confront her feelings for the rich brick maker in town. Meanwhile, the couple's children grow into a successful student and city worker. Is success in store for Ranji and Meena, too?

The plot mirrors Ranji's path from simplicity to chaos. His thread in the plot widens to include other delightful characters such as Sanosh, the couple's enterprising son sent to work in the cement business, the sage who walks the tyre home with Ranji, the tyre broker attracted to Ranji's sassy daughter, and the white-clad widow of the Rajah. These characters complexify the plot as well as vivify the close-knit community surrounding Ranji.

Ranji and Meena interpret of the ultimate fate of the tyre differently, each in relation to destiny. Whatever happens to it Ranji makes happen. No matter his caste, he takes part in building his future. In the vein of the 2008 Man Booker Prize winning, The White Tiger, this novel dignifies underclass entrepreneurship with wit and friendliness.

Mad Boy
Nick Arvin
Europa Editions
9781609454586, $17.00, 240 pages

"Another angle that must be considered is the science of luck," says Henry Phipps' father. Deeply in debt, sick and weary, the War of 1812 on their heels, Henry is determined to help his family's luck to turn. Nick Arvin's latest novel (due out today), Mad Boy is Henry Phipps' rousing adventure through Washington area battlefields, to save his family - and himself from it.

Henry Phipps' mother is dead. His father is in debtor's prison. His brother Franklin might be hanged for deserting his regiment in order to visit his girlfriend, Mary, whom he accidently impregnated. Henry's wild search to keep his promise to do his dead mother's bidding -- to keep the family together at any cost -- is as crazy as her voice in his head.

Henry is called mad because he hears his mother speak through death. Although the story is mainly his, it includes his mother's perspective, as well as his brother Franklin's, the Radnor the slave's, and that of the acquaintances Henry meets along his way. These conflicting and well delineated perspectives raise the question of whether Henry is mad, or the world in which he dwells. Is it mad for Franklin leave the family to go to war when his father is a drunkard and a gambler? Is it mad to loot when the economy has collapsed, as does Morley, one of Henry's acquaintances? Is it mad to sell one's self when it makes Abigail, Henry's other travel companion, the most money? As a slave, is it mad to join up with the British, against one's own country men, who are already against you, as Radnor does? These characters, each with his or her own voice, paint a complex picture of the forces for and against Henry.

Arvin's knack for colorful turns of phrase matches the colorful settings and characters they describe. Baltimore, Henry's first destination leaving home after his mother dies, is a "city of clamorous dazzlement." Mary, left by both Franklin and her father, a ruthless businessman, sees that "grief came from the knots of unforgiving." For Henry, "trying to think of what to do is like trying to balance on a greased tightrope." As mad as he is, Henry is an ingenious character, both as a young man finding his way in a ravaged world, and as Arvin develops him.

Mad Boy is a historic dystopia novel. Instead of seeing doom in the future, Arvin finds its origins in the past. But, he also sees "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen." Henry's quest is a darkly comic one, relying on luck and a plan made up as he goes. Although Henry does not entirely fulfill his promise to his mother, he does succeed in finding freedom for himself.

The Silliest Stories out of Bustleburg: America's Worst City
Jimmy Misfit
978163486876, $4.99, Ebook
9781985174672, $14.50, Paperback, 224 pages

"Brand new hello!" Welcome to Silliest Stories Out of Bustleburg, Jimmy Misfit's collection of tales from America's Worst City. With biting children, daily fires, fashion shows gone awry, and some vampire-run businesses, if you don't see hints of your own town in this read, the joke's on you.

The collection begins with a busload of weary prospects to Bustleburg, and ends with a family trying to evacuate. The point is, no one wants to stay and it's difficult to leave.

Each story is narrated by one of the town's residents. Penny Sweet, 7, tells about her sister Tootles, whose biting habit is so bad, it wins the family a rare vacation. In another story, she interviews her grandpa, a retired firefighter, whose department been on strike his whole career, hence, the frequent fires. Zachary Quarles, 26, is an extreme croquet pro and self proclaimed American innovator. His is the way of the future: "Gossipy and disloyal athletes. The drama. The foot stomping" (70). This kind of future isn't just for croquet - debutante Mauve Mertz, 39, attempts to win the favor of the high society Gamboge Girls with her fur coat fashion show, until an idealistic New York designer has a plan of his own. These insider perspectives give us a glimpse of what passes for normal in this fictional Mid-South-North town.

What makes these characters so funny is their obliviousness. They don't realize how abnormal their normal is, stuck in the eternal fight between evil and more evil that plagues Bustleburg. On one hand, a mob vampire family runs some businesses and on the other, Reverend Maple of the Pious Revivalist Church gives points for vindictiveness. Count Razvan Simonescu, 412, remarks, "it must be a sign of the times. We're the old guard of terror. The Reverend is the new, and somehow, we need each other" (166). Bustleburg begs the question: what old and new guard of terror are we under? And whatever the answer, is there anything to do, but laugh?

Read closely. Jimmy Misfit packs each sentence with so much information, it's easy to lose the thread. But stick with it and the picture of a comic dystopia becomes crystal clear.

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

While There Were Still Wild Birds
Richard E. Rankin, Jr.
Mercer University Press
1501 Mercer University Drive, Macon, GA 31207-0001
9780881466508, $28.00, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: "While There Were Still Wild Birds: A Personal History of Southern Quail Hunting" by Richard E. Rankin, Jr. is a personal history of Southern quail hunting as it was lived at three different South Carolina quail hunting clubs and by related dog trainers, hunting guides, and hunters.

The author's father, Richard E. Rankin, Sr., belonged to the first hunting club in Kline, South Carolina, and was a founding partner in the second hunting club, the Quail Roost Hunt Club, outside Manning, South Carolina. The third club featured was the Foreston Hunt Club, an adjoining neighbor of the Quail Roost Hunt Club. As both a family member, hunt club partner, and historian, Richard E. Rankin, Jr. tells this story as both a participant and as an objective observer.

"While There Were Still Wild Birds" is a study that covers a span of time from the mid 1930s (when Southern quail hunting was still a popular and important field sport) through and after the mid 1980s when the massive collapse of the quail population ended wild bird hunting.

"While There Were Still Wild Birds" explores the character and meaning of Southern quail hunting in a particular setting. It emphasizes the importance of hunting fellowship (especially between the author, his friends, father, and other hunting associates) and the way in which bird hunting leads to a dramatic encounter with wildness.

Because Southern quail hunting was part of the larger culture, "While There Were Still Wild Birds" also discusses how race, gender, and environmental change impacted Southern quail hunting.

Critique: An unusual, inherently fascinating, impressively informative, and exceptionally well written cultural history, "While There Were Still Wild Birds" will hold special attraction for those interested in quail hunting, and prove to be a unique and valued addition to both community and academic library collections.

Hacking the Bomb
Andrew Futter
Georgetown University Press
3240 Prospect Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007
9781626165649, $89.95, HC, 216pp,

Synopsis: What gives knowledgeable members of the United States intelligence community sleepless nights is knowing that our nuclear arsenals are not safe from cyber-attack. Knowing that terrorists could launch a nuclear weapon through successful hacking. That we are standing at the edge of a major technological challenges to established global nuclear order.

These are among the pressing security issues addressed in "Hacking the Bomb: Cyber Threats and Nuclear Weapons" by Andrew Futter (Associate Professor in the School of History, Politics, and International Relations at the University of Leicester, Leicester, England) in his ground-breaking study of the cyber threat to nuclear weapons.

"Hacking the Bomb" provides the first ever comprehensive assessment of this worrying and little-understood strategic development, and it explains how myriad new cyber challenges will impact the way that the world thinks about and manages the ultimate weapon.

"Hacking the Bomb" cuts through the hype surrounding the cyber phenomenon and provides a framework through which to understand and proactively address the implications of the emerging cyber-nuclear nexus. It does this by tracing the cyber challenge right across the nuclear weapons enterprise, explains the important differences between types of cyber threats, and unpacks how cyber capabilities will impact strategic thinking, nuclear balances, deterrence thinking, and crisis management.

"Hacking the Bomb" makes the case for restraint in the cyber realm when it comes to nuclear weapons given the considerable risks of commingling weapons of mass disruption with weapons of mass destruction, and argues against establishing a dangerous norm of "hacking the bomb".

"Hacking the Bomb" a is timely book provides a starting point for an essential discussion about the challenges associated with the cyber-nuclear nexus.

Critique: Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography and a ten page Index, "Hacking the Bomb: Cyber Threats and Nuclear Weapons" is an exceptional and seminal study that is impressively well researched, written, organized and presented. While especially recommended for both community and academic library National Security & Contemporary Social Issues collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Hacking the Bomb" is also available in a paperback edition (9781626165656, $29.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $16.17) and will be of great interest to scholars and students of security studies as well as defense practitioners and policy makers.

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Danny and Life on Bluff Point: My Horse Sally
Mary Ellen Lee
iUniverse, Inc.
9780595360840, $13.95, Paperback: 192 pages

Danny and Life on Bluff Point My Horse Sally; The text opens with the rain outside and the children playing hide and seek in the house. In a house having an attic, basement, and two living levels there are many good hiding places.

Danny, bantam for his age, has squeezed into the diminutive spot below the dining room table where the chairs and tablecloth have him well out of sight. Sisters Mary and Carolyn are having quite a project trying to locate him when Clara the cat spots him and snuggles in too.

Fifth in a series of historical novels targeting the Middle School age and older; Danny and Life on Bluff Point: My Horse Sally based in large part on the author's Grandfather's childhood journal musings and, as well as, is based a good bit upon Lee's listen to her father's reminisces is another in this dandy read especially for those who enjoy historical novels.

Author Lee reveals that the various individual family members noted in the narration are actual persons. New York State locations mentioned are actual, and, the author notes many of the dwellings mentioned continue to be used today.

During 1890s, as is found today, farm life was filled with hard work but was performed with few, if any of the machinery and farming tools we know today, on the other hand kindred values and feelings of worth and belonging, and blissful times punctuated with joy and laughter.

For two years in a career spanning many decades spent in the K 1 classroom, I taught fourth grade for two terms after a hiatus spent following a move from California to Osage County; my students enjoyed the Danny books very much. During my daily reading to the students during the period following lunch period my students listened avidly, joined in hardy discussion and carried each of the books home on daily basis to read with family during the evening.

On the pages of Danny and Life on Bluff Point My Horse Sally Readers will enjoy meeting Sally the mare, Danny's young doe goat, Olive, Buster the collie, and Clara the cat. Danny's siblings, Ruthie, Mary and Carolyn, parents Ma and Pa, extended family Uncle Jerome and Aunt Liz, Uncle Henry and Aunt Mertie and Cousin Jay return in this work. During the season's exciting first ride on the lake, the men of the Lee family help to launch Uncle Philo's steamboat, Cricket. Danny is allowed to pilot the large boat and is left alone in the pilothouse he feels uncertainty at first; but as he turns the steamboat away from the shore, he realizes this 'grownup" duty is something he can do.

I find the flavor of the time period, the warm lovingness of caring family, and sound staunchness of the people depicted are all brought to life under the skilled writing of author Lee.

Danny and Life on Bluff Point My Horse Sally proceeds as in the first Danny books; because it is spring there is a lot of mud, daily jobs to do, and trips to town. Many of my students living in rural Osage County live on ranches, have a horse of their own, most could ride even if they didn't have their own, and were pleased to learn Danny now has his own Morgan mare, Sally, he is learning to care for.

Danny is learning to ride Sally and has located the where abouts of Captain Charles Williamson's historic campsite when he tumbles into a dug well where he ponders his predicament under a Seneca Indian boy discovers him and adroitly rescues him. Danny's new friend tells why he and his family happen to living near Branchport. The lad's grandfather relates an emotive tale about the Seneca Indian Chief, Red Jacket.

My Middle Grade students were amazed to learn in the previous book, Man on the Train, that the school Teacher, Miss Spaulding, was housed during the school year with one family or another having students in the school. Now, continuing the the custom of the time, Miss Spaulding, is ending her stay in the Lee home and is preparing to move to the Marshall home for a few months.

Presented in a pleasing, well penned and easily read, the continuing narrative Danny and Life on Bluff Point My Horse Sally is a dandy resource for Social Studies use. The book helps clarify times, places and activities that might be downright boring on the pages of a text book.

I found using the anecdotes, details, and explanation based on true events and real people to be a dandy for teachers as they endeavour to bring Social Studies alive in the classroom. Some circumstances offered in the narratives: work accomplished on the farm, cooperation with family and community, solving problems and overcoming challenges, few 'store bought' goods, no TV, no video games, and all speak of a time and place now all but forgotten.

Old time family fun and caring are concepts valued then and valued today. Along with before noted family, Readers will see more of Doc and Uncle Ed, Cousin William Fenner, and local lad Billy Marshall who no longer a bully.

Differences and similarities between living then and now all become familiar during the reading; cooking and heating the house is done with wood and not an electric stove. Draft horses; Belgians Kit and Bess, or Jim and Dan, not tractors are used to pull the heavy farm machinery used for working out in the family vineyard. Eggs and butter to sell, pruning vines and cleaning all out all the brush in the family vineyard, learning of the Seneca people, and the whole community enjoying Easter festivities, provide a lot of information for children and others.

Danny makes a long ride on Sally to the local college to learn if beef, butter, and eggs his family produces as part of their income might be needed there, the family is enjoys a tour of Birkett Mills. Steam boating in the family boats, a new suit complete with his first pair of long pants, Easter Sunday, and family visits are all enjoyed by Danny.

I found Danny and Life on Bluff Point My Horse Sally, to be a first-class selection for the personal reading list for the 8 to 13 set, school library, home reading shelf and classroom library. Danny and Life on Bluff Point My Horse Sally will provide much information for discussion groups with respect to life in the United States a century ago.

Enjoyed the read, and am happy to recommend for the middle grade reader, older students and all adults who enjoy historical tales.

Green Berets Unconventional Warriors, first edition
Hans Halberstadt
Power Series (Book 3002)
Presidio Press
9780891412809, $TBA, Paperback: 134 pages

Hans Halberstadt's GREEN BERETS Unconventional Warriors is a work of 134 pages having a Table of Contents, including






Chapter 1 Laying on the Mission

Chapter 2 Command and Control: The SF Mission Today

Chapter 3 Launching the Mission:Foreign Internal Defense

Chapter 4 Actions at the Objective: Strike Missions

Chapter 5 Learning the Drill: Q Course

Chapter 6 After Action Review: The History of UW

Chapter 7 Leaders Recon: A Commander's Thoughts


Appendix: The Story of the Green Beret

The Cult of the Green Berets

Glossary is handy, essential for the non military. Beginning with BDU Battle dress uniform, the camouflage uniform that is currently approved work uniform, and continuing across 4 columns and 2 pages to end on X) Executive office, the number two guy on a team or in a unit the glossary can serve as a point of reference for The Reader.

Some of the words detailed, Claymore, HE, Klick, LZ, McGuire Rig, MRE and others are ones I recognize, others Briefback, FID, Safe Bar, and others I did not until I read the explanation.

The Preface is set apart with a 2 page spread showing a trainer explaining fundamentals of raids to a group of Honduran soldiers followed with pages of text and photographs detailing how the book came about, and some of the early work carried out by Special Forces.

Each of the sections follows the basic format of a two page of large photgraph followed by pages of text.

The author reveals that during the formative years of both Special Forces and the war in Viet Nam he was a young helicopter door-gunner operating in the Central Highlands.

The author points out that as a group the Green Berets are intelligent, education, creative and constructive, have multiple skills, and are capable teachers well able to instruct and lead novice forces who may or may not be American, speak English, or even be soldiers.

Chapter 1 Laying on the Mission Is presented as a successful effort in an unsuccessful war: the tribespeople, wary at first came to trust the Special Forces soldiers.

Chapter 2 Command and Control: The SF Mission Today includes Unconventional Warfare, Foreign Internal Defense, Strategic Reconnaissance, Strike Missons. Green Berets are qualified.

Chapter 3 Launching the Mission: Foreign Internal Defense is a multi page section detailing some training work carried out by Special Forces trainers.

Chapter 4 Actions at the Objective: Strike Missions this chapter takes the Reader along on a training mission complete with simulated sounds and actions of an actual mission.

Chapter 5 Learning the Drill: Q Course the official point of entry for those who wish to be assigned to a team, and to wear the beret.

Chapter 6 After Action Review: The History of UW while the official beginnings of the Green Berets may be 1952, the July 1942 brigade of Canadian and Americans was trained for a raid into Norway, Italy, and Romania. It was a raid that eventually was canceled.

Chapter 7 Leaders Recon: A Commander's Thoughts end thought regarding 'the one thing you can always count on from a Special Forces A team is a very creative approach to a problem.'

The Afterword points out that Project Concern, the Special Forces Association and the Family Life Office of the Lutheran Church, and others were able to help many of the indigenous fighters they helped train come to the US.

The Appendix sums up the Story of the Green Beret.

I found GREEN BERETS Unconventional Warriors to be a readable, clarifying work filled with well written, heavily researched, informative text and a large number of color and black and white photographs.

While not presented as an in-depth detailed work, Hans Halberstadt's GREEN BERETS Unconventional Warriors does present a informative of the lesser known group of dedicated soldiers who are the Green Berets.

I am married to a former Green Beret, the cover of the book caught my eye in the book store, and, I am happy I did make the purchase.

Interesting Read ... Recommended ... 4 stars

Show and Tell
Karen Vanderlaan
9781413746372, $27.95, Paperback

Karen Vanderlaan's Show and Tell memoir narrative presents a poignant tale of childhood, happiness, loss, heartache and renewal.

Vanderlaan was born in Paradise ... Life spent on Milky Way Farm was idyllic.

In the distant Vermont village of West Newbury home was a four hundred acre dairy farm. A faint daffodil hued farm house, carrying cups of hot coffee out to the milking barn to help warm up her Dad, riding her pony, apple trees, caring for a series of fawns rescued by her Dad, chores on the farm, attending a one room school and savoring the beauty of autumn all left their mark on Vanderlaan.

Years passed, seasons changed producing memories of maple sugar time, sledding on feed sacks, separating calves from their mothers so the milk could be sold, Christmas and Halloween, town get-togethers filled with music and fun; it was a period when all was right in her world time when seemed to stand still and Vanderlaan wished it might continue forever.

'One of the reasons my mother later gave for leaving Milky Way Farm was that she wanted a bigger, better life for us.'

Remembering family time with siblings and Dad and Mother, supper together, and, her older sister relating how a trusted family friend had molested her are all a part of the memory.

The loss of the century old house that served as family home was followed rapidly by the birth of Vanderlaan's third sibling. Vanderlaan's mother was not at all happy with the birth of Teresa; this was not a planned pregnancy.

'Truth was the tempo of all our lives perpetually rose and fell according to the whims of our eccentric, high-strung, self centered mother.'

When her parents began quarreling because the farm was not producing enought money Vanderlaan's mother had come to the end of her endurance. Her mother's relationship with motorcycle riding Bunny was a turning point, and not for the better for Vanderlaan, her siblings or their father.

Show and Tell is not an entertaining feel good little narrative, it is one that Karen Vanderlaan felt driven to write. Her words will leave readers reflective regarding the resiliency of the human spirit.

The happy years Vanderlaan spent on the Vermont family farm came to an end the day her mother abandoned her husband and moved the children away from the farm and their father.

Author Vanderlaan is a strong woman competent of facing down whatever demons life chose to heap upon her prior to reaching a turning point at last toward a life again filled with affection, hope and joy. Vanderlaan studies her harrowing past, and through holding fast to the tangible, powerful, memories that helped pave the way to her increasing effort to set things right.

The pitilessness exhibited by the woman named Bunny is difficult to fathom; more difficult to comprehend is Vanderlaan's mother's acceptance of the cruelty.

Physically and mentally mistreated by Bunny; Vanderlaan and her siblings endured the impoverishment and anguish and ongoing disregard as well as outright abuse. She craved what all children need; love and affection and a sense of belonging. Vanderlaan notes these particular needs are especially heightened for an abused child.

Her horses provided one way for Vanderlaan to escape from the pain.

On the pages of Show and Tell, despite so many pages occupied with sorrowfulness and wretchedness; writer Vanderlaan has crafted an inspirational work. Vanderlaan experienced far more abuse and misery during childhood and then during her early adult years than most of us recognize is achievable, nevertheless that; she has managed to restore herself and to create happiness and worthwhile activity for herself as single parent, a rescuer of uncared-for horses, and, an educator of emotionally disturbed children.

I found Show and Tell to be a first-class addition counselor's and the therapist's shelf as well as for those who find comfort and consolation through reading an inspired and inspirational work.

Inspiring work, enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Confederate States Paper Money
Arlie R Slabaugh
Editor George S Cuhaj
Krause Publications
c/o F+W Media
700 East State Street, Iola WI 54945
9781440230868, $TBA pbk / $17.00 Kindle 272 pages

Product Details 350 Color Illustrations & 50 Black & White Illustrations

Amazon blurb: Intriguing and Authoritative!

Brimming with riveting history along with a highly usable, full-color listing of issues, this edition of Confederate States Paper Money is sure to live up to expectations, satisfy, and please as well as present clarification conveying greater understanding for, every Confederate note collector, from novice to expert.

It features: Full-color representation of all major Confederate States currency from beginning of the War and continuing through Reconstruction. Authoritative reporting re Upham and other facsimile notes, as well as bogus notes, enigmatical issues, advertising notes, uncut sheets and errors.

Featuring the work of text of legendary numismatist Arlie Slabaugh and pricing by William Bradimore, no paper money enthusiast's library is complete without Confederate States Paper Money, 12th edition.

With Text by Arlie R Slabaugh, Edited by George S Cuhaj with Pricing by William Brandimore, CONFEDERATE STATES PAPER MONEY, Civil War Currency From the South, presents a Table of Contents including


A Nation Asunder

The Cotton Economy

Part I Catalog (Confederate States) 73 pages

Collecting Confederate Currency

Catalog Pricing

Buying and Selling


First Issue, 25 July 1861

Second Issue, 2 September 1861

Third Issue, 1862

Fourth Issue 1862

Fifth Issue 2 December 1862

Sixth Issue 2 December 1862

Seventh Issue 17 February 17 1864

Uncut Sheets

Errors on Confederate Notes

Errors on Notes of the Southern States

The End of Confederate Currency

Errors on Confederate Notes

Errors on Notes of the Southern States

The End of Confederate Currency

Vignettes on Confederate Notes

Index of Bignettes

Cross index of Catalog Numbers

Part II Historical Data 56 pages

The Trans Mississipp Notes

The Enigmatical Issues

The Chemicographic Backs

Redemption of Confederate Currency

Counterfeit and Altered Notes

Bogus Notes The Female Riding Deer Notes

Other Bogus Notes

Contemporary Facsimile Notes

A listing of Upham Facsimiles of Edge Inscriptions

Modern Facsimiles

Advertising on Confederate notes

Facsimile Advertising Notes

When This Cruel War Is Over

The Confederate Note

Part III Catalog (Southern States) Paper Money of the Southern States 126 pages


Arizona Territory





Indian Territory






North Carolina

South Carolina




West Virginia



Pictures of the currency are good sized, clear and feature well written descriptions in this dandy reference book. If you have Confederate notes in your accumulation, or are thinking of purchasing notes in the future, this informative book helps clarify what to best look for, or how to recognize the bill in the offering before you.

As a WBTS buff or an interested individual who wants to purchase some Confederate currency this book good info and relative images to allow comparing many notes of varying grades. As with all reference works, this book is not really a stand alone text regarding everything Confederate

As a long time WBTS buff I have taken part in reenactments, have read many texts dealing with history in general, battles, armaments, have collected a few pieces of Confederate paper money worked with a local group sponsoring a reenactment of a local Oklahoma battle and greatly enjoyed reading this particular book.

I found the introductory material to be enlightening, informative and clarifying. With textual matter and graphics to illustrate the verbiage Nation Asunder, and The Cotton Economy I found that I too can learn something new even with all the research I have done, and the books I have read.

Serious, experienced collectors and novice attendees of their first 'Civil War' collector sale opportunity will find informative notes along with illustrations of specific notes.

Suggestions regarding pricing of notes is presented along with the description and illustration. As with all collectibles keep in mind non withstanding the listed valuations, any collectible is only worth as much as the buyer is willing to spend. For those who hope to buy for resale caution is always a good idea.

I found especially interesting the short vignettes regarding the particular note illustrated. Information regarding individual states is especially interesting.

While the paper volume is well made, crafted using a heavy weight 'slick' paper, hefty in size and weight, and may be difficult to carry along to a sales event there are both paper and kindle version available.

I like this book, find it useful and am happy to recommend for novice and dedicated historians alike.

"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!"
Patty Thomas, author
Wallace Tripp, illustrator
HarperCollins Children's Books
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780688093389, $16.99, Hardcover, 32 Pages

-Stand back,- said the elephant, -I'm going to sneeze!
I hate to alarm you, But I don't wish to harm you.
My friends, I fear, Its clear, Oh, dear,
You'd better stand back, I'm going to sneeze.-

Patty Thomas' Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze! has been a long time favorite of children, students and teachers too.

-Stand back,- said the elephant, -I'm going to sneeze! I hate to alarm you, But I don't wish to harm you. My friends, I fear, Its clear, Oh, dear, You'd better stand back, I'm going to sneeze.-

The narrative opens with a jolly graphic of an immense elephant rearing upward on his back legs.

The introductory page sets up the story line.

Upon hearing his declaration, immediately each of elephant's neighbors hurries to tell elephant exactly why they do not want him to sneeze.

The Reader soon meets numerous of the elephant's friends who are extremely disquieted to hear that the elephant is needing to sneeze. The gathering critters begin to talk, discuss, chatter about and inform the elephant via use of child friendly rhythm and rhyme, that he just truly must NOT sneeze.

"The zebra yelled, "Yipes, You'll blow off my stripes, Plus lots and lots, Of the leopard's spots, And all of the snakes will be tied up in knots!"

The jungle is in confusion; Oh no. Not again. The elephant is going to sneeze. Calamity, disaster, cataclysm is at hand, the location facing bedlam. The last time he sneezed; it was direful, just dreadful.

Why elephant actually blew all the stripes off the zebra, and, as well all the fur from the bear. In reality he turned the crocodile's nose inside out and even blasted the stings right off the bees. Why, they had to make due with rose thorns and glue.

He even swept every last one of the scales from the fish, and wafted the monkeys right out of the trees. Featherless birds were suddenly made to walk, skip or hop south and could not fly. An alligator, and a buffalo, bees, and bear, crocodile, fish, giraffe, and hippopotamus, leopard, mouse, parrot, and snakes, and even the zebra are worried.

Everyone knows; should the elephant sneeze, it is going to be havoc.

-Oh, please, Not a sneeze,- Said the bear. -Thats not fair. I declare. The last time he sneezed he blew off all my hair, And left me so bare I spent the whole winter in long underwear-

And, there is nothing so sad as a bear that is bare.

- Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze! was a much loved often chosen for naptime and evening reading time best-loved book of both of my own children when they were young, and was as well often preferred for the K - 1 classes I taught in California.

Sad to say, I find not too many people have even heard of the book.

The hypothesis and rhyme are entertaining, words stream in rhythmical, endearing pacing that children adore. Illustrations are a superb component of the chronicle.

For many years during my many decades in the classroom the first book I read aloud to my students, on the very first day of the new school term, was Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!

I read this book in part because, I just simply like the book and the fun, nifty tale it imparts. I read it too for the reason that despite my being a petite person, I have a sneeze that will rattle the windows in the next classroom.

On the first day read the story, and the children and I talked about the fun and nonsensicality of the narrative. I related that I have a huge noisy sneeze and I guaranteed to the kids they need not have anxiety ... I promised when I sneeze I will try not to blow off their stripes!

I get pleasure from reading the story as much as the kids enjoy listening to it being read to them.

The book is very repetitive leading to children being drawn right into the fun as they gibber along with the reader.

Synonyms such as bare and bear, and fun observations like 'Bee's Knees are sprinkled into the text.

Upon hearing elephant's declaration; a tiny gray mouse sets about to save the day. Rising up to full height he roars that the sneezing must STOP.

And within moments the elephant begins to giggle.

Even before turning the page; you realize there just must be a result when an elephant commences to laugh. And so there is.

The unexpected ending for the narrative always left my sons, my Kindergarten or First Graders enlivened, giggling and ready to talk and all but overcome with hysteria.

Every child were spell-bound to learn that elephants really do not care for mice! .

Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze! is a -read to- book for the 3 - 6 year old set and a -read with help- for 6 -8 -9 year olds.

The book is well written, maintains children's interest and is just plain fun to hear or read aloud for children and teacher, or child and parent.

In particular I like the illustrations, they are eye catching, child friendly, my students and sons alike adore them very much.

I find Stand Back," Said the Elephant to be a must have for the 3 to 8 set, the home, classroom, school and public libraries. and for gifting a lucky emergent Reader.

Older children in the 9 - 11 group often chose the book for reading to the little kids.

I have always enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for the target audience.

With Love A Compilation of Romantic Verse and Paper Flowers
Keith Moseley and Robert P. Nicholls
Thomas Nelson Inc.
9780785273363, $TBA, Hardcover

With Love A Compilation of Romantic Verse and Paper Flowers is an Octagonal shaped book having a collection of five pop up floral bouquets each gloriously depicted between two lovely and loving verses.

Illustrator Robert Nicholls has outdone himself in his presentation of Roses, Poppies, Delphinium, Iris, Sweet Pea, and Sunflowers all set against a background of additional blossoms.

Poetry penned by Christina Rosetti, George Gordon- Lord Byron, William Morris, Anne Bradstreet, John Clare, and William Cox Bennett have set down a poignant look backward, romantic verse, and verses filled with happiness, passion and love.

Rossetti' sonnet "I wish I could remember that first day" is printed across first of two pages and is accented with a popup bouquet filled with red poppies, daisy and greenery sandwiched with the second ode on the next page.

I think that few, perhaps none, whether moved by poetry or think of as the worst drivel ever have not heard Cloths of Heaven and recognize that George Gordon Byron - 6th Baron Byron penned the romantic piece, "She walks in beauty like the night."

William Morris' lyric poem begins Love is enough though the world be awaiting and continues in romantic tone to the last line These lips and these eyes of the loved one and the lover. It is followed with Anne Bradstreet's love filled ode To My Dear and Loving Husband.

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.

If ever wife was happy in a man, ....

Then while we live, in love let's so, persevere

That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Some might be shocked to realize that Anne Bradstreet, a Puritan woman could without hesitancy or embarrassment pour unashamedly so much adoration, eagerness, love and affectionate emotion into 12 short lines.

Set against a backdrop of delphinium and fuchsia; a bouquet of blue delphinium, pink fuchsia, a perfect lily blossom and a charming butterfly seems a perfect match for Morris' and Bradstreet's fondly romantic work.

Next is presented English poet, John Clare, whose biographer called "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. The gently composed delicate First Love.

Set against a background of of multi colored mixed blossoms is a lovely bouquet filled with daisy, aster, fuchsia, and a single perfect bearded, lavendar, Iris, which seems to spring from the page propelled perhaps with the excitement of Clare's beautiful words.

First Love, is a delicate flow of words declaring heart felt touching dedication.

A Birthday, a second work spanning two pages penned by Rossetti, opens with a declaration describing her heart; "My heart is like a singing bird.' And ends with an explanation that she is explaining "the birthday of her life".

A fittingly crafted bouquet appears to burst from a bed of sweet peas, various pink rose hued blossoms, delicate full blown rose and a small blue bird.

The final poem bouquet duo features William Morris' poignant ode opening with the words Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths and culminating in the poignant statement Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Cox Bennett's The Worn Wedding-Ring interestingly is attributed to Anon.

A search of poetry sites and books all lead to William Cox Bennett as the scribe penning the verses.

The ode gives lie to the notion that only the young can understand and experience deep love. Bennett's words flow with loyalty, warmth, sincerity, elan, and commitment.

Interesting Read ... Recommended ... 4 stars

Molly Martin

Polk's Bookshelf

Color of the Soul
Richard T. Burke
Privately Published
9781986280976, $9.03, paperback, 274 pages
B07CKB4GBH, $0.99, Kindle

I thought this was seriously good book. It contains a vulnerable victim who is constantly at a disadvantage, a family who is, for the most part, clueless; and detectives trying to sort out several separate related crimes one of which happened more than a year before...all of which is complicated by the victim's amnesia and the ancient history of two brothers.

Injured in an auto accident, Annalise, contrary to everyone's expectations, wakes up after a year-long coma. Her family, but most of all her old boy-friend, Mark, who was with her in the wrecked car when she was injured, and her seventeen year old sister, Beatrice, were shocked by her unexpected recovery. Another person, a mystery man named Steven was as shocked as anyone but recognized opportunity when he saw it.

Annalise, too, was shocked. She was shocked that she could suddenly read human auras; shocked by Mark and Beatrice's response to her recovery and shocked to find she may be charged for the fatal auto accident that had injured her a year before.

Color of the Soul is a riveting, well-told tale of suspense and psychopathic drama of which Annalise is, more or less, a victim of collateral damage. Her character is complex and forced to sort out multiple issues but in the end it is her determination that brings matters to a head. Her father, Dan, is helpful and her mother, Sophie, supportive. Her sister, Beatrice, confused; her boyfriend, Mark, bound tightly to his past. It is easy to feel good about Annalise. Not so easy to feel good about Mark and Beatrice.

I've read some excellent books in the past year or so, but this is one of the best. It will grab you and never let go. Color of the Soul is recommended for everyone who loves suspense, psycho-thrillers, mysteries, and crime action novels. 5-Stars

This book was provided free by the author in hopes of receiving an honest review. The above review represents my honest opinion of the book.

Clayton Graham
Privately Published
9780994495600, $16.95, paperback, 322 pages
B01A4XY0UI, $2.99, Kindle

When Simon Cordell's drill rig broke through the crust on the Moon's dark side opening the hidden lunar cave system, he had no clue what his discovery would mean to Earth.

A swarm...leaving the cave like bees leaving a hive. But what were they? Where were they going? Where had they come from? Most importantly, what were they doing?

Laura and her son, Jason, were on a camping vacation. They're in the wrong place at the wrong time when things begin to get truly crazy and they're caught squarely in the middle...between the police, the military, a mysterious and secretive group of scientists and, oh yes...a group of alien entities dedicated single-mindedly to a mission. Their mission becomes the guiding force for Laura and Jason's life for some time as they are battered back and forth between competing agendas. Imagine their surprise when they find that Jason's fate may well have been genetically bound to the fate of mankind in future generations.

Jason, a young man of fourteen, steps up into a role that very few adult males would fulfill in the same circumstances. His character displays maturity and initiative so far beyond his years that his performance was not believable to me. Nevertheless, this lack of believability did not detract from the story; rather, his initiative enhanced a way similar to otherwise unbelievable superheroes with specific vulnerabilities. His mother, Laura, is very believable, however, displaying the type of behavior that would be expected of her character. The other characters are sufficiently developed and fit their roles as expected. The aliens display abilities and a lack of vulnerability that might keep some readers up at night.

The story is extremely entertaining, well written and full of twists and turns. It is a masterpiece of imagination that takes us from the immediate danger and fear of alien invasion to a startling vision of the future.

Milijun would appeal to any action oriented sci-fi reader and to anyone else that loves a good action cliff-hanger. 5-stars

Saving Paludis
Clayton Graham
Privately Published
9780994495624, $18.99, paperback, 356 pages
B07CZBTKZX, $2.99, Kindle

Many light years from Earth, a colony planet, Paludis, is racked by economic instability in the aluminum market. At the same time, the indigenous native population has been marginalized by the fear and ignorance of humans and forcefully confined to a small isolated peninsula. This is the way Paludis has been for more than three-hundred years.

The natives are considered to be primitive "lizards" without appreciable technology. While the natives are not particularly sophisticated in terms humans would normally understand, they nevertheless possess deep spiritual roots and beliefs in the natural powers of their the point of limited interdimensional travel. The human population is clueless...until they develop a new product that will revolutionize space travel...but at the expense of the natural ocean ecosystem of Paludis.

As Earth becomes dependent on Paludis' new product, it is suddenly racked by explained attacks that appear related to commerce with Paludis. Suddenly, Paludis finds itself facing war with Earth; accused of atrocities on Earth without any hint of how or why they should be blamed.

What follows is a rousing adventure full of personalities, heroes and people with dark agendas. An adventure where a whole planet faces destruction with no understanding why it stands accused. It is a story of madmen and madwomen parading as political leaders; and of faith and friends...and the destruction that can come from entrenched posturing between adversaries.

The characters are generally well developed for their roles and believable. The book is well written and the story well told...except that for the first few chapters I was enormously confused as the backstory was taking shape. Bear with the confusion, things eventually gel into an understandable storyline. It has been months since I sat up far into the wee hours of the morning reading, but I did so with this book.

Saving Paludis will definitely please sci-fi fans, many fantasy fans and just about anyone who loves action thrillers. Besides, it has an interesting twist that leaves a reader begging for a future least it left me that way. 5-Stars

The Memory Tree: The Carson Chronicles, Book 2
John Heldt
B07CSJ4TMV, $4.99, Kindle, 659 pages

When we last saw the Carson family siblings in River Rising they had survived the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1899 and planned to pass through the Sedona, AZ portal and meet their parents in 1918.

However, the best laid plans sometimes go astray. They're challenged by an Arizona rancher determined to see Greg Carson hang for murder. By quick thinking, they enter 1918 intact while the rancher and his men travel to an unknown time.

Soon, the Carson's split up to find family members their parents are likely to contact. By assuming new identities, they manage to get close to prominent relatives in their family tree and in doing so, learn that time travel has dangers far beyond the obvious when events spiral out of control affecting the course of the Carson family's evolution.

As in John Heldt's previous books, there is an ever present element of danger and romance as the Carson siblings, one by one, suffer the joy and heartache of being in love with people from the past. The development of the Carson characters continues to increase through the series until the reader feels their confusion and frustration.

As in River Rising, the suspense will keep readers on the edge of their seats and unexpected time-travel twists unfold. It's unlikely readers would be disappointed with the action, romance or twists found in The Memory Tree. However, it is likely The Memory Tree will touch their hearts. 5-Stars

This book was provided free by the author in hopes of receiving an honest review. The above review represents my honest opinion of the book.

Of Half a Mind
Bruce M. Perrin
Mind Sleuth Publications
B07B4KY8VN, $2.99, Kindle, 339 pages

Imagine, if you will, dividing the human brain in half and using only the right half or the left half. A person in such a state would be able to exhibit only left half (logic) or right half (more esoteric subjects) unless and until some cross-over functions were re-established between the two halves of the brain. Then imagine that the cross-over functions were blocked forcing only left-half or right-half control.

Of Half a Mind is about a machine that blocks one half of the brain. A machine possessed by a mad-man; one who has and will commit multiple murders. One addicted to the machine's effects as one can become addicted to drugs. A research team headed by Dr. Sam Price must dig through the records of a dead inventor to find him, suspecting, but never really realizing the danger they are in.

This book is a psycho-thriller written by an author who is a psychological researcher. The good news is Of Half a Mind is, in every respect, an excellent story plot, with well developed, if a bit nerdy, characters. For imagination, plot and characters I would award this book four stars.

It's drawback is the dialog. Of Half a Mind suffers from too much dialog unnecessary to telling the story and a great deal of neuro-scientific explanation most readers would blow-off in a heartbeat. I did. I skipped large sections of the dialog as being irrelevant to the plot. I would award three stars for the story-telling.

On the whole, however, for those willing to wade through the narrative to get to the meat of the plot, this is an entertaining and worthwhile read. The reader will get a good thrilling yarn and, perhaps, learn something about the human mind in the process. Lovers of psycho-thrillers, techno-thrillers and mysteries should love it. For me, the plot and concept slightly outweighed the dialog issues and I gave it 4-Stars.

Clabe Polk, Reviewer

Suanne's Bookshelf

The Way of Beauty
Camille Di Maio
Lake Union Publishing
1503950123, $10.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle,

$TBA audiobook edition

I chose The Way of Beauty because I read Ms. Di Maio's previous two books, The Memory of Us and Before the Rain Falls, and enjoyed them. The Way of Beauty was written for those who enjoy well-researched, well-written women's fiction with a historical flavor.

In Di Maio's third novel, The Way of Beauty, she further develops her reputation as an author savvy in both research techniques and character development - and the ability to combine these elements into a relatable story.

The Way of Beauty is told in two points of view, but rather than the usual alternating POVs, she lets the story of these two women unfold chronologically through all that happens in America between two World Wars and ties their journey to Penn Station, a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style and one of the great architectural works of New York City.

First we have Vera who begins her journey in poverty and watches the building of Penn Station, always feeling sheltered by the giant eagles that adorn its facade. As Vera ages, the story is taken over by her daughter, Alice. Vera and Alice achieve goals of becoming artists, though Vera in particular, continues to work in a department store while working as an artist on the side. One of the best aspects of The Way of Beauty is how Di Maio ties the suffrage movement into her story. Both women intersect with suffragettes and feminism, so that by the time Alice has a daughter, Libby, she too is involved in similar activities.

As Vera declines in age, so does her beloved Penn Station - to the point she's forced to watch its demolition in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden and Pennsylvania Plaza.

This book serves as a monument in itself to the suffrage movement and the women - and men - who fought for the vote and other women's rights. It also serves as a eulogy to Penn Station. On a smaller scale, it celebrates the lives of individuals, their loves, their families, their accomplishments.

Minerva Spencer
c/o Kensington
119 W 40th St, #21, New York, NY 10018
9781420147223, $7.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 368pp,

I selected this book because the write-up sounded similar to Bertrice Small's Skye O'Malley books written in the early 1980s. Skye O'Malley, the first of Small's lengthy series, is the consummate bodice-ripper, complete with rape, child rape, fetishes, abusive sex all described in purple prose, and male "heroes" who are prone to intercourse without consent and thus smarmy rather than heroic - and that doesn't count the clothes, food, and furniture described such in infinite detail it obscures what little there is of a storyline.

Readers who enjoy Dangerous might like to go back in time and check out Small's bodice rippers. However, with their rapes and lack of consent, they do not hold up well in this "Me, too" era.

Fortunately, the author of Dangerous, Minerva Spencer, has clear, concise prose and well-developed characters. She succeeds in entertaining readers by providing tried and true romance tropes in a new way as well as a setting that hovers in the background, one uncommon in romance at the present time: the seraglio. These ingredients are combined with swashbuckling pirates and cool aloof English lords, lots of hot love scenes, all without the wordy, over-written details provided by Bertrice Small.

Dangerous starts off along the same lines as Skye O'Malley, with the heroine, Lady Euphemia (Mia) Marlington, being captured by Corsairs pirates, being imprisoned in a sultan's seraglio, raped at fourteen, bearing the sultan a son, then escaping from the harem after seventeen years at the ripe old age of thirty-two. However, the rape of the young heroine and her "tutoring" in the sexual arts to please the sultan, take place off camera, so to speak. Mia returns to England and her Count of Carlisle father, who describes her as "no longer a girl" and alludes her captivity by saying she has "been away for some time" in his efforts to either pawn her off on men who were "senile, hideous, brainless, diseased, or some combination thereof" or sentence her to a life of isolation. In turn, Mia, considers poisoning her father, after all, "in the harem poison was a perfectly reasonable solution to one's problems."

Adam de Courtney, the hero, is persona non grata among the ton. He muses that "few people, and none of them bearing the title 'duke' had been eager to associate with [him] for almost ten years, not since he'd been dubbed the 'Murderous Marquess.'" He has children - all daughters - by two wives, so requires an heir.

Dangerous utilizes the two romance tropes. (1) The marriage of convenience. Mia and Adam and heroine marry to provide him an heir and her a safe home without the social isolation threatened by her father. They feel no love for each other, however, they have strong sexual attraction that each is convinced they can control. They, in true romance novel fashion, become happily married sex-addicts. (2) The tortured hero and/or heroine. In this case, Mia's secret is her long stay in the seraglio and the son born there. Adam de Courtney's first two wives died under mysterious circumstances, so he is lives under a cloud of malicious gossip.

The heroine and hero are both a bit older than the average romance duo and, though they do have occasional misunderstandings, are able to act like adults and to communicate with each other. Mia has a near-TSTL (too stupid to live) moment when she takes off - without backup - from the corsair's ship to rescue her son and husband from the sultan.

This book was written for those readers who enjoy Regency romance. In essence, Dangerous, provides all the rip-roaring fun of a Bertrice Small bodice ripper without the near-pornographic sexual couplings described in the flagrantly purple prose mentioned above. Also missing is the food/costume/furniture porn so avidly overdone by Ms. Small. Readers can also look forward to Ms. Spencer's second novel in The Outcasts Series, Barbarous, coming out October 30, 2018.

The Tuscan Child
Rhys Bowen
Lake Union Publishing
9781503951822, $15.99 HC, $9.99 PR, $2.99 Kindle,

$TBA audiobook edition

I chose to read The Tuscan Child book because I lived in Italy for three years and visited Tuscany frequently. Also I'd heard this book had an art historical bent to it. The book is a bit of a genre-blend with a mystery, a bit of a travelogue, and a romance to boot. It is for cozy mystery type readers, those enjoying foreign locales, as well as those liking genre-bending fiction. Ms. Bowen typically writes mysteries and has received many awards for the Molly Murphy series, the Lady Georgiana series, and the Constable Evan Evans series. She has written stand-alone novels, including most recently In Farleigh Field, also set during World War II, and The Tuscan Child.

Ms. Bowen's prose is clear and easy to read. She has chosen to tell this story in the point-of-view of a British lord, Hugo Langley, serving as a World War II fight pilot in Italy in the 1940s alternating with that of his daughter, Joanna Langley, a woman in her late twenties studying for the bar in the 1970s and dealing with her own traumas. She avoid visiting him, seeing only the "old and bitter, remote and resigned, [father] who had long ago given up on the world." He, in turn, doesn't agree with certain life decisions she has made.

The first chapter starts as the pilot's plane is spiraling out of control and about to crash. It is exciting and definitely shows the POV of a rational man making decisions under extreme stress. That excitement fades with the next two chapters written in the daughter's POV as she returns home at his death. These chapters are slow, but eventually Joanna finds artifacts that help her see her father for the man he had once been. Her own life in tatters, these items propel her to Italy, to the fictitious hamlet of San Salvatore, where the majority of the story is set, to try to piece together her father's history.

Bowen also handles scenery well, capturing the atmosphere of Tuscany with its heat, its vegetables, orchards, even its cooking. She sometimes lingers a bit too long on the beauty of the area, however. For example: "Down below shops were open to the street: a butcher or delicatessen with piles of salami in the window, a shoe shop, a wine merchant with casks outside. Impossibly narrow alleys led off from that central street, some hung with laundry, others with casks of wine outside doorways. And everywhere there were bright window boxes full of geraniums..." on and on for well over a page.

Despite its slow start after an exciting opening, I enjoyed reading The Tuscan Child. Bowen masterfully teases the reader with a minor mystery in one POV that is somewhat solved later, sometimes in another POV. For example, Joanna has her own tragedies, and these are carefully withheld by Bowen and revealed somewhat later in the book. Her father's mysteries gradually come to light as well as the identity of the "Tuscan Child." The romantic ending is a bit too tidy.

Suanne Schafer, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

Skooter Girl
Darielle Mac
Dog Ear Publishing
9781457552373, $10.99, 80 Pages

Join New Superheroine Amber as she Begins Her Mystical Adventures as Skooter Girl.

The author, Darielle Mac is an international playwright and screenwriter who although primarily has written for the theatre and film has also worked for many great names. She lives in Southwest United States, France and Los Angeles, where when not writing she enjoys a variety of hobbies including falconry, gardening, her dogs, running, biking and sailing.

To compliment her first YA story the author has chosen Dell Barras to be the illustrator of this incredible graphic novel. Dell Barras is a well-known and talented storyboard artiste, working with Marvel comic books and others.

The idea for this outstanding new novel was inspired by the author's personal adventures, and fuelled by a gift by the inventor of a prototype electric skooter - thus Skooter Girl was born!

The story is set on a remote mystical island called Tir Na Nor which is in a chain of islands in the North Sea. It is Amber's 16h birthday, and excitedly she arrives at the Dagda's Academy of Healing Arts, Music and Higher Learning where her dad is a teacher.

At 16 she is an adult and her father expects her to follow in his footsteps, however she doesn't want to have a normal life. Recently secrets have been revealed to her, opening her eyes to new and exciting things. She doesn't want to conform or settle down, she want to see the world, and have great experiences. So, being a typical teenager she decides to run away.

This is a wonderfully entertaining coming of age story. The characters are fantastic and it was lovely to read that it is being made into a film. I look forward to reading many more of Amber's adventures in the future.

The Staircase of Fire
Ben Woodard
Miller-Martin Press
9780997344899, $21.99, 288 Pages

In writing this exciting adventure story, the author takes his reader back to Kentucky in 1923, a time when racial prejudice was rampant and the Ku Klux Klan were very much at large...

The main character in the story is a fourteen year old boy called Tom. He lives in Shakertown in Mercer County with his granddad, and is an orphan. The tragedies of his life so far, and the memories associated with this have left his mind tortured with guilt and regret. Tom is an Irish catholic and as such is subject to some of the racial hatred which is so apparent against the Negro's in his town. Perhaps this is why he feels so sorry for the way Rose and her son James are treated when they go to the courthouse to enrol to vote. Rose knows she has the right to vote using the 19th Amendment, however not in Shakertown, here Negro's are not yet equal to white folk. Watching the mother and son being ridiculed and taken back to their wagon by the town's deputies, and not helping them, makes the guilt burns deep into Tom's soul, he is so ashamed of his cowardliness. This shame turns to absolute horror when days later he is waiting to say goodbye to Rose and James as they head off for a new life elsewhere. Instead of escaping the hate, he witnesses a horrific incident which they are subject to, and the memory of it changes his life forever!

He is just starting high school, and life must go on. The only way he can cope is to suppress what he witnessed, and being your typical young lad he has a mind full of girls, and football. However the recent guilt and past memories remain in the back of his mind and haunt his dreams. He knows he must find the legendary Shaker gold, hidden somewhere in the town during the Civil War, and escape the town forever. But can escaping a place mean you can escape the memories too?

Fired with determination, and with the help of his cousin Will, Tom begins his search to find the map to the treasure, but it was hidden so long ago and so much has changed since then. Will the boys find the treasure?

If they do, will the money be answer to everything, or will it bring its own demons, after all money is sometimes known to be the route of all evil.

So many questions, and the answers can be found in this exciting rollercoaster of an adventure. Through Tom, his friends, family and the townsfolk we discover what life was really like during this period of time for people of color in America.

An inspiring adventure where the reader discovers that strength of character, the belief in what is right, and facing your demons, is the only answer to true inner peace - Highly recommended.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

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

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