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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 15, Number 6 June 2015 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andy's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Clint's Bookshelf Drazin's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Gina's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Joshua's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf
Karyn's Bookshelf Katherine's Bookshelf Kelly's Bookshelf
Kevin's Bookshelf Linda's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

On The Move
Oliver Sacks
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385352543, $27.95, 416 pages,

Dr. Ann Skea, Reviewer

Oliver Sacks is well-known for books such as The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Awakenings and Musicophilia, which describe the lives of people with strange medical conditions. His books on migraine and hallucinations are less well-known but to those who suffer from those conditions equally easy-to-read and enlightening; and in Uncle Tungsten, he wrote autobiographically of his early years and his fascination with chemistry. His image as a dedicated doctor who is interested in the lives of his patients is well established and, although he has briefly touched on his personal experimentation with drugs, there is little to prepare the reader for the character which emerges in On The Move.

The cover photograph of Sacks posed in leathers astride a powerful motor-bike is the first hint that this book is very different to the others. This is his autobiography in full, covering his obsession with speed, his body-building, his experimentation with mind-altering drugs, his homosexuality, his friends and family, his medical career, his books and his passion for writing.

Sacks fascination with motor-bikes began early with his father's pre-war Scott Flying Squirrel and progressed through teenage adventures and near-death accidents on a little BSA Bantam to ownership of a seriously powerful BMW R60. Along with motor-bikes, went an interest in photography and, once he moved from London to California, a renewed interest in weight-lifting which turned into an obsession. "Bulking up" on a diet of double cheeseburgers and milk-shakes in between duties as an intern at Mount Zion Hospital, he eventually trained himself up to a level at which he was able to win the Californian squat record with a 600 pound bar and, later when he moved to Muscle Beach, to perform a 515 pound front squat and beat the local champion, after which he was know as "Doctor Squat". His strength came in handy once, he notes in a typical Sacks anecdote, when he was able to grab a collapsing patient and hold him upside down to prevent "coning", a condition in which excessive pressure in the head drives "the brain-stem and cerebellar tonsils" though the base of the skull.

Sacks freely admits that he "was taking plenty of drugs in those days" but never steroids. He describes his one hallucinatory experience with Artane, the anti-Parkinsonian drug; and he tells of his unintended addiction to amphetamines and his withdrawal from them.

He is open about his homosexuality. Admitting to his father when he was eighteen that he preferred boys, was acceptable, but his mother called him "an abomination" and never spoke of it again. At one point he suggests that this was the reason that he pushed himself so relentlessly in weight lifting, but although he was "timid, diffident, insecure, submissive" the weight-lifting did nothing to change that, it just made him stronger.

Interspersed throughout the book are his accounts of his medical interest and descriptions of patients and their conditions. Much of this was the basis for his earlier books, and it is his anecdotal accounts of the way in which people adapt and cope with their conditions which makes his medical writing interesting and illuminates his own character as a doctor. His admiration for the Soviet neuropsychologist, A.R.Luria and, in particular, Luria's book Mind of a Mnemonicist, (which Sacks describes as having the structure of a novel) has clearly influenced the way in which he collects full case-histories and sees his patients as individuals, rather than just as a medical condition to be studied and treated. It is this, too, which has shaped his medical writing.

In spite of an admitted lack of confidence, Sacks has always been fluent as a writer. After an extremely long process of cutting and editing by his publisher, A Leg to Stand On was ready for publication when Sacks broke his leg after slipping on a patch of black ice. Typically, he wrote at length about his experience of this and wanted to add it to his book. His publisher declined to accept it, joking "Oliver! You'd do anything for a footnote".

It is Sacks' fluency which, if anything, is a problem with this book and you sometimes know how his editor felt. Sacks jumps around all over the place with times. One minute you are in London with his 90-year-old father, the next you are back in his 1960 motor-cycling days. So, too, with anecdotes about friends and family, although with friends such as Thom Gunn, W.H.Auden, Jonathan Miller, Carol Burnet, Francis Crick and Al Capp, Sacks' digressions are always interesting.

Inevitably, since Sacks is recounting his life, he repeats some of the content of his earlier books. He touches only briefly on his own career as a neurophysiologist and tends to emphasise the curious oddities of his patients without including much about his own research and possible good effects of his medical work. Unfairly, no doubt, this eventually leaves the impression that these patients just provided interesting, novelistic material for Sacks' books.

Overall, this book seems to be a good and honest reflection of Sack's character and his life. And it well exemplifies what Sacks says in his final paragraph: "Over a lifetime, I have written millions of words, but the act of writing seems as fresh, and as much fun, as when I started it nearly seventy years ago".

Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews 2003-2015
Dr. Phyllis Chesler
Gefen Publishing House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652297907, $9.99 Kindle, $18.99 Paperback

Fern Sidman

Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews 2003-2015

From 2003 through the early months of 2015, I wrote more than 200,000 words about anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism," says Prof. Phyllis Chesler in the introduction of her recently released book, "Living History: On the Front Lines for Israel and the Jews 2003-2015" (GefenPublishers).

This admission should come as no surprise to anyone even tangentially familiar with the voluminous amount of essays and articles that Dr. Chesler has written on the subject over the last 13 years, donning an impressive variety of hats. As an astute political analyst, researcher and investigative journalist, she has honed these skills in her quest to offer her reader a meticulous examination of a panoply of hot button geo-political issues pertaining to Israel and the Jewish people.

In this anthology-style compendium that contains the corpus of her work in non-redacted form, Chesler prodigiously confronts the seemingly eternal scourge of global anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism, the pernicious nature of radical Islam, the proliferation of visceral Jew hatred and incessant Israel bashing on university campuses, the exposure of the most egregious forms of propaganda in films and books, the truth about the nefarious agenda of multicultural relativism and critiques the role of the left-liberal media in creating the "perfect storm."

Chesler throws down the gauntlet and debunks the "Big Lies" in a brutally honest manner. Crafting cogent arguments with the trademark depth and aplomb that has come to define her writing since 1972, she takes no hostages.

As she takes us on a sojourn that unravels the "slow motion holocaust" that is being perpetrated against the Jew but nary acknowledged or even discussed in "polite circles," Chesler explains that this cognitive war against the Jewish nation is predicated on a corruption of the truth. Fueled by unsavory alliances between the denizens of the leftist/progressive camp and radical Jihadists of all stripes, anti-Zionism (which is tantamount to anti-Semitism, says Chesler) is no longer considered an odious worldview but one that smacks of a perverse sense of moral rectitude; straight out of an Orwellian-style groupthink salon..

Case in point: Chesler speaks directly to her erstwhile colleagues in the Western feminist movement who ostracized her for blowing the lid off the anti-Israel sentiment in its ranks. Shining a light on their misplaced invective against the Jewish state, Chesler writes, "Since 1972, I have been explaining to Ms. feminists that we should not hold the only Jewish state to a higher or different standard than we hold all other nations states; when we do, it is called racism, Jew-hatred, or anti-Semitism."

While Israel continues to be the world's 'bogeyman'; its detractors are clearly multiplying at blinding speed as evidenced in Chesler's writings The Jew is classified by the intellectual elite as the "aggressor', the "cruel occupier" of Palestinians and the ruthless engineer of an apartheid state through a series of sophist arguments and Goebbels-like agitprop.

Chesler writes that Western academics haves became increasingly "Stalinized and Palestinianized." Addressing the burgeoning phenomenon of academic boycotts that emanate from world class universities, Chesler clarifies the gravitas of the situation by writing "they have disinvited Israeli scholars, fired Israeli academics, rejected university applications from Israeli students, refused to stage exhibits by Israeli artists or sell textbooks to Israeli universities, written inflammatory and defamatory editorials in prestigious journals condemning Israel for massacres that never occurred, etc"

Chesler's writing exudes passion, pathos, optimism, and melancholy combined with the blunt force of realism. What is most remarkable and at times quite eerie is the degree to which prescience plays a significant role in her assessment of the abysmal failure on the war on terror. In a 2008 essay, in which she offers a critique of then presidential contender Barack Obama, she writes: "He is a United Nations-style anti-American and postmodern multi-cultural relativist, and that means Obama may refuse to call barbarism by its rightful name if that barbarism is practiced by Muslims," this years before anyone even heard of "Jihadi John.".

Most troubling to Chesler is the rapid succession of horrifying events that may indeed presage the type of calamitous scenario that she warns of in terms of lethal Jew hatred. In 2004, she wrote: "Today, the danger to Jews is far graver and more complex than it ever was before, including the 1930s," Lest we forget the murders of the four Jewish men in a kosher grocery store in Paris in January of 2015, the murder of a Jew in Copenhagen earlier this year and the attacks on synagogues throughout Europe.

Dr. Chesler exhorts us to lift our heads out of the sand. Denial by Western liberals of the real threat that Islamic jihadism poses to the glorious civilization they have built and the hard core fact that Israel and the Jews are in existential peril, will, says Chesler, lead us into "a Dark Age."

This page turner is a must read for anyone who wishes to make sense of a world gone mad. With dismal news swirling around us, the keen clarity, vision, and indomitable spirit that Chesler's imparts is a light in a dark tunnel.

Florence and Me
Elaine Bertolotti
Amazon Digital
B00K871C3Y, $3.27, 57 pages,

Helene Rybol, Reviewer

Elaine Bertolotti is an Italian-American author and artist. She grew up in Brooklyn, lives in Italy and writes about her travel and relocation experiences with humor and passion.

In her book Florence and Me, the first in the author's ...and Me series, Bertolotti transports readers to her beloved city she feels lucky to have considered 'home' for five years. There, she worked as a translator and English teacher, attended art school and fulfilled her dream of opening her own art studio. Bertolotti captures the hiccups inherent to cultural transitions beautifully and her enthusiasm for the chaos of everyday life is contagious.

In 20 short chapters the author covers communication issues, stumbling blocks when learning a new language, cooking arrangements with neighbors, finding ways around a postal strike to stay in touch with her family in the USA, dealing with a blackout, appreciating the kindness of strangers and much more. This is a moment in time when things do not require an immediate solution, the internet doesn't exist and everyday life is an adventure!

Throughout the book, Bertolotti picks examples that give readers a feel for and insight into life in Florence.

"On a popular radio station you can hear Elton John followed by Bach or Beethoven. A certain teenage pop program invites "requests" from its young listeners. There are as many for Chopin as there are for John Lennon." (24)

Everyone - from backpacker to armchair traveler - will find something to enjoy here. Readers who'd like to keep traveling might be interested in some of her other books including Turin and Me, Athens and Me and Hawaii and Me amongst others.

Stacey R. Campbell
Illustrator: M.S. Corley
Green Darner Press
9600 Stone Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98103
9780988478442, $15.95, 282 pages,
ASIN: B00MX7ATRM, $5.95, 284 pages,

Marlan Warren, Reviewer

"Arrgh!" is a true treasure: Five not-easy lessons on the high seas. Stacey R. Campbell's Kidnapped-by-Pirates tale is greater than the sum of its title.

This Coming of Age Voyage takes off like a cannon blast when a runaway orphan finds himself forced onto a cargo ship by pirates posing as merchant seamen, and gathers momentum with inventive action until its gratifying conclusion.

Thirteen-year-old Christopher has escaped from an orphanage to search for family members. Ironically, he is nabbed off the street by two pirate thugs who pass him off to the ship's captain as a relative. Threatened with death if he does not pretend to be mute, Christopher enters a world of repressed silence - broken only during moments when he can communicate with Leo the Attack-for-Hire Mouse who comes to his assistance as a kind of life coach. The trained and certified Leo sets about teaching the timid youth Five Life Lessons.

Campbell deftly melds fantasy with reality; excitement with education; and classical storytelling with contemporary sensibility that honors Friendship, Family and Literacy.

As in "Peter Pan," there is a line between non-adult and adult perceptions and abilities. When Christopher is befriended by the Captain's twelve-year-old daughter Lucy, it turns out that she can also understand the talking animals who come their way because she is not an adult. And when the duo find themselves stranded on an island, they revel in it as a paradise where they can do whatever they want without adult interference.

In a world where many are illiterate, Lucy begins to crack the mystery of Christopher when she sees him reading books from her father's library.

Herein lie the expected dark moments and violence of the genre. However, Christopher and Lucy achieve their victories through The Power of the Plan - hopping from plan to plan as their fates shift.

The biggest lesson comes to Christopher when he must stay on the island without Lucy, and subdue the pirates with only the assistance of animal helpers. He comes out of it with this newfound truth: "I was never alone."

Young readers will be enthralled by the vivid imagery that makes up the swashbuckling action sequences, as well as the evocative sights and smells of this time period. A Glossary of Nautical Terms opens the book. Lessons include such vintage practical gems as how to manage a galleon in a storm. M.S. Corley's beautiful vintage-style illustrations would be at home in the earliest editions of any classic pirate tale.

About the ending: Lesson Number Five brought tears to my eyes.

About the Author: Stacey R. Campbell lives in the Seattle area with her husband and three daughters. A graduate of University of Washington, she is a dyslexic writer who believes there is no such thing as a bad reader. She is also the author of the Lakeview mystery series (YA).

Genre: Middle Grade / Adventure -- This review first appeared in L.A. Now and Then:

Shadow Ritual
Eric Giacometti & Jacques Ravenne
Le French Book
Meryl L. Moss Media Relations
9781939474308, $16.95, 270pp,

Stephanie Drum, Reviewer
Bea's Book Nook

I like conspiracy theory books and thought this one fit the bill and the blurb caught my eye. 

"Shadow Ritual" starts with a backstory from WWII. I found the back story a bit lackluster. I am not a huge fan of a back story starting the very beginning of the story unless it is a huge hook. In this case, I found it a bit hard to follow. The story as a whole is interesting but it jumps around and it took me the first 50 pages to figure out who the actual main characters were and what the story might be about. About the time I realized the identity of the main characters, an explanation of the murder ritual was given and the story takes off. However, it took the first third of the book before I was really hooked into the story.

The story jumps from our main characters of Inspector Marcas and Jade, who are investigating the ritual murders and trying to solve the mystery that dates back to the fall of the Third Reich, to the people trying to cover up the murders and the people who did the murders. I always have the same problem when a book does this. I find myself caring more about what is going on with one character than I do the rest. I find myself skimming through these sections to get back to the character I prefer, then I miss things and have to figure out what the hell happened. This is not the fault of the author or the story, it's just me. I did this for the first third of the book and then something happened. I got sucked in by a couple of the other characters (both "bad guys"). Helen is, for lack of a better word, an assassin and we learn her back story. All of a sudden, I was hooked by her story and she became interesting. Yes, she is still an assassin but I guess I understood her a little better and that made her "badass" in my eyes. The other character was Bashir. He was the other killer and I really liked reading his parts. I'm not sure why but he just clicked with me. I guess bad guys just make things more interesting.

The two main characters Inspector Marcas and Inspector Jade Zewinski are interesting. Jade is totally kick ass! Usually with books in this category, the female character is a sidekick and wimpy. Jade is former special forces and there is nothing wimpy about her. Marcas is not only a cop but also a Freemason. He understands the big picture of what is going on and why they need to solve these murders but also has a loyalty to the Freemasons and their secrets. . 

I actually really liked this story. It started off slow but it is full of conspiracy, intrigue, murder (lots of murder) and adventure and two pretty awesome female characters. It took me a bit to get connected with more than just one of the characters, but the authors found a way to hook me with some interesting bad guys. Once this happened, I could not put the book down and I enjoyed the story as a whole.

Two Houses of Oikos: Essays from the Environmental Age
James A. Schaefer
Moon Willow Press
c/o Harvard Square Editions
2152 Beachwood Terrace, Hollywood, CA 90068
9781927685112, $12.95, 164pp,

JL Morin

Chock full of scintillating statistics, Two Houses of Oikos tackles important environmental and economic issues of our day. A champion of nature, James A. Schaefer's insights lend perspective to controversial issues of our time from Ritalin to population growth:

"On average, the first child increases happiness a lot, the second a little, the third not at all. There is science behind the proverb: Happiness is the comfortable space between too little and too much."

Schaefer's research takes us to the root of our consciousness in this timely and insightful work showing how involvement with nature is therapeutic and essential to our health.

"For ecologists, one word occupies a special place: Oikos. Meaning "house", it is the Greek root of ecology, the relationship between organism and environment. Its linguistic origins underscore the longstanding significance of ecology to people. Of course, ecologists do not have a monopoly on Oikos. It, too, is the root of economics, that massive branch of inquiry and interest. How we manage these two houses - indeed, the extent to which we can bring them under one roof - will be telling."

Told in clear and imaginative prose, this book of essays makes for excellent company on any vacation of the mind.

Andy's Bookshelf

Retiring? Beware!!
Michael Bivona, CPA
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
c/o News & Experts (publicity)
9781491752029 $19.95

A finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award for excellence in independent publishing, Retiring? Beware!! Don't Run out of Money and Don't Become Bored is a valuable resource by certified public accountant and retiree Michael Bivona. Chapters explain how to develop a retirement plan; offer guidelines for pursuing passions such as sports, writing, or travel; suggest ideal part-time jobs for retirees; offer straight financial facts about identity theft, social security benefits, and reverse mortgages; and much more. Retiring? Beware!! is worthy of the highest recommendation for anyone planning for their retirement. "...70% of the borrowers of [reverse mortgages] take lump-sum payouts, and unfortunately deplete the funds sooner than expected, leaving themselves short for the payment of real estate taxes and the other home expenses... It is advisable that anyone contemplating using a reverse mortgage in their retirement financial planning should contact a local HUD office for a list of recommended counselors who are trained to help prospective borrowers avoid some of the pitfalls that are prevalent in the mortgage industry."

To the Klondike and Back 1894-1901
George G. Shaw
As told to his son, George B. Shaw
Images from the Past
PO Box 137, Bennington, Vermont 05201
9781884592652 $17.95

To the Klondike and Back 1894-1901: "I am in here to get all I can" is the true-life story of what it was like to participate in the Alaska Gold Rush, as told by George G. Shaw to his son George B. Shaw. After the elder George passed away in 1958, his son wrote down the stories and compiled them into a manuscript. They are presented with vintage black-and-white historical photographs and prints from the Library of Congress; Shaw family photographs and a copy of the one letter George G. wrote home during his storied travels; and more. A vivid, up-close and personal testimony, To the Klondike and Back 1894-1901 is a biography as exciting as an adventure novel, and highly recommended.

A Survivor's Tale: The Titanic 1912-2012
John B. Thayer
With an introduction by Lorin Stein
Thornwillow Press, Ltd.
PO Box 982, Newburgh, NY 12551
No ISBN $40.00

A Survivor's Tale: The Titanic 1912-2012 is a true-life memoir of a survivor of the fateful wreck of the Titanic, John B. Thayer, a private school senior. Thayer's father had gone down with the ship; haunted by his loss and survivor's guilt, Thayer sought to honor his father by recounting the painful memories of his harrowing near-death experience. Originally intended only for Thayer's family and friends, this memoir transports the reader through time and space to vicariously experience one of the most famous and horrific known nautical tragedies. A somber experience, made all the more haunting by the rest of Thayer's tragic life story, condensed in the brief introduction. Highly recommended.

Dad's War Photos
Neal Bertrand
Cypress Cove Publishing
To Press and Beyond (publicity)
9781936707249 $19.95

Author Neal Bertrand wrote Dad's War Photos: Adventures in the South Pacific in honor of his father, Curtis Bertrand, who served in World War II. Cutis took numerous black-and-white photographs of his experiences; Neal Bertrand reconstructs his father's experiences in boot camp and overseas deployment from both the camera lens and extensive research of military records. The camera lens offers a window through time to the New Guinea battle campaigns in Dobodura and Saidor; the relatively obscure battle for Biak Island and capture of Mokmer Airdrome; the Philippine Islands campaign, the Battle of Manila, and much more. Photographs on almost every page make Dad's War Photos a captivating visual and historical tour. Highly recommended, especially for World War II memoir collections.

Portable Dad
Ocean Palmer
Airplane Reader Publishing Company
9780976548546 $12.95

Portable Dad: Stuff to Know Without the Lecture is a compilation of self-help advice from seminar teacher Ocean Palmer. Portable Dad isn't specifically a parenting book, though its tips are as useful to parents as to everyone else, but rather a resource of wisdom and insight - like a father's life-changing words in portable form. "Life truism: 80 percent of people think they are better looking than 80 percent of people. This will never change. Deal with it." Edifying and enlightening, Portable Dad is an excellent, mind-expanding browse.

Patrick Sookhdeo
Isaac Publishing
6729 Curran Street, McLean, VA 22101
9780991614530, $25.00, 318pp,

"Dawa: The Islamic Strategy for Reshaping the Modern World" is a global survey of Islamist strategies and tactics for missionary outreach (dawa) in the 21st century. Offering a thoroughly 'reader friendly' analysis of the process of Islamisation at an individual and societal level, "Dawa" is deftly organized beginning with an informative Introduction, ten chapters focusing on the history, agents, methods, jihad, violence, threats, concerns, and finishing with an informed conclusion. Covering politics, law, education and other spheres, in a wide range of countries, "Dawa" reveals the underlying patterns, structures and organization of Islamic outreach. It also examines the theological roots of dawa that inspire Islamists today. Enhanced with the inclusion of four appendices, a glossary, a bibliography, notes and sources, and a comprehensive index, "Dawa: The Islamic Strategy for Reshaping the Modern World" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Islamic Studies reference collections and supplemental study lists. Suitable for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Islam, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dawa" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Andy Jordan

Bethany's Bookshelf

Engaging Gifted Readers & Writers
Kenneth J. Smith & Terri Zazove
Pieces of Learning
1990 Market Road, Marion, IL 62959
9781632790187, $19.95, 113pp,

Synopsis: "Engaging Gifted Readers & Writers" is a spiral bound compendium showcasing 35 ideas for integrating Common Core into a language arts curriculum. "Engaging Gifted Readers & Writers" contains course work lessons balanced in many ways. First, it contains an assortment of reading, writing and speaking lessons. These are further divided among expository, persuasive, informational, and poetry lesson. Some will take less than a class period; others can take a week. The longer lessons are designed to be flexible enough for you to adjust expectations to meet your time constraints. Regardless of time constraints you face, all lessons are written to be easy to implement. Finally we offer both collaborative and individual activities. These lessons are open ended, allowing students to being their own voice to them, to express their own creative ideas. The lessons guide students to develop the skills needed to take their original ideas, develop them in depth, and articulate them in alignment with the Common Core Standards.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Engaging Gifted Readers & Writers" is an ideal curriculum supplement to assist students in basic skills acquisition and preparing for Common Core based testing. Highly recommended for classroom teachers and would be appropriate for home schooling parents as well.

The Zodiac Recipe
Jacquelyn Wiersma
Ozark Mountain Publishing, Inc.
PO Box 754, Huntsville, AR 72740
9781940265186, $14.50, 88pp,

Synopsis: In "The Zodiac Recipe: An Effortless Recipe That is Certain to Help You Better Understand Your Partners, Friends and Ourselves", Jacquelyn Wiersma (Assistant Professor at the Human Development & Family Sciences School of the University of Arkansas) provides a fascinating discourse on how astrology can help explain why we are naturally attracted to some people and repulsed by others. The result is an easy-to-understand and nearly effortless recipe that is certain to help better understand our relationships and ourselves. "The Zodiac Recipe" explains that everyone's personality, emotions, outward demeanor, and love style, are impacted by the date and time of their birth (which determines their Sun, Moon, and Ascendant signs, among other things). Professor Wiersma illustrates how this information can help you better understand your partners, friends, and yourselves. And for those people seeking a new relationship, "The Zodiac Recipes" will prove to be an essential guide on finding a compatible mate. The text spells out the details and the reference charts make it super easy to figure out whom you are most compatible with -- and who you're not!

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' throughout, "The Zodiac Recipe: An Effortless Recipe That is Certain to Help You Better Understand Your Partners, Friends and Ourselves" is an inherently fascinating study and a welcome addition to the growing library of serious astrological studies. Very highly recommended for personal and professional Metaphysical Studies instructional reference collections, it should be noted that "The Zodiac Recipe" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Impulsive, Disorganized Child
James W. Forgan & Mary Anne Richey
Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714-8813
9781618214010, $17.95, 280pp,

Synopsis: Impulsive, scattered, lost, unfocused, unprepared, disorganized: These are just a few of the words used to describe kids with executive functioning deficits, which commonly affect many children already diagnosed with ADHD, learning disabilities, and autism. Collaboratively written by James W. Forgan (a parent of a young son with ADHD and is an Associate Professor and Licensed School Psychologist) and Mary Anne Richey (who is also a parent of an adult son with ADHD and is a Licensed School Psychologist with the Palm Beach School District), "The Impulsive, Disorganized Child: Solutions for Parenting Kids with Executive Functioning Difficulties" helps parents pinpoint weak executive functions in their children, then learn how to help their kids overcome these deficits with practical, easy solutions. Children who can't select, plan, initiate, or sustain action toward their goals are children who simply struggle to succeed in school and other aspects of life. Parents need the helpful, proven advice and interactive surveys and action plans in this book to empower them to take positive action to teach their disorganized, impulsive child to achieve independence, success, and a level of self-support.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "The Impulsive, Disorganized Child" will prove to be an especially informed and informative read for both parents and professionals with respect to assisting ADHD children to succeed in school and at home. Enhanced with the inclusion of a four page list of References, a twenty-two page Appendix, and a twenty-three page Index, "The Impulsive, Disorganized Child" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Parenting Studies instructional reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Impulsive, Disorganized Child" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Living Recovery
JoAnn Elizabeth Leavey
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781554589173, $24.99, 204pp,

Synopsis: "Living Recovery: Youth Speak Out on "Owning" Mental Illness" by registered psychologist JoAnn Elizabeth Leavey provides critical information for practitioners and educators in mental health services about the self-described needs of young people diagnosed with mental illness. It portrays the stages of living with mental illness through the recovery model ELAR - emergence, loss, adaptation, and recovery. JoAnn Leavey interviewed youth aged sixteen to twenty-seven in Canada, Australia, and the US, and "Living Recovery" relates the price of the stigma surrounding mental illness, especially for young people who are already challenged with the developmental tasks of adolescence. The text examines the youth-described "social illness" of stigma and the resulting self-marginalization they say is necessary to survive stigma and social isolation. When youth feel isolated, ignored, or shunned, the resulting shame and stress they may feel has the potential to exacerbate such illnesses as obsessive compulsive disorder, psychosis, anxiety, and/or various mood disorders. The findings from this research anticipate and identify interventions that are useful for youth with mental illness. If programs and systems of care take into account youth stories such as those presented here, interventions will become more meaningful and more likely to address problems related to social and emotional distresses.

Critique: The result of an impressive body of seminal research, "Living Recovery: Youth Speak Out on "Owning" Mental Illness" is an extraordinary study deftly organized and presented in six major sections: Framing the Context for Youth with Mental Illness; How Do Youth Experience mental Illness?; Youth Participants - Who Are They?; Youth Speak - Mental health Experiences and Needs; Understanding - Integrating the Results; Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?. Enhanced with the inclusion of an appendix, references, and an index, "Living Recovery: Youth Speak Out on "Owning" Mental Illness" is very highly recommended as a significant addition to academic library Psychology/Psychiatry reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Suffer and Grow Strong
Carolyn Newton Curry
Mercer University Press
1400 Coleman Avenue, Macon, GA 31207-0001
9780881464740, $29.00, 249pp,

Synopsis: Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas was an intelligent, spirited woman born in 1834 to one of the wealthiest families in Georgia. At the age of fourteen she began and kept a diary for forty-one years. These diaries of her life before, during, and after the Civil War filled thirteen hand-written volumes with 450,000 words. In the early years she described her life of leisure and recorded the books she read. Her father recognized her love of learning and sent her to the first college for women in America, Wesleyan Female College in Macon, Georgia. After college graduation in 1851, she was a gay young girl of fashion who met and married her Princeton-educated husband in 1852. However, with the coming of the Civil War and its aftermath, her life changed forever. Thomas experienced loss of wealth, bankruptcy, the death of loved ones, serious illness, and devastating family strife. She gave birth to ten children and saw four of them die. But, through it all, she kept pouring thoughts into her diary. Thomas examined what was happening, asked questions, and strived to find ways to improve her family's dire economic straits. She started a school in her home and later ran a boarding house out of the old family mansion. In 1893, Thomas left Augusta and moved to Atlanta where she became active in many women's organizations. She found comfort in her work with the Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Suffrage Movement. She began producing articles for newspapers, keeping them in scrapbooks that tell the story of her life after she quit keeping a diary. In 1899 she was elected president of the Georgia Woman Suffrage Association. Because of her own losses, Thomas was sensitive to the well-being of other women. As she said, she had suffered and grown strong. Her life is an amazing story of survival and transformation that speaks to women in our own time.

Critique: Impressively researched and documented, deftly written and organized, "Suffer and Grow Strong: The Life of Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas, 1834-1907" is an inherently fascinating and informative read from beginning to end. An extraordinary life lived out in extraordinary times, "Suffer and Grow Strong" brings to a new generation of readers a long neglected 19th century figure and the critically important role she played in helping to shape American popular and political culture in behalf of women's issues. A work of truly seminal scholarship, "Suffer and Grow Strong" by Carolyn Newton Curry is very strongly recommended for community and academic library 19th Century American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Suffer and Grow Strong" is also available in a paperback edition (9780881465327, $19.00).

Elena Vanishing
Elena Dunkle & Clare B. Dunkle
Chronicle Books
680 Second Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
9781452121512, $17.99, 288pp,

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Elena is vanishing. Every day means renewed determination, so every day means fewer calories. "Elena Vanishing" is the story of a girl whose armor against anxiety becomes artillery against herself as she battles on both sides of a lose-lose war in a struggle with anorexia. Told entirely from Elena's perspective over a five-year period and co-written with her mother, Clare B. Dunkle, Elena's memoir is a fascinating and intimate look at a deadly disease, and a must read for anyone who knows someone suffering from an eating disorder.

Critique: Impressively well written and presented, "Elena Vanishing" is a compelling read addressing a struggle being undergone by tens of thousands of young women every day. Honest, candid, and exceptional, "Elena Vanishing" is very highly recommended for high school, college, and community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Elena Vanishing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.49).

A Taste For Chaos
Randy Fertel
Spring Journal Books
38 South Roadway, New Orleans, LA 70124
Cave Henricks Communications
9781935528685, $32.95, 522pp,

Synopsis: Western civilization has always driven toward mastering the world through reason, will, craft, and scientific objectivity. Yet beneath this current swirls a riptide that suggests we can know more of the world through non-rational means - through spontaneity, intuition, and creativity. In "A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation", literary scholar Randy Fertel explores this undercurrent of spontaneity in literature and identifies a new metagenre called improvisations - texts that claim to have been written without effort or craft, like an idea that hits you in the shower. "A Taste for Chaos" presents a methodology for talking about spontaneity, and then applies that methodology to landmark texts. Fertel explores the complex nature of the spontaneous gesture; identifies the stylistic conventions, themes, and rhetorical features of improvisations; and explores the archetype of spontaneity throughout history from philosophy and psychology to chaos science, jazz, conceptual art, post-modernism, and finally Hermes - the god of crossing boundaries, of improvisation. Fertel then provides a fresh approach to major texts of the Western tradition by analyzing them through the lens of improvisation: Milton's Paradise Lost, Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey, Tennyson's Idylls of the King, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, Jung's Red Book, Joyce's Ulysses, Mann's Dr. Faustus, and finally, McEwan's Saturday. Woven throughout these improvisations, demonstrates Fertel, is the lesson that we can ultimately know more of the world by accepting the limits of reason, and opening up rationality to more of life.

Critique: Impressive, complex, insightful, occasionally iconoclastic, but always inherently fascinating, "A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Literary Improvisation" is very highly recommend for personal reading lists and academic library Literary Studies reference collections.

Ilima Todd
Shadow Mountain
PO Box 30178, Salt Lake City, UT 84130
9781609079246, $17.99, 304pp,

Synopsis: Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. the Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously. But Nine isn't like every other batcher. She harbors indecision and worries about her upcoming Remake Day - her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they'll be. When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?

Critique: A deftly written, compelling and inherently fascinating novel, Ilima Todd's "Remake" is very highly recommended for personal and community library Science Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Remake" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.49) and in an audio book format ($15.30).

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Harvest Your Own Lumber
John English
Linden Publishing
2006 South Mary, Fresno, CA 93721-9875
9781610352437, $18.95, 160pp,

Synopsis: In today's artisan, hands-on, and environmentally conscience landscape, there are many reasons to mill your own lumber: a craftsman, artist, or builder can gain access to a new species and unique cuts of wood; there's the Yankee in all of us that hates to see a healthy log simply go off to the landfill when it can offer new flooring or a piece of furniture; and, finally, there's symmetry in building something for a grandchild from the branch that held his daddy's tire-swing. And, let's not forget that wood is expensive; on top of all the other great reasons, harvesting your own timber will save you a few bucks A concise guide for the small shop or enthusiastic hobbyist, "Harvest Your Own Lumber: How to Fell, Saw, Dry and Mill Wood" by cabinet maker and woodworking expert John English covers all of the important steps in the conversion of wood. "Harvest Your Own Lumber" takes the reader through selecting the raw material to the final drying of the harvested timber. All of the steps in between are explained in clear text accompanied with photographs and charts that make the process of milling your own lumber a guaranteed success. The process of milling your own lumber is much more than just felling the tree and sawing it into useable boards. The first consideration is, of course, what type of tree will lend itself to producing good, useable timber. Once that decision has been made the sawyer must determine how to safely fell the tree and then how to convert the log into useable lumber. The author explains and illustrates the various choices available from what types of grain pattern to expect to the many defects to be aware of. Also included is an extensive chapter on chainsaws, safety, and felling. One of the most important aspects of timber harvesting is knowing how to "saw to grade". That is, how to get the best yield with the desired grain, from a specific log. "Harvest Your Own Lumber" provides the detail and instructions for sawing to grade as well as useful information on humidity and wood, kiln and air drying, various types of kilns and milling rough boards to get them flat and straight. This is a valuable handbook for any woodworker, builder, carpenter, or craftsman that relies on good quality wood.

Critique: Impressively 'user friendly' from first page to last, "Harvest Your Own Lumber: How to Fell, Saw, Dry and Mill Wood" is an ideal and comprehensive instruction guide that will enable even the most novice woodworker to identify the best trees to harvest and the wood they contain; safely fell a tree and convert it into usable logs; employ proper milling and grading methods to turn logs into boards, timber or veneer; as well as utilize seasoning techniques that will reduce the lumber's water content. Of special note are the safety tips for handling a chain saw. Enhanced with useful illustrations throughout, "Harvest Your Own Lumber: How to Fell, Saw, Dry and Mill Wood" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library woodworking instructional reference collections.

The Storied Ice
Joan N. Boothe
Regent Press
2747 Regent St., Berkeley, CA 94705
9781587902246, $34.95, 373pp,

Synopsis: ''The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery, and Adventure in Antarctica's Peninsula Region'' recounts mankind's dramatic history from Magellan through the first years of the twenty-first century in the part of the Antarctic regions below South America and the Atlantic Ocean. This part of the world, by far the most visited portion of the south polar regions, is not only a place of staggering scenic beauty and amazing wildlife, but also a locale with a long and fascinating human history. Several expeditions to Antarctica's Peninsula Region are well known, in particular, the amazing story of Ernest Shackleton's ''Endurance'' expedition. ''The Storied Ice'' dramatically retells that story, along with many other less familiar, but fascinating, adventures tales of early explorers, sealers, whalers, seven expeditions (including ''Endurance'') during Antarctica's 1897-1917 Heroic Age, pioneer aviators, and scientists. All this is woven together into a coherent whole, placing the individually exciting tales in a historical context that breathes new life into even the best known of them. Abundant quotes from the explorers' accounts enrich the text, as do the nearly 100 illustrations and more than 30 maps. ''The Storied Ice'' is unique in the rich literature on Antarctica, the only modern comprehensive Antarctic history work that both focuses specifically on the historically exciting Antarctic Peninsula and tells its complete story.

Critique: Antarctica is Earth's southernmost continent, containing the geographic South Pole. It is situated in the Antarctic region of the Southern Hemisphere, almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle, and is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. At 5.4 million square miles, it is the fifth-largest continent. Antarctica, on average, is the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, and has the highest average elevation of all the continents. Antarctica is considered a desert, with annual precipitation of only 8 inches along the coast and far less inland. There are no permanent human residents, but anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people reside throughout the year at the research stations scattered across the continent. Organisms native to Antarctica include many types of algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, protista, and certain animals, such as mites, nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Vegetation, where it occurs, is tundra. "The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery, and Adventure in Antarctica's Peninsula Region" is impressively well researched, written, organized and presented. Informed and informative throughout, it is an inherently fascinating history and highly recommended for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Storied Ice: Exploration, Discovery, and Adventure in Antarctica's Peninsula Region" is also available in a paperback edition (9781587902185, $24.95).

Dark City Lights: New York Stories
Lawrence Block
Three Rooms Press
51 MacDougal Street, #290, New York, NY 10012
Over The River Public Relations
9781941110218, $18.95, 390pp,

Synopsis: Successful detective and mystery writer Lawrence Block (A Walk Among the Tombstones, 8 Million Ways to Die) takes the helm as guest editor for "Dark City Lights: New York Stories", the fourth edition of the Have a NYC series. Twenty-three thrilling, hilarious and poignant short stories (all based in New York City and written by both new and acclaimed fiction master), include such luminary authors as Robert Silverberg (Hugo and Nebula Award multiple winner; grand master of SFWA); Ed Park (author, Personal Days; senior editor, Amazon's literary imprint, Little A); Jim Fusilli (rock and pop music critic, Wall Street Journal; author, Closing Time and A Well-Known Secret); Parnell Hall (author, Last Puzzle & Testament); SJ Rozan (Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero and Macavity award-wining author); Brian Koppelman (co-writer, Ocean's 13 and Rounders); Elaine Kagan (author, No Good-Byes; actress, GoodFellas), and more. "Dark City Lights: New York Stories" brilliant book that redefines the New York of today -- and tomorrow.

Critique: An unfailing impressive anthology, "Dark City Lights: New York Stories" is a thoroughly entertaining read and very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Dark City Lights: New York Stories" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Against The Flow
John C. Lennox
Monarch Books
Litfuse Publicity
9780857216212, $19.99, 440pp,

Synopsis: The Old Testament story of Daniel is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power. It tells of four young men, born in the tiny state of Judah around 500 b.c., and captured by Nebuchadnezzar, emperor of Babylon. Daniel describes how they eventually rose to senior positions of administration. Daniel and his friends did not simply maintain their private devotion to God; they maintained a high-profile witness in a pluralistic society antagonistic to their faith. Their story carries a powerful message for us today. Society tolerates the practice of Christianity in private and in church services, but increasingly it deprecates public witness. If Daniel and his compatriots were with us today they would be in the vanguard of public debate. "Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism" is a lucid and erudite examination of the life of Daniel from a leading expert on faith and science. In his first biblical work, John C. Lennox (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College; and lecturer on Faith and Science for the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics) provides a unique perspective on both Western society and biblical exegesis that encourages Christians to speak out in our modern Babylon.

Critique: An extraordinary and informative read from beginning to end, "Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism" is an inherently interesting and scholarly work. Enhanced with the inclusion of five Appendices, an eight page section offering 'Questions for Reflections or Discussion', a four page Bibliography; and four pages of Notes, "Against The Flow" should be a part of every church, seminary, and academic library Christian Studies reference collection and supplemental reading list. Ideal for the non-specialist general reader, it should be noted that "Against The Flow" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

In Walt We Trust
John Marsh
Monthly Review Press
146 West 29th Street, Suite 6W, New York, NY 10001
9781583674758, $25.00, 256pp,

Synopsis: Life in the United States today is characterized by a constant litany of uncertainty that includes our jobs, our mortgaged houses, our retirement accounts, our health, our marriages, and the future that awaits our children. In the pages of "In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself", John Marsh (Associate Professor of English, Penn State University) offers an unlikely remedy for this widespread malaise: the poetry of Walt Whitman. Mired in personal and political depression, Professor Marsh turned to Whitman -- and it saved his life. "In Walt We Trust" Professor Marsh asserts that Walt Whitman can save America's life as well. Professor Marsh identifies four sources for our contemporary malaise (death, money, sex, democracy) and then looks to a particular Whitman poem for relief from it. He makes plain what, exactly, Whitman wrote and what he believed by showing how they emerged from Whitman's life and times, and by recreating the places and incidents (crossing Brooklyn ferry, visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals) that inspired Whitman to write the poems. Whitman, Professor Marsh argues, can show us how to die, how to accept and even celebrate our (relatively speaking) imminent death. Just as important, though, he can show us how to live: how to have better sex, what to do about money, and, best of all, how to survive our fetid democracy without coming away stinking ourselves. The result is a mix of biography, literary criticism, manifesto, and a kind of self-help you're unlikely to encounter anywhere else.

Critique: An extraordinary and inherently fascinating read, "In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself" is very highly recommended for community and academic library collections. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "In Walt We Trust" is thoroughly 'reader friendly from beginning to end. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "In Walt We Trust" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

Free Agent
Katy Tynan
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781482258813, $29.95, 172pp,

Synopsis: The full-time employee, the staple of the US workplace and the foundation of our economic system, is becoming an endangered species thanks to such forces as technological advances, transfer of businesses over seas, and national economic reverses such as the recent Great Recession. We are on the brink of a seismic shift in the employer/employee relationship that will redefine the nature of jobs and careers. "Free Agent: The Independent Professional's Roadmap to Self-Employment Success" by Katy Tynan (a speaker, consultant, and author of practical guides to career transitions) describes what's driving this change and includes a pragmatic action plan for professionals who wish to survive the challenge of how to be successful in this new skills marketplace.

Critique: As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Free Agent: The Independent Professional's Roadmap to Self-Employment Success" should be considered a 'must read' for anyone engaged in a corporate work force at any level. "Free Agent" is deftly organized into three major sections: The Emerging Trend of the Free Agent Labor Force; How to Get Started; Strategies for Long-Term Success as an Independent Professional. Enhanced with the inclusion of a ten page Appendix and a ten page Index, "Free Agent" is a practical course of instruction and thoroughly 'user friendly'. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Jobs/Careers reference collections, it should be noted that "Free Agent" is also available in a Kindle edition ($28.45).

The Second Decison
Randy H. Nelson
Advantage Media Group
News & Experts
9781599325453, $23.99, 346pp,

Synopsis: Are you the right person to lead your company? You're in the driver's seat of a growing company that an entrepreneur (possibly you) made the First Decision to start. Now, imagine your Board of Directors asking you question after question about your business knowledge and decision-making process. Pass -- and you leave the meeting knowing you have the skills to lead your organization for the next three years. Fail -- and you are put on an improvement plan or need to fi nd a replacement. In "The Second Decision", author and entrepreneur Randy Nelson draws upon his 6 years of Naval service, 25 years of business experience, and thousands of hours with business leaders to develop what he calls 'The Entrepreneur Qual Card'. Chapter by chapter, readers will discover whether they are a Leader that will put their company on their shoulders, a Role-Player that takes another position in the company, or a Creator that moves on to the next big idea. "The Second Decision" will enable the reader to determine their role and make the hard leadership decisions to help their company beat the odds and keep growing for years to come. Whichever role suits best, "The Second Decision" will give the reader the self-awareness and the step-by-step guide to be (or to train) the qualified leader that every company needs.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Second Decision" is a complete course of instruction under one cover and is very highly recommended and invaluable reading for anyone engaged in corporate life. Very highly recommended for professional, corporate, community, and academic library Business Management reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading that "The Second Decision" is also available in a paperback edition (9781599326238, $15.99).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

A Smarter, Greener Grid
Kevin B. Jones & David Zoppo
Praeger Publishers
PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9781440830709, $58.00, 361pp,

Synopsis: The United States' electrical grid was built to serve a 20th-century economy and designed in an era when the negative environmental impacts of electricity production were poorly understood. It is in serious need of updated, upgraded, and modernized. The proposed solution is a "smart grid", that is, a network of new digital technologies, equipment, and controls that can respond quickly to the public's changing energy needs by facilitating two-way communication between the utility and consumers. "A Smarter, Greener Grid: Forging Environmental Progress through Smart Energy Policies and Technologies" explains the environmental benefit of a smart grid, examines case studies of existing smart grids, and identifies the legal and regulatory policy hurdles that must be overcome to fully realize the smart grid's benefits. Based on six diverse organizations' experience as "early adopters" in the digital energy revolution, "A Smarter, Greener Grid" explore how a smart electric grid offers real promise for supercharging energy efficiency, democratizing demand response, electrifying transportation, preparing for ubiquitous distributed clean energy technologies, and automating the distribution system. Against the backdrop of climate change and continuing economic uncertainty, setting a path for environmental improvement and upgrading our electric grid with new digital technologies and associated smart policies is more critical than ever before.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "A Smarter, Greener Grid: Forging Environmental Progress through Smart Energy Policies and Technologies" is the new addition to the outstanding 'Energy Resources, Technology, and Policy' series from Praeger Publishers. Enhanced with the inclusion of two appendices (The Smart Grid Case Studies & A Model Privacy Policy for Smart Grid Data), fifty-two pages of Notes, and an eight page Index, "A Smarter, Greener Grid: Forging Environmental Progress through Smart Energy Policies and Technologies" is an essential, core addition to professional, corporate, governmental, and academic library Energy & Environmental reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "A Smarter, Greener Grid: Forging Environmental Progress through Smart Energy Policies and Technologies" is also available in a Kindle edition ($52.34).

The Sharon Springs Timeline
Carl Waldman and Chris Campbell
ALVA Press, Inc.
216 Hooker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, New York 12603
9781938729201, $14.99,

Synopsis: "The Sharon Springs Timeline: A Microcosm of American History -- with Dates Relating to a Remarkable Village and Neighboring Regions, from the 16th Century to Modern Times", is a chronology ranging from the 1500s to the present. It provides a helpful overview of the history of the Sharon Springs region of upstate New York and of American history in general. It covers wide-ranging subject matter organized in relation to: Settlement and Demarcation; Politics and Warfare; Technology and Transportation; Historic Businesses and Buildings; and Education, Arts, and Entertainment.

Critique: The collaborative and informative work of Carl Waldman and Chris Campbell, "The Sharon Springs Timeline" is an impressively written and presented history that could well serve as a template for preparing regional histories of other community histories around the country. Informed and informative, "The Sharon Springs Timeline" is also available in a Kindle edition (9781938729188, $4.99).

The Exiled Generations
Carl L. Kell
The University of Tennessee Press
110 Conference Center UT, Knoxville, TN 37996
9781621901129, $35.95, 173pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Carl L. Kell (Professor of Communication at Western Kentucky University), "The Exiled Generations: Legacies of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy Wars" is a collection of poignant testimonials by individuals whose parents and relatives were purged from or left the Southern Baptist Convention in the wake of the fundamentalist takeover beginning in 1980. Building upon Professor Kell's earlier work, "Exiled: Voices of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy War", which revealed the stories of those who were themselves expurgated, this new book details the experiences of their relations -- the sons and daughters who saw their moderate-leaning parents lose pastoral positions, administrative posts, missionary appointments, or seminary professorships, and who faced their own often fraught relationships with their church home. Until now, the stories of this "lost generation" have never been fully told. In this new collection, Professor Kell presents a diverse and wide range of voices. Some are well-known Baptist leaders, while others are ordinary people caught up in the remarkable changes in Baptist life over the past few decades. Here, they recount their feelings of loss as they were severed from youth fellowships and removed from church rolls. Many describe the lingering emotional effects of the heartbreaking conflict that dominated their childhood and adolescence. Their recollections reveal the full range of responses--anger, sadness, pathos, humor, intense inner reflection--to these enormous shifts. "The Exiled Generations" shows the extent to which this group has struggled and wandered in emotional and religious exile. "The Exiled Generations" comprises rich primary sources for scholars and students who are exploring the profound strife that has rocked the Southern Baptist Convention. These deeply moving accounts will offer invaluable assistance to researchers analyzing the impact of the seismic changes within the denomination over the past thirty-five years.

Critique: A seminal and scholarly work of original research, ""The Exiled Generations: Legacies of the Southern Baptist Convention Holy Wars" is enhanced with the inclusion of an informed and informative Postscript by Molly T. Marshall (Crafting a New Baptist Narrative); three appendices, a roster of Contributors, and a four page Index. "The Exiled Generations" is very highly recommended for academic library reference collections in general, and American Baptist History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Tales of a Hamptons Sailor
Nick Catalano
Aegeon Press
347 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1402-207, New York, NY 10016
Kelly & Hall Book Publicity
9780692315903, $14.95, 230pp,

Synopsis: In the 1980s, the Hamptons were in flux, inexorably shifting from the "free love" values of the 1960s to the affluent haven it is today. In the six short stories and one novella comprising "Tales of a Hamptons Sailor", author Nick Catalano deft explores this transitional time, taking readers from the terror of a boat suddenly capsizing to one of the area's most exclusive discos. Along the way, he touches on squandered wealth, scandalous love affairs, and rampant alcoholism -- all the decadent behavior you'd expect in a playground for the super rich. Following up his exploration of the Hamptons, Catalano offers his previously published novella, 'A New Yorker at Sea', a revealing, darkly humorous examination of the psychological challenges of circumnavigating the globe (and other people's cultures) as an American. "Tales of a Hamptons Sailor" chronicles the inevitable changes that beset a small community when the ultra rich invade, contrasting their impact with the ever-changing, beautiful, and dangerous force that is the ocean.

Critique: A wonderfully entertaining read from beginning to end, "Tales of a Hamptons Sailor" is an impressive anthology by an impressively original author. Certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tales of a Hamptons Sailor" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

To The Bitter End
Robert M. Dunkerly
Savas Beatie
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611212525, $12.95, 192pp,

Synopsis: Across the Confederacy, determination remained high through the winter of 1864 into the new year -- yet ominous signs were everywhere. The peace conference had failed. Large areas were overrun, the armies could not stop Union advances, the economy was in shambles, and industry and infrastructure were crumbling. The Confederacy could not make, move, or maintain anything. No one knew what the future held but uncertainty. Civilians and soldiers, generals and governors, resolved to fight to the bitter end.

Myths and misconceptions abound about those last days of the Confederacy. There would be no single surrender or treaty that brought the war to an end. Rather, the Confederacy collapsed, its government on the run, its cities occupied, its armies surrendering piecemeal. Offering a fresh look at the various surrenders that ended the war, To the Bitter End: Appomattox, Bennett Place, and the Surrenders of the Confederacy by Robert M. Dunkerly brings to light little-known facts and covers often-overlooked events. Each surrender - starting at Appomattox and continuing through Greensboro, Citronelle, and the Trans-Mississippi - unfolded on its own course. Many involved confusing and chaotic twists and turns.

Misunderstandings plagued many of the negotiations. Communications were problematic. Discipline often broke down. Tempers flared. It was anything but a nice, neat ending to the war. How did the war finally end? What was the status of former Confederate soldiers? Of slaves? How would everyone get home? Was there even a home to go to? As the surrenders unfolded, daunting questions remained. -- Appomattox was just the beginning.

Critique: An extraordinary work of meticulous research, "To the Bitter End: Appomattox, Bennett Place, and the Surrenders of the Confederacy" is a welcome and highly recommended addition to the growing library of Civil War literature by historian and Civil War expert Robert M. Dunkerly. Impressively well written, organized and presented, this original and informative history will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Civil War History reference collection and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "To the Bitter End: Appomattox, Bennett Place, and the Surrenders of the Confederacy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.15).

The Hearing-Loss Guide
John M. Burkey
Yale University Press
PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040
9780300207651, $18.00, 288pp,

Synopsis: Where can the most accurate and helpful information about hearing loss be found? From a friend or relative who has impaired hearing? From an experienced audiologist? Both, says John M. Burkey, audiologist and author of "The Hearing-Loss Guide: Useful Information and Advice for Patients and Families". In an unusual new approach Burkey offers not only specific and up-to-date information based on his own extensive experience with patients, but also useful, first-hand advice from those patients themselves. "The Hearing-Loss Guide" presents clear, basic facts on hearing impairment and treatments, followed by candid personal recommendations from people who are coping successfully with hearing difficulties. "The Hearing-Loss Guide" offers: Specific practical advice from patients and family members for coping with hearing loss; A professional audiologist's clear explanations of hearing loss, current treatments, hearing aids, and other devices; Helpful suggestions for friends, co-workers, and caretakers of persons with hearing difficulties.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, ""The Hearing-Loss Guide: Useful Information and Advice for Patients and Families" truly lives up to its titles and is very strongly recommended for non-specialist general readers confronting hearing loss, for family members and friends, and for others who work alongside or care for a person with a hearing impairment. ""The Hearing-Loss Guide: Useful Information and Advice for Patients and Families" should be a part of every community and academic library Health & Medicine instructional reference collection. For personal reading lists it should be noted that ""The Hearing-Loss Guide: Useful Information and Advice for Patients and Families" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Fraternity Of The Soul Eater
Scott Lerner
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603812894, $13.95, 218pp,

Synopsis: It's been a while since Samuel Roberts was called upon to save mankind, and he's getting restless. His girlfriend Susan thinks he's a danger junkie, and he's worried he has a hero complex. He's back to his usual small-town lawyerly duties in Champaign-Urbana, handling divorces and helping people beat DUI raps. But then a young fraternity pledge calls. During an initiation ceremony he witnessed the live sacrifice of a young woman, but he had so much alcohol in his system that no one believes him. Except Sam. Lately Egyptian lore has been creeping into his life, his dreams, and his movie preferences, and he's pretty sure he knows why. Evil is knocking on his door again. Is the call welcome? Why can't Sam be satisfied with his comfortable legal practice and gorgeous redheaded girlfriend? Maybe it's because he knows that, as inadequate as he may feel to the task, he and his friend Bob may be humanity's only hope against ancient supernatural forces combined with modern genetic engineering. Come hell or high water. Or in this case, the underworld or subterranean pyramids.

Critique: An exceptionally entertaining read, "The Fraternity of the Soul Eater" is the third book in the author Scott Lerner's Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with "Cocaine Zombies" and continued with "Ruler of Demons". A master of the genre, Scott Lerner's latest novel continues to document his originality and skill as a storyteller. "The Fraternity Of The Soul Eater" is highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Prodigal Father Wayward Son
Sam Keen & Gifford Keen
Divine Arts
c/o Michael Wiese Productions
12400 Ventura Blvd., #1111, Studio City, CA 91604
9781611250374, $16.95, 186pp,

Synopsis: Written by best selling author Sam Keen and his son Gifford, "Prodigal Father Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation" is a warm and engaging book on masculinity, and a compelling and dynamic invitation for readers to recall the pivotal memories and conflicts that define their own father-and-son relationships. Filled with personal tales of their own struggles and breakthroughs, in this moving account of alienation, repentance, and forgiveness, readers are taught how best to confront and make peace with longstanding enmity and misunderstanding by telling their long-held, but often unexamined, myths and stories. "Prodigal Father Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation" provides guidance and encouragement to those looking for positive role models, and explores new ways to move beyond old wounds. "Prodigal Father, Wayward Son" contains exceptionally evocative and entertaining storytelling: tales of marriage and divorce, misadventure and drugs, rebellion, abandonment, renewal, and ultimately new-millennium reconciliation. Sam, a stubborn, traditional academic, and Gif, a free-thinking, introspective surfer, repeatedly clash, make up, evolve, adapt, and rediscover their love as they collectively realize the acutely current message of "Prodigal Father, Wayward Son". It marks the culmination of an exceptional writing career.

Critique: An impressive collaboration, "Prodigal Father Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation" is as candid and inherently fascinating a read as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. A very highly recommend addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Prodigal Father Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Life And Times Of A Big River
Peter J. Marchand
University of Alaska Press
PO Box 756240, Fairbanks, AK 99775-6240
9781602232471. $29.95, 200pp,

Synopsis: When Richard Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971, eighty million acres were flagged as possible national park land. Field expeditions were tasked with recording what was contained in these vast acres. Under this decree, five men were sent into the sprawling, roadless interior of Alaska, unsure of what they'd encounter and ultimately responsible for the fate of four thousand pristine acres. "Life and Times of a Big River: An Uncommon Natural History of Alaska's Upper Yukon" follows Peter J. Marchand and his team of biologists as they set out to explore the land that would ultimately become the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. Their encounters with strange plants, rare insects, and little-known mammals bring to life a land once thought to be static and monotonous. And their struggles to navigate and adapt to an unforgiving environment capture the rigorous demands of remote field work. Weaving in and out of Marchand's narrative is an account of the natural and cultural history of the area as it relates to the expedition and the region's Native peoples. Life and Times of a Big River chronicles a riveting, one-of-a-kind journey of uncertainty and discovery from a disparate (and at one point desperate) group of biologists.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Life and Times of a Big River: An Uncommon Natural History of Alaska's Upper Yukon" is an inherently fascinating and informative read. Enhanced with eight pages of Notes, a six page list of References, and a fifteen page Index, "Life and Times of a Big River: An Uncommon Natural History of Alaska's Upper Yukon" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and library 20th Century American History collections.

The Comanche Fights Again
D. M. Harrison
Linford Western Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444823561, $20.99,

Synopsis: Mitch Bayfield, known as 'Broke', was kidnapped and raised as a Comanche. When, many years later, he looks for his kin, he finds himself unable to settle in either world and turns his back on them all. He is determined, however, to return and liberate Little Bluestem, another white captive. The two of them flee, with the Comanche hot on their trail when they tangle with a ruthless gang of bank robbers, return to a hostile town called Hell, have a U.S. calvary chase them down, and an ultimate confrontation amidst a bloody canyon battle.

Critique: The second volume of a trilogy, "The Comanche Fights Again" can be read as a 'stand alone' western action/adventure novel of the first rank. D. M. Harrison is a master of the genre and "The Comanche Fights Again" will leave satisfied readers looking eagerly toward his next western novel and the further adventures of Broke.

Is the American Century Over
Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
c/o Blackwell Publishing
350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148
9780745690063, $45.00, 152pp,

Synopsis: For more than a century, the United States has been the world's most powerful state. Now some analysts predict that China will soon take its place as the leading economic and political power. Does this mean that we are living in a post-American world? Will China's rapid rise spark a new Cold War between the two titans? "Is the American Century Over" is a compelling essay in which professional foreign policy analyst, Joseph Nye, explains why the American century is far from over and what the US must do to retain its lead in an era of increasingly diffuse power politics. America's superpower status may well be tempered by its own domestic problems and China's economic boom, he argues, but its military, economic and soft power capabilities will continue to outstrip those of its closest rivals for decades to come.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Is the American Century Over" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An impressive and articulate contribution to our on-going national discussion, "Is the American Century Over" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary Global Issues reference collections in general, and American-Chinese International Relations supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Is the American Century Over?" is also available in a paperback edition (9780745690070, $12.95) and in a Kindle format ($8.99).

Triumph of the Absurd
Uwe Siemon-Netto
NRP Books
c/o New Reformation Publications
2151 Applegate Drive, Corona, CA 92881
c/o Author Marketing Experts
9781945500008, $19.95, 254pp,

Synopsis: Almost half a century ago, Uwe Siemon-Netto was a young reporter from Germany who arrived in still-glamorous Saigon to cover the Vietnam War over a period of five years. In this personal memoir he tells the story of how he fell in love with the Vietnamese people. He praises the beauty, elegance and feistiness of their women. He describes blood-curdling Communist atrocities and fierce combat scenes he had witnessed. He introduces a striking array of characters: heroes, villains, statesmen and spooks, hilarious eccentrics, street urchins and orphans herding water buffalos. He shows how professional malpractice by U.S. media stars such as Walter Cronkite turned the military victory of American and South Vietnamese forces during the 1968 Tet Offensive into a political defeat. He mourns the countless innocent victims of the Communist conquest of South Vietnam, which was the grim consequence of its abandonment by the United States. Thus, he argues, the wrong side won. Finally, with the eyes on Afghanistan, he poses a harrowing question: Are democratic societies with their proclivity for self-indulgence politically and psychologically equipped to win a protracted war against a totalitarian foe?

Critique: Compelling, candid, insightful, informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Triumph of the Absurd: A Reporter's Love for the Abandoned People of Vietnam" is very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography reference collections in general and Viet Name War supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "Triumph of the Absurd" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

The Realignment Case
R. J. Dearden
Roundfire Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781782796992, $22.95, 366pp,

Synopsis: In Geneva, circa 2012, disgraced lawyer Daniel Athley starts a job with a shadowy international organization that has a secret it will kill to protect - the past can be changed. Working for the enigmatic Counselor Winter, Dan's role is to defend the status quo. Discovering a plot that could unleash chaos in a disordered future, he must choose a side in a murky world where the fate of the dead is decided.

Critique: Extraordinary and original, "The Realignment Case" documents author R. J. Dearden as an impressively talented novelist who is able to keep his readers solidly engaged and entertained from first page to last. Very highly recommended for community library Science Fiction/Fantasy collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Realignment Case" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.15).

Binoculars: Masquerading as a Sighted Person
Philip F. DiMeo
New Horizon Press
PO Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931
9780882824932, $24.95, 320pp,

Synopsis: For over 14 years, Philip DiMeo, a talented cartoonist and social worker, led a double life, masquerading as a fully sighted person, while becoming blind. He concealed his vision loss, a secret that he believed could potentially ruin his life, but in hindsight opened doors. At most social functions, fearful that he would trip, bump into someone, or knock something over, his wife propelled him around. Ignoring warnings from his ophthalmologist, he continued driving despite a series of auto accidents which included driving onto railroad tracks while an oncoming train approached. Philip reveals that, despite diagnoses by three ophthalmologists and three optometrists, he denied having retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and often blindness. When Philip finally confronted his disability, he found that the challenges of his vision loss were the springboard to achievements to come. "Binoculars: Masquerading as a Sighted Person" is a sensitive, amazing, and astonishingly revealing first-hand account of a man who achieves incredible feats with his courage and talent, while finally coming to terms with his blindness.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and compelling read, "Binoculars: Masquerading as a Sighted Person" offers a unique perspective from a man who had a tremendous personal battle with accepting a disability and ultimately succeeding to forge a life worth living. Informative, thought-provoking, candid, and fundamentally inspiring, "Binoculars" is strongly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Binoculars" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Gunsmoke Bonanza
Chuck Martin
The Golden West Large Print Books
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781842629659, $29.99, 240pp,

Synopsis: As caretaker of Boot Hill, Gospel Cummings had a personal interest in those who died with their boots on, and of late they had been so numerous as to keep the sky pilot busy saying prayers for their souls. Some of the trouble was caused by Cord Demingway, ramrod of an outlaw gang: some of it was the fault of Pug Jones, who had his own owl-hoot followers. Some of the shootings were from honest cowboys such as Charley Compton, who had the choice between being the target of bonanza hunters, or drawing first.

Critique: With "Gunsmoke Bonanza", author Chuck Martin's demonstrates a complete mastery of the action/adventure western novel genre. A solid entertainment from first page to last, "Gunsmoke Bonanza" in this large print format is a truly extraordinary and highly recommended addition to personal reading lists and community library large print collections.

The Preacher's Legacy
Walter L. Bryant
Linford Wester Library
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9781444822847, $24.99, 248pp,

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Tom Deegan has been pressed into service as part of his preacher uncle's outlaw gang. When a hold-up goes badly wrong, leaving dead bodies, the preacher wounded and a stagecoach in flames, it's up to Tom to hide the loot - and secretly rescue a baby from the burning coach. With the preacher's death, Tom is the only man who knows the location of the booty. Years later, killers are searching for Tom - and the money. Will he, and the orphaned boy he saved, survive?

Critique: A riveting western action/adventure novel from first page to last, "The Preacher's Legacy" has it all -- old gang members seeking revenge and their share of the loot from a botched robbery, a lethal bounty hunter willing to do anything it takes to have those ill gotten riches for himself; a young man trying to escape from an horrific legacy by trying to do right out of once was so wrong; a young woman drawn into it all. A cliffhanger of a story with unexpected twists and turns right down to an unforeseen conclusion, "The Preacher's Legacy" is highly recommended for western novel fans and community library Large Print collections.

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

Sex: An Uncensored Introduction
Nikol Hasler
Zest Books
35 Stillman Street, Suite 121
San Francisco, CA, 94107
9781936976843 $14.99

Sex: An Uncensored Introduction is a practical-minded sex education book written especially for teenagers. Author Nikol Hasler does not mince words or talk down to the reader, covering topics such as sexual identity, birth control, dating and relationships, communicating about sex, sex and the internet, how to use a condom, how to safely practice oral, vaginal, or anal sex, and much more. No sexual subject is off-limits in this explicit book, so enlightening that adults just might find it as edifying as teens do! Highly recommended.

The Husband Swap
Louisa Leontiades
Thorntree Press
PO Box 301231, Portland, OR 97294
9780991399741 $14.99

Chair of the National Polyamory Association Louisa Leontiades presents The Husband Swap: A True Story of Unconventional Love, a memoir about love beyond the bounds of monogamy. Louisa and her husband Gilles loved one another, but their marriage stagnated; together, they explored the option of polyamory - having more than one true love. They fell in love with another couple, and tried to make their relationship work as a four-person polyamorous group. The experience had unexpected challenges, but at the same time it liberated them from the unhappiness of their previously monogamous marriage. Candid, honest, and eye-opening, The Husband Swap is as unforgettable as it is unconventional.

The LGBT & Modern Family Money Manual
Holly Hanson, CFP
Harmony Financial Strategies
10940 Wilshire Blvd., Sutie 1600, Los Angeles, CA 90024
c/o News & Experts (publicity)
9780692387733 $16.95

Certified financial planner Holly Hanson presents The LGBT & Modern Family Money Manual: Financial Strategies For You & Your Loved Ones, a straightforward guide to preparing for the future created especially with the concerns of LGBT individuals, couples, and families in mind. Chapters address setting up accounts and documentation ("It may be legal, but it still isn't easy"), budgeting, long-distance relationships, financial issues that often confront LGBT parents (such as budgeting for the costs of adoption, or in-vitro fertilization), how to obtain one's rightful social security or military benefits, identifying socially responsible and LGBT-friendly companies for one's investment portfolio, and much more. A no-nonsense, plain-spoken resource accessible to people of all financial skill and experience levels, The LGBT & Modern Family Money Manual is invaluable.

Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies
Jessica Robinson
Booktrope Editions
9781620155929 $13.95

Undead Obsessed: Finding Meaning in Zombies draws upon film, literature, and interviews to examine the fantastic concept of zombies - animated, hostile walking dead - in film and literature. Zombies are explored as an embodied metaphor for human terror of epidemic diseases, mind control, or science gone out of control. Thoughtful media analysis along with moments of trope-in-cheek observation ("Surviving the Zompocalypse: Don't Trust the Military") make Undead Obsessed a "must-read" for serious-minded connoisseurs of quality zombie horror!

Clint Travis

Drazin's Bookshelf

Across the Red
Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke
Timber Creek Press
9780990438984, $14.95, 303 pages,

This is the fourth book in the award winning Bass Reeves saga, and it contains the first chapter of the next exciting tale "Bass and the Lady." Farmer and Stienke wrote eight books together and each wrote an additional one alone. Their plots, people, their manner of acting, the suspense, humor, and colorful western language in the Bass Reeves tales are delightful. It is no surprise that the books are so popular. The Bass Reeves books are so jampacked with exciting events and so full of fascinating western characters, good and bad, that these books should be made into a movie, or better yet into a movie and TV series.

The authors are very careful in presenting as many facts as possible. Six foot two Deputy Marshall Bass Reeves (18381910), the bigger than life hero of these tales, actually lived. It is said that his exploits inspired the story of the Lone Ranger. He worked for Judge Isaac Parker (18381896), known as the Hanging Judge, who was the judge in the western district of Arkansas for 21 years. Bass was illiterate, an expert with guns, strong, unusually brave, and highly respected by law men and outlaws. He brought many criminals to justice.

In this tale, many rustling operations had been conducted by the Red River Gang in Texas apparently headed by a masked man who gave orders to the gang while hiding his identity from every one even the gang members. People are being killed. A Texas Ranger asks Bass Reeves and fellow marshal Jack McGann for help. The two are to go undercover and if at all possible join the gang. They secure help from another marshal, another Texas Ranger, an Indian, and a gang member to combat the overwhelming force of the Red River Gang who, besides the rustlings, had slaughtered a sixteen man army patrol and took their deadly ten barrel Gatling Gun. The story is fast moving, has many gun fights, some humor, several love interests, and a surprise ending.

Independence Day
Ben Coes
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250043160, $26.99, 502 pages,

I am a huge fan of Ben Coes' books. I read them all. I receive so many books and have a library of 12,000 books that I give many to charity after reading them. But I saved all of Coes' books. I enjoy reading the exploits of his character, the former Delta Forces' Dewey Andreas, who is now the best operative of the CIA.

In this novel, Dewey is trying to recover from the deaths on two separate occasions of two women who were very close to him. It seems that rather than being able to react immediately, efficiently, with force, he freezes. Besides this problem, there is a highly placed CIA official who wants to stop Dewey from any more missions.

He needs to stop a skilled Russian computer hacker called Cloud who is violently angry at the US because a CIA operative, for reasons unknown to Cloud or the reader, murdered his father and mother before his eyes when he was a child.

Cloud manages to force a wealthy Russian to give him an atom bomb which Cloud intends to explode in an unknown site in the US. When the CIA discovers his plan, but not the site, the officials send trained operatives to thwart Cloud, but Cloud uses his computer skills to kill them.

Dewey refuses to obey the CIA's decision that he not partake in the mission. As a result he is shot and the Russian police pursue him. Can he save the US from a bomb destined to be employed on Independence Day, July 4?

Israel Drazin, Reviewer

Gail's Bookshelf

Web of Deceit: An Agent's Under Fire Novel
Susan Sleeman
Bell Bridge Books
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781611944686, $14.95,

Award-winning author, Susan Sleeman begins her new "clean read" series, Agents Under Fire with Web of Deceit, a tale of murder, intrigue and suspense wrapped in romance. "Clean read" means a longer, more in-depth series that doesn't offend those with a Christian worldview and this series doesn't "contain a spiritual thread" as many of her other books have.

The story opens with an enticing touch of murderous intent that keeps the anticipation high and the pages turning as Kait Knight's brother-in-law, Fenton Rhodes points "his 9mm Sig in her direction." In four years of service with the FBI Kait has never been this close to death. Echoes of her FBI instructors voice rang in her ears. "Don't panic. Keep working the plan. One step at a time."

Yet, she didn't have a plan, hadn't expected this. Fenton's wife Abby, her twin sister, was in the other room with their parents and Abby and Fenton's infant daughter, Lily. Fenton had followed Kait into the other room where she'd taken the phone call from her partner, agent Nina Brandt. That's when Kait learned Fenton had "bilked thousands of people out of their money and killed a fellow hacker." Fenton had overheard her question Nina about him.

Her brother-in-law now faced her from across the room. His cold, hard eyes reflecting the "mental edge of his insanity" as her sister Abby rattled the door knob and knocked insistently. Kait begged Fenton not to involve her but he wouldn't listen and unlocked the door.

Abby only knew him as a doting father and loving husband and had never seen behind the mask he wore until now. She couldn't know what he'd done, or what he was capable of doing. Only Kait knew. What she couldn't know was her worst fears were about to be realized.

Thus begins a complex tale of suspense that features the dangers and evil aspects of technology in the hands of a cyber-criminal known as "Vyper." A man expert in the use of identity theft, Internet scams, cyber-bullying and abuse who is consumed with revenge. Kait's relationship with homicide detective, Sam Murdock adds a subtle touch of humor and romance to Sleeman's well-developed plot and true-to-life characterizations that comes with a high body count. "Web of Deceit" is a must read for any fan of suspense.

Book two, Web of Shadows, featuring Kait's FBI partner, Nina Brandt releases December of 2015 and book three, Web of Lies, featuring FBI agent, Becca Lange releases April of 2016. Books are available in both print and e-format.

In addition to writing award-winning romantic suspense mysteries, Susan Sleeman also hosts The Suspense Zone devoted to "edge of your seat Christian and Clean Read Suspense."

The Adventures of Pajama Girl
Sandra Hagee Parker, author
Sarah Bussey, illustrator
Worthy Kids
134 Frankline Road/Suite 200, Brentwood, TN 37027
9781617954726, $14.99,

Ellie had several pair of pajamas, some adorned with balloons, others with palm trees and cupcakes. She loved them all and carefully chose which pair to wear each night because Ellie's dreams matched her pajama decorations. Her love of pj's earned her the nicknamed, "Pajama Girl."

This night Ellie's pajamas were adorned with cupcakes. When Ellie and her little sis knelt beside their beds they prayed for God to give them "dreams so sweet." Thus begins a delightful and imaginative adventure about a "Cupcake Queen," her coronation and cupcake sprinkles that had mysteriously disappeared. The spiritual lesson is based on Exodus 20:15, "Thou shalt not steal."

Sandra Hagee Parker's debut release, The Adventures of Pajama Girl is perfect for children ages three to eight with teachings on helping, stealing and jealousy wrapped inside an imaginative adventure story. Soft pencil sketches of pretty girls, sweet treats and the "kingdom of cupcakes"

enhance a storyline that teaches "doing the right thing is the sweetest treat of all."

Whatever Wanda!
Christy Ziglar, author
Paige Billin-Frye, illustrator
Ideals Children's Books
2630 Elm HIll Pike Suite 100, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
9780824956684, $14.99,

Wanda pulled the covers over her head and sarcastically said, "Whatever!" when her mom told her to "wake up and get dressed." She knew her mom didn't want her to miss the "the Duck Dash" the beginning of their town's "Rubber Duck Days festival." Wanda thought the celebrations were stupid. Just because the entire town dressed like a silly bunch of ducks for the event didn't mean she would!

In Whatever Wanda!, book three of the Shine Bright Kids series by Christy Zieglar, founder of the "Shine Bright Kid Company," Christy focuses on sarcasm, choices, and the importance of positive attitudes. Children, age's four to eight learn Wanda's poor attitude means she misses a lot of fun when she continues to say "whatever." Until she meets "Waddles" and learns "you have to believe something will be great before it actually is." Wanda's story teaches attitudes are a choice.

Bunny's First Spring
Sally Lloyd-Jones, author
David McPahil, illustrator
5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
9780310733867, $15.99,

Little Bunny was born in the spring time when the world was filled with birds singing, lush green grass, and long sunny days. He said, "The earth is new like me!" In the lazy days of summer he hops through the grass and grows big and strong. When fall arrives, Bunny grows a "warm coat" as the winds blow and the leaves began to fall.

When the little bunny saw the seasons change he thought the world was dying and " jumped into his barrow under the snow." There he stayed safe from the winter storms until a "secret" brought change and the promise of new life.

Sally Lloyd-Jones uses rhyme to celebrate God's promise of new life in Bunny's First Spring. The imaginative story reveals God creates seasons of change and renewal, a perfect story for children ages four to eight. David McPahil's beautiful illustrations add to and enhance the story line taken from Marin Luther's saying, "God has written the promise of new life not just in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime."

The Stone of Ages: Guardians of the Golden Realm, #1
Chris Smart
4900 LaCross Road, North Charleston, SC 29406
9781499249736, $8.99,

Chris Smart's debut fantasy The Stone of Ages, "A Guardian of the Golden Realm Adventure" series is a fast-paced, action-oriented adventure wrapped in fantasy for ages eight to twelve.

Readers first meet twelve-year-old CJ, called the "prank master" by best friend Max, as he prepares an unusual bag of tricks for his last day of school. He couldn't help smiling as he stuffed his mom's camera, some fishing wire, two bricks, three smoke bombs and two fireworks into his backpack before he ran for the bus. This would be his best prank of the year.

CJ couldn't know his life would be forever changed by day's end. First by a mysterious letter sealed in gold, then by the cryptic letter within the envelope that said, "Conner Jay Blake - We are watching you."

Although the warning puzzled CJ he continued to set his latest prank in motion. He didn't realize the prank would lead to an intriguing place called the "Golden Realm" and a place of "mist shifters," where battles between good and evil were fought. A land of magic shared by the evil Videl who would stop at nothing to keep "the stone of ages" hidden because of what it would unlock. After all CJ only planned a funny prank! Or was it?

Thus begins book one of Chris Smart's four part fantasy series. What sets this book apart from many in this genre is the act that Chris is only eleven-years-old.

Oregon's Outlook newspaper reported Gresham, OR boy publishes adventure book in July of 2014. The reporter wrote, "Smart said he wanted to compile the different genres he loves - fantasy, action and humor - into one book and add his own flourishes."

He has certainly done that! His creative talent shines through the imaginative plot, characterization and story flow to reveal a talented writer in the making. To learn more about Smart and his book, visit Chris Smart on FaceBook.

Chris's promotion of The Stone of Ages begins on FaceBook August 9-11with a free download offer.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

Sue's Seduction
Saylor Storm
Storm Productions
9780578129945, $7.99,

Sue's Seduction" reminded me of several themes in "Star Trek." From "Star Trek The Next Generation" episode "Too Short A Season" where Admiral Mark Jameson takes a potion that reverses the aging process and from original "Star Trek Mud's Women," where women take a pill that makes them beautiful. "Sue's Seduction" incorporates both of these themes when 55 year old Susan Kent decides to participate in an experimental medical program where she takes a pill for three years. She finds that she is reversing the aging process and becoming more beautiful and much healthier the longer she stays with the program. There is also a darker side where she is much more adventurous in her sexuality and the world of drugs. "Sue's Seduction" has a steady pace that takes the reader along to the final cliff hanger ending that ensures there will be a sequel, but there is something else that makes this novel so much fun to read. At the beginning of each chapter there are little bits of trivia that are also fun to learn. "Sue's Seduction" is a great summer read.

14th Deadly Sin
James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316407021, $28.00

Detective Lindsay Boxer has one of her toughest cases to solve because the perpetrators are dressed as cops in "14th Deadly Sin," the newest installment of the Women's Murder Club. Lindsay must determine if they are impersonators or real cops committing many different crimes, as well as figure out why on one of the member's birthdays each year there is a murder that remains unsolved. She begins to wonder if there is a connection. "14th Deadly Sin," like the other novels in the series, is rapidly paced to its final conclusion. The plot has many twists and turns to keep readers turning pages until the end. "14th Deadly Sin" is a great addition to this popular series.

The Game Master
William Bernhardt
Babylon Books
9780692365595, $27.95,

Known, for his legal thrillers, Bernhardt tells an entirely different tale with "The Game Master. As the novel begins there is a murder of a scientist and a woman is kidnapped. BB The Game Master finds that the woman is his daughter who has been kidnapped by someone who wants to play a new kind of game with him. He and his ex wife travel around the world picking up clues like a scavenger hunt that also plays out like different games including poker, monopoly, and several others that are part of the clues. Also there is a national crisis, that ties into the search for BBs' daughter. Like his legal thrillers Berhardt fills the story with suspenseful situations and a story that moves along very quickly to its final revealing ending. "The Game Master" is a tense nail biting thriller that has so many different levels of entertainment.

Robert B. Parker's Kickback A Spenser Novel
Ace Atkins
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399170843, $26.95,

Atkins took over the series of Parker Spenser books with 'Lullaby" showing that he was a very good choice to continue the novels but "Kickback" is the best and closest to Parker that Atkins has done so far. Spenser, Hawk, and Susan are back in a very fast paced story that shows the dangers the internet can cause to a person. A seventeen year old boy posts a tweet that lands him in prison. Spenser is hired by the boy's mother to find out why her son has been punished so severely. Spenser finds there is a crooked cop, judge and other public officials in the small town the boy resides in. The story races along with snappy dialogue, interesting characters, and many twists and turns that include a road trip for Spenser and Hawk to Tampa Florida that make "Kickback" one of the best of the many Spenser titles.

Jake Burton
Page Publishing
101 Tyrellan Avenue Suite 100 New York, NY 10309
9781681392141, $11.95,

Joshua Banks begins in his French class a journey that will change his life forever. What he thought was dreaming in the course is a revealing excursion into a dimension he had only thought was a rumor. He encounters an old man who tells him many interesting things including that he knows the path in life Joshua will take but is not allowed to tell Joshua. He also learns many things about his father's death at an early age. The author who is a student at The University of Central Florida has written a very polished fascinating tale of how a person questions all they had known "Cracked" is an attention-grabbing first novel.

JD's Baseball Game
By Stacey Hamm Illustrated by Elena Stebakov
9781304925718, $13.99,

JD a nice little dragon is worried about not doing well in the baseball game he and his teammates are playing. His coach takes him aside telling him to do the best he can. JD is now so stressed and worried that he will fail the other members of his team. The tension mounts as he has the count of two strikes against him. Poor JD is worried that he will strike out. "JD's Baseball Game" includes a message to kids and adults that in order to succeed you must keep trying, and is a very nice book for readers of all ages to read and enjoy.

Case of the Missing Pearl Earring
Stacey Hamm Illustrated by Elena Stebakov
9781312838857, $10.00,

JD, the dragon character from "JD's Baseball Game" is back in a novel that is for a bit older audience. Now he is at home solving mysteries for family members. He loves to read true detective magazines and takes what he learns from them to help his family members find things that have been missing from the house. He must find his mother's missing earrings and he has several suspects that could be the culprit. "Case of the Missing Pearl Earring" is an amusing read for all ages to enjoy at the antics of JD, the dragon and his friends.

Dr Paul Bearer's Creature Feature
Roger L Boyers Jr.
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781481986076, $14.95,

When you think of hosts of bad B horror movies most people think of Elvira. But there was another person who introduced for so many years on several TV stations in the country that was just as popular in many circles as Elvira. That person was Dr. Paul Bearer. The character was the genius of radio disk jockey Dick Bennick who was on many different stations throughout the nation. Roger L. Boyes Jr. tells the story of both Bennick and how Dr. Paul Bearer became so popular as well as a lot of trivia about the movies, the hosts of these kinds of shows, and lots more in a fun filled excursion into a darker realm of television history. No fan of grade B movies should miss "Dr. Paul Bearer's Creature Feature."

Red Flags How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers, and Toxic People in Your Life
Wendy L. Patrick, Ph. D.
St Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250052926, $25.99,

Red flags are things many of us overlook in different aspects of our lives. Wendy L. Patrick tackles the issue in her new book "Red Flags How to Spot Frenemies, Underminers and Toxic People in Your Life." As a district attorney she tells stories of the criminal justice system to convey warnings of things for people to look for in their personal and business relationships. She recommends to be alert to what someone is asking or telling what they like about you, be careful what you put on social media because it could come back to haunt you, tune into what a person tells about themselves, and be more careful in who you deal with in life. One of the most interesting things was how Patrick misread a man she was prosecuting when she encountered him on an elevator before entering the courtroom for the first time. There are many different types of warnings to readers that should be learned and used to not get taken by the many vultures in business and personal relationships.

The Journey of My Emotions The Woman That I Am
Josie Dorius
Tate Publishing
127 E Trade Center Terrace, Mustang Oklahoma 73064
9781625107145, $9.99,

"The Journey of My Emotions The Woman That I Am" clearly shows in poetic form one woman's passage through life. Through her faith in God and her constant searching of herself she is able to become a much stronger person. Some of the topics are how she learns who she is, relationships and why they are either good or bad, and how God's love will help you through anything that comes along. "The Journey of My Emotions The Woman That I Am" is a touching book of poetry that should help others find themselves.

Gary Roen

Gina's Bookshelf

The Unending
A. Sands
Spiffing Covers
6 Jolliffe's Court, 51-57 High Street, Wivenhoe, Colchester, Essex CO7 9AZ
1910667536, $13.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle,

The Unending is a fantasy novel written by British author Adam Sands. Published on February 11, 2015, it's a dark journey through portals of time and space.

Herendak, a magical immortal, has spent thousands of years trying to bring the world back to the way it was before the creation of humans. Now that Meryn, a mere mortal, has given birth to his child there's nothing standing in his way except for Rilenheim; the only other magical immortal left in the world. His mission to stop Herendak's plan from coming to fruition will start a war and uncover a very well kept secret that will decide the fate of the world.

The theme of this novel seems to be trying to stop the end of the world. Dreary though it may be the author does a good job of making you feel gloomy right along with the mood of the book. Set in the times of Kings, Queens, palaces and distant lands roamed by magical creatures and humans alike, the characters took on a Lord of the Rings type feel but nowhere near as captivating. The chapters were a bit lengthy and changed scenes so many times that you were never quite sure whether you were in the past, the present or the future. The plot kept building and just when you thought it was all going to come together and finally make some sense, it doesn't. In fact, the conclusion fell flat and left you feeling even more confused.

For a debut stand alone novel it wasn't terrible but it wasn't great either. The storyline didn't flow, there were more than a few grammatical errors and it really did have an "is it over yet?" type of quality.

Torn: Part One
Kelly Kathleen
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
1508631514, $8.99,

Kelly Kathleen, a true believer in fairy tales, magic spells and happily ever after, is the author of Torn; a romance novel which was released by Speedy Publishing LLC on February 17, 2015.

The afternoon Carolyn walked in on her fiancee cheating on her was the worst day of her life. After six months of crying on her best friends shoulder she's quit her job, moved into a new apartment and hopes that working as Mr. Whiting's secretary will give her the fresh start she needs. What she wasn't expecting was to fall in love again. They shared a similar background and were able to find comfort in each other's arms. However, when their pasts catch up with them Carolyn will be left wondering if she really does get to choose and if so, what choice will she make.

Targeted towards young adults, letting go, moving on and finding the courage to open your heart again seems to be the theme surrounding this novel. In 204 pages it's a light read that you can easily breeze through in as little as under three hours. The four main characters are well established which builds to the credibility of the author. Kathleen does a fantastic job giving each of them their own depth of feeling while still keeping them balanced so that the story flows smoothly. Suspenseful and filled with girl drama, this is a romance that you will actually enjoy.

Sweet Spot
Linton Robinson
Bauu Institute and Press
PO Box 17712, Golden, CO 80402
0982046723, $18.95,

A short synopsis of the book was omitted from this review at the request of the author, Linton Robinson. Robinson is a Mazatlan Journalist of eight years and Sweet Spot is a standalone novel which was released by Adoro Books on October 20, 2011.

First of all, the genre of this book is really hard to figure out. It's full of suspense, mystery, murder, romance, politics and sports. During more than a few chapters the reader may feel as though they're a part of This Week with George Stephanopoulos sitting around the round table discussing current events, government campaigns, political views and war. At other times they'll feel as though they're immersed in an episode of Gotham. Only in this one it's an investigative journalist trying to make his city a better place instead of a detective. Secondly, with more than a dozen grammatical errors, it could've benefited from an editor. The language barrier was confusing enough. I appreciated the integrity of the novel, however, unless you are really into Political Science this book is 352 pages of sheer boredom.

Shy Kinda Love
Deanna Eshler
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781507869864, $11.99,

Deanna Eshler, a licensed clinical counselor and a certified equestrian assisted psychotherapist, is the author of Shy Kinda Love; a wholesome love story which was inspired by her training and work using horses to help kids heal.

Shyanne's former life was nothing if not tragic. As it were, she was content with being miserable and alone. However, when Kade Cross enters her life and makes her feel for the first time in years things begin to change. Happiness was the one thing she never believed that she deserved to have. Their relationship was far from conventional. He's well aware of her inner demons and loves her in spite of them. But when circumstances force her to make the ultimate choice she'll have to decide for herself whether to let Kade go and run or stay and fight for both the man and the life that she has come to love.

A powerhouse of emotions is the only way to describe Eshler's young adult novel. Throughout the prologue and chapters one and two you will go from shocked to skeptical. As it slowly progresses you will go from laughing uncontrollably to being blissfully happy then crying your eyes out as it comes to a close. The development of the main character and her transformation from the beginning to the end is beautiful to witness. It's genuine, heartfelt and personal. Shyanne's struggles are real life everyday occurrences and the author approaches them with the utmost respect. It's a tender, clean-cut must read romance that every woman will somehow be able to relate to.

Gina Marie Stanish, Reviewer

Gloria's Bookshelf

Martini Regrets
Phyllis Smallman
Touchwood Editions
340-1105 Pandora Ave., Victoria BC, Canada, V8V 3P9
9781771510905, $14.95, Paperback, 256 pp

Billed as "a traditional mystery series serving Jack Daniels instead of tea," this is the sixth in Phyllis Smallman's Sherri Travis mysteries. The 31-year-old protagonist, who co-owns a restaurant/bar with her realtor lover, Clay Adams, is on her way back home one night much later than she anticipated, caught in the heart of the swamps of the Everglades with a much depleted gas tank. When she pulls into a middle-of-nowhere gas station on ominously named Last Chance Road, Sherri is car-jacked by a young man who, terrified, apologies, then whispers to her "I saw. They'll kill me." The scene is thus set for Sherri's harrowing return to civilization, including the and the memory of the body of a dead man, fresh in her mind, civilization in this case being two miles from the Gulf of Mexico where she and Clay live "in splendid isolation in the burbs from hell because someone had defaulted on a brand-new house."

Her recent experience makes Sherri reexamine the state of her life, and her relationship with Clay, and she tells him that she wants to move up their wedding date, much to Clay's delight. The ensuing tale revolves around a world of which Sherri knew almost nothing: that of botany and, more specifically, orchid-growing, and the obsession that can overtake those involved in that world.

Married when she was 19, Sherri had survived the murder of her cheating husband, among other things. She is not a shrinking violet, and has had her share of danger-filled scenarios. This is yet another such, with intriguing characters and suspense-filled action. The author perfectly and vividly captures the natural world of the mangrove fields and the beauty of the Gulf and the surrounding Keys. Although the book came out last Fall, this was a perfect time for me to have picked it up: It is a perfect beach read, and is recommended.

The Deep End
Debra Purdy Kong
TouchWood Editions
10310705 Pendergast St., Victoria, BC, Canada, V8V 0A1
9781771510936, $14.95/14.95 CA$, Paperback, 232 pp.

Casey Holland, the protagonist in this series by Debra Purdy Kong, in which this is the fourth entry, "a criminology student and an experienced security officer," has just started her first shift as a volunteer at Fraserview Youth Custody Center, a juvenile detention facility just outside of Vancouver housing 25 youngsters, supposedly only for a few days each. Soon after her shift starts, she is startled to find that a friend's 15yearold grandson, Justin, is a resident there. Then, later on that same evening, Mac Jorgenson, the 230pound man in his late fifties and the director of the facility, dies right in front of Casey, from an apparent heart attack, although it develops that the circumstances were suspicious. A helluva way to start a new job and that's only the beginning.

Casey's life is not without its own drama: Her boyfriend, Lou, who she'd known for over ten years, had moved in with her two months ago. 32 years old, she is the legal guardian of a 13-year-old girl, Summer, a "surly, self-absorbed teen," whose mother is incarcerated, serving a life sentence for 2nddegree murder.

Fraserview is somewhat shabby, with insufficient staff in the evenings, and is rumored to be on the verge of closing within the next several months. Casey is a criminology student and an experienced security officer, but finds herself challenged here when there is a second death and rumors of illegal activity, and is fearful that Justin may either involved, or in danger himself. There is no lack of suspects, and Casey feels it her duty to try to find out the truth, fearful for Justin's safety.

Casey is a very interesting protag, and though I had not read any of the prior entries in the series, the author fills in the background and the history of the characters, so that was not a problem, and I found the tale very absorbing.


Not My Father's Son
A Memoir
Alan Cumming
Dey St. Books
c/o HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062225078, $15.99, Paperback, 304 pp.

This wonderful memoir by the ultra-talented actor/performer/artist Alan Cumming is a candid look at his childhood growing up on an estate on the east coast of Scotland and the physically/mentally abusive father whose violence shaped (and nearly derailed) his life. His father was the head forester, and the laborious tasks that he set for his son were the least of his problems. The reader is startled to learn that "dealing with my father's violence was the beginning of my studies of acting." He learns to submerge his feelings, from his father (in order to spare himself from even worse beatings) and from himself as well. The book goes on to explore that period and the toll they take on him, as well as other family mysteries. He states "our family had always been one of secrets, of silence, of holding things in."

The chapters alternate between "Then" and "Now," the latter period starting in the Spring of 2010, when the author has already achieved a high level of fame and celebrity in film and stage displaying an extraordinary range, everything from playing a transvestite on film to introducing Masterpiece Mysteries on PBS television, the Emcee in Cabaret (the latter such a success that he is now playing the same iconic role in a revival on Broadway), as well as, in an entirely new production, "a man who is admitted to a psychiatric unit and then proceeds to act out the entire play of Macbeth," an unforgettable performance. Mr. Cumming also has done concerts in 2 of the most beautiful and sophisticated cabaret venues in all of Manhattan: the now-departed Feinstein's at the Regency, and the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center. At this moment, Mr. Cumming is preparing to do a solo act in the Cafe Carlyle, the present height of sophisticated cabaret in New York City, where I fully except he will have the audience in the palm of his hand.

But all of this takes a back seat to the central mysteries of the book: His relationship (such as it was) with his father, in the exploration of which he is joined by his older brother, and seeking the truth about his maternal grandfather, a celebrated WWII hero who disappeared in the Far East, when he agrees to participate in a popular celebrity genealogy show. The surprises come early and often, wringing much emotion and some tears from the author and, I suspect, many of his readers.

Mr. Cumming has described himself as "Scottish elf trapped inside middle-aged man's body," and the reader cannot but be completely charmed by this engaging man, and completely caught up in this often-disturbing tale, which is highly recommended.

Murder New York Style: Family Matters
Anita Page, Editor
Glenmere Press
26 Kings Ridge Rd., Warwick, NY 10990
9780990313922, $14.95, Paperback, 233 pp

As described on the title page, this is "A Mystery Anthology from the New York/TriState Chapter of Sisters in Crime," and is the third in the series. There are twenty authors represented here, and again the unifying theme is the various neighborhoods in and around New York City. Those encompass such diverse areas as Manhattan Beach and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn; Staten Island; Southampton in Long Island; Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side in Manhattan; Westchester County jut north of the city; and even one in New Jersey, among several other sections and towns in what is known as the "greater metropolitan area."

The tales run from eight to fourteen pages in length, and vary widely. I especially enjoyed Triss Stein's "Eldercare, which begins the book, and whose male protagonist lives with his mother, who is dealing with gradually worsening dementia, only making his problems with her and his lengthening bachelorhood all the more troublesome. Deirdre Verne's "Dead Last" has a 50yearold protagonist, Michael, who is still dealing with survivor's guilt in the aftermath of September 11th, when he had barely escaped the first tower. Catherine Maiorisi has another great entry in "Murder Italian Style," with NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli and her prototypical large Italian family, where nothing says love more than a humongous meal. Terrie Farley Moran's "Thanksgiving on the Throgs Neck Bridge" describes the opening of that connector which goes from Long Island and Queens to the Bronx, on that holiday which in 1961 marked the protagonist's 15th birthday; and Cynthia Benjamin's "Killing Short," features a Bernie Madoff-like character. And as I do all of her writings, I very much enjoyed Liz Zelvin's miniature addition to her wonderful "Death Will . . ." series, this one entitled "Death Will Fire Your Therapist," in a tale reminiscent of an actual murder case in New York in recent years. All in all, the anthology makes for interesting short bursts of reading, and is recommended.

The Skeleton Road
Val McDermid

In US:
Hardcover Dec., 2014, Atlantic Monthly, 404 pp., $25.00, ISBN: 9780802123091
Grove Atlantic, 841 Broadway, NY, NY 10003,

In UK:
Hardcover, Little, Brown, Dec. 2014, 416 pp., 18.99 BPS, ISBN 9781408704578
Paperback, Sphere, March 26, 2015, 464 pp., 7.99 BPS, ISBN 9780751551280
Little Brown UK, 100 Victoria Enbankment, London EC4Y 0DY,

In CA:
HarperCollins, Dec., 2014, Hardcover, 416 pp., 34.99 CA$, ISBN 9781443431293

The brief prologue of Val McDermid's newest book describes the brutal murder in Crete of a man whose throat is cut, the first of many killings, both old and new, described in this fascinating novel. The second one becomes evident when a skeleton is found on the roof of a building in Edinburgh that was about to be demolished. The case is assigned to DCI Karen Pirie and her second-in-command, DC Jason Murray, of the Historic Cases Unit (as cold cases in Police Scotland are called), aided by Karen's best friend, Dr. River Wilde, forensic anthropologist "the nearest thing Karen had to a best friend. Cursed by her hippie parents with a name nobody could take seriously, River had worked harder and smarter than any of her colleagues to earn respect beyond dispute.

We are soon introduced to Professor Maggie Blake, self-described geography professor at Oxford, turning 50 as the book opens and a distinguished academic, prolific author, beloved tutor and efficient snapper-up of research grants." Maggie is still trying to get past the fact that her significant other, a man she'd met in Dubrovnik in 1991 when he was 32, a retired Croatian general who was a NATO security advisor in Bosnia and a UN monitor in Kosovo, had gone of the grid and disappeared from her life eight years ago. She too has a best friend, Tessa Minogue, a lawyer "who dealt in the thorny moral dilemmas of human rights," involved in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The book's overriding theme is that the world was more complex than it was comfortable to admit, as this book makes clear in its own complexities. There is much here about the massacres in the Balkans in the later years of the 20th century. Maggie has written a book about the consequences of the siege of Dubrovnik, but is now working on the story of "how she came to be there [and] the convoluted journey that had led her to Kosovo with its massacres and rape camps." Interspersed through the tale are chapters of that work-in-progress. There are ongoing investigations of eleven instances of ICTFY targets being assassinated in what is believed to be someone's idea of vigilante justice, and all of the investigations of these murders, old or current, converge in a fascinating plot with great historical detail, leading up to a suspenseful and jaw-dropping denouement, and one which is recommended.

It Won't Always Be This Great
Peter Mehlman
Bancroft Press
P.O. Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21299945
9781610881357, $25.00, Hardcover, 340 pp.,

This is a first novel from a writer whose background includes longtime writing for the tv show "Seinfeld," which gives one an inkling of what will be found in its pages. Its plot is somewhat hard to describe, for it consists of a tale told by its protagonist, to a friend, the identity of whom is made known to the reader only very gradually. Suffice it to say that the latter has known since their college days at Baltimore University. The story he is relating (at what even he describes as being at a "ridiculously slow pace") is a series of events which took place the previous December and unfolded over a period of days, events triggered by a moment of rage on his part. To say the least, it is non-sequential, which can be seen by its chapter titles: "Friday, Then and Now," "Saturday Then," "Saturday Now," "Sunday Then," "Monday Then," "Sunday Now," and "Tuesday Then."

Our nameless protag is a podiatrist, now 51 years old, married for over 20 years to the former Alyse Epstein, from whom he grew up "fifteen miles and ten income tax brackets apart." They have 2 children, and live in a community on Long Island whose population is primarily Jewish. The kids go to "public school because I wanted my kids to meet a black person before they turned thirty." Those two things - the religious affiliation and the racial reference are important to the tale, but in a very funny way. The story itself is nearly impossible to sum up without spoilers; suffice it to say that it involves, among other things, cops, reporters, hate groups and the FBI.

This book was a welcome change of pace for this reader, after the more common fare of thrillers and suspense novels, and was an absolute delight. There are many laugh-out-loud moments, and I found myself still smiling several minutes after I'd put down the book for sundry necessary tasks, such as eating. But otherwise I didn't want to put it down at all. It is highly recommended.

One Kick
Chelsea Cain
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476749877, $7.99, Paperback, 400 pp

Having loved this author's earlier series featuring Det. Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell, I couldn't wait to read this book, the first in a new series, and I have to say it did not disappoint. Much as those earlier books, this one is not for the faint of heart, I must add. But it is terrific.

The protagonist is Kit ("Kick") Lannigan, a victim of child abduction/pedophilia, rescued ten years earlier when she was eleven years old in a slam-bang opening. She now obsesses over the rescue of other abducted children. A recent and mysterious ally in this quest is John Bishop, who appears in her life without much explanation other than that he was a former weapons dealer, and knows people in high and influential places. Kick, however, soon comes to think of him as "clearly some sort of unreliable psychopath."

Obviously still suffering from PTSD, among other things Kick keeps a list of self-destructive behavior she needed to work out, which she keeps in a "worry book" that is always with her. She has nothing but contempt for those, like her biological mother, who feed off her situation, having already written a book and made several TV appearances

The author, inspired by the horrific real-life tales of women like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, this fictionalized story of the horrors inflicted on such children induces true schadenfreude, where one is afraid to read further, but at the same time cannot turn the pages quickly enough. The one word used most often in the reviews of this novel is "compelling," and I cannot disagree.

Kick is truly lethal, trained as a marksman, lock picker, escape artist and bomb maker, has mastered martial arts, boxing and knife throwing. She prides herself in knowing four ways to kill someone with a jacket and "knew 573 ways to take someone to the ground with her left hand alone." When two youngsters are abducted in the same Washington State area within a three-week period, Kick, with Bishop's assistance, vows to find and rescue them before they are sold or killed, two of the likelier outcomes. The title derives from a Bruce Lee quote: "I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who practiced one kick 10,000 times."

Highly recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

The First Clash
Jim Lacey
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780553385755), $10.99, 272 pages,

The First Clash: The Miraculous Greek Victory at Marathon - And Its Impact on the Western Civilization is a great military analysis of the battle at Marathon and how the Persian and Greek militaries came about. Lacey follows the development of the Persian Empire before Marathon and how its military power developed. He also does a similar analysis of the Greeks.

The battle at Marathon happened so many years in the past that much of what happened there has to be pieced together from bias narrations and facts built from comparisons between details that are known and the realities of better documented events. Lacey doesn't have absolute proof for much of his analysis of the lead up to the war and the battle but he does make very convincing arguments about the logistics and military capabilities of the combatants.

Most of the books about Marathon and the Persians and Greeks have been done by historians searching through the written records, many of which were created many years after the fighting. Many of the ancient narrations were obviously exaggerated so the question becomes how to adjust the exaggerations into a more truthful description. Lacy does this by using his experience in the military and as a military historian to build into the story that the forces at Marathon were more evenly matched than what has been thought. The Greeks won by having a powerful force that was better lead and with the advantage of being on their own ground.

Lacy builds on the military history of Marathon to show that this was a key clash between the East and the West that set the military standards between the two cultures for the future. This is an interesting premise that opens up the East/West dissonance between civilizations as more than just expansion and contraction of cultures but of military staying power.

The biggest weakness in the book is that the actual battle of Marathon only takes a single chapter to narrate. With the multiple chapters leading up to the battle, this is a letdown. The book might have been better if it focused on the complete Persian/Greek conflict including the follow up invasion of Greece by Xerxes and the expulsion of the Persians from Europe.

The First Clash is an easy recommendation to anyone interested in history. It brings a fresh look at ancient history and conflict missing from the pure historical records.

Inca's Death Cave
Bradford Wheler
9780982253861 ebook price: $4.99, 394 pages

Inca's Death Cave is an unusually fun novel about modern archeology. Technology plays a huge role in archeology today and the novel is filled with technology. One of its key weaknesses is just a bit too much technology but the story does require the details to work.

Before I get into the real review about the ebook, I would like to point out that the formatting is specific for tablets. You will find a number of reviewers who might lambast the publisher for poor formatting but this isn't the case. The ebook uses many photos that won't translate well to an ereader so formatting the text specifically for tablet reading does make sense. Those using an ereader will lose a bit with the graphics and will have to adjust the font size because this is a function required to adjust a tablet formatted ebook to an ereader. As with all books produced by small presses there are a few minor editing errors but they are easily forgivable. Many books produced by the major publishers have more editing problems.

Cornell professor Robert Johnson and his PhD student Abby are hired by a multi-billionaire tech industry entrepreneur to follow the archeological clues he stumble across about a 500 year old Inca group rebelling against the Spanish control of their land. Archeology is the billionaire's hobby and the archeological expedition is a perfect way for him to test out his newest technologies.

The story has no real surprises. It is a tale about the field problems that archeologists have working in third world countries and navigating around criminals, local/international corruption and the problems of trying to pull together scattered clues from multiple sources to find ancient artifacts and what happened in the past. What is surprising is how well this story translates into a well-rounded and enjoyable novel that is well worth the price. It is an easy recommendation for those who like history and technology. It is also a solid light adventure read for someone wanting a book to relax with. The one thing that needs to be remembered is that the book is formatted for tablet reading. The book should still be a fun read on an ereader but to fully appreciate it a tablet would be preferable.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Joshua's Bookshelf

Winds of Change: Hurricanes and the Transformation of Nineteenth-Century Cuba
Louis A. Perez Jr.
University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
9780807849286, $25.55,

Even when Cuba might have had a rich past, filled with many economic gains, the island has suffered by disasters brought on by Mother Nature, as vividly described in Louis A. Perez Jr's book, Winds of Change: Hurricanes and the Transformation of Nineteenth-Century Cuba. Hurricanes have always been major problems for many nations located in the hot tropical regions of the Caribbean, but the few hurricanes that hit Cuba in the middle of the nineteenth-century would prove disastrous for the island, the national economy, and its people. As Perez Jr. describes it in his book, Winds of Change, the hurricanes of 1842, 1844, and 1846, were the most devastating to the island. Using information from a variety of sources, such as article pieces, headlines, historical research, and even some personal interviews with people who had relatives in the actual events, the author describes the atrocity that Mother Nature spilled on tiny Cuba in this century. These hurricanes not only damaged the property in many of Cuba's high-rising cities, which left many people homeless, and prevented Cuba from industrializing as fast as its European ancestors were, but the storms also left the island flooded multiple times, making the fresh fertile lands that were suitable for growing coffee and sugar non-existent and drowned in seawater. With no land, came the realization of no crops, unemployment levels soared, and the country was on the verge of destruction, as food and money became scarce. But every cloud has a silver lining, and in Winds of Change, it is clear that through these disasters, the Cubans rallied themselves together, prepared for future storms, and forged a united front of teamwork and nationalism.

Perez Jr. writes this book in order to give some light about the hurricanes from the past that wreaked havoc on Cuba. The general purpose of this book is to provide readers on some history they probably did not know about in the first place. Many people do not know about these hurricanes in the mid-nineteenth century, and if they do, they probably do not know how much damage the island took from them. Winds of Changes changes that by giving the reader detailed information on these terrible storms, and how they affected the Cuban society and economy. The reader can also know the reason why Cuba was so far behind industrializing in the late century, and why Cubans are very united today; their unity was founded and grew more apparent in storms like these. The author does not specifically say who the intended audience is through his introduction, but I presume the audience is anyone who is able to read. Perez Jr. has written this book that is filled with interesting episodes of history and facts; Winds of Change is very easy to understand, making the book a must read for historians or anyone who loves history, especially those who study Cuban history or hurricanes.

In Winds of Change, one of the themes Perez Jr. is trying to tackle is "never giving up." The Cubans had a rough colonial past, and with the mighty destruction of these hurricanes, it looked as if the country had lost all motivation to continue. But they didn't; after some re-adjusting, they got back on their feet, and learnt to stick together and never give up. The reader can sense some interpretations that the author is trying to discuss in this book. Perez Jr. is trying to dive into an area of unexplored history, tug at our heartstrings when discussing about the disasters, but also trying to lighten our spirits by explaining of the positive end results that occurred in the wake of the hurricanes.

Perez Jr. uses the third person point of view to tell his story, while the interviews are coming from first person accounts whom were eye witnesses to the devastating events. Perez Jr. gives a certain slant to his views in Winds of Change; he unveils a whole new subject that historians have not researched about yet. The destruction of economies and social structures from natural disasters is largely an undiscovered piece of history. The author gives hints that he is the first to discover this new territory, and makes the most of it, by inputting a lot of information and detail about events that were not previously researched before this time. This book is probably designed to have historians start researching on the "unknown" topics of natural disasters.

Winds of Change was a very interesting read; Louis A. Perez Jr. does a spellbinding job at explaining how Cuban nationalism came about on an island that has been devastated by so many natural disasters. And even when the citizens of that island have had unfortunate pasts with slavery, colonization, and storm destruction, the Cubans have risen against all odds, and have faced the devastation with a strong will. In Winds of Change, the reader can grasp the fact that through all negative consequences, several strong positive outcomes were brought about in the wake of the nineteenth-century hurricanes of Cuba.

On History's Trail
Light Townsend Cummins
Texas State Historical Association
1155 Union Circle #311580, Denton, TX 76203-5017
9781625110237, $30.00,

Dr. Light Townsend Cummins, Bryan Professor of History at Austin College, was the Texas State Historian from 2009-2012. Renowned for being one of the best professors in the nation (according to the Princeton Review, "300 Best Professors Nationwide" in 2012), and winning many accolades, including the Liz Carpenter Award in 2010 for his book, Emily Austin of Texas, 1795-1851, Light Cummins excels again in his latest book, On History's Trail. Adding to his vast collection of several authored books and scholarly articles, this new addition nicely fits into Cummins's expertise and subject matter of Texas history. On History's Trail contains twenty-nine speeches and other assorted essay compiled by Cummins during his tenure as the state historian. Not only does this book gives an inside look at how the state of Texas has progressed in its history, but also further develops and concretes the idea that, "Texas history is still alive and well today."

Cummins looks back at his journey across the state as the Texas State Historian, by giving us many of his speeches and scholarly journal articles to look at. Not only does he researches the likes of famous Texans, such as leader Emily Austin, sculptor Allie Tennant, and war hero Audie Murphy, he also goes further in depth of less known subjects such as Lee Simmons's role in the Bonnie and Clyde manhunt, and appearances of Bigfoot in Texas. Weaving into the history, he adds a few of his own comments and thoughts, as readers can get an idea of what it was like to be in his shoes touring the state between the years 2009-2012.

This book is a definite read for all historians out there, not just those who practically like or study Texas history. On History's Trail does display Texas history on the most part, but Cummins tries to incorporate events and people who also made an impact on American culture and ethics too. If you have had Light Cummins as a professor at Austin College, like me, or are one of the hundreds of people who have attended his lectures for the past forty years, I would suggest this book to all who want to know more from this great influential and philosophical senior historian. Your knowledge of history will grow, and your love towards Texas's remarkable in-depth past of darkness and light will flourish.

Joshua Chanin

Julie's Bookshelf

Fetch More Dollars For Your Dog Training Business
John D. Visconti
Dogwise Publishing
403 South Mission Street, Wenatchee WA 98801
9781617811593, $19.95, 120pp,

Synopsis: Dog trainers generally don't usually think of themselves as salespeople. Many in fact recoil at the very thought of being an entrepreneur! However, when you define selling as the process of communicating the benefits that your services can provide to owners and their dogs, you realize that you must be an effective salesperson to have a successful business. Author John Visconti takes the mystery and fear out of the selling process in "Fetch More Dollars for Your Dog Training Business".

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Fetch More Dollars for Your Dog Training Business" should be considered a "must read" instruction guide for anyone engaged in the profession of training other people's canine companions. Thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end, "Fetch More Dollars for Your Dog Training Business" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, and community library instructional reference collections.

Goddess Calling
Karen Tate
Changemakers Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781782794424, $16.95, 210pp,

Synopsis: In ever-increasing numbers, women and men are seeking spirituality beyond traditional religious institutions and more and more their new normal includes the deities, ideals and archetypes of the Sacred Feminine. They have a desire to get beyond the patriarchal dogma that often perpetuates sexism, homophobia and the domination of Gaia and all her inhabitants, including the body of Mother Earth. "Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages & Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Theology" is designed to give individuals or those desiring to serve their communities a springboard to offer "sermons from the pulpit" with ideas to create a format for a regular gathering or service. Easy to digest and sometimes gently following the seasons of the year and holidays already on most people's calendars, these messages and meditations use Goddess archetypes, ideals and mythology to provide content for education, inspiration and contemplation for anyone seeking to incorporate a feminine face of God within their spirituality, no matter what their faith.

Critique: Exceptional and impressive, "Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages & Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Theology" is insightful, thoughtful, and informative. Organized and presented in three major sections: The Politics of Eco-Feminist Goddess Spirituality -- A Theology for a Sustainable Future; 20 Messages; 12 Meditations; and concluding with a fourth section comprised of Suggested Readings; Songs and Music; We Call a Sound to Freedom; Our Mothers Within Us), "Goddess Calling" is enhanced further with a five page list of References and an eighteen page Index. Also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99), "Goddess Calling" is highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections.

Good Neighbours
Beth Hersant
Troubador Publishing
9 Priory Business Park, Wistow Road
Kibworth, Leicester, LE8 0RX, UK
9781784622251, $17.99,

Synopsis: Exploring the forgotten tales of our ancestors, "Good Neighbours" by Beth Hersant combines folklore, myth and theology to add a new dimension to the famous historical tales of Great Britain. Touching upon legend as well as facts, "Good Neighbors" is an informative novel that sheds light on how things came to be. An epic journey through the ages, "Good Neighbours" begins with the fascinating past of the British population, beginning at the Neolithic era in 7000 BC and spanning more than nine thousand years, down to the modern day. The Iron Age, Saxon Invasion and the Normans are just a few of the wide array of topics covered in this unique saga. Delving into the violent periods of British history, "Good Neighbours" has a depth of plot and character that will prove a compelling read for fans of both history and fantasy fiction. "Good Neighbours" provides an action-packed account of both the famous and forgotten aspects of British history, including those that are often omitted from museum displays and conventional accounts. In doing so, it crafts a history of Britain unlike any other.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, researched, and presented, Beth Hersant's "Good Neighbors" is an inherently fascinating and entertaining read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Good Neighbours" is also available in a Kindle edition ($4.99).

Every Gift Matters
Carrie Morgridge
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
Cave Henricks Communications
9781626341821, $19.95, 184pp,

Synopsis: Charitable giving is on the rise in America. Despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession, Americans continue to give generously of their time, talent, and money more than $335 billion in 2013, a 4.4% increase from 2011. What's more, the bulk of that charitable giving 72% came not from large foundations or corporations, but from individuals making small gifts. For those with passion for a cause and a generous spirit, it's vitally important that they leverage their gift in the right way in order to have the greatest impact possible. In "Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World", author Carrie Morgridge shares inspiring stories of powerful gifts in action showing readers how to turn the act of giving into a vehicle for positive change. Drawing on 15 years of experience supporting causes that align with her passions through gifts, Carrie Morgridge demonstrates how a smart strategy, high expectations, a deep network, and hands-on personal involvement will ensure that one's gift is compounded over time to have the biggest impact possible. Through her role as Vice President of The Morgridge Family Foundation, Carrie Morgridge has learned what works and what doesn't when it comes to giving. She argues that in order to ensure meaningful and lasting change, a gift must be more than simply a grant of money. The giver must assess whether the program is the right fit, work hand-in-hand with the key leaders on strategy, develop a plan for making the endeavor sustainable, and ensure that their gift can be leveraged to have a bigger impact on the community. By sharing real-life stories of how this hands-on approach to giving has transformed lives including her own Carrie Morgridge inspires others to believe that they can also make a difference in their community, no matter the size of their gift.

Critique: An extraordinary and highly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections, "Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking -- as well as more than a little inspiring! "Every Gift Matters" is even more impressive when realizing that it is Carrie Morgridge's debut as an author. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Every Gift Matters" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Conflicting Webs
Darlene Quinn
Greenleaf Book Group Press
PO Box 91869, Austin, TX 78709
Cave Henricks Communications
9781626341463, $24.95, 648pp,

Synopsis: Wedding bells are set to ring. April Toddman, the darling of the Jordon's retail dynasty, feels blessed. Her handsome, amiable fiance, Kyle Clark, is passionate and shares her dreams. No couple could ask for a more promising future. And yet, just days before they are to exchange their marriage vows, their perfect world begins to crumble. Fate steps in and puts April and Kyle to the test. Will they successfully thread their way through the conflicting webs to secure their happiness? With unfamiliar ground beneath their feet, April and Kyle must confront an unrelenting tsunami of obligations: to other -- to their budding careers and to themselves.

Critique: "Conflicting Webs" by Darlene Quinn continues the Toddman-Taylor saga, taking it in a new direction as it explores love and loss, career and family, forgiveness and redemption. Fast-paced chapters propel unforgettable characters through the turmoil of overlapping and often conflicting commitments. Exceptionally well written and a solid entertainment from beginning to end, "Conflicting Webs" is a terrific read and would make an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Conflicting Webs" is also available in a paperback edition (X), in a Kindle format (9781626342323, $14.95), and as an audio edition ($21.83).

The Next Story
Tim Challies
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
Karen Campbell Media
9780310515050, $14.99, 224pp,

Synopsis: Even the least technical among us are being pressed from all sides by advances in digital technology. We rely upon computers, cell phones, and the Internet for communication, commerce, and entertainment. Yet even though we live in this "instant message" culture, many of us feel disconnected, and we question if all this technology is really good for our souls? In a manner that's accessible, thoughtful, and biblical, author Tim Challies addresses questions in "The Next Story" such as: How has life (and faith) changed now that everyone is available all the time through mobile phones?; How does our constant connection to these digital devices affect our families and our church communities?; What does it mean that almost two billion humans are connected by the Internet ... with hundreds of millions more coming online each year? Providing the reader with a framework they can apply to any technology, Tim Challies explains how and why our society has become reliant on digital technology, what it means for our lives, and how it impacts the Christian faith.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented for the non-specialist general Christian reader, "The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World" is an informative, thoughtful, and inherently fascinating read that is very highly recommended to all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliation. It should be noted that "The Next Story: Faith, Friends, Family, and the Digital World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Queen's Play
Aashish Kaul
Roundfire Books
c/o National Book Network
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781782798613, $13.95, 142pp,

Synopsis: In the second age of the world, a time of prehistory, a time of myth, Mandodari, queen of the demon king Ravana, invents chess to carve out a role for herself in a world where male, martial virtues are paramount. As a chess player, she can play at warfare; as queen, she can be the most potent warrior on the battlefield. "The Queen's Play" writes the origin of chess into the narrative cycles of the Ramayana, one of the two formative epics of ancient India. The cursory mention of a chess-like game in the Ramayana lore offers interesting parallels and openings between the game and the themes of the epic poem. At the centre of it is a queen, first entering and then growing from strength to strength to become the most powerful piece on the board, inventing a game which closely parallels the epic battle taking place not far from the royal palace, a battle which she is not permitted to join, a battle where she will lose her king. Foregrounding certain episodes from the vast tapestry of the epic, "The Queen's Play" develops new narrative variations that feed back into the classical text with freshly imagined material.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, highly originally, inherently fascinating, "The Queen's Play" is a riveting novel that is strongly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Queen's Play" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.82).

Upsidedown & Backwards
Annette Rawlings
Privately Published
9780692298718, $49.50, 218pp,

Synopsis: A child of the 60"s, artist Annette Rawlings associated with many of the actors, rock stars, writers and innovators who changed the course of American culture including such luminaries as David Crosby, Patti Smith, Tennessee Williams and Timothy Leary -- just to name a few. Through experiences with these and other prominent people, Annette became caught up in a creative wave that was greatly influenced by the colors and cultural atmosphere of Miami. The culmination of this creativity is seen in her art and elucidated in "Upsidedown & Backwards". Her art reflects such experiences as spending a year in the jungles of Central America and living a year at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Readers will share the anguish and joys as well as the simplicity and complexity that are portrayed in her art, which has been displayed in such places as the Miami Art Museum, Art Basel, Virginia Miller Galleries and the Louvre in Paris.

Critique: Featuring flawless production values, "Upsidedown & Backwards" represents an impressive body of work enhanced with an informative commentary. With its 'coffee table' style format, "Upsidedown & Backwards" will prove to be a valued addition for community and academic library Contemporary American Art collections. "Upsidedown & Backwards" is exceptional and even a bit nostalgic for a time past. It should be noted that "Upsidedown & Backwards" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Manhattan Mayhem
Mary Higgins Clark, editor
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106

Synopsis: Best-selling suspense novelist Mary Higgins Clark invites mystery fans on a tour of Manhattan's most iconic neighborhoods in this anthology of all-new stories from the Mystery Writers of America. From the Flatiron District (Lee Child) and Greenwich Village (Jeffery Deaver) to Little Italy (T. Jefferson Parker) and Chinatown (S.J. Rozan), mystery enthusiasts will encounter crimes, mysteries, and riddles large and small. Illustrated with iconic photography of New York City and packaged in a handsome hardcover, "Manhattan Mayhem: New Crime Stories from Mystery Writers of America" is a delightful read for armchair detectives and armchair travelers alike!

Critique: An outstanding anthology from beginning to end, "Manhattan Mayhem: New Crime Stories from Mystery Writers of America" is and extraordinary and highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Manhattan Mayhem" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99), as well as in an unabridged audio book format ($20.20) and as an MP3 CD ($17.63).

From Fake To Forever
Kat Cantrell
Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
Meryl L. Moss Media Relations
9780373733835, $5.25, 192pp,

Synopsis: After one night of tequila and sex, their impromptu Vegas wedding shouldn't be valid. But Meredith Chandler-Harris just discovered she's still tied to irresistible businessman Jason Lynhurst. She needs out of their marriage, but to become his company's new CEO, he needs her as a bride. Let the newlywed games begin.

Critique: "From Fake To Forever" by Kat Cantrell is a splendidly entertaining read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for contemporary romance fans, "From Fake To Forever" will leave her readers looking eagerly toward author Kat Cantrell's next foray into romance fiction! It should be noted that "From Fake To Forever" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Visiting The Sins
Melanie Denman
Word Association Publishers
205 Fifth Avenue, Tarentum, PA 15084
Author Marketing Experts
9781595719263, $16.95, 263pp,

Synopsis: In "Visiting The Sines", author Melanie Denman probes the silent sacrifices of motherhood with unflinching honesty and warmhearted amusement. Set in the Bible Belt of Deep East Texas, Visiting the Sins is a darkly funny story about mothers and daughters, naked ambition, elusive redemption, and all the torment it s possible to inflict in the name of family. Down through the decades, the lofty social aspirations of the feisty but perennially dissatisfied Wheeler women Pokey, the love-starved, pistol-packing matriarch; Rebanelle, the frosty former beauty queen turned church organist; and Curtis Jean, the backsliding gospel singer are exceeded only by their unfortunate taste in men and a seemingly boundless capacity for holding grudges. A legacy of feuding and scandal lurches from one generation to the next with tragic consequences that threaten to destroy everything the Wheeler women have sacrificed their souls to build.

Critique: "Visiting The Sins" is an extraordinarily entertaining debut novel that clearly documents author Melanie Denman as an impressively talented and original storyteller of the first order. Solidly engaging and entertaining from beginning to end, "Visiting The Sins" is highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Visiting The Sins" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Julie Summers

Karyn's Bookshelf

Red Butterfly
A.L. Sonnichsen, author
Amy June Bates, illustrator
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781481411097, $16.99,

An 11-year-old Chinese girl's world is upended when the truth about her pseudo-adoptive American mother comes to light, in this powerful story about accepting change and connecting with others.

Raised by an American expatriate in China after being abandoned as an infant, Kara begins to question their reclusive life; she is schooled at home, and her "Mama" rarely leaves their small apartment.

Answers quickly come when a medical emergency draws the attention of Chinese authorities, and Kara is removed from the only home she's ever known.

Her subsequent struggles, in an orphanage and then with a new American family, and confusion and anger over the sudden turns in her life, often take a tortuous, early adolescent path. But that which does not kill us makes us stronger, and Kara is forced over and over to demonstrate the depth of her strength, growing each time. Among the opportunities for growth is, during her orphanage stay, a memorable chance to make life better for some severely disabled, unadoptable children.

The narrative, written in verse, flows shorter or longer depending on the scene, underscoring the story's often emotionally turbulent ups and downs. The verse also allows a bit more freedom than prose to eloquently say what is on Kara's mind.

Amy June Bates' fine, black and white illustrations - punctuated in red on the cover -- further draw you in, if that's possible with writing that well-accomplishes that on its own.
An inner look at the other side of a cultural divide that many Americans only see one persepective of, in adopted Chinese children who are raised in the states. Fresh and honest, with an unforgettable, strong, yet also humanly vulnerable young heroine.

Linda Vigen Phillips, author
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
c/o Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
2140 Oak Industrial Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49505
9780802854377, $9.00,

A teenaged girl struggles to understand her mother's mental illness, while coping with the ups and downs of high school, in this weighty novel, written in verse, about summoning the courage to ask hard questions that have no good answers.

Laura is fifteen, growing up in early 1960s rural Tennessee. There are normal elements to her life - she babysits, goes to sleepovers with best friends, stresses about school projects, and has caught the eye of a boy. But at home, life is anything but normal.

In-between periodic stays at the state mental hospital, her mother is wildly unpredictable, some days seeming fine, some days frantically energetic, and some days slumped in her rocking chair, unresponsive and glaze-eyed.

"After weeks and weeks of blah nothingness I now have a mother with enough energy to power the city of Crawford Hills," Laura writes. "Suddenly she has transformed from sitting listlessly in her chair to constantly moving, fidgeting, pacing, talking to herself and painting, painting, painting wild, scary-looking pictures."

It's not the speech she is slated to give on her church confirmation day that has Laura worried; it's her mother's presence.

"How am I supposed to concentrate on my speech when I have to worry about whether she will decide to slump over in the pew or stand up and babble?"

Laura's older, married sister and father deal with the situation day-to-day, but no one wants to actually sit down and talk about what's happening - or express their feelings about it.

Laura and her family walk a thin line, hoping that a new pill prescription, the latest shock treatment, or latest hospitalization will finally make life "normal." But her mother has been like this her whole adult life. The family's hope is repeatedly, and literally, shattered.

In the wake of a violent episode, Laura finally begins to demand answers and information from the adults around her. Ultimately, she begins to understand that no one is going to fix her mother - and that she has to figure out how to live her life as-is, with all its wrenching imperfections.

The situation spurs Laura to question other things in her life, including religion and whether to put her love of painting on a back burner and to pursue a new-found interest in pottery. Those decisions help bring new people into her life, in whom she has to decide to trust enough to share her story.

Crazy could only get its rich authenticity from an author who's been there, and Phillips acknowledges that bipolar disorder runs in her real-life family. Well-placed pop-culture and historical references also authentically place the story in the early 1960s. Yet, modern teens will easily relate to Laura's timeless personal journey.

Crazy opens the floodgate one more notch on a topic that, while better understood than in the 1960s, remains hindered by misconception, judgement, and stereotypes. It is raw and beautiful, unapologetically real, and forever relevant.

Jim's Lion
Russell Hoban, author
Alexis Deacon, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763665173, $15.99,

Illustrator Alexis Deacon beautifully updates a 2001 picture book about the fears of an acutely ill child, making it relevant to older readers, up to middle grade.

Russell Hoban's story remains the same, about a hospitalized boy named Jim who is afraid that when his doctors put him to sleep prior to surgery "they might send me somewhere that I can't get back from." A sympathetic nurse helps him to connect those fears to dreams he's having about a terrifying lion, and to understand how that lion can help him get through what's ahead.
It's in the illustrations that the story grows up. Deacon turns it into a graphic novel in which Jim's range of emotions are richly depicted in vivid dream sequences. Fear about doctors cutting into him - and not being able to wake up afterward -- become a series of dreams that begin as he's cut in two as part of a magic show. He goes on to experience things a bit more intensely than in the picture book version, with explosions, dark nights, frantic clawing up crumbling cliffs, twisted mazes, weird experiments, terrifying creatures with sharp teeth - and a lion who saves him from the abyss. All metaphors for the life struggle he's in.

Sometimes, the graphic sequences are paired with text. But often, the story progresses through illustration-only stretches. At those points, readers are forced to carefully study the graphic panels, if they are to understand where things are heading.

That required depth of study will open readers to the richness of this update. Perfectly new.

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

Katherine's Bookshelf

Tovi the Penguin Goes to London
Janina Rossiter
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
410 Terry Ave N. Seattle, Washington 98109-5210
B00U48LOD0, $3.00,

Tovi and his friends want to get out of the rain. Smart penguins. The decision to go to London does not get them out of the rain, but it does take them on another adventure. Janina Rossiter, does a fantastic job as the author and illustrator of Tovi, the Penguin Goes to London. The illustrations are so indicative of "foggy London town" with its gray and blue colors. The written depiction of the rain and the places and things they see paint a picture perfect for a young child's mind. The two things combine to put your child into the Tovi and friends adventure with her descriptions and her great illustrations of the well-known places from the red bus to the Tower Bridge.

Children will love to pour (pun intended) through the pages looking for so many wonderful discoveries - especially the little ladybug who accompanies them on their trip. You will love the look of delight on your children's face as they discover more and more exciting things on each page, from the always present ladybug to the little earthworm.

Learning about a new city is not the only experience that Ms. Rossiter has in store for her excited readers - they also learn about the culture (transportation, tea, a little history and friendship. Another satisfying ending to another great book in the series.

Janina Rossiter loves three things: design, France and her little family.
She has lived in Germany, England and now France. From her background in design and illustration and the arrival of her daughter, the natural progression was to become an illustrator and writer for children. Be sure to watch her, she will become a force in children's literature.

Teddy T-Rex in The Dinosaur's New Shoes
James S. Martinez
Helping Tales Publishers
940 Highgate Drive, Lewisville, TX 75067
9780989428224, $17.99,

James S. Martinez has written a delightful book, The Dinosaur's New Shoes, which will instill compassion, friendship and how to confront a bully into your discussions with your children. The rhyming lyrics are accompanied by vivid, colorful illustrations by the very talented Timothy T. Civick. The dinosaur theme they use is perfect, since all children love dinosaurs. I think Teddy will become a household favorite children will love to emulate. This book needs a very special place in your child's library.

In Mr. Martinez's story, Teddy is on his way to the first day of school. He is excited to be able to show his new shoes to his friends. They are very excited for him. Then they meet a new boy who has old shoes. The new boy is teased by Bruno the Bully.

Teddy confronts Bruno:

"Teddy told Bruno,
"Being a bully is not cool.
You made him feel bad,
And made him cry, that was cruel!""

You will love reading this book to your children as Mr. Martinez tells how to handle a bully. It will help you discuss how to handle a bully with your child and it shows the way to become friends with someone who has been hurt by a bully.

The author provides lists to help recognize bullies and who might be bullied. He also offers a list of sites where you and your children can learn more about bullying.

You can help charities by buying books from Helping Tales Publishers as a part of each book sold is donated to charities that help those in need.

James S. Martinez was born in Puerto Rico. He attended Kent State University and was awarded an MS in Biomedical Sciences in 2001. Through Helping Tales Publishers, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Civick are committed to making reading have a positive impact on the world by "helping those in need, one story at a time".

Other books from Helping Tales Publishers include:

Patches Awesome Day
Un Maravilloso Dia Con Patches (Spanish Edition)
Diamonds in the Ruff
The Most Incredible Journey: A Pibble's Path
The Final Pet Stop

Katherine Boyer

Kelly's Bookshelf

The Age of Miracles
Karen Thompson Walker
Random House Trade Paperbacks
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812982947, $15.00,

A year or two ago, a colleague recommended The Age of Miracles during one of our brief though always pleasant encounters. We worked in different departments so our paths seldom crossed; yet, when we did enjoy a few moments of smalltalk, I found myself noticeably energized and even a bit inspired. With a smile that reached her eyes, Christine was simply one of those people to whom everyone, including myself, was drawn. Since the day of that particular conversation, I had occasionally thought to check out the book but somehow ended up sidetracked by other titles on my list; yet, just last week, several copies appeared directly before me on the "Too Good to Miss" shelf at the local library. There was no denying it -- the time was ripe. Although Christine has since moved to the other side of the state, her influence remains. Her recommendation provided an experience that touched me deeply even though she, herself, has moved on.

As The Age of Miracles opens, the earth's rotation has begun to slow, though many have yet to notice. It isn't the type of event that can be felt at first; however, just as anything that happens gradually tends to accumulate impact, the "slowing" changes the lives of Julia, her family, her neighbors and the world in a manner such that little will ever again be the same. Not only does the slowing make the length of each day unpredictable, creating a misalignment between what comes to be known as clock time and real time, but species grow extinct, the food supply dwindles and the ice caps melt. Reports speak of changes to the earth's gravitational pull and electromagnetic field. Though not addressed in the news, human behavior is affected as well. Inexplicably, best friends distance and the loyal betray.

"After the slowing, every action required a little more force than it used to," Julia writes. "The physics had changed. Take, for example, the slightly increased drag of a hand on a knife or a finger on a trigger. From then on, we all had a little more time to decide what not to do. And who knows how fast a second-guess can travel? Who has ever measured the exact speed of regret? But the new gravity was not enough to overcome the pull of certain other forces, more powerful, less known -- no law of physics can account for desire."

While around the globe people wonder if the slowing is indicative of the end times, Julia is faced with the additional task of navigating the sixth grade, laden with a myriad of challenges in itself. In either instance, what is to be done but recognize that what was is no longer? Just as one must not count on the sunrise or the familiarity of the twenty-four hour day, so must Julia adjust to the reality that the rules that governed her childhood no longer apply. The landscape is unfamiliar; yet, yearning for what is no more cannot bring the past into the present.

From the first page to the last, I found myself so enraptured by Julia's account that a glance through my living room window took on an air of the ominous after having lost myself in several chapters. The changes taking place around her were so vividly described that I could easily envision the earthworms sizzling on patios in times of extended sunlight and the flesh of avocados turning black from the frost that accumulated in the darkness. I found that, even upon gazing upon the bluest of skies, it took a moment to orient myself to the time of day, not to mention the dangers that may or may not have been lurking.

Julia's inner-landscape as well proved so very familiar as she shared her feelings of loneliness, abandonment and betrayal. Though a good thirty years have come and gone since my middle school days, the memories couldn't possibly be fresher. Can anything disarm us as completely as a first love can? Aren't we all a little unsure of who we can really trust? Regardless of the man or woman we fashion ourselves to be as we venture out into our adult world, it's my belief that somewhere within us all, that vulnerable child remains.

This being said, we all emerge from our experiences somehow changed, and Julia is no exception. "'You used to be much braver, you know,' said my father as he started the engine. 'You really did.' ... And he was right: I had grown into a worrier, a girl on constant guard for catastrophes large and small, for the disappointments I now sensed were hidden all around us right in plain sight." Perhaps it's to be considered a part of growing up or coming into one's own, but even this by definition entails some loss of innocence.

What I found most remarkable, however, was the way in which the author was able to use such a far-reaching catastrophe to illustrate our resilience and ability to carry on in spite of our doubts and fears. Rather than idealizing a blind faith or unwavering courage, Walker offers us a tale that illustrates the vital importance of acceptance and the letting go of the past to which we cling. Indeed, it is a lesson we've all heard but may not have fully embraced for little could be more daunting than to admit that, whether it be a natural disaster, the cusp of adolescence or the absence of a treasured colleague, we simply aren't in control of the outcome.

Looking at Mindfulness: Twenty-Five Ways to Live in the Moment through Art
Christophe Andre
Blue Rider Press
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399175633, $27.95,

In the many years that I have studied and practiced mindfulness, I have come upon more books on the subject than I could possibly count. Virtually all of them have proven informative, inspiring and enlightening; however, none have come close to touching me in the manner that Christophe Andre has through his recently translated work, Looking at Mindfulness: Twenty-Five Ways to Live in the Moment through Art, which just so happens to be a work of art in itself. Offering a viewing of paintings by artists from Monet to Magritte through the crystal-clear lens of mindfulness, the book is beautiful to behold; yet, it is the unexpected poetry of Andre's insights that left me awestruck.

Although I naturally found myself with a greater appreciation for some artworks over others, I couldn't help but to wonder if, in the creation of the book, Andre sought out a piece to illustrate each teaching or if the piece brought the particular teaching to mind, for the art and the text merged with a sense of utter effortlessness. All the while, my pesky tendency to discriminate between the pieces to which I was drawn and those to which I was adverse in itself gave me pause. One of my most eye-opening moments took place in the chapter entitled "Move Forward, Even When You are Hurt," which explores Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth. Although I came to the painting with a dislike for it aesthetically, the circumstances depicted moved me deeply and provided the context I needed to ensure understanding.

The text, translated by Trista Selous from the original French, is written so beautifully that Andre's teachings virtually cascade from the page, leaving the reader's consciousness awash in an expanded awareness. Indeed, I found his explanations to breathe new life into the tenets of mindfulness, which have been repeated so often in a soothing monotone within workshops, meditation centers and wellness programs that they have sadly assumed the banality of a cliche. The way in which Andre uses words to help the reader cultivate the ability to experience the moment beyond words is nothing less than masterful. While offering basic instructions on topics such as how to be fully present, observe one's thoughts and accept the moment as it is, that are sure to prove meaningful for the beginner, Andre also shares his wisdom as it pertains to the challenges encountered by the most experienced practitioner.

In fact, the section entitled, "Passing through Storms: The Present Moment as a Refuge" served as the most meaningful to me, having endured some pretty hefty trauma in recent years; and, Andre's perspective on the handling of acute suffering, no doubt influenced by his work as a psychiatrist, is truly the most enlightened I have encountered to date. Whereas many mindfulness instructors without a mental health background encourage their students to "sit with their suffering" to the detriment of their overall well-being, Andre encourages his reader to honor her own inner-wisdom. Indeed, sometimes merely surviving the moment is all one dares to ask.

I recommend this beautiful collection of art and wisdom for anyone open to a more nuanced understanding of mindfulness. As beautiful as it is, Looking at Mindfulness is far more than a coffee table book, intended for casual perusal; rather, it holds eloquent and insightful explanations that are meant to be read, shared and put into practice. I have no doubt that this book will often find its way into my contemplative time as witnessed by the occasional bent corner or tear-smudged page.

Kelly Bodoh

Kevin's Bookshelf

Beyond a Mother's Worst Nightmare
Karen Chaston
Kazand Investments Pty Ltd.
9780994175311, $27.00,

"Conscience is no more than the dead speaking to us." - Jim Carroll

Author Karen Chaston's book "Beyond a Mother's Worst Nightmare: Allowing yourself to live and love again after a death of a child" is an autobiographical memoir of sorts. It chronicles the author's recuperation after the untimely death of her son. In this inspiring account, she shares the details of her journey dealing with her loss and the way she learnt to cope with it. This love filled offering is bound to help others dealing with a similar tragedy to overcome their pain and keep the memory of their loved ones alive forever.

While many may not be able to imagine what it feels like to lose a child, you will still admire and appreciate the bravery and the brazenness of the author in portraying such honest emotions while sharing such personal and heartfelt stories. You will chuckle and cry with her as you undertake this journey with her. This book is bound to calm your mind and make you re-evaluate your priorities and the chores you do on a day-to-day basis. It's such a well written and clean book that you really ought to offer this book to others after you're done reading it, to let them know that they are not alone in this tragedy.

An oft repeated theme of this book has been to pay closer attention to the voice inside you, call it your subconscious mind or your intuition, following its advice can only lead to good. Another recurring thought is that - each and every one of us has the same ending to our story and we're all here only for a short while, so we should make the best use of that time and do what our heart really wishes for.

The end of each chapter has a section called the contemplation section, where the reader is advised to pen down their own thoughts and reflect on the theme discussed in each chapter. I thought this was a good touch because it makes the book highly interactive too. The photographs in this book offer a small and yet significant peek into the life of an individual (Dan) and what that person stood for and what he meant to these group of people (friends & family).

The author, Karen does a great job of telling a personal story, detailing what it's like to lose a child in such an unfortunate manner. You will be transported into a different reality and you will become part of her family and get a good sense of what she and her family went through. You will also come away highly impressed by reading about the author's moments of hope and optimism in the midst of this tragedy.

Beyond a Mother's Worst Nightmare is a well written non-fiction book that offers plenty of hope and helps you speedup the healing process

A Journey To Becoming Your Own Best Friend: A Woman's Guide To Getting Out of Her Own Way
Karen Chaston
Kazand Investments Pty Ltd.
9780994175304, $29.97,

"The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud." - Coco Chanel

Author Karen Chaston's book 'A Journey To Becoming Your Own Best Friend' helps you in discovering your one all season friend, i.e. you. Women have historically put other people's interest before her own, especially if they are someone she cares about. But this sort of behavior often has a detrimental effect on the woman's physical and emotional growth. Karen shows us how through simple actions and determined decisions, one can bring about monumental changes to one's life.

Many women don't listen to their inner self or follow their conscience because of societal pressure and norms. And when they don't travel on their destined life path, material success may come their way but true happiness will always be at an arm's length away. That is why all women should read this book, it encourages them to stop playing second fiddle and take control and thereby cultivate a happier, fulfilled and inspiring attitude towards life.

It's not a how-to book that lists the wrongs with you and then gives you the steps to correct it. It gently nudges you to take a closer look at your day-to-day life and observe within these patterns of everyday life the small changes you can make to bring a whole level of difference to your life. The core and often repeated message of this book is that it urges women to take charge of their lives by not trying to please everyone all the time. The book is intended not only to provide inspiration but also to bolster self-confidence and self-esteem in women, so that they can stop feeling sorry for themselves and stop playing the victim and take charge of their own destiny.

Karen Chaston has a lovely narrative voice that is down to earth, friendly and resembles advice coming from close family. She is both witty and articulate when the passage demands of her and each chapter gives clear and concise instructions on how to deal with a particular problem. Following the writings and simple meditations that the author offers, you will be able to endure the difficult time of getting to know your 'self' better and build up the courage to go out and empower yourself. This is not a read-it-in-a-single-go book, although you can (and it's hard not to) read it cover to cover, you should ideally keep it by the bedside table and read a couple of passages every morning before you begin your day.

The author has spent quite a number of years coming up with the thoughts and feelings shared in this book, to share her knowledge with the rest of the world. Now it's up to everyone reading this book to take forward from where this book ends and carve out their own individual life paths to success and happiness.

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

Linda's Bookshelf

Dry Bones
Craig Johnson
Viking Press
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014 books
9780525426936, $27.95 Hardcover, 320 pages,

"Dry Bones" is the latest in wordsmith Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series of novels and short stories and certain to be a fan favorite. It is a mesmerizing, action-packed, tightly plotted Western mystery replete with dangers and lightened with his characteristic humor. The worthy Sheriff is thrust into a murder investigation that initially appears to be an accidental drowning of rancher Danny Lone Elk. Danny's death is linked to the discovery of the largest, most intact T-Rex skeleton found on his land. As Walt is drawn deeper into a perilous situation, he also faces the potential wrath of his daughter Cady who is bringing her five month old daughter Lola home to Wyoming for a visit. Walt must outfit his home to accommodate an infant's every need while solving a crime. It's an enthralling book that is hard to put down until the last page is read.

Best- selling, award winning author Craig Johnson clad in his ubiquitous, Amish cobbler custom made cowboy boots and hat has strode into the Warren County Public Library in Bowling Green, Kentucky on two occasions in 2013 and more recently in March, 2015, to greet his readers and fans of the televised drama Longmire. Johnson is not as imposing physically as his fictional creation, the larger than life, broad-shouldered, muscular Sheriff Walt Longmire who stands 6'5" and weighs 255 pounds, but is at least as fascinating a character. It may surprise some to know that Craig Johnson is a native West Virginian, born and reared in Huntington, and educated at Marshall and Temple Universities with degrees in English and Creative Writing. He was familiar with the western United States from regular trips with his parents to visit distant relatives in Montana and New Mexico. Johnson's introduction to Ucross, WY, population twenty-five, came decades ago when he arrived to deliver a load of horses from a rancher in Butte to find that the buyer had been delayed. According to an article in the Caspar Star-Tribune, he secured water and hay for the horses from area ranchers, slept under the stars atop the horse trailer for several nights and became acquainted with the area which provides the setting and inspiration for his novels. Craig has resided in rural northern Wyoming for half of his 53 years on land he purchased as a young man. He and his wife Judy live in a well-outfitted log cabin on 260 acres outside of Ucross at the foothills of Big Horn Mountains near the larger city of Sheridan. Johnson carefully hand built their home, barn and horse corrals by himself using locally grown timber.

The same meticulous attention to detail is adhered to in the crafting, rewriting and polishing of his literate, western themed crime thrillers that deftly combine crime with wry humor. He raised two daughters and waited to acquire some character building reality grounded life experiences that included truck driving, rodeo riding, a stint in law enforcement with the park police in NYC's Central Park and taught college classes before devoting full time to writing. His first novel, "The Cold Dish", published in 2004 after he had turned forty-three, was years in the making with numerous rewrites and research about law enforcement and rural police procedurals The author intended it to be a stand-alone novel. Fortunately for his growing legion of fans, his prestigious publishing house, Viking Penguin, lauded as leading publishers of world renowned literary classics and not for murder mysteries, wanted a commitment for a series. It takes time to form bonds and develop deep relationships whether in real life or with fictional characters. With a series, a reader gets to know and deeply connect with the protagonist and in the case of the Longmire series with his friends, associates and family as well. We were introduced in "The Cold Dish" to the strong personalities of widower Sheriff Walt Longmire, his lifelong friend, Henry Standing Bear aka "The Cheyenne Nation" who owns a bar called "The Red Pony", the brilliant yet sharply abrasive Philadelphia transplant Deputy Victoria "Vic" Moretti, Walt's daughter Cady and his canine companion, a 150 pound mixed breed of uncertain ancestry named "Dog". With "Dry Bones", early fans and readers like me feel we have ridden shotgun alongside Walt in the oft disparaged by Henry battered Dodge pickup truck Walt affectionately calls "Rezdawg." You want to be able to stop at the Busy Bee Cafe in the fictional setting of Durant for a cup of coffee and burger or slice of pie. The books are based in Absaroka County, a place that only exists in Craig Johnson's mind, adjacent to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation near the Powder and Bitterroot Rivers. The descriptions are so clearly painted with words; one can visualize the stark, vast beauty of the Wyoming prairies contrasted with the rugged mountain range. The author respect for his adopted land and its inhabitants shines through in his work. He has drawn on his long friendships with retired twenty-five year veteran Wyoming Sheriff Larry Kirkpatrick and Cheyenne Chief Marcus Red Thunder to fact check and lend authenticity to his writing.

It might surprise the ever increasing appreciative audience that the author did not achieve the New York Times Best Seller List until the publication of "Hell is Empty", the seventh Sheriff Walt book. It took much less time for the current best seller "Dry Bones" to be listed. One could jump in and only read "Dry Bones" without the pleasure of the previous novels but why deprive yourself of the pleasure of getting to know Walt Longmire and company.

Too Bad to Die
Francine Mathews
Riverhead Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
9781594631795, $27.95 Hardcover, 368 Pages,

Commander Ian Fleming strode purposefully across Room 39 of the crowded Admiralty, the London war office of naval intelligence, to emerge as a fully-fledged central character in Francine Mathew's riveting latest historical novel "Too Bad to Die". Like his fictional creation James Bond, Fleming cut a dashing figure: tall, well-built and elegantly draped in a bespoke uniform, his handsome face made more interesting by broken nose beneath riveting blue eyes and wavy dark hair. The adept wordsmith has leapt with alacrity on the Fleming/Bond bandwagon of books and biopics following the recent 50th anniversary of Fleming's early death on August 12, 1964. "Too Bad to Die" is a splendid new spy thriller certain to please readers of WWII history, James Bond fans, the Ian Fleming curious as well as legions of mystery fans.

The vividly imagined novel richly filled with Fleming biographical tidbits is set in the midst of World War II in late autumn with most of the action taking place during the Cairo Conference, codename Sextant, November 22-26, 1943, and concluding at the Tehran Conference, codename Eureka, held two days later, November 28-December 1. Fiction adhered to fact in many aspects. The Cairo residence of American Ambassador to Egypt, Alexander Kirk, with its remarkable view of the Pyramids at Giza provided accommodations and the meeting place to discuss Allied war strategy against Japan. It was attended by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Special Envoy Averell Harriman, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek accompanied by their retinue that included staff, advisors, and family members but not Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin as Russia was bound by a neutrality pact with Japan. Stalin would host the later Tehran Conference about the War in Europe at the heavily bugged Russian Embassy with the same set of attendees minus Chiang Kai-Shek and his Wellesley College educated glamorous wife Soong May-ling. The premise of the book is that the normally deskbound Fleming, present as a member of the British delegation in Cairo, becomes involved firsthand in a deadly game of espionage as a plot to assassinate the three world leaders in Tehran is revealed. At great risk to personal well-being, life and career, Ian assumes a Bond-like persona in his determination to uncover the identity of a shadowy figure known as "The Fencer", thwart the murder plans and save the world leaders from harm in the high pitched action portion of the novel.

The most entertaining portions of "Too Bad to Die" are doubtless the era's anecdotally widespread juiciest gossip, engaging backstories and social intrigues involving the attending entourage related by Francine Mathews in a more literate but equally captivating tabloid style. Pamela Digby Churchill, the golden girl, lush and faithless, oft mentioned "one of the great courtesans of the 20th century" certainly spiced up the pages. Then married to Randolph Churchill, the prominent socialite and young mother had accompanied her father-in-law along with his capable daughter Sarah. Though not long married, she was already the paramour of the wealthy Harriman whom she was to wed decades later. Elliot Roosevelt, reputed favorite son of Eleanor, already twice divorced by 1943, stirred up controversy throughout his long life, accompanied his dad as an aide and participated in the depicted alcohol fueled flirtations and intrigues.

Though the historical accuracy would withstand scrutiny and I would personally recommend "Too Bad to Die" solely on the basis of the prologue, overall, the book was uneven. It was no cliff-hanger with an unconvincing transition from light historical novel to thriller. Anyone who enjoys a good puzzle would be in for a bit of a disappointment as the villain was obvious from the onset. The first few chapters of the book had me convinced my enthusiasm would mount and Francine Mathews backlist would soon be piling into my mailbox. Her writing is superb, literate but I would qualify my recommendation to friends and book clubs with one caveat. The author's choice to include particularly off-putting, gruesome details of sadistic torture was frankly abhorrent. Acceptable in a more traditional military espionage thriller, the cheery gossipy and quasi-biographical overtones of the first three-quarters of the book made it all the more an unpleasant surprise causing me to downgrade my rating from five stars to four.

Oxford Messed Up
Andrea Kayne Kaufman
Grant Place Press
500 North Michigan Ave., Suite 600, Chicago, IL 60611
9780984675104, $14.95 Paperback, 336 pages,

"Oxford Messed Up" was one of my top five favorite books of 2012 when I first read and reviewed it for another publication. I re-read the novel recently, perhaps in honor of May being a month for college graduations, and found it was as fresh and captivating as when first read. Here is a reprise of the original review:

I gulped down "Oxford Messed Up" as if parched; swallowing words, concepts, imagery, poetry, and song lyrics whole in a swiftly moving film traversing my mind's eye. I will soon return to reread this exquisitely crafted novel and to savor it at a more befitting pace. It is one of those rare works that makes one head straight to the computer to send emails to all reading friends proclaiming "you must read this book".

Andrea Kayne Kaufman should be lauded for this brilliant, insightful debut novel about the unlikely relationship between two troubled individuals who are thrust together inharmoniously by way of a shared bathroom that separates their tiny Oxford University dorm rooms. While this wouldn't be a problem for most graduate students, academic super achiever and Gloria Zimmerman, newly arrived in England from Chicago, suffers from an extreme, untreated Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder involving a fear of germs and an avoidance of human contact. Loo mate Henry Young has his own set of demons to contend with as the bright yet unambitious son and disappointment of a harshly disapproving academician father. Still deeply mourning the death of his loving mother, Henry harbors a dark secret of past drug addition with permanent consequences. He is a talented musician with a passion for playing guitar and collecting vinyl records and a near encyclopedia knowledge of music as well as an obsession with the music of Van Morrison which Gloria shares. Henry has arresting green eyes, is inherently kind and has an unconscious charm that despite his slovenly appearance and dubious hygiene gradually works its way into grudging conversation and friendship with Gloria as the strains of "Astral Weeks", "Moondance", "Veedon Fleece" and the vast catalog of the Belfast Cowboy Celtic poetic genius play as leit motif.

Gloria is the trophy only child of wealthy Jewish parents consumed by material displays and the trappings of success. She is dubbed "Superstar" by her father and socialite mother, prized for her academic achievements, slim figure and correct, trouble free behavior. Content with the status having a Rhodes Scholar doctoral candidate confers among their peers, her parents ignore that twenty-two year old Gloria is friendless, lacks any semblance of social life and is growing desperately ill with her OCD compulsions. Her chapped, red, sore hands are among the only outward clues of her disorder to the unobservant. Plagued by Oliver, her constant companion, the inner ranting voice of sadness and compulsive conformity drives Gloria to excess use of hand sanitizers and pushes her to set her alarm clock to allow for three hours of bathroom scrubbing each morning. Listening to Van Morrison whose transcendent, joyful songs celebrating the healing power of music brings her glimpses of happiness. The uplifting effect of favorite scratchy vinyl records and songs like "Sweet Thing" played by Henry with good cheer on his shiny red guitar wasn't found in her studies of dead by their own hands women poets Plath, Sexton and Teasdale. His morning greeting in song of rock anthem "Gloria" also works to gradually ease our protagonist from her lonely isolation. In turn, she works her magic to inspire Henry to emerge from his doldrums and pursue an appropriate, inspired avenue of study.

Finely drawn supporting characters include Henry's psychologist sister Claire who provides him with crucial lessons to employ Cognitive Behavior Therapy to heal his friend. Gloria's faculty advisor Margo Mitchell who embraces happiness also rounds out this literate, sensitively written novel. Author Andrea Kayne Kaufman, chair of the DePaul University College of Education Department of Leadership, Language and Curriculum, like her protagonists is highly motivated, successful and engaged in life, drew on her work with OCD patients to write this captivating tale. An accomplished academician, educator and attorney with multiple Ivy League degrees, she lives in harmony with her husband and two children. Andrea celebrates the gifted muse Van Morrison with song lyrics contained in every chapter. As Van the Man wrote: "Let's enjoy it while we can, won't you help me sing my song, from the dark end of the street, to the bright side of the road." I can hardly wait to read her next book.

Linda Hitchcock, Reviewer
Member National Book Critics Circle

Logan's Bookshelf

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Book
Martin Evening
Adobe Press
c/o Pearson Technology Group
801 East 96th Street, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46240-3759
9780133929195, $59.99, 744pp,

Synopsis: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom was designed from the ground up with digital photographers in mind, offering powerful editing features in a streamlined interface that lets photographers import, sort, and organize images. In this new and completely updated edition, author Martin Evening describes features in Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 in detail from a photographer's perspective. As an established commercial and fashion photographer, Martin knows firsthand what photographers need for an efficient workflow. He has been working with Lightroom from the beginning, monitoring the product's development and providing valued feedback to Adobe. As a result, Martin knows the software inside and out, from image selection to image editing and image management. In this book he'll teach you how to: Work efficiently with images shot in raw or JPEG formats; Import photographs with ease and sort them according to your workflow; Create and manage a personal image and video library
Quickly apply tonal adjustments to multiple images; Integrate Lightroom with Adobe Photoshop; Export images for print or Web as digital contact sheets or personal portfolios; Make the most of new features in Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 such as face recognition, multi-image processing for HDR and panoramas, GPU support for the Develop module, and Slideshow and Web improvements. Photographers will find Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 and "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Book" indispensable tools in their digital darkrooms.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Book: The Complete Guide For Photographers" is thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end and very highly recommended for both personal and professional digital photography instruction and reference book collections. It should be noted that "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC / Lightroom 6 Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($27.49).

Legal Guide for Police: Constitutional Issues
Jeffery T. Walker & Craig Hemmens
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781138849846, $150.00, 290pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded tenth edition, "Legal Guide for Police: Constitutional Issues" continues to be a valuable tool for criminal justice students and law enforcement professionals, bringing them up-to-date with developments in the law of arrest, search and seizure, police authority to detain, questioning suspects and pretrial identification procedures, police power and its limitations, and civil liability of police officers and agencies. Including specific case examples, this revised edition provides the most current information for students and law enforcement professionals needing to develop a modern understanding of the law. Authors James T. Walker (Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology and Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock)and Craig Hemmens (Chair and Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Washington State University) have added introductory and summary chapters to this newest edition, which aid readers in understanding the context, importance, and applicability of the case law. All chapters have been updated to reflect U.S. Supreme Court decisions up to and including the 2013 term of court. Among the important new cases covered are: Bailey v. United States (2013), Berghuis v. Thompkins (2010), Kentucky v. King (2010), Maryland v. King (2013), and Michigan v. Bryant (2011). A helpful Appendix contains the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment, and a Table of Cases lists every case referenced in the text.

Critique: A fundamentally important addition to Police Academy curriculums and academic library Police Science & Law Enforcement Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists, "Legal Guide for Police: Constitutional Issues" is so accessible written, organized and presented that it is also highly recommended for public safety and advocacy groups dealing with the kinds of police shootings that are in today's news headlines and the focus/cause of so much civil unrest. Indeed, "Legal Guide for Police: Constitutional Issues" would be highly appropriate for community library collections in every major municipality in the country. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Legal Guide for Police: Constitutional Issues" is also available in a paperback edition (9780323322973, $39.95).

Jones' After the Smoke Clears
Adam Pasciak
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398090630, $33.95, 226pp,

Synopsis: Now is a newly updated and expanded second edition, "Jones' After the Smoke Clears: Surviving the Police Shooting - An Analysis of the Post Officer-Involved Shooting Trauma" represents a series of observations, suggestions, recommendations, and best practices following critical law enforcement incidents. Specific officer perceptions, anxieties, and thoughts are relatively predictable before, during, and after traumatic incidents. "Jones' After the Smoke Clears" presents a detailed and involved set of concerns that might be considered by the individual, the individual's family, and the departmental administration The text is written with the street police officer always in mind -- trying to combine the practical elements of the world of law enforcement along with the psychological dynamics behind them. "Jones' After the Smoke Clears" is not for officers looking for information on tactical approaches or technical aspects of shooting scenarios. Instead, it is for officers looking to find out what happens in those seconds after one takes aim at a living person and pulls the trigger. It is also for those who want to know what to expect in the moments, days, and beyond after the shooting is over and why it is happening. The text is different from other police books in that it brings a better understanding of why police officers experience things the way they do so there might be a better understanding of the thoughts and feelings following a traumatic event, including the reactions of one's peers. "Jones' After the Smoke Clears" is an outstanding tool for promoting better command understanding and performance following a traumatic incident. It contains many skillfully organized insights and details that can be utilized to develop departmental support patterns. The text is an invaluable tool when confronted with a shooting incident.

Critique: "Jones' After the Smoke Clears: Surviving the Police Shooting - An Analysis of the Post Officer-Involved Shooting Trauma" by Adam Pasciak could not be a more timely publication given the nationwide discussion currently on-going over police shootings -- and police being shot. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Jones' After the Smoke Clears" is very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Police Science Studies reference collections -- would make an ideal curriculum text for every police academy in the country.

Prophetic Visions of the Past
Victor Figueroa
Ohio State University Press
180 Pressey Hall, 1070 Carmack Road
Columbus, OH 43210-1002
9780814212776, $69.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: In "Prophetic Visions of the Past: Pan-Caribbean Representations of the Haitian Revolution", Victor Figueroa (Associate Professor in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages at Wayne State University) examines how the Haitian Revolution has been represented in twentieth-century literary works from across the Caribbean. Building on the scholarship of key thinkers of the Latin American "decolonial turn" such as Enrique Dussel, Anibal Quijano, Walter Mignolo, and Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Figueroa argues that examining how Haiti's neighbors tell the story of the Revolution illuminates its role as a fundamental turning point in both the development and radical questioning of the modern/colonial world system. "Prophetic Visions of the Past" includes chapters on literary texts from a wide array of languages, histories, and perspectives. Figueroa addresses work by Alejo Carpentier (Cuba), C. L. R. James (Trinidad), Luis Pales Matos (Puerto Rico), Aime Cesaire (Martinique), Derek Walcott (Saint Lucia), Edouard Glissant (Martinique), and Manuel Zapata Olivella (Colombia). While underscoring each writer's unique position, Figueroa also addresses their shared geographical, historical, and sociopolitical preoccupations, which are closely linked to the region's prolonged experience of colonial interventions. Ultimately, these analyses probe how, for the larger Caribbean region, the Haitian Revolution continues to reflect the tension between inspiring revolutionary hopes and an awareness of ongoing colonial objectification and exploitation.

Critique: A consummate and seminal work of impressively detailed and documented scholarship, "Prophetic Visions of the Past: Pan-Caribbean Representations of the Haitian Revolution" is enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-six pages of Notes, a sixteen page bibliography (Works Cited), and a forty-five page Index. Erudite, informative, and exceptional, "Prophetic Visions of the Past" is an especially recommended addition to academic library Transoceanic Studies collections in general, and Haitian Revolution supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

A Sailor's Story
Sam Glanzman
Dover Publications, Inc.
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
9780486798127, $19.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: Golden Age comic book legend Sam Glanzman draws upon his own World War II experiences in his outstanding graphic novel "A Sailor's Story". Glanzman wrote and illustrated this intimate account of his life aboard a Navy destroyer, the USS Stevens. Back in print for the first time in more than twenty-five years, this new collection unites both 'A Sailor's Story' and its sequel, 'A Sailor's Story: Winds, Dreams, and Dragons', plus a never-before-seen ten-page story of the USS Stevens, 'Even Dead Birds Have Wings'. This new Dover Publication edition features exclusive bonus material including: a new Foreword by bestselling author Max Brooks; a new Introduction by original editor Larry Hama; a new Afterword by Batman writer Chuck Dixon; and exclusive Glanzman tributes by Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Denny O'Neil, Walt Simonson, Chris Claremont, Timothy Truman & many others.

Critique: A 'time lost' classic, this flawlessly reproduced graphic novel will introduce a whole new generation of appreciative readers to one of the most talent artists and storytellers the Golden Age of comics ever produced. Very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Graphic Novel collections, "A Sailor's Story" will prove to have timeless appeal and enduring popularity.

Roads Were Not Built For Cars
Carlton Reid
Island Press
2000 M St NW Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036
9781610916899, $30.00, 360pp,

Synopsis: In "Roads Were Not Built for Cars", author and cyclist Carlton Reid reveals the pivotal (and largely unrecognized) role that bicyclists played in the development of modern roadways. Reid introduces readers to cycling personalities, such as Henry Ford, and the cycling advocacy groups that influenced early road improvements, literally paving the way for the motor car. When the bicycle morphed from the vehicle of rich transport progressives in the 1890s to the "poor man's transport" in the 1920s, some cyclists became ardent motorists and were all too happy to forget their cycling roots. But, Reid explains, many motor pioneers continued cycling, celebrating the shared links between transport modes that are now seen as worlds apart. In this engaging and meticulously researched book, Carlton Reid encourages us all to celebrate those links once again.

Critique: Featuring an impressively informed and informative text that is occasionally enhanced with the inclusion of period illustrations, "Roads Were Not Built for Cars: How Cyclists were the First to Push for Good Roads & Became the Pioneers of Motoring" is an extraordinary cultural history that should be a part of every community and academic library collection. It should be noted for libraries that "Roads Were Not Built for Cars" is available in a hardcover edition (9781610916875, $60.00) and for personal reading lists in a Kindle format ($3.99).

Ben Masters
Texas A&M University Press
4354 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4354
9781623492809, $40.00, 188pp,

Synopsis: On an epic 3,000-mile journey through the most pristine backcountry of the American West, four friends rode horseback across an almost contiguous stretch of unspoiled public lands, border to border, from Mexico to Canada. For their trail horses, they adopted wild mustangs from the US Bureau of Land Management that were perfectly adapted to the rocky terrain and harsh conditions of desert and mountain travel. A meticulously planned but sometimes unpredictable route brought them face to face with snowpack, downpours, and wildfire; unrelenting heat, raging rivers, and sheer cliffs; jumping cactus, rattlesnakes, and charging bull moose; sickness, injury, and death. But they also experienced a special camaraderie with each other and with the mustangs. Through it all, they had a cameraman as a constant traveling companion shooting for the documentary film Unbranded. The trip's inspiration and architect, Ben Masters, is joined here by the three other riders, Ben Thamer, Thomas Glover, and Jonny Fitzsimons; two memorable teachers and horse trainers; and the film's producers and intrepid cameramen in the telling of this improbable story of adventure and self-discovery.

Critique: Superbly illustrated with flawless production values throughout, "Branded" is an inherently fascinating and informative read providing a true 'insider' perspective and background information. Highly recommended reading for anyone who has enjoyed the documentary, "Branded" will also have an immense appeal for armchair travelers and would prove a popular acquisition selection for community and academic libraries as well. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Branded" is available in a paperback edition (9781623492816, $24.95) and in a Kindle format ($13.99) as well.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Drawn From Water
Dina Elenbogen
BkMk Press
University of Missouri-Kansas City
5101 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO 64110
9781886157972, $15.95, 304pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "Drawn From Water: An American Poet, An Ethiopian Family, an Israeli Story", Dina Elenbogen (an American Jew) explores her thirty-year friendship with Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in Israel as they struggle in a new country while dealing with her own desire to join them there. Thirty years ago, Operation Moses airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, where today they, immigrants from other years, and descendants form a community over 100,000 strong. Through the stories of the children Osnat, Elad, and their siblings, Elenbogen raises questions about religion, assimilation, and cultural identity. The author's poetic voice examines immigration in all its forms, success and failure, adaptation and resistance. Black Ethiopians suffer discrimination, and are hindered by cultural and language difficulties, yet the children eventually attend college, marry, and have families of their own. Dina's personal journey parallels theirs, but poetry and the arts give her a bridge between her life in America and her desire for Israel.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Drawn From Water: An American Poet, An Ethiopian Family, an Israeli Story" is a compelling and inherently fascinating story that is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Literary Nonfiction. African & African American Studies, Jewish Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Body of Truth
Harriet Brown
Life Long Books / Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9780738217697, $25.99, 304pp,

Synopsis: Over the past twenty-five years, our quest for thinness has morphed into a relentless obsession with weight and body image. In our culture, "fat" has become a four-letter word. How did we get to this place where the worst insult you can hurl at someone is "fat"? Where women and girls (and increasingly men and boys) will diet, purge, overeat, undereat, and berate themselves and others, all in the name of being thin? As a science journalist, Harriet Brown has explored this collective longing and fixation from an objective perspective; as a mother, wife, and woman with "weight issues," she has struggled to understand it on a personal level. Now, in "Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do about It", Brown systematically unpacks what's been offered as "truth" about weight and health.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--and What We Can Do about It" by Harriet Brown is impressively informed and informative. This is critically important reading for anyone and everyone that has ever struggled with the emotional impacts, social stigmas, and health issues related to being overweight. Enhanced with the inclusion of twenty-seven pages of Notes; a fourteen-page Selected Bibliography; and a twenty-nine page Index, "Body of Truth" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Health & Medicine collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Body of Truth" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.49).

What The Mystics Know
Richard Rohr
The Crossroad Publishing Company
831 Chestnut Ridge Road, Chestnut Ridge, NY 10977
Independent Publishers Group (distributor)
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
9780824520397, $19.95, 176pp,

Synopsis: Richard Rohr is a well-known lecturer who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation. Drawing from the best and most poetic of Richard Rohr's essays from nearly a quarter of a century, each chapter in this new collection examines one of the seven core mystical truths. Organized according to the mystical paths that every worshiper must follow, Rohr identifies the despair of everyday life, promotes opportunities for change even in the face of pain, thereby transforming one's deeper self into a beacon of light that aids in the perpetual metamorphosis of others. Illuminating these insights with reflections on Christian and Jewish scriptures while citing the greatest religious writers throughout the ages, Rohr offers an unparalleled window into the wisdom of the mystics, within a succinct volume that represents the best treasury of his vast library of writing.

Critique: Nicely illustrated, "What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self" is as thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring. Author and lecturer Richard Rohr has an impressive ability to communicate clearly while laying out complex concepts so that they are as accessible to the non-specialist general reader as they are to members of the clergy or academia. Informed and informative, "What the Mystics Know" is strongly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Metaphysical Studies and Religion/Spirituality reference collections.

Teach Reflect Learn
Pete Hall & Alisa Simeral
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
9781416620105, $26.95, 177pp,

Synopsis: Teachers work hard to make a positive difference in the lives of their students. But this kind of progress doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't happen accidentally. It s the result of intentionality, planning, effort, and thought. The difference between learning a skill and being able to implement it effectively resides in a teacher's capacity to engage in deep, continuous thought about that skill. In other words, recognizing why they do something is often more important than knowing how to do it. To help classroom teachers deepen their thinking and reflect on their capacity as an educator, Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral return to the Continuum of Self-Reflection, which they introduced to coaches and administrators in early work, "Building Teachers Capacity for Success", and redesign its implementation so even the most novice classroom teacher can take charge of their own professional growth. In these pages of "Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building Your Capacity for Success in the Classroom" teachers will find tools specifically made to enhance self-reflection on professional practice, including the Continuum of Self-Reflection and the Reflective Cycle. "Teach Reflect Learn" will enable teachers to assess their current self-reflective tendencies, identify opportunities to reflect on their instruction, and begin to forge a path toward continuous growth and educational excellence.

Critique: "Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building Your Capacity for Success in the Classroom" by the team of academicians Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral is deftly organized and presented in nine chapters: If You Can Read This, Thank a Teacher; Reflections on Self-Reflection; Reflective Self-Assessment Tool; The Continuum of Self-Reflection; The Unaware Stage: Is the Knowing-Dogin Gap Real?; The Action Stage: What Happens When Art and Science Collide; The Refinement Stage: Smoothing Out the Rough Edges; Conclusion. Enhanced with a six page Bibliography and a six page Index, "Teach, Reflect, Learn" is thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end and will prove to be an invaluable aid to improving classroom teach performance, making it strongly recommended for professional and academic library Education Instruction Resource reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Teach, Reflect, Learn" is also available in a Kindle edition ($16.99).

Exercises in Criticism
Louis Bury
Dalkey Archive Press
University of Illinois
1805 S. Wright Street, MC-011, Champaign, IL 61820
9781628971057, $35.00, 290pp,

Synopsis: "Exercises in Criticism: The Theory and Practice of Literary Constraint" is an experiment in applied poetics in which critic and poet Louis Bury utilizes constraint-based methods in order to write about constraint-based literature. By tracing the lineage and enduring influence of early Oulipian classics, he argues that contemporary American writers have, in their adoption of constraint-based methods, transformed such methods from apolitical literary laboratory exercises into a form of cultural critique, whose usage is surprisingly widespread, particularly among poets and "experimental" novelists. More, Bury's own use of critical constraints functions as a commentary on how and why we write and talk about books, culture, and ideas.

Critique: "Exercises in Criticism: The Theory and Practice of Literary Constraint" by Louis Bury (Assistant Professor of English at Hostos Community College, CUNY, in the Bronx, New York) is a consummate work of erudite literary analytical commentary. A work of impressive and seminal scholarship, "Exercises in Criticism" is an especially recommended addition to professional and academic library Contemporary Literary Criticism reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Creepy Crawlies And The Scientific Method
Sally Kneidel
Fulcrum Publishing
4690 Table Mountain Drive, Suite 100, Golden, Colorado 80403
9781938486326, $24.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: From monarch butterflies to hissing cockroaches, this newly updated and expanded second edition of "Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method" shows teachers and parents how to use bugs, insects and critters to teach children the five steps of the scientific method: question, hypothesis, methods, result, and conclusion. Focusing on fun as well as education, and operating on the premise that doing is learning, "Creepy Crawlies And The Scientific Method" offers more than 100 different activities which will ignite children's curiosity while also building foundations for critical thinking and scientific understanding. This classroom-tested collection of experiments is a perfect resource for teachers or just an afternoon of educational fun at home. The second edition includes updated content and four new insect species: the monarch butterfly, the black swallowtail butterfly, the bessbug, and the Madagascar hissing roach!

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Creepy Crawlies And The Scientific Method: More Than 100 Hands-On Science Experiments for Children" by academician and biologist Sally Kneidel is a thoroughly 'user friendly' compendium of practical activities that will prove an invaluable and enduringly popular addition to elementary school science curriculums for children in grade 4 through 9, and ages 10 to 14. Also available in a Kindle edition ($16.58), "Creepy Crawlies And The Scientific Method: More Than 100 Hands-On Science Experiments for Children" would prove exceptionally appropriate for use by home schooling parents as well.

Your Dog And You
Gill Garratt & Tom Walters
Hubble & Hattie
Veloce House, Parkway Farm Business Park
Middle Farm Way, Poundbury, Dorchester, DT1 3AR, England
9781845847388, $19.99, 96pp,

Synopsis: Your Dog And You" examines the relationship between people and dogs from a psychological perspective, incorporating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Uniquely, this is the first time that CBT has been used to help owners relate to their dogs. A dog's behavior can be a reflection of the emotions an owner may be experiencing; it follows that insight into our behavior using CBT to reduce emotional unrest will, in turn, be reflected in a dog's behavior. Dogs have had to become experts at reading people in order to live with us. By understanding our dog and how he responds to us, we can comprehend more about our world and how our dog sees us. Dogs are naturally expert psychologists, and have, over centuries, been bred and domesticated to live harmoniously with us. That they have - in the main - achieved this so well reflects this amazing animal's ingenuity.

Critique: In "Your Dog And You", Gill Garret (a psychologist and specialist in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Tom Walters (a professional photographer based in Cornwall) collaborate to provide dog owners genuine insights into the minds and behaviors of their canine companions. Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, "Your Dog And You" is a "must" for dog owners seeking to understand the behavior and improve communication with their canine companions. Informed and informative, thoroughly 'reader friendly' from beginning to end, "Your Dog And You" is profusely illustrated and highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library reference collections.

The Irish Garden
Jane Powers
Francis Lincoln Limited Publishers
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9780711232228, $60.00, 400pp,

Synopsis: Visitors to Ireland are often surprised at the 'palm trees' that make so many gardens look as if they belong in a holiday postcard. How can such exotics survive on an island that is as far north as the prairies of Canada and the pine forests of Siberia? The answer lies in the tail of the Gulf Stream (the North Atlantic Drift) which wraps around this green land on the western edge of Europe. Its warm and watery embrace bestows the renowned 'soft' climate that allows those palm trees (in fact, New Zealand Cordylines) to make their homes in Ireland -- along with tree ferns from Australia and bananas from Japan. Plants from colder regions, including rhododendrons, primulas and all manner of alpines, are equally happy. So, with a range of plants that runs from the subtropical to the subarctic, and a landscape that varies from gently pastoral to savagely rugged, the aptly named Emerald Isle has some of the most romantic and interesting gardens in the world. "The Irish Garden" visits over forty of Ireland's most beautiful gardens, ranging from the grand old demesnes of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy to the intensely personal creations of passionate plantsmen and garden makers.

Critique: An impressive and beautifully illustrated compendium showcasing truly remarkable gardens in both scope and variety, "The Irish Garden" by Jane Powers (who has been the Gardening Correspondent of the Irish Times since 1997 and also writes for Irish Garden Magazine, Garden Heaven, Gardens Illustrated, The Times, the Garden Design Journal and The Professional Gardener -- in addition to being an inspector of Irish gardens for the Good Gardens Guide) is a very highly recommended addition to personal, community and academic library Gardening & Horticulture reference collections. Jonathan Hession's photography is a simply flawless delight for gardening enthusiasts. An informed and informative as it is a pure pleasure to simply browse through, "The Irish Garden" would make an enduringly popular choice as a Memorial Fund acquisition selection.

Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach
Diana Lang
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way, Novato, CA 94949
9781608683468, $14.00, 112pp,

Synopsis: Diana Lang's books, audio programs, webinars, and workshops have allowed thousands to access the physical, psychological, and spiritual benefits of meditation. Drawing on her wide experience in studying spiritual teachings from around the world, Lang has put together "Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach" offering a gentle, guided approach to meditation that is very easy to implement.. In "Opening to Meditation", she demonstrates that meditating is as simple as breathing. There is no mystery to it. Her instruction goes to the core, avoiding the analytical theory, fixed rules, and intellectual razzmatazz that often intimidate would-be practitioners. Instead, she shows us how to reconnect with our foundational essence of soul and self, where peace and centeredness are always and everywhere available. Includes as a special feature is a downloadable guided-meditation program.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Opening to Meditation: A Gentle, Guided Approach" is thoroughly 'user friendly' from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library collections and personal reading lists -- especially for those just starting out with meditation. It should be noted that "Opening to Meditation" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.58).

A God That Could Be Real
Nancy Ellen Abrams
Beacon Press
24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210
Gnosis Media
9780807073391, $25.95, 200pp,

Synopsis: In "A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet", author Nancy Helen Abrams offers a paradigm-shifting blend of science, religion, and philosophy for agnostic, spiritual-but-not-religious, and scientifically minded readers. Ms. Abrams is a philosopher of science, lawyer, and lifelong atheist. And yet, when she turned to the recovery community to face a personal struggle, she found that imagining a higher power gave her a new freedom. Intellectually, this was quite surprising. Meanwhile her husband, famed astrophysicist Joel Primack, was helping create a new theory of the universe based on dark matter and dark energy, and Abrams was collaborating with him on two books that put the new scientific picture into a social and political context. In "A God That Could Be Real", Abrams explores a radically new way of thinking about God. She dismantles several common assumptions about God and shows why an omniscient, omnipotent God that created the universe and plans what happens is incompatible with science -- but that this doesn't preclude a God that can comfort and empower us.

Critique: A truly extraordinary read from beginning to end, "A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet" is by as informed, informative, thoughtful, thought provoking, inspired and inspiring. Very highly recommended for believers and non-believers alike, "A God That Could Be Real" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Religion/Spirituality collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "A God That Could Be Real" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.55).

Around the House
Harriet K. Swenson
Peter E. Randall Publisher
P.O. Box 4726, Portsmouth, NH 03801
9781942155010, $7.95, 262pp,

Synopsis: Four in 10 U.S. adults are now caring for a sick or elderly family member at home. 43.5 million adult family caregivers care for someone fifty years of age or older who is ill or who has a disability. In "Around the House: One Woman Shares How Millions Care", author Harriet K. Swenson writes eloquently, humorously and truthfully about caring for her second husband at home after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and COPD. Remembering her "first class" second husband, David Swenson, a geologist from New Hampshire's Swenson Granite family, Harriet's essays provide a new look at love. From blunt to lyrical, factual to spiritual her short commentaries reveal the depth of self-discovery and the truth about a role generally ignored. From mail-order meds and Yankee frugality, to the solace of quilting and rotten days, Harriet's former residence in a Shaker community fostered a readiness and a willingness to evaluate life experience and share it with others.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Around the House: One Woman Shares How Millions Care" is an inherently fascinating read that will prove to be inspired and inspiring for her readers -- especially those who are facing similar life circumstances of their own. Very highly recommended for community library collections and personal reading lists.

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
Sam Maggs
Quirk Books
215 Church Street, Philadelphia PA 19106
9781594747892, $15.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more -- it's never been a better time to be a girl geek. "The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy" is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes, including: How to make nerdy friends; How to rock awesome cosplay; How to write fanfic with feels; How to defeat Internet trolls; How to attend your first con. Plus, "The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy" features insightful interviews with fangirl faves, like Jane Espenson, Erin Morgenstern, Kate Beaton, Ashley Eckstein, Laura Vandervoort, Beth Revis, Kate Leth, and many others.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, "The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy" should be considered to be a 'must read' for any girl or young woman with an appreciation for popular culture phenomena like manga, fantasy, scifi, video gaming, and a host of other fan driven activities -- most especially including clubs and conventions! Highly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to school and community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

Illuminating The Word
Christopher Calderhead
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
9780814691328, $49.95, 352pp,

Synopsis: In "Illuminating the Word: The Making of the Saint John's Bible ", author Christopher Calderhead provides a detailed history presenting the entire story of the creation of The Saint John s Bible. This completely revised and updated second edition of "Illuminating the Word" devotes a separate chapter to each of the Bible s seven volumes. Readers get a behind-the-scenes tour of the creation of each volume, with a fascinating window into the activities, challenges, and struggles at Donald Jackson s Scriptorium in Wales. We can practically watch, through the eyes of every artist and calligrapher who participated in the project, the Bible's stunning illuminations move from conception to completion. This new edition also includes a completely new chapter on the scripts used in The Saint John s Bible that will fascinate calligraphers and lovers of the biblical art. Still another new chapter details the production of the Heritage Edition, a high-quality, fine art facsimile of the original that makes The Saint John s Bible available to a wider audience than the singular manuscript.

Critique: With flawless production values, "Illuminating the Word: The Making of the Saint John's Bible" is impressively informed and informative. The wealth of detailed information is organized into three major sections: The Process; The Product; Artists, Scripts, and Printers. Very highly recommended for seminary, church, community, and academic library Biblical Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Illuminating the Word: The Making of the Saint John's Bible" would be especially appropriate and highly recommended for as a Memorial Fund acquisition.

Wilber's War
Hale Bradt
Van Dorn Books
PO Box 8836, Salem, MA 01971
9780990854401, $125.00, 1112pp, $125.00,

Synopsis: A father's odyssey. A mother's strength. A son's story. "Wilber's War" by Hale Brad is a three volume chronicle showcasing the story of two ordinary Americans, Wilber and Norma Bradt during the extraordinary time and years that comprised World War II. "Wilber's War" offers fresh insight-on a deeply personal level-into the historic conflict as it was fought by the U.S. Army in the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, and The Philippines and by a family on the home front. It is an epic tale of duty, heroism, love, and human frailty. The story is told in large part in Wilber's own words in a sensitive editing of his some 700 richly detailed wartime letters. "Wilber's War" spotlights the ways in which individuals shaped, and were shaped by, World War II. It offers a nuanced view into the complexities faced by one family and by U.S. society as a whole when it ships soldiers off to war and asks loved ones to forge new lives on the home front. Author Hale Bradt is Wilber and Norma's son, and shares his parents' stories with insight, compassion, and a wealth of carefully selected images that bring their experiences to life. Visiting in the 1980s the battlefields where his father fought, he adds another uniquely American voice to this rich story: that of a son seeking to unravel the tangled threads of his family's legacy.

Critique: An impressive and monumental family biography, "Wilber's War" is an unprecedented and welcome contribution to the growing body of World War II literature. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Wilber's War" would well serve as a template for others to emulate in telling the story of their own families through turbulent times. An inherently fascinating read, this deftly crafted trilogy is very highly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American History reference collections in general, and World War II supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "Wilber's War" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.00 per volume or $25.00 for all three).

2 Weeks to a Younger Brain
Gary Small & Gigi Vorgan
Humanix Books
PO Box 20989, West Palm Beach, FL 33416
9781630060305, $24.95, 208pp,

Synopsis: Memory problems can begin in people as young as age 20 and mental decline can occur by the time we reach age 40. "2 Weeks to a Younger Brain" by Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan explores the latest research in brain science that shows that improving memory also strengthens physical health by reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. There are many easy changes that can be made in one's daily lifestyle that can improve brain health. It takes only two weeks to form new habits that bolster cognitive abilities and help stave off, or even reverse, brain aging.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "2 Weeks to a Younger Brain" is thoroughly 'user friendly' and ideal for non-specialist general readers seeking to improve their cognitive memory retention and recall. Enhanced with the inclusion of a listing of Brain Game Websites; Additional Resources, a Bibliography, and an Index, "2 Weeks to a Younger Brain" is certain to be a welcome and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "2 Weeks to a Younger Brain" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.69).

The Bias of Temperament in American Politics, second edition
William P. Kreml
Carolina Academic Press
700 Kent Street, Durham NC 27701
9781611635447, $28.00, 180pp,

Synopsis: Beginning with The Anti-Authoritarian Personality, published in 1977, Professor William P. Kreml "The Bias of Temperament in American Politics" has sought to construct an original political philosophy based upon psychological (or subjective) variables rather than the traditional objective variables of race, gender, social and economic standing, and the like. Professor Kreml contends that ''for every objectivity there is a subjectivity,'' meaning that a cross-weave of psychological variables play an important role in everything from personal ideology to the cognitive biases that underlie the structures of the American government. "The Bias of Temperament in American Politics" builds upon earlier writings and suggests that a great deal of the functional difficulty that the American government faces, as well as the inequity of the American political and legal systems, originates from psychological biases in favor of the extrovert over the introvert personality type and the analytic over the synthetic cognitive preference as it is found in different personalities. Professor Kreml suggests constitutional and sub-constitutional remedies for these biases.

Critique: Now in an updated and expanded second edition, "The Bias of Temperament in American Politics" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Bias of Temperament in American Politics" is a strongly recommended addition to academic library Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins
James Runcie
Bloomsbury Press
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781632861030, $18.00, 416pp,

Synopsis: The loveable full-time priest and part-time detective, Canon Sidney Chambers, continues his sleuthing adventures in 1960's Cambridge. On a snowy Thursday morning in Lent 1964, a stranger seeks sanctuary in Grantchester's church, convinced he has murdered his wife. Sidney and his wife Hildegard go for a shooting weekend in the country and find their hostess has a sinister burn on her neck. Sidney's friend Amanda receives poison pen letters when at last she appears to be approaching matrimony. A firm of removal men 'accidentally' drop a Steinway piano on a musician's head outside a Cambridge college. During a cricket match, a group of schoolboys blow up their school Science Block. On a family holiday in Florence, Sidney is accused of the theft of a priceless painting. Meanwhile, on the home front, Sidney's new curate Malcolm seems set to become rather irritatingly popular with the parish; his baby girl Anna learns to walk and talk; Hildegard longs to get an au pair and Sidney is offered a promotion.

Critique: A "must read" for all James Runcie fans who were first introduced to Canon Sidney Chambers in the pages of "Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night..."; "Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil..."; or "Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death...", this latest six short story anthology of the priest/detective, "Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins" is a solid entertainment from first page to last. Not since the late "Father Brown" series by G. K. Chesterton has their been a literary character like Canon Sidney Chambers! For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Organ Broker
Stu Strumwasser
Arcade Publishing
c/o Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018
David Ratner Publicity & Consulting
9781628725230, $24.99, 296pp,

Synopsis: New York Jack is an underground black market organ dealer who for eighteen years has been a "transplant tourism director," sending wealthy Americans and Europeans in need of kidneys and other organs to third world countries where they would buy them from transplant centers on the take. The death of a client and a newfound relationship lead to a crisis of conscience as he is forced to choose between a two million dollar commission -- and participating in a murder. Jack races to South Africa, Brazil, and beyond, just one step ahead of his adversary and the FBI, in search of one small act of redemption. As a disaffected youth in the late eighties, Jack Trayner entered the criminal world, selling coke when he needed money to pay his way through college. Although he later graduated from law school, an opportunity to earn easy money eventually seduced him into the bizarre and illegal black market for organs - a business that some consider horrendous and a small number of others deem to be heroic. The dual nature of this business assuaged Jack's guilt and allowed him to flourish, yet the death of a client makes what he is doing all too real.

Critique: A truly exceptional read on a subject that could be ripped from today's headlines, "The Organ Broker" is a deftly crafted and complex novel that is all the more impressive when known that it is author's Stu Strumwasser's first foray into fiction. Very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Organ Broker" is also available in a Kindle edition.

The Long High Noon
Loren D. Estleman
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765334558, $24.99, 272pp,

Synopsis: Locked in a deadly feud, cowboys Randy Locke and Frank Farmer have spent decades attempting to annihilate each other any time they are within shooting distance. So far, the men are even. One of Frank's bullets has given Randy a permanent limp. Vain Frank wears a prosthetic ear, his own lost to Randy's assault. If either of them remembers the original reason for the feud, it seems moot now. Their quest for revenge has led them on a merry chase through the Old West--through soon-to-be ghost towns and major cities; cattle ranches and mountain cabins; brothels and fishing boats; jailhouses and movie sets. Even their marriages have fallen victim to the feud. The story of their long-term hatred well known throughout the country, Frank and Randy are approached (separately, of course) by Abraham Cripplehorn with a proposition. With the popular Buffalo Bill's Wild West show a raging success, why not publicize their next duel and sell tickets to the event? Winner take all, in more ways than one. Frank and Randy make a date for death...but will they be able to wait for the show? And could it be that their decades-long thirst for revenge is the only thing they are living for?

Critique: Loren D. Estleman is a master of the western action/adventure genre whose latest novel, "The Long High Noon" is a deftly crafted, impressively presented, non-stop entertainment from first page to last. Enthusiastically recommended for western novel fans, "The Long High Noon" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Long High Noon" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99), as well as in a audio book CD format (Brilliance Audio, 9781480507036, $29.99).

Science Myths We Tell Ourselves
William N. Barbat
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478747765, $16.95, 136pp,

Synopsis: In "Science Myths We Tell Ourselves", author William N. Barbat debunks many science concepts like the Big Bang, Instant Creation, Continental Drift, and Spreading Sea Floors, which are shown to be really just myths. A Big Bang explosion would require an escape velocity for galaxies of 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times the speed of light. But more damaging to mankind is the myth that energy cannot be created in nature or by man. Few people know that Helmholtz's Energy Conservation "Law" was rejected as "metaphysics" in 1847 by the Berlin Physics Society, but that gullible scientists have accepted it anyway. So the extra energy from Low-Mass Electrons is wrongly attributed to mythical "lattice vibrations," yet it had generated electric power a century ago and could be used to avert climate change. The unappreciated creation of energy in nature is shown by Larmor's 1897 formula for photon radiation from moving charges. All orbiting electrons and spinning protons continually create photons, which possess heat and mass, and they can split into electrons and positrons to provide the building blocks of matter in stars. Larmor heat photons replace the myth of fusion energy as the source of all heat in stars, and Larmor heat photons make planets' interiors gaseous. Ultimately, a buildup of non-fusible iron at the core of a mature star cools and shrinks to separate the core from an expanding hydrogen envelope of a red giant star. This leaves a new planet to add to Dark Matter, and its Larmor energy becomes Dark Energy. The myths of Continental Drift and Spreading Sea Floors are replaced with an origin of Earth as a piece torn from Jupiter's Great Red Spot by a planetary collision. Pieces of Jupiter's crust with an ice coating formed continents around a ball of molten rock to form Earth, leaving meltwater to fill the ocean deeps. Ice comets also came from Jupiter's ice coating as shown by their planar surfaces. The myth that a dynamo causes Earth's magnetic field is replaced by a lost formula derived by Gauss for the origin of magnetic force, which also explains the origin of Earth's ionospheric radiation belts. Maxwell had suppressed Gauss's formula as "conflicting with the Energy Conservation 'Law'." The author updates his 1973 climate study predicting that Global Warming would expand Earth's desert belts poleward, like the Sahara grew with post-Ice Age warming. A CO2 increase accounts for the recent Mid-continent drought and the current droughts in California and Brazil, but a sudden decline in sunspot activity has started a cooling trend. In 1973 Barbat also debunked myths of the cause of the Population Explosion, but experts challenged him despite admitting his 99% statistical correlation of what really brings down high birthrates.

Critique: Iconoclastic and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Science Myths We Tell Ourselves" is a challenging and thought-provoking read. For example, Barbat lays out statistical evidence that the rise of birth control is nowhere near as important to combating overpopulation as the reduction of dependence on physical labor; families that depend on physical labor to survive, especially their children's physical labor (common in areas where people engage is subsistence agriculture), are much more likely to have numerous children. Enhanced with color illustrations, "Science Myths We Tell Ourselves" is recommended to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in scientific controversies.

Jack Mason

Paul's Bookshelf

Mesmer's Disciple
Edward Swanson
River Run Select
142 Fleet St., Portsmouth NH 03801
9780988537064, $15.99, 380 pages,

This historical novel is about a man forced to confront evil beings directly from Hell.

Alvord Rawn is a police captain in 1840's New York City. He is not afraid to fight violence with violence, until the day that he goes too far. Now an ex-police captain, he is traveling to St. Louis, the gateway to the frontier, on a private matter. Charles Deas is an up-and-coming artist, whose letters home to his mother, a member of New York's high society, have become increasingly dark and bizarre. She asks Rawn to find her son, and bring him back home.

Deas has fallen under the influence of Count Abendroth, a practitioner of mesmerism. It's an early form of hypnosis, but, in Abendroth's hands, it is a lot more than just hypnosis. In looking around Abendroth's estate, Rawn sees a woman literally climbing the walls. He also hears hideous sounds, not of this earth, coming out of people's mouths. Abendroth's plan is to train disciples in mesmerism, and use them to control the state of Missouri, then control the neighboring states and territories, and then, who knows?

Rawn gets his own taste of mesmerism (which has led to a population explosion in the psycho ward of the local jail). He is exposed to black, unspeakable beings who are just waiting for a chance to suck an innocent soul to Hell. Rawn fights his way out of it, but, to get to Abendroth, he has to get past Otto Volkmar, A Prussian giant and Abendroth's chief enforcer. Who wins the epic, no holds barred battle? What happens to Deas and Abendroth?

This is an excellent novel. It feels historically accurate (Charles Deas was a real person who lived in St. Louis, and later went insane in New York City), and is very easy to read from start to finish. It also has plenty of action. This is highly recommended.

The Navigator
Eoin McNamee
Wendy Lamb Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780375839108, $15.99, 345 pages,

This novel is about a young boy who finds himself in a very strange situation.

Owen's father committed suicide, and people around town whisper that Owen will follow in his father's footsteps. Mom has sunk into a fog of depression. In Owen's forest hideaway, there is a huge flash, and everything has changed. Geographically, Owen is in the same place, but everything, and everyone, that he knew is gone. A person called the Sub-Commandant tells Owen that a rag-tag group of humans called the Resisters are at war with ethereal beings called the Harsh. They have succeeded in causing time to run backwards. The intention of the Harsh is to go back to a time before humans, take over Earth, and turn it into a frozen wasteland.

Some of the Resisters think that Owen is a spy for the Harsh, or, at minimum, a collaborator. Before he died, Owen's father played a significant part in causing the war. The only way to end the war, and to get time going in the right direction, is to bring a special piece called the Mortmain, to the Puissance, or Great Machine, far to the north. Then Owen must go down into the earth a great distance, and place the Mortmain in the right spot. Naturally, the Harsh will be waiting. Does Owen succeed? Does Own even survive? Is everything restored to the way it was?

As you may have guessed, this is a young adult novel, and, as such, it is pretty good. There are good characters, and plenty of action. Older young people, and adults, will also like this book.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Selling Your House: Nolo's Essential Guide
Ilona Bray, J.D.
Nolo Press
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781413321203, $24.99, 246 pages,

I am preparing to sell my home. But it has been 20 years since I sold my last house. I really needed an updated refresher course and Nolo's "Selling Your House" fits the bill. The chapters cover all the bases from preparation to hiring an agent to pricing and marketing.

In Chapter 2, author Ilona Bray takes an in-depth look at what you need and what you should expect from your real estate agent. However Chapter 5 cut to the chase for me. In order to de-clutter, Bray advises that you should "pretend you're living in a vacation rental," presuming that people live spotless lives on vacation. Then a few pages later she acknowledges that the best way to sell your house is to move out, and leave a few pieces of furniture for the purpose of staging. Or hire a professional stager to dress up your house for showings. Otherwise selling your house is a great big pain.

Nolo's "Selling Your House" is a good way to dip your feet in the housing market without getting wet.

A Dog Walks Into a Bar...: Howlingly Funny Canine Comedy
Joanne O'Sullivan
Illustrated by Jeff Albrecht Studios
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472
9781623540524, $8.95, 80 pages,

Let's face it, dogs do funny things and make us laugh, they just can't help themselves. "A Dog Walks Into a Bar" contains over 70 pages of jokes and cartoons divided into eight sections. Each section features dogs in all sorts of humorous predicaments including job interviews, dating, stupid pet tricks, and of course outsmarting their humans - or not. There's even a section of salty dog stories that poke fun at life's more embarrassing moments with dogs. No dog joke book would be complete without mocking our feline friends because the cat versus dog game never gets old. More than two dozen full-color cartoon panels by Jason Albrecht add the right amount of madcap amusement, and combined with the compact six-by-seven-inch size make this the perfect gift for all your dog-loving friends. "A Dog Walks Into a Bar" will tickle your canine funny bone.

On Two Feet and Wings
Abbas Kazerooni
c/o Amazon Children's Publishing
1350 Avenue of the Americas, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10019
9781477847831, $16.99, 238 pages,

Abbas Kazerooni is only 9 years old when he is forced to flee his home and family in Iran to avoid being drafted into the military as a child soldier. Alone, he boards a plane for Istanbul, Turkey, where a family friend is supposed to meet him and help him obtain a passport so he can travel to Great Britain to live with his cousin. But the "friend" cruelly abandons him at the airport and he is forced to make his own way in a foreign land. Armed with a list of Iranian-friendly hotels, detailed instructions from his father, and a wad of American dollars, he manages to navigate the maze of language barriers and red tape to gain access to the British Consulate. Any adult under the same circumstances would be intimidated and terrified and Abbas most definitely has his moments of anxiety and fear. Yet somehow he is able to tap into an inner strength and intellect he never knew he possessed. From the hotel owner to shopkeepers to fellow Iranians to the grim agent at the Consulate, everyone he meets is shocked at such a young boy alone without his parents. But at the same time they are impressed with his grit and resourcefulness because Abbas doesn't merely survive, he thrives with such panache that people are instantly drawn to him and want to help him. "On Two Feet and Wings" is the compelling true story of a young boy's journey to freedom and manhood.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

Take Three Birds
Jilli Lime-Holt
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781503355668, $12.50, 186 pages,

Language: English
Genre: Memoir

The internet has been responsible for many things, and this includes this book. When three authors who have been "friends" on the internet for a time decide to meet up, will it be triple trouble?

You see, they all live in different countries, Jill who is the author of The diary of a Single Parent Abroad lives in Italy, Janet Holt who is co-author or The Stranger in my Life lives in the UK, and Tottie Limejuice author of the Sell the Pig series, lives in France. However, a little detail like this does not daunt the intrepid trio, it will just take a little organising.

So, Janet takes her first flight to Italy, and together Jill and Janet drive over to Tottie's grottage in Auvergne in France in Jill's 20 year old Fiat Punto.

But how will these three strong minded women get on?

Will their friendship survive meeting face to face, and spending a lot of time together?

Well, this enjoyable book which is written like a diary, but without the dates, reveals all. Having read two of the authors already, I would not wait to read this one, and was not disappointed.

Khaled Talib
Signal 8 Press
c/o Typhoon Media
Asia Literary Agency
9789881219589, $15.39, 332 pages,

Language: English
Genre: Thriller

This is a compelling political spy thriller is Khaled Talib's first novel, but a page turner every step of the way. The story is set in Singapore, where the Israeli government are trying to end, once and for all the Israeli - Palestinian conflict.

However, not everyone agrees on how to do this. Radical factions have other ideas and they plan to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minster when he visits Singapore, but first they must find a scapegoat...

Enter Jethro (Jet) West, not a very appealing fellow, he is a journalist for a top life style magazine in Singapore. Happily sleeping around and living the high life, he soon he finds that his womanising ways and reputation have well and truly gone against him, when he is framed for the murder the Singapore Tourist Boards beautiful public relations manager Niki Kishwani.

However, as if this is not bad enough, he soon discovers his destiny has been decided, and it is far worse than he could imagine.

He has been especially chosen.

As the plot thickens, Jet finds himself being hunted, and the body counts rise, things become rapidly much worse for him as he desperately tries to clear his name.

The attention to detail and research which has gone into this absorbing book is amazing. With spies, corrupt government officials and plenty of twists and turns, Smokescreen is a well written and totally absorbing political spy thriller.

Naked in the Wind: Chemo, hairloss and deceit
Shirley Ledlie
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781500136543, $8.99, 220 pages,

Language: English
Genre: Memoir

The big C is a word which strikes fear into the heart of everyone.

In this amazing story, not only does the author tell her readers of her very personal fight against breast cancer, but also the effects of the cocktail of chemotherapy drugs she was prescribed to cure it.

When ill, we are vulnerable, we trust those who are treating us, and Shirley was no different. However, when these people let us down not many people a brave enough to stand up against them like Shirley Ledlie. Her treatment left her with permanent hair loss, something which may have been avoided if the powers that be had done their research more thoroughly.

This story is hear rending at times, inspiring and honest, as she bravely chronicles her battle with French bureaucracy and a French drug company.

This is an amazing story, which I read in one sitting.

I applaud the author for writing it.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

Peripheral Visions: And Other Poetic Perceptions
Bruce Newman
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00WQ9RJTI, $2.99, 187 pages,

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." ~ Robert Frost

Poetry allows a reader to take a moment to stop, reflect, and focus on their true inner feelings. Writing poetry is often a challenge for many authors. To be successful they must possess the talent to transform his/her words into feelings that jump from the pages of their book straight into the hearts of the reader. PERIPHERAL VISIONS: AND OTHER POETIC PERCEPTIONS is a unique collection of poems that speaks to the intellectual mind. It has the power to call out to one's inner spirit.

A vast array of topics is contained throughout this one book. I found it ingenious how the author was able to create subjects that dealt with several different situations that ingeniously revolved around different age groups. I found his words gave me an almost hypnotic feeling for they seemed to mesmerize my mind and take hold of my being. It was like I was experiencing a potpourri of different emotions all at the same time.

With a strong and defined voice Bruce Newman delivers some very thought provoking words that display an exceptional talented author. I was impressed with his free flowing style; it allowed me to open up my mind and think of subjects that I tend to take for granted. With each new poem that I read it allowed me to see the topics more clearly for it took me to a place I often tend to forget about due to life's ever ending challenges.

There were several poems that I am convinced will stay with me long after I finished this book. I caught myself rereading them and then taking the time to apply their concept to my own life situation. Of all the poems that I read, my all-time favorite was WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE this one in particular spoke to me as penetrated deeply into my soul. I predict Bruce Newman will be a name that is about to make a huge impact into the poetry world. His work has the power to be a life changing experience. I feel privileged to have discovered such a wonderful author. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an out of the box experience that is assured to create a dramatic impact to how you see the world.

Angels of Moirai - Book One
Nicole Salmond
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
B00VW6ZELQ, $2.99,

Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Lila Kingston refuses to allow her parents to manipulate her future career path for their own financial gain. Instead, she plans to stay in her hometown and go to college there so she will be close to her sister Hayley. It is only three weeks from graduation, and she has no plans of attending the class formal. Lila has never let the fact that her family has money cloud her judgement of being her true self. One day she wished to get away from the pressures of her school and decided to take a walk in the woods. The cozy inviting environment made her risk taking a short nap. In her dreams, she encounters an Angelic winged figure. His beauty haunts her long after she awakens; it is as though the two of them shares a mysterious connection.

Lila is stunned when she sees the same boy in her dreams enrolled in her school. It is a mystery to her why he is registering when there is only three weeks left of the school year. James Taylor is unlike anyone she has ever met. The two of them share an instantaneous attraction neither one of them are able to ignore. Lila senses there is more to James than meets the eye, but she is powerless to stay away from him.

James Taylor has been sent on a mission, one that has been set into motion long ago. He is from a world that is unknown to humans. When he meets Lila he discovers that she brings out feelings he never knew existed. He is considering revealing all he is to Lila, but if he does will it endanger her life? Can he risk the warmth of inviting a human into his undead world?

ANGELS OF MOIRAI is one outstanding book! From page one I was captivated with all this book has to offer. I loved how the author was able to weave a paranormal element into a young adult romance. I feel this book has the substance to be turned into an award winning novel. I can see a highly successful series beginning with the strong foundation this book offered. This is the first book I have read by Nicole Salmond but it surely will not be my last. Her unique writing style has earned her a lifelong fan.

In The Eyes Of Madness (Chronicles of Declan Peters) (Volume 1)
Michael Ka Chun Pang
SolaFide Publishing
9780692437339, $11.99, 222 pages,

Young Adult Paranormal Urban Fantasy

At the young age of seven Declan Peters peaceful world shattered as he was suddenly attacked and almost drowned by the hands of his mother. The look of hatred in her eyes would always be locked in his mind's eye as he would never be able to forget that ill-fated day. His mother was took into custody and then later institutionalized; he was sent to be raised by his Aunt and Uncle.

Declan always questioned what might had triggered his mother to act so violently towards him that day. To try and get closer to her he applies for a job where she had been taken. He hopes the close contact will give him an opportunity to provide her soothing comfort that will help heal her soul.

Declan is unaware of the danger he has placed himself in by accepting that position. There are evil forces that are set to destroy his existence. Will Declan be strong enough to go against these satanic beings?

IN THE EYES OF MADNESS is one outstanding book! I was so impressed with the intense drama that Michael Ka Chun Pang was able to unfold right before my eyes. I found this to be an exceptional young adult novel that is assured to become a favorite of any teen. This book provides a solid foundation for the other books to build upon its strength in the CHRONICLES OF DECLAN PETERS series. I look forward to reading more of the writer's highly addictive writing style. I predict this book will be met with award winning honors.

Little Miss Somebody
Christy Lynn Abram
Humble Bee Publishing
216 Puyallup Avenue, Tacoma, Washington 98421
9780692386224, $9.99,

At fourteen, Nikki found herself struggling to survive in a new school. At home, her mother refused to show her any love or attention; each time she looked upon her face she knew she reminder of a love that didn't last. She lived with her Aunt and Uncle but she felt that she was a burden in their home.

Nikki knew there has to be a way out of the constant hell she was forced to endure. She came up with the idea to find her father. She dreamed he would rescue her from the abuse that she was experiencing. Will Nikki locate her father? Will he provide her the love and acceptance that her soul craves? Or will she be endangering her life by branching out into and unknown world?

LITTLE MISS SOMEBODY is a powerful story that depicts a young girl who is forced to grow up to quickly. This book is an emotional rollercoaster, for you must go through so many layers of Nikki's struggles. My heart was broke more than once as I read the authors descriptive words. Each one of them left a jagged edge upon my being.

More than once, I felt as though I needed to reach out and save Nikki but I found that I powerless to save her from the harm that she seemed to meet around every corner. I applaud Christy Lynn Abram for writing such a bold, true to life book. After reading this book I came to a realization of how we all should never take anything good we have in life for granted.

The Plot to Finally Liberate the Cuban People From Communism
Joe S. Davis
Creative Publishing
5708 Whippoorwill Street, Durham, NC 27704


Survival is the name of the game in Cuba for to oppose the beliefs of the government would be dealt with severe consequences. Rebel forces fight to break free from this chain hold of communism. Many try to escape to a safer land in the dark of night. It is evident that a peaceful nation does not exist in this corner of the world.

Cuban patriots and their leader, Adolfo Perez Gomez seeks to put an end to the slavery brought on by the harsh reality of communism. Through their daring missions they want to instill a new Democratic government to a world where corruption overflows.

Will these brave Patriot Leaders be strong enough to bring their country to a new way of life? Or will evil forces destroy their plans before they are ever given a chance to see fruition?

THE PLOT TO FINALLY LIBERATE THE CUBAN PEOPLE FROM COMMUNISM gives an up close and personal look to the horrors the Cuban people are suffering through the restraints of their government. I applaud the author for being so courageous in exposing how one nation is being caught in a choke hold of control. I felt this book provided a unique education level of awareness; it make me stop, digest, and then reflect how fortunate that I am to live in a country where Freedom is evident.

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

The Boob Girls VI: From the Eye of the Moose
Joy Johnson
Grief Illustrated Press
7230 Maple Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68134
9781561232475, $14.95, 192 pages,

"Four burned out old broads" is the term used to describe four vibrant women with a great sense of humor. These women grew by sharing a dinner table which resulted in their sharing friendships through many adventures and becoming one of the BOOB girls.

The current BOOB girls are Mary Rose McGill, Marge Aaron, Hadley Joy MorrisWhitfield and Dr. Robinson Leary.

Dr. Robinson Leary is a retired from being a university professor. Her husband suffered from multiple sclerosis. After caring for him until his death, she came to the home. Hadley Joy MorrisWhitfield also came to the home when widowed, but her husband who had affairs left her wealthy. For Mary Rose McGill, her daughters placed her in the home when her husband died. Marge Aaron is the newest member of the group. She spent much of her career as a police detective and is also a widow. Besides being widows and living at the Meadow Lakes Retirement Community, their friendships began when they were assigned a table in the dining room, Table 12.

Dr. Leary, known as Robbie received a letter from a lawyer stating that she was the sole inheritor her great aunt's business, Turnbirdie Trumbell's Bed and Breakfast in Salem's Crossing, Nebraska. Since all four women enjoy and sharing their lives, they naturally decide on all departing for the small town to assist Robbie in deciding if this inheritance is a blessing, curse, or just a fun adventure.

The small midNebraska town of Salem's Crossing proves to be more unusual than the women planned. A town that is deserted, lawyers who are never available or possibly nonexistent, spontaneous storms and a possible haunted house with a permanent tenant, cause the four women to have many more questions than answers.

The author, Joy Johnson bases these books about the problems of getting older. With her husband, she is a cofounder of North America's largest bereavement resource center located in Omaha, Nebraska and also a center for grieving children. She is a nationally known speaker and and writer for children about grief.

All the books in this series by Joy Johnson are written for older women who grew up on Nancy Drew mysteries. The story is a bit contrived but meant to be entertaining and lighthearted. It is just a fun book to read. Also this book is based on the region around Omaha, Nebraska with many of the local establishments being mentioned and/or renamed to protect their identities.

If you have not read the previous five books, I recommend to at least read the first book before reading this newest installment.

Of all six books in the series, this particular one is a little different with the Nancy Drew flavor. The strengths of these books are the characters showing how retired women can still active and live a full and rewarding life with new friendships and adventures.

The Forgetting Place
John Burley
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062227409 $14.99, 344 pages,

"Practicing psychiatry in a place like this is like standing on a glacier and trying to influence the direction it will travel. "

In many mental health facilities, patients are there for the long haul. When people are admitted, few leave except when they die. Simply put, they are not going anywhere.

For most mental health care givers, they have to believe that they can make a small difference in the lives of these frequently hopeless individuals. It might take time, perhaps ten or twenty years, but something has to help these people.

For young doctors to choose to work in a facility like this, besides the hope, the reputation of the hospital is important. If someone chose to work in a place with no hope for their entire career, they would need to be assessed as to their mental stability.

Many young doctors begin in these places. Most move on whenever the opportunity arises.

Five years ago, Dr. Lise Shields began her work at Menaker, a correctional psychiatric facility in Maryland. When she started her work there as a psychiatrist, she was optimistic and hopeful that she would have some influence. The work here though is daily challenging with the realism that no one here is ever cured. No one leaves, ever, to return their life in the outside world.

Lise has a new patient, Jason Edwards. What is strange about this patient who is her new assignment is that she is given no paperwork or background information on him. How can she treat someone without a past? Why all the secrecy? What do her superiors know that they will not share with her?

As she searches for answers, she begins to feel paranoid. Are people purposefully conspiring against the health of her new patient? Is she being followed or is it just an overactive imagination?

The Forgetting Place is a psychological thriller that holds your attention to the last sentence. With the theme of immense loneliness to those in the mental health world, the story is told through Lise's eyes. You see, hear and feel with her every page.

The realism is phenomenal with factual information about mental health even explaining the blind spots. This is when a patient's medicine is working well and the individual feels normal. During this time, the mental illness causes the person to be blind to what actually happens when they do not have their medicine.

Author John Burley utilizes his life experiences of a paramedic, firefighter and an emergency medicine physician. His first novel, The Absence of Mercy received the National Black Ribbon Award.

For a psychological page-turner, read The Forgetting Place.

Teri Davis

Theodore's Bookshelf

The Lewis Man
Peter May
1290 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10104
9781623658199, $26.99, Hardcover, 368 pp,

The next phase of Finlay ("Fin") Macleod's life takes place in this second novel of a trilogy that began with "The Blackhouse." He resigns his position as an Edinburgh detective and returns to the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the Outer Hebrides Islands off the western coast of Scotland, sleeping in the rough and intending to restore his boyhood home, which has fallen to disrepair. Instead, of course, he becomes mired in another mystery when a mummified body is found in a nearby peat bog.

The plot develops from two points of view. First, it is told through the muddied recollections of the father of Marsaili (Fin's former lover), who suffers from advanced dementia. Then various aspects are told from Fin's viewpoint. Fin becomes involved because of his past (and possibly present) relationship with Marsaili. It seems that DNA collected in an unrelated circumstance establishes a link between the corpse and Marsaili's father. And, as Fin points out, that makes him suspect number one, dementia or no. So, before the detectives from the mainland can show up, it is up to Fin et al to find out what really happened.

The second novel is as good as or better than the first one in the trilogy. It portrays the bleak terrain and ecology and horrible weather of the Outer Hebrides, and the description of the people and how they live is superb. This is an excellent mystery which is unfolded in layers which are slowly unveiled. Highly recommended by this reader, who looks forward to reading the closing novel of the trilogy.

An Unwilling Accomplice
Charles Todd
Morrow Paperbacks
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062237200, $14.99, Paperback, 368 pp,

This recent entry in the Bess Crawford series follows a familiar path, Bess being a British nurse on the French front during World War I, the daughter of Colonel sahib whose orderly, Simon, is both protector of and participant in her escapades. In this, the sixth novel in the series, Simon and Bess occupy most of the plot as they chase an Army deserter whose disappearance has not only embarrassed her as he escaped from her charge, but nearly cost her her lilywhite reputation and being drummed out of the service.

It all begins when Sgt. Wilkins is to receive a hero's medal from King George and he asks Bess to accompany him to Buckingham Palace pushing his wheelchair. Upon returning to the hotel afterward, he leaves the premises, leaving Bess to take the blame for failing to perform her duty properly. Thus begins a chase in an attempt to salvage her reputation.

The plot is really overly complicated, with too many characters. As a result, the reader is forced to follow too many subplots and is confused with various characters that contribute little to moving the story forward. The picture of the trenches and the hardships on the Western Front, as in previous entries in the series, are vividly told, but unlike previous novels little is portrayed on the home front.

The newest Charles Todd novel is A Fine Summer's Day, which came out in January, 2015, and I am looking forward to reading it.

The Hidden Child
Camilla Lackberg, author
Marlaine Delarty, translator
Pegasus Books
80 Broad St., NY, NY 10005
9781605988320, $15.95, Paperback, 400 pp,

This Swedish author has written eight novels, of which this is the fifth to be published in the United States. The first, "The Ice Princess," was widely accepted as on a par with the best of the recent Scandinavian noir novels. As with that debut book, this novel also is set in the small fishing village of Fjallbacka and is a police procedural.

Camilla Lackberg continues the series with Detective Patrik Hedstrom taking a four-month paternity leave to care of their young daughter, Maja, and other domestic duties, and enable his wife, Erica, to write her new book. After a tough beginning, especially getting acclimated to his new duties and missing his professional work, things develop in unexpected ways. To begin with, Erica discovers some old artifacts, including an Iron Cross, belonging to her mother which leads her to divert her attention to learn more about her parent.

Erica shows the medal to a retired history professor, a specialist in Nazi history, who is murdered shortly thereafter. Another murder of an elderly woman adds to the mystery, especially since the two victims were childhood friends. Are the crimes related? The plot continues with a dual thrust, with Erica pursuing knowledge of her mother and the police investigating the crimes. And the information developed becomes intertwined.

The novel, as its predecessors in the series, is of consistently high quality, well-plotted, carefully translated and well written. Perhaps most important, the characters are natural, everyday types of people, living typical lives and working hard. The plots move forward with logic, and the loose ends come together at the end smoothly, although in a completely unexpected manner.

Highly recommended.

Night of the Jaguar
Joe Gannon
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9781250048028, $25.99, Hardcover, 306 pp.,

A murder mystery wrapped up in the politics of Sandinista Nicaragua during the 1980's, including the US-sponsored Contra rebels opposing the government, makes for a most unusual setting in this debut novel. Ajax Montoya, a hero who gained a reputation as a leader in the revolution against the dictator Somoza, failed to attain the lofty heights of power some of the other leading revolutionary leaders did after gaining their objective and is 'just' a police captain, fighting his nightmares through alcoholism.

Then Ajax, six days sober, becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of a landowner just days prior to the visit of a US Senator on a fact-finding mission. While the murder was made to look like a robbery gone bad, Ajax and his partner determine it was an assassination. So they begin to probe despite obstacles thrown in their way by their superiors and the ghost that haunts Ajax.

"Night of the Jaguar" is an unusual novel, especially because of its Central American background, which is told so well by the author, who was a freelance journalist in that country during the Sandinista revolution. Sometimes the thread of the story becomes a bit too complicated and disjointed, but on the whole the plot is maintained at a steady pace. It would appear from the novel's conclusion that we may be seeing more of Ajax Montoya in a sequel, something to which we can look forward.


Windigo Island
William Kent Krueger
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476749242, $16.00, Paperback, 352 pp.,

When the body of a 14yearold Ojibwe girl washes up on Windigo Island, a rocky outcrop on Lake Superior, Cork O'Connor and his daughter, Jenny, embark on a crusade to rescue another teenager, Mariah, who had run away from home with her, ending up as prostitutes in Duluth, pimped by a man known, strangely enough, as Windigo. The windigo is a mythical beast thought to rip hearts out of bodies and eat them, or a vengeful spirit called Michi Peshu, according to Ojibwe lore.

With the help of Mariah's cousin, a game warden, her mother, and Henry Meloux, Cork and Jenny follow a thin trail to find the girl with little help from other victims of the pimps who are virtually brainwashed and refuse to talk, or a very few others. What follows is an exciting investigation that leads to the uncovering of an extensive sex trafficking ring, many of whose victims are Native Americans steeped in poverty and abuse, especially in the Duluth and Twin Cities areas.

The novel graphically portrays the squalid cycle of poverty, abuse, alcoholism and runaway children on the reservations and the men who prey on them. Once again, the author has the opportunity to demonstrate a deep empathy for the Ojibwe, their values and traditions, as well as describing his love of the North Woods. All this and one of the most exciting finishes recently read by this reviewer.

Highly recommended.

The Secret Place
Tana French
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670026326, $27.95, Hardcover, 452 pp.,

The police have a tough road to hoe in solving the murder of a young man, a student at a nearby boys' school, when his body is found on the grounds of St. Kilda's, an exclusive girls' school in Dublin. Not only have they the murder to investigate, but they have to deal with the vagaries, conspiracies, foibles, machinations and other characteristics of teenage girls. The case falls to newly appointed murder detective Antoinette Conway and her seasoned partner, but they get nowhere close to finding out who slew Chris Harper.

Then a year later, 16yearold Holly Mackey, daughter of another detective, brings a postcard posted on a school bulletin board, purporting to indicate that someone at the school knows who the murderer is, to Stephen Moran, a cold case detective whom she knows from a previous case and "trusts." He then brings it to Conway hoping if he helps solve the murder it will gain him entry onto the Murder Squad. Thus begins a long, intricate day at St. Kilda's unraveling the relationships and events at the school.

The plot unfolds in two ways. Chapters are interspersed with what is going on in the present with the actual going on in the past. It is interesting to follow what happens juxtaposed with the clues discovered by the detectives as they proceed in interviewing the girls. The author is wellknown for the quality of her writing, and it is quite evident in this novel which, while fascinating and wellwritten, is a slow read, but richly deserves to be read, and is recommended.

The Lewis Man
Peter May
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10104
9781623654481, $14.99 (14.99 CA$, 7.99 BPS), Paperback,

The next phase of Finlay ("Fin") Macleod's life takes place in this second novel of a trilogy that began with "The Blackhouse." He resigns his position as an Edinburgh detective and returns to the Isle of Lewis, the largest of the Outer Hebrides Islands off the western coast of Scotland, sleeping in the rough and intending to restore his boyhood home, which has fallen to disrepair. Instead, of course, he becomes mired in another mystery when a mummified body is found in a nearby peat bog.

The plot develops from two points of view. First, it is told through the muddied recollections of the father of Marsaili (Fin's former lover), who suffers from advanced dementia. Then various aspects are told from Fin's viewpoint. Fin becomes involved because of his past (and possibly present) relationship with Marsaili. It seems that DNA collected in an unrelated circumstance establishes a link between the corpse and Marsaili's father. And, as Fin points out, that makes him suspect number one, dementia or no. So, before the detectives from the mainland can show up, it is up to Fin et al to find out what really happened.

The second novel is as good as or better than the first one in the trilogy. It portrays the bleak terrain and ecology and horrible weather of the Outer Hebrides, and the description of the people and how they live is superb. This is an excellent mystery which is unfolded in layers which are slowly unveiled. Highly recommended by this reader, who looks forward to reading the closing novel of the trilogy.

To Dwell in Darkness
Deborah Crombie
William Morrow
c/o HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780062271600, $25.99, Hardcover, 324 pp.,

On his first day as the new head of the murder investigation team at Holborn Police Station, an apparent demotion from his previous job at Scotland Yard, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid is handed a whopper of an incident. Someone has set off a white phosphorous grenade in historic St. Pancras Station, burning himself to death, injuring many commuters and disrupting the railways system not only throughout the British Isles but all over Europe because the Eurostar originates there. The flash went off just as a group carrying placards began a demonstration protesting the pollution created by the new Thameslink and Crossrail construction and redevelopment throughout the area.

After the station is emptied and witness statements taken, the first order of business is to identify the victim, who everyone thought was one of the protest group, then to determine if it was merely a protest or part of a terrorist attack. What evolves is a careful police procedural and Kincaid's maverick style of investigation, seeking clues, forensic evidence and following assumptions. Meanwhile, his wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James, is busing trying to solve the rape-murder of a 12-year-old girl, and has her sights on a potential culprit.

This novel is the latest in a long-running series, and ends with a clever and undefined ending, laying the groundwork for the next installment. The author has written a story that keeps the reader's interest, concluding in a most unexpected finale based on the previous clues. To this reader, the solution seems a bit gratuitous, but it does work sufficiently well so that the novel is recommended.

We Are Not Ourselves
Matthew Thomas
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476756677, $16.00, Paperback, 640 pp,

This family saga drags on for three generations (and over 600 pages) with less than interesting participants. The first family is comprised of Irish-Americans, with the stereotyped father a driver of a beer delivery truck and a reformed alcoholic mother, plus a daughter named Eileen who aspires to much greater of life's accomplishments than can be found in the Archie Bunker-type home in Woodside, Queens. Instead, Eileen has to settle for becoming a nurse and marrying Ed Leary, a professor at the Bronx Community College with no desire for advancement and content with being a highly competent teacher and researcher.

So Eileen has to fulfill her ambitions by encouraging (and failing) to push Ed ever onward and upward. Then she has to transfer these aspirations to her son, whom she pretentiously names Connell. She has big eyes, and wants more and more, finally after a long, arduous argument convincing Ed to move to a house in Bronxville from the three-family home they owned in Jackson Heights, appeasing her upward desires somewhat. And life goes on and on toward the inevitable denouement.

From the start, beginning with Eileen's father, the characters are wooden and unbelievable, especially Connell, as he progresses in life (the story takes place over four decades). Eileen's attitude toward her husband and marriage does not ring true. She is satisfied or not, one can't really know, despite the ending, which doesn't seem credible. And this is supposed to represent life faithfully.

Deon Meyer
Translated by K. L. Seegers
Atlantic Monthly Press
c/o Grove/Atlantic
841 Broadway, NY, NT 10003
9780802123244, $26.00, Hardcover, 344 pp.,

Benny Griessel, suffering the pangs of alcoholic abstention, rises to the occasion in this murder mystery after having pretty much messed up his career in the South African Police. He is a member of the elite Hawks, the nation's top murder and crime investigating unit and is confronted by the killing of two bodyguards and the kidnapping of a highly respected British mathematics professor. Benny and his team learn that the murderer leaves behind bullets and jackets with the picture of a Cobra and the letters "BN" on them.

The investigation is complicated by two factors: First is the presence of a young pickpocket who plays a crucial role in the affair. Then, the Hawks are called off by the intelligence services and even higher-ups. Nevertheless, the investigation into the identity of the Cobra proceeds and Benny proves his ability, as in previous cases.

Deon Meyer has written several excellent earlier novels in the series featuring Benny Griesel, all set in South Africa. The author portrays the country, its politics and its history with accuracy. And in this novel, Benny attains a level of humanness not previously seen, especially in relation to his lover, Alexa. Can't wait for the next one!

Highly recommended.

The Wolf in Winter
John Connolly
Emily Bestler Books/Atria
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781476703183, $26.00/32 CA$, Hardcover, 418 pp.,

Reading a Charlie Parker novel, or anything written by John Connolly, one finds not only a traditional mystery, but much more: fantasy, history, legend, and clean prose. All that and then some is present in this, the 12th novel in the series

As far as a simple mystery plot is concerned, Charlie is enticed into finding a missing daughter of a homeless man, a friend; the young woman apparently is an ex-drug addict attempting to pull herself together. The story is that she supposedly received a job offer from an elderly couple to work in Prosperous, Me. However, Charlie is stonewalled by the chief of police of the town. who claims the girl was never seen in Prosperous. Then fantasy enters the picture, as facts about the history and development of Prosperous are introduced, and weird goings-on they are.

The author's imagination rises in this novel to a level that is not only is tormenting but dazzling and dark. It is a thriller of the first order and is heartily recommended. It yet remains to be seen what comes in the next entry: "A Song of Shadows," next up for this reader.

Theodore Feit

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

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