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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 3 March 2016 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrea's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Chutsky's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf Gail's Bookshelf
Julie's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf Kevin's Bookshelf
Linda's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf
Mason's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf Moore's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Roderick's Bookshelf Susan's Bookshelf
Teri's Bookshelf Zulfiqar's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Good People
Robert Lopez
Bellevue Literary Press
c/o Dept. of Medicine
NYU School of Medicine
550 First Ave., OBV 612, New York, NY 10016
9781942658023, $16.95, PB, 192pp,

Andy Jordan

Treading the fine line between confession and self-justification, the absurd violence of threatened masculinity, and the perverse joy of neurosis, "Good People" is a compendium of twenty deftly crafted short stories by Robert Lopez with the common them of compulsive suffering at the precarious core of our universal humanity. Soul-crushingly dark, exceptionally well-written, and brimming with bitter wisdom, "Good People" is an anthology of compellingly authored masterpieces of the short story format that are very highly recommended for both community and academic library Contemporary American Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Good People" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Canada Invaded, 1775-1776
George F. G. Stanley
The Hunter Rose Co.
Hakkert, Toronto, Canada
9780888665379, $9.72,

Joshua Chanin

One of the greatest Canadians ever to hail from the north, and among the best of the historians, author George F. G. Stanley offers an inside look into the less-known march and battle of Quebec in the late eighteenth century. Lost and nearly forgotten among students and textbooks, the American Revolution events of the long trek into the wilderness up north is put into a new light in Canada Invaded, 1775-1776. In September 1775, Commander George Washington ordered one of his best men, Colonel Benedict Arnold (before he turned against his nation and sided with the British) to lead an expedition of 1200 volunteers up to Canada, overtake the British citadel of Quebec, and name the northern part of the continent the "fourteenth colony". In six weeks of hard labor and tiresome walking every day, with little food, drinking water, and other provisions, the rag-tagged colonial army suffered every step of the way. The situation became worse when the weak disease- infested camp had to attack Quebec in the harsh snow, only to find themselves outnumbered, chained up, or butchered to death three hours later. Through the touching words and concrete evidence that Stanley offers, the reader is able to not only learn about this unfortunate event, but also feel the depression and hardships the volunteers faced in the winter of 1775-1776.

Stanley points out that the march to Quebec and the battle that followed would be forgotten in years to come because it was such a disaster for the colonists, compared to the fact that the rebels had initially won every battle up until that time. The soldiers, Colonel Arnold, General Washington, and the Continental Congress would later forget this period of misery, turn their back on overtaking Canada, and continue to not think about the gloomy days of the past. Even when the war ended with a rebel victory and laid the foundations of the present United States, the idea to overtake Quebec would be long forgotten (even when another plan to take the city failed during the War of 1812), and not be mentioned in a majority of school textbooks, as it proved to be an embarrassment of the colonial cause for independence. The author seems to have some bias against Colonel Arnold on his failure, but in reality, the commanding officer was plagued by the most unfortunates of circumstances including the horrific weather of the time. It seems that Stanley put in a variety of primary sources into this book, relying on the private memoirs of the soldiers within the company to describe their story; the usage of these unique compelling sources are what makes this forgotten event come to life again.

Stanley is a fantastic author; he is an historian whom I look up to for my future successes. Not many works have been written on Arnold's march to Quebec, and so in some years, I plan to conduct more research on this topic and hopefully be able to produce a book about the march as good and informative as Stanley's. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, historians and every-day readers alike; Stanley's writing and historical knowledge about a less-known subject in the Revolution will bring a new perspective on the War for Independence. Not only will you cheer when the soldiers reach the Quebec limits after a long march, but you will also feel their pain and suffering during their journey and after the bloody battle. From a man whom devoted much of his life to the public service of his country, including being the designer of the current Canadian flag, George Stanley transports you back in time in Canada Invaded, 1775-1776, where the forgotten chapters of this nation's history are presently revealed, and add to the ever-growing confidence and strength of the American people.

Wingdog: Soul Pup: A Magical Mutt Memoir
Janelle Jalbert
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
ASIN: B01923YL28, $0.99 Kindle, 259 pages,

Suzie Housley

From the moment that she looked at his picture she immediately fell in love. His eyes called out to her inner soul it was as though he was saying you need to be my master. The picture was of an abandoned pup that had the distinct face with one blue and one brown eye. It was a face that only a true Mother could love. There was no way she could allow this dog to pass her by, he was to be hers.

Upon meeting him there was an instant attraction. It was as if the other one had found their long lost soulmate. This woman knew that he was to become her Wingdog. Unbeknown to her he would be her constant companion. She didn't realize how much her life was missing until she invited him into her home.

It is said that a dog is man's best friend, but a dog who has the power to reach in a person soul becomes one of the family.

This book calls out to dog lovers, it has the power to reach out and capture everyone's heart. It shows how one lonely woman found companionship in a loyal canine. The book packs a deep emotional punch, for there is a wealth of emotions that is explored in this one book.

Janelle Jalbert has done an expert job in writing this book. I instantly fell in love with this adorable pup. I found it heartwarming to see the passage where she feared that no one would adopt him because of his eyes being different. I felt there was an undertone to the world that was saying beauty comes in the eye of the beholder.

I feel this book will appeal to all age groups both male and female. It is the type of book that after you read it you will end it knowing that you have just finished something special. I highly recommend it to all readers for it is one unforgettable experience.

I Was Here
Stanley B. Graham
Belding Publishing
9781425934552, $25.99, PB, 716pp,

Elizabeth Ramirez-Graham

This was a long novel for me to read, but I always looked forward to picking up the book, finding my bookmark, and continue reading where I left off. I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter--all the characters, their struggles, and glimpses into their lives. This book is well written and a real page turner. I hope the author writes a sequel. I am looking forward to reading and learning more about this fascinating character--Rick Stevens--as well as the other people in his life. As I read, curled up on a sofa on these dark and cold winter days, Rick Stevens along with all the other characters, seemed very real and human.

The novel begins with the narration of his mother's Ida Bradley's struggles to make a new life for herself and her two children, Rick and Janet, after her recent divorce from an unfaithful husband. Her decision to marry her second husband, Judge Appleby, had a profound influence upon her life and that of her children.

Judge Appleby, the municipal court judge in Salem on the Lake, Ohio, was the descendant of a prestigious and wealthy family in that town; he could trace his ancestry to the early 1800s when the Applebys were among the earliest settlers and extensive land holders; they owned land that became nearly half the town of Salem on the Lake. In spite of his fairness and good work as a judge, Judge Appleby was a tyrant and an alcoholic at home. He largely ignored and verbally abused his stepson Rick Stevens; Rick never had a father he could love and respect. Rick later realized that his mother was the first and foremost angel who came to his rescue, comforted him, and let him know he was a worthy person.

Rick was painfully shy in social and school situations. During most of his high school years, he never had any really close friends. After Rick's graduation from high school, the judge informed him, "I have made no financial provisions for your further education." It was a bald and cruel statement. The Judge's sister "Aunt Fannie" was appalled by the unkindness of her brother. She advised Rick to join the U.S. Army for three years so that, after his discharge, he would be eligible for the GI Bill that would pay his tuition and a monthly allowance for living expenses.

The novel thoroughly documents how Rick found good friends in the Army and college, how his pre-medical courses, and his liberal arts studies and relationships with his Army buddies and college friends helped him to develop a mature outlook on life. Travels with friends in the Western United States and in Europe also helped to enrich and increase his knowledge. At last he felt free and was able to throw off the yoke of his stepfather's domination.

In short, this novel is an inspiring success story of a young man who struggled since early childhood to overcome adverse conditions that could have prevented his eventual achievement of self-respect, dignity, tolerance of others, academic success, and the teaching of science (chemistry, physics, general science, geography) in public high schools. Since this novel is very realistic, there is not a complete resolution of all his problems in the last chapter when he is 29 years old. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the progress he made during his young manhood . I hated to reach the end of the novel and look forward eagerly to its sequel.

Andrea's Bookshelf

Over 50
Maureen McIntyre
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781514423912, $15.99, PB, 104pp,

"Over 50" by Canadian author Maureen McIntyre is the story of Maggie, who at age 59 and enjoying a perfect marriage of some thirty-two years to the love of her life suddenly finds herself single. Life as a single lady is very difficult and holds unbelievable challenges. Will Maggie be able to adjust to her new life and will she find peace and contentment? "Over 50" is an exceptional and impressive romance novel that will have a special and particular appeal for mature women readers. Highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Over 50" is also available in a Kindle edition ($3.99).

Dancing on Dewdrops
Mark John Terranova
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781478761969, $16.95, HC, 94pp,

"Dancing on Dewdrops" by Mark John Terranova is a compilation of rustic poems, prayers and elegant short stories that he wrote in order to provide inspiration, comfort and strength for his readers. In the pages of "Dancing on Dewdrops", Terranova captures the utter joy of youth, wrestles with the inherent elements of change, as well as offering strength and solace-all while celebrating life across several generations. The rustic poetry, prayers, humor and short stories for children will appeal to all ages. "Dancing on Dewdrops" provides inspiration, delivering the lasting imagery that leaves an indelible imprint on the heart and human spirit. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Dancing on Dewdrops" is also available in a paperback edition (9781478761952, $8.95) and in a Kindle format ($2.99).

Quantum Bliss
George S. Mentz
O Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785352034, $14.95, PB, 128pp,

"Quantum Bliss: The Quantum Mechanics of Happiness, Abundance, and Health" by George S. Mentz (a public speaker, lawyer, and global pioneer in management, education and training) is the breakthrough summary of success, spirituality and mindful secrets that customers have been seeking since The Power of Now and The Secret became famous. Uncommonly well written, singularly well organized and presented, thoroughly 'reader friendly' throughout, "Quantum Bliss" will prove to be a unique and enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Quantum Bliss" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.49).

Andrea Kay

Bethany's Bookshelf

Wilde's Women
Eleanor Fitzsimons
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781468312669 $32.50 hc / $16.99 Kindle

Synopsis: Wilde's Women is the first book to tell the story of the female family members, friends, and colleagues who traded witticisms with Wilde, who gave him access to vital publicity, and to whose ideas he gave expression through his social comedies.

In this essential new work, Eleanor Fitzsimons reframes Wilde's story and his legacy through the women in his life, including such scintillating figures as Florence Balcombe; actress Lillie Langtry; and his tragic and witty niece, Dolly, who, like Wilde, loved fast cars, cocaine, and foreign women. Fresh revealing, and entertaining, full of fascinating detail and anecdotes, Wilde's Women relates the untold story of how a beloved writer and libertine played a vitally sympathetic role on behalf of many women, and how they supported him in the midst of a Victorian society in the process of changing forever.

Critique: Irish playwright, poet, and author Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is perhaps best known for his classic novel of human darkness "The Picture of Dorian Gray", as well as his arrest and imprisonment for engaging in consensual homosexual behavior (which was unlawful in Britain during Wilde's time). Less known are the women who influenced Wilde's life, perspective, and works. Wilde's Women is eye-opening, engaging, expertly researched and thoroughly accessible to lay readers and literary scholars alike. Highly recommended, especially for public and college library Literary Studies shelves.

Neal Katz
Top Reads Publishing
9780996486019, $29.95, HC, 344pp,

Synopsis: What compels a woman and her youngest sister to overcome abject poverty and violent abuse to grow up to defy convention and obliterate every barrier to become the first women to own and operate a Wall Street brokerage firm and publish their own newspaper? How did Victoria Claflin Woodhull (1838 - 1927) become the first woman invited to speak to the United State Congress, and then the first female to run for president. What made Tennessee Celeste Claflin (1845 - 1923) so beguiling that the richest man in America, Cornelius Vanderbilt, fell completely in love with her? What caused the sisters to live out their long lives as royalty and peerage in Europe. Victoria living as landed gentry outside of London, and Tennessee in a huge castle like a queen? Why aren't these empowered and independent women iconic in our culture?

An historical novel, "Outrageous" by Neal Katz is the first volume 'The Victoria Woodhull Saga' and tells the poignant, lascivious, and compelling inside story of how the sisters worked closely with Cornelius Vanderbilt, who at age 74 fell in love with the beguiling 24-year old Tennessee. Victoria provided the titan of industry "Inside Her Information" gathered through the soiled sisterhood, the ladies of the evening working at the top seven brothels servicing the rich and famous of New York City.

This relationship resulted in the great lion of industry having his last public roar as together they manipulated the financial markets and created the impending collapse of the U.S. economy in the gold scandal of 1869. To avert the crash, President Ulysses S. Grant provides the richest man in America insider information on the gold market and telegrams Vanderbilt that his railroad company is "Too Big To Fail!" Vanderbilt was proclaimed "The Savior of the American Economy" for intervening in a crisis he helped create.

View Victorian America through the eyes and thoughts of one of its leading heroines, Victoria Woodhull. Watch as the infighting and elitism of the earliest suffrage women denigrating, castigating, and denouncing other passionate suffrage rights women delayed woman suffrage and equal legal standing for five decades. Learn wonderful anecdotes of the origins of products and phrases used today. Learn the story of Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, the most popular man in America, who transformed Christianity from his father's "fire and brimstone" theology to one of a compassionate and loving Jesus, who will redeem all who turn to salvation with complete confession of their sins. The reverend's personal life did not imitate his lofty and popular theology of his weekly sermons at Plymouth Church. He was a notorious womanizer, often bedding, and sometimes impregnating the wives, sisters, and daughters of his most ardent trackers and deacons of the church.

Critique: Written in the first person from Victoria's viewpoint, Neal Katz weaves a compelling page-turning story that cleverly unfolds history while providing a wonderfully entertaining ride. It should be noted that Neal has pledged fifty percent of his author's royalties from book sales and all ancillary revenues, including foreign print distribution and Hollywood rights to a foundation formed in tribute to Victoria Woodhull and her passion for woman rights. The foundation will promote and prove programs for the empowerment and sustainable economic improvement of women, especially single mothers. Impressively well written and exceptionally entertaining from beginning to end, "Outrageous" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Historical Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Outrageous" is also available in a paperback edition (9780996486002, $18.95) and in a Kindle format ($2.99).

The Young Adult's Guide to Public Speaking
Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc.
1405 S.W. 6th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34471
9781601389848, $14.95, PB, 250pp,

Synopsis: A perfectly delivered speech is something that takes time, practice, and knowledge. "The Young Adult's Guide to Public Speaking: Tips, Tricks & Expert Advice for Delivering a Great Speech Without Being Nervous" is a practical instructional guide teeming with resources, whether you are looking to get over your fear of speaking to a group of people, or running for student assembly and need an edge on your competition. "The Young Adult's Guide to Public Speaking" is specifically written to help young adults overcome stage fright by being prepared, rehearsed, and ready for a number of unforeseen circumstances. "The Young Adult's Guide to Public Speaking" will show just how to write a memorable speech and how to impact and persuade an audience. Aspiring public speakers will learn how to gauge an audience s reaction and tailor the remainder of an oral presentation to have maximum appeal to the group being spoken to.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented throughout, "The Young Adult's Guide to Public Speaking: Tips, Tricks & Expert Advice for Delivering a Great Speech Without Being Nervous" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists of anyone seeking to improve their public speaking performance. Simply stated, "The Young Adult's Guide to Public Speaking" should be a part of every high school, college, and community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement instructional reference collections.

The Friends We Keep
Susan Mallery
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778319535, $26.99, HC, 384pp,

Synopsis: After five years as a stay-at-home mom, Gabby Schaefer can't wait to return to work. Oh, to use the bathroom in peace! No twins clamoring at the door, no husband barging in, no stepdaughter throwing a tantrum. But when her plans are derailed by some shocking news and her husband's crushing expectations, Gabby must fight for the right to have a life of her own.

Getting pregnant is easy for Hayley Batchelor. Staying pregnant is the hard part. Her husband is worried about the expensive fertility treatments and frantic about the threat to her health. But to Hayley, a woman who was born to be a mom should risk everything to fulfill her destiny - no matter how high the cost.

Nicole Lord is still shell-shocked by a divorce that wasn't as painful as it should've been. Other than the son they share, her ex-husband left barely a ripple in her life. A great new guy tempts her to believe maybe the second time's the charm...but how can she trust herself to recognize true love?

Three close friends test the boundaries of how much a woman can give before she has nothing left.

Critique: Another terrific read from Susan Mallery! "The Friends We Keep" is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Friends We Keep" is also available in a paperback edition (9780778318729, $15.99) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

There's No Handle on My Door
Henry Kellerman
American Mental Health Foundation Books
PO Box 3, Riverdale, New York, NY 10471-0003
9781590564851, $25.00, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: In "There's No Handle on My Door", Henry Kellerman probes institutional life through nine fascinating profiles. In Kellerman's own words: "The unalloyed truth is that I'm in thrall to idiosyncracy. It possibly could be said that I actually love pathology. Well, let me explain: It's that I love to be near it, to see it, to observe it with a clinical eye. I feel strongly sympathetic toward people who are severely and emotionally and psychologically ill. I see pathology as an expressionist and Cubist rendition of reality. Comprised of nine stories, "There's No Handle on My Door" reveals and illustrates how Dr. Kellerman deals with the delusional, the unusual and strange, in a modern setting.

Critique: Impressive, memorable, informative, candid, thought-provoking, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "There's No Handle on My Door" is very highly recommended for both community and library Mental Health & Psychology collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "There's No Handle on My Door" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service
Alastair McIntosh & Matt Carmichael
Green Books
c/o UIT Cambridge Ltd.
PO Box 145, Cambridge CB4 1GQ, England
9780857843005, $29.99, HC, 224pp,

Synopsis: Over the past half century, our understanding and awareness of spirituality has changed in nature, as have the issues facing activists. Spirituality is rising up the agenda for activists because it offers distinct, tried and tested approaches to deep questions such as Where did it all go wrong? What does it mean to be human? What is the place of leadership? What is the nature of power? "Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service" starts from scratch, defining spirituality for a generation sometimes dazzled by the claims of materialism. Where others attempt to distinguish science and religion, "Spiritual Activism" instead contrasts spirituality and materialism. The text is peppered with tales from authors' Alastair McIntosh and Matt Carmichael activist experience and includes case studies of inspirational spiritual activists that demonstrate the transformative power of spiritual principles in action.

Critique: Of special note is the chapter devoted to 'Underlying Cults and Charisma'. Enhanced with the inclusion of a poem (Beyond); an informed Introduction and an informative Afterword; a three page Glossary; a three page bibliography of Recommended Readings; thirteen pages of Endotes; and a six page Glossary. "Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service" is both a thoughtful and thought-provoking throughout. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Metaphysical & Spirituality reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia, the clergy, and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in spirituality that "Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.99).

Life After Near Death
Debra Diamond
New Page Books
c/o Career Press Inc.
12 Parish Drive, Wayne, NJ 07470
9781632650245, $16.99, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Life After Near Death: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Transformation in the Extraordinary Lives of People With Newfound Powers" by Debra Diamond profiles a dozen cases of near-death experience after-effects, including newfound musical and artistic talents, mathematical gifts, enhanced hearing, elevated IQ, improved vision, spontaneous healing, and electrical sensitivity. Bridging the gap between science and spirituality, "Life After Near Death" explores these miraculous after-effects and new evidence concerning the NDE to reveal for the first time: New evidence affirming the survival of consciousness after death.

The circumstances and conditions that give rise to a NDE; The link between predisposition and the NDE; The role of manifestation and intent and the NDE; The unmistakable connections between the energetic world and the NDE. "Life After Near Death" is the only study to explore the deeper meaning of the near-death experience through the prism of its extraordinary after-effects. It offers a new, science-based paradigm to unravel the NDE and our assumptions regarding the afterlife. Because although you can return from an NDE, you will never return to your former life.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and exceptionally informed and informative read, "Life After Near Death: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Transformation in the Extraordinary Lives of People With Newfound Powers" is an absolute 'must read' for academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in near death experiences and how they have often profoundly impacted the lives of the men and women who have had such an experience. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Life After Near Death" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.79).

In Performance: Contemporary Monologues for Teens
JV Mercanti
Applause Books
c/o Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group
19 West 21st Street, Suite 201, New York, NY 10010
9781480396616, $16.99, PB, 288pp,

Synopsis: Compiled by professional casting director JV Mercanti, "In Performance: Contemporary Monologues for Teens" is thoughtfully curated collection in which teenage actors preparing for an audition or searching for quality scenes to hone their chops will find a wealth of contemporary material drawn from both American and British plays. Almost all of the works are from the year 2000 to the recent 2014 Broadway production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time, chosen from the point of view of a professional acting teacher, director, and casting director. Along with covering the basics of how to match the best monologue to the actor and how to approach the rehearsal and performance of the piece, "In Performance: Contemporary Monologues for Teens" provides a synopsis of each play, a character description, and a list of questions specific to each monologue that will direct the actor toward shaping a complex, honest, and thoughtful performance that has a strong emotional connection, a clear arc, and playable actions. There is also a brief lesson on appropriate rehearsal behavior and preparation.

Critique: Thoroughly 'teen friendly' in organization and presentation, "In Performance: Contemporary Monologues for Teens" is strongly recommended for the personal reading lists of aspiring teen actors, as well as a core addition for highschool theatre department supplemental studies curriculums, community theatre reference collections, and community library Theatrical Arts instructional resource shelves.

Beyond Embarrassment
JoAnne Lake & Julia Parker
Triumph Media Press
9780996430548, $16.95, PB, 241pp,

Synopsis: Neurogenic Bladder and Bowel are conditions in which a person lacks bladder and bowel control due to a brain, spinal cord, or nerve condition. Millions of Americans live with this debilitating health issue. In 2009 JoAnne Lake was diagnosed with Neurogenic Bladder, finally discovering the cause of years of discomfort and embarrassment. Writing became her therapy and a way to connect with others who shared her diagnosis. Through her blog,, she met online others who shared her frustrations and challenges. JoAnne Lake shares her story in the pages of "Beyond Embarrassment". Along the way she educates, empathizes, and encourages women who struggle with the same health issues. Written with a distinctly girlfriend-to-girlfriend feel, she provides practical Tip Time for dealing with the challenges of bladder problems as well as suggestions for living every day to its fullest. With professional input from Biosleuth medical research librarian Julia Parker, "Beyond Embarrassment" offers readers strategies for meeting their medical challenges and ideas for working with their medical teams, family, friends, work situations, and travel. Readers will discover ideas for getting on with living and not being held back by fear or anxiety about their conditions.

Critique: An absolutely "must read" for anyone having to deal with a neurogenic bladder condition, and in view of our increasingly aging general population, "Beyond Embarrassment" is a vitally important and strongly recommended addition to community Health/Medicine reference collections. Exceptionally well written and thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Beyond Embarrassment" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Ten Prayers That Changed the World
Jean-Pierre Isbouts
National Geographic Press
1145 17th Street N.W., Washington, DC, 20036-4688
Blackstone Audiobooks
31 Mistletoe Road, Ashland, OR 97520
9781426216442, $24.00, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: From time immemorial, prayer has provided comfort in our darkest hours, stirred us to action beyond what we thought possible, and shown us the way through seemingly insurmountable challenges. "Ten Prayers That Changed the World: Extraordinary Stories of Faith That Shaped the Course of History" is an engaging tour of world history by author and historian Jean-Pierre Isbouts which takes us on an inspiring tour of ten prayers that played a pivotal role in world events ranging from the divine inspiration of Joan of Arc to Martin Luther King's powerful Prayer to Open Hearts and Minds; from George Washington's prayerful words to the newly formed American states to the horrors of Auschwitz; from Constantine the Great's prayer before battle to Gandhi's deeply moving "prayer of peace." "Ten Prayers That Changed the World" deftly delves into the moments in history where faith and prayer intersected with the course of mankind.

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is inspired and inspiring, "Ten Prayers That Changed the World: Extraordinary Stories of Faith That Shaped the Course of History" is a compelling and informative read from cover to cover. Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Ten Prayers That Changed the World" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library Religion/Spirituality collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Ten Prayers That Changed the World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99) and in a complete and unabridged audio book MP3 CD format (Blackstone Audio, 9781504703314, $29.95).

My Butterfly Collection
Stevanne Auerbach
Regent Press
2747 Regent St., Berkeley, CA 94705
9781587903380, $29.95, PB, 178pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by butterfly habitat activist Stevanne Auerbach, "My Butterfly Collection: On The Wings Of The Butterfly" is a gentle blend of art, photography, and writing. "My Butterfly Collection" showcases the art of David Singer, Stephen Haines Hall, Joan Danziger, Edda Clasen, Helen Webber, Norie Huddle, Gena Galenski, and others; features the outstanding photography of Kjell B. Sandved; and includes the writings of David Brower, David Seaborg, Liam O'Brien, Paul and Anne Ehrlich, Robert Michael Pyle, and others. "My Butterfly Collection" also includes ways to say butterfly in many languages, basics of butterfly gardening, details about Monarch butterflies, and much more.

Critique: It is well known among ecologists that butterflies are sensitive indicators of ecological balance in the natural world. "My Butterfly Collection: On The Wings Of The Butterfly" is an inherently engaging, thoughtful, and even inspiring compendium of commentary and images in celebration of the butterfly. A fully absorbing read from beginning to end, "My Butterfly Collection: On The Wings Of The Butterfly" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library collections.

Heirs & Spares
J. L. Spohr
Plum Street Press
9780989217309, $26.99, HC, 262pp,

God & King
J. L. Spohr
Plum Street Press
9780989217309, $30.99, HC, 262pp,

Synopsis of "Heirs & Spares": It's 1569. Elizabeth I sits on the English throne, the Reformation inflames the Continent, and whispers of war abound. But in Troixden, just north of France, the Lady Annelore isn't interested in politics. Times are hard, taxes are high, and the people in her duchy need her help just to survive. Her widowed father is a good man easily distracted by horses, and her newly knighted childhood friend...well, he has plans of his own. Then Annelore receives a call she can't ignore. When Troixden's sadistic king died childless, his younger brother William returns from exile to find his beloved country on the brink of civil war. He's in desperate need of the stability that comes with a bride and heirs. But Annelore, his chosen queen, won't come quietly. Now the future of Troixden lies in the hands of two people who never wanted the power they've received and never dreamed that from duty and honor they might find love and a path to peace.

Synopsis of "God & King": It's 1570, and the Reformation burns through Europe and into the kingdom of Troixden. The new Queen Annelore, full of love and hope for her unexpected role, finds that even the heir growing inside her will not quiet the looming discontent, and her own wild courage and wit just make things worse. Surrounded by courtiers who will stop at nothing to bring about their own vision of the future, no matter who stands in their way, there is no safe place to turn other than King William's arms. William, still haunted by his brother's bloody reign, strives to make peace in his marriage and in his realm, but ultimately must face the hardest decision for any ruler: whether to shed the blood of his countrymen or break with his country's closest held religious beliefs - a decision that will have repercussions neither king or queen could have imagined.

Critique: The first volume in Jennifer Spohr's 'The Realm' trilogy, "Heirs & Spares", and the second volume in this outstanding series, "God & King", are both terrifically entertaining reads and very highly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that both titles are available in paperback editions as well as in Kindle formats: "Heirs & Spares" (9780989217316, $14.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle); "God & King" (9780989217330, $16.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle). Enthusiastic fans of J. L. Spohr's historical novels will be pleased to learn that "Crown & Thorn" (which is volume three of her series 'The Realm") is due to be published in the summer of 2016.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Sports in American History
Gerald R. Gems, Linda J. Borish, Gertrud Pfister
Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
PO Box 5076, Champaign, IL 61820-5076
9780736056212, $82.00, 384pp,

Synopsis: "Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization" provides a detailed overview of the historical evolution of American sporting practices. American sports is surveyed as a social and cultural phenomenon, generating a better understanding of current sport practices, and provides a basis for considering future developments in sport in American life. "Sports in American History" provides coverage of sport by historical periods ranging from the indigenous tribes of premodern America, through colonial societies, to the era of sport in the United States today. "Sports in American History" examines how women, minorities, and ethnic and religious groups have influenced U.S. sporting culture. Each chapter comprising "Sports in American History" includes objectives, an introduction, a summary of the points covered, and discussion questions to help students easily identify and remember the key concepts presented. "Sports in American History" includes excerpts from primary documents providing firsthand accounts that will provide a well-rounded perspective on the historical development of American sport. With sidebars offering an international viewpoint, "Sports in American History" will help students understand how historical events have shaped sport differently in the United States than in other parts of the world.

Critique: An ideal curriculum textbook, "Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Sports History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, "Sports in American History" will be much appreciated by both academia and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the culture and history of American sports.

The Abyss of Time
Paul Lyle
Dunedin Academic Press Ltd.
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9781780460390, $45.00, HC, 216pp,

Synopsis: Geologists are among that group of scientists who must factor the passage of time into their investigations, and they thus have a perspective on time that sets them apart from many other researchers. The proposition that geological time is vast, encompassing thousands of millions of years, is relatively recent. It is a concept that remains controversial and unacceptable to many people today who as biblical fundamentalists still consider the Earth to have been made to a timetable covering no more than 10,000 years. "The Abyss of Time: A Study in Geological Time and Earth History" examines how our fascination with time has developed from our earliest ancestors' recognition of the cycles of the sun and the moon. It considers the passage of time as a series of non-repeatable events ("Time's Arrow") in contrast to time as a series of repeated processes ("Time's Cycle"), both of which can be used to explain geological features on the Earth's surface. "The Abyss of Time" argues for a greater understanding of geological or 'deep time' as society becomes more aware of the vulnerability of the Earth's resources to over-exploitation by an expanding consumer society. This debate and the controversy surrounding global warming emphasizes the importance of geological time to the process of economic and political decision-making. "The Abyss of Time" will prove to be of special interest for those academia and non-specialist general readers with respect to the intellectual challenge presented by the extent of geological time. "The Abyss of Time" is especially relevant and critically important reading for environmentalists and policy-makers who wish to better place their concerns and decisions in proper context.

Critique: A work of solid scholarship that is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Abyss of Time: A Study in Geological Time and Earth History" will prove to be an extraordinary and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library science collections. It should be noted that for personal reading lists that "The Abyss of Time" is also available in a Kindle edition ($42.75).

Eugenia: A Fictional Sketch of Future Customs
Eduardo Urzaiz, author
Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba, translator
Aaron Dziubinskyj, translator
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299306847, $26.95, PB, 284pp,

Synopsis: It is the year 2218. In "Villautopia," the capital of a Central American nation, the state selects young, biologically desirable citizens to act as breeders. Embryos are implanted in males to increase a flagging population rate, and the offspring are raised in state facilities until old enough to choose their own, non-nuclear families. Sterilization of children with mental or physical abnormalities further ensures the purity of the gene pool.

"Eugenia" is the story of Ernesto, who at age twenty-three is selected as a breeder. Celiana, his thirty-eight-year-old lover and an accomplished scholar, is deemed unfit for reproduction. To cope with her feelings of guilt and hopelessness, she increasingly turns to marijuana, and her scholarly productivity declines. Meanwhile Ernesto falls in love with a fellow breeder, a young woman named Eugenia -- but the life they ultimately choose is not quite what the state had envisioned.

Taking up important challenges of modern society such as population growth, reproductive behavior and technologies, experimentation with gender roles, and changes in family dynamics, "Eugenia" is published here in English for the first time. Translators Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba and Aaron Dziubinskyj provide a critical apparatus helping readers to understand the novel's literary genesis and genealogy as well as its historical context.

Critique: Falling into such literary traditions as George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World", "Eugnia" by the late Edwardo Urzaiz (1876 - 1955) who was a Cuban-Mexican schoolteacher, gynecologist, obstetrician, artist, and student of psychiatry, was able to bring to his dystopian novel a certain measure of expertise and extrapolation. The result is a true classic that will prove to be an enduringly work of speculative fiction for many generations of appreciative readers to come.

Charles K. McClatchy and the Golden Era of American Journalism
Steven M. Avella
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826220684, $36.95, HC, 414pp,

Synopsis: Charles K. McClatchy was twenty-five when he inherited The Sacramento Bee from his father, and his ensuing career as the paper's editor extended well beyond the newsroom. Until his death in 1936, McClatchy was a consistent advocate for Progressive politics, a crusader for urban reform, a staunch isolationist, and a voice for Northern California. "Charles K. McClatchy and the Golden Era of American Journalism" is a detailed and documented biography that explores his career in journalism as the long-time editor of the Bee in a work that weaves the history of Northern California with that of American newspapers.

Critique: "Charles K. McClatchy and the Golden Era of American Journalism" by Steven M. Avella (Professor of American History, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a substantial and substantive work of seminal scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of sixty-four pages of Notes, a ten page Bibliography, and a an eleven page Index. "Charles K. McClatchy and the Golden Era of American Journalism" is a critically important contribution to academic library American Journalism History collections, and will prove of immense interest to both academia, journalism students, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the history of late 18th and early 19th century American journalism.

Really the Blues
Mezz Mezzrow & Bernard Wolfe
NYRB Classics
c/o The New York Review of Books
435 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781590179451, $17.95, PB, 464pp,

Synopsis: Mezz Mezzrow was a boy from Chicago who learned to play the sax in reform school and pursued a life in music and a life of crime. He moved from Chicago to New Orleans to New York, working in brothels and bars, bootlegging, dealing drugs, getting hooked, doing time, producing records, and playing with the greats, among them Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, and Fats Waller. "Really the Blues" is the jive-talking memoir that Mezzrow wrote at the insistence of, and with the help of, the novelist Bernard Wolfe. "Really the Blues" is the story of an unusual and unusually American life, and a portrait of a man who moved freely across racial boundaries when few could or did.

Critique: An absolutely 'must read' for anyone with an interest in the history of jazz, "Really the Blues" is an inherently fascinating autobiographical account from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library American Biography and Jazz History collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Really the Blues" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Speaking Power to Truth
Michael Keren & Richard Hawkins
Athabasca University Press
c/o UBC Press
University of British Columbia
2029 West mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z2
9781771990332, $26.95, PB, 212pp,

Synopsis: Online discourse has created a new media environment for contributions to public life, one that challenges the social significance of the role of public intellectuals who, whether by choice or by circumstance, offer commentary on issues of the day. The value of such commentary is rooted in the assumption that, by virtue of their training and experience, intellectuals possess knowledge, that they understand what constitutes knowledge with respect to a particular topic, are able to distinguish it from mere opinion, and are in a position to define its relevance in different contexts. When intellectuals comment on matters of public concern, they are accordingly presumed to speak truth, whether they are writing books or op-ed columns or appearing as guests on radio and television news programs. At the same time, with increasing frequency, discourse on public life is taking place online. This new digital environment is characterized an abundance of speakers, discussion, and access. But has this abundance of discourse, this democratization of knowledge, brought with it a corresponding increase in truth?

Casting doubt on the assertion that online discourse, with its proliferation of voices, will somehow yield collective wisdom, "Speaking Power to Truth: Digital Discourse and the Public Intellectual" raises concerns that this wealth of digitally enabled commentary is, in fact, too often bereft of the hallmarks of intellectual discourse: an epistemological framework and the provision of evidence to substantiate claims. Instead, the pursuit of truth finds itself in competition with the quest for public reputation, access to influence, and enhanced visibility. But as knowledge is drawn into the orbit of power, and as the line between knowledge and opinion is blurred, what role will the public intellectual play in the promotion and nurturing of democratic processes and goals? In exploring the implications of the digital transition, the contributors to "Speaking Power to Truth" provide both empirical evidence of, and philosophical reflection on, the current and future role of the public intellectual in a technologically mediated public sphere.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Michael Keren (a professor and Canada Research Chair in the department of political science and the department of communication and culture at the University of Calgary) and Richard Hawkins (a professor in the Science, Technology and Society Program at the University of Calgary, senior fellow at the Centre for Innovation Studies (THECIS), and a fellow of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa), "Speaking Power to Truth: Digital Discourse and the Public Intellectual" is comprised of informed and informative contributions by six experts in the subject that taken collectively is a ground-breaking work of seminal scholarship and an essential, highly recommended addition to academic library Media and Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Speaking Power to Truth" is also available to academia and the general reading public in a Kindle edition ($17.91).

A Thousand Falling Crows
Larry D. Seazy
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228
9781633880849, $15.95, PB, 280pp,

Synopsis: Sonny Burton was forced to retire from the Texas Rangers after taking a bullet from Bonnie Parker in a shoot-out. The bullet so damaged Sonny's right arm that he had to have it amputated. While Sonny struggles with recuperating and tries to get used to the idea of living a life with only one arm, Aldo Hernandez, the hospital's janitor, asks Sonny to help find his daughter and bring her back home. She has got herself mixed up with a couple of brothers involved in a string of robberies. Sonny agrees to help, but is more concerned about a wholly different criminal in town who has taken to killing young women and leaving them in local fields for crows to feast on. Just as Sonny is able to track down Aldo's daughter, he comes to an uncomfortable realization about who might be responsible for the string of murders and races to nab the killer before another girl is left to the crows.

Critique: A riveting suspense thriller of a mystery from beginning to end, "A Thousand Falling Crows" clearly documents novelist Larry D. Seazy as a master of the genre. Very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "A Thousand Falling Crows" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.59).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Cracking the Symbol Code
Tim Wallace-Murphy
Watkins Publishing
9781842932070, $15.50, PB, 350pp,

Synopsis: A heretic in medieval times was anyone who dissented from the established Church's view, and to be branded a heretic invited torture and execution. "Cracking the Symbol Code: The Heretical Message within Church and Renaissance Art" by author, lecturer and historian Tim Wallace-Murphy presents an alternative Christian story told by those who were outlawed by the orthodox Church, and includes secret codes and symbolism of that underground resists to church orthodox and the inquisition that enforced it.

Critique: With all the compelling fictional finesse of a Dan Brown novel, "Cracking the Symbol Code: The Heretical Message within Church and Renaissance Art" is a non-fictional history that is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. Occasionally iconoclastic, always inherently fascinating, "Cracking the Symbol Code" is a compelling read that is very highly recommended to the attention of the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the history of the Catholic Church and the forces that were to challenge it's doctrinal supremacy down through the past two millennia. Indeed, "Cracking the Symbol Code" will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library collections.

Desert God
Wilbur Smith
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062276452, $28.99, 432pp,

Synopsis: On the gleaming banks of the Nile, the brilliant Taita (slave and advisor to the Pharaoh) finds himself at the center of a vortex of passion, intrigue, and danger. His quest to destroy the Hyksos army and form an alliance with Crete takes him on an epic journey up the Nile, through Arabia and the magical city of Babylon, and across the open seas. With the future of Egypt itself on his shoulders, Taita enters a world where the line between loyalty and betrayal shifts like the desert sands, evil enemies await in the shadows, and death lingers on the edges of darkness.

Critique: The politics of ancient Egypt was a blood sport. "Desert God" by Wilbur Smith is a deftly crafted novel that conjures the magic, mystery, romance, and bloody intrigue of a fascinating lost world in a truly entertaining fashion from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Desert God" is also available in a trade paperback edition (9780062403926, $15.99), a mass market paperback edition (9780062276575, $9.99), and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Beard
Alan Swyer
Harvard Square Editions
2152 Beachwood Terrace, Hollywood, CA 90068
9781941861127, $22.95,

Synopsis: The Beard flourishes in a Santa Monica-based internet empire, where young interns grovel at the feet of multimillionaires in the hope of moving up the food chain. Our protagonist is Calvin, who comes to realize that his purpose is mainly as filler, with little of chance of promotion, while competing against the sons and daughters of the wealthy and well-connected, unless he finds a way to become indispensable. Alan Swyer has been writer, director, and/or producer on films ranging from HBO's award- winning "Rebound" to "The Buddy Holly Story;" "Alfred Hitchcock;" and the award-winning "Spiritual Revolution." Among his other work is "Beisbol," Imagen Award winner for best feature-length documentary, "It's More Expensive To Do Nothing," and his newest "El Boxeo," available now on Amazon Prime. In the world of music, among his productions is a collection of Ray Charles love songs, plus countless liner notes. His short stories have appeared in England, Ireland, Germany, India, and in several America publications. His novel The Beard will be published by Harvard Square Editions in April, 2016. He has been a faculty member at the American Film Institute and the University of Southern California, and has taught writing-directing workshops in France (l'Universite de l'Ete) and in Singapore. His film "Saint-Tropez" is slated for production next September in the town made famous by Brigitte Bardot.

Critique: An absolute "must" for all Alan Swyer fans, "The Beard" is a solidly entertaining novel that will have particular appeal for those who enjoy what a true Hollywood insider can bring as a novelist to a fictional narrative played out against a contemporary background of our increasingly new and growing entrepreneurial class of the internet-based wealthy.

Driven by Difference
David Livermore
Amacom Books
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814436530, $27.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: Today's workforce is more diverse than ever before. But despite new perspectives and talents, the promise of increased innovation rarely materializes. Why are so few businesses seeing results? Studies show that diverse teams are more creative than homogenous ones -- but only when they are managed effectively. The secret is to minimize conflict while maximizing the informational diversity found in varied values and experiences. To do this, both leaders and team members need a high level of cultural intelligence, or CQ. Drawing on success stories from Google, Alibaba, Novartis, and other groundbreaking companies, "Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity" identifies the management practices necessary to guide multicultural teams to innovation, including how to: Create an optimal environment; Build trust; Fuse differing perspectives; Align goals and expectations; Generate fresh ideas; Consider the various audiences when selecting and selling an idea; Design and test for different users. Cultural differences can lead to gridlock, or they can catalyze innovation and growth. "Driven by Difference" offers a research-based plan that turns diversity's potential into an economic reality.

Critique: An absolute 'must read' for all business entrepreneurs and corporate executives, "Driven by Difference: How Great Companies Fuel Innovation Through Diversity" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Simply stated, no corporate, community or academic library Business Management reference collection should be without a copy of "Driven by Difference". It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Driven by Difference" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

The Ecological Footprint
Andrea Collins & Andrew Flynn
Edward Elgar Publishing
9 Dewey Court, Northampton, MA 01060-3815
9780857936950, $120.00, HC, 232pp,

Synopsis: The ecological footprint is one of the most prominent tools used to measure environmental sustainability, and its rise in academic and policy debates since the early 1990s has been remarkable. Drawing upon research and examples from around the world, Andrea Collins, Lecturer, and Andrew Flynn, Reader in Environmental Policy and Planning, Cardiff University, UK, collaborate in "The Ecological Footprint: New Developments in Policy and Practice" to critically examine the claims made of the Ecological Footprint and how it has been applied in practice. Offering an up-to-date account, "The Ecological Footprint" provides a unique insight into the ways in which environmental knowledge is used within organizations, and how it is able to carry authority in policy making processes. It further discusses the changing status of the Ecological Footprint and the growth of other footprint tools, such as the Carbon Footprint.

Critique: Exceptionally well grounded, documented, organized and presented, "The Ecological Footprint: New Developments in Policy and Practice" is a major contribution to our current national discussion regarding the issues of environmental sustainability in our increasingly degraded global environmental conditions as exemplified by such phenomena as global warming. "The Ecological Footprint" is a critical and necessary informational resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students studying human geography, ecology, environmental science and urban studies; national and international policy makers concerned with developing sustainable strategies, measuring the environmental impact of key policy decisions and selecting indicators to measure progress towards sustainable development; as well as environmental activists and non-specialist general readers with a vital interest in the concept and application of an Ecological Footprint.

The Book of Becoming
Ronald Alan Meakin
O Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785351570, $33.95, PB, 408pp,

Synopsis: 'Why is there something, rather than nothing?' From the ancient text found on The Emerald Tablet, the motion implicit in achieving higher levels of consciousness is explored through questions surrounding whether evolution proceeds through natural selection or by controlled design and whether the nature of evolution itself is changing. Along our journey we ask whether Gaia theory can by extended beyond an earthly arena, whether science and religion are really incompatible and how do paranormal experiences, such as clairvoyance, actually arise. Considerations of free will, choice, the nature of time and virtue will lead us to identify the obstacles to be found in the way of our survival and whether, or not, we are capable of developing the means to prevent the extinction of the human race.

Critique: An inherently fascinating, utterly absorbing, occasionally iconoclastic, thoughtful and thought-provoking read, "The Book of Becoming: Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? A Metaphysics of Esoteric Consciousness" is a compelling and highly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "The Book of Becoming" is also available in a Kindle edition ($15.99).

Merchant of Alyss
Thomas Locke
c/o Baker Publishing Group
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
9780800724481, $19.99, HC, 368pp,

Synopsis: Life for Hyam is bittersweet. Admired by the citizens of Falmouth for his heroic rescue mission, he cherishes these peaceful days with Joelle by his side. Yet grief over the loss of his magical skills during the great Battle of Emporis threatens to engulf him. Sometimes he even wishes he had never known magic at all. When Hyam comes into possession of an ancient Milantian scroll, he is thrilled to feel the surge of power that courses through him whenever he touches it. But what he discerns in the text could mean war. He embarks upon another journey to determine its true meaning and forestall any attack. But as Hyam is seeking answers, he is unaware that the merchant of Alyss is seeking him...

Critique: A deftly crafted and highly entertaining fantasy action/adventure novel from beginning to end, "Merchant of Alyss" by Thomas Locke will prove to be an extraordinary and enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For the personal reading lists of fantasy enthusiasts it should be noted that "Merchant of Alyss" is also available in a paperback edition (9780800723866, $14.99) and in a Kindle format ($9.57). Also strongly recommended is Thomas Locke's first Hyam fantasy adventure novel "Emissary" (978-0800724474, $19.99 HC, $14.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle).

Fair Gentlemen of Belken County / Claros varones de Belken
Rolando Hinojosa
Arte Publico Press
University of Houston
4902 Gulf Freeway, Bldg 19, Rm 100, Houston, TX 77204-2004
9781558858176, $19.95, PB, 320pp,

Synopsis: In the bilingual book "Fair Gentlemen of Belken County / Claros varones de Belken", author Rolando Hinojosa returns to Klail City (in Belken County along the Texas-Mexico border) to chronicle the lives of its residents. There's friendship, "which can all of a sudden pop up at any time," and death, which happens just as frequently. The friendship between cousins Rafe Buenrostro and Jehu Malacara continues through war and peace. After returning from Korea, Rafe (like so many Mexican Americans) is advised to use the GI Bill to learn a trade, like building fishing boats. He and Jehu opt to attend the University of Texas. They get by working in the library and writing papers for other students. When a teaching assistantship becomes available, Rafe loses it because the secretary couldn't locate him, confirming the fact that some Mexican Americans are sellouts. Death comes knocking, in Korea and South Texas. Their childhood friends, Pepe Vielma and Charlie Villalon, died overseas, as did many other Klail City boys. Closer to home, old Esteban Echevarria is ready to call it quits, saying he won't live another summer. The sun rises and sets in Klail City. People fall in love, wrangle with God and sell their souls to the devil.

Critique: An absorbing read from beginning to end, "Fair Gentlemen of Belken County / Claros varones de Belken" is a deftly crafted novel that perfectly showcases author Rolando Hinojosa extraordinary literary talents, making it a very highly recommended addition to personal reading lists, as well as community, and academic library Spanish/English bilingual literary fiction collections.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State
Linda C. Gugin & James E. St. Clair, editors
Indiana Historical Society Press
450 W Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
9780871953872, $39.00, HC, 436pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Linda C. Gugin (Emeriti Professor of Political Science at Indiana University Southeast) and James E. St. Clair (Professor of Journalism at IU Southeast), "Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State" recognizes the people who made enduring contributions to the state of Indiana in its 200-year history. With contributions by historians, scholars, biographers, and independent researchers, the biographical essays comprising "Indiana's 200" will enhance the public s knowledge and appreciation of those who made a difference in the lives of Hoosiers, the country, and even the world. While the essays contain standard biographical information, emphasis is placed on what these people accomplished and the resulting impact of their lives on the state and elsewhere. The men and women profiled in "Indiana's 200" include individuals from all fields of endeavor: law, politics, art, music, entertainment, literature, sports, education, business/industry, religion, science/invention/technology, as well as the notorious.

Critique: An impressive alphabetically presented biographical compendium, each individual entry in the pages of "Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State" includes DOB and DOD dates, a one line description of offices and/or positions, and summary biography; a bibliography of Further Readings; and the contributor's identification. An invaluable and unique contribution to Indiana History and very highly recommended for academic library American History reference collections, "Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State" could well serve as a template for similar biographically oriented state histories.

Healing the African Body
John Rankin
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
9780826220547, $65.00, HC, 272pp,

Synopsis: "Healing the African Body: British Medicine in West Africa, 1800-1860" by John Rankin (Assistant Professor, Department of History, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee) explores the troubled intertwining of religion, medicine, empire, and race relations in the early nineteenth century. Professor Rankin analyzes the British use of medicine in West Africa as a tool to usher in a "softer" form of imperialism, considers how British colonial officials, missionaries, and doctors regarded Africans, and explores the impact of race classification on colonial constructs. Professor Rankin goes beyond contemporary medical theory, examining the practice of medicine in colonial Africa as Britons dealt with the challenges of providing health care to their civilian employees, African soldiers, and the increasing numbers of freed slaves in the general population, even while the imperialists themselves were threatened by a lack of British doctors and western medicines.

Critique: An impressive work of seminal scholarship, "Healing the African Body: British Medicine in West Africa, 1800-1860" is an exceptionally researched and detailed history that is enhanced with the inclusion of an appendix (Percentage of Royal Navy Ship Personnel Entered Onto The Sick List); illustrations in the form of Tables and Figures; thirty pages of Notes; a forty page Bibliography; and a thirty three page Index. Effectively organized and presented, "Healing the African Body" is very highly recommended for academic library collections and the personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in colonial era African history.

Reflections on Life and Art
Garo Z. Antreasian
University of New Mexico Press
MSC05 3185
1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM 87131-0001
9780826355416, $39.95, PB, 368pp,

Synopsis: Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art and Art History, University of New Mexico, Garo Z. Antreasian (at his present age of 94 years old) belongs to the great generation of innovators in mid-twentieth-century American art. While influenced by a variety of European artists in his early years, it was his involvement with Tamarind Lithography Workshop starting in 1960 that transformed his work. As Tamarind's founding technical director, he revolutionized the medium of lithography. He discovered how to manipulate the spontaneous possibilities of lithography in the manner of the Abstract Expressionist painters. In addition to reflecting on his work, he writes movingly about his Armenian heritage and its importance in his art, his teaching, and his love affair with all sorts of artistic media. Illustrating his drawings, paintings, and prints, "Reflections on Life and Art" reveals Antreasian as a major American artist.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a exceptionally informative and extensive introduction by William Peterson, "Reflections on Life and Art" provides a comprehensive overview of the life and work of Gara Z. Antreasian. Profusely and beautifully illustrated with an impressively detailed commentary, "Reflections on Life and Art" is a critically important addition for academic library American Art History reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Reflections on Life and Art" is also available in a Kindle edition ($39.95).

Microscale and Nanoscale Heat Transfer
Mourad Rebay, Sadik Kakac, Renato M. Cotta
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498736305, $239.95, HC, 505pp,

Synopsis: "Microscale and Nanoscale Heat Transfer: Analysis, Design, and Applications" features contributions from prominent researchers in the field of micro- and nanoscale heat transfer and associated technologies and offers a complete understanding of thermal transport in nano-materials and devices. Nanofluids can be used as working fluids in thermal systems; the thermal conductivity of heat transfer fluids can be increased by adding nanoparticles in fluids. "Microscale and Nanoscale Heat Transfer" provides details of experimental and theoretical investigations made on nanofluids for use in the biomechanical and aerospace industries. It examines the use of nanofluids in improving heat transfer rates, covers the numerical approaches for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of nanofluids, and reviews the experimental results of commonly used nanofluids dispersed in both spherical and nonspherical nanoparticles. It also focuses on current and developing applications of microscale and nanoscale convective heat transfer.

In addition, "Microscale and Nanoscale Heat Transfer" covers a wide range of analysis that includes: Solid - liquid interface phonon transfer at the molecular level; The validity of the continuum hypothesis and Fourier law in nanochannels; Conventional methods of using molecular dynamics (MD) for heat transport problems; The molecular dynamics approach to calculate interfacial thermal resistance (ITR); A review of experimental results in the field of heat pipes and two-phase flows in thermosyphons; Microscale convective heat transfer with gaseous flow in ducts; The application of the lattice Boltzmann method for thermal microflows; A numerical method for resolving the problem of subcooled convective boiling flows in microchannel heat sinks; Two-phase boiling flow and condensation heat transfer in mini/micro channels, and more

"Microscale and Nanoscale Heat Transfer" addresses the need for thermal packaging and management for use in cooling electronics and serves as a resource for researchers, academicians, engineers, and other professionals working in the area of heat transfer, microscale and nanoscale science and engineering, and related industries.

Critique: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by the team of Mourad Rebay GRESPI Laboratory, University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne, Reims France), Sadik Kakac (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Energy, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil), and Renato M. Cotta (Department of Mechanical Engineering and Energy, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil), "Microscale and Nanoscale Heat Transfer: Analysis, Design, and Applications" is comprised of eighteen major articles by an international collection of experts in their fields. The result is a comprehensive volume of outstanding scholarship and technical expertise that is very highly recommended for academic library Contemporary Technology reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Psychology for Social Work
Emma Zara O'Brien
Palgrave Macmillan
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001
9781137576620, $40.00, PB, 369pp,

Synopsis: Emma Zara O'Brien teaches at Inchicore College of Further Education. She has lectured at University College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology. She has also worked as a researcher in the Centre for Disability Studies, University College Dublin, and in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. In "Psychology for Social Work: A Comprehensive Guide to Human Growth and Development" psychologist O'Brien draws upon her years of experience and expertise to provide an engaging and accessible introduction to understanding human behavior and development from a psychological perspective.

"Psychology for Social Work" offers a psychological framework that provides thematic coherence for a uniquely wide range of material, from brain development to communication skills, psychiatric diagnoses to forms of discrimination. Adopting a logical and intuitive structure, its material is relevant both to Human Growth and Development modules and a range of other Social Work modules with psychological content. "Psychology for Social Work" offers a truly integrative resource for students, allowing them to see how different elements of theory and research connect together for practical application.

Written as an introductory text, the language is accessible and user-friendly with diagrams and 'In Focus' pieces used to support learning. There is an emphasis on student learning and chapters include an outline at its beginning; definition boxes to highlight important information; and the use of case studies and activities to encourage students to engage with the topics at hand.

Critique: "Psychology for Social Work: A Comprehensive Guide to Human Growth and Development" is an exceptionally well written, organized and presented textbook that is an ideal and comprehensive introduction that will prove to be of immense value as a textbook for academia or as informed and informative presentation for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the role of psychology with the application of social work. Enhanced with figures and tables, a twelve page biographical list of References, and a thirteen page Index, "Psychology for Social Work" is very highly recommended for academic library Social Work Studies and Contemporary Psychology reference collections. It should be noted for personal and professional reading lists that "Psychology for Social Work" is also available in a Kindle edition ($32.00).

Jewish Rites Of Death
Richard A. Light
Terra Nova Books
33 Alondra Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508
9781938288555, $23.95, Spiral Bound, 164pp,

Synopsis: Death is the ultimate transformative experience. For Jewish communities, the ways this is dealt with have been shaped by millennia of custom and belief, and do more than routinely follow a set of prescribed practices. These communities have developed a series of traditions for death and dying that are compelling in their profound beauty and power. "Jewish Rites of Death" presents both a practical, informative guide to these practices and a compendium in which local volunteers who bring the blessings of these traditions to both the deceased and the bereaved write of the immeasurable enhancement their own lives have gained from them as well. As the personal stories of author Richard Light and his contributors make clear, the prayers, the physical actions in preparing the dead for burial, and the intentions of the heart involved in Jewish death rituals open a unique window on the fine line a soul passes over between this world and the next. Those choosing to involve themselves with the crossing of this boundary tell in "Jewish Rites of Death" of feelings, thoughts, inspiration (and maybe even a little wisdom) that result from their shared experiences. Jewish tradition teaches that death is not taboo or hidden; it is simply part of the cycle of events that constitute a life. In its deepest sense, "Jewish Rites Of Death" offers basic and eternal truths on what it really means to be human.

Critique: Profoundly insightful, inspired and inspiring, impressively well written, organized and presented, "Jewish Rites Of Death" is a unique and very highly recommended addition to personal, synagogue, community, and academic library Judaic Studies instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Michael J. Carson

Chutsky's Bookshelf

The Real Wizard of OZ: The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum
Rebecca Loncraine
Gotham Books
Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
9781592405589, $18.00, 329 pp,

America's most beloved tale, "The Wizard of Oz", had a much beloved author, L. Frank Baum. At a time when European authors Grimm's and Anderson's tales and their winged fairies reigned supreme in children's books, Baum became the father of the American Fairytale.

His adoring legion of young fans circa 1900, (not movie fans as those living and reading this would assume from our yearly homage to MGM's version of The Wizard of Oz) kept him writing sequel after sequel, almost trapping him in a snow-globe world of Oz. Unbeknownst to them, and the public at the time, he secretly escaped the yoke by writing near eighty adventure novels under assumed pen names- most for older boys and girls, and a smattering for adults.

Biographer Rebecca Loncraine introduces us to what made "The Real Wizard of Oz"- Baum tick and most vividly the truly amazing times he lived in, thus the subtitle of the book; "The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum.

And oh what amazing well stocked times, spanning from 1848-1919, it was that fed his imagination. This epic book is a rich amalgamate of American History, jam-packed with big events; from the Civil war, to the end of the Wild West frontier, to the 1890's depression, to the Woman' Suffrage movement, to decades of innovative inventions such as; kerosene for lamps, the first x-rays, Electricity, the Model T Ford, the birth of the cinema, and everything in between such as; mass marketed bicycles and cameras, the phonograph, the rise of visiting dead relatives through mediums, the tensions of assimilating Indians into euro-American culture, the invention of the elevator and engineered steel, the Brooklyn Bridge, P.T. Barnum's traveling Circus, the Chicago World's Fair, the popularity of rides in Hot Air Balloons, and the list goes on.

All of it had a profound influence on Baum's writing, which he compulsively began as a youngster once he got his hands on the newest home printing press kit. He was cranking out newspapers from the age of fourteen and would find newspapers to be a valuable constant outlet for his words and thoughts throughout the rest of his life, most often a vehicle through which to vent emotions, mostly periodic outbursts at the popular attitudes of the times. For he was a man always fully engaged with every aspect of society. He also used humor in his stories to discharge the power of what frightened him...or as in some of his serialized characters- what annoyed him.

The author Loncraine, manages throughout the book to sum up the most poignant times of his life with her wonderfully English turn of the phrase:

"As this terrible outburst showed, Baum's spirit had become dry, cracked, and cold through his experiences in Aberdeen, like the dried-out ground of the plains, now iced over for winter."

"His experiences as a child and as a man, his extensive reading (including Charles Dickens) through which he'd absorbed the oldest archetypes from folktales, had all jumbled together in his mind to make a brilliant cocktail, which surfaced intuitively in his brilliant hyperreal stories."

Kindergarten magazine at the time labeled his knack of writing realistic yet fantastical characters, as one of his greatest strengths. This ability was said to stem partly from the fact that Baum's reality accommodated the invisible life force inherent in every object, (the basic tenant of the Theosophical- or Metaphysical philosophy he ascribed to), as well as the immortal presence of the spirits of those no longer with us. A belief born of the high child mortality rates of the times. . In truth- there was a blurred line for Baum between the story and the physical world, a boundary Baum hardly recognized at all.

Surprisingly it was only in mid-life when he began to pen the children's stories that flooded his mind and were merely used to entertain his children. The first ones were written on scraps of paper or napkins while sitting on trains and staying in hotels during the years he was employed as a traveling salesman. To make up for his harbored feelings of guilt over being away so often, he would arrive home not with what he saw as empty trinkets, but his own unique imaginative stories he believed would be more of a cherished memory for his brood of children. They would gather round and soak up his words with as much glee as there was love behind the telling of them.

I fell right into the trap of reading his life like a treasure map, searching for clues and origins of the original seeds of his ideas for "The Wizard of Oz." And without much work they pop up from the pages at every turn, his inspirations for the spinning twisters ripping across the open prairie farmlands of Kansas, the yellow brick road, the tin man, the scarecrow, Dorothy, the wizard himself and of course...Toto too. You will have to read the biography to discover them for yourself for I don't wish to ruin those 'ahah' moments.

But I will reveal some surprising twists in the Wizard of Oz saga. It became a smash hit extravaganza musical in 1901 and the proceeds from its off and on run over the years was the real money maker for Baum. Book royalties may have sustained him, but those monies allowed him in his later life to live like a king, moving between stays in lush hotels in California, an expensive apartment in Chicago and extensive European and American travels in the "newest touring cars"(thanks to Ford) motoring around the west. He even started a small movie studio, though, unfortunately, he never lived to see the day MGM presented their 1939 golden version of his story, which has and probably always will have a hallowed place in everyone's childhood memories.

"The Real Wizard of Oz" is a wonderful smorgasbord of our unique American history and the ripening age of American ingenuity while it pays homage to L. Frank Baum, a man who spun it all into the web of his Fairytale worlds.

The Martian
Andy Weir
Broadway Books
c/o Crown Publishing, Random House LLC
New York New York 10019-4641
9780553418026, $15.00, 385 pp,

I sought out the book THE MARTIAN after seeing the hit film by the same name. If you are a bit of a space science nerd or just an enthusiast, like myself- one who googles any hot new planet or comet discovery, you will really enjoy the book which, as in the film, is a rambling kind of diary of astronaut Mark Watney's time in hell stuck on Mars.

The storyline is simple..... During a violent sand storm threatening the crew of six astronauts living in a HAB on Mars...five manage to make an escape while one is left behind, Mark Watney, presumed dead. Being the Bad-A** Botanist and Astronaut he is, helps him to physically and psychologically overcome a string of survival challenges in an effort to keep from dying or until the annoying slow moving brains at NASA can figure out how to get him off the planet and back to earth. I won't ruin the surprises in the book but will say they include H2O, Co2, O2, Martian soil, air locks, nuclear waste, human waste, potatoes, disco music, rewriting computer codes, explosions..... and a lot of hubris.

There certainly was a lot of science to be read in-between-the-lines of the movie, but full doses of the real stuff make up the back bone of Andy Weir's book.

Weir's writing has a wild, loose, free chain-of-thought kind of style which sets it apart from most other overly calculated Science-fiction novels, punctuated nicely with doses of black-humor delivered by our hero astronaut Watney, while shaking his booty to disco music and bantering up-yours to death at every beat.

What's wonderful too is the story behind the story- the extra essay at the end that describes how Weir's love of science made him keep hammering out the passionate punchy pages which he shared online with anyone who would take the time to read them. That act allowed him to gain a following which eventually led to the lightening strike of the publishing and movie deal.

Though the THE MARTIAN may not deliver the futuristic punch 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY delivered up in 1968, when living in deep Space with a 'computer buddy' was unimaginably LIGHT years away, in reality, it should pack a bigger wallop, because in 2015 THE FUTURE IS NOW!

In in our lifetime (if your under 60- don't smoke-don't drink-and eat loads of kale) life on the red planet of Mars IS POSSIBLE. NASA as we speak is working on their first manned-mission to Mars scheduled to launch somewhere in the 2030's. Curiosity and Rover are ALREADY roaming Mar's auburn sandy slopes and could end up mimicking the buried relic in the book- Pathfinder--uncovered by the stranded fictional astronaut Mark, crucial in aiding his survival.

THE MARTIAN is a fast-paced compelling fun read and a great science manual accompaniment to the movie.

Karen Chutsky

Clint's Bookshelf

The Vampire Gaytooth
Michael John, Inc.
5726 Cortez Rd W, #349, Bradenton, FL 34210
9781632632661 $16.95 pbk

Synopsis: Within a four-block radius of a Southern California city center, a Nice Jewish vampire involves himself with the workings of humanity. This likable quixotic character rails at the worst of human failing, and creatively punishes perceived injustice. Without respect or reverence for organized religions or their ancient traditions, he pits himself against these institutions. He observes the best of men rise above bigotry and sexual depravity that he sometimes unwittingly participates in. He is Gaytooth.

Critique: The Vampire Gaytooth is a most unusual vampire story that pushes boundaries in every direction. The tangled cast of characters immersed in Gaytooth's life range from a marine biologist and a Muslim imam to a child molester, a prostitute, and a Chinese street gang. Amid the most questionable elements of human society, there is still room for the concepts of justice and injustice, even (especially!) in the eyes of an ancient, thirsting embodiment of mythology. Irreverent and eyebrow-raising, The Vampire Gaytooth is unforgettably original and highly recommended.

TJ's Last Summer in Cape Cod
Garfield Whyte
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781519232250, $16.00, PB, 418pp,

Synopsis: TJ (Taj James) an 18 year old high school basketball star wants to make this summer his best ever, before he leaves to take up his college basketball scholarship, but he needs help. So, he rolls the dice and calls on his 55 year old Uncle Peter, a dedicated womanizer, to help him with those plans. TJ has secrets for Uncle Peter so TJ was very sure his uncle would do anything for him, as his uncle's promises seemed more sacred than wedding vows. As summer rolled along TJ is forced to make decisions whether to be a good boy or to practice some of the lessons his uncle is teaching him. Was it worth it when summer ended? That will depend on whose side you are on. TJ's Last Summer in Cape Cod is by turns bold, provocative, rude, sexy, suspenseful, unpredictable and witty. It will make you want to be 18 again!

Critique: "TJ's Last Summer in Cape Cod" is a deftly crafted fiction that clearly showcases author Garfield Whyte's impressive storytelling talents as a novelist. Indeed, "TJ's Last Summer in Cape Cod" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community library General Fiction collections.

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

Gospel Transformation Bible, ESV
1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187 USA
9781433538674, $39.99,

What makes the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible different from other Bibles? This Bible answers the "what," "when," "why" and "how" Bible questions and puts the emphasis on the "why" and "how" in a practical way that equips readers to understand and apply God's word to their lives. The theme is the transforming power of God's love and grace that leads to personal heart transformation because of "God's transforming grace..." Acts 20:24

The 8-point font size in this crisp black letter edition is sharp and easy-to-read. The two-column layout runs across the top half of the page and features section headings in bold with the notes and reference segments along the bottom half of the page. Book introductions include author, date, outline and in some cases who the intended audience was.

In addition to the popular cross-reference system there is a full index, an extensive topical index, a lengthy concordance, eight colorful maps and a daily Bible reading plan. Purchase also includes free access to the online edition of Gospel Transformation Bible ESV

Overall this Bible highlights the transforming power of God's love and grace with a, which makes it a wonderful devotional-style study Bible. For more focus on application, heart transformation and personal spiritual growth details, click on the interview with the editors of the Gospel Transformation Bible, English Standard Version.

Lethal Beauty: Mia Quinn Mystery #3
Lis Wiehl & April Henry
Thomas Nelson
P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
9781595549051, $16.99,

Lethal Beauty, book three in the Mia Quinn Mystery series from Lis Wiehl and April Henry finds King County prosecutor Mia Quinn working on what she thought would be an "open and shut murder case." And it should have been.

There wasn't any doubt Dandan Lee, a young Chinese prostitute, had been stabbed to death by her "rich American client," David Leacham. However, David hired Seattle's best criminal defense attorney who cast doubt and suspicion on every piece of evidence Mia presented and left the victim looking guilty. Mia believed her case was solid and felt she had connected with eleven of the twelve jurors; still she was puzzled by one juror who wouldn't make eye contact with her. And she knew it would only take one for a "hung jury."

Meanwhile on the home front Mia's fifteen-year-old son Gabe is more and more irritable, angry and frustrated causing Mia further frustration and worry. Still she's happy over Gabe's new passion with diet and exercise as he works to "bulk up" for the high school football team. She doesn't know Gabe is secretly buying and using steroids to develop his newly attractive muscles. Nor does Gabe know about the drugs' dangerous side effects or the dangerous new friends he's made. Add lethal threats, missing witnesses, bribery and fresh murders and "Lethal Beauty" is hard to put down.

Journey into the murky shadows of illegal immigrants, prostitution, human sex trafficking, bribery and steroid abuse with Wiehl and Henry. The well-drawn characters are realistic and engaging although Mia's naivete over Gabe's use of drugs and behavior changes is not characteristic of this otherwise smart D.A.

Threads of romance continue between homicide detective Charlie Carlson, professor Eli and Mia yet Mia's financial issues, prosecution and investigation pressures and Gabe's erratic behavior leave little time for romance. The spiritual thread, unlike other books in the series, is not integral to the story. "Lethal Beauty" can be read as a standalone mystery or for those following the characters as part of the series.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner
Diana Brulles, Karen L. Brown, Susan Winebrenner
Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714-8813
9781618215420, $39.95, PB, 400pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Diana Brulles (Director of Gifted Education at Paradise Valley Unified School District, and the Gifted Program Coordinator at Arizona State University), Karen L. Brown (Gifted Program Mentor for Paradise Valley Unified School District), and Susan Winebrenner (a full-time consultant in staff development specializing in highly practical and effective training for educators in differentiated instruction), "Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner: Standards-Based Activities and Extensions for Middle School" supports middle school teachers in teaching all students, including those with high ability. "Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner" contains extension lessons in each content area with learning activities that align to the national content standards, embed ELA Common Core Standards, and correlate to DOK levels. The extension lessons provide for active learning tailored to address multiple learning levels. Using this semi-structured process ensures differentiated learning experiences that align to the standards while also respecting that students have different interests, different methods of learning, and most importantly, that they are learning at different challenge levels. The time is now upon us to emphasize interdisciplinary learning experiences that provide real-world connections and engage students in relevant and meaningful learning. We have long known that while critical for gifted and talented students, these higher level thinking strategies benefit all students.

Critique: An absolute "must read" for any classroom teacher needing to craft individualized lessons for middle school students in accordance to today's national, state, and local school district standards, "Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner: Standards-Based Activities and Extensions for Middle School" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. "Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner" should be a part of every school district and academic library's teacher instructional education resource and reference collections.

Collaborative Teams That Transform Schools
Robert J. Marzano, et al.
Marzano Research Laboratory
555 N. Morton Street, Bloomington, IN 47404
9781943360031, $29.95, PB, 163pp,

Synopsis: "Collaborative Teams That Transform Schools: The Next Step in PLCs" offers a practical, comprehensive model of effective professional learning communities. In this user-friendly guide, educators will find research-based steps and strategies designed to increase the effectiveness of collaborative teams and enhance PLCs. Educators will discover how the PLC process can transform critical components of education-including curriculum, assessment, instruction, and teacher development-and use reproducible agendas, scales, and checklists to improve school wide practices. "Collaborative Teams That Transform Schools: The Next Step in PLCs" includes: A model of effective instruction and strategies for direct instruction; An exploration of resources for collaborative teams to use as they have honest and challenging discussions, set and monitor norms, and focus on the right work; Charting progress and transformation with self-evaluation surveys; study vignettes that depict how real schools have successfully implemented the strategies outlined in each chapter; Answers to comprehension questions to review each chapter's main points.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Collaborative Teams That Transform Schools: The Next Step in PLCs" is enhanced with the inclusion of four appendices (Answers to Comprehension Questions; Resources for Collaborative Teams; The New Taxonomy; A Model of Effective Instruction); an eight page listing of References & Resources; as well as a four page Index. "Collaborative Teams That Transform Schools" is very highly recommended for school district and academic library Contemporary Educational Issues reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for teacher education studies that "Collaborative Teams That Transform Schools" is also available in a Kindle edition ($28.45).

Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice
Joyce Hwang & Martha Bohm
Actar D
c/o ActarBirkhauser Distribution
151 Grand Street, 5th floor, New York, NY 10013
9781940291185, $29.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Joyce Hwang (a Registered Architect in New York State and an Assistant Professor of Architecture at University at Buffalo, SUNY) and Martha Bohm (Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design), "Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice" is comprised of essays, projects, and interviews that examine emerging forms of sponsorship, new forms of connectivity, technological or social, that produce innovative modes of collaboration, and strategies for cultivating relationships that allow us to rethink typical hierarchies between those in power and those in service. The profession of architecture has traditionally been characterized by patronage. Throughout the twentieth century, private clients have enabled architects to develop and realize their most significant work. Today, the landscape of patronage is shifting. While the role of private clients is still central to the survival of the profession, an increasing number of architects and design practitioners are actively cultivating partnerships with not-for-profits, granting agencies, educational institutions, and other public organizations. "Beyond Patronage" address such issues as: How are these broader relationships redefining the role of patronage in architecture? Have our current economic, ecological, and political climates provoked architecture to confront its own priorities and assumptions? How can the practice of architecture be shaped not only through relationships of power, but also through strategies of empowerment? How are emerging practitioners today grappling with issues of inclusion, and more.

Critique: Informed and informative, instructive and insightful, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice" will prove to be a signal and important contribution to professional and academic library Architecture reference collections and supplemental studies lists.

Straw, Hay & Rushes in Irish Folk Tradition
Annie O'Dowd
Irish Academic Press
International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR, 97213
9780716533108, $90.00, HC, 560pp,

Synopsis: In Ireland, the humble organic materials of straw, hay, and rushes were utilized throughout the centuries for a myriad of purposes. The heyday of their use as objects were the 18th and 19th centuries, when travelers to Ireland often wrote disparaging and derogatory accounts of what they saw: saddles of straw, sleeping on rushes, restricting animals with tethers and spancels of bark and animal hair, and wearing crudely-made straw and rush hats. Yet, the people who produced and utilized these objects were both ingenious and thrifty, making use of what they could find at no cost and using their learned skills to make objects which are now seen as having not only function but also beauty. Author Anne O'Dowd's "Straw, Hay & Rushes in Irish Folk Tradition" is a powerful and lavishly illustrated look at the historical context of the making of a wide range of useful and ceremonial objects, as well as the folklore of belief and custom connected with the materials and practices. The thousand or so objects (made from straw, hay, and rushes) in the National Museum of Ireland's Irish Folklife Collection are the foundation of this study. "Straw, Hay & Rushes in Irish Folk Tradition" is beautifully illustrated with color photography, as well as black and white images, and presents a fascinating insight into Irish crafts and rituals, along with their ancient origins.

Critique: Informed and informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Straw, Hay & Rushes in Irish Folk Tradition" is an inherently fascinating history that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library collections. Of special interest to both academics and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Irish history and culture, "Straw, Hay & Rushes in Irish Folk Tradition" is enhanced with the inclusion of forty pages of Endnotes; a fourteen page Bibliography; a sixteen page list of illustrations; and a an eighteen page Index.

Unexpected Israel
Ruth Corman
Gefen Publishing House
11 Edison Place, Springfield, NJ 07081
9789652298515, $35.00, HC, 200pp,

Synopsis: Since 2011, photojournalist Ruth Corman has traveled through the complex mosaic that is Israel to introduce readers to aspects of the country that never appear in the media the curious, the humorous, the moving and the dramatic. In the pages of "Unexpected Israel: Stories You Never Read in the Media", Corman introduces us to places that few know of and tells of encounters with some unforgettable individuals, such as Tsegue-Mariam, an Ethiopian nonagenarian nun and world-renowned composer of piano music, and Gershon Luxemburg, a boxing champion from Uzbekistan who emigrated to Israel and runs a boxing school open to all. Focusing on cameos of everyday life, "Unexpected Israel" brings people and places to life, ranging from caviar to camels, owls to oranges, pomegranates to pilgrims and fossils to friendship as well as some unimaginable tales of heroism. "Unexpected Israel" is without doubt a memorable and wholly unexpected journey.

Critique: Profusely illustrated with color photography throughout, "Unexpected Israel: Stories You Never Read in the Media" is an informed and informative a read featuring true life stories that are as thoughtful as they are thought-provoking. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Unexpected Israel" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as synagogue, community, and academic library contemporary Israeli cultural collections and supplemental studies lists

Strategies for Close Reading and Writing
Jessica Hathaway
Shell Education
5301 Oceanus Drive, Huntington Beach, CA 92649-1030
9781425815059, $39.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Jessica Hathaway has conducted classroom-based research on the integration of different learning modalities into literacy instruction and spent several years working in the Los Angeles Unified School District teaching early elementary, instructing art enrichment classes, and mentoring novice teachers. In "Strategies for Close Reading and Writing" she has as her focus the use of close reading in classroom instruction with this practical, standards-based resource. Featuring easy-to-use lessons that focus on informational/explanatory text samples, argumentative text samples, or narrative text samples, each lesson is tailored toward specific grade spans and includes step-by-step instructions on how to work with and improve students' close reading skills. By implementing the techniques and strategies outlined in "Strategies for Close Reading and Writing", students will become more prepared for college and career readiness, become strong global thinkers, and will be able to be meet the standards and expectations of 21st century learners.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Strategies for Close Reading and Writing" is an extraordinary instruction guide that is very highly recommended to the attention of all K-12 classroom teachers. Practical, applicable, comprehensive, and thoroughly 'user friendly', "Strategies for Close Reading and Writing" would prove to be an enduringly valued addition to academic library Teacher Education instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Bronner: A Journey to Understand
Sherri Burgess
New Hope Publishers
PO Box 830711, Birmingham, AL 35283-0711
9781625915009, $16.99, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: In "Bronner: A Journey to Understand", author and Bible studies teacher Sherri Burgess leads readers on her journey to understanding the purpose behind pain through the powerful story of her son Bronner's earthly death. Using her rich, marvelous experiences of God's works since her son's heaven going, she provides comforting assurance that God truly is everything we need in this life. With a reader's guide in the back of the book, this makes an empowering resource for small-group discussion or book clubs. "Bronner" is much more than an inspiring story of faith in the worst kind of pain. It is a call to action and a beckoning to know our Holy God like never before!

Critique: Exceptionally well written, inspired and inspiring, "Bronner: A Journey to Understand" is a compelling and inspiring read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Bronner: A Journey to Understand" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.49).

The Power of Feeling
Vivian Dittmar
Verlag VCS Dittmar
9783940773166, $14.50, PB, 198pp,

Synopsis: Feelings or emotions are what determine who you are and how you live your life. Like most people, you probably spend a lot of time and money trying to create or avoid certain feelings. In order to liberate the true power of your feelings, you need to understand their real purpose. They are the keys to your emotional potential and intelligence. With "The Power of Feelings: A Practical Guide to Emotional Intelligence" by Vivian Dittmar (a bestselling author, celebrated speaker and founder of the non-profit Be the Change Foundation, who grew up on three continents in very different cultures gives giving her a unique take on what it means to be human) you will learn why feelings like anger, sadness, fear and shame are really the key to your clarity, love, creativity, humility and natural authority -- and how you can unlock it!

Critique: As thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation as it is informed and informative, "The Power of Feelings: A Practical Guide to Emotional Intelligence" is an easy read while also being one of those life changing instructional guides that only come along perhaps once in a generation. Very highly recommended for community library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Power of Feeling" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Legacy of the Grand Tour
Lisa Colletta, editor
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
The Gatehouse M010C
285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940
9781611477979, $75.00, HC, 226pp,

Synopsis: The topos of the journey is one of the oldest in literature, and even in this age of packaged tours and mediated experience, it still remains one of the most compelling. Compiled and edited by Lisa Colletta (Professor of English and Director of the Communication and English Program at the American University of Rome), "The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on Travel, Literature, and Culture" examines the ways in which the legacy of the Grand Tour is still evident in works of travel and literature. From its aristocratic origins and the permutations of sentimental and romantic travel to the age of tourism and globalization, the Grand Tour still influences the destinations tourists choose and shapes the ideas of culture and sophistication that surround the act of travel. The ten erudite essays comprising "The Legacy of the Grand Tour" examine a wide variety of literature (travel, memoir, and fiction) and explore the ways travel and ideas of "culture" have evolved since the heyday of the Grand Tour in the 18th century. The sites of the Grand Tour remain a powerful cultural draw, and they continue to define ideas of taste and learning for those who visit them.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a a ten page Bibliography and an eight page Index, "The Legacy of the Grand Tour: New Essays on Travel, Literature, and Culture" is an impressively informed and informative work of originality and scholarship that would augment any academic library Literary Studies and Travel Literature reference collection and supplemental studies reading list. Exceptional and instructive, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Legacy of the Grand Tour" is also available in a Kindle edition ($66.66).

From the Heart
Chris Craymer
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9788862084529, $50.00, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: While developing the concept for his latest published work, "From the Heart", photographer Chris Craymer was inspired by the idea of not only photographing his subjects, but also interviewing them, to create holistic portraits. Known internationally for his fashion and lifestyle photography, Craymer had never before played the role of interviewer. The ritual and vulnerability of having one's portrait taken forges a trust between photographer and subject, and Craymer found that it was as if a door had been opened during the photography sessions, as the words in the interviews flowed "from the heart". The resulting portraits are unique and intimate: the reader senses Craymer's connection with each of his subjects.

Critique: Exhibiting truly exquisite photography, Chris Craymer's "From the Heart" is an extraordinary and impressive body of work that is exceptionally absorbing from beginning to end. "From the Heart" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as both community and academic library Contemporary American Photography collections.

The Power of Goodness
Nadine Hoover
Conscience Studio
90 West University Street, Alfred, NY 14802
9780982849286, $17.50, PB, 120pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Nadine Hoover, enhanced with Forewords by Pete Seeger and Musa Akhmadov, "The Power of Goodness: Art and Stories for a Culture of Peace" is comprised of short stories of nonviolence and reconciliation from the lives of real people capture the excitement of action, the joy of seeing from new perspectives, and the encouragement of witnessing small acts that make big differences. The artwork enriching the stories presented in the pages of "The Power of Goodness" is by children ages 6-20 and who are from Chechnya, Russia. These are stories that call the reader to fully appreciate "those tiny, invisible, molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual through the crannies of the world".

Critique: A unique, impressive, exceptional, phenomenal, and extraordinary anthology, "The Power of Goodness: Art and Stories for a Culture of Peace" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists, and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections.

Recreational Therapy Basics, Techniques, and Interventions
Heather R. Porter, editor
Idyll Arbor, Inc.
PO Box 720, Ravensdale, WA 98051
9781882883974, $60.00, HC, 592pp,

Synopsis: Compiled and edited by Heather R. Porter (Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Temple university, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), "Recreational Therapy Basics, Techniques, and Interventions" provides 51 chapters about recreational therapy practice. Of them, 10 chapters describe the basics including topics such as activity and task analysis, body mechanics, consequences of inactivity, and effects of stress; 41 chapters with in-depth descriptions of techniques and interventions used by recreational therapists. Contributed by experts in their fields, these include adaptive sports, behavior strategies, disability rights education, medical play, social skills training, walking and gait training, and wheelchair mobility. Each chapter has a thorough discussion of how to apply the technique along with indications, contraindications, and efficacy research supporting the use of the technique. Expected outcomes, documentation, and links to ICF codes connect the intervention to the therapists work as part of the healthcare team.

Critique: A truly impressive, informed and informative body of work, "Recreational Therapy Basics, Techniques, and Interventions" is exceptionally well organized and presented, making it an essential, core addition to academic library reference Recreational Therapy reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum
Eva M. Horn, et al.
Brookes Publishing Company
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
9781598577549, $39.95, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: How can inclusive early educators plan and deliver challenging instructions to help all young learners ages 3 to 5 succeed in preschool and kindergarten? "Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum: A UDL-Based Framework for Children's School Success" is a guide with authoritative answers contributed by some of today's most renowned names in early childhood education. Presenting the Children's School Success+ (CSS+) framework, for building a UDL-based plan for inclusive preschool instruction, "Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum" is a powerful tool for using an existing curriculum to address each child's unique learning needs. Through practical, evidence-based strategies and guidelines, "Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum" shows how to equalize access to curriculum content while giving learners multiple ways to access and possess new knowledge. "Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum" shows how to: Identify a developmentally appropriate scope and sequence for your students' learning objectives; Ensure a coherent, engaging curriculum that continuously builds on the knowledge and skills your students acquire; Develop UDL-based activity plans that support every child's learning; Use differentiation and individualization strategies for students who need extra supports; Select and implement successful progress monitoring strategies; Improve teaching through a continuous loop of planning, instruction, and monitoring; Work and play well with colleagues; Engage in partnership with families to support their children's success. "Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum" also features a wealth of downloadable online resources for implementing the framework, plus specific tips and strategies on addressing key topics such as behavior, classroom organization, and collaboration with families.

Critique: An impressive volume of outstanding scholarship, "Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum: A UDL-Based Framework for Children's School Success" is a very highly recommended resource for preschool, Head Start, and elementary school instructional reference collections. No college or university teacher education department or academic library Early Education reference collection should be without a copy of "Six Steps to Inclusive Preschool Curriculum: A UDL-Based Framework for Children's School Success". You'll also see the framework in action, with recurring vignettes in diverse early childhood settings, including a public preschool, a Head Start classroom, and an early childhood special education classroom.

Textiles of the Banjara
Charlotte Kwon & Tim McLaughlin
Thames & Hudson, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110-0017
9780500518373, $50.00, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: The Banjara is an ethnic group composed of semi-nomadic tribes found throughout the Indian subcontinent. The Banjara are renowned for their highly colorful textiles. Embellished with mirrors, shells, and intricate embroidery, Banjara work displays a surprisingly modern aesthetic. Created to showcase embroidery skill, protect the owner from harm, and channel auspicious powers, the Banjara technique is unique in India and is a celebration of the strength of the women who practice it. "Textiles of the Banjara: Cloth and Culture of a Wandering Tribe" is the first comprehensive English-language survey devoted to the traditional clothing and embroidery of the Banjara, illuminating their long history and investigating their links with the European Roma.

Critique: Beautifully and profusely illustrated with 160 full color photographic images and another 140+ illustrations, "Textiles of the Banjara: Cloth and Culture of a Wandering Tribe" by Charllotte Kwon (Director of the Maiwa Textile Symposium and owner of Maiwa Handprints Ltd.) and professional photographer and writer Tim McLaughlin, is impressively informed and informative. Very highly recommended for academia and non-specialist readers with an interest in textile art, "Textiles of the Banjara" would make an enduringly popular Memorial Fund acquisition for community libraries. Of special note is the inclusion of a three page Bibliography, making "Textiles of the Banjara" very highly recommended as a core addition to academic library Textile Arts reference collections and Indian Cultural Studies supplemental studies reading lists.

Julie Summers

Karyn's Bookshelf

Iron Rails, Iron Men and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad
Martin W. Sandler, author
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763665272, $22.99,

The epic undertaking, in the 1860s, to construct a railroad across the United States had a lot of players from a sweeping array of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In Iron Rails, Iron Men and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad, author Martin W. Sandler takes pains to pay homage to them all.

So amid the tale of adventure and danger, of blasting through mountains; the raucous fervor of the towns the sprung up along the construction route; the military-like management of work crews; the corruption of some of those tasked with leading the effort; and the national hoopla that surrounded it all, there is a great story of the inspirationally industrious immigrants who actually did the backbreaking work required to lay 1,800 miles of rail between Omaha and Sacramento.

Sandler tells of the Irishmen who hefted iron rails into place; the Chinese who chipped and blasted their way through the Sierra Nevadas, weathering deep snow and avalanches; and the Mormons who helped finish the work in Utah. The final spike, linking rails that had been laid westward with a line that had been built eastward, was finally pounded in Utah in 1869

In all, the effort begun in 1863 took six years to complete.

Sandler also pays homage to the Native Americans who retaliated against the railroad construction crews, in defense of their homelands, and who watched as railroad construction crews contributed to the slaughter of the buffalo. The author could have delved a bit deeper into the impact of the railroad on the Indians; discussion of how it affected America's indigenous people feels a little bit glossed over.

The author does an outstanding job of breaking out short biographical sketches of the businessmen, workers, and politicians who led the effort; of including historical photos; and of giving life to this non-fiction book through a writing style that creatively emphasizes the adventure of it all, over dry facts and figures.

Fun, informative, and sometimes sobering, In Iron Rails, Iron Men and the Race to Link the Nation: The Story of the Transcontinental Railroad, is about a feat that many considered impossible. Those people were ultimately proven wrong.

The book also offers some great back matter, including a timeline, short articles about what became of the men who led the construction effort, and a bibliography, allowing those with an interest in the general subject to delve further.

Informative, engaging and entertaining, a winning combination in kids' non-fiction.

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement
Carol Boston Weatherford, author
Euka Holmes, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763665319, $17.99,

The inspirational life story of Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer is told in these twenty-two free verse poems that celebrate her determined quest for justice for African-Americans and the toll it took on her.

The vocabulary is on the higher reading level end for a picture book - allowing for language complex enough to fully, unflinchingly capture the weight of Hamer's struggles from her childhood born to poor share-cropper parents, to her ascent to marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s; her involvement in voter registration efforts in the South; and involvement in national politics.

Matching the power of the verse deepened by just the right amount of black vernacular are the accompanying illustrations, that take you deeper into the life of this mid-twentieth century African-American woman and the Civil Rights movement in general, from discussion of literacy tests to Freedom Summer to Black Power, her love of music; and the depiction of a beating that left her with permanent injuries

A beautiful perspective.

Karyn L. Saemann, Reviewer

Kevin's Bookshelf

Doomed Empire
Richard Dawes
Melange Books
9781680461947, $15.95,

"Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had." - Alice Sebold

Author Richard Dawes' new book 'Doomed Empire' is a potent story of bravery and destiny set in the civilization and empire of Atlantis. The center of the action is Caiphul, the most powerful kingdom within the Atlantean Empire. The ruler of Caiphul, King Darius, is cruel and greedy, and harbors dreams of ruling over the whole empire. Supporting him in his efforts are his two sons, the obedient and loyal elder son, Prince Atalan, who lacks the intelligence and drive necessary to achieve greatness, and the brilliant and gifted younger son, Prince Astraeus, whose ambitions for world domination rival those of his father. The young Prince Astraeus is influenced by both evil and good forces, but eventually it is the good that wins out and puts him on track to achieve his true destiny.

Inspired by the philosophical material left behind by Socrates and Plato, the story includes a variety of topics. Not only does the novel discuss concepts such as the creation of the universe, the purpose of life, birth and death, true power and governance, etc. It also draws a parallel between the Atlantean world and the modern world. It highlights such negative aspects as selfishness and arrogance that are common to both. Although it isn't explicitly stated, one can feel that the book tries to be a harbinger, warning us that if we don't mend our ways, our fate will not be any different!

'Doomed Empire' is an epic drama. Love, loyalty, betrayal, loneliness, spirituality, vengeance and violence are all interwoven into a bold and exciting narrative. The Atlantean civilization was said to be very advanced, possessing many inventions and technologies that have since become a part of our everyday modern lives. The story acknowledges this by including atomic weapons, aircrafts and other engineering feats as part of the narrative.

There is wonderful writing in the following scenes: when Darius feels ingratitude from his sons; Astraeus' resentment and anger, and the scenes depicting his self-realization; Princess Asparis' unconditional love for Astraeus; and Atalan's feeling of wretchedness and self-pity.

The narrative is a frank depiction of life, and presents the dark depths to which human nature can sink in pursuit of false power and prestige. The novel, through the portrayal of Darius' unbridled greed and narcissistic pursuit of advancement provides what I believe to be a reflection of the conditions of the modern world. It highlights events that may lead to humankind's ultimate downfall - like the single minded pursuit of materialism while ignoring higher truths, and manipulating the environment for short term goals that are ultimately self-destructive. There are many eerie similarities between the powers that ruled the kingdoms of Atlantis and the powers that rule our present day culture.

The material in 'Doomed Empire' should inspire the reader to take a closer look at his or her life. The author has transformed ancient esoteric knowledge into an accessible form that should lead, if used well, to better self-awareness, thought, and consciousness.

'Doomed Empire' has a dark feel to it right up to the end. The end itself can be interpreted as a tragedy. But anyone reading the story with an open mind and an interest in lost civilizations should find this novel highly interesting.

Sword of Doom
Richard Dawes
Melange Books, LLC
9781680462340, $8.95 PB, $2.99 Kindle,

"Selflessness. Humility. Truthfulness. These are the three marks of an honorable man." - Suzy Kassem

In Richard Dawes' novel 'Sword of Doom' we are transported back to the times of callous kingdoms and conniving kings. In their midst is our sword wielding hero, Valka the Wolf Slayer, who, in spite of his aristocratic lineage, chooses to pursue scholarly studies in the famous Museum of Korava on the shore of the Inland Sea. But make no mistake, Valka is a ferocious fighter trained in the Warrior's Way. He carries the sacred bloodline of an elite warrior group known as the Dragon Lords. This episode depicts his adventures as he escorts a royal princess back to her kingdom.

This is the second book in the 'Wolf Slayer Saga' series. The first book 'Dragon Sword' introduced the character, Valka, as a young and skillful swordsman with a penchant for acquiring esoteric wisdom. In this edition, he is no longer a student. He has mastered his fighting skills and has achieved a basic understanding of higher knowledge. Also, compared to the first book, the characters and the world have grown in scope and complexity.

Valka the Wolf Slayer has enough oomph and pizzaz to capture and hold the reader's attention. He displays a type of masculinity that is rarely found in the modern world. He's as idealistic as he is passionate about life, and he's as ferocious in battle as he is level headed when confronting a problem. And along with his big, strong heart he also possesses a mind as quick and keen as the edge of his sword. Valka and Princess Uralia, the beautiful young woman he is escorting back to her kingdom, initially appear to be complete opposites. Their relationship develops, however, as they share many dangerous adventures, and finally reaches a level of affection, especially after Uralia comes to terms with the harshness and brutality of everyday reality.

The reader will experience different types of fighting techniques in the book. You have to pay close attention to the action sequences to notice the different ways Valka approaches an opponent, and how he changes his methods of combat, depending on the situation and his level of respect for the antagonist. The fighting sequences are not only a pleasure to read, but they also reveal a great deal about the protagonist and how he deals with a particular predicament.

Richard Dawes has quite an engaging way of narrating stories. He mixes action and characterization in such a way that the freshness of the story line is always kept alive. Everything in 'Sword of Doom' exists for a reason. The characters don't merely work their way around tough situations. They exist to introduce, discuss and illustrate ideas of a higher nature.

The action, violence, passion, and sexuality in the novel are expressions of power and struggle. Living on the edge, the characters, while facing death or beauty, are always striving for ultimate power. There's a kind of beauty to their brutality; a definite method to their madness.

The Wolf Slayer sagas can be read in any order without losing comprehension. I recommend, however, reading 'Dragon Sword' first to properly understand the character of Valka before he consolidates his mythical status in this one. There is a surprise ending, and this 'end' suggests it may be the beginning of a sequel!

The Basque Head Case
Paddy Bostock
Wings ePress, Incorporated
9781613097526, $14.95,

"Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one." - Terry Pratchett

Author Paddy Bostock's novel 'The Basque Head Case' brings back Jake Flintlock and Dr. Bum Park, the famous private investigator duo from London. When an incident involving a severed head threatens to snowball into an international event, the PI duo are put under the spotlight. Their investigation takes them on a whirlwind tour of Spain to try and solve the mystery. And when the threats get personal, these detectives have to deduce and punch their way out of the new case.

Jake is the brain behind the operation, he is the thinker, the one who has mastered the art of deduction, or at least he thinks that way. Jake for the most part appears as a wiry and nervous fellow hiding behind a calm facade. And he lives by a standard set of PI rules usually found in fiction while conducting his investigations. He also has this underhanded sense of humor that he puts to good use whenever he feels neglected or left out of the action.

Dr. Bum Park is the muscle in the PI duo. He is the beefcake with a well-developed sense of humor. He treats even the most dangerous of situations as a joke. His flirtatious, loud and alpha male character contrasts nicely with that of the slightly neurotic and awkward mover Jake.

The plot, the characters and the setting found in 'The Basque Head Case' hasn't changed much from the previous successful book, 'Hand In Glove'. Jake's dog Binkey and his home security system once again plays its part in moving the plot forward and in making the novel an unbridled fun ride.

The book does a good enough job of balancing the serious matter - which keeps the story moving; with the casual and humorous bits. And it's only when the scale shifts to one end completely that you end up with scenes that are too serious or too humorous. But these are far and few in between and for the most part the book gets the balance right.

The lead characters in this novel are self-aware of the pattern seen in other fiction books involving PIs and have no trouble in flaunting these patterns in an exaggerated manner for hilarious effect. Mr. Paddy has also upped the humor quotient by including plenty of social satire and meta-commentary in the book. Not many books would think of playing with decapitated bodies and floating heads for laughs, but this one does and it does so marvellously. Encouragingly, the jokes don't stop coming even after the plot obstacles in book are overcome.

In the end, you're forced to pay heed to every page, marvelling at the ingenuity and cleverness the author showcases here. It is mad fun but it's also controlled mad fun. It is self-referential and self-aware of its strength and also its weakness and doesn't shy away from revealing it to the audience either. What makes this book an endearing read is that it doesn't aspire to be anything more than a smart and well-written novel filled with smart mouth humor and memorable characters.

The Perfect Hand
Patty Lesser
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781517482909, $17.99,

"If money's the god people worship, I'd rather go worship the devil instead." - Jess C. Scott

Author Patty Lesser's novel 'The Perfect Hand' as the title suggests revolves around a game of poker. But this isn't just another ordinary card game, as this high stakes game of life is being played by five close friends against a religious fanatic. And what hangs in balance is the freedom and fate of millions of American lives. By taking due risks and calling their opponent's bluff, these five friends must purge the latest threat to their countrymen's lives.

Handling a topic that is sensitive and topical in many sense, this fictional novel tells the story of a religious fanatic and his close knit army of believers who thinks only they have the answer to life's problems. And all hell breaks loose when they set out to enforce what they think is good for everyone else. Such a theme as unfortunate as it sounds has raised its ugly head in many parts of the world before and continues to transpire today as well. So while the obstacle in the plot is quite believable, what requires a leap of faith from the reader is the method in which the religious fanatic and his group go about trying to control the population.

But what holds the novel together is its central characters, the five friends-since-college mates' camaraderie is moving and believable. This has been portrayed with the help of convincing back stories and natural sounding dialogues; these are the kind of lines you imagine close buddies with a shared history will say to each other. The way these characters deal with a particular predicament also reveals the tightness within the group. These five characters are quite different from one another and their dissimilarity can be felt in their reaction and their thought processes as well. The antagonist camp too gets a good set of characters, though not as well developed as the protagonists. There are many secondary characters in the book in the form of spouses, girlfriends, police officers, media people and a taxi driver; and they all contribute towards the plot.

The author has been able to successfully capture the mental psyche of five grown men with diverse aptitudes. The correlation between the friends' love for poker and a similar game like strategy in tackling their enemies is handled nicely. And then there's some wonderful writing in the scene where Gary conducts a web podcast.

The book can rightfully be called a thriller as it offers plenty of hair-raising moments as are usually found within this genre. But a few long drawn out scenes and dialogue pieces does tend to slow down the pace of the story, and is the only misgiving you'll have in an otherwise fine narrative.

Patty Lesser should be appreciated for dreaming up of a society that places honesty and equality above religious fanaticism. Read it for the above mentioned reasons and the nicely portrayed bromance between the lead characters.

Kevin Peter, Reviewer

Linda's Bookshelf

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding
Jackie Copleton
Penguin Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
9780143128250, $16.00, 304 pages, trade paperback

Jackie Copleton has written a brilliant spellbinding debut novel. She experienced Japanese culture firsthand as a former English language instructor in Nagasaki and Sapporo and incorporated her observations adeptly. She resided in Nagasaki during the 50th anniversary observances of the 1945 atomic bombing of the city and has skillfully used impressions gained to craft a finely nuanced tale that does not get bogged down in debates about the justifiability of wartime action. The "contemporary" time frame is set in 1995, advanced two decades to accommodate the protagonist's age. Amaterasu Takahashi is in her mid-80's, a recent widow who moved to America with her husband from Nagasaki shortly after WWII after losing all they held dear: their daughter, Yuko, and seven year-old grandson, Hideo, who perished at the epicenter of the blast. Her past is fraught with family secrets and suppressed memories she is compelled to face when her equilibrium is shaken. She opens her front door to find a hideously scarred and disfigured middle-aged man who claims to be her grandson. The ingenious, beautifully constructed story unfolds from here. The author further enhances the reader's experience with each chapter heading titled with Japanese words or phrases and their definition that contribute nuanced refinement to the plot and understanding of the characters.

"A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding" is a stand-out, lyrical novel, perfect for fans of Jamie Ford's outstanding first novel, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet", and would also be ideally suited for book clubs. Author Copleton graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in English in the early 1990's and later completed a Master's Degree in Literature (Creative Writing) at Glasgow University. In 2011, she was the joint winner of the Curtis Brown Prize for best fiction writer awarded by her alma mater Glasgow University. Much of her career has been in journalism in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. "A Thousand Cranes": Scottish Writers for Japan (2012) with proceeds benefitting the Japanese Red Cross includes her contribution of a short story set in Nagasaki. This reader is eagerly awaiting her next book.

Recipes for Love and Murder
Sally Andrew
c/o Harper Collins
195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
9780062397669, $26.99, Hardback, 432 Pages,

"Recipes for Love and Murder" is a debut novel you won't want to miss! It's a murder mystery with plenty of heart. Protagonist Tannie Marie will be warmly welcomed by fans of Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe's Ladies Detective Agency series as well as readers of the writing duo Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip who use the pseudonym "Michael Stanley" in their Detective Kubu mysteries. My recommendation is to find your favorite place for reading, brew a pot of rooibos (caffeine free red bush tea), now available in American supermarkets, and load a small plate with Tannie Marie's buttermilk rusks (biscotti or zwieback) and spend some quiet hours savoring this delightful mystery. You will get hungry and recipes are thoughtfully provided along with a glossary of frequently used Afrikaans and South African words and phrases. It's guaranteed to be a "lekker" experience. Lest you think this is a featherweight cozy mystery, the tone and topics are more serious than the more philosophical non-murderous mysteries solved by the Botswana detecting ladies.

"Tannie" like "Auntie or Tante" is an honorific term of respect used to greet women older than oneself with "Oom" or "Uncle" the corresponding greeting for men. Tannie Marie is a warm, plump, middle-aged and lonely widow, a survivor of long-term repeated spousal abuse, who loves to cook and has sought solace and comfort in familiar foods. To supplement her income, she writes a recipe column for the "Klein Karoo Gazette" and generously shares these food gifts brimming with love with her friends and co-workers. Tannie lives simply in a small home located in the veld near Ladismith, South Africa in the semi-arid region of the Western Cape. When the syndicate that owns the community gazette gives her boss orders to drop the recipe page to accommodate a mandated advice column, Tannie Marie is given the assignment to become the designated "agony aunt". Based on her lack of success in matters of the heart, her proposed creative solution was to name it "Tannie Marie's Love Advice and Recipe Column."

When a woman who sought advice is murdered, Tannie Marie becomes embroiled in solving the crime. "Recipes for Love and Murder" is skillfully crafted, well-plotted and character driven. One cares about the protagonist and her associates and appreciates the vivid descriptions of this sparsely populated, dramatically beautiful part of the world.

Author Sally Andrew has an artist's eye for beauty and as a decades long social and environmental activist possesses the heart of a conservationist. Her previous works have been nonfiction. Like her heroine, she lives in a mud-brick home on a nature reserve in the Klein Karoo with her artist partner Bowen Boshier whose art business she managed before turning to writing full time. Her first novel promises to be a major success with translations in several languages and publication on five continents. It is reassuring to note that instant fans like me will not have too long to wait for a second Tannie Marie novel as "The Satanic Mechanic" is slated for US publication in July, 2016.

Hemingway in Love
A.E. Hotchner
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250077486, $19.99, hardback, 192 pages

"Hemingway in Love: His Own Story", a memoir by his old friend, confidant and frequent biographer, A. E. Hotchner, may be the linchpin to understanding Ernest Hemingway as a man rather than the adventure seeking mythic giant of literature. It is based in part on a tape- recorded chat made in the psychiatric ward of St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota during the author's final visit at the bedside of his boon companion just three weeks before the subject's death by suicide. Thirteen years of dinners and drinks, soul-searching conversation, fishing expeditions, rambles and lengthy vacations together that formed and bonded their deep, abiding personal relationship are distilled into this important little book. A. E. Hotchner has fulfilled a promise to his friend by speaking with an urgency and honesty to reveal Hemingway as most vulnerable and given a precious gift of greater understanding to scholars and casual readers of both men's work. This memoir focusing on "Papa's" love life is a sublime distillation of a biography; a sort of eloquently written "Cliff's Notes" that conveys the brilliance, power, charisma and failings of one of America's most unique talents who at 61 seemed used-up and worn-out by a life of exuberant intemperance, depression and regrets.

Hemingway's greatest flaw besides the obvious well-documented penchant for excessive drinking may have been the self-destructive streak that caused him to carelessly leave a trail of friendships destroyed and marriages shattered. "Hemingway in Love" documents the painful, lingering regret of the infidelities and betrayal that led to the break-up of his marriage with beloved first wife Hadley Richardson. Hotchner writes as a caveat that the tapes made disintegrated long ago and he writes from contemporaneous notes and from his own recollection through "his own filter." In the introduction to this powerful, moving memoir he wrote, "The story he recounted over the course of our travels was entrusted to me with a purpose. I have held that story in trust for these many years, and now feel it is my fiduciary obligation to Ernest to finally release it from my memory." Hotchner who in his 95 years seems to have been everywhere and known everyone worth knowing waited until the passing of his dear friend Mary, Hemingway's fourth wife, to spare her any embarrassment by writing about the passions and women who preceded her. There is, perhaps, no greater belated eulogy than this one "Hemingway in Love" published more than fifty years after Hemingway's death.

Flavors from Home
Aimee Zaring
University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508
9780813160917, $29.95, 304 pages, HC,

"Flavors from Home," subtitled "Refugees in Kentucky Share Their Stories and Comfort Foods" is a unique amalgam of biographical sketches of a cross section of immigrants to Kentucky as well as a celebration of their native cuisines complete with recipes from these home cooks. Refugees are loosely defined as displaced persons compelled to leave their native lands to escape persecution, danger, unrest, natural disasters and/or war often under treacherous circumstances and in many instances escaping with only the clothing they are wearing. Familiar faces and foods from home provide comfort, and a sense of continuity which ease the passage and help them re-establish roots in their new land. Louisville, Kentucky, the largest city in the Commonwealth, located in the heart of the Mid-South may seem an unlikely refuge and until the 1980's was home primarily to an established, albeit then declining, population that was approximately 70% white (predominantly English, German and Irish) and 28% black. Today the sprawling metropolitan and suburban area has rebounded both economically and grown to include the immigrants profiled in "Flavors from Home" who hail from Bhutan, Hungary, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan as well as a much larger and diverse demography.

The stories are chronologically ordered by arrival date, described often as a "rebirth' by each participant. It begins with Irene who was eleven when her parents fled Hungary to seek religious freedom at the onset of the quickly and violently suppressed 1956 Revolution and ends in 2012 with the journeys of former refugees from Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cuba. Each chapter contains one or more recipes selected to represent the homes and culture of the participants. Recipes were obtained by observation and participation in the preparation and cooking of the dishes in the homes of the contributors. Aimee was invited to learn from their memories, experiences and personal taste preferences, the old-fashioned way of learning by doing as a child would have learned from a mother or grandmother. The author shared that her book was inspired by the sharing of favorite native dishes at school community potlucks for students and teachers. Home cooking expands and is redefined by contact from different cultures. As the immigrant population has increased, numerous ethnic restaurants have sprung up and farmer's markets, supermarkets and small specialty shops have added to the spices and variety of fruits, vegetables and groceries offered for sale. It's hard to believe that salsa, fresh ginger and cilantro were unknown quantities in the Kentucky and Virginia of my childhood when one strolls through the area supermarkets today with their abundant arrays of tamarind and Chinese long beans, fresh sushi, a myriad of exotic spices and pungent sauces and dozens of types of rice to choose from as just a small sampling of the changes wrought.

Aimee Zaring, a Louisville, Kentucky native, is a sensitive, gifted author and seasoned English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher who has taught for several years for Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, Global LT Inc. and Jefferson County Public Schools. Her work has appeared in various newspapers, magazines and on-line publications.

When friends gather, particularly when dining together, thoughts and conversation invariably turn to favorite foods which in turn evoke memories of places and events. Local cuisine and home cooking are missed most sharply when one leaves home permanently or travels for extended periods. "Flavors from Home" resonated with me deeply and personally as I am the child of a father whose American roots extend to the very beginning of the 17th century and a beloved mother who had been a displaced person. She didn't learn to cook until she came to the USA and then it was the southern dishes my father loved best. Kira yearned for foods and the memories of her grandmother's kitchen. She died long before the internet, abundant cookbooks and a proliferation of cooking shows would have made it possible for her to master traditional dishes. Like me, she would have loved this vital book.

Linda Hitchcock, Reviewer
Member National Book Critics Circle

Logan's Bookshelf

The Handy Psychology Answer Book
Lisa J. Cohen
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Rd., #414, Canton, MI 48187-2075
9781578595082, $21.95, PB, 544pp,

Synopsis: Bridging the gap between the entertainment-focused "pop psychology" on television and the dry academic research that is published in journals, and now in a fully updated and expanded second edition, "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" by clinical psychologist Lisa Cohen helps answer why humans do what we do through accurate scientific data presented in a lively, accessible, and engaging way. "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" covers the fundamentals and explains the psychology behind how people deal with money, sex, morality, family, children, aging, addiction, work, and other everyday issues.

Of special internet is the presentation of the latest scientific research including the current DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association); the latest neurobiological theories; and the changing face of marriage, and updated information sections dealing with the biology and evolution of emotions; technology and adolescence; bisexuality; optimism; autism; as well as a full section on the law, eyewitness testimony and police shootings.

"The Handy Psychology Answer Book" Features more than 1,500 answers to questions concerning how the human mind and the science of psychology really work such as: How have other cultures addressed psychological issues? Why was Freud so focused on sex? How can I maintain a healthy brain? Is it normal to argue during marriage? Does religion make people happier? How do we reduce social prejudice?

Critique: As impressively 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, as it is comprehensive and 'cutting edge' in content and scope, "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" is very highly recommended for school, community, and academic library psychology reference collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that this new edition of "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.99).

Conquistador Voices: Volumes 1 & 2
Kevin H. Siepel
Spruce Tree Press
PO Box 211, Angola, NY 14006
Volume 1: 9780978646622, $23.95, PB, 340pp
Volume 2: 9780978646639, $28.95, PB, 428pp

Synopsis: "Conquistador Voices: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas as Recounted Largely by the Participants", by Kevin H. Siepel is a two-volume work written for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in learning about the Spanish Conquest of the Americas as drawn directly from the words of those who participated in that historic event. The story is told in five parts, each part featuring a principal actor. In volume I are described the four voyages of Christopher Columbus and the conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes, some details of which come to us through native accounts. Volume II opens with the voyages to Peru of Francisco Pizarro and his brothers, their seizure of the Inca empire, and the long, bloody, and self-destructive sequel to this Spanish campaign. This is followed by an account of the remarkable, years-long sojourn of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca through the deserts of North America, as well as his subsequent mission to today's Paraguay. The final section of volume II tells the tale of Hernando de Soto's ill-starred expedition to North America, an expedition in which Soto himself lost his life. The sweep of the drama is roughly from 1490 to 1550, with the action moving from the West Indies to Mexico, then to Peru, today's southeastern US, Mexico again, Paraguay, and back to the US--and containing accounts of two desperate escapes by sea. Somewhat in the manner of a television documentary, the story is told by the conquistadors themselves or the men who accompanied them in "sound bites", with background and connecting narrative supplied by author Kevin Siepel in whatever amount necessary to ensure an engaging and readable tale. Most of the original material is from eyewitness and participant sources, with some material "as told to" a later chronicler. An effort has been made to avoid moralizing on these events, but to report them (with all due filtering of wheat from chaff) as we have been told that they occurred. Nine maps accompany the text of Vol I, 8 maps Vol II. An index, copious footnotes, and brief bibliography are included in each volume.

Critique: Exhaustively researched, exceptionally well written, impressively organized and presented, "Conquistador Voices: The Spanish Conquest of the Americas as Recounted Largely by the Participants" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library World History reference collections in general, and Spanish Conquistador supplemental studies lists in particular. It should be noted for personal reading lists that both volumes of "Conquistador Voices" are also available in a Kindle Edition (Volume 1: $8.99; Volume 2: $9.99).

Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars
Ron McFarland
Marketing Department
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476662329, $39.95, PB, 260pp,

Synopsis: Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Steptoe's escape from encirclement by 1,000 Northern Plateau Indians in 1858 is a familiar story from the Indian Wars. Yet the details of the Battle of Pine Creek (or Tohotonimme) and its aftermath remain subjects of debate. Outnumbered six to one, Steptoe's 164 troops slipped away in the night. Newspapers called it a "disaster". A few weeks later, Colonel George Wright avenged the defeat and Steptoe, who had suffered a stroke months before the battle, lived his final years in relative obscurity in his native Virginia as the Civil War erupted.

"Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars: Life on the Frontier, 1815 - 1865" is a definitive biography in which Steptoe's career is chronicled as a field officer who served nearly four years in the Second Seminole War, won commendation for gallantry during the Mexican War, performed admirably (though controversially) in the Utah Territory, undertook construction of forts at Walla Walla in the newly defined Washington Territory, and engaged with various tribes throughout his deployments. His personal letters reveal a thoughtful, sensitive commander who came to question his choice of career even before his final battle.

Critique: Compiled and edited by Ron McFarland (Professor of English at the University of Idaho), "Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars: Life on the Frontier, 1815 - 1865" is a deftly presented and inherently fascinating read that will be especially appreciated by American military and western history buffs. Strongly recommended for both community and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Edward J. Steptoe and the Indian Wars" is also available in an ebook edition from McFarland & Company (978-1-4766-2388-7, $TBA).

Leading Cops
Gerald W. Garner
Charles C. Thomas, Publisher
2600 South First Street, Springfield, IL 62704
9780398090999, $37.95, PB, 238pp,

Synopsis: The purpose of "Leading Cops: Decision-Making for the Law Enforcement Leader" by Gerald W. Garner (Chief of Police, Greeley Police Department, Greeley, Colorado) is to provide the first-line law enforcement leader with practical, time-proven guidance for making decisions that range from the seemingly mundane to the life-critical. The text emphasizes the importance of common sense applied to sound decision-making, and provides the first-line leader with the insight, experience, talents, and skills to meet specific challenges. The following topics are featured: why decision-making is important; assessing your people; employee grievances and fair decisions; setting a good example; making decisions concerning employee performance; disciplinary decision-making; troubled employees and compassionate decision-making; identifying high-risk behavior; keeping your officers alive; tactical decision-making; decision-making in critical incidents; handling media encounters; how to fix communication breakdowns; surviving the difficult boss and what your supervisor expects; surviving an organization's politics; making decisions when unsure of yourself; and making career plans. The embodiment of the text lies in its ability to involve the reader in tasks that must be accomplished following the use of lethal force by an officer, the leader's key duties and responsibilities to citizenry and his organization, responding effectively to high-risk, on the street scenarios, while simultaneously maintaining true professional calm and even-handedness. "Leading Cops" will be useful as a learning tool for those interested in preparing themselves for law enforcement supervisory or management positions, policymakers, and police academies.

Critique: Impressively well written and exceptionally well organized and presented, "Leading Cops: Decision-Making for the Law Enforcement Leader" will not only prove to be of immense and practical value to law enforcement personnel and policy makers, but be of pertinent and enduring interest to local activists seeking to improve the quality of their local police departments with respect to such issues as 'Black Lives Matter', endemic police brutality, and police/community relations. "Leading Cops" is very highly recommended for community, governmental, and academic library Law Enforcement instructional collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Obamacare Wars
Daniel Beland, Philip Rocco, Alex Waddan
University Press of Kansas
2501 West 15th Street, Lawrence, KS 66049
9780700621910, $29.95, HC, 232pp,

Synopsis: Not five minutes after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, in March 2010, Virginia's attorney general was suing to stop it. And yet, the ACA rolled out, in infamously bumpy fashion, and rolled on, fought and defended at every turn, all this despite President Obama's claim, in 2014, that its proponents and opponents could finally "stop fighting old political battles that keep us gridlocked". But not only would the battles not stop, as the authors of "Obamacare Wars: Federalism, State Politics, and the Affordable Care Act" makes acutely clear, they spread from Washington, DC, to a variety of new arenas. The first thorough account of the implementation of the ACA, this book reveals the fissures the act exposed in the American federal system.

"Obamacare Wars" shows how the law's intergovernmental structure, which entails the participation of both the federal government and the states, has deeply shaped the politics of implementation. Focusing on the creation of insurance exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, and execution of regulatory reforms, Daniel Beland (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Public Policy at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan), Philip Rocco (a postdoctoral associate at the Health Policy Institute, University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences), and Alex Waddan (Senior Lecturer in American Politics at the University of Leicester, England) examine how opponents of the ACA fought back against its implementation. They also explain why opponents of the law were successful in some efforts and not in others - and not necessarily in a seemingly predictable red vs. blue pattern. Their work identifies the role of policy legacies, institutional fragmentation, and public sentiments in each instance as states grappled with new institutions, as in the case of the exchanges, or existing structures, in Medicaid and regulatory reform.

Looking broadly at national trends and specifically at the experience of individual states, "Obamacare Wars" brings much-needed clarity to highly controversial but little-understood aspects of the Affordable Care Act's odyssey, with implications for how we understand the future trajectory of health reform, as well as the multiple forms of federalism in American politics.

Critique: A very timely and scholarly descriptive analysis of the role the Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as Obamacare) has played and continues to play in contemporary American politics, "Obamacare Wars: Federalism, State Politics, and the Affordable Care Act" is a stellar work of seminal scholarship and a critically important contribution to academic library Governmental and Public Policy reference collections in general, and Contemporary Governmental Health Care Policy and Contemporary Political Science supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for academic and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Affordable Care Act that "Obamacare Wars" is also available in a Kindle edition ($28.45).

Russia's Far East
Rensselaer Lee & Artyom Lukin
Lynne Rienner Publishers
1800 30th Street, Suite 314, Boulder, CO 80301
9781626373891, $68.00, HC, 276pp,

Synopsis: The strategically located Russian Far East (a vast expanse stretching from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean) is notable not only for its rich natural resources, but also for the economic challenges, internal dissent, and risks of foreign encroachment that it faces. In the pages of "Russia's Far East: New Dynamics in Asia Pacific and Beyond", authors Rensselaer Lee (Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and Artyom Lukin (Associate Professor of International Relations and Deputy Director for Research in the School of Regional and International Studies at Russia's Far Eastern Federal University) explore the history, economics, and politics of the RFE in the context of its geopolitical significance both regionally and internationally. Professors Lee and Lukin deftly address questions that have become increasingly important in current global politics: What are the implications, for example, of Russia's growing economic dependence on China? Could the emerging Sino-Russian entente result in the RFE becoming a de-facto appendage of the PRC? To what extent is Moscow willing, or able, to strengthen its links to its neighbors other than China? Can Russia and the US act in partnership to further their common interests in the region? As they suggest answers, the authors shed much-needed light on a previously understudied topic.

Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of a six page Selected Bibliography, and an eleven page Index, "Russia's Far East: New Dynamics in Asia Pacific and Beyond" is an outstanding work of seminal scholarship and a critically important contribution to governmental and academic library Contemporary International Studies reference collections in general, and Russian Political Studies supplemental reading lists in particular.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Complete Photo Guide to Cardmaking
Judi Watanabe
Creative Publishing International
c/o Quarto Publishing Group USA
400 First Avenue North, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401-1722
9781589238824, $24.99, PB, 256pp,

Synopsis: Handmade cards are gifts, creative expressions, keepsakes, and relationship builders. Beneath the cardstock and embellishments is deep emotion from the card maker expressing encouragement, celebration, commemoration, and love. Unlike many store-bought cards that are thrown away, handmade cards are cherished and displayed. They spark connections, express feelings, evoke laughter, and warm the hearts of friends, relatives, and coworkers. There's joy in the process of creating, as well as in giving and receiving handmade cards.

"The Complete Photo Guide to Cardmaking" is the ultimate resource on card making. All paper-crafting techniques that can be employed for card making are thoroughly covered, including a comprehensive description of paper types available, folding options and techniques, coloring and image transfer methods, and adding embellishments. Inside, you'll also find methods for using a computer to design and print cards. More than 80 projects give you lots of ideas and inspiration to create cards of your own, using the techniques you've learned. Unique envelope templates and a helpful source list are included.

In the pages of "The Complete Photo Guide to Cardmaking", expert paper crafter Judi Watanabe provides a one-stop reference for making cards for any occasion. Included are step-by-step photographed instructions for a wide range of techniques, as well as projects to accompany each area of card making. Full of gorgeous cards, "The Complete Photo Guide to Cardmaking" explores a wide range of techniques and end products, making it a valuable reference for any crafter.

Critique: Profusely illustrated, thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, organization, and presentation, and offering endless hours of enjoyment, "The Complete Photo Guide to Cardmaking" is very highly recommended for personal and community library do-it-yourself crafting instructional guides and reference collections. It should be noted that "The Complete Photo Guide to Cardmaking" is also available in a Kindle edition ($18.63).

Children's Literacy Development
Catherine McBride
711 - 3rd Avenue, Floor 8, New York, NY 10017-9209
9781848722873, $41.99, PB, 250pp,

Synopsis: In the thoroughly updated second edition of "Children's Literacy Development: A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Learning to Read and Write", Catherine McBride (Professor of Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong) examines how the languages we know help structure the process of becoming literate. Taking an ecological and distinctively cross-cultural perspective, "Children's Literacy Development" looks at reading and writing development and impairment across a range of languages, scripts, and contexts. "Children's Literacy Development" covers issues including: The importance of phonological sensitivity for learning to read and to write; The first units, or building blocks, of literacy learning in different scripts such as Chinese, English, Korean Hangul, Hebrew, Hindi and Arabic; The role of visual processing in reading and writing skills; How the latest research can inform the teaching of reading; An overview of our understanding of dyslexia, including recent neuroscientific research; The developmental challenges in becoming bi-literate; What is special about writing for beginners and later for comprehensive writing; Basics of reading comprehension.

Critique: Offering a wealth of researched based insight, this new edition of "Children's Literacy Development" provides invaluable information fundamental to a coherent understanding of literacy around the world. Indeed, "Children's Literacy Development" is the only major work available that provides an overview of how children learn to read and write in different languages, and will be essential reading for all students of Developmental Psychology, Educational Psychology, Psycholinguistics and Speech Therapy. Enhanced with the inclusion of a thirty-eight page bibliographic listing of References, and a twenty-four page Index, "Children's Literacy Development" is an outstanding work of sound scholarship and very highly recommended for academic library Educational Studies reference collections in general, and International Child Education supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Sexual Health Information for Teens
Keith Jones
Omnigraphics, Inc.
155 W. Congress, Suite 200, Detroit, MI 48226
9780780813854, $69.00, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: As teens mature and prepare for adulthood, they face many academic and social challenges, while also dealing with developing bodies, sexual pressures from peers, and alluring media messages. Regardless of whether, or when, teens choose to enter sexual relationships, they need accurate information about how their choices can affect their health and well being. Now in a fully updated and expanded fourth edition, "Sexual Health Information for Teens" by Keith Jones provides facts about the sexual issues teens face, including the physical and emotional changes that accompany puberty and emerging sexuality; and the risks of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Sexual Health Information for Teens" is a complete and comprehensive textbook and ideal for sex education curriculums. "Sexual Health Information for Teens" is also very highly recommended for community and academic library Human Sexuality reference collections and supplemental studies lists as well.

Art of Attention
Elena Brower & Erica Jago
Sounds True
413 South Arthur Avenue, Louisville, CO 80027
9781622035939, $26.95, PB, 232pp,

Synopsis: Yoga begins with physical well-being. But yoga can also transport us through meditation, self-awareness, and movement, into a lifelong exploration of presence, elegance, and deeper life purpose. With "Art of Attention: A Yoga Practice Workbook for Movement as Meditation", yoga experts Elena Brower and Erica Jago show us the way. Distilled from their acclaimed workshops and training programs, this multifaceted volume can be used as: A step-by-step workshop for merging movement-based mindfulness with traditional yoga; A "tool kit" of asanas, meditations, self-inquiry questions, and healing practices for creating your own daily spiritual practice; An uplifting source of visual beauty and wisdom teachings for inner reflection and elevation. For students and teachers at every level, the "Art of Attention" is a one-of-a-kind resource that takes us further into yoga (and the art of living) with clarity, creativity, wonder, and depth.

Critique: Enhanced with contributions from MC YOGI, Gabrielle Bernstein, Donna Karan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Christy Turlington Burns, and others inspired by Elena and Erica's work, "Art of Attention: A Yoga Practice Workbook for Movement as Meditation" is profusely illustrated throughout and very highly recommended for all yoga enthusiasts from novice beginners to experienced and seasoned practitioners. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Art of Attention" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.19).

Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting
Sabine Breitwieser
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791355085, $60.00, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: This fully illustrated monograph is devoted to the full range of Carolee Schneemann's pioneering work. Unapologetically incorporating her body into her works of art, Carolee Schneemann emerged as one of the leading forces in the feminist art movement of the 1970s. This wide-ranging book follows Schneemann's remarkable career in it entirety. The monograph shows the immense range of Schneemann's oeuvre: paintings, assemblages, performances, experimental films, and video installations. Including the controversial works for which she is most famous, such as Eye Body, Meat Joy, and Interior Scroll, this volume takes a critical look at various themes in the artist's career, focusing particularly on what the artist termed "kinetic painting". "Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting" features informed and informative essays on Schneemann's personal politics, her experimental film, and the purposeful ambiguities of her pieces offer clear-eyed perspectives on the brilliance of her work. Illustrations of her work are accompanied by Schneemann's own commentary. Schneemann's work emerges as a celebratory, liberating, and important aspect of creative expression that stands in its own right--and stands the test of time.

Critique: A superbly produced compendium showcasing the life and work of a truly remarkable and memorable artist, "Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting" will prove to be a critically important and enduringly popular addition to personal, community, and academic library Contemporary Art reference book collections and supplemental studies lists.

Vogue: Like a Painting
Lucy Davies
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
c/o Distributed Art Publishers
155 Sixth Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10013-1507
9788415113683, $65.00, HC, 160pp,

Synopsis: "Vogue: Like a Painting" by Lucy Davies (editor at The Telegraph) is a lavish celebration of the intersection between the worlds of fashion photography and European art historical tradition. Compiling 67 carefully selected images from the Vogue archive, "Vogue: Like a Painting" explores fashion photographs of the last eight decades that take their inspiration from classical painting, including those images that have become only marginally related to selling clothes. Sometimes explicitly (we see direct homages to Vermeer and Hopper, for example) and sometimes more subtly, these images culled from Vogue's pages reference Spanish painting from the Golden Age, Dutch portraiture, Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite paintings and various schools contained in European royal collections. There are traces of Constable, Zurbaran and Sorolla can be found within this stunning volume, which brings together names from classic photography and those from more recent generations: Irving Penn, Erwin Blumenfeld, Horst P. Horst, Annie Leibovitz, Tim Walker, Paolo Roversi, Steven Klein, David Sims, Erwin Olaf, Mario Testino, Michael Thompson and Peter Lindbegh, to name a few. While some of these photographs are about direct mimicry, others are similar to painting only in technical approach, and some simply share the goal of revering women rather than sexualizing or objectifying them. With a gorgeous tipped-on cover and text, "Vogue: Like a Painting" is a volume produced as beautifully as its photographic contents.

Critique: An inherently fascinating (and occasionally iconoclastic) browse from beginning to end, "Vogue: Like a Painting" this bilingual (English/Spanish) edition is enhanced with an informed and informative Preface by Yolanda Sacrisan and very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library collections.

Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core
Evan Osar & Marylee Bussard
North Atlantic Books
2526 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704-2607
9781583949993, $29.95, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: "Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core: An Illustrated Guide to a Safe and Effective Core Training Program" is the first to illustrate the essential connection between the functional anatomy of the body's core and its application during Pilates' fundamental core exercises. Focusing on the inherent potential of the human body to stabilize and move, pilates experts Evan Osar and Marylee Bussard combine the most current research around core stabilization with six fundamental Pilates principles to offer simple, easy-to-use strategies for relieving discomfort and improving pain-free movement. With more than 290 full-color illustrations, "Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core" provides both Pilates practitioners and professional teachers with a comprehensive understanding of how the core functions and how stabilization helps promote health and proper movement patterns through the development of balanced muscles, joint alignment, and core control. Pilates students and practitioners will learn how to: Achieve the alignment, breathing, and control required for developing optimal posture and movement; Alleviate non-optimal habits that relate to common postural dysfunction, muscle imbalances, and chronic tightness; Integrate the fundamental Pilates exercises in order to develop a more stable core and eliminate the risks of common injuries while accomplishing one's health and fitness goals.

Critique: Profusely illustrated and thoroughly 'user friendly' in content, organization and presentation, "Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core: An Illustrated Guide to a Safe and Effective Core Training Program" is a complete course of instruction and very highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Pilates instructional reference collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted that "Functional Anatomy of the Pilates Core: An Illustrated Guide to a Safe and Effective Core Training Program" is also available in a Kindle edition ($21.99).

Growing Independent Learners
Debbie Diller
Stenhouse Publishers
480 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101-3451
9781571109125, $39.00, PB, 298pp,

Synopsis: In "Growing Independent Learners: From Literacy Standards to Stations, K-3", author and educator Debbie Diller provides a comprehensive guide with more than 400 full-color photos to help classroom teachers plan instruction focused on literacy standards, organize their classrooms for maximum benefit, and lead their students to independence through whole-group lessons, small-group focus, and partner learning at literacy stations.

The first four chapters lay the foundation with planning, organizing, and instruction that are essential for success with literacy work stations. From creating a model classroom and developing planning tools to using anchor charts, "Growing Independent Learners" gives you creative ideas for making the most of your classroom environment to support student independence.

Later chapters focus on standards-based instruction built around key reading, writing, and foundational skills as well as speaking, listening, and language standards. Each of these chapters provides the following: Detailed explanations of each focal standard importance and real-world application; planning tools that include academic vocabulary; plans for whole-group instruction; and suggestions for literacy work stations. There are complete whole-group lesson plans that teachers can use and modify again and again

Connections to help teachers extend the lessons into other areas of daily instruction including: independent reading time: small-group instruction and work stations; mentor texts to use during whole group, small group, or stations; teaching tips that can help build skills from grade to grade. "Growing Independent Learners" will help teachers to create a vibrant classroom filled with independent learners.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, "Growing Independent Learners: From Literacy Standards to Stations, K-3" is as practical and applicable as it is informed and informative. "Growing Independent Learners" is very highly recommended for elementary school teacher training curriculums, as well as academic library Teacher Education reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Quintessential Bellydance: Beginner Class Companion
Evyenia Karmi
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781475947885, $22.95, HC, 118pp,

Synopsis: Bellydancing provides a fun, effective, low-impact workout that will build stamina, enhance flexibility, and improve cardiovascular well-being. Bellydancing strengthens core muscles gracefully, providing new confidence in the body's natural sway and movement. Bellydancing has been embraced by women of all ages everywhere. In "Quintessential Bellydance: Beginner Class Companion", Evyenia Karmi draws upon her years of experience and expertise as a dancer, teacher, and member of the International Dance Council, to introduce the basic terminology and movements of bellydance. Through careful, easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions, anyone can quickly begin learning the vocabulary of this ancient and beautiful dance. Once the basic steps are mastered, the addition of sultry veil work can add a whole new dimension and excitement to the experience and performance. "Quintessential Bellydance: Beginner Class Companion" is a compact and easy-to-use guide, making it an excellent teaching tool. "Quintessential Bellydance: Beginner Class Companion" features a gentle warm-up routine to prepare the body for this energetic workout experience. With "Quintessential Bellydance: Beginner Class Companion", anyone can create their own choreography or just have fun dancing!

Critique: Impressively well written and exceptionally well illustrated, organized and presented, "Quintessential Bellydance: Beginner Class Companion" is thoroughly 'user friendly' and will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library Dance Instruction reference collections in general, and Bellydancing supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of bellydancing enthusiasts that "Quintessential Bellydance: Beginner Class Companion" is also available in a paperback edition (9781475947878, $19.95) and in a Kindle format ($3.99).

Essential Astrology
Amy Herring
Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
9780738735634, $24.99, PB, 382pp,

Synopsis: Your natal chart is a tool to help you build the life you want. It's a map to consult when you are feeling lost or when you want to explore the deepest parts of your true self. Now you can join expert astrologer Amy Herring in "Essential Astrology: Everything You Need to Know to Interpret Your Natal Chart" as she shares simple, step-by-step instructions to reading your natal chart in a way that provides profound insight into your inner workings. Essential Astrology reveals the meanings of the signs, planets, houses, and aspects, showing you the vital details of interpreting natal charts with skill and ease. Astrology is a symbolic language for the heart and soul. With "Essential Astrology, you will discover how to apply the deepest layers of astrological wisdom to questions about relationships, careers, and everything that's most important in your life. "Essential Astrology" will introduce the components of astrology with depth right from the start, with classic elements like keywords and positive and negative traits, but spending more time illustrating how to dig deeper to go beyond stereotypes into the heart of each planet, sign, house, and aspects. While this can be looked at as a beginning astrology book, "Essential Astrology" can serve for intermediate students as well, who have memorized keywords but struggle to draw the depth from each component and are ready for a deeper review.

Critique: Amy Herring has been a consultant and teacher of astrology since 1995, In "Essential Astrology: Everything You Need to Know to Interpret Your Natal Chart" she draws upon her years of experience and expertise to deftly craft the perfect instruction manual which is specifically suited to the non-specialist general reader wanting to know how to create and interpret their own astrological charts. Exceptionally well written and impressively organized into three main sections (The History and Astronomy of Astrology; Astrological Meanings; Chart Interpretation), "Essential Astrology" is further enhanced with the inclusion of a fourteen page Glossary, as well as a three page listing of Recommended Reading and Resources. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections in general, and Astrology supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and practitioners of astrology that "Essential Astrology" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.99).

The Magical Adventures of Mary Parish
Frances Timbers
Truman State University Press
100 East Normal Street, Kirksville, MO 63501-4221
9781612481432, $40.00, Library Binding, 224pp,

Synopsis: Mary Parish wasn't an ordinary seventeenth-century woman. She was a "cunning woman", who spent her time in the realm of magic, interacting with fairies, hunting for buried treasures, and communicating with the spirit world, along with her partner, the young aristocrat Goodwin Wharton. Drawing largely from Goodwin s personal journals, Frances Timbers (a Sessional Lecturer at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada) reconstructs Mary s life in "The Magical Adventures of Mary Parish: The Occult World of Seventeenth-Century London", a micro-history that deftly explores themes of class, gender, and relationships in seventeenth-century England. Mary s story provides insight into magical beliefs and practices of early modern history and sheds light on how class and gender affected everyday life.

Critique: The newest addition to the outstanding 'Early Modern Studies Series' from Truman State University Press, "The Magical Adventures of Mary Parish: The Occult World of Seventeenth-Century London" is an outstanding contribution to academic library 17th Century British Spiritualism and Metaphysical Studies reference collections. Enhanced with the inclusion of historical illustrations, an informative Prologue, and a thirteen page Index, it should be noted for academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the history of Western Metaphysics, that "The Magical Adventures of Mary Parish" is also available in a Kindle edition ($24.99).

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

The Psychology of Democracy
Fathali M. Moghaddam
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
9781433820878, $79.95, HC, 256pp,

Synopsis: In "The Psychology of Democracy", Fathali M. Moghaddam, (Professor of Psychology, Georgetown University, and editor-in-chief of "Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology") explores political development through the lens of psychological science. Professor Moghaddam deftly examines the psychological factors influencing whether and how democracy develops within a society, identifies several conditions necessary for democracy (such as freedom of speech, minority rights, and universal suffrage), and explains how psychological factors influence these conditions. Professor Moghaddam also recommends steps to promote in citizens the psychological characteristics that foster democracy. Written in a style that is both accessible and intellectually engaging, "The Psychology of Democracy" skillfully integrates research and an array of illustrative examples from psychology, political science and international relations, history, and literature.

Critique: Exceptionally informed and informative, impressively thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Psychology of Democracy" is an outstanding work of accessible scholarship that is enhanced with the inclusion of a thirty-three page list of References; and an eighteen page Index. "The Psychology of Democracy" is a critically important and highly recommended addition to academic library Contemporary Psychology and Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Face of the Deep
Paul J. Pastor
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781413329, $16.99, PB, 304pp,

Synopsis: Many Christians don't have a clear idea of the Holy Spirit's role in their life. Yet Scripture is full of stories that show the Spirit as a vibrant, personal being. "The Face of the Deep: Exploring the Mysterious Person of the Holy Spirit" by Paul J. Pastor (a grassroots pastor and an Adjunct Professor at Multnomah University) invites you on a quest for the Holy Spirit that journeys through our world and Bible. The adventure is infused with wonder and symbolic imagination -- from the black void of Genesis 1, all the way through the explosive re-creation at the close of Revelation. In "The Face of the Deep" you will encounter the love and power of the Holy Spirit revealed through the beauty of creation, art, history, and theology.

Critique: Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "The Face of the Deep: Exploring the Mysterious Person of the Holy Spirit" is an absorbing and highly recommended read for all members of the Christian community regardless of their denominational affiliation.

Conciatore: The Life and Times of 17th Century Glassmaker Antonio Neri
Paul Engle
Heiden & Engle Press
PO Box 451, Hubbardston, MA 01452
9780974352954, $59.95, HC, 394pp,

Synopsis: "Conciatore" details the life of Antonio Neri, who was the author of the first and most famous book on the making and fashioning of glass. Readers will venture into the mysterious world of a late Renaissance priest and alchemist. Antonio Neri plied his craft in Florence, Pisa and Antwerp at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He was both a contemporary of Galileo, and a devotee of Paracelsus. Sponsored by a Medici prince, he is best known for writing L'Arte Vetraria. "Conciatore" explores the cobbled streets of his home town, Florence, where Neri's father served as court physician to the grand duke. "Conciatore" reveals why it was not strange for alchemy to be part of the education of a Catholic priest, as well as why it was essential for a glass maker to be an alchemist. Neri delighted European royalty with his glass formulations and artificial gems, but his interests ranged far wider. His work spanned the development of new medicines, attempts to make the fabled philosopher's stone and to transmute metals. The quest to make gold was not a simple folly; it spawned the experimental techniques that underpin modern science. In "Conciatore" the disparate threads of Antonio Neri's life are gathered together and assembled into a colorful tapestry.

Critique: Paul Engle is an unaffiliated independent researcher living in Massachusetts. He is author of an English language translation of Neri's L'Arte Vetraria and of peer reviewed articles on Neri's life and work. Engle is the author of the blog In "Conciatore" Engle draws upon his years of research and dedicated expertise to provide an impressively well written and exceptionally well organized and presented biography of the life, times, and accomplishments of a pioneering 17th Century European glass maker.

Blood Oil
Leif Wenar
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
9780190262921, $34.95, HC, 552pp,

Synopsis: Natural resources empower the world's most coercive men. Autocrats like Putin and the Royal Saudi family spend oil money on weapons and repression. ISIS and Congo's militias spend resource money on atrocities and ammunition. For decades resource-fueled authoritarians and extremists have forced endless crises on the West - and the ultimate source of their resource money is us, paying at the gas station and the mall.

"Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World" by political philosophers, Leif Wenar (who currently holds the Chair of Philosophy and Law at King's College London), goes behind the headlines in search of the hidden global rule that thwarts democracy and development-and that puts shoppers into business with some of today's most dangerous men. Readers discover a rule that once licensed the slave trade and apartheid and genocide, a rule whose abolition has marked some of humanity's greatest triumphs-yet a rule that still enflames tyranny and war and terrorism through today's multi-trillion dollar resource trade.

"Blood Oil" shows how the West can now lead a peaceful revolution by ending its dependence on authoritarian oil, and by getting shoppers out of business with the men of blood. "Blood Oil" describes practical strategies for upgrading world trade: for choosing new rules that will make us more secure at home, more trusted abroad, and better able to solve pressing global problems like climate change. "Blood Oil" shows citizens, consumers and leaders how we can act together today to create a more united human future.

Critique: Informative, thoughtful, exceptionally well organized and presented, thoroughly researched and impressively argued from beginning to end, "Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World" is enhanced with the inclusion of forty-eight pages of Notes; forty-four pages of References; and an eighty-seven page Index. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library geopolitical, global economics, and political science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Blood Oil" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.39).

Project Management Simplified
Barbara Karten
CRC Press
6000 NW Broken Sound Parkway NW, Suite 300, Boca Raton, FL 33487
9781498729345, $89.95, PB, 279pp,

Synopsis: "Project Management Simplified: A Step-by-Step Process" by independent project management consultant Barbara Karten applies well-defined processes for managing projects to managing change in our lives. It describes an approach modeled on a process used successfully in businesses, not-for-profit organizations, schools, and other organizations. The skills and techniques are not unique to businesses and organizations; they are life skills available to everyone.

"Project Management Simplified" translates these processes and techniques such that non-project managers can easily use these proven approaches in a nonbusiness context for their own projects. It removes technical jargon, the need for computer software and hardware, and complicated organizational environments, describing the essential project management processes in a simple, straightforward manner.

A sample project in the text and a case study in the appendices further illustrate the concepts explained in the text. "Project Management Simplified" challenges the reader to select a project and, working along with the book, be the project manager and develop a project plan. By working with customers and funders of the project, defining the project, identifying how long it will take, and determining its cost, you will develop the expertise to define project goals and create a plan to reach them.

Critique: A thoroughly 'user friendly' instruction manual that is especially recommended for anyone undertaking any form of engineering, industrial, or manufacturing project management responsibilities, "Project Management Simplified: A Step-by-Step Process" will prove to be an indispensable addition to corporate and academic library reference collection. It should be noted that "Project Management Simplified: A Step-by-Step Process" is also available in a Kindle edition ($89.95).

Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination
Kathy-Ann Tan
Wayne State University Press
The Leonard N. Simons Building
4809 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201-1309
9780814341407, $44.99, HC, 432pp,

Synopsis: Literature has always played a central role in creating and disseminating culturally specific notions of citizenship, nationhood, and belonging. In "Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination", Kathy-Ann Tan (Associate Professor of American Studies at the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen, Germany) investigates metaphors, configurations, parameters, and articulations of U.S. and Canadian citizenship that are enacted, renegotiated, and revised in modern literary texts, particularly during periods of emergence and crisis.

Professor Tan brings together for the first time a selection of canonical and lesser-known U.S. and Canadian writings for critical consideration. She begins by exploring literary depiction of "willful" or "wayward" citizens and those with precarious bodies that are viewed as threatening, undesirable, unacceptable-including refugees and asylum seekers, undocumented migrants, deportees, and stateless people. She also considers the rights to citizenship and political membership claimed by queer bodies and an examination of "new" and alternative forms of citizenship, such as denizenship, urban citizenship, diasporic citizenship, and Indigenous citizenship. With case studies based on works by a diverse collection of authors-including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Djuna Barnes, Etel Adnan, Sarah Schulman, Walt Whitman, Gail Scott, and Philip Roth-Tan uncovers alternative forms of collectivity, community, and nation across a broad range of perspectives.

In line with recent cross-disciplinary explorations in the field, "Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination" shows citizenship as less of a fixed or static legal entity and more as a set of symbolic and cultural practices.

Critique: An impressively informed and informative body of sound scholarship, "Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination" is organized and presented in four major sections: Willful Citizens; Precarious Citizens; Queer Citizens; Diasporic and Indigenous Citizens. Enhanced with the inclusion of fifty-four pages of Notes; twenty-eight pages of References; and a ninety-three page Index, "Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination" is especially recommended for academic library Political Science, Cultural, Literary, and Citizenship Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for academia and the general reading public with an interest in the subject that "Reconfiguring Citizenship and National Identity in the North American Literary Imagination" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.39).

Jack Mason

Molly's Bookshelf

Lyin' Like a Dog
Richard Mason
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781439271391, $9.95, Paperback, 200 pages,

Language: English / GENRE reminisce

The prospective for down home chuckles is set in and actually begins on December 1944 a page or so after the opening chapter. December 1944 was when it snowed for Christmas and Richard and his friend John Clayton Reed got to spend some time Christmas Eve with Uncle Hugh. Actually, Hugh was not their uncle; he was an old colored man the boys carried groceries to, from the store in town to his small cabin in the woods nearby, because the elderly man had trouble walking.

Richard Mason's Lyin' Like a Dog launches with a burst of words on 23 September 1945 as we meet Richard sitting with his hound Sniffer, ruminating about his birthday. Essentially, it is a dearth of festivity which has given Richard such consideration. With the awareness of lads his age, 12 today, Richard 'fesses up that he is bent outa shape and sitting around feeling sorry for himself.

Conspiring with his best friend, John Clayton, to gain custody of a comic book having an upside down front cover to hopefully sell for big bucks, Richard tells of angel food cake with pink icing and licking out the icing bowl, as well as camping out in the woods when they were supposed to be camping in one or the other boys' back yard, Vacation Bible School and an evening revival highlighted with a truly memorable baptismal service conducted using the baptistery at the church; serve to accentuate the complications, hitches and unsuspected mischief a twosome of spirited lads can get themselves almost without trying keeps the reader smiling, chuckling and at times just breaking down in laughter.

Richard's anecdotes relating his helping Daddy put in and, take care of, the annual vegetable garden, and his making a bad blunder concerning a red pepper fresh from that garden, as well as tug of war grudge match, sitting as a family near the radio to listen to Walter Winchell announcing the end of WW2, and, when one money scheme ends in tragedy, an alternative is hurriedly hatched; are assured to appeal to lads aged 11 and 12 years and to the generation who were themselves kids growing up and playing outside without TV and hand held game devices during the 1940s and 50s here in the US.

Prowling around the swampy woods and down along the river bank a little ways out of town, visiting Uncle Hugh and maybe getting to listen to a ghost story, going to school, reading and re reading comic books, Saturdays at the movies with other kids from school, listening to The Shadow and other stories on the radio and sitting on the breadbox outside grocery store and jawing with friends are all a measure of the chronicle.

Running into danger and facing potential injury to themselves during one of their forays into the woods climaxes with Richard and John Clayton becoming town heroes; while the narrative itself culminates with a bit of apprehension. Daddy has come home liquored up, again, and while Mama does not tie into him as has been the custom in the past; Richard recognizes that there is something not quite right about the situation.

I definitely enjoyed reading the escapades and two misadventures two pre-teen lads convey in the youthful jargon of narrator, Richard Mason. The monkeyshines and mischievousness, conceivably essentially taken from the author's life in rural Arkansas, bring to this reviewer's mind the accounts my Daddy shared of his growing up in rural Arkansas and then California. Many an evening, as sisters and I were growing up, found us gathered around the supper table laughing and enjoying listen to Daddy and his adventures as a child.

And, despite the fact that my own growing up years was lived in semi-rural San Joaquin Valley, California during the 50s, where we lived surrounded by cotton fields and not swamp or woods, the large irrigation ditch moving water needed for farming was the site of many adventure for 3 little girls, and their friends, as we too played outside minus much observation, or baby sitters and the like. Those were the tales told to parents only after we were grown and enjoyed watch Mama's hair turning grey before our eyes.

The eleventh year in the lives of Richard and John Clayton presented in book one of the Richard the Paperboy series, their friends at school and the little town of Norphlet, Union County, Arkansas takes place in the area just north of the Louisiana border where Union County, LA meets Union County AR. And not too far south of the area where many of my people live today.

The setting for the tale is the difficult period December 1944 to September 1945; a time often repeated during the 1950s as families gathered around the radio to listen to the evening news. Richard's family listened to Walter Winchell report the war news WWII; during the 1950s families often listened attentively as Edward R Murrow told us of the events far away in Korea.

Lyin' Like a Dog told in the first person, by means of local dialect, is a work sure to have charm for a wide-ranging continuum of readers. This is a manuscript evocative of Twain's writings. While teaching 4th grade, I read aloud daily and found girls and boys alike listened keenly as I read Twain and his Tom Sawyer adventures.

Lyin' Like a Dog will be placed in my Sub bag for reading a chapter aloud to students; should I received a call for classroom subbing in a classroom of 4th graders rather than my usual K 1 preference.

I had no problem envisaging or believing the capers Richard, John Clayton and others in the area experienced. Attempting ludicrous, to adults, schemes largely centered around how to get rich, i.e. possibly bring home as much as $100!, starting to notice girls, as well as the you can't be serious!, happenings including Vacation Bible School, revivals, a still out in the woods, jars of 'shine, going barefoot, Big Chief tablets, a kid with a newspaper route, even the term colored man point to another time and place many older readers likely experienced in part during the early years of their lives.

Characters are well fleshed, settings are filled with imagery, names of the kids, John Clayton ... both names used rather than just first name, Connie, Rosallie, plain simple names, and nick names; Tiny for the big kid, Ears and the like are right for the time and place. Readers are sure to be drawn into the story from the opening lines and the descriptive hijinks hold reader interest and keep the pages turning right on to the last when Richard ruminates over the carryings-on experienced during his eleventh year as he ponders Heck, I'm twelve now, and maybe I'm old enough to keep outta trouble.... But, naw, I can tell you right now if I told you that, I'd just be lyin' like a dog.

Highly readable text, Lying Like a Dog will have a place in the home, library, school library, classroom and as an item in a gift box for birthday, Christmas or anytime.

I particularly like the old photo c 1940s of a skinny kid, hands on hips, down at the calf pen, farm house in the background used as cover art.

I received a paperback ARC for review. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend

Amazon: About the Author

As a young boy R. Harper Mason lived on a small farm in southern Arkansas. He is able to vividly capture an era of American history, before air-conditioning, television and modern technology. His story reflects a time of brown sunburned feet, shirtless summers and very special country Christmases.

Mason earned both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in geology from the University of Arkansas. He worked for the King Ranch in South Texas, followed by an overseas assignment on well-sites deep in the Libyan Sahara Desert. Thirty years ago Mason started his own company, Gibraltar Energy in El Dorado, Ark. of which he is CEO and President. In the early 1990's he was the president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation and wrote a monthly column for them covering state environmental issues. Mason also wrote an environmental column which ran in newspapers around the state and hosted an environmental radio show, both called Natural Solutions.

Deadly Dining
William Manchee
9781935722786, $12.00, 338 pages,

Series: Stan Turner Mystery / GENRE Mystery / Language: English

William Manchee's Deadly Dining A Stan Turner Mystery set in the late 1990s opens with Stan ruminating about his wife Rebekah's mysterious illness. 7 May, 1997 Stan has just brought Rebekah home from the hospital following a parathyroidectomy; he hoped life would soon be back to normal after more than a year of illness culminating with stroke like symptoms and the surgery.

Settling in for the evening the pair are shocked as the evening news on TV recounts how 4 patrons enjoying their dinner at local eatery, Emilio's Italian Restaurant, have suddenly become deathly ill, have collapsed during dinner and have been rushed to Medical City Hospital where 2 of the 4 are DOA and the other 2 are fighting for their lives.

Stan and Rebekah have eaten in the restaurant in the past. Emilio Belucci and his retired model wife, Eva, have been luckier than many beginning a new business; the restaurant has flourished from its opening. And, now this.

It is not long before Stan and his law firm, Turner & Waters are retained by Emilio to represent waiter Ricardo Ricci who is the prime suspect in the poisoned Parmesan Cheese topping deaths of Bill and Donna Rice, and John Richardson. Only Richardson's wife Sandy recovers from the incident.

It is not long before Turner & Waters find themselves facing three situations at once. Paula Waters, partner with the law firm, will handle the defense of Ricardo Ricci, while Stan undertakes a Chapter 11 bankruptcy designed to protect Pakistani immigrant, Ram, Ramadan Bakira, who invested $250,000 in a local grocery, Pakimart, specializing in ethnics foods.

Firm associate Jodie Marshall is given the task to prepare a defense for one Bob Larson who in the exercise of a Good Samaritan situation seems to have been over zealous and was the cause of jewelry store owner Herb Stein to be shot by thief Michael Mahoney. Stein is now suing Larson for pain and suffering.

Jodie soon has her ducks in a row prior to her court battle defending Larson, and offers to give Paula a hand in helping with the investigation needed to prepare the defense for Ricardo as Stan is busy with the unexpected problems surrounding what should have been a shut and dried bankruptcy.

Adding to ongoing dilemma is the fact that Stan keeps disappearing for several hours at a time. Suddenly straight arrow Stan is coming under increasing scrutiny by the women on his staff who suspect that he is having an affair.

As always writer Manchee has skillfully woven an intricate narrative complete with a very public triple homicide complete with film of the death throes replayed on TV. Nevertheless the perpetrator responsible for the gruesome crime as well as the motivation have Paula befuddled as she tries to sort how the two couples and the accused waiter might have crossed paths. Even if a crime for hire, Ricardo as a hired killer seems a bit thin.

Paula Waters usually relishes a case filled with twists and turns however when she thinks she finally has it all figured out, her trial outline prepared and is ready for the Monday court date Dec 1, 1997 she is dismayed to learn two of her witnesses have disappeared. Paula's dismay grows when Stan tells her he will hustle to help, but their whole premise surrounding the killings in the Belucci Restaurant have been in error, and, they have the weekend to get their facts and witnesses in order.

Between Stan's preoccupations with the bankruptcy he is working on, helping Jodie Marshall, recently named as firm associate ready for her first trial with the Larson defense and Stan's disappearing act; Paula is more than a little peeved with the man she would like to have had an affair with when she and he first began working together several years, books, before.

Filled with the twists and turns and the red herrings we have come to associate with Manchee and his Stan Turner mysteries, Deadly Dining is a marvelous addition to the growing body of work produced by this talented attorney writer who says he finds grist for his writing in the cases he has worked on in his lawyering work.

Settings are well defined, descriptive situations, locales, and behaviors all show an innate realization of the human mind and its workings. Characters are well fleshed, bad guys are often really bad, and good guys may not really be all that good. Surprises abound, ultimately the murders are solved satisfactorily as is Stan's unexpected, rather loutish, behavior.

The law firm is intact, solvent and everyone in the office is ready for the next go round.

Hopefully the next Stan Turner Mystery is well into production and will be ready soon for review.

Happy to recommend Deadly Dining for those who enjoy a well written, fast paced, highly readable work sure to intrigue the most discerning reader.

Amazon: About the Author

William Manchee is a consumer lawyer by trade and practices in Dallas with his son Jim. Originally from southern California, he lives now in Plano, Texas with his wife Janet. He is the author of the eleven volume Stan Turner Mystery series inspired by many actual cases from his past. His other works include the Rich Coleman Novels Death Pact, Plastic Gods, and Unconscionable and a science fiction series, the Tarizon Saga. He is also the author of the nonfiction book Go Broke, Die Rich, Turning Around the Troubled Small Business.

More About the Author, Amazon's William Manchee Page: Biography

I'm originally from Ventura, California where I grew up during the 50s and 60s. My wife Janet and I were married while I was attending UCLA and she was attending nursing school. We immediately started having children and had three boys and a girl by the time I graduated from SMU Law School. With four young children we decided to stay in Dallas, where we had family and friends, rather than returning to California.

I started law practice in the late 70's and today practice consumer law with my son, Jim. About eighteen years ago I took on a famous romance author as a client and, after working with her for a while, I started wondering if I could write a novel myself. Eventually I gave it a shot and found I really enjoyed the writing process. After that it only took a few generous reviews of my first novel and I was hooked. My goal is to continue to write a novel a year for the rest of my life.

Jade's Story
Gail Albrechtson
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781412003926, $20.00, Paperback: 204 pages, June 13, 2003

Language: English

I first read Gail Albrechtson's 'Natural Harmony: Jade's Story' several years ago. Albrechtson's work is one to be read and read again, and again.

I do not keep all the books I receive for review, this is one that I did keep, have read again more than once, and, since my son's marriage and his becoming dad to a little boy born with Down's syndrome; I am especially happy I did.

"In loving memory of Jade July 1, 1979-January 12, 1986"

I am an educator of small children, public elementary classrooms, and I am a QMRP. Through my work for a period in a residential care facility for developmentally disabled adults, our residents included more than one person born with Down's.

Albrechtson's work is one to be read and read again, and again.

Jade came into this world, diminutive, exquisite and drowsy. Her parents smitten from the first glance at their daughter could not ponder there might be something atypical with their child notwithstanding their pediatrician's words that she suspected there were variances needing testing before she could explain her concerns.

As the worried young parents wondered about possible horrible things that might be wrong with their baby test results were held up at first for hours and then days.

'Natural Harmony: Jade's Story' is not a story book in the sense of a pleasurable account, rather, it is a mother's affectionate celebration of the little girl with whom she shared her life for a short period and the treasure of recollections she kept when Jade's life ended.

As children do, Jade learned to walk and to talk, even though her progression took place at a slower rate than do the mile stones met by the 'normal' child. During the early days following her daughter's birth Gail struggled to come to grips with what it meant to care for a child who is not terribly dissimilar, nonetheless is still not just like her peers; Jade spent some time with a foster family during her early months.

As is the case with many families having a handicapped child born to them; Jade was destined to be raised by one parent alone.

Gail and her daughter journeyed a path not traveled by all parents and children for over six years. Most children are 'normal' and their interactions and progress are 'normal.'

Jade was diagnosed as having Down's Syndrome. Gail came to appreciate and adore unconditionally the little girl who never spoke quite so well as does the 'normal' child, took longer to reach physical milestones, and required extraordinary attention due to a congenital heart defect.

Both Jade's speech pattern and the heart irregularity are characteristic for a Downs child.

While there were many things Jade could not perform just as did her peers, there were a good many things she could and did do well. Jade's recognition and love for animals permitted the little girl to face the tenant mouse with no consternation.

Her resolve to reap a 'papo' for knowing her address led Jade to learn her address when others in her school class were also struggling to state their own.

Not unusual for any parent; Gail devoted much time to her daughter. She rapidly discovered what other parents of a child who is different often will face. While there is frequently much talk about 'programs' and the like; in truth, parents of a handicapped child face many brick walls: day care, schools and society at large regularly do not want any in their midst other than the 'normal' kid.

Jade was born during a period when many Downs and other 'different' kids were thrust into accommodations where they were permitted to live as perpetual children solely because no one recognized or acknowledged that these kids can and will learn.

True, developmentally disabled tend to learn a bit less, at a slower rate, and lose ground fast if teaching is not continued; however, learn they do just as do their peers.

As Gail and Jade sat by the lake and watched 'wheeshes' fly by, or visited the mall at Christmastime the pair behaved as any 'normal' parent and child enjoying the day and time spent with each other.

I appreciate Gail Albrechtson's aptitude for setting aside her own private sadness to set down this accolade to her child. 'Natural Harmony: Jade's Story' is a compelling read. The Reader is drawn right into the account. I found it difficult to put the book down as I read, the first time, and as I read each subsequent time. I find the words seem to leap from the page in this well written work.

I smiled as Jade did progress and achieve goals, nodded my understanding at her absolute determination - I too have a handicapped child, my oldest son survived early birth and was destined to always walk with a limp, he has cerebral palsy - and, I wept as I read the ending of Jade's short story.

I am an educator of small children, public elementary classrooms, and I am a QMRP. My work for a period in a residential care facility for developmentally disabled adults, our residents included more than one person born with Down's. I know those with Down's do face an uphill battle, but are very like others who are considered 'normal.'

Smiles and laughter, sense of humor for small things, joy of life, love, loveable, and loving are part of the child or adult with Down's.

Counselors, teachers and new parents of a Down's child alike will find comfort and value through reading of Jade's life and her joy of life as told through the eyes of her mother.

'Natural Harmony: Jade's Story' is an outstanding addition to the home library for those who enjoy a true slice of life type work with a twist. We all have some tussle in our lives. Few of us face the struggle this little girl and her mother faced daily.

Excellent read, happy to recommend especially for therapists, parents of a handicapped child, teachers and the general reading populace.

Enlightening Read ... Highly Recommended ... 5 stars

I was sent a review copy by the author

Amazon: About the Author:

I grew up in Montreal, Quebec, the fourth of eight children. I now live in Victoria, British Columbia with my husband and three children. Having earlier had a child with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect, I had long felt the need to convey the spirit and meaning of my daughter Jade's brief life. In writing Natural Harmony, my intention was to move, to inspire, and to educate people about the injustices dealt to those born with distinct challenges. As well, I wanted to share some of the joy that I found in the love and laughter of my sweet little girl.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Moore's Bookshelf

Ten Thousand Things
John Spurling
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster St, New York, NY 10012
9781468310122, $16.95, 368pp,

Many hundreds of years ago, Genghis Khan swept across Asia and conquered northern China. He laid the foundation for Mongol rule of the empire. His grandson, Kublai Khan, cemented this victory by crushing Song Dynasty forces in the South and uniting the vast empire. Kublai Khan's success marked the beginning of almost a hundred years of Mongol domination of China. It is during this period that the events described in John Spurling's book, "Ten Thousand Things" take place.

Spurling's book is historical fiction. The narrative follows the life of an artist, Wang Meng, whose work is on display today in museums across the world. By using Wang's life as a focus, Spurling gives readers insight into the zeitgeist of Mongol China, which is known as the Yuan Dynasty. Art is as much a character in this book as any person. And art, as described by Spurling, is indistinguishable from the philosophical and religious traditions that inspired it in Yuan China. Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism--each is discussed as living templates for artists, common folk and rulers.

Wang Meng is one of four artists who came to be known as the Four Masters of the Yuan Dynasty. These artists shared not only a philosophy but also an aesthetic that was manifest particularly in landscape painting.

The life story of each Master is woven into a narrative that follows Wang through his marriage, love affairs, tragedies and, finally, imprisonment. The story also describes the disintegration of Mongol rule in China, as bandit leaders vie for control of the empire. Eventually, one of these bandits, Zhu Yuanzhang, prevails and establishes the Ming Dynasty.

It is difficult to sort the fictional elements of this story from the true record. Skillful blending of story with history is a reflection of Mr. Spurling's ability as a writer and researcher.

"Ten Thousand Things" is an engaging book and also highly informative. Upon finishing it, I immediately turned to the Internet to learn about the Yuan Dynasty and the Four Masters. After perusing the Internet, I searched the public library catalog for books on Mongol China. I wanted to know more about this distant and exotic time in China's history. A less well-written book would not have prompted me to do this.

I recommend this book to people who enjoy historic fiction, to lovers of art, and to those who appreciate a well-told story.

The Hunger Angel
Herta Muller
175 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250032089, $16.00, 304pp,

When Soviet troops overwhelmed German defenses at the end of WWII, they occupied several Eastern European countries. One of these was Romania, where an ethnic German minority had lived for generations. This group was targeted by the Soviets to pay reparations for the cost of the war. Payment was to be made in the form of forced labor.

The protagonist of "The Hunger Angel", Leo Auberg, is a 17-year-old Romanian who is deported to a Soviet labor camp in 1945. He spends the next five years surrounded by death and tormented by hunger.

"The Hunger Angel" tells a story that most people in the West don't know. Though I'd read "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" (Solzhenitzen) and "Night" (Wiesel), this book struck me as different in an almost existential way. The absurdity of Auberg's situation is that he's not accused of a crime, as Ivan Denisovich is, and he's not marked for death, as the inmates of Wiesel's camp are. He is merely a resource--a pair of hands and a back. A calculus is repeated throughout the book: one shovel = one gram of bread. That's how much the camp directors figure is the minimum required to keep their labor resource functional.

Of course, death is a regular companion at the camp. That is of no concern to its operators, for labor is a renewable resource. Countless souls in occupied lands may be assigned to the camps as replacements for those who die.

This is not light fare. I made the mistake of reading it before bed and don't suggest sensitive readers do the same.

Herta Muller is a Nobel Laureate, though she did not win the prize for this book. Some have described "The Hunger Angel" as a prose poem. A lyrical quality does come through but I suspect it may be more poetic in the original German version.

Muller is a talented writer. I recommend "The Hunger Angel" to mature readers who don't mind grim material. It is a novel based on true life experiences. That makes it all the more unforgettable.

A. G. Moore

Peggy's Bookshelf

Fast into the Night
Debbie Clarke Moderow
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780544484122, $25.00, 272 pages,

"Fast into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail" is the true story of Debbie Moderow's two runs in the infamous Iditarod sled dog race in 2003 and 2005. The role of rookie musher in the world's most grueling sled dog race might seem like an impossible feat for a 47-year old woman. But Debbie was no rookie. She and husband Mark and their children Andy and Hannah, were a seasoned team of mushers with plenty of race starts under their belts, and a hand-picked team of 16 bred-for-racing sled dogs. For the Moderows, sled dog racing is a family sport packed with adrenalin-pumping challenges which are revealed warts and all. Even though Debbie and her dog team were alone out on the trail, they most definitely traveled with the spirits of their talented and loving support crew. And when Moderow describes those wild rides running trails behind her dog team, she mixes gut-wrenching emotion with lofty elation and vivid details all splashed across a canvas of the ever-changing and unrelenting Alaskan wilderness. Moderow does a masterful job of drawing readers into her plight.

If there was ever any doubt about the true athletes in sled dog racing it's the dogs - always the dogs. And Moderow's respect and admiration for her team shines throughout, yet sadly for me there wasn't enough about the dogs. I wanted to know more about Kanga, Juliet, Zeppy, Sydney, Reno, Spur, Taiga, Lil Su, etc., besides what position they held in harness, what races they'd run, and how they behaved on the trail. Above all, "Fast into the Night" is an engrossing memoir of one woman's exhilarating and terrifying journey into the great unknown relying on a team of dogs to guide her.

Super Happy Magic Forest
Matty Long
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012
9780545860598, $17.99, 32 pages,

The Super Happy Magic Forest is a pretty groovy place where a bunch of super happy critters are having way too much fun. That is until the Magic Crystals of Life are stolen and the Super Happy Magic Forest erupts into chaos. An odd collection of five heroes are chosen to rescue the Magic Crystals of Life from the Goblin Tower. And so Hoofius (an under-dressed satyr), Herbert (bears a striking resemblance to the Travelocity gnome), Twinkle (the hyperactive fairy), Blossom (the reluctant unicorn), and Trevor (the clueless mushroom) embark on a journey to overcome evil and save happy. Alas, all is not what it seems. Turns out the evil was where they least expected it. "Super Happy Magic Forest" is like an epic quest with video game effects for added non-stop excitement. Think Super Mario meets the Fellowship of the Ring - for kids. Long's simplified saga starring five capricious warriors frolicking through hilarious cartoon illustrations give this book an engaging comic book style that's a joy to read. "Super Happy Magic Forest" is a super fun adventure full of enough hidden jokes and surprises to keep young readers happily entertained.

The Birds
Tarjei Vesaas
Translated from Norwegian by Torbjorn Stoverud and Michael Barnes
Archipelago Books
232 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
9780914671206, $18.00, 250 pages,

Mattis lives with this sister Hege in a small cottage by a lake in Norway. He is 37, and she is 40 years old. Mattis loves his sister very much - maybe too much. He is developmentally disabled and relies on Hege for everything. She makes a meager living knitting sweaters and she does take good care of Mattis, in spite of their poverty and her loneliness. The townsfolk laugh at Mattis and call him "Simple Simon." He has difficulty focusing on tasks so it's impossible for him to hold down a steady job. Mattis spends most of his time overthinking reality and imagining the way things are, which keeps him stuck in an irrational fantasy world. In Mattis's mind, the sudden appearance of the birds, a woodcock overhead and a large bird along the road, foretell big changes coming soon. Little does he know that he will deliver the most profound change when he ferries the lumberjack, Jorgen across the lake. The late great Norwegian writer Tarjei Vesaas immerses readers in an intimate portrayal of a childlike mind trapped in a man's body, and unable to cope with the adult world. First published in 1957, and now translated into English, "The Birds" dives into the complicated struggle between duty and love, and the tragic outcome of attempting to separate the two.

Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories
Sara Varon
First Second Books
175 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781626721180, $19.99, 128 pages,

In "Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories," graphic artist and storyteller Sara Varon offers readers a playful retrospective of her career from insecure aspiring cartoonist to insecure published graphic novelist. The first eight in the collection are from her first book of the same name. In this bigger and better edition Varon adds nine new, never-before-published stories. Her cartoons contain human and animal interaction, or animals fulfilling human roles, and one robot. From Varon's early years, readers get a ticket to the coolest pool ever, take a trip to a bee farm, and make paper dolls, among other grins and giggles. In her more recent stuff, readers are treated to a camping trip with a delicious twist, a boxing lesson, an illustrated book review, a trip into Mexico City's subway bazaar, and many more amusing surprises. Shades of blue, gray, and pink illuminate Varon's world as she blends whimsical characters into simple story lines, spiced with fun facts, and then colors them with clever details and campy humor. Varon introduces each story with insightful commentary about what inspired her to create the characters and/or story. Her candid exploration into the artistic process elevates this book into a crafty and valuable learning tool for young graphic artists. Those with an artistic eye will appreciate the subtle evolution of her work over the 13-year span. "Sweaterweather & Other Stories" is an entertaining stroll through the life of a graphic novelist that readers will want to read, relish and repeat.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Roderick's Bookshelf

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States
Sarah Vowell
Riverhead Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594631740, $27.95 HC, $13.99 Kindle, 288pp,

How does an author focusing on her country's history appeal to a twenty first century American culture celebrated historian David McCullough has referred as being, "historically illiterate"?

Sarah Vowell has attracted legions of followers with her previous books and does it again in her latest work "Lafayette in the Somewhat United States", concocting an appealing blend of sardonic humor, a keen understanding of the human condition which consistently transcends American generations down through time, all the while demonstrating an impressive fundamental grasp of history and its many players. These elements are at the heart of Vowell's deceptively off-handed storytelling methods. Without question Vowell has done her homework: she "digs deep," demonstrating a thorough understanding of historically-significant characters caught up in epic events. Vowell showcases perfectly recognizable human behavior traits and their interaction (successful or not) with the unpredictably quirky forces comprising history, leading us to again ponder the fundamental question of whether individuals make history or vice versa? The personalities of Lafayette, Franklin, Washington, and others come to life in ways not found in standard histories of the Revolutionary War period. Human foibles co-mingling with pivotal events engage readers as Vowell's story briskly charges forward.

The basic framework of the book is firmly established in its opening paragraph:

How did the Marquis de Lafayette win over the stingiest, crankiest tax protestors in the history of the world? He trudged from Paris to Philadelphia, hung around the building where they signed the Declaration of Independence, and volunteered to work for free. The Continental Congress had its doubts about saddling George Washington with a teenaged aristocrat, but Ben Franklin wrote them from Paris that the kid might be of use, and, what the hell, the price was right.

You start off smiling and immediately become hooked. You must know more about the rich kid from France. The author has done her job. Through Vowell's almost comedic interpretation of very serious subject matter, you learn things you never thought you wanted or needed to know, and then become glad you were so enlightened. Even a sophomore in high school with an aversion to social studies might enjoy Sarah Vowell's way of sharing history, leading that student to tell a friend or two about the funny book she just read.

That said, there is a downside to Sarah Vowell's writing. Her persistent style can wear a reader down, especially when you read three or four or five of her history books. I sometimes find myself irritated by Powell's persistently flippant attitude. Sentence after sentence is drenched in irony and/or hilarity, and while she is knowledgeable, sometimes she comes across as being a bit of a show off. Vowell would probably be impossible to listen to at a cocktail party. In fairness, she does show some gravitas talking about thousands of American prisoners of war dying of starvation as captives aboard British warships anchored in New York harbor who are reduced to eating lice to survive. We need more of that to counterbalance the levity underpinning most of her writing. I guess I am somewhat of a traditionalist.

In the end, Sarah Vowell makes no pretensions about who she is and what she wants to talk about and how she will tell her stories. She is a well-known quantity among contemporary writers of history. I'm happy to revisit her version of events, knowing I have more sober versions waiting for me somewhere on my bookshelf.

In Search of America: A Young Man's Quest for Meaning
Robert Wolf
Stay Thirsty Press
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
B011679MJ0, $5.99 Kindle,

More than 80 years ago celebrated American author Thomas Wolfe observed:"this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America, that we are fixed and certain only when we are in motion." Today's American society is moving at a breathtaking pace, having morphed into something Wolfe would not recognize nor embrace. Author, publisher, and American wanderer and patriot Robert Wolf mourns the passage of a long-since-departed America. Actor George Clooney once observed "the 1950s happened in black and white." -- Robert Wolf would agree.

A self-acknowledged product of 1950s America, in his youth Wolf did not like the world around him. Wolf rejected his suburban upper middle class upbringing in Connecticut, where his father, dressed in his dark grey suits, joined legions of AMTRAK daily commuters riding down the eastern seaboard, these streams of unhappy humanity filling the tall, shiny skyscraper 'prisons' of downtown New York City. Wolf understands his father's post-World War II yearning for 'normalcy,' yet it is not for him. Wolf turns to traveling with hobos and bums in boxcars destined for the western region of America, in his search for new people, new adventures, a new life. The literary vehicle of this tale is Wolf's descriptions of the characters he encounters, portraying the crazy situations he got himself into.

IN SEARCH OF AMERICA, however, is not Jack Kerouac's ON THE ROAD revisited. Kerouac's explosive revolt against literary convention is more of a fantastic, frenetic journey of rebellion of the mind, intended to shake 1950s middle class American sensibility and the literary world of that period to its core (e.g., see Allen Ginsberg's HOWL). Robert Wolf, though an admirer of the beats and bohemians, paints a decidedly different literary portrait. Wolf is more personal and descriptive, much less manic. Although both experiences (the beats' and Robert Wolfs') are fueled by massive amounts of alcohol and illicit drugs (privileges of youth?), Wolf shares his tale through the eyes of an aging adult, himself, looking back 50 years. He acknowledges the lens through which Wolf views his younger days is permanently warped by three traumatic national assassinations in the 1960s, the single most chaotic and destructive period in modern American history (1968), the passage of major Civil Rights legislation, and the major gains of the women's movement, culminating in the resignation of a corrupt American President in 1972. Of course, all of these events are framed by a costly, brutal war in Southeast Asia, claiming the lives of nearly 60,000 Americans.

Wolf longs for an America captured by the words of Emerson, Whitman, and Lincoln, at the same time recognizing that their America never really existed. But maybe those idyllic visions were closer to being realized before the advent of urbanization, globalization, militarization, and uncontrolled technological growth, movements that show no sign of abating. Robert Wolf peers into America's future and he does not like what he sees. He takes strong exception to Thomas Wolfe's optimistic statement from the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s: "I believe that we are lost in America, but we shall be found." Robert Wolf's love of the diversity of America's people, and his love of this country, is indisputable. This explains why he professes such deep concern for where America is now, and his perceived trajectory of our country in the years ahead. Read this book. It makes you think.

Roderick Haynes, Reviewer

Susan's Bookshelf

Troubadour: Song of the Lark
Clara Pierre
Grossman Press
9780986383809, $11.95, 278 Pages,

Genre: History / Language: English

When Gaucelm left the village of Uzerche in the Limousin for Toulouse in 1195, it was the start of the great adventure which was to be his life.

Less than a week's ride away, the land was very different, and so it was an excited young man who rode under Toulouse's portcullis and entered the lively city. A city which was at that time said to outshine even Paris! A chance meeting with Count Raymond, led to an invitation to entertain the court that evening. Success followed, and he became as popular, as he was round. As the court's troubadour he became a celebrity with his poetry and storytelling spreading the news about life and events, at a time when many people could not read or write.

Here, I have to say that if you close your eyes throughout this book, you can almost feel as if you have been transported back in time, so vividly does the author set the scenes, laying before us detailed descriptions of the buildings, people, places and life at court.

Fortunes change however, and his bold storytelling is seen as too radical. Count Raymond releases him from court, and so travels to Ventadour with Guilhelma, a prostitute, who is to become his lifelong companion.

Once settled at the court of Countess Marie, wife of Ebles de Ventadour, Gaucelm suddenly finds himself loaned to the court of Madame Audiarde de Malemort, Marie's friend, who has very firm idea's as to what she wants from a man, and this, and other parts of the book are quite raunchy. The strength of women in these times is an eye opener, when usually you are lead to believe they are very submissive. These royal women are very powerful, and often many years younger than their husbands. Whilst he is away, back at Ventadour, Guilhelma becomes friends with Douce, Marie's strong minded daughter.

Thus follows a story of knights in shining armour, love, betrayal, fierce battles, honour, and the continual struggle between the Catholic Pope and the Cathars.

When Douce disappears from Ventadour, Gaucelm and Guihelma's search for her, however the young woman they find at Montdragon is a very different from the love struck girl of the past. Life, people and events have changed her, and this change is about to affect them all.

With the Catholic crusaders becoming more and more zealous against the Cathars, all three decide to travel to the court of Count Raimbaut at Courthezon. Here they are warmly welcomed and Guilhema has their son Ayen. However, the northerners invade Courthezon and Gaucelm finds himself taking sad news back to the Countess Marie at Ventadour and asking a favour...
As he rides back to Guilhema and Ayen at Courthezon, the triumphant, but weary troubadour realises that he has indeed taken on the mantle of the famous Bernard de Ventadour who he met all those years ago at the court of Count Raymond. His storytelling must go on and he must spread the word, and the truth through his poetry and verse.

This book is beautifully written and a wonderful insight into life in the Middle Ages. The main characters are real although some things have been changed. I really loved the detail in it and it makes me want to visit everywhere mentioned, which I am sure one day I will.

I am so glad it was translated into English, and am looking forward to reading its sequel, when it is released.

You Don't Die - You Just Change Channels!
Chuck Swartwout
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781519619372, $9.95, 132 pages,

Language: English / Genre: Religion & Spirituality

I just loved this book, it is written in such a friendly chatty manner that it draws you in straight away. When I read in the introduction this 94 years young author saying "When I tell you that I am 94 years old, you may think that I'm either nuts or a dreamer to think that I can accomplish all that at an age where some people don't want to commit themselves to buying green bananas." I just knew it was going to be interesting.

Like most people, as a young person, Chuck Swartwout never considered growing old, however, years later after the loss of his much loved wife of 54 years, Gretchen, he found himself re-valuating his life, questioning if his good luck at various times, was luck and not something else, and this fuelled his fascination in the afterlife. Thus began his quest for knowledge.

He has had an incredibly interesting life and career, and because of this, and his fascination in so many different things, the world we live in, the spirit world, religion, space, and everything in between, he decided to write this book. However, this is no ordinary book, the author doesn't tell you what to do, how to think, and what is right. No, this is a 'feedback book' written to provide you with information, varied and unbiased, on space, the universe, the spirit world, mediums, religion, near death experiences, after death communication, the future, God, and so much more. Chuck Swartwout wants to hear from you when you have read it, he cares what you think. He wants to hear your thoughts on the subjects he has brought up. He personally believes there is an afterlife, but he wants to hear what you think about the subject. Why, because he plans to write at least one more book and wants more information, this man has a real thirst for knowledge, one I have never seen paralleled.

I am interested in near death experiences, after death communication and the spirit world, and my husband has a deep love of science and space, all through this book, I found myself reading passages out to him, I couldn't help myself.

Chuck Swartwout strongly believes that we must end all wars and that communication is the key. Included in the books is a lovely letter from one of his granddaughters who is in the Peace Corp in Peru, in which she clearly illustrates how the differences portrayed in the various parts of the world, be it everyday tasks, or pleasures, such as dancing, are not different, they are just other way of doing the same thing. Communication is key, whether in this world or the next.

The author believes that this is so important that not only does he want to write more books, he is also looking for billionaire sponsors for a new project he is proposing. This project is about communication with the spirit world, and has the tentative name Spirit Lab. You can read more in Appendix 1.

The front cover picture is a copy of an original watercolour by his beloved wife of 54 years Gretchen, whom he firmly believes he will be reunited with in the future. Reading this book has opened my eyes to many things and taught me so much, I hope his belief that they will be reunited is true and look forward to reading the sequel.

Happy Chasing Happy
Jerome 'Jay' Isip
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781683016380, $15.29, 216 pages,

Language: English / Genre: Memoir

Amazingly honest and inspirational. Wow, what an inspirational book! So what is it about, I hear you ask?

Well, is it a memoir, a wake-up call, confessions, a fly on the wall book, inspirational, horrific, well I could just keep going. However, if I had to use one word it would be mind-blowing!

Jay Isip is very brave writing this very open book about his life. He writes with passion and absolute honesty about his paths in life, and looking back can see the reasons behind his behaviour.

Deliberately under achieving at school, he was a rebel and started very early on drink and drugs. He discusses very candidly alcohol addiction and the mind set of an addict, and how hard it is to come to terms with being labelled as one. Enter the world of drugs, as he says, he has tried them all, uppers, downers, the lot. I have lead a very sheltered life in respect of drugs, and his descriptions of the effects of Ecstasy and other drugs made for fascinating reading. However, looking back he can also see how the effects of drugs made him instantly 'Mr popular' and gave him a very warped outlook on life, behaviour and who were his friends.

Deep down though, Jay has true determination and grit, and it was this which lead him to a very successful MMA wrestling career. He was dedicated and well respected in the ring and outside. This book will be fascinating to fans of MMA, it contains a lot of his career, some brutal, sometimes horrific truths, and some really great photographs.

Then the tide turns, he loses three professional fights, then has his last Championship Title fight at Mass Destruction. Suddenly the self-destruction button kicks in, full pelt.

Mr Bad Boy is an understatement, girls, drink, booze, run-ins with the law, you name it, he done it, until he had a desperate suicide attempt. Suddenly Jay was made him look within and see himself in the cruel light of day.

And a harsh light it was. However, it gave him the strength to pick himself up, and change.

Now he is a successful business man, and best-selling author. It has been hard, but with the love and support of his family and friends, who are very important to him, he now lives by the beach and continues to fight professionally.

This book is fascinating to read. At the end I found myself totally in awe of this young man who has not only come through very difficult times but has had the strength to look back and write this very candid book as total inspiration to others. He done it, and you can too!

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Teri's Bookshelf

Kat and the Bone
Tom Hoch
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, New Augusta, IN 46268-3005
9781457542152, $17.97, PB, 275 pages,

"In order for your circumstances to change, YOU must change."

Bullying is a common problem facing schools and neighborhoods. Unfortunately it usually does not end at graduation and carries into adulthood. How can anyone stop it?

Fortunately retired teacher Tom Hoch has written a fictional novel utilizing his years of experience in coaching and teaching social studies to offer a slightly different perspective that exhibits wisdom every person can value.

Jim Snertzbaum has been bullied for years. His parents died in a car accident forcing Jim to live with his grandfather. His new parent is concerned but is seldom home since he works as a trucker. Jim was bullied at his old school. Now in addition to losing his parents, he is a new student with a strange last name. He already was not very athletic due partially to being overweight. With few friends and no adult support, he is an easy target for the bullies. Jim quickly learned to ignore those who made fun of him and the putdowns but he did remember them, reflecting on those comments during his frequent loneliness.

As Jim is entering the eighth grade, he is determined to change his life. By chance, he discovers a paper outside a classroom which gives him an opportunity to change his life. No, this is not a fantasy but a page of mature advice with quotations that every person can use throughout their lives.

Jim wants to play high-school football. He is heavy enough but has never played the game. Also, Jim realizes that just showing up for fall football as a freshman with no experience, skills, or friends could possibly make his situation more difficult. He does not want to be the object of additional bullying. How could he possibly become a part of this well-respected group? How can he learn football without being part of the team.

Kat and the Bone allows the reader to accompany Jim as he attempts to overcome being a victim. This is his journey as he learns to take control of his life. Jim knows that his success at achieving this goal will set a foundation for his future. Through setting goals for himself, he learns how to deal with the everyday challenges of being a teenager who is not popular or respected but is taking steps to change himself and those around him.

This novel is a gem. With a character who really is a "diamond in the rough." The story is progressively logical and well-organized with realistic characters. While Jim is facing his day-to-day challenges, the author encircles his experiences with a wealth of wisdom appropriate for people of all ages even though the intended audience is young adults. Kat and the Bone provides role models for teenagers as well as adults.

The value of friendship is a strong throughout this story . Respecting each person for their own individual gifts and talents is the underlying supporting theme.

Hose Monkey
Reed Farrel Coleman
Tony Spinosa
Bleak House Books
c/o F+W Media
700 East State Street, Iola WI 54945
9781932557183, $23.95 HC, $6.15 Kindle, 292 pages,

"Setting things right is God's work and he seldom seems moved to do it."

Joe Serpe is a survivor. He is an former NYPD detective who is still feeling the death of his brother. His brother was one of the firemen who were evacuating the Twin Towers on September 11th. Joe still feels the loss. This is survivor's guilt. He just cannot successfully continue with life as it was proceeding. Being a policeman reminds him of his brother.

Now he works as a driver of a heating-oil truck. It is seasonal work that can often be stressful collecting payment for the heating-oil and frequently having to drive in icy conditions.

One of Serpe's co-workers is found dead. This employee had idolized Joe. The unfortunate victim had been developmentally and mentally challenged. Realizing that he was a role model brings back memories and thoughts of his brother. Did Joe accidentally set-up the unfortunate victim?

Joe begins to use his old investigative skills along with his old enemy from Internal Affairs, Bob Healy. The two team up to discover what really happened to the hose monkey.

Bob has issues that continue to haunt him from the past. He knows that he owes Joe.

The guilt the two of them carry brings a humanistic and realistic feel. During the investigation, the two have an array of suspects from the Russian mob to anti-immigration activists.

The characterization in Hose Monkey is outstanding. You know the characters, understand their motives and their flaws. Even though the reader might not always like Joe, you empathize with him. You see this story through Joe's eyes.

Reed Farrel Coleman has been called a "noir poet laureate" by NPR's Maureen Corrigan. Having written over twenty novels, he has won numerous awards including the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel three times, an Edward nominee also three times, and has won an Audie, Macavity, Barry and Anthony. Coleman also is an English instructor at Hofstra University.

Hose Monkey is the first installment in a new series featuring Joe Serpe under the pen-name of Tony Spinnosa who really is Reed Farrel Coleman.

Hose Monkey is violent. However the stylistic writing is addictive creating a memorable tale. The pages seem to fly as you read faster and faster until the last page.

Jump Cut
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464205194, $15.95 PB, $0.99 Kindle, 286pp,

According to Wikipedia, "A jump cut is a cut in film editing in which two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly. This type of edit gives the effect of jumping forward in time."

So how could a novel entitled Jump Cut incorporate murder, spying, terrorism, bombing, kidnapping and film editing? Ask author Libby Fischer Hellman about her newest novel.

Jump Cut continues the story of Ellie Foreman as the protagonist who seems to attract trouble. She has the natural ability of being in the wrong place at the most inconvenient times.

Ellie is a video producer who is hired by companies to create promotional material. In this story, the company is Delcroft Aviation. They specialize in drone technology, specifically ant-drone technology creating a method to stop the drones sent to various places to spy and attack throughout the world. The video is to present a positive social image to the public of this company that lives their day-to-day life in governmental and military secrets.

Delcroft fires Ellie and her company once they view the initial video. The new vice-president and director of engineering, Charlotte Hollander angrily lashes out at Ellie once she sees one particular person in this video. What is the importance of this person? Why can't they just edit out this person?

Ellie is especially curious when the object of trouble appears to have jumped in front of an on-coming train. Or were they pushed? Ellie cannot resist investigating.

Strangely Charlotte now wants to meet with Ellie. Why? What does she really want? Why fire someone and then ask to meet them in a restaurant?

In many of Libby Fischer Hellman's novels, the reader is privileged to learn lessons. In this particular one, the idea of terrorism is evidently apparent depending on whose perspective you are considering. What is terrorism can depend on your heritage, education and values and which side you are supporting? What if you discover that your country is attacking innocent civilians through the use of drones.

An added treasure in Jump Cut is the short discussion of the Uyghur people who live in China. These people are truly a mix of continent with both European and Asian blood and a feeling of not belonging.

Another issue which is also a concern is the lack of technological privacy and a few helpful hints for the everyday person who values their computer information with technology that is constantly changing.

Libby Fischer Hellman has lived in the Chicago area for over thirty-five years. This novel is the fifth installment in her Ellie Foreman series. She has also written three separate historical fiction novels as well as another series of four volumes featuring Georgia Davis.

I thoroughly enjoy these novels. The pace is quick with constant action, sometimes almost too much for the protagonist, Ellie. She has to be exhausted by the last page. These novels are not dependent on having read the previous novels but I believe the story is more enjoyable if you understand a little of the past of Ellie's family and friends.

Jump Cut is a great novel for everyone to read dealing with the real issues in today's news surrounding a logical fast-paced mystery that keeps the reader completely enthralled until the very last word.

Just Needs Killin': A Hetta Coffey Mystery
Jinx Schwartz
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
97815002295370, $13.99, PB, 325 Pages,

'Let me see if I have this straight. You agreed to meet some Japanese guy at a ritzy resort tonight, and attend a party with him in return for him funding your boyfriend's treasure expedition in Magdalena Bay?'

'It's not a tryst. Ishi just wants a, uh, well...someone by his side, like, you know, a hostess.'

Hetta is the type of person most of us would be honored to know. She's smart, almost too smart. She firmly believes in doing whatever is needed to be safe and to help her friends in any and every way possible. She is the type of person we all would love to know but you might want to keep your distance. Hetta has a magnetic attraction to danger. She always seems to be at the wrong places at the wrong times.

What could possibly go wrong? Hetta has been anchored her yacht in Mexico's Sea of Cortez. She is currently in Puerto Escondido when her gorgeous best friend, Jan manages to have them attend to a party at a luxury hotel.

Yacht? Don't worry Hetta's boat. She keeps it fairly banged-up with being in need of paint. Along with her dog, Po Thang is her constant boat mate, why would they attract attention?

What could go wrong? Along with her best friend, Jan, the two attend a lavish party. This party is at an elaborate resort. The two hope to meet a Japanese executive there in order to obtain funding for a treasure expedition in Magdalene Bay. What they do obtain is his decapitated head.

Naturally, Hetta takes pictures. Little does she know that this little action will cause her many problems including having her dog and aunt kidnapped. Realistically, she really only wants her dog returned, not her aunt.

Jinx Schwarz has been the author of nine books with this being the sixth mystery featuring Hetta Coffey who seems to be the author's alter-ego character. Like Hetta, she travels around the world on her yacht.

Hetta novels are fun. The intended audience is middle-aged women, most-likely those with empty nests. The characters are realistic and really do not look for trouble. Trouble just seems to find Hetta and her friends.

The novels are all well-organized and fast-paced. Everyone needs a fun read occasionally. Read any of Jinx's Hetta novels, especially Just Needs Killin'.

Teri Davis

Zulfiqar's Bookshelf

World Order
Henry A. Kissinger
The Penguin Press
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9781594206146, $36.00, HC, 432pp,

Why do we need a new world order? Kissinger gives the answer that we may elaborate. An unprecedented growth in innovative technology is one such factor that we cannot ignore. If the weapons of mass destruction, for example, fall into the wrong hands, they are enough to hold the world to ransom. Furthermore, imagine the growing demand for consumer goods. This is because of the explosive nature of information available via digital technology. Technology creates new opportunities, which in turn means more production as well as more consumption. The more we earn the more we spend, benefiting the economy as a result. As we have seen, the desire to profit from the consumer demand is pushing the entrepreneurs to an excessive use of energy and other natural resources. This has harms the environment in proportion to the multi-dimensional forms of pollution. In other words, our environment is under threat. Only a well-co-ordinated global action can keep the environment inhabitable for the coming generations. We must develop a coherent strategy to achieve this.

How can the globe be safe without a well-established monitoring system? Sitting thousands of miles away money could be disbursed to the trouble-makers, capable of destroying the working mechanism of a weak government. This has happened quite often. Once in place, the new weak government has the carte blanch to exploit the resources both human and natural. This becomes a tradition affecting the rest in a particular region. Chaos sets in. Extremism thrives and chunks of human population, especially the vulnerable minorities, are forced to bear the brunt. Europe feels the strain on its Mediterranean shores as does the North America.

Henry Kissinger is quite open in saying that we the Americans can provide the solution by creating a new world order. He states his case quite unequivocally and reminds us of his days when as a young scholar, he had met President Harry S. Truman. Kissinger was surprised by the President when he heard that only the Americans "could have" done the job of bringing the "enemies" back "to the community of nations" after defeating them completely. Examine the semantics and syntax and get to the mind of the author. First, there is the brimming confidence of having defeated the enemy in the battlefield. Second, the ability to bring the enemy back into the community of nations, rather than leave it rudderless as it happened in the aftermath of First World War. Third, one may decipher the need of a world community of the like-minded nations.

Reading Kissinger's work reaffirms the axiom that brevity is the soul of wit. Only a mature historian can epitomise vast periods of history in the briefest possible well-coined vocabulary meant for the historical discourse. Kissinger as usual looks back at history tracing the origins of the world order. Neither the Romans nor the Greeks, the Muslims or Chinese civilizations substantiate his concept of such an order. The world order began in Western Europe in 1648, when the people, after an excruciating period of religious wars of thirty years, decided to live in peace. The signatories agreed upon the inevitable need of the balance of power among their nations. An understanding was developed that anyone sovereign state interfering in the affairs of any other nation, would have to be stopped. Russia was ruled out of this new system. Imperial Russia had envisaged a world order of its own as the tsars anticipated that they commanded influence over vast territories from the Scandinavian enclaves in the west to the Central Asia in the east, rubbing shoulders with Germany from the contiguous regions of Poland and the Ukraine. The signatories believed that Russian society was by nature an autocratic one. The authoritarian and hierarchical system could only allow an equally rigid religious institution such as the Russian Orthodox. The Powers at the Westphalia Treaty did not see eye to eye with the Ottoman Turks either. Kissinger lets the reader reflect upon the mind-set of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. Twenty odd states of Europe, the Magnificent Caliph is quoted as saying, are unnecessary as "there must be only one empire, one faith, and one sovereignty in the world" (p.5). The ideology of bringing the whole of the world under the umbrella of Islam, is what offends the Occidental mind. Such a grand vision of seeing the world as black and white is an extreme case scenario because human and national interests demand expediency of action. What concerned the signatories with regard to the Magnificent Sultan is also shared by the West and the rest regarding the ISIL of today. The Chinese emperors had a similar divine prerogative of a worldwide umbrella of "All Under Heaven." Kissinger advocates the cause of the "New World" and the "city upon a hill" according to John Winthrop. The "city upon a hill" disseminates "justice" and peace to the world.

Chapter 1 condenses the history of Europe from the age of Romans to the French Revolution by emphasising the Renaissance. Europe's Christian faith and monarchical system could not hold back the spirit of Renaissance that challenged the established taboos and worn out socio-cultural customs. The spirit of inquiry enabled the European mind to discover that man was the centre of the universe and not the earth. Europe was a different kind of civilization, says Kissinger. The Europeans had begun to live as nation-states unlike the dynastic system prevalent in the Islamic world. The power base of each of the Islamic dynasty remained the same: God the most merciful had given them the right to apply Islam in its true form in their domains. Since the Caliph or the king was the vice-gerent of God on earth, it was his sacred duty to spread the faith outside his domains. Kissinger interprets this as the Islamic policy of Jihad against the rest of the world. Even the Chinese emperors believed that they alone had the right to rule over the rest of the world. With regard to the policy of dynastic rule it may be noted that the Caliphs or the kings kept the riaya or the public contented. The latter would not hesitate to react if they felt their genuine interests undermined. Within the dynasties and among the dynasties there existed an air of trust based upon constant interaction. It is true that the urge to spread Islam is the linchpin of the faith. The Caliphs or the kings could not help get the message across by reiterating it through the mosques on Fridays. The irony is that on hindsight, it is Europe which practically spread itself and its influence in the outside world and thus led the rest in the creation of a world order during the colonial and the neo-colonial eras.

Europe is unique in the sense that this continent has always thwarted the attempts of any one ruler or a dynasty to rule over this "territorial conglomerate", with the exception of Charlemagne and King Charles of Habsburg. These two plenipotentiaries owe their continental sway more to the centralizing religious authority. In other words, the Europeans have always guarded their identities and national self-interests with integrity. Such a state of mind generated the habit of "pluralism" and debate. Even emperor Charlemagne was an "Emperor-Elect", depending on the approval of a select number of the most powerful princes, sanctified by the Papal authority. This Holy Roman Emperor gave the "payoffs" from his own pocket for favour from his own elite classes. Internal dissensions among the princes led to the disintegration of the empire, hailed as they did from different regions each having their own language and latent customs. Times were still favourable for the Holy Roman Empire. Centuries later, there appeared another powerful emperor, that is, King Charles of Habsburg (1500-1558). He was acclaimed as "Caesarea" simply because of his "massive agglomeration" of power that covered most of Europe. Pope Clement blessed the temporal "Imperia" as the "Protector" of Christendom. Yet, when the French elite found out that their king, King Francis 1 had surrendered before the Habsburg emperor at the Battle of Pavia (1525), they did not hesitate to side with Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The Habsburg monarch and the Ottoman Caliph were locked in a mortal combat over the fate of Eastern Europe. Kissinger then explains the factors that led to the collapse of "the old ideal unity." The age of discovery was setting in. The race for new territories was reshaping the mind of Europe. Ironically, this new spirit of adventurism was checkmated by a ruthless bloodbath of the Thirty Years War.

The section, "Thirty Years War: What is Legitimacy?" lays bare the crux of the matter. The Thirty Years War becomes the vehicle of a far-reaching political world order. The War was a violent reaction of the simmering discontentment against the Establishment. The masses were led by the local leaders. These two pillars of society joined hands against the Habsburg monarchy and the Papal authority. In defiance of the expected choice of Habsburg Ferdinand as the next successor to the throne, the natives of Bohemia raised the banner of revolt and proposed their own prince - a Protestant by faith who they thought was the right candidate. The rebellion became too violent uprooting the vested interests of the beneficiary courtiers and the nobility. For them it was an insurrection in their own home town. If they fail in crushing the hydra's head of rebellion close at home, how could they cope with similar revolts elsewhere throughout such a vast kingdom? Kissinger gives us a rare glimpse of the idea of statesmanship by referring to Richelieu. The irony was that even in those chaotic times, the circumspect Cardinal de Richelieu of France was counting on "strategic advantage" rather than the "Spiritual unity" vouchsafed from Rome. Humans seek salvation for the hereafter which is forever. Nation-states do not beg for such a spiritual blessing simply because they exist by maintaining themselves within their territorial boundaries that separate them from their counterparts. Salvation in this case could only be obtained by working in this world on this earth in Europe's congregational cultures, languages and geographical diversity. France must consolidate its grip on power by pursuing its national interests. The circumspect cardinal-cum-minister joins the continent-wide struggle on the side of the Protestant princes.

Examining the nature of this epoch-making warfare between the Catholics and the Protestants, Kissinger says that once France joined the fray, the conflict "turned into a free-for-all of shifting and conflicting alliances" (p.25). Each warring faction switched sides according to the expedient situations affecting them directly. The religious attachments at times would give way to the "geopolitical interests." The life-long personal loyalties lost their sanctity. The trust of the nobility among their traditional followers began to slip like slippery eel. Eventually, when Europe lay in ruins and there appeared no end to this orgy of bloodshed and revenge, the warring factions began to use their wits out of desperation. Suffering was melting the ice. Kissinger brings out the details of the peace deal rather vividly.

The Westphalia Peace Treaty removed the yoke imposed jointly by the exploitative mechanisms of the ruling monarchies, the sycophant courtiers and the pliant Ecclesiastical hierarchy. The local parties could decide for themselves, freed as they were from the religious-cum-political strings. Discarding the unipolar system of superficial unity and unnatural hierarchy, the "multiple societies" searched for their own desirable destinies by assimilating, adjusting and improving upon their circumstances. The masses got rid of the forced labour and religious proselytising under duress. Kissinger infers some far-reaching lessons from the treaty. The representatives agreed to desist from aggression against any nation. Peace at home, that is, within the boundaries of the nation-states had yet to address the issue of the theory of nature (according to Hobbes) in the "international arena." At Westphalia, the representatives agreed to a system of the balance of power, forestalling the chances of any powerful state from sealing the fate of any of the signatory parties. To checkmate such adventurism, the lesser powers developed an understanding among themselves. They could form a coalition against any covetous intentions of the aggressor. England was always available to rally around, saving the lesser powers from vassalage. When Louis XIV, for example, tried to impose himself over Europe, the British-led coalition of the lesser powers stopped his grand programme of conquests. Regardless of the religious affiliations the countries like England, Holland, Austria, Spain, Denmark, Prussia and other German principalities had joined the Grand Alliance. Fredrick II met the same fate. Kissinger makes another interesting point. The threat posed by "a country" naturally drew together the "secondary states." However, when a secondary state became aggressive by virtue of a newly gained power, the risked states would react by creating new alliance forgetting the past. Kissinger gives the example of the Seven Years War "of near-disastrous battle" imposed by Fredrick II. The former allies of Fredrick II became his enemies and the enemies, friends. This is exactly what the checks and balances imply in the international arena. Kissinger enlightens us by referring to the spirit of the Westphalia Treaty and its influence on the minds of the thinkers who wrote the American Constitution.

The Treaty strengthened the idea of a sovereign state: the sovereign head kept the right to determine the religious beliefs of his people (under the principle of cuius regio, eius religio) agreed upon in the Peace of Augsburg in 1555. The state also protected its people from outside interference both in its territories and abroad in the rest of the world. Respect for national boundaries and non-interference in the internal affairs cultivated a new sense of nationalism. The businessmen abroad from Europe were being protected by their own nations rather than the religious institutions. This enhanced the power of the state to staggering proportions. This is how Europe stepped into the modern age. We have yet to see such an exemplary demonstration of the capacity to embrace change by the rest of the world.

In the midst of these vagaries of times marred by the fluctuations of fortunes, the eighteenth century remained a promising age of the Enlightenment.

Europe has always embraced change. The fruits of the treaty were only beginning to come through when all of a sudden an unprecedented revolutionary mood gripped France, dismantling the French system of meritocracy, which Richelieu had implemented. The mood swept aside the traditional classes once again. France was swinging towards the revolutionary secularism.

In the end, France slipped out of control creating space for the military dictatorship led by Napoleon Bonaparte.

The "popular will" of the masses was showing its mettle. Europe's privileged classes were shocked. The masses must pulverize this debilitating structure if the order based upon equality and justice was to succeed. Kissinger cites the same revolutionary spirit embodying the Communist revolutionaries of Russia. "Islam a millennium before" had infused the same dynamic zeal among its followers. Kissinger notes the constructive role of the Napoleonic Code as one of the fruits of these stormy decades that took France by storm and then Europe. In the end, the balance of power was once again in place as England and Russia took to the battlefield against Napoleon. The Russian army had to chase the French as deep as Paris. This eventful campaign gave Russia an eagerly awaited opportunity to flex its muscle into the complicated European affairs. Ironically, Russia was truly self-assertive in the East as well. Since three-fourths of Russian territory lay in the Asian landmass, the Czars were directly crossing swords with the British in the Great Game.

Chapter 2, section "The Russian Enigma" epitomizes the characteristics and interests of Russia as a nation. The idea of "a balance of power with restraints" endorsed by the Westphalia treaty did not apply to Russia simply because of its location. Russia had to fend for itself. Any weakness on its part had invited aggression, such as the invasion of the Mongols. Russia had been thrown into the "Time of Troubles." Continual annexations alone manifested Russia's power and kept the enemy under duress. Either Russia should keep on proving itself invincible or be ready for self-extinction as an imperial power. This alarmed the signatories to the Westphalia Treaty even if Russia did not threaten them directly. There was an air of mystery about Russia, for, when strong she would expect the rest to respect her as super power but when weak, she would indulge in self-mortifying seclusion. Europe gradually inched towards pluralism, individualism and freedom. The Czar gloried himself as "the living icon of God" for his people. When the Powers gathered for the Congress of Vienna, Czar Alexander advocated "the exalted truths of the eternal religion of our Saviour" (p.59).

At the back of our introspective author's mind seems to be the rise of Russia as a power under Vladimir Putin. Kissinger the historian is also Henry A. Kissinger the diplomat. It is the cutting edge of the present that a seasoned diplomat has to grapple with. Perhaps, we read less about the sovereign heads of states and monarchs of Europe than about lives and achievements of the diplomats like Cardinal Richelieu (the chief minister of France from 1624-1642), Austrian Klemens von Metternich (the architect of of the Congress of Vienna), the down-to-earth and shrewd British statesman Lord Palmerston, and above all the French diplomat and politician, prince de Talleyrand. Kissinger is fully conversant with the baggage of history that Vladimir Putin pulls along- the legacy of a country which had expanded its territory at the rate of 100,000 square kilometres per year, from 1552 to the time of the Communist Revolution.

Kissinger then takes up the case of France and says that just as Germany was incorporated into the Atlantic Alliance after the Second World War, France in 1818 was granted membership to the Quadruple Alliance. Giving due allowance to France's geopolitical importance, the Powers offered her long-term security based upon her "ancient frontiers." Regarding Britain, Kissinger comments that because she had developed her civic and political institutions on sound basis, she did not face the internal upheavals. Even the English Channel gave her added security as whatever happened in Europe won't affect England directly. Nevertheless, England kept a wary eye on Europe. The British shared colonial borders with the European Powers in Africa and elsewhere. Because Britain confronted France in the colonial race, the latter was counterbalanced in Europe through Prussia as a bulwark. Prussia was thus "enlarged" as she was able to amalgamate new territories from the German Confederation. Kissinger also mentions that British maritime interests demanded safe and open sea routes. Netherland, thus, ceded independence to Belgian.

Kissinger notes that there were three forces operating in Europe by the mid-nineteenth Century. The Austro-Hungarian Empire began to feel the pinch of the natives as the ethnic communities made their presence felt aiming at self-determination. This distracted Austria into the Southern and Eastern European quagmire and gave Prussia the time to enlarge itself by incorporating territories from the German Confederation. Otto Bismarck used the favourable tide of nationalism prevailing across Europe. Besides, this was also an era when Revolutions were hitting hard, swallowing the Holy Alliance procured by Russia. Kissinger also states that the Crimean War once again demonstrated the fragility of the European system or order. Czar Nicholas I won't budge from his claim as the "protector" of the Orthodox Christian population living under the Ottoman suzerainty. Interestingly, while France and Britain were pitted thus against Russia, Prussia kept aloof and consolidated the German unification. Austria, on the contrary made the most by sending troops into the Balkans. The Russians, to increase their leverage against the joint might of France and Britain, supported Otto van Bismarck's bid to reduce the thirty-six German states into a humble compliance. Kissinger writes in detail about the Austrian and Prussian statesmen such as Clemens von Metternich and Otto van Bismarck. Kissinger quotes Disraeli as saying that the unification of Germany was a landmark development of its time in the history of Europe. Kissinger applauds Bismarck for the maintenance of the balance of power despite French attempts to undermine it. The unification of Germany did indeed become a cause of grave concern for France over and above the rest. The departure of Bismarck from the European scene spelled a disaster as we know the way the continent became a hotbed of conspiracies that lead to the First World War. The war stripped away the European empires giving space to the Communist Revolution in Russia to usher in "a Moscow directed world Communist Movement."

The post-war Europe is appreciated as the model of democracy, unlike the authoritarianism that ruled the roost in many, many parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Besides, Europe has been a pioneer in the dissemination of knowledge and the modern ideas. Such an exclusive hold on the modern-age knowledge opened the European mind to explore the rest of the world. In fact, the economic prosperity and progress of the Asian tigers and China owes a great deal to the European model. What is the future of Europe? Kissinger is concerned. Could Europe become a mere "appendage" to Asia and Africa in the 21st Century? After a detailed argument, our author leaves it to the reader to reflect upon a past full of rich experience and a future that no one knows, due to the emerging world order. It is wise to say that the emerging markets around the globe still need the skilled labour and the services of the experts which Europe can still provide. The growing interaction between China and the African countries naturally drives the latter to count on their economic partner for the solutions of the rest of the socio-political issues. China may have the will but not the expertise to deal with such enigmas. Even in the case of the dangerous Ebola, the victims look towards China, and China, in turn looks towards the United States as well as Europe. The challenges of the Developing world need addressing. Even after several decades of self-determination, the Developing world is bound to the Developed in perhaps all the major fields of life.

After a brief introductory note on the Middle East as the bedrock of the ancient civilizations such as the Persia, Babylon and the Nile, and, the citadel of the three revealed religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Kissinger dwells upon the history of this region by sketching the perennial conflict between the Persian and the Byzantine Empires, and then the way "a small group of Arab confederates could inspire a movement that would lay low the great empires." The Muslims were infused with ideology - a "sacred obligation" of spreading the faith into the "realm of war" from the "realm of Islam." The "realm of war" was the realm inhabited by the non-Muslims. These were to be converted into the Islamic faith from the "realm of Islam." Unlike Islam (which is mainly Iranian as Kissinger thinks), Christianity evolved into a "pluralistic, secular-based" religious identity in Europe. Kissinger says that by ideology, the Muslims cannot help being confrontational: the people living in the "realm of war", the Muslims believe have remained underdeveloped and are, therefore, in the "state of nature." Islam opens the gate to a civilized life. Regarding the "Unity of Brotherhood," Kissinger says that such a movement is "unidirectional" and impractical for being too "dynamic." Social rhythm is a product of the complexities of life encompassing the entire paraphernalia of society. Kissinger's comments on the history of Islam indicate the perceptions of a European. One is reminded of Edward Said's Orientalism. The sectarian roots of Islamic dynasties are noted. The dynastic rivalries were purely for power. The ultimate objective such as the "momentum of world project" was checkmated by the Europeans at Poitiers and Tours in 732 A.C. The Moghuls were more tolerant because of the overwhelming Hindu population of India. The Ottomans were contained from overtaking Europe. As the French and the English colonial race gained momentum, the retreating Ottoman Turks created the power vacuum letting in the former into arena. The Muslims could not tolerate this. Not all but those who reacted against the dominance of the West, soon accumulated a momentum gathering religious movement, making its presence felt throughout the Islamic world. Kissinger says that the Germans did not succeed in catalysing the pan-Islamic movement and that the reforms implemented by Kamal Ata-Turk brought Turkey understandably closer to the European secularism- embodying the spirit of the
Westphalia Treaty. The "Pan-Arabists" signified the bond of unity on the basis of linguistic and cultural heritage. The "Islamist Parties" believed that both Capitalism and Communism were doomed to fail. The well-known Islamic scholars and preachers such as Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb are discussed in detail. Despite their heart-felt support to the cause of these Islamic scholars, the Arabs in general remained moderate. This lack of checks and balances in society created a vacuum. The rise of the Arab Spring manifests the frustration. The political struggle waged by Hamas and Hezbollah adds to the fuel. Kissinger also believes that there are some moderates willing to live in peace with Israel after a reasonably acceptable solution of the Palestine-Israeli conflict. With regard to Saudi Arabia, Kissinger thinks that they keep themselves away from any overt or covert involvements in the regional politics of any kind. This does not mean that they do not help when help is needed on humanitarian grounds. Taqwa means trust in Allah almighty and a frugal self-contented life-style.

Is this true that today's Middle East is similar to the state of Europe before the Westphalia Treaty? Such a discussion demands space. Kissinger's remarks appear in the concluding paragraphs. In the next chapter, we read about Iran's relations with the United States. Given the scale of literature already available, the chapter is useful in recapitulating the theme in Kissinger's worth reading words. The Arab Spring indicates the re-awakening of the Islamic societies. The supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is mentioned as saying that both Communism and Western liberalism are failing models. The Islamic Republic of Iran is determined to guide the Ummah in the path of righteousness. For this, the Muslims shall have to transcend the parochial national interests first. This is where Kissinger steps in arguing that the Iranian Revolution has damaged the regional balance. Why the Iranians have done this? Even before the spread of Islam in Iran, the Iranians have been quite an effective force in the region. One may trace back the presence of Persia as a power to do business with as far as the seventh century B.C. Does this mean that Iran is once again gearing up for the role of a regional power? Iran's proximity to the strategically vital Eurasia must be kept in mind if one wants to understand the nature of the Middle Eastern and Central Asian paradigms of the balance of power. We then read about the Islamic ideology of the Iranian Revolution. Ayatollah Khomeini's views resemble those of Sayyid Qutb and Sayyid Hassan al-Banna. The besieging of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Tehran by the students is cited as an example of the anti-Westphalian spirit. Of course, Kissinger's reservations about Iran such as on the nuclear issue are obvious in this chapter. The relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the West require that the latter acknowledge the importance of the former in the region. Only then one may hope the revival of the spirit of the Treaty of Westphalia expand outside Europe.

Reflecting upon Asia in Chapter 5, Kissinger says that the 21st Century rise of this massive continent indicates the potential. The taboos of exploitation and subservience of the poor Asians in the hands of their colonial masters are disappearing. The countries who signed the Westphalia Treaty did so out of sheer necessity for the greater good of their people. The Asian states, Kissinger believes, could do better if they cared more for their continent and the rest of the world. The race to excel the rest within their own regions or the continent at large, should not close the eyes of such tigers to the environmental and other legitimate interests of the rest of the world. The Asian culture's hierarchical social system is appreciated. The lurking problem of South China Sea can damage the economies and peace in the region. The fear and uncertainty due to the inherent national rivalries, constricts the chances of a Westphalian-style understanding. First Japan and then India are discussed next. The feeling of a "divine ancestry" had kept Japan itself to itself up until the 1868 opening bell that was rung by the West. The net result of this interaction with the West was that it cultivated the habit of producing to sell. Steadily, the Japanese manufactures brought the region into a close economic bond. Once the Japanese began to influence the region politically, the European colonial powers felt threatened. The stage was set for the Japanese self-assertion in the Second World War. Ironically, the West once again helped Japan to realise its potential after the War. Luckily, Japan kept itself away from the scourge of the Cold War by concentrating on its economy and research in technology. Japan, however, has to redefine itself in the region due to the lingering issues of the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea. China is expanding its influence. Japan needs America and vice versa, America needs Japan for its strategic hold in the Asia Pivot. Comparing the impact of the West on Japan, Kissinger says that it "changed the course of a historic nation." Like Japan, the West helped India to modernize itself. India is extremely flexible to the influences from abroad. India is at its best when India stands united as a nation. A well-united India has always been quite a success story of a culture and civilization. Unlike China, India is a sponge that has always absorbed the foreign invaders into its soil and culture, observes Kissinger. Time is eternal and the Indian psyche believes in this. Those who have been pouring into India are like the bubbles of Maya over the ever-flowing sacred rivers of Ganga and Jamuna. The art of government as described by Kautilya in Arthashastra is brought under focus. Kissinger compares this work with The Prince. Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru's vision of India's foreign policy is noted. As a potential superpower according to Pundit Nehru, India must maintain balanced relations between the two blocs. Such a policy of equidistance enables India to obtain military hardware from the Soviet Union and development assistance from the United States, without acquiescence. Kissinger also discusses the idea of Pancha Shila (Five Principles of Coexistence) with regard to Indian foreign policy. The Indian track record in world order is one of non-interference. This is only true if we look at the Middle Eastern or the Korean conflicts of the Cold War. Our respected author does not comment on India's South Asian context. Perhaps Kissinger's understanding of the Chinese and Indian policies has to be seen in the light of the rise of the BRICKS. What exactly is the shape of the coming world order can only be imagined on the basis of the economic achievements of the BRICKS. The multipolar world according to Kissinger may mean anything. Would the countries other than the BRICKS permit any unnecessary vassalage? Economic might cannot control our emotions in the East. Our cultures and religions enjoy priority. Even the economic might has come or may come with price to pay. The damage to environment is one paramount factor. Environment includes the socio-political dimension as well. More and more burden is being borne by the infrastructure in desperate need of an overhaul. The roots of the future world order lay in the social environment simply because the youth could agitate if care is not taken in this age of information.

The concluding part of this worth reading chapter highlights the U.S. interests in the region, which is "a plethora of states." Kissinger coins the phrase "a dazzling array of multilateral groups" for the region which has diverse religions, levels of growth and geographical diversity. Kissinger also says that from the Mongol era onward the decisive powers such as Russia, Islam and China have lived together rubbing shoulders with Buddhism and Hinduism. Lived they have indeed but by facing one another as enemies most of the time, by repositioning themselves according to their religious, cultural and political interests. Sheer diversity and geographical size has been a hindrance in developing an understanding of the nature of the Westphalia Treaty. This was in the past. Global opportunities such as the vanishing of distances due to technology may change the outlook and the leaders may sign up a treaty similar to that of the Westphalia Peace Treaty. Chapter 6 highlights Asia further. The Asia of our era is a rising power. Each state is vying with the rest claiming that the world has yet to "affirm its full deserved role." The tacit understanding that the signatories to the Westphalia Treaty developed with regard to the maintenance of the status qua and the balance of power, does not apply to Asia. This is how Kissinger thinks. He notes the long-winding road that China has taken since ancient times: the imperial eras to the age of the Chinese Communism and Socialism, and the reforms implemented by the most respected Deng Xio Peng. Kissinger refers to the idea of hierarchy of the Chinese culture and says that bowing down or the bending ceremony before the emperor symbolised the distance between the highest lord and the laity. In general, the Chinese did not want to change for being a highly self-conscious traditional society. Historically, says Kissinger, the Chinese has proven to be "ambivalent" and perhaps have not been approving the international "rules of the game." The rise of China poses a threat and the U.S. views this as a challenge as serious as was posed by the Communist-let U.S.S.R. There could be troubles ahead in the South China Sea and Korea. On the whole, Kissinger expects China to exercise restraint and cooperation with the United States and the rest of the world. The rise of China, one has to say, is a promising sign for the rest. China cannot afford military conflicts simply because she has to feed and look after such an enormous population. The Chinese mix up so well with the rest in Asia, Africa and the Latin America that one never get the feeling that they are any different from the ones with whom they are working in any field. We are not talking about the tycoons of Asia. We are talking about the aspirant middle or lower middle class entrepreneurs as well as the professionals or the millions of new-comers from the villages into cities. These are the people who represent the real voice of China. They cannot survive if China gets involved in the global conflicts. What did the United States get except wasting trillions of dollars? Moreover, most of the recent conflicts have hit the Developing world. China is still one such country. China, therefore, gets on perfectly well with the Developing world. Apart from business transactions, China does not meddle into the affairs of others. In Chapter 7, Kissinger defends the United States as a democratic nation and not a global empire. Her ability to control and influence the "momentous events" at global level, signifies the success of the much aspired liberal values such as "the freedom of belief, expression, and action..." The American mind rejects subservience to a hierarchical system. Instead, it encourages open-mindedness and offers "local independence" to individuals and social groups. "Legitimacy" means the preservation of the human rights. Kissinger also says that for the United States, foreign policy is not a "permanent enterprise," situated as she is, at least "two great oceans away" from the Old World. The United States is not directly affected by the upheavals outside the Americas. Its engagement with the rest of the world is designed to maintain a desirable balance of power, for the sake of its democratic values and world peace. The rest of the chapter is a detailed survey of the American foreign policy written in an intellectually stimulating manner. In Chapter 8, we learn about the American role in the world affairs since the Second World War: the Cold War, the events leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the future of the world security following the tragedy of the September eleven. Why the U.S. had to intervene in Afghanistan and Iraq is also brought under discussion. How the growth of ISIL owes to the circumstances in Syria and Iraq is also noted.

We are living in an age of "science and technology," Kissinger says by drawing our attention to the risk posed by the nuclear weapons, in case these deadly devices fall into some wrong hands. Even the proliferation of the cyber technology can pose a danger to the world order. The boundaries among states have become porous in this digital age. The Developed world is as much at risk as the Developing one. Our globe needs an effective world system based upon extreme vigilance and care. We must cultivate tolerance as we get used to living with people from all over the world everywhere in the world coming from all religions and cultures that history has garnered. We must put breaks on ultra-nationalism. We must ennoble ourselves and learn to forego the prejudices of all types.

We can sum up some of the points made in this book as follows: our author uses the phrase "competing desires of nations." I think it would be wise to add "...and corporations." We know how much these corporations can do. The sphere of activity spans from the cheapest goods of daily use to the most sensitive technology demanding extremely high investments. Only the big corporations can do this. It is these corporations which ought to cooperate on humane level for their own good as the world shrinks. The idea that China, Russia and the Islamic world are less cooperative to the rules set for the world order in the United States, needs to be reviewed. The individual companies in these countries look at the opportunities first, and like nomads, are prone to flock wherever the grass is green in a post-Cold War era. Thoroughly experienced in the pathways of international trade, the executives of these corporations are more knowledgeable than the locally based government officials depending on time-consuming decision.

Businesses demand a safe passage. What about the backlogs of the Developing world? Do the multinationals intend to remove them? If not, then why not? Is it the multinational corporations which are obstructive? Or is it the governments themselves? Perhaps technology can unravel this mystery by opening the minds of the masses. One of the causes of being underdeveloped is that the mind is already conditioned by the socio-cultural mores. Stagnation smells. We become hypersensitive to our local prejudices. Only the winds of change can liberate. Technology has the ability to accelerate the pace. The time is approaching fast when the generations are to ask for such things which are more suitable to their life-styles. Both the governments and the multinationals must then act together.

Like the faithful Knights of the Queen (symbolising Elizabeth I) in Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene' are the regions of the globe. Kissinger could have done much better had our worthy author acknowledged the constructive role that the Islamic regions are playing to accommodate the pressures of both the Cold War super-power rivalry and today's global challenges. How much more sacrifice does the Western Powers expect from the Islamic world? More than 70,000 innocent Pakistanis have lost their lives in the terror attacks. Even the challenge of terrorism challenges the established concepts of good and evil. As for as I know, I do not think that the world community ever heard of the Muslim terrorists during the Cold War or before that. The sectarian extremism in Syria and Iraq is also a new phenomenon. People have lived together in peace in these two countries for centuries. This is the region from where Islam originates. The Islamic world comprises nearly one-fifth of the world population. Just imagine the role of this region in the world economy. If Europe can stand on its feet helped by the Marshal Plan why the world community is feeling shy and not helping Afghanistan? The Chinese believe that the Middle Eastern Muslim countries must sit down and iron out their problems. Why this policy is not receiving consideration? Dr Henry A. Kissinger throws plenty of light proving that Israel is a victim state. Is not the Islamic world also a victim? World Order needs Meezan more than the balance of power. Meezan is balance according to fitrah and not the coldly calculated mundane human interests. Fitra also means justice. How can one be just if one is not trustworthy? World Order in our age begs a system which enjoys the trust of its component regions.

The failures of the Middle Kingdom of China that Kissinger illustrates are of a period when the nation was at its lowest point or decline. The 21st Century China is prudent enough to handle the regional issues both in the South East Asia and South Asia.
Kissinger insists that the principles upon which the League of Nations was based reflecting the vision of Mr Woodrow Wilson, also mirrored the universality of American system of democracy. George W Bush put this policy into practice, says Kissinger. To counteract the aggressiveness of the Iraqi President, Mr Bush rallied the support of the rest of the "civilized" world and succeeded in liberating Kuwait. What about the vacuum of power in Iraq now? It is time that the natives come together as Iraqis and decide for themselves.

Faith Movement In a Global Perspective
M. Ikram Chughtai, editor
Allied Book Company
9789698486150, $90.80, HC,

Faith Movement in a Global Perspective consists of 459 pages and is divided into six sections. As the title signifies, the contributors to this volume write on the same theme even if they live all over the world. The book is about the Tablighi Jamaat- an Islamic Movement set up in India, famous for its purely apolitical character. Its members are to be seen on the move, preaching Islam from the remotest rural areas to the most developed parts of the world.

The world is too much with us. Human beings long for relief from the pressures of life and this is where these preachers step in motivating with spiritual panacea. They invite you to the mosque and there you notice how politely they preach: self-funded, self-contained followers of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We may note the main theme by looking at the individual essays. Mumtaz Ahamd examines the origin, journey and purpose of the Tablighi Jamaat. Begun by Maulana Muhammed Ilyas in 1926 near Delhi at Mewat, the Jamaat has grown from a handful of Indian devotees into a global institution catering spirituality to tens of millions. The Jamaat is based upon a strong tradition of Islamic revivalism of the 18th Century India. One of the reasons why it gained popularity was the Shudhi and Sanghathan organizations launched by the Hindus. The Muslims felt threatened by the "aggressive Hindu proselytising." The six principles of the Jamaat are almost repeated in every section.

Marc Gaborieau emphasises the classless nature of its preachers who approach every one regardless of the class and colour and sect. From the Sufi (Mystical) sanctuary of Nizam al-Din in Delhi, Maulana Muhammed Ilyas received the inspiration that he should go out and devote himself purifying the "semi-Islamized" farmers known as the Meos. In the second article Mumtaz Ahmad elaborates the paucity of literature in English written on the Jamaat. Not much is available in Urdu either. He discusses the Islamic scholars who have written on the Movement. Christian W. Troll comments on the austere look of a typical group of Jamaat. One may see them travelling on foot, blankets on the shoulders, siparas (booklets written in Arabic or Urdu or the local languages) tucked "under their arms and parched grain or bread" knotted on the corners of the mantles. The Jamaat, acknowledges Troll, played its role effectively in eradicating the influences of Hinduism on the Islamic culture. We also learn about the contributions made by the illustrious Islamic scholar and reformer Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-1979). Mumtaz Ahamd's third article teaches us about the importance of being earnestly resilient, which the Jamaat cultivates. One must remain mindful of God's Will under all odds of personal and social nature. Barbara D. Metcalf explains the non-violent nature of this "quietest movement." This is true in the sense that there are occasions when certain groups try to obstruct these preachers. Metcalf writes in detail about the reach and influence of the Jamaat in India, Pakistan and Bangla Desh. The Jamaat is quite successful in reaching out to the inhabitants from this region now living in Europe and the North America. According to Maulana Muhammed Yusuf, says Metacalf, the idea of "my nation, my region, and my people" can only cause "disunity" among Muslims. The goal of a Muslim is to clean evil from the face of earth and thank God's blessing for being a preacher as this is exactly what God sent the Prophets for. By following the example of the Prophets, the preachers did fulfil the aim of life.

Yoginder Sikand observes the impact of the Movement on the British Muslim youth. New mosques and small schools were constructed as the number of the migrants started to swell the space available. This was essential because of the nature of the diversity of the sects within Islam. Accommodating such a diverse population affected the cohesiveness of the Islamic society of the 60's. As the number of the settlers kept on rising so did the consciousness of the regional, sectarian, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds. The British government prioritized the training of the British born Muslim preachers. The Tablighi Jamaat has its offices and preaching centres everywhere and is not affected by the consciousness of such parochialism. Though, the British youth sees "the tablighi focus, style and ethos as too narrow and restricted..."

John King notes the beautiful Islamic architecture of the Central Mosque in Savile Town. The anti-Muslim feeling among the non-Muslims is also discussed by him. How the Movement has served the cause of Islam in South Africa is explained by Ebrahim Moosa. The Jamaat worked shoulder to shoulder with the native anti-apartheid Movement in South Africa. We also learn about the history of Islam in South Africa. Marcia Hermansent writes in detail about the missionary activity of Said Nursi and elaborates the themes on mysticism highlighted in his Risale-i-Nur. We must remain alert against Satan's temptations, reminds Nursi. Metcalf's second article teaches that preachers learn as well as disseminate learning by travelling. Jan A. Ali gives us the insight into the global horizon of the Tablighi Jamaat: the preachers come from all over the world to the major centres, are dispatched in groups to all over the world so that the inhabitants of the remotest villages are able to host the most gifted scholars from the best academic centres. Metcalf's third article is about the importance that Tablighi Jamaat gives to the teaching of the Hadith. The last section also covers the rights of women. The prayer that invokes the blessings of Allah Almighty and is said by Maulana Yusuf, is profoundly humbling and spiritually enlightening. It creates a spirit-stirring atmosphere when one imagines the litanies in the presence of tens of thousands beseeching and crying souls in a gathering say at Raiwind in Pakistan.

People of the Prophet's House
Fahmida Suleman, editor
Azimuth Editions
c/o Casemate
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781898592327, $49.95, HC, 272pp,

People of the Prophet's House enjoys the graceful colour design inviting the reader's curiosity by the symbolic pictures of blue doors with door knockers in the form of female hands. Away from the cut and dry logic of religious life from dawn to dusk, we are already into the world talisman and the mystery of grace and miracle.

The book focuses on four major themes: a frequent use of the verses of the Quran and Ahadith by the contributors to support their argument; the way the tragedy of Karbala is remembered in ritual and form; the form covers the arts and architecture, film and drama; and, the commonality of respect among the Shias and Sunnis for the household of the Prophet or Ahl al-bayt.

Of course, both Sunnis and Shias give equal respect to the members of the Prophet's family, except that Sunnis regard the wives of the Prophet as an integral and sacred part of the Ahl al-bayt. Rather than the hierarchy of a genealogical affinity, Sunnis give equal respect and merit to all the Companions of the Prophet. The Shiaties as is already known, bank upon those quotations in the Quran and Ahdith indicating Sayyadana Ali b. Talib as the legitinmate heir to the Prophet's de facto and de jure legacy. The legacy was upheld by Imam Ali Zay al-Abidin (d.714). With changes in time and place it developed into various schools of thought such as the Zaydiyya, the Ismaillyya and Ithna 'ashariyya, and so on.

Oleg Grabar (whom the book commemorates) states that despite the ruthlessness of the globalization, the Shias on observation, has been parsimoniously faithful in thr preservation of their faith and culture as a quiddity. James W. Allan throws light on the elements of architecture such as the domed chambers, barrel vaulted halls, surrounding walls, minarets, porticos and porches that one finds in common among the Shia shrines of Imams and others in Iraq. Such a sample of art may also be found in the design of the well-known mausoleum of Ismail the Samanid of Bukhara. This shows the popularity of the Iraqi shrine architecture. Allan, in nutshell, identifies those "treasuries" that are preserved in the Shia shrines and to the amazement of the reader in this age badly scarred by sectarianism, these places of veneration enjoyed the patronage of the Sunni rulers. The flamboyant touch of the architecture of the Syrian Shia tombs is observed by Yasser Tabaa, reflecting the benevolent expectations of the devotees, here and in the hereafter. The Fatimids of Egypt enriched the Shia heritage through intellectual contribution, says Jonathan Bloom. They added the projecting portal to the mosque and maintained the tradition of giving the call to prayer from its doorway. After an interval of about seventy years in the aftermath of Mongol savagery, the late and early 14th Century saw a boom of construction activity in Qum. Ghazan Khan a Mongol convert to Islam, notes our famous scholar Robert Hillenbrand, improved the supply of water to these Shia shrines. He gave alms to the shrine residents as well as the precious curtains. Melanie Michailidis (to whom this volume of essays is dedicated besides Oleg Graba), delves upon the common practice of Ziyara among the Sunnis of Samanids (one of the largest regional powers over Central Asia and the north eastern Iran during the 10th and 11th centuries) and Bavandids and Zaydis Shias (controlling northern Iran). Both the sects visited the mausoleums practicing the circumambulation around the cenotaphs. The Samanid shrines were mainly dedicated to the Companions of the Prophet, the Sufis as well as the rulers of that dynasty. Bukhara during this age became the hub of eco and cultural activity connecting with China and Russia on the road to Samarkand. Sheila R. Canby throws light on one of the copies of the Quran signed by Sayyadana Ali b. Talib and is written in Kufic style with fifteen lines on each page. This and other such oldest copies may be consulted at the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhd. The inscriptions on the walls, the tall dado, Mihrab and lustre tiles of the shrines portray their aesthetic beauty - a tradition that Sheila S. Blaire attributes to the Twelver Imams from 10th to the early 16th century. Hussein Keshani writes about the Indic Imambara of Lucknow. The golden cupola shines in the sun with the grace of God, filling the thirst of the pilgrims who come to pay homage. Beauty of the calligraphy is acknowledged as the words are arranged so well that they fit in different shapes and artistic forms of the design. Luke Treadwell refers to the tradition of using the verses from the "non-standard" Quran in the name of Ahl al-bayt. These verses were struck on the coins wrongly and wrongly were they used in the name of the family of the Prophet. The sacred world of Fa'lnama - an insight into secrets of the unknown, is noted by Massumeh Farhad. Farhad writes about the ascension (mi'raj) of the Prophet and above all the gifts of prognostication of Sayyadana Ali b. Abi Talib. God had blessed the rest of the family with similar gifts. Maryam Eikhtiar reiterates Farhad by adding that Ahl al-bayt enjoyed a special respect during the Qajar era. Venetia Porter examines the deep-rooted impact of Shi'ism on the Iranian film and refers to K. Hassanzadeh's Ashura series. Porter alludes that Safavids (r. 1501-1722) assimilated the ancient Iran culture into the Twelver Shi'ism. Shahnameh's chivalrous tradition remains the cardinal feature of character-building in Iran. Shi'sm upholds this. We read in detail about the icon hijla which is associated with the betrothal of Zubayda (Sayyadana Imam Hussian daughter) to his nephew, Qassim b. Hassan just before the two embraced martyrdom. Zeynep Yurrekli writes about the legendary sword Dhu'l-faqar, gifted to Sayyadana Ali b. Talib by the Prophet. We learn a great deal about the history, design and qualities of this sword. Fahmida Suleman (the editor) gives an interesting analysis of the icon "open hand" and the way it symbolises safety, prosperity and good health. The "open hand" is attributed to Ahl al-bayt. The occult, theological and mystical qualities of the "open hand" mystery in other religions and civilizations are also analysed ber Fahmida Suleman.

Rowzeh- Khani and ta'ziya Passion Play performances are also becoming ever more popular. Peter J. Chelkowski informs us about the famous Imambaras of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent and the way the way the devotees show their respect and dedication. Ingvild Flaskerud throws light on the Aruze Qasem (the "wedding of Qasim") and the way the incident is enacted by the women characters during the sac red month of Muharram. Green represents the family of the Prophet and the red symbolises tyranny and bloodshed.

Nacim Pak-Shiraz elaborates the way the Iranian popular taste prefers the films on the tragedy of Karbala. Pak-Shiraz acknowledges the role of Iranian film and theatre director Bahram Beyzaie. Taz'iya remains the major motif. The Ulama, at one point though, raised their voice against such a medium of the cultural expression. Tryna Lyons notes the practice of taz'iyas among the Muslimds of Multan in Pakistan. This unique city became the hub of the Sufi and Shia spiritual leaders because of its proximity to Sindh and from Sindh to Iran across Baluchistan. The Shia and Sunni residents of Multan celebrate the taz'iya together and this is the lesson given by the Sufi teachings. In the last two articles of this volume we learn about the Shi'i Muslims of Xinjiang and those of Senegal. In both the countries the Shi'is celebrate taz'iya with devotion and in accordance with the local traditions preserving the central elements.

Dr. Zulfiqar Ali

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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