Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Reviewer's Bookwatch

Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 17, Number 3 March 2017 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Andrea's Bookshelf Ann's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Bonnye's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Clint's Bookshelf
Gail's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf Katherine's Bookshelf
Kaye's Bookshelf Lawson's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Moore's Bookshelf
Peggy's Bookshelf Polk's Bookshelf Sloan's Bookshelf
Susan's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf Teri's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

Dead of Spring: An Alexa Williams Novel
Sherry Knowlton
Sunbury Press
9781620068434, $19.95, PB, 266pp,

Dr. Alma H. Bond

Dead of Spring is the latest in the series of Alexa Williams mysteries by Sherry Knowlton. The book is an intriguing, suspenseful story which grabs the attention of the reader from page one. Sherry Knowlton has knitted together the story of a small family struggling through the nuclear leak at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island in March and April, 1979, and a current energy related problem in the same area, with lawyer Alexa Williams and her dog Scout struggling against fracking* in principle and fact. Ms. Knowlton has done considerable research on the subject and shares with us a great deal of information both for and against hydraulic fracking, in plain language that is easily understood.

The book concerns the why and wherefore of several murders connected with the fracking controversy. Knowlton has investigated the subject in depth, and imparts a great deal of knowledge about the mechanics of fracking, as well as the crisis at Three Mile Island. Dead of Spring is an ideal book for those people who like to learn, along with their reading pleasure.

When Carmine Martinelli, a beloved state senator, plunged to his death at Alexa Williams' feet in the Capitol Rotunda of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the police suspected suicide. The powerful chair of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, the senator was at the center of a controversial new bill to expand hydraulic fracturing. It was speculated that he was ill, and killed himself to avoid pain. Alexa, deeply shaken, tried to move past the disturbing sight by concentrating on her work as the head of a senate commission on sex trafficking. She also was helping an old college roommate sue a natural gas company for their role in causing her daughter's rare cancer.

In researching the lawsuit, Alexa became embroiled in the high-stakes politics of fracking. As the relationship with John, her state trooper boyfriend, disintegrated, Alexa was attracted to a charming state legislator in charge of an anti-fracking crusade. Unfortunately for Alexa, he was a happily married family man. Alexa was shocked to learn that, as a witness to the senator's murder, not his suicide, she too could be in danger. When Alexa narrowly escaped a sniper's bullet, she knew she had to discover why she was a target and whom she should trust before another shot found its mark.

Dead of Spring is a highly readable book which captures the reader's interest immediately and swiftly carries him or her through a story which is always captivating and full of suspense. With Sherry Knowlton's distinguished mixture of feminism, romance, history, and fast-paced thrills, Dead of Spring ricochets from the fracking fields of the Marcellus Shale to the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster of 1979 to the rolling hills of Tuscany to the halls of Pennsylvania state government. In this suspenseful tale of corruption and criminal greed, Alexa Williams proves once again that she's a formidable heroine. The ins and outs of the book will keep will keep you glued to your seat. It is a valuable book, which I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and wishes to learn about an important neglected subject in American fiction.

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

The Principle by Jerome Ferrari
Actes Sun
Translated from French by Howard Curtis
Europa Editions
214 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001
9781609453527, $16.00

Mari Carlson, Reviewer

In THE PRINCIPLE, narrator Jerome Ferrari ("I"), addresses physicist Werner Heisenberg as "you." They play off each other like dueling measuring devices personifying Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: that the more precisely one measures the position of a given point, the less precisely its momentum can be measured and vice versa. The narrator measures his own momentum as a writer trying to make his way in the aftermath of the discovery of quantum physics and nuclear power, while also trying to understand Heisenberg's "position," what his mental state must have been as he discovered what his work could mean. As the narrator draws Heisenberg forth from the past into his own present, Ferrari explores the enduring fundamentals that shape all our lives, through triumphs and setbacks, controversy and compromise, precision and immeasurability.

The book both begins and ends overlooking a magnificent landscape. First, early in his career, on the island of Heligoland, Heisenberg "looks over God's shoulder," then, after his return to Germany following WWII, he returns to the mountains and lakes, "a place where it's impossible for God's love to lie." These bookends link themes present throughout the book, and bind the narrator and Heisenberg. Chapter titles name these themes - Positions, Speed, Energy, and Time - but the beautiful scenes show how Ferrari develops them. Coming back again and again to key phrases, such as those about God, as well as "the white rose, the almost inaudible sound of the silvery string," and "master of Delphi," Ferrari gives structure where "things have no core." The repeated phrases point to the abiding questions prodding the narrator and Heisenberg as they both build careers (or, in the narrator's case, fail to build) during tumultuous times: what can I accomplish with the elements at hand and what is it all for? Overlooking Earth's grandeur provides perspective.

Perhaps, by working on the atomic bomb, Heisenberg undermines the beauty he lives for; Ferrari refuses to let judgement be the last word. Instead, he tells a story, not unlike a letter, the overall effect of which is a sweeping, panoramic view of both the internal workings of one's soul, as well as the wide scope of science in modern history, in short, the quantum effect. On that note, I'll end with the book's last line, "I've never seen anything more beautiful in my life."

The Mystery Beneath Midville Museum
Anne Loader McGee
Vendera Publishing
9781936307401, $7.21, Paper, $2.99, Kindle

Michael Thal

Paranormal Mystery

Teen sleuth Mallory Gilmartin is back for Anne Loader McGee's third installment of her Cedar Creek Mystery Series. This time Mallory visits Midville Museum on a class trip with history teacher, Mrs. Romano. The class is shown a mysterious sarcophagus containing the mummy of a singer. Weren't mummies prepared for only Pharaohs and the royal family? To add to the weirdness, an earthquake strikes only the first floor of the museum, and there are reports of an Egyptian statue moving on its own power.

When Mallory hears about a friend's mother about to be fired from the museum staff for stealing, she agrees to step in and solve the many mysteries surrounding the new Egyptian exhibit.

What happens next is non-stop action and fun as author Anne Loader McGee takes her readers through funny and exciting scenes as Mallory, with the help of friend Kyle and grandmother Aggie, solve the Mystery Beneath Midville Museum.

Though McGee's novel is the third installment to the Cedar Creek Mystery Series, it is not necessary to read the first two books in the series. However, those novels are equally as entertaining for readers of all ages as Mystery Beneath Midville Museum.

All three of McGee's Cedar Creek Mysteries are entertaining reads, funny, thrilling, and highly recommended.

Simon and Company: Flea Market Mice
Mary Wright & Deborah K Frontiera
Korey Scot, Illustrations
Grace Enterprises
9781940591049, $11.99

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Simon Mouse lives alone in the Anderson's blue sofa with his parents Morris and Irma. Each of his siblings said their goodbyes and left some time back. Mom and Dad Mouse are single-minded in their desire to hang on to their remaining child.

Adolescent Simon Mouse craves something more; he wants adventure. Simon's parents teach him about birds and cats and other dangers should he be seen by people.

One day Simon is overjoyed to find out that he and his parents will be moving with their people. The Anderson's will be leaving for Florida where the winters are nice and warm.

The mice quickly began stocking up on every morsel of food they could locate. They carefully hid their supplies in the stuffing in the Anderson's big blue sofa. At last moving day arrived.

Living in the sofa as it is transported in a big moving truck during the trip to Florida is a bit of a disappointment for Simon who has been wanting adventure. His parents allow him to spend a little time out of the sofa. All he can see is boxes until the day comes that he tumbles through small crack near the bottom of the moving van door.

Luckily Simon landed in soft weeds at the edge of the road. Terrified Simon squeaks and tries to get back up to the door. His parents did not hear his desperate squeaks over the sound of the truck motor. Sadly Simon watched the van driving away.

Simon ached all over. He is alone, in a strange place and knows he cannot move around during daylight. He slept all day under a tuft of grass.

The sun was going down as Simon began making his way carefully. Dad had told him about birds that swoop down to snatch mice to eat. Simon was terrified. Simon tried to remember and put into practice all the teaching his parents had given him about birds in the sky that might dive down to snatch him up.

He noticed a group of buildings; crouching low in the grass Simon set out for the buildings. Panic filled him as Simon noticed a shadow moving nearby. Simon was fortunate; he reached a building and dashed through a crack in the wall just as THUD the thing with the shadow smacked the wall.

From that commencement Simon is propelled into a new world. Simon has arrived at a flea market where he makes mice friends, learns to steer clear of the peril in this new place, and takes his place in the flea market mouse community as a working member of the colony.

People only come to the flea market on the weekends, and they drop lots of food on the ground. Simon becomes a member of the food gathering group. And, he learns an essential safety lesson; do not nibble stuff that looks like food but is left by pest control people. Pest control leaves poison stuff to kill mice. Another lesson learned, people will call pest control if they see mice. The rule is stay silent and out of sight while people are in the flea market.

Simon likes his new life and new friends. But, he really misses his parents. Simon was jubilant one day when he overheard people talking; a man said he had bought a sofa from people named Anderson. The man said he didn't have room in his truck for the sofa this trip, but would be bringing it next time he came to the flea market.

Was it possible his parents were still in the sofa?

The account continues as Simon and his new friends continue their foraging for food, coaching new colony members about the dangers and how to be safe, developing an imaginative plan for getting lots of food, at one time, from the ground and up to attic where the colony lived.

During an evening foraging trip Simon has a close call with a cat; by chance one of the colony members used to live with a doctor. 'Doc' soon arrives to help and concoct really icky tasting medicine for Simon.

Days become weeks, Simon convalesces and still no blue sofa until one day when his friends Slick and his sister Annabelle notice a blue sofa in one of the stalls.

The chronicle ends with a happy reunion.

I found Simon & Company to be a pleasure to read. This sturdy, well made tome featuring a multi colored cover crafted of robust, heavy duty paper having a glossy surface should stand up many readings and even sticky little fingers. I was able to gently wipe down the surface without causing damage using a moistened cloth and a handy wipe.

I particularly like the size of the paperback; it is one I would use were I still in the classroom. Pages are firmly glued; I read the book, and turned pages including bending covers and book as little readers often do over a period of a number of days. Not a page came loose. The book is likely to stand up to classroom usage without problem.

I taught K - 1 for the better part of 4 decades and would have no problem using Simon & Company Flea Market Mice in a primary level classroom. My Osage County OK school encouraged older students reading to and with the younger readers. Simon & Company would be dandy used in such a program.

Simon & Company Flea Market Mice is a beginning Chapter Book, I would use it for reading a chapter a day with primary grades, for daily DEAR reading choice and for allowing emergent readers to take the book home to read with family.

Vocabulary used is such that most grades 2 - 4 readers will be able to take the book to read to Kindergarten or First Grade students during mentoring time.

An admirable work, I will be keeping this book; I do not keep all books I receive for review. However, I plan to embark on a 'reading lady' time in nearby school when the new term begins.

I feel certain Simon & Company Flea Market Mice will be well liked by students as I read aloud to them. The narrative lends itself well for 'what would you do' type discussion following daily chapter reading.

Happy to recommend Simon & Company Flea Market Mice for students K - 4.

Simon & Company Flea Market Mice will be a fine addition to school and public library collections, classroom and home book shelf, and as a gift for a special Emergent Reader. Illustrations by Korey Scott lend much to the book, are black and white line type drawings and show Simon and some of his friends in daily life situations.

If I were gifting an Emergent Reader I would add a pack of colored pencils so the Little Reader could color the pages.

Building the Agricultural City: a Handbook for Urban Renewal
Robert Wolf
Ruskin Press
9780974182643 $TBA

Rod Haynes, Reviewer

Robert Wolf's BUILDING THE AGRICULTURAL CITY: A HANDBOOK FOR URBAN RENEWAL is a stern warning about twenty-first century American cultural trends and the economic chaos enveloping this country and the world at large. We are living within a rigid, unwieldy industrial age in marked and inevitable decline. Striking parallels in Wolf's thinking are found in the late British philosopher/historian Bertrand Russell's UNDERSTANDING HISTORY, a book preceding AGRICULTURAL CITY by 60 years. Although separated by two generations, Russell's work stands as an excellent companion guide to Wolf's new book, with Russell no doubt still influencing the work of a number of other modern day futurists, ecologists, and historical philosophers.

Russell's, "perennial conflict between country and city," is seen in such American historical periods as Alexander Hamilton's strong federal government blueprint for this country verses Thomas Jefferson's agrarian utopia, the brash and irascible common-man advocate Andrew Jackson's public brawl with Nicholas Biddle's FIRST U.S. BANK, and the failure of evangelical populist William Jennings Bryant to stem the forces of America's industrial Gilded Age and subsequent entry into World War I. Russell notes that over time an individual's creative initiative is unavoidably, increasingly diminished as the number of elements originating in industrial organizations quickly multiplies as life passes. We are born in sterile hospitals, educated by government institutions and shaped by inflexible, outdated traditions. We are employed by large, nameless conglomerates. We borrow money from multinational banks decreed as being 'too big to fail.' We seek insurance and assurance from large, impersonal, industrial age entities whose primary mission is accelerating the economic separation of the few wealthy among us, from the masses whose purchasing power and outlook is more bleak every day. Some may find Russell and Robert Wolf harbingers of doom in their forecasting an apocalyptic post-industrial age, and for that reason difficult to digest. Accurate or not their perspectives are still valuable sources for consideration in many different settings. Truths are not always pleasant things.

Wolf points to the convergent 21st century 'power-forces' of industry, finance, and military together pushing America and the world around us closer and closer to the abyss. To counter this slip into darkness, Wolf argues that everyday Americans must take on a new, unfettered "urgent awareness" of their current state and trajectory into their immediate future. The models of living that currently mold and define our daily lives are not merely antiquated; they are showing clear signs of disintegration. This industrial age atrophy is seen in the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands, the kind of 'centralization' Russell says is an unmistakable sign of crisis, usually occurring in the last stages of a civilization's life cycle.

AGRICULTURAL CITY tells us only four major banks dominate the American financial sector. Our agricultural industry, mostly out of the hands of individual farmers, is essentially controlled by two global giants. A half-dozen multi-national corporations manipulate 90% of the media market. 60 years ago, Russell warned if a population wishes to escape tyranny it must carry a 'free thinking' attitude towards their government. Citizens need to, "demand that the government shall act in the general interest and not be deceived by a superstitious theology into the belief that what is in fact only the interest of the governing elite is identical to the general interest." Russell's observation that many more nations have been brought to destruction by fear of change than by love of it seems relevant here. Wolf has found most Americans could not be bothered to consider change. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond notes the values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs. These three views are all directly tied to themes found in BUILDING AN AGRICULTURAL CITY.

Solutions? Robert Wolf futuristically calls for a sustainable, self-reliant economy developed on an extreme grass-roots level for the benefit of locals, who need not wait for the inevitable collapse of life as we now know it. Rural American must once again become self-reliant, self-sufficient, and regional in building and sustaining their respective agricultural units. The development of, "regional arks," social and economic units sturdy enough to survive inevitable hard times ahead, is needed. Community-level banks, worker owned co-ops, closed-loop agricultural systems designed to provide sustenance year-round locally; all are offered as prototypes envisioned by Wolf. He does not deny his utopian vision demands a total rethinking within rural societies like his own Iowa, along with thousands of other potential ark regions. He sees little motivation among the masses to act, at present, but the incentive he is providing in AGRICULTURAL CITY may come too late to spur action. One wonders whether Wolf's model is adaptable enough to fit the needs of an America whose urban areas and complex cultures dwarf those far beyond city limits. And how these arks can fend off the insidious march of technology from beyond the horizons of the arks? To his credit, Robert Wolf has courageously described, with admirable personal concern, the present conditions in his rural Iowa, but even on a more macro-level, the health and vitality of American civilization is under serious threat right now. He writes with regret how past attempts at raising awareness have been met largely with indifference. The extreme heavy-lifting needed to leave the comfort zone of COMCAST television and internet, ATM banking, and throwing hard-earned money at the latest technological fad or leisure device, is extremely hard for us to even contemplate today. We are complacent in our individual comfort zones.

Americans must recognize, sooner or later, that we have lived far too large since the end of World War II, squandering massive fortune and recklessly raping the earth's resources without restraint. Through technology the outside world is increasingly aware of America's gluttonous, insatiable habits. No longer are they willing to accept leftovers. This portends a severe, permanent reckoning will come sooner than we think, its magnitude unimaginable. Robert Wolf cautions that the aftermath of industrialism's implosion will be too late to act. Preparation begins with honest conversation and a commitment to wanting and using less of everything. The key is envisioning and implementing new models under new systems that are built organically, a few of which are already happening today. The scale is local, the systems fully integrated from within.

The real question is whether Americans are ready to face these fundamental truths. Bertrand Russell observed that social cohesion is only rendered possible by some unifying creed or moral code. Robert Wolf's BUILDING AN AGRICULTURAL CITY is an attempt at getting us to take a good, hard look at ourselves and being open to change.

Big Bosses: A Working Girl's Memoir of Jazz Age America
Althea McDowell Altemus
Edited and Annotated by Robin F Bachin
University of Chicago Press
1427 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
9780226423623, $15.00

Susan Rae Howard, Reviewer

Big Bosses is equal parts mystery, memoir, graphic novel and gossip magazine. I have this weird fascination with time travel and, if I were honest, more than a little voyeuristic, so a memoir set in the Jazz Age? Sign me up. Althea McDowell Altemus is a young woman raising a son on her own with only her wits and secretarial skills to get her by.

In reality for me, Big Bosses is a paradox of the memoir genre meaning it has everything in it that I can't stand when I pick up a memoir. It has footnotes, pictures and an unreliable narrator who refers to herself in third person as secretary. What I didn't expect was to find a charming protagonist who even though never had any formal literary training. Has a strong narrative voice which stays consistent throughout the book.

Typically, I find footnotes to be clumsy and distracting from the text. Not so in this case. The editor and annotator, Robin F. Bachin, weaves the footnotes in such a way that it adds to the narrative and in some cases they could stand alone as a parallel narrative.

Architect, Phineas Paist, included twenty ink drawings which were a part of the original manuscript. The illustrations that were included add to the whimsy of the text.

In the foreward of the book, the the unreliability of the author is acknowledged and then the changes to the text are outlined. Altemus changed names, dates, ages, and blurred other lines. In other words, she committed a taboo for nonfiction pieces. As the reader, I was always trying to figure out what was accurate and what was made up. The editor helps clear things up by clarifying what the text says and what her research has shown.

It was more than the genre that made me pick up this book. Just like Altemus, I, too, am a single mother. She was born to factory workers. I was born to a union electrician. She was married for seven years. I was married for three. Her ex-husband was an alcoholic. Mine was addicted to crack cocaine. We were both left to figure out how to raise one child on our own. Althea did it through equal parts gumption and grit. I think any person faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge can relate. She didn't have any formal education upon which to build. I went back to school to be a teacher and have been doing that ever since.

There were certain parts of Altemus' life of which I was jealous. Out of necessity, she had to move from job to job and locations. She never had stability. I on the other hand, have only had stability. I've been at my job for 17 years. I've owned my house for the same. At times, it feels suffocating. I think about the possibility of heading to a new city or across the country and I can't help but be envious.

Altemus tells her experience as a working, single mother in the first part of the 20th Century. What feels like out-of-date social constructs of marriage and family still exist today. After I was hired, the principal was showing me my classroom and she asked me if the father of my daughter was in the picture. I think I mumbled something about being divorced and ending the conversation with an upbeat, "but it's all good."

I too kept my married name, so I could have the same as my daughter. I still use my maiden name on things that don't matter like social media ands book reviews.

If readers are looking to get lost for a few hours, Big Bosses is delightful The narrator is warm and comes across as someone you would want to go to lunch with. The editor is informative without being overbearing.

Althea wrote the manuscript most likely in her late 40s. As someone about the same age now as when she wrote it, I can't help but wonder if had 200 pages to fill, what would I write?

How to Live from Your Heart
Nanette Hucknall
MSI Press
1760-F Airline Hwy, #203, Hollister, CA 95023
9781942891246; $16.95 PB; $3.99 Kindle, 274 pages,

Mamta Madhaven, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite Review

"How to Live from Your Heart: Deepen Relationships, Develop Creativity, and Discover Inner Wisdom" by Nanette V. Hucknall is a useful tool that will help readers to open their hearts and connect themselves to higher wisdom. The book highlights the importance of always using the heart. The author has included many exercises and experiments for readers to connect with their hearts, leading them to a connection with their Higher Selves. The book demonstrates the beauty of using the heart and how one can be open to its energy and feel its qualities.

I found the topic interesting and the author weaves the physical and the spiritual plane together beautifully, which makes it easy for readers to have a better understanding about their hearts and how to work with their energies. The tips and suggestions are simple and easy to understand, enabling readers to incorporate them into their lives and thinking. The book will help us to understand our hearts in a better way, and use it properly in all the relationships so that it can deepen them. The book will make readers think deeply with its insightful interpretation of the heart, its strength, and its importance.

It is a book that will make readers discover themselves for the better, and help to make positive changes in the way they look at relationships and life in general. All the exercises can be practiced easily to strengthen the heart and have a better understanding about the role it plays in our lives.

Here is the URL:

The Call of the Heart: Heralding the Coming of the Messiah
Zinovia Dushkova
Radiant Books
9785990826816, $16.99 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 306pp,

Michael B. Wilkin

In both content and historical significance, Zinovia Dushkova's The Call of the Heart (Book 1 of The Teaching of the Heart series) is an unusual work in the over-saturated market of spiritual literature.

The book opens with an extensive introduction which explains that the foundation for The Teaching of the Heart was laid over the past 150 years by the spiritual activities of Madame Blavatsky and, far less known to us, Helena Roerich. The introduction emphasizes that works such as Dushkova's series cannot be received through mediumship or channeling but are instead the result of the "fiery experience" - a modern term for the divine inspiration through which all known sacred texts have been written. Candidates who are to write in such a way must undergo many years of training, an activity which has a strong negative impact on their physical health and requires isolation from society.

Zinovia Dushkova wrote The Teaching of the Heart from 1997 to 1998 in various countries around the world. It was given on behalf of the coming Messiah whose personal name is not Jesus, as it was during the First Coming, but Maitreya, which means "love" in Sanskrit.

The Call of the Heart is the first of a dozen books in The Teaching of the Heart series. It consists of two parts that were recorded in 1997, one during Dushkova's trip across India and the other in Russia. I must admit that I expected the main text to be an esoteric revelation in the style of Blavatsky, but in fact it does not contain any extraordinary information. The message is simple: love is the supreme power that will transform our world. However, the effect that the text produced on my inner essence was striking. Although my brain wasn't impressed, reading the book's sublime lines led my heart to tremble with joy. This book really has an amazing energy that affects the heart in a mysterious way, something that is beyond the understanding of an average person.

The book ends with the author's letter to the reader which helped me to understand my inner state. The thing is that the texts of The Teaching of the Heart contain thought-forms that facilitate the natural awakening of the human heart, and this is the main goal of her work. I can say that, at least in my case, she indeed achieved it!

Owing to my own exceptional experience with reading it and on the basis of its uniqueness and historical significance, I highly recommend The Call of the Heart (The Teaching of the Heart, Book 1) by Zinovia Dushkova to anyone interested in spiritual books.

Everything I Never Learned in School about How to Be Successful
Darin Colucci
SDP Publishing
9780997722475, $11.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 102pp,

Kirkus Reviews

A debut self-improvement manual provides illustrations of common wisdom as well as uncommon tips for attaining success.

From this book's beginning, the aspect that sets it apart from other self-help titles is the bevy of anecdotes that Colucci offers: short narratives that illuminate the points the author wants to make about goal-setting, affirmations, and beliefs. Whether discussing superstars like Michael Jordan or business gurus like the founder of SPANX, the author uses personal narratives to show the reader that moguls, famous athletes, and celebrities are just normal people who decided to take control of their lives and render their visions into reality.

Tools are the author's focus rather than concepts or abstractions. For example, midway through the volume, the author recounts a story about applying for legal jobs after law school. He needed a professional resume but didn't have the money required. He then decided that because he could no longer bolster his hiring chances with academic pursuits, buying a resume service was the only way to increase his odds of getting interviews. He found a way to amass the funds and make the purchase, resulting in interviews everywhere he sent his resume. The moral of the story, a unique takeaway from the book, is to never skimp on investing in yourself.

The author also suggests that volunteering becomes a self-investment, as it builds connections, knowledge, and skills toward ultimate career goals. But perhaps one of the work's best features is its emphasis on the value of respect, honesty, and kindness. Colucci supplies several anecdotes about the power of human connection, demonstrating that the way a person interacts with others dictates far more about success than one realizes. From husbands and wives to business partners and clients - fair, honest treatment goes much further than pressure, manipulation, and aggression. In all, the author delivers memorable stories that should help any reader stay on a path to success.

A vivid, useful guide to setting, achieving, and maintaining lifetime goals.

Motherhood: Lost and Found (a memoir)
Ann Campanella
The Bridge
9780615915371, $15.95, PB, 300pp,

Divine Phoenix Books
PO Box 1001, Skaneateles, NY 13152
ISBN: 9781941859520 $15.95 pbk
ASIN: B01L30NTYY; $7.99, Kindle, 307pp

Karen Austin & D. Austin, Reviewers

Ann Campanella experienced a decade of tension about her mother's failing health and her difficulties carrying a baby full term, which she chronicles in her memoir, Motherhood: Lost and Found (2013).

As an award-winning poet, Campanella brings her creative abilities of insight and turn of phrase to her work.

She generously shares her tender feelings and insights about her mother and her pregnancies, which may serve as a great comfort to people facing one or both of these challenges.

At the start of her book, we watch as Campanella's mother grows increasingly distracted and emotional.

Her mother, Elizabeth (Betty) Williams, has trouble driving, keeping track of time, and remembering what city she's in. She even fails to recognize family members and grows more dependent on others to help her dress, eat, and use the bathroom.

But the changes to memory and bodily function are not the only symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease. Betty grows more emotional, alternating between being confused, angry, depressed, paranoid, and hurt.

In time, the doctor's describe Betty's symptoms as those consistent with Alzheimer's Disease. While this does give the family some answers, a diagnosis of a disease with no cure doesn't remove the affiliated difficulties.

Betty's family rallies around her and provides a great deal of physical and emotional support. Nevertheless, the family members also struggle with physical and emotional exhaustion at times.

While working to support her mother and support her feelings about the corresponding change to their mother-daughter connection, Campanella also experiences several miscarriages. Each one has its own shape of loss. As Campanella grows closer and closer to her fortieth birthday, she wonders if she and her frequently traveling husband, Joel, will ever have a child.

Campanella finds refuge in the care of her horse, Crimson. The passages about Crimson contain the most calm, grounded and peaceful moments in the memoir. Caring for her horse is quite therapeutic for Campanella.

While I don't want to spoil the ending, I will tell you that the events of the last thirty pages dovetail in miraculous and beautiful ways. These pages encapsulate the bittersweet tragedies and triumphs of the human condition with the cycles of life all converging, sometimes within mere hours of each other.

I was honored to serve as a witness to Campanella's tenderly told story.

The Taste Of Air
Gail Cleare
Red Adept Publishing
9781940215815, $13.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle, 252pp,

Melissa A. Bartell, Reviewer

My first thought after finishing The Taste of Air was that this was an incredibly satisfying novel.

My second thought was that I want to live in a cute cottage in New England when I'm older, though my dream cottage would be big enough to share with my husband and our collection of dogs.

In this novel, author Gail Cleare introduces us to a trio of women, each of whom are strong and weak in individual ways. Mary Ellen, the mother, has been leading a secret life for decades, and was apparently content to do so until suddenly, her secret is revealed when she is sent to the hospital.

Her daughters, Nell and Bridget, discover their mothers double existence when Nell is called to her bedside. Nell is the ultimate caregiver, sacrificing her own happiness for her family, while Bridget repeatedly chooses men who don't treat her well.

Together, these three women form both a family, glimpsed mainly in flashbacks, and the nucleus of the novel.

What I loved was that author Cleare really captured the subconscious patterns that family members develop, the ones that demonstrate connection as much, or more than, any physical attributes. I also liked that each woman had her own journey, and that while those journeys intersected, each story was given equal weight.

It would have been so easy to focus on Mary Ellen, for example, unraveling the mystery of her cottage refuge without her ever speaking a word in the present day. It would have been just as easy to focus on Nell, whose point of view opens the story. (In truth, even though my only children have four feet and fur, it was Nell I most identified with.) Or Bridget, who is probably the most outwardly together and inwardly unhappy woman in the story, and who has dual quests - a satisfying relationship where she's treated with respect, and the search for the baby she had as a teenager, and subsequently gave up for adoption.

All three stories are compelling, and as we meet the men, the other women, the children, in the lives of Mary Ellen and her daughters, what results is a family portrait that is less a posed and stilted (and somewhat horrific) presentation, and more a collage of hard truths, past mistakes, present ambitions, and great love.

I would recommend this book to women (and men) of all ages, who want to truly understand how multi-dimensional we all are.

Goes well with an open window, a cozy chair, a mug of coffee and a plate of crisp apples and sharp cheddar cheese.

Upper East Side Girl
Bernard F. Conners
British American Publishing
19 British American Boulevard, Latham, NY 12110
9780945167587, $16.95 HC, $7.99 Kindle, 128pp,

Claire Foster, Reviewer
Foreword Reviews

Conners offers keen insights into the publishing industry and brings the New York scene to life with verve and wit. Is there any creature on earth more hopeful, neurotic, and capricious than a first-time novelist? Parker Livingstone, the feckless hero of Bernard F. Conners's Upper East Side Girl, stumbles into a time-traveling elevator and back out into the arms of a mystery blond. Will he finish his manuscript before history subsumes him?

Parker is a plummy, stuffy young man - certainly an anachronism in the modern publishing world. Employed at a boutique literary agency in New York City by a "Mafioso in drag" named Candida Jones, he's already jaded about the industry and his role at the agency. Parker, naive and out of place, is the last one to realize that he's in the wrong gig - and maybe even the wrong decade.

Parker's escape is in his manuscript, a novel-in-progress that his money-hungry boss keeps eying. He hopes to create something meaningful in the sea of self-help and senseless trash that regularly climbs the bestseller list. However, a few chance encounters with Sarah, an enigmatic, timeless beauty, throws him off kilter. Although he hoped to write a highbrow metaphysical treatise, his writing veers into Harlequin territory. Obsessed with learning more about Sarah, he finally throws caution to the winds.

Conners, a seasoned writer and the former publisher of The Paris Review, offers keen insights into the publishing industry and brings the New York scene to life with verve and wit. Parker, whose voice dominates the novel, is the perfect observer to conjure New York scenes, such as of the "cheerful area where strolling urbanites sought relief in the 843 pastoral acres at the center of Manhattan's throbbing metropolis." His innocence adds a wonderful element of tension that keeps pages turning.

With a strong magical realism element, Upper East Side Girl is a delightful distraction.

Fish, Chips & Lubricating Jelly
Ian David Noakes
Ingram Spark
9781684190713, 7.99 Brit. pounds / $10.99 pbk / $4.99 Kindle, 388 pages

G. Brown

An intriguing book. There is a bold use of language that blurs the line between formal description and hyperbolic British, every-day informal speak.

When you mix that with creative, human-driven situations and bleak humour you get a peculiar hybrid that's hard to put down. It's reminiscent of Danny Boyle's genre jumping films or writing that could develop towards someone like Umberto Eco's work -playing with genres and language to create something that feels fresh, intelligent and new.

Definitely worth a read and an author worth keeping an eye on.

Small Feet On The Run: Childhood During World War II
Sieglinde Martin
Wipf and Stock Publishers
199 W. 8th Avenue, Suite 3, Eugene. OR 97401
9781498296137, PB, $25.00, 252pp
9781498296151, HC, $45.00, 252pp
9781498296144, $20.00 Kindle,

Margaret Leis Hanna, Reviewer
"While Born During WWII: One Era, Two Lives"

Small Feet on the Run was an eye-opener for me. Sieglinde Martin's collection of memories of seventeen adults as children in Germany during WWII gave me a broader picture of the trauma they experienced. I had heard a few stories of survival, but not as many living the fears in being evacuated from cities, constant fear of bombing of their homes, loss in separation of families seeking safety and travelling for days to live with strangers in the countryside. These people are my contemporaries and from a former enemy country. Their stories helped me put a face on the enemy. The chapter title "Will Father Christmas Know Where I Am?" is a most poignant reminder of their plight. The last two chapters "Argument Against War" and "Never Again War" clarify the author's position. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the human side of WWII.

The Fool's Truth
Loretta H. Marion
Time At Last Books
ISBN 9780997788600 PB $14.99, 412 Pages
ISBN 9780997788617 Digital $5.99, 377 Pages

Thomas Anderson, Reviewer
The Hungry Monster Book Review

5 Stars ~ Murder and mystery with shimmers of romance are all the delectable things that Loretta H. Marion has to offer with her tantalizing tale†The Fool's Truth.†We are introduced to our protagonist, Cordelia Richmond through a first-person perspective on this tale. She is calling an old friend: someone to whom she trusts her very life. She's been locked in a dangerous situation and her maternal instincts are telling her to run. And run she does. Cordelia is fleeing an unsatisfactory marriage to a man of impressive power while trying to retain her sense of self. It is during her flight that our sweet Cordelia becomes wrapped up in a devastating mystery through what many would consider coincidence. Given the spiritual aspect of our protagonist one can only pause and recall: 'there is no coincidence, there is only fate'. For all the colorful experiences Cordelia has accrued in her lifetime, nothing could quite prepare her for what was to come.

Fragmented into small chapters that focus on one character at a time,†The Fool's Truth†is eloquently written and carefully plotted out. As is the case with many mysteries if the author doesn't know where they want the story to go, you'll end up with a hot mess. But Marion leads her readers through many twists and false starts to bring them to the satisfying end of their journey. Even the first chapter of the book is almost a ruse; meant to cause the reader to picture and assume something entirely false. It's important to note that Marion does wrap up all her threads by the end of the tale.

A drawback from being written so fragmentedly is that the chapters concerning Cordelia are written in the first person. This can throw the reader off if they are expecting a third-person view like the rest of the book. However, while this may be off-putting, it does not detract from the story itself. It does its job to cement Cordelia as the main character of this novel, though there would have been little doubt of that. For all the trouble our heroine finds herself in, this is still very much her story.

What a twisted journey it is. The characters are all intricately tied together with false identities, broken pasts and loveless marriages built on security, not affection. There are some surprising truths near the end of the book and the final part does an excellent job of wrapping everything together. In what must have been a labor of love,†The Fool's Truth†spans more than three hundred pages, yet every single one of them unfolds pieces of the puzzles that Marion scatters throughout the tale.

At times breath-taking and other times heart-pounding a true mystery lover will not want to let†The Fool's Truth†pass them by. Even the romance aspects of the story are not overpowering and flow naturally, without taking away from the central core of the tale. The romance is a side dish to the main course of full-bodied mystery that Marion has to offer.

The Optimistic Food Addict: Recovering from Binge Eating Disorder
Dr. Christina Fisanick Greer
MSI Press
1760-F Airline Hwy #203, Hollister, CA 95023
9781942891284, $14.95 PB, $3.99 Kindle, 140pp,

Rachel P, Reviewer
Good Reads

"I was lonely and hungry for something deeper than what food could satiate."

To say that I was moved by Christina Fisanick Greer's memoir, "The Optimistic Food Addict" is an understatement. I found myself in every word. As a fellow food addict, I know what it is to "dance with the dragon" (confront our substances) every day.

Christina vividly illustrates what she's endured battling food addiction and the adverse consequences on her mind, body, and spirit. There's something both lovely and poignant about the way she writes. Her struggle is real and honest and so is her resilience. By relating her story along with her research the reader experiences firsthand the crippling physical ailments and the crushing emotional and spiritual despair of this disease. As food addicts we wear our illness in the form of extra layers of fat or protruding bones but that's just the physical manifestation of our pain. It goes so much deeper and, as addicts, we turn to the food as our drug of choice to numb the feelings; "I had to keep searching for that place where nothing mattered...the chance to forget."

Christina's recovery was hard won through many heartbreaking struggles and painful experiences. Yet she's come through it full of her characteristic strength, hopefulness and optimism. I know I will be going to this book any time I don't feel heard or understood. Thankfully, Christina has also created an online food addiction recovery group. And that's the best part. By gathering us together and sharing her story she offers us the compassion she has long denied herself.

I rate this book 5 stars, I highly recommend.

Good Blood: A Journey Of Healing
Irit Schaffer
MSI Press
1760 Airline Hwy., F-203, Hollister, CA 95023
9781942891222, $24.95, PB,

Lisa, Reviewer
Good Reads

Loved this book! It gets better as she infiltrates the depth of what it means to heal in the latter half of the book. Worth getting past the necessary foundation in its first half. Her path and guidance system to reach where she travels in life is inspiring, lesson-filled, and is a poignant read for personal growth and the path to inner and external healing. Her family's stories have such significant parallels to generations of immigrants and their ability to survive the unthinkable challenges in human history, atrocities, and live with compassion, love, and forgiveness despite their circumstances. Her lessons become our lessons as a reader to examine the world through a different, wiser lens. Worthy read.

Abduction: How Liberalism Steals Our Children's Hearts and Minds
Steven Feazel & Carol M. Swain
Christian Faith Publishing
296 Chestnut Street, Meadville, PA 16335
9781635251463, $19.95 PB, $9.99 Kindle,

CBM Book Reviews

Abduction, How Liberalism Steals our Children's Hearts and Minds by Steven Feazel and Dr. Carol M. Swain reveals an intriguing read that will shock you. Exposing the deception posed as "Liberalism" that is infiltrating our educational system, media, and political arenas, the authors shed light on the effect of this agenda upon our future generation and the youth of America. This sway is far from God and godly principles, as the book brings readers up-to-date of the trends of our American culture that have led us into Liberalism, they candidly reveal the undertow that is sweeping across our culture and country. Consequently, more and more of society is swinging to the far Left that brings a modernized, humanistic and secular worldview that is currently leading our innocent children (and society) as a whole, down a corrupt path. Disguised as Liberalism (and known as "The New Morality"), this has become the Christian faith's new enemy. The acceptance of this agenda has become so entrenched in our society, the authors have written a book to arm parents and to announce that it's time to fight for our future generations before it's too late.

This new mindset known as The New Morality, as the authors give accounts of events and statistics, state that Liberalism is destabilizing the family and future generations through the propagation of lies, some subtle in degrees, that degrade society and is leading our youth to make wrong choices apart from God. Historically, this path of destruction sways far from biblical truth and masquerades that evil is in fact "good", and if it feels right, do it. Revealing agendas of certain institutions in the educational system, under the guise of Liberalism and all for political gain, this book brings a deeper insight into a mindset that steals our children's hearts and minds away from the truth.

Thus, as this well-researched book explains, the authors sound the alarm to all parents to guard their children more actively ~ in all arenas, not just at home. Providing parents with practical application and knowledge that will help protect children from becoming secularized, that also brings understanding to our youth of why an embrace of a Christian perspective, values and morals matters in life. With such chapters as: The Enemy Revealed, Exposing the Myth, Public Schools- Ground Zero, Sexy Kids, Music Hits a Sour Note, Big Screen-Little Value, Invader in a Box, Children Stolen and Gone, Higher Learning and Lower Values, Black Robes Bring Dark Days, and Fighting Back, parents and future generations are given hope and the tools to fight this onslaught of worldwide secularism.

This is an important book for our society and comes highly recommended to every parent that stands for righteousness, who desires an America that embraces our Founding Fathers' vision of America and to those parents that want to see strong Christian families to become the majority again.

Song of Atlantis
Brian Power
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781499580808, $13.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 348pp,

BookViral, Reviewer

Synopsis: When Amon Goro, master architect of Atlantis, discovers a way to harness the earth's forces into an infinite source of clean energy, it seems destined to change civilization as we know it. But 4,500 years later, Atlantis exploration team leader Palen Golendar is brutally captured by a Native American tribe in modern-day South Dakota - derailing any hope Atlantis held of utilizing its energy secrets.

Eight thousand years in the future, Native American anthropologist Gordon Tallbear and his team of highly skilled researchers stumble across a connection between the recent discovery of Golendar's remains and an intricate cavern system deep in the mountains of Antarcticaa connection that finally reveals the Atlantean secret of perpetual energy. While Tallbear and his team plan to recreate the energy source that will change the world, a wealthy group with deep ties to carbon-based fuel producers decides this newfound energy source must be destroyed - and they will stop at nothing to assassinate the researchers in order to bury what they know.

Can Tallbear's newfound knowledge survive?

Critique: A powerful and compelling gross genre thriller, Song Of Atlantis proves a scintillating debut novel for Power and one of epic proportions. A gifted and spirited storyteller who is clearly adept at bringing the ambience of an ancient and mystical culture to life he spans the centuries in a tale that weaves science fiction, fact and conspiracy whilst weaving a plot that's both sophisticated and cleverly executed.

With the benefit of extensive research and a meticulous eye for nuance Power embraces the devices of intrigue and suspense to create plenty of forward momentum with a host of eclectic characters who revel in the intricacies of power and subterfuge. It's on this level that he truly distinguishes himself.

The centuries may advance but few facets of human nature change. Desire, ambition, greed, he masterfully manifests the tenet's of each in a riveting narrative that holds your attention page after page. This really is escapism of the highest order, hurtling along at a cracking pace as past, present and future become intrinsically linked.

A genuinely exhilarating read, Song Of Atlantis is an exceptional debut that is sure to garner broad interest and appeal. Boding well for future releases from Power, it is recommended without reservation!

Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha's Life
Wendy Garling
Shambhala Publications
4720 Walnut St., Boulder, CO 80301
9781611802658, $18.95 PB, $14.99 Kindle, 328pp,

Lauren Krauze, Reviewer

When I think about the injustices and inequalities reported in the Buddhist community - particularly toward women - I find myself imagining a more promising and equal future. This effort springs mostly from hope, a desire for inclusiveness, and the assumption that only the days that lie ahead, not the ones that have already passed, can be shaped and molded. I never considered that reimagining and reframing the past could bring more honor and merit to women in the Buddhist community.

In her new book Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha's Life, writer, scholar, and dharma teacher Wendy Garling accomplishes this feat in bold ways. She first unravels the androcentric and misogynistic knots in the fabric of the Buddha's life story, and then reweaves a new narrative that highlights and honors the many roles women played in the early days of Buddhism. Her attempts - as provocative as they are refreshing - instill confidence that these forgotten stories can be reclaimed from sacred texts and reintroduced into mainstream Buddhism. We can't change Buddhism's androcentric past, she writes, but we can "move to shape a gender-balanced, androgynous future."

Garling has gathered stories from a range of Pali and Mahayana canonical texts and joined them into a coherent, chronological narrative. She begins this effort with a retelling of the Buddha's birth story. "Buddhism got off on the wrong foot," she writes, and introduces readers to Maya, the Buddha's mother, who died within days of giving birth and is rarely mentioned in the traditional records. However, the stories that Garling includes - mainly from the lesser-known Lalitavistara [an early Mahayana text about the Buddha's awakening] and the Abhinishkramanasutra [a Chinese Buddhist text that recounts the Buddha leaving the palace for the forest] - suggest that Maya and Mahaprajapati, the aunt who raised him, are two of the most influential people in the Buddha's life. The Lalitavistara describes a story in which Maya descends from the heavenly realm and appears to the Buddha during his weakest moments as an ascetic, rousing him from an unconscious state and encouraging him to continue on his path. Scholars have also translated texts from the Pali canon that position Mahaprajapati as the leader of the early female Buddhist community. She was also "preeminent among the Buddha's female disciples [ . . . ] as a female buddha she was the Buddha's counterpart."

Garling's efforts to integrate these and other strong female characters add both tenderness and power to what has mainly been an all-male cast. The Lalitavistara also specifically portrays Yashodhara, the Buddha's principal wife and consort, as a literate, assertive, and resolute woman. Early in their marriage, Yashodhara refused to veil her face like the other harem women. When criticized, Yashodhara "squares off in front of everyone, and in wise, elegant verse reprimands them for the shallowness of their thinking." Suddhodana, the Buddha's father, was "so overjoyed by her rebellious words that he offers her gifts of fine clothing and costly jewels."

In order to understand how these stories settle into the larger narrative, we must first come to terms with the sexism that abounds in Buddhist literature. The Buddha himself didn't suggest that a woman's fading beauty is an appropriate example of impermanence, or that men are not permitted to receive food from the hands of women, as practiced by some Southeast Asian monastic cultures. These are remnants of what Garling calls an "androcentric editorial license" - not teachings from the Buddha himself. These examples are suggestions and traditions created by male editors, chroniclers, and monks that reflect the sexist values and attitudes of the early Buddhist population, Garling asserts, and need to be continually pointed out. Her close analysis of the forgotten or redacted stories in the early Sanskrit and Pali texts actually reveal how the Buddha honored and revered the many influential women in his life. Thus, the resulting sexism that survived in the Buddha's biographical account does not represent the dharma, but rather the misogynistic culture that prevailed at the time it was written.

Garling doesn't simply point out these sexist examples and walk away. She remedies them by tweaking the stories so they reflect an alternative, more gender-balanced interpretation that honors women as empowered, confident, and intelligent characters - all while remaining true to the elements in the original narrative. In one instance, she recalls a story that appears in both Pali and Sanskrit sources about the gods casting a spell on Siddhartha's family's palace so the harem women appear slovenly and vulgar. The intention of this was for Siddhartha, the soon-to-be Buddha, to discover the women in this way and feel disgusted, ashamed, and evermore convinced that he should leave his palace and family and pursue his spiritual path. In the reimagining Garling presents, the consorts intended to look and act this way so Siddhartha would leave his home and fulfill his destiny to become the Buddha. In this version, the harem women have agency and ingenuity and implement a clever plan to guide him on his path to enlightenment.

To support her attempts to recast the narrative and encourage readers to open their minds, Garling cites scriptural evidence that the Buddha favored equality. She reminds us, for instance, that two of the four assemblies, the faith community that the Buddha established, are female: the nuns and the laywomen. She also points out that enlightenment and bias of any kind, including gender and sex bias, cannot coexist: "It is incompatible to hold views that the Buddha was both biased and enlightened, since by definition bias cannot exist within the enlightened mind. This alone should be a source of validation to contemporary Buddhist women in their struggles against narrow, antiquated, androcentric polemics."

For many years, storytellers and chroniclers have failed us: they abandoned a larger, more inclusive truth in favor of one that only served only a portion of the faith community. Now, millennia later, we can do better, and we must. We can choose to honor the stories Garling has gathered, and the important women they highlight, so practitioners can learn from the examples and teachings they espouse. If we follow Garling's example and embrace these stories, we will inevitably create a more equal sangha. This very reality, after all, reflects the Buddha's dying wish. As Garling writes, "[Buddha] would be ready to die when his four assemblies - laywomen, laymen, nuns, and monks - were equally well established in wisdom and discipline, that all four were engaged in teaching dharma to others, and that the dharma itself was esteemed, widespread, and flourishing.

Expect the Extraordinary: Angelic Messages, Spiritual Encounters and the Soul of Skye
Sue Pighini
Livin' the Dream Media
9780997163803, $14.95, PB, 128pp,

Jenna Brewster, Reviewer
Goodreads / Barnes & Noble

"Expect the Extraordinary" is a beautifully uplifting book with a powerful, positive message throughout. This book by Sue Pighini is a must read for anyone who wants to better understand how to connect with the spiritual energy around them and how the angels are all around us, we just need to listen. Loved reading about her near death experiences (well, you know what I mean), and the others' as well. It is amazing what each of them take away from the experiences - profound insights on life that can teach us all something and without having to nearly die first! (Especially loved the '10 Sacred Insights' - I want to print them up and put them on my wall!!) I also like how she touches on the law of attraction and how to better control our thoughts and energy into a more productive manner. The whole book was just so easy to read and felt very relatable to me and my life. I feel like I learned a lot. I'll reread this in the future and recommend it to my friends and family.

Resilient Ruin: A Memoir of Hopes Dashed and Reclaimed
Laura McHale Holland
P.O. Box 7501, Cotati, CA 94931
9780982936573, $16.00 PB; 9780982936580, $3.99 Kindle, 305pp,

Kathleen Pooler

Resilent Ruin is a captivating coming-of-age story about a teenager who breaks away from her abusive stepmother and spirals downward into depression, drug and alcohol abuse, risky sexual behavior, and involvement in a cult.

I was hooked into this story from the first page and carried along to the end by a fast-paced plot; believable, dynamic characters; and vivid sensory details. I came of age in the '60s so could easily relate to the times. As a reader, I felt like I was watching a movie from that tumultuous time as scenes came alive to me. McHale Holland's writing is rich in detail and flows seamlessly, leaving the reader feeling not only engaged in the story but a part of the story. Her main character is feisty and rebellious with an edginess that foreshadows an underlying resilience. So no matter how many fixes she gets herself into, she leaves you with the feeling that she will eventually find her way. She delivers on her title as she survives, finds forgiveness for her abusive stepmother and moves on to live a productive, fulfilling life.

This memoir is a study of the impact of the times ('60s and '70s), the loss of biological parents, the effect of abuse on a teenager and the resilience of the human spirit. Beyond being a riveting story, it will give hope to teens who are struggling with coming of age and their parents. It also will serve as a valuable resource for caregivers who work with the at-risk teen population.

A riveting memoir about surviving abuse and finding forgiveness.

Fifty Feet of Trouble
Justin Robinson
Candlemark & Gleam
9781936460717, $19.95 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 206 pages,

Kate Sherrod, Reviewer
Kate of Mind (Nov 2, 2016)

The best Halloween present a pulp/noir/monster fiction fan could possibly get is a new†Justin Robinson†novel, and that is exactly what happened this year.* A sequel to his almost-illegally-too-fun†City of Devils, it's†Fifty Feet of Trouble.

Once again, our guide through the madness is Nick Moss, the last human private eye in Los Angeles, finder of missing persons, encounterer (sure, that's a word. Now.) of the titular trouble.** Which starts off in sort of the same vein as last novel, but has with it a whole weight of emotional baggage that you just don't have to deal with when a doppelganger of no previous acquaintance asks you to find her missing mummy husband.

This time around, Nick's quarry is human (Still. We Hope.), but not only is she human, she is a little girl, and not only is she a little girl, but she is the daughter of two close and dear friends who fought with him in the Night War (the conflict after WWII when the Monsters Took Over), and not only are they his close and dear friends but they already lost a child to the monsters and... see where this is going? There are several sub-plots that tie into this main one, but the missing little girl quest is the armature on which all of the other stuff hangs like a fifty-foot [REDACTED] off a giant floating stone [REDACTED].

So where City of Devils was mostly a slapstick romp with some moments of hilarious danger, there is a mature and emotionally powerful undertone to our hero's quest this time around. Be assured, though: this doesn't detract from the fun of reading it; it enhances it. And yes, there's still silly monster stuff. For instance, one of Nick's other assignments is finding a magical missing toad, so a witch friend of his can continue casting spells.

So, as I said on GoodReads, I wasn't expecting this to be Justin Robinson's best novel yet, but it's his best novel yet. The comedy and tragedy set each other off to perfection (a paragraph after a line that makes you howl with laughter and want to read pages aloud to some hapless stranger, there's a gut punch ready to knock you out cold), the new characters are beautifully realized, and the new over-the-top villains are used with admirable and judicious restraint,*** and no plot thread is left dangling. Like Nick and not-his-lady-friend off a giant floating stone [REDACTED].

So, if you're anything like me, you'll want to set aside a block of time to just utterly devote to this novel. Have some snacks ready. And some holy water. And some garlic. And some silver. And some salt. And a camera. And a bullhorn. Useful things, bullhorns. You just never know when you'll have to talk down a giant rampaging [REDACTED].

And, psst, best of all, Nick Moss has more adventures coming Not Soon Enough. Werewolf Confidential. Okay.

*What. Halloween presents are totally a thing. Where have you been? Well, yes, this first time I did have to buy it for myself, but I trust that this won't always be the case. Right? RIGHT?

**Now that I know Justin better -- he even blurbed my upcoming book -- I know exactly how much he loves words like "titular."

***You'll be glad of this. Reverend Bobo. I need a brandy.

Life in Tension: Reflections on the Beatitudes
Stephen W. Hiemstra
T2Pneuma Publishers LLC
P.O. Box 230564, Centreville, VA 20120
9781942199045, $16.95 PB, $4.95 Kindle, 304pp,

Tom Johnson, Reviewer

Life in Tension, by Stephen Hiemstra, dives deep into the context and intentions of the beatitudes. The blessings (makarios) of the beatitudes provide the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament call to peace (shalom). In the beatitudes Jesus points out that our experience of God'sshalom is hindered by our sin and lack of commitment to Him, bringing tension within ourselves, between us and others, and between us and God.

The author's numerous insights connect Old Testament and New Testament scripture, history, and culture to Jesus' timeless words. He illustrates how our lives, culture, and choices are affected by rejection of Jesus' revelations. Some examples of Jesus' spiritual truths translated into our modern lives:

* Modern technology worsens the already heavy burden of self-centered rumination.

* God blesses those who are willing, who beg destitution in the spiritual realm, with the kingdom of God.

* Taking the next step to extend God's law fulfills it, not merely staying within its boundaries.

* We can receive blessing, forgiveness, and healing through true humility; or else God will act sovereignly, which may be harder on us.

* Pain we bear shapes our identity and transforms us.

* For us, meekness is a fruit of the Spirit; for God, it is just who He is.

* We are pushed to break the fundamental commandments of God's economy in our pursuit of the wealth of Pharaoh's economy.

* In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus changed the question from "Who is my neighbor?" to His own question (to us), "Who proved to be a neighbor?"

* Hypocrisy or tension? Christians who act like everyone else are called hypocrites; those who do not are seen as judgmental.

* We cannot end war, but we can at least express the love of Christ to the needy person who crosses our path.

* Matthew 5:11 repeats and intensifies Matthew 5:10 with three verbs and a shift from third person to second person, as redemptive suffering is the capstone beatitude.

* We do not naturally mourn over sin in our lives; we seek comfort, not transformation.

Jesus' bottom line calls us beyond receiving and believing truth, to allowing it to transform us.

Two Men Rowing Madly Toward Infinity
William Reichard
Broadstone Books
418 Ann Street, Frankfort, KY 40601-1929
9781937968243, $16.50, PB, 72pp,

Charlie Bondhus

Eerie silence pervades much of William Reichard's Two Men Rowing Madly Toward Infinity (Broadstone Books, 2016). Reading this book's 50ish pages, it's easy to experience a sense of dread as startled crows become "a black cloud against /October's sharp blue sky" and "fading dusk turns the snow into stars." Reichard uses the austereness of the Great Plains at night to his advantage; here "all of the folktales /[are] true, [and] all of the cautionary monsters /stalk the forest that fences in /the freeway." Yet there's also an odd peace to the "illuminated farmsteads scattered /across the prairie." The air is pregnant with something, and that something may not be good, but for the moment, the silence is enjoyable. Call it Midwestern Gothic.

A recurring theme in the Gothic is the tension between the past and the present, the ghosts and the living. Many of the poems in Reichard's collection inhabit that crux. A sister taken by lung cancer is "fifty-two today except /she was frozen at thirty /... /I wonder, does she look the same?" These are the kinds of things many of us think about fleetingly, but Reichard pauses, developing them here and in other poems. One in particular - "Birthday Present (Long Delayed)" draws people and timeframes even more tightly together as the speaker asks of a deceased father "Do I dream your dreams?"

The past/present, living/dead dynamic becomes particularly interesting when Reichard confronts his personal past in the context of a broader history. In "Midwest Landscape: Empty Farm," the speaker recalls "a girl my age, [who] was widowed young /when her husband contracted AIDS. No one thinks about that anymore." These lines lament not just a literal death but also the erasure of a nightmarish period in queer history. "It was the plague /that ruined my youth," Reichard states plainly, unsentimentally.

Yet if there is death and forgetfulness on the Plains, there is also rebirth. In "Trillium Like Stars" Reichard observes "Where the burned house stood, a new house stands." Much is communicated in the tight space of this eight-line poem as the speaker's musings on the surrounding natural world ("a family of deer moves silently /along the edge of the trees") ultimately lead him inward - the poem's final two lines: "Here, where I stand, /trillium blooms, a galaxy born from the ashes." Where the first line explicitly stated that something new has replaced something old, the closing line infers it. With the repetition of "stand" Reichard draws a subtle parallel between the replaced house of line 1 and the transformed self of lines 7-8. Surrounded by celestial flowers, Reichard's speaker quietly recognizes his own rebirth.

The tension between past and present perhaps reaches its apotheosis in the book's title poem. Of the two men (lovers?) sharing a boat, Reichard writes "The current flows in the opposite direction /so they are moving, always /against." Here the characters struggle with not only the currents of a homophobic society but also the inexorable rush of time as "The push into one day /moves them /away /from another." The passage of time may bring progress on some fronts, but what is lost in the meantime? What memories, farmhouses, lovers, or prairies?

Or is anything really lost? Reichard leaves us with some hope and comfort, assuring us "In their vessel, the atoms of all that's /been, /all that /is, /all that /will be /merge in the darkness, erase any difference between /the men, their craft, the water, and the endless world."

Michael FitzGerald
Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC
9781945181009, $13.99 PB, $5.99 Kindle,

Ashley Nestler

"Great for alternate history fans!

I have come to realize that plots that try to change history come with serious repercussions...and I love it. Payback is precisely one of those novels, and I couldn't have been more pleased by the outcome of its plot.

Assassinating Hitler has been a popular topic as of late, and even though I have seen other novels discuss this possibility and the "what ifs" of it all, Payback brought more to the table. It is a novel filled with disaster and possibility, and Michael FitzGerald didn't hold anything back.

FitzGerald's writing is crisp and clear. He didn't add unnecessary details or drama that could hinder this type of story, and he struck straight to the facts. It was clear to me that he knows this time period well and prepped his novel at length to make sure that it was as factual as possible. I couldn't put Payback down due to the historical intrigue, and I am sure that crime enthusiasts, as well as history buffs, will fawn over it. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in WWII history as well as alternate history and crime!

Heaven's Oasis
Jeff W. Horton
World Castle Publishing
PO Box 10652, Pensacola, FL 32524
9781629895925, $21.99 HC
9781629895932, $12.99 PB; $3.99 Kindle,

Christian Sia, Reviewer
Readers' Favorite

Review Rating: 5 stars!

Before her death, Claire was on the verge of making one of the greatest discoveries in archaeology, one that could verify the claim about the existence of a place known as Heaven's Oasis, a discovery that would render biblical facts indisputable. Now, after her death, things change. She becomes an object of ridicule in the archaeological community. And worst of all, many people already know about what she had been working on before her death. Would her entire efforts be in vain?

Only one person is ready to stand up to uphold her name, Kevin Foster, a man who's been the love of her life. He has to prove that Claire wasn't making unfounded claims; he has to clear her name. Which is why Kevin decides to take up where his lover left off. Can he complete the expedition and lay bare centuries-old secrets that could prove the existence of God? Heaven's Oasis by Jeff W Horton is a thriller that will delight readers who love intrigue, treasure hunts, and stories laced with symbolism and artifacts.

The story is well told and the reader knows the conflict will become huge when the knowledge of what Claire had been working on becomes public. The introduction of a billionaire arms dealer, Kain Masterson, raises the stakes. Why does he want so desperately to discover the hidden oasis? Who will get to the truth first? It is interesting to watch the players in this deadly game as they race towards the clues and artifacts. The characters are very compelling and well sculpted. The pace is fast and the entire story holds a lot in store for curious readers. Jeff W Horton has created a work of great entertainment in Heaven's Oasis. The writing is beautiful and the powerful descriptions take readers on a thrill ride through the hidden regions of the Middle East.

A Rebel Among Us: A Novel of the Civil War
J.D.R. Hawkins
Foundations, LLC
9781537167879, $19.99 PB, $2.99 Kindle, 556 pages,

Elaine Bertolotti, Reviewer

5.0 out of 5 stars -- A great read!

I admire the author's ability to take us back into the past. I've read her other historical novels (A Beautiful Glittering Lie and A Beckoning Hellfire ) so I know how well she can weave a story set in the Civil War period.

The characters are well developed and we get the feeling that we too are involved in their lives. Love knows no boundaries, no limits and no questions of North and South during the dramatic Civil War. Fact and fiction are the author's food for thought as she mixes both to give an exciting tale.

Love, war and the difficulties we can only imagine, leap up from the pages of this book. An intriguing read that I recommend to all but especially those historical novel fans in particular.

Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?
Dan Story
Kingdom Come Publications
9780692758076, $10.95 PB, $8.75 Kindle, 194pp,

Gary Zacharias

Dan Story has a new book out, and that's good news for a lot of people interested in Christian issues. I've read several of his books, which always make me think about important concepts. His new book, Will Dogs Chase Cats in Heaven?: People, Pets, and Wild Animals in the Afterlife, takes on an interesting question - will animals share the afterlife with humans?

His book is laid out logically, starting with the value of animals to God. He then explores recent studies in animal behavior to show that animals experience real emotions, have real personalities, and demonstrate qualities like devotion and loyalty. He then moves on to consider whether animal souls are immortal like those of humans. Dan focuses next on what the new heaven and earth will be like from a Christian perspective. He winds up by discussing the issue of animal resurrection and the tantalizing notion of being able to talk with animals. At the end Dan has a couple of useful appendices. My favorite was the one that discussed the mind-brain controversy, where he gave arguments for the existence of a mind.

This is a book everyone should read because either we are huge animal lovers or we know people who are. In addition, Christians have recently been under attack from secularists who believe that Christianity is anti-environmentalism. Dan shows that's not the case at all as he did also in his previous book Should Christians Be Environmentalists? This current book will be a good tool to show that the Judeo-Christian God is one who loves his creation, both animals and human.

The book works well for various reasons. Dan style is clear and conversational; he sounds like a real person. He mixes stories, Bible passages, and scholarly research in a well-done blend. He's quick to admit controversial areas as well as speculative ideas. More than once he stresses that he is not attempting to elevate animals to human status, which is a concern for many Christians.

Andrea's Bookshelf

How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
HowToDoItFrugally Press
9781536948370 $17.95 pbk / $9.95 Kindle

The third book in the "How to Do It Frugally" series by award-winning author Carolyn Howard-Johnson, How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically lives up to its title, as an instructional guidebook for maximizing publicity from sources of free reviews in order to build a sustainable writing career. Chapters discuss how to avoid scams (especially pay-for-review scams), how to create a query letter for reviews that stands out from the pack, what to do with good reviews once they're obtained, how to respond to negative reviews or manage Amazon reviews, and much more. "Authors should not ask professional reviewers or journalists, 'Are you interested in an interview, too.' Just like literary agents prefer you to pitch one book at a time in your query letter, reviewers, too, will be more easily convinced if you focus on the review." How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically is an absolute "must-have" for any aspiring or practicing author! Also highly recommended are the previous books in the series, "The Frugal Editor" (9781505712117, $17.95 pbk / $3.99) and "The Frugal Book Promoter, second edition" (9781463743291, $17.95 pbk / $5.99 Kindle).

Freedom's Dragonflight
Diane Carr
Terra Sancta Press
304 Royal Palm Drive, Melbourne, FL 32935
9781939771445 $14.08

The adventurous sequel to "River Dragon", Freedom's Dragonflight is a fantasy novel for young adults, about four dragons sent on a seemingly impossible quest. Freedom, Charity, Joy, and Sunshine must each confront their own fears and devise a strategy against the evil dragon Leviathan. A handful of black-and-white illustrations enhance this dragon-lover's delight, highly recommended for middle school library collections and family reading lists.

Saying Yes, second edition
With Albert Haase, OFM
Paraclete Video
c/o Paraclete Press
PO Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653
9781612617602 $89.95

Now in an updated second edition, Saying Yes is the DVD rendition of the book of Christian spiritual advice and counsel by Franciscan priest Albert Haase, OFM. Filled with real-life examples, Saying Yes emphasizes that discerning and following God's will is a lifelong process, not a single decision. Sessions teach the viewer about the attitudes to attune oneself to God's will, the importance of listening, how to live a discerning lifestyle, how to discern and by wary of the designs of the Devil, and more. A discussion guide is included for sharing and study. Saying Yes is an inspirational resource for Christians, and especially recommended for church library DVD collections. 2 hours 48 min.

Andrea Kay

Ann's Bookshelf

The Burning Ground: Stories
Adam O'Riordan
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393239553, $25.95 hc / $16.22 Kindle,

"Lindstrom listened but only heard the words the Old Man chose to emphasise:

'Signs of struggle...we think is blood...mother's note, yet...'

And then the emphasis that focussed Lindstrom's attention,

'Bas Roderigues found her door kicked clean off its hinges...' "

This collection of short stories by Adam O'Riordan ranges widely through a variety of characters and events, some dramatic and some seemingly ordinary. In the story from which the above quotation is taken, Adella, whose kidnappers Lindstrom is tasked with finding, is not, as he knows from personal experience, an innocent young girl. Nor is Jesus Porfirio, the man he contacts in order to find her, the seemingly mild, apron-clad, shelf-stacking storeholder that he seems to be.

In this, and in other pieces in the book, O'Riordan unfolds his stories deftly, catching the background and personality of his characters through incidents, conversations and thoughts. There are eight stories. A father tentatively makes contact with his estranged teenage son. A journalist remembers his first interview, as a fourteen-year-old, with a high-flying financier, and subsequent interviews as his own career blossoms and that of the financier crashes. A long-distance love affair has a Londoner flying to Los Angeles for meetings with a woman whose career commitments often causes unexpected absences.

In 'Wave-Riding Giants', an elderly man, confined by a broken pelvis to his room in a "Senior Housing Facility", watches people on the boardwalk and beach at Paloma through antique binoculars "heavy as a candlepin bowling ball", and is reminded of the ones he used in wartime convoys. He recalls "the hours in the fire-room, the smell of hot lube and combustion fumes coming through the vent shafts"; and he remembers his patriotic pride at signing on for war service and his parents attending his swearing in ceremony. He recalls family stories about the exploits of his Russian grandmother during an earlier war. And he thinks of his early days in Los Angeles and the war-time horror stories told by the young man who was his good friend at that time. Through his wife, Dolores, he meets some of the 'wave-riding giants'- the surfers at Malibu who "know how to live". And he lovingly recalls the beauty of the hand-built, white cedar surfboard he crafted for one of these men. There is also a secret hinted at in this story which he never revealed to Dolores.

What O'Riordan excels at is memories - fragments of the past which lie dormant and surface at unexpected moments, just as the web-like rash from a past allergy to penicillin does in the artist in the title story, 'The Burning Ground'. This man's memories of the married woman with whom he had an affair are prompted by the very expensive paint-brushes she had given him in their first year of their secret meetings and which he had used ever since. When she decides that the affair is over and his agent arranges a one-year artist's residency for him in Los Angeles, his career takes off and he decides to stay in America. The brushes are his last, painful link with his memories of their parting, and their end is as colourful as the pigments they have conveyed to his canvases.

In his acknowledgements, Adam O'Riordan thanks William Body "who suggested it might be an idea to write a whole book about Los Angeles". As an English writer, O'Riordan compromises by linking some of his characters to London and California, and his knowledge of both adds a worldly dimension to his tales. This can also be fun, too, as his final tale 'Magda's a Dancer' neatly demonstrates. It is written as a conversation between four friends, and since three of the group are, or have been, entertainers it is almost like a film script. Julia and Harry who are "itinerant Brits" and who are clearly new to Californian culture describe some of their most bizarre experiences, and Zack and Magda, who are American, joke with them and tell them something about their own lives and their own reasons for moving from New York to LA. O'Riordan is a skilful story-teller and the variety of moods and formats he uses is impressive. As in this last tale, he seems to me to get the language differences, the banter and the thoughts, revelations and ambitions of his characters just right.

The House at Bishopsgate
Katie Hickman
175 Fifth Avenue, Suite 315, New York, NY 10010
9781408882214, $27.99, paperback, 430 pages.

"A'az ma yutlab" - My heart's desire - is the tiny, almost invisible inscription carved into a diamond the size of a baby's fist. This is the Sultan's Blue diamond, a magnificent gem which, according to legend, must never be sold or misfortune will happen. And this is the diamond which weaves all the many threads in this book together.

How Sir Paul Pindar, a wealthy and well-travelled merchant of the Honourable Levant Company, comes to have it in his possession is a curious and compelling story. And in 1643 his unexpected appearance with it at Whitehall Palace and his demand to see the King himself causes quite a stir.

Yet it is the events which lead up to this moment which are the substance of this book. And especially it is the extraordinary lives of Paul's wife Celia and her close companion Annetta; the search for Paul's childhood friend John Carew; and the mystery surrounding the widow Lady Francis Sydenham which fill the book.

In 1611, Paul and Celia returned to England after having lived in Aleppo for an extended period of time. Both have been away from England for many years and Celia, especially, is so attuned to Mohammedan culture that the customs and formalities of English society are quite foreign to her. The details of her earlier life are almost unbelievably strange and exotic but the skill with which Katie Hickman reveals them as the story progresses makes them a fascinating and acceptable background to Celia's present troubles in Paul's grand, richly furnished London house at Bishopsgate.

Strange and exotic, too, is the life of Annetta, the tiny, irascible, Italian ex-nun whose caustic voice often fills Celia's imagination long before she arrives to join the family in London. And the life of Paul's childhood companion, the elusive miscreant, John Carew, is no less adventurous.

On the voyage to Venice, immediately before Celia's planned marriage to Paul, she and Annetta had been captured by corsairs and sold into slavery in the Great Turk's House of Felicity in Constantinople. Annetta, in particular, had become the favoured hand-maiden and confidant of the Valide - the Ottoman Queen - and the great diamond had come into her possession on the Queen's death. It is she, on her release from service, together with her long-ago love, John Carew, who engineer Celia's escape from the Ottoman court.

Celia's subsequent abuse by pirates, a miscarriage and her unexpected re-union with Paul, all form part of the back-story, but the difficulties of her present life in Paul's Bishopsgate house have more to do with Lady Frances Sydenham, who, as a recent widow, has prevailed on Paul's generosity to accompany him and Celia from Aleppo to England, and who has become a temporary part of the family. Her initial capable assistance in helping Celia to handle the household and in introducing her to women of high social rank becomes increasingly manipulative and controlling. Celia, into whose confidence she has worked her way, eventually begins to question her motives and the tiny, sharp, questioning voice of Annetta, even before she arrives to join the family at Bishopsgate, often fills Celia's head and fuels her doubts. Paul, however, is busy with his dealings in the City, and he dismisses Celia's doubts. His relationship with Celia is loving but distant and he refuses, for some unstated reason, to sleep with her. Frances Sydenham, meanwhile, sets out to charm him.

Paul's own search for his long-lost friend John Carew, his strained relationship with his jealous, socially ambitious brother Ralph, and his increasingly onerous duties in the City which prevent him from visiting his aged father in their country manor-house in Berkshire, all add to the complexities of the plot.

Katie Hickman is a fine story-teller. She writes well, creates interesting characters and an absorbing story, and she knows how to make what could have been an unbelievably exotic and romantic scenario fresh and acceptable. The House at Bishopsgate combines mystery, history, excitement, exotic settings, royalty, jealousy and family dramas in a very readable and fascinating story. That it is, apparently, the third in a series of novels concerning the same characters is never a hindrance to its enjoyment as a stand-alone tale.

Dr. Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Wilderness Fever
Linda Preston McKinstry & Harold Cole McKinstry
High Plains Press
PO Box 123, Glendo, WY 82213
9781937147112, $19.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: In 1914, Linda and Mac McKinstry left their secure jobs in Washington, D.C., married, and moved west to establish a homestead in country both untouched and beautiful, but also inhospitable, dangerous, and forty miles from anywhere.

"Wilderness Fever: A Family's Adventures Homesteading in Early Jackson Hole, 1914-1924" is their hair-raising, yet charming, account of their struggles to build a homestead and raise a family at the foot of the Tetons. "Wilderness Fever" provides an historical glimpse into life in an region so wild and scenic that powerful outside interests covet its cascading water for irrigation and its land for preservation as a national park.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, enhanced with the inclusion of 60 photos and maps, and an inherently compelling read from cover to cover, "Wilderness Fever: A Family's Adventures Homesteading in Early Jackson Hole, 1914-1924" is very highly recommended for both community and academic library 20th Century American History collections, as well as personal reading lists for anyone with an particular interest in the history of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The Lost Continent of Pan
Susan B. Martinez
Bear & Company
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
One Park Street, Rochester, VT 05767
9781591432678, $24.00, PB, 512pp,

Susan B. Martinez is a writer, linguist, teacher, paranormal researcher, and recognized authority on the Oahspe Bible with a doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University. In "The Lost Continent of Pan: The Oceanic Civilization at the Origin of World Culture" she reveals the Pacific Ur-culture that seeded the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, India, Mexico, and Peru; shows how the Pan diaspora explains the similarities between Gobekli Tepe and Toltec carvings and stone towers in Japan and on Easter Island; reveals the mother tongue of Pan hidden in shared word roots in vastly different languages, including Quechua, Sanskrit, Japanese, Greek, and Sumerian; and explains the red-haired Caucasian mummies of China, the Ainu of Japan, the presence of "white" humans in early Native American legend, and other light-skinned peoples found in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

The destruction of the vast continent of Pan (also known as Lemuria or Mu) in the Pacific Ocean 24,000 years ago was the greatest catastrophe that ever befell humanity. Yet it resulted in a prehistoric Golden Age of arts and technology thanks to the Sons of Noah, who, forewarned and prepared for the disaster, escaped in 5 organized fleets. Theirs was the masterful Ur-culture that seeded China, Egypt, India, Mexico, and Peru, explaining the sudden injection of the same advanced knowledge and sophisticated arts into those widely separated lands.

Examining the diaspora from the sunken continent of Pan, Martinez finds traces of the oceanic Pan civilization in arts and technologies from canal-works, masonry, and agriculture to writing, weaving, and pottery, but most importantly in the art of navigation, the hallmark of the survivors of the catastrophe. Using archaeo-linguistic analysis, she reveals the mother tongue of Pan hidden in strikingly similar words for royalty, deities, and important places in vastly different languages, including Quechua, Maori, Sanskrit, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, and Sumerian, as well as English through the prefix "pan" which denotes "all-encompassing."

Marinez also reveals how the Pan diaspora explains the mound builders on each continent, the presence of "white" humans in Native American legend, the red-haired mummies found in China, and the Ainu of Japan. She shares recent genetic studies that reveal Polynesian DNA in central Europeans, Mesopotamians, South Americans, and the 9000-year-old Kennewick man and shows how Pan provides the missing link. She reveals why carvings at Gobekli Tepe are similar to Toltec artistry, why stone towers in Japan and Easter Island are identical, and how the Pacific Ring of Fire was activated.

Moving the Garden of Eden from the Fertile Crescent to the South Seas, Martinez strikes down the pervasive view of Atlantis as the source of ancient knowledge and exposes the original unity of mankind on the ancient Pacific continent of Pan.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, as well as an inherently fascinating and consistently compelling, ""The Lost Continent of Pan: The Oceanic Civilization at the Origin of World Culture" is a truly extraordinary and unreservedly recommended addition to community and academic library Metaphysical Studies/Ancient Mysteries collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Lost Continent of Pan" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

Martin Luther's Travel Guide
Cornelia Domer
Berlinica Publishing LLC
9781935902447, $13.95, PB, 176pp,

Synopsis: Cornelia Domer, serves as a representative for the State of Rheinland-Pfalz at the federal German level and with the European Union. From 2000 to 2007, she managed the Luther-Zentrum Wittenberg. Previously, she was responsible for culture and marketing Luther at the Sachsen Anhalt GmbH.

Offering a chance to visit key places connected to Martin Luther, "Martin Luther's Travel Guide: 500 Years of the 95 Theses: On the Trail of the Reformation in Germany" by Ms. Domer is an informed and informative guide that brings readers to each town, castle, and church where the famed German preached, spoke, or fought.

Travelers will find information on the historic towns of Dresden, Eisleben, Erfurt, Gotha, Leipzig, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Weimar, and Worms.

"Martin Luther's Travel Guide" also includes stories about Luther's life and work as well as maps, timelines, full color pictures, hotel and restaurant recommendations, addresses, phone numbers, and websites. Fascinating and insightful, this guide will not only help travelers prepare for their trip but will also present facts and information on each historical site.

Critique: Exceptionally well informed and informative, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "Martin Luther's Travel Guide" is an armchair travelers delight and unreservedly recommended for community library travel guide collections. For personal reader lists and as a travel itinerary planning resource it should be noted that "Martin Luther's Travel Guide" is also available in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Abducting Writing Studies
Sidney I. Dobrin & Kyle Jensen, editors
Southern Illinois University Press
1915 University Press Drive
SIUC Mail Code 6806, Carbondale, IL 62901
9780809335633, $45.00, PB, 294pp,

Synopsis: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Sidney I. Dobrin (Chair of the Department of English at the University of Florida, where he is also the director of the Trace Innovation Initiative) and Kyle Jensen Associate Professor of English at the University of North Texas) "Abducting Writing Studies" is a collection of twelve essays by experts in the field and organized around the concept of abduction, a logical operation introduced by Charles Sanders Peirce that explains how new ideas are formed in response to an uncertain future.

Responding to this uncertain future with rigor and insight, each essay imagines new methods, concepts, and perspectives that extend writing studies research into startling new terrain. To appeal to a wide range of audiences, the essays work within foundational areas in rhetoric and composition research such as space, time, archive, networks, inscription, and life.

Some of the essays take familiar concepts such as historiography, the writing subject, and tone and use abduction to chart new paths forward. Others use abduction to identify areas within writing studies such as futural writing, the calling of place, and risk that require more sustained attention. Taken together, these essays expose the manifold pathways that writing studies research may pursue.

Each of the essays that comprise this outstanding collection sparks new insights about the phenomenon of writing, and will prove to be of immense and enduring int4erest to rhetoric and composition scholars and students.

Critique: Exceptionally well organized and presented, "Abducting Writing Studies" is a critically important and insightful contribution to personal, community, and academic library Rhetoric collections and supplemental studies lists. It should be noted for students, academics, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Abducting Writing Studies" is also available in a Kindle format ($35.99).

Frantumaglia: A Writer's Journey
Elena Ferrante
Europa Editions
214 West 29th Street, Suite 1003, New York, N.Y. 10001
9781609452926, $24.00, HC, 400pp,

Synopsis: Elena Ferrante is the author of The Days of Abandonment (Europa, 2005), Troubling Love (Europa, 2006), The Lost Daughter (Europa, 2008) and the Neapolitan Quartet (Europa 2012-2015). She is also the author of a children's picture book illustrated by Mara Cerri, The Beach at Night.

"Frantumaglia: A Writer's Journey" invites readers into Elena Ferrante's workshop. It offers a glimpse into the drawers of her writing desk, those drawers from which emerged her three early standalone novels and the four installments of My Brilliant Friend, known in English as the Neapolitan Quartet. Consisting of over 20 years of letters, essays, reflections, and interviews, it is a unique depiction of an author who embodies a consummate passion for writing.

In the pages of "Frantumaglia: A Writer's Journey", Ferrante answers many of her readers' questions. She addresses her choice to stand aside and let her books live autonomous lives. She discusses her thoughts and concerns as her novels are being adapted into films. She talks about the challenge of finding concise answers to interview questions. She explains the joys and the struggles of writing, the anguish of composing a story only to discover that story isn't good enough. She contemplates her relationship with psychoanalysis, with the cities she has lived in, with motherhood, with feminism, and with her childhood as a storehouse for memories, impressions, and fantasies.

Critique: Offering a vibrant, insightful, informative, and intimate self-portrait of a professional and gifted writer at work, "Frantumaglia" will prove to be of immense and special interest to all aspiring authors feeling compelled to write their own versions of the Great American Novel or who seek to draw upon their own life experiences as a source of inspiration in their writing career. While very highly recommended for community and academic library Writing/Publishing collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Frantumaglia" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Formative Five
Thomas R. Hoerr
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
9781416622697, $27.95, PB, 200pp,

Synopsis: For success in school and life, students need more than proficiency in academic subjects and good scores on tests; those goals should form the floor, not the ceiling, of their education. To truly thrive, students need to develop attributes that aren't typically measured on standardized tests. "The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy, and Other Success Skills Every Student Needs" is a lively, engaging and instructive study by veteran school leader Thomas R. Hoerr.

"The Formative Five" covers five specific areas: Empathy: learning to see the world through others' perspectives; Self-control: cultivating the abilities to focus and delay self-gratification; Integrity: recognizing right from wrong and practicing ethical behavior; Embracing diversity: recognizing and appreciating human differences; Grit: persevering in the face of challenge.

When classroom teachers engage their students in understanding and developing these five skills, they change mindsets and raise expectations for student learning. As an added benefit, they will also see significant improvements in school and classroom culture.

With specific suggestions and strategies, "The Formative Five" will help teachers, principals, and anyone else who has a stake in education prepare their students (and themselves) for a future in which the only constant will be change.

Critique: Of special note are the two appendices on 'Self-Assessment Surveys' and 'Family Letters', "The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy, and Other Success Skills Every Student Needs" is impressively 'user friendly' in organization and presentation making it an important and highly recommended addition to college and university library 'Teacher Education' collections and is an ideal text for school district in-service Teacher Education & Improvement programs.

Susan Bethany

Bonnye's Bookshelf

Socks on Rocks
Mike Spindle
Publication Consultants
P. O. Box 221974
Anchorage, Alaska 99522-1974
9781594336638, $9.95, PB, 32 pp,

Mike Spindle is a toy designer, sculptor, illustrator, and author. His work has enriched Disney, Hallmark Cards, and Hasbro among others. At present he is writing children's books appropriate for the very young. The books are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, but Spindle's focus is animals in Alaska. Socks on Rocks is a story about Dall sheep, differing from other sheep because they climb very high on rocks while other sheep remain on flat ground to graze. Delightful silliness, the silliness that captivates young children, occurs when the sheep need socks, knit them, wear them, and darn them. There's a subliminal lesson to learn that socks are darned before they are cast off for replacement. Spindle's cartoon art work is wonderful and will cause little ones to want to linger on the pages. Even those who read the stories to the little ones can enjoy these brief tales. At the end Spindle draws two realistic sheep, a male and female, to return to reality. Socks on Rocks is highly creative, exceptionally well written, and delightful. I highly recommend this book for community library Children's Literature lists. Also available in e-book form ($3.99, 9781594336645).

Miles is a Mailmoose
Mike Spindle
Publication Consultants
P. O. Box 221974
Anchorage, Alaska 99522-1974
9781594336546, $9.95, PB, 32 pp,

Mike Spindle is a toy designer, sculptor, illustrator, and author. His work has enriched Disney, Hallmark Cards, and Hasbro among others. At present he is writing children's books appropriate for the very young. The books are reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, but Spindle's focus is animals in Alaska. Miles is a Mailmoose is dedicated to mail carriers everywhere, and as such the flavor of the enormity of Alaska is part of the atmosphere of the story. The first day on his job, Miles has an adventure learning that delivering mail by bicycle in Alaska is not always easy. He searches for Blueberry Lane and other animals kindly show him the direction. Sometimes the animals disagree on direction. Finally, Miles finds Blueberry Lane only to realize the letter is addressed to Blackberry Lane. Trying to do well the first day on a job can bring on some silly mistakes, and it certainly does here, providing a great chance to realize that first timers should expect to make mistakes. Miles does, but with a title such as Miles is a Mailmoose, the expectation is that he learns and achieves success. The story contains a brown bear (grizzly), Dall sheep, white bear (polar bear), halibut, king crab, musk ox, porcupine, bald eagle, mallard duck, beaver, and other common Alaskan animals. The delightful hopeful look on the face of Miles as he goes about his work is priceless just as is his look of dismay as he tries to climb a cliff. Spindle has captured the essence of the Alaska animals in his cartoons. Moose are large and have remarkably thin legs. Miles' thin legs and knobby knee illustrations capture that attribute well enough to cause adults to smile. Spindle surely will enrich the lives of many children with this story. It's creative, exceptionally well written, and delightful. I highly recommend this book for community library Children's Literature lists. Also available in e-book form ($3.99, 9781594336553).

Bonnye Matthews

Buhle's Bookshelf

Boyhood and Delinquency in 1920s Chicago
Roger A. Salerno
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
9781476663418, $35.00, PB, 208pp,

Developed by progressive social scientists in the early 20th century, the juvenile justice system in the U.S. consisted of courts and corrections aimed at reforming disorderly youth. Poor immigrant boys, roaming the streets unsupervised, were its usual subjects.

Psychologists and sociologists equated maleness with innate insensitivity, lack of self-control and violent tendencies. In the belief that proper discipline would save the troubled boys from "feminization" and help control their destructive impulses, a rigid masculine authority--challenged by women activists--began to be imposed by a reactionary patriarchal system.

"Boyhood and Delinquency in 1920s Chicago" by Roger A. Salerno (a practicing psychoanalyst and Professor of Sociology at Pace University in New York) is study of delinquency in 1920s Chicago that examines the lives of boys, many of whom spent their early years incarcerated, who survived by embracing criminal personas. Predatory masculinity emerges as a source of personal struggle, and as the basis for an array of contemporary social problems, including mass violence and suicide.

Critique: A seminal study of definitively researched scholarship that includes a six page Bibliography and a three page Index, "Boyhood and Delinquency in 1920s Chicago: A Sociological Study of Juvenile Jack-Rollers and Gender" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to community and academic library collections. It should be noted for sociology students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Boyhood and Delinquency in 1920s Chicago" is also available in a Kindle format ($19.99).

Mr. Britling Sees It Through
H. G. Wells
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781612004150, $15.95, PB, 444pp,

Synopsis: Mr Britling lives in the quintessentially English town of Matching's Easy in Essex. He is a great thinker, an essayist, but most of all an optimist.

When war arrives he is forced to reassess many of the things he had been so sure of. The war brings great change - Belgian refugees come with dreadful stories and everywhere it seems there are young men dressed in khaki. The family's young German tutor is forced to head back to Germany, and Mr Britling's seventeen year old son enlists in the Territorials.

Day by day and month by month, Wells chronicles the unfolding events and public reaction as witnessed by the inhabitants of one house in rural Essex. Each of the characters tries in a different way to keep their bearings in a world suddenly changed beyond recognition. Tragedy ensues, Mr Britling must wrestle with outrage, grief and attempts at rationalization as he 'sees it through'.

Critique: A 'time lost classic' from one of the most influential British authors of the 20th Century, "Mr. Britling Sees It Through" was written in 1916, while the outcome of World War I was still uncertain. Offering a fascinating portrait of Britain at war, and a chronicle of events seen from a contemporary perspective, and an insight into H G Wells himself (Mr Britling being a largely autobiographical character), "Mr. Britling Sees It Through" admirably holds up as both an enduring work of literary fiction and as a consistently engaging war-time novel written from the perspective of a father instead of front-line combatants.

While very highly recommended for both community and academic library Literary Fiction collections in general, as well as H.G. Wells supplemental studies reading lists in particular, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers that "Mr. Britling Sees It Through" is also available in an inexpensive Kindle format ($1.99).

The Explosion of Deferred Dreams
Mat Callahan
PM Press
PO Box 23912, Oakland, CA 94623
9781629632315, $22.95, PB, 352pp,

Synopsis: As the fiftieth anniversary of the Summer of Love floods the media with debates over morals, music, and political movements; celebrations of "flower power", "acid rock", and "hippies"; "The Explosion of Deferred Dreams: Musical Renaissance and Social Revolution in San Francisco, 1965 - 1975" offers a critical re-examination of the interwoven political and musical happenings in San Francisco in the Sixties.

In "The Explosion of Deferred Dreams", author, musician, and native San Franciscan Mat Callahan deftly explores the dynamic links between the Black Panthers and Sly and the Family Stone, the United Farmworkers and Santana, the Indian Occupation of Alcatraz and the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and the New Left and the counterculture. Callahan's meticulous, impassioned arguments both expose and reframe the political and social context for the San Francisco Sound and the vibrant subcultural uprisings with which it is associated.

Using dozens of original interviews, primary sources, and personal experiences, Callahan shows how the intense interplay of artistic and political movements put San Francisco, briefly, in the forefront of a worldwide revolutionary upsurge.

Simply a 'must-read' for any musician, historian, or person who "was there" (or longed to have been), "The Explosion of Deferred Dreams" is substantive and provocative, inviting the reader to reinvigorate our historical sense-making of an era that assumes a mythic role in the contemporary American zeitgeist.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Explosion of Deferred Dreams: Musical Renaissance and Social Revolution in San Francisco, 1965 - 1975" is a unique, comprehensive, informative, and thought-provoking read from cover to cover and unreservedly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American Music History collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Explosion of Deferred Dreams" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Repentance Ritual of the Emperor of Liang
Buddhist Text Translation Society
4951 Bodhi Way, Ukiah, CA 95482
9781601030870, $13.95, PB, 370pp,

Synopsis: Buddhism isn t just about mindfulness and zen meditation. Buddhism also encompasses many other practices and traditions including chanting mantras, reciting sutras, donating and bowing repentance. Bowing as a form of cultivation is not well known in the West. It is not often practiced in the Theravada tradition. However repentance is emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism, in texts such as the Avatamsaka Sutra. The goal is to bow to purify existing karmic offenses, thus clearing obstructions and paving the way for advancement on the spiritual path.

Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty (502 587) in China popularized bowing repentance as a dharma door. This Repentance Ritual was created under his patronage. Because of his enthusiasm in spreading religion, he has been compared to the great Indian ruler Ashoka (304 232 BCE) patron of Buddhism and the Roman emperor Constantine the Great (272 337), patron of Christianity.

This particular repentance is designed to be practiced in a monastery with bhikshus (monks) leading those wishing to repent in a week-long ceremony. The repentance text is divided into ten chapters of forty sections. Each individual chapter starts with a verse of praise. The main part of each chapter contains sections of texts explaining the principles of repentance interspersed with bowing in full prostration (head, hands and knees to the ground) to various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Each chapter concludes with a poem.

Bhikshuni Heng Jen of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association started the translation of this text into English. Her goal was to introduce this popular East Asian practice to a Western audience. She unfortunately passed away before finishing her work. More than 15 years after her beginning, the Buddhist Text Translation Society has completed the first English translation of "Repentance Ritual of the Emperor of Liang".

Critique: Exceptional, unique, informed and informative, "Repentance Ritual of the Emperor of Liang" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and library Buddhism collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Darin Gibby
Koehler Books
210 - 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781633934122, $26.95, HC, 274pp,

Synopsis: Twenty years before, high school coach Gil Gilbert gave up his dream to play professional baseball so he could marry his pregnant girlfriend, Keri. When he miraculously discovers that he can pitch with deadly accuracy and speed, he must choose between his successful career and comfortable family life or his chance to play with the Colorado Rockies during a player's strike. Gil stuns the pitching staff with 100 mph fastballs and is offered a contract.

After joining the Rockies, the world soon learns that Gil is a supernatural phenomenon and the Rockies keep winning. But Gil soon faces stiff opposition, including a frivolous lawsuit, a father who feels his son's calling to pitch is to save souls, and threats from the striking players. As the season progresses, Gil discovers that his unexpected gift is the result of a rare disease, and continuing to pitch may hasten his own death. While Keri supports his decision to keep playing, she is fearful about her husband's bizarre health condition.

Some gifts come with a price. Gil must decide what price he is willing to pay to live his dream.

Critique: Showcasing author Darin Gibby as a novelist with a genuine flair for originality and deftly crafted skills at creating truly a truly memorable story that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Gi" is very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Gil" is also available in a paperback edition (9781633933637, $17.95) and in an inexpensive Kindle format ($0.99).

An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar
Randal Rauser & Justin Schieber
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633882430, $18.00, PB, 220pp,

Synopsis: The question of God is simply too important and too interesting to leave to angry polemicists. That is the premise of "An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar: Talking about God, the Universe, and Everything", a friendly, straightforward, and rigorous dialogue between Christian theologian Randal Rauser (who is a Professor of Historical Theology at Taylor Seminary in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) and atheist Justin Schieber (the founder and host of Real Atheology, a Youtube channel dedicated to presenting issues in contemporary philosophy of religion in easy-to-follow videos).

Setting aside the formality of the traditional debate, Rauser and Schieber invite the reader to join them in an extended, informal conversation. This has the advantage of easing readers into thorny topics that in a debate setting can easily become confusing or difficult to follow.

Like any good conversation, this one involves provocative arguments, amusing anecdotes, and some lively banter. Rauser and Schieber begin with the question of why debates about God still matter. They then delve into a number of important topics: the place of reason and faith, the radically different concepts of God in various cultures, morality and its traditional connection with religious beliefs, the problem of a universe that is overwhelmingly hostile to life as we know it, mathematical truths and what they may or may not say about the existence of God, the challenge of suffering and evil to belief in God, and more.

Refreshingly upbeat and amicable throughout, this stimulating conversation between two friends from opposing points of view is an ideal introduction to a perennial topic of debate.

Critique: An inherently thoughtful and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, "An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar: Talking about God, the Universe, and Everything" is a consistently compelling read that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. While unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Religion & Philosophy collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of academia, theologians, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar" is also available in a Kindle format ($11.99).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Backs to the Wall
D. Peter MacLeod
Douglas & McIntyre
c/o Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
9781771621274, $34.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: The Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 and the subsequent capitulation of Quebec set the stage for an equally significant French-British engagement in the struggle for northeastern North America, the Battle of Sainte-Foy.

In the spring of 1760, after having suffered a brutal winter, Quebec garrison commander James Murray's troops were vulnerable and reduced to an army of skeletal invalids due to malnutrition and scurvy. Trapped in hostile territory and lacking confidence in the fortifications of Quebec, Murray planned to confront French attackers outside the walls. Instead of waiting at Montreal for the British to attack, Montcalm's successor, Francois-Gaston de Levis, returned to the plains for a rematch accompanied by every combatant available--French regulars, Canadian militia and First Peoples warriors. The ensuing Battle of Sainte-Foy was less a battle for territory than a struggle for survival between two equally desperate adversaries. If the British lost the battle, they would lose Quebec. If the French lost the battle, they would very likely lose Canada--both the French and the British had their backs to the wall.

In "Backs to the Wall: The Battle of Sainte-Foy and the Conquest of Canada" Peter MacLeod (the pre-Confederation historian at the Canadian War Museum, where he curated the permanent exhibits on the Seven Years' War and The Battle of the Plains of Abraham) presents this historical event in riveting detail, from the preparation and day-by-day actions during the engagement to the compelling siege of Quebec by land and ship.

Critique: An impressively researched and expertly written history, "Backs to the Wall" is enhanced with the inclusion of an eight page color illustrations insert, twenty-four pages of Endnotes, a nine page Bibliography, and a seven page Index. Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, exceptionally informed and informative, "Backs to the Wall" is unreservedly recommended and should be considered a critically important addition to community and academic library 18th Century Canadian History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Drone Strike!
Bill Yenne
Specialty Press
99 Spring Street, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10012
9781580072380, $39.95, HC, 192pp,

Synopsis: The idea of the armed, combat-configured unmanned aerial vehicle entered the 21st Century in the same manner as the idea of military airplanes had entered the 20th Century. It was an untried and untested concept suddenly thrust into the spotlight in an unexpected global war. By 1999, few people outside the military recognized the potential of armed, unmanned flying vehicles, or Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs), as they were called. Today, UCAVs form a vital arm of U.S. strike forces and are controlled from halfway around the world.

In "Drone Strike!: UCAVs and Unmanned Aerial Warfare in the 21st Century", author and historian Bill Yenne picks up the UCAV story where he left off in his 2010 Specialty Press book "Birds of Prey: Predators, Reapers and America's Newest UAVs in Combat". Since that time, both technology and battlefield doctrine have evolved considerably and this updated study offers a new window into the world of military warfare by providing a detailed look inside the present and future of robotic aerial warfare systems and technologies.

Yenne's first book on UCAVs covered the period of early development through the end of the 20th Century. "Drone Strike!" takes the reader from that time through today's latest technical wonders, covering such amazing unmanned aircraft capabilities as aerial refueling and landing aboard aircraft carriers even more accurately than manned aircraft. "Drone Strike!" also contains recently declassified photographs of the latest U.S. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles.

Critique: Profusely illustrated enhancing expert commentary, "Drone Strike!: UCAVs and Unmanned Aerial Warfare in the 21st Century" is an impressively informed and informative study that is thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation. Simply stated, no personal, community, college, or university library Military Aerial Warfare collection should be considered complete or comprehensive without a copy of Bill Yeanne's "Drone Strike!: UCAVs and Unmanned Aerial Warfare in the 21st Century".

The Photographer's Black and White Handbook
Harold Davis
The Monacelli Press
6 West 18th Street, #2C, New York, NY 10011
9781580934787, $35.00, PB, 240pp,

Synopsis: Harold Davis is a professional photographer and digital artist whose work is widely collected. In "The Photographer's Black and White Handbook: Making and Processing Stunning Digital Black and White Photos" he draws upon his years of experience and expertise to create a complete and comprehensive guide to making and processing stunning black and white photos in the digital era.

"The Photographer's Black and White Handbook" is a profusely illustrated compendium of inspiration, ideas, techniques, and tools to use in black and white photography, along with a soup-to-nuts workflow to take aspiring photographers from black and white pre-visualization through capture and post-production.

Along the way readers will lean over Harold's shoulder as he travels to exciting photo destinations and creates stunning black and white imagery, explaining his creative and technical processes as he goes.

"The Photographer's Black and White Handbook" covers: How to see in black and white; Pre-visualization in digital photography; Understanding black and white composition; How to create your own black and white workflow; Black and white in ACR, Lightroom, and Photoshop; Using black and white plug-ins including Nik Silver Efex Pro and Topaz B&W Effects; Extending tonal range with multi-RAW processing and monochromatic HDR Post-production techniques for working with dynamic range; Creative black and white special effects; Finding out how to tone, tint, colorize, solarize, and simulate IR; Working with LAB to create unique black and white effects Great tools for unleashing your photographic imagination.

Of special note are the beautiful photographs Harold Davis chosen from his own work to inspire and guide aspiring photographers.

Critique: Exceptionally well informed, thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, exceptionally well written, "The Photographer's Black and White Handbook" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Photography collections in general, and Black/White Photography supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Photographer's Black and White Handbook" is also available in a Kindle format ($13.79).

Michael J. Carson

Clint's Bookshelf

Healing with Medical Marijuana
Dr. Mark Sircus
Square One Publishers
115 Herricks Road, Garden City Park, NY 11040
9780757004414, $16.95, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P) was trained in acupuncture and Oriental medicine at the Institute of Traditional Medicine in Santa Fe and the School of Traditional Medicine of New England in Boston. He also served at the Central Public Hospital of Pochutla, Mexico. He is part of the Scientific Advisory and Research Development team of the Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine.

In "Healing with Medical Marijuana: Getting Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors" he asks his readers to imagine that there is an effective treatment for dozens of serious ailments ranging from cancer and Parkinson's disease, to headaches, to depression. Then imagine that the government is preventing them from using it because it is derived from a controversial herb.

Cannabis, more commonly called marijuana, is still looked upon by many people as a social evil; yet, scientific evidence clearly shows the compounds it contains can reduce, halt, and in many cases, reverse some of our most serious health conditions. In "Healing with Medical Marijuana", Dr. Sircus has written a clear guide to understanding the power of the cannabis plant in combating numerous disorders.

Critique: Exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented, "Healing with Medical Marijuana: Getting Beyond the Smoke and Mirrors" is a timely and informative contribution to the on-going national discussion which has seen more and more states are now legalizing medical marijuana as a safe and effective treatment method. Especially recommended reading for those who may be unable to obtain medical marijuana to treat their individual conditions in their particular state of residence, "Healing with Medical Marijuana" is specifically designed to provide options that can offer the much-needed help they are seeking. Simply stated, "Healing with Medical Marijuana" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Medical Marijuana reference collections.

Cannabis Use Survey
Dr. Laurie K. Mischley & Dr. Michelle Sexton
Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603816151 $15.95 pbk / $6.95 Kindle

Synopsis: Sixty percent of the American public agree that cannabis use should be removed from the criminal justice system and regulated like alcohol and tobacco. However, few public health issues remain as contentious. The information we all hear is conflicting. Is cannabis addictive? Does it interfere with memory? Can it cure cancer? Does it destroy ambition or treat anxiety?

As practitioners of naturopathic medicine, Doctors Laurie K. Mischley and Michelle Sexton hear many first-hand accounts of experiences with cannabis. Curious to see if their patients' views represented those of the wider public, they sought the opinions of users worldwide. was developed to give individuals who use cannabis a voice and an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback to researchers, policy-makers, and healthcare providers. At the end of the survey, cannabis users were asked "Is there anything else you think we should know?"

Cannabis Use Survey is the collection of the first 1324 people who had something to say. This book contains the raw data: uncensored and unedited responses of cannabis users. Readers can experience the full impact of the frustration or appreciation of users, while also getting a feel for the education and life experience of cannabis users at large. These stories may serve as a means to better understand a loved one's point of view, make an informed decision about cannabis use, or simply feel solidarity with likeminded users. Drs. Sexton and Mischley offer neither conclusions nor judgments, and they welcome the lively discussion that is sure to follow.

Critique: Cannabis Use Survey: Confessions, Insights, and Opinions is literally raw data: 1,324 responses to the inquiry, "Our goal is to better understand the medical and recreational use of marijuana. Please tell us anything you think we should know." Responses range in length from a sentence to a few paragraphs, and of course are entirely anonymous; all of them are from self-reported cannabis users. Cannabis Use Survey is utterly fascinating to browse from cover to cover, and also available in a Kindle edition ($6.95).

The Life That Got Away
Clay N. Sauls
Book Publishers Network
9781945271175 $13.95

Synopsis: Rallying at the news that a girlfriend in Seattle was sexually abused, the narrator abandons his life in Massachusetts and drives west to avenge her. Dreams of Beatrice's gratitude for his concern and noble action carry him over the long miles. Unfortunately, this damsel has no desire for rescue.

The Life That Got Away alternates between adventures of the narrator's past cross-country road trip and his current adjustment in Seattle. Dealing with Beatrice's rejection of his desire to right her wrong--as well as her not-so-subtle rejection of him--he sees all through gray-colored lenses. Love is dead, he claims. But is it? Believing it is so makes it so, and he fails to see the beauty and love all around him, even blossoming in another woman's desire for him. Will he realize that in time, before...

Critique: When is revenge wrongly justified, and when is a "hero" no more than an unreliable narrator? A dark look at the fine line between love and obsession, The Life That Got Away keeps the reader in suspense to the very end. Highly recommended!

Justice by Another Name
E. C. Hanes
RaneCoat Press
c/o John F. Blair, Publisher
1406 Plaza Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
9780895876850, $26.95, HC, 245pp,

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of North Carolina's powerful hog-producing industry, "Justice by Another Name" tells the story of Paul Reavis's suspicious workplace death followed a year later by a senseless death of his young son Paulie. Lana Reavis, who believes her husband was murdered and her son the victim of deliberate negligence, enlists the aid of her long-ago boyfriend, Will Moser, who is currently chief deputy of Hogg County and the heir apparent to the local sheriff.

As Will's investigation unfolds, suspicious activities and cover-ups begin to emerge. All evidence points to Oris Martin, the powerful owner of Martin Farms, a huge hog-production enterprise and Hogg County's largest employer, as the mastermind. Despite political pressure and physical threats to look the other way, Will continues his search for what really happened. Meanwhile, Lana, convinced that Oris will be beyond the reach of justice, devises a plan to avenge her family and destroy everything precious to Oris Martin.

Critique: An deftly crafted, compelling and entertaining read from cover to cover, "Justice by Another Name" showcases author E. C. Hanes as a master of the genre with a genuine flair for originality and storytelling. "Justice by Another Name" is very highly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections in general, and the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs in particular.

The Truth Won't Help Them Now
Joan Hunter & Steven Cobos
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491789582, $29.95, PB, 318pp,

Synopsis: It is 1939 when the bullet-riddled body of an accounting clerk from a gambling ship washes up under the Santa Monica pier. As city homicide detectives tenaciously chase down their only clue-a fast, expensive, and very exclusive Bugatti-their investigation leads them into a tangle of competing gangsters all looking to muscle their way to a bigger share of illegal gambling.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney Cliff Thoms is leading a special squad searching for a pair of serial killers who have already killed four young women and are on the hunt for more. Thoms, with the help of a self-proclaimed psychic he doesn't quite trust, risks lives and careers in a desperate gamble to catch his elusive quarry. As the two investigations collide and rush to a deadly conclusion, dirty cops, DAs on the take, mobsters, grieving families, and reformer politicians must attempt to distinguish lies from the truth. Unfortunately, they are all about to discover that even the truth won't help them now.

Critique: Clearly showcasing authors Joan Hunter and Steven Cobos as masters of the genre, "The Truth Won't Help Them Now" fast-paced tale of murder and gangland intrigue, a gritty district attorney and a band of detectives set out on a quest to solve two separate crimes amid a corrupted 1939 Los Angeles. While unreservedly recommended and certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated action/adventure mystery buffs that "The Truth Won't Help Them Now" is also available in a Kindle format ($3.99).

Clint Travis

Gail's Bookshelf

Overcoming Toxic Parenting: How to Be a Good Parent When Yours Wasn't
Rick Johnson
6030 East Fulton, Ada, MI 49301
9780800726959, $13.99,

Rick Johnson, bestselling author and founder of "Better Dads" and his wife were raised "in dysfunctional, abusive families." To heal deep spiritual and emotional wounds and break generational "cycles of toxic parenting" required years of individual and couples counseling." That's where they learned "anyone can be a good parent, even if they didn't have one."

With raw transparency Rick shares their challenges, his research and years of counseling advice that taught them to be "the kind of parents" they longed to be and "wish they'd had" in his new release, "Overcoming Toxic Parenting: How to Be a Good Parent When Yours Wasn't."

The first chapters identify different types of harmful parenting from neglect and abandonment to incest, alcoholism and more. He uses quotes, research and personal examples to illustrate how early childhood wounding trains children to feel false shame, blame and guilt and how those feelings then become negative "internalized messages."

Children's negative "self-talk" sets dysfunctional patterns in the unconscious that develop into identity and behavior issues in adulthood that result in self-esteem issues among other things. For example if a child is told often enough that they're "no good," "stupid" or "worthless" the child's "unconscious mind creates tapes" that replay those messages repeatedly reinforcing identity issues and feelings of worthlessness.

While the first chapters focus on "past abuse" and how abuse affects your own parenting skills the rest of the book explores healing, faith, the power of prayer, parenting strategies and how to develop healthy relationships. For Rick and his wife their journey began with a "conscious decision to never be like" the parents who raised them and to ask what they needed to do to forgive, heal and make healthier choices.

Their journey, which gave them a strong passion to help others, is captured in the pages of this book that features the long-term effects of abuse, healing, counseling and finding mentors who model and teach what healthy relationships look like.

Their thought-provoking, practical tips and detailed advice is an excellent parenting guide for anyone but especially for those who wants to learn "how to be a good parent when they didn't have one."

Born Dead Buried Alive
Larry Lent
Westbow Press
c/o Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781512754698, $30.99,

Larry Lent's memoir begins when he entered kindergarten in 1963, one year after the United States Supreme Court "declared prayer in public school unconstitutional." It only took one more year, he writes, "...for the United States Supreme Court to declare school sponsored Bible reading unconstitutional."

At that young age Larry didn't realize how much those decisions would impact his life or add to the questions the young boy had about God; who He was, if He was and whether his mother's Catholic values were in fact sacred.

However, it's only in retrospect he understands that. Unlike children of his parent's generation "...who started their day with a prayer, the pledge of allegiance and the reading of a verse from the Bible," Larry would never have those basic concepts of faith, trust and belief in God's blessings reinforced at school. While such core beliefs, whether a child was religious or not, were once "common sentiments for any kid growing up in America," they no longer were allowed to be taught in school for Larry's generation and beyond.

Without those values, the young boy had nothing to hold onto when he was abandoned by an alcoholic father or when his mother struggled with raising children alone or when she remarried and a step-father joined the family. By the time Larry turned eleven he was angry, confused and rejected. He writes, "...if there was no God and if the world wasn't capable of loving him," nothing mattered and within a short time nothing did.

Shortly after he turned twelve he was "incarcerated in the San Leandro California Juvenile Detention Center for multiple felony burglaries, strong arm robbery and possession." He was the only white kid, he writes, in a unit that "housed some of SanFrancisco Bay Area's worst criminal kids."

As bad as that was Larry would still have to experience "years of personal drug abuse, three near fatal overdoses" and the loss of his 21-year-old son to Fentanyl, a morphine style opiate, before he would consider a life-changing decision. Turn to God or continue on a path that would lead to certain death.

Larry's inspirational account of God's amazing love and grace includes Scripture and black and white photographs of significant events in the author's life. Mick Silva, editor, writing coach and conference speaker, edited the book which was selected as a finalist in the memoir division of Oregon Christian Writers 2015 Cascade Writing contest.

Nothing to Fear: Principles and Prayers to Help You Thrive in a Threatening World
Barry C., Black, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate
Tyndale Momentum
351 Executive Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
9781496418685, $15.99,

Chaplain Barry C. Black, retired U.S. Navy admiral, is the first African American and the first Seventh-day Adventist to become Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. He's held the office since 2003 and is considered the "spiritual leader of leaders for the U.S. Senate," where he "offers spiritual counsel across both sides of the aisle."

That wise counsel is captured in his new release, "Nothing to Fear: Principles and Prayers to help you Thrive in a Threatening World," where Black encourages readers to use "seven principles Jesus gave to His disciples" in Matthew 10:16 when he sent "them out as sheep in the midst of wolves with the command to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

The book's twenty-six chapters are divided into eight sections bound together with an underlying theme of encouraging prayer, simplicity and intimacy with Christ regardless of background or political affiliation. I especially liked his principles on prayer and how to stand firm on our faith in a divided, partisan culture. He draws on culture, personal experience and Scripture to illustrate his "Fearless Principles" and closes chapters with "Purposeful Prayers."

Instead of praying only when a crisis arises Black encourages readers to talk to their heavenly father like they would a loving earthly father - about everything! He writes, "How would you feel if you were a parent whose child only spoke to you when he or she wanted something?"

Our times are challenging, with issues that divide those who make decisions that shape our nation and culture, and issues that divide friends and even family members. Black's perspective, his biblical insights and powerful prayers have never been more needed. His teachings on how to live "boldly, bravely, and faithfully in the face of today's perils," followed by his prayer to "replace our anxiety with calm, our confusion with clarity and our despair with hope" are refreshing and encouraging. On a scale of one to ten, "Nothing to Fear" is a twelve because with the Lord there is nothing to fear but fear itself.

The Soul of the Matter: A Thriller (The Soul Series), Book 1
Bruce Buff
Howard Books
216 Centerview Dr., Ste. 303, Nashville, TN 37027
9781501140716, $25.00,

Debut author Bruce Buff's new release, "The Soul of the Matter" is a complex and ambitious thriller wrapped in murder, blackmail and intrigue, an account fueled by greed, science and Intelligent Design with a plot that's been compared to Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code." However Buff's thriller is founded on physics, nuclear fusion and evidence of codes within DNA codes that point to "proof of God's existence."

The four-part story begins in 1998 when CIA officer and cyber intelligence expert Dan Lawson engineers escape from Russia with "....scientist Pavel Sarasov, his wife, Katya and their six-year-old son Mikhail." Dan knew their false identity papers were flawless yet when they approached the Ukrainian border the armed Russian guard appeared to stall for time, and then he commanded them to get out of the car.

Dan was apprehensive but they did as they were told, but they ignored the order to walk toward the Russian building and Dan instead guided the small group toward the Ukrainian crossing. A menacing vocal command to "Halt," or the family would "be shot, one by one!" rang out. Then a laser's red dot from a hidden snipers rifle "appeared on Katya's right shoulder" and they were again commanded to "Return now!"

Dr. Sarasov turned and in a strong, clear voice said, "I will no longer work for people who intend to use my research as a weapon against others." Following his words"...the sound of a gunshot ripped the air...Katya crumbled to the ground holding her shoulder...and the laser's red dot now appeared on their son Mikhail's forehead..."

Thus begins a creative, fast-paced account of what happens when a scientist believes he's found the mysterious "secrets of the Universe's origin encoded in DNA." Add an unprecedented nuclear fusion explosion, dangerous foreign agents willing to pay any price, even murder, an MIT geneticist desperate to save his daughter and a mysterious pediatric oncologist equally determined to save her and you have a book whose pages can't turn fast enough.

The writing and research is remarkable for a first time author and I suspect Buff will climb the rating charts with each succeeding book! However, he needs to work on the plot which I found weak and disappointing in the final chapters. Still the writing and characterization are so exceptional I look forward to reading more in this series.

Gail Welborn, Reviewer

Julie's Bookshelf

Out Front
Deborah Shames
BenBella Books
10300 N. Central Expressway, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75204
9781941631676, $19.95, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: More than ever before, the business, entertainment, and political landscapes are ripe for women to accomplish their goals. Women are entering law, medical, and graduate schools in equal numbers to men. But it's still a challenge to make it to the top.

Developing excellent communication and public speaking skills gives women the ability to rise to their full potential, seize every opportunity, and realize their aspirations. Whether pitching for new business, delivering a talk at a conference, raising money for a non-profit, or communicating one-on-one with coworkers, women can become effective, powerful communicators when they speak with authenticity and confidence.

Deborah Shames draws upon her 18 years f experience and expertise as a veteran speaker and master trainer coaching high-level executives and celebrities to invites women to step up and be heard in the pages of her instructive guide and manual "Out Front: How Women Can Become Engaging, Memorable, and Fearless Speakers".

Noting the perfection syndrome and negative self-talk that social customs and norms have plague many women, "Out Front" delivers a superbly written, organized and presented "how-to" for battling these demons and identifies women's special talents ranging from high emotional intelligence and leadership skills to storytelling. "Out Front" guides readers in the mechanics of communicating efficiently and constructing successful presentations, even with pressing deadlines.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in tone and commentary, "Out Front: How Women Can Become Engaging, Memorable, and Fearless Speakers" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Women's Studies Collections in general, and women's self-help/self-improvement supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted that "Out Front" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99) and as a complete and unabridged MP3 CD audio book (Brilliance Audio, 9781522632962, $19.99).

The Awakened Psychic
Kala Ambrose
Llewellyn Publications
2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury, MN 55125
9780738749013, $15.99, PB, 216pp,

Synopsis: "The Awakened Psychic: What You Need to Know to Develop Your Psychic Abilities" by award-winning author, spiritual teacher, motivational speaker Kala Ambrose is a guide to developing inner psychic and tuning in to intuitive wisdom.

With hands-on exercises and stories from the Kala's practice, "The Awakened Psychic" is all about lifting the veil between the worlds, seeing into the future, and connecting with spirits and loved ones on the other side.

"The Awakended Psychic" explores ideas and techniques for enhancing your psychic abilities and making the most of your intuitive talents, including: How to build a powerful energy field for psychic self-defense; The difference between being psychic and being a medium; Techniques to heighten your psychic abilities; How ghosts and spirits are different; How to awaken your powerful inner intuitive oracle; The difference between an intuitive hunch and being psychic; Techniques to connect with spirit guides and your higher self.

Everyone has intuitive ability at some level, and those abilities can be helpful tools in making decisions, in following our dreams, in enhancing our relationships, and in building a business or career that we enjoy. "The Awakened Psychic" reveals the diverse kinds of psychic abilities and how they work together so that anyone can manifest their destiny and live a spiritually fulfilled life.

Critique: Thoroughly 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Awakened Psychic" is an impressively informed and informative instructional study that is enthusiastically and unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library collections. Ideal for non-specialist general readers and of interest to students of parapsychology, it should be noted that "The Awakened Psychic" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

In Winter's Kitchen
Beth Dooley
Milkweed Editions
1011 Washington Avenue South, #300, Minneapolis, MN 55415-1246
9781571313416, $25.00, HC, 300pp,

Synopsis: The explosive growth of the local food movement and the increasing popularity of farm-to-table restaurants is undeniable. But calls for a "food revolution" come most often from a region where the temperature rarely varies more than a few degrees. In the national conversation about developing a sustainable and equitable food tradition, the huge portion of our population who live where the soil freezes hard for months of the year feel like they're left out in the cold.

In "Winter's Kitchen: Growing Roots And Breaking Bread In The Northern Heartland" reveals how a food movement with deep roots in the Heartland (where our first food co-ops, most productive farmland, and the most storied agricultural scientists hail from as a region) isn't only thriving, it's presenting solutions that could feed a country, rather than just a smattering of neighborhoods and restaurants.

Using the illustrative story of one thanksgiving meal, Beth Dooley draws upon her more than twenty years of experience and expertise to reveal that a locally-sourced winter diet is more than a possibility: it can be delicious, nutritious, and kitchen cook friendly.

Critique: An impressively informative, thoughtful, insightful read from cover to cover, "In Winter's Kitchen" is unreservedly recommended for both community and academic library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "In Winter's Kitchen", a combination of agricultural study and personal memoir, is also available in a paperback edition (9781571313614, $16.00) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Un-Death of Me
Alicia Su Lozeron
Asia-America Connection Society
9780998194127, $26.99, HC, 282pp,

Synopsis: Avery Mingli Lian was a beauty queen and pageant winner who emigrated from Taipei to New York City circa 1990 attending Columbia University as an English Literature major. She had complete control and command of the English language, but her accent and looks exposed her to extreme discrimination, stereotyping, and insensitivity.

Her understanding of history and literature rivaled great minds, yet she couldn't get past the fact she was alone, in a big city, unable to feel any level of self-worth, accomplishment, fulfillment, or true human connection. Upon becoming a member of a well-to-do established New York City family by marriage, she struggled to create her own identity, and to escape the trappings of what a traditional woman and wife should be.

Avery Mingli Liang is the story of an immigrant woman, whose life journey took her through not only various parts of the world, but also high society engagements, political intrigue, and betrayal. She bolted from an unhappy marriage and existence on the road to discovery, self-awareness, and enlightenment, only to witness further scandalous incidents of both the high and the low societies.

Now Avery's quest for happiness had an anchor. However, could they build on what they learned and sustain their happiness together? Or was their life together yet another futile pursuit of illusions and dreams? These were the questions Avery Mingli Liang sought to answer in order for her life to be fulfilled and come true. Her story is one of a kind because she as the protagonist reveals a unique background and experience rarely found in the literary world.

Alicia Su Lozeron's account of an Asian American immigrant woman in The Un-death of Me brings about celebrations on cultural differences as well as similarities. It embraces mankind and human endeavors, proposing balanced mindsets very much needed in today's polarized societies.

Critique: "The Un-Death of Me: Life of an Asian American Woman" by Alicia Su Lozeron is the life account and journey of an immigrant American woman. In "The Un-Death of Me" biographer Abbey Lori brings a fresh breath of air to this fascinating and consistently compelling account Avery Mingli Liang's inherently dramatic life. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "The Un-Death of Me" is unreservedly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Biography Collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Un-Death of Me" is also available in a paperback edition (9780998194103, $20.99) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Struggles for Justice in Canada and Mexico
Linda Synder
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, N2L 3C5
9781771122788, $39.99, PB, 268pp,

Synopsis: In "Struggles for Justice in Canada and Mexico: Themes and Theories about Social Mobilization", Linda Synder examines Canadian and Mexican communities engaged in collective action to address problems related to the context of aggressive capitalism, which favors economic freedom of the powerful over the needs of people and the planet.

"Struggles for Justice in Canada and Mexico" features several case examples portraying income-generating projects; action to promote health, adequate housing, and a safe environment (including resistance to mining); women's resource and advocacy programs; as well as grassroots support organizations and independent organizers.

Snyder has gathered stories in six states in the south of Mexico and two provinces in Canada between 2004 and 2010, with follow-up to 2012. Thematically, they centre on oppression and struggles for rights experienced by the poor, women, and Indigenous peoples. Synder's case-study method bolsters her narratives by including interviews, observation, and some participant-observation, with analysis that draws on social movement theory from sociology and community organizing theory from social work as well as knowledge from social psychology, liberation theology, popular education, and political science.

"Struggles for Justice in Canada and Mexico" presents the common themes and illustrates the central theories for practitioners in the many fields that promote social justice: social work, social development, health, human rights, environmental protection, and faith-based justice movements, among others. The conclusion presents a framework for conceptualizing social justice practice as a congruent paradigm composed of values, theory, objectives, and practice methods.

Critique: An impressive and seminal body of informative and original scholarship, "Struggles for Justice in Canada and Mexico: Themes and Theories about Social Mobilization" is unreservedly recommended for college and university Contemporary Sociology and Political Science collections in general, and community organizing/social justice supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Struggles for Justice in Canada and Mexico: Themes and Theories about Social Mobilization" is also available in a Kindle format ($27.99).

When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette
Max Davis
Worthy Publishing
One Franklin Park, 6100 Tower Circle, Suite 210, Franklin, TN 37067
9781617958007, $15.99, PB, 208pp,

Synopsis: In "When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette: Loving People Like God Does", Max Davis deftly weaves heartwarming and miraculous stories of Jesus showing up in ordinary people, revealing that He knows us and is fully present in our everyday circumstances, especially in our difficulties.

As Davis puts it, "When we are born again, Jesus lives inside each of us. He is very much alive today and still does incredible things -- sometimes supernatural things -- through us!"

Davis's own life was dramatically altered when he first came face-to-face with Jesus living inside a green-eyed brunette. That encounter started a forty-plus-year journey where Jesus became his best friend. When we see others as God sees us we will love them as God loves us.

Those hurting and weary from worn-out religion are longing for a fresh touch from the living Jesus. By letting Jesus live through us we become a conduit of His love. Authentic Christianity is not about religion but a relationship with Jesus. Davis challenges us to do more than simply receive His grace -- we need to allow grace to soften, change, and shape us.

Critique: Exceptionally and consistently well written, thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette: Loving People Like God Does" is a life changing read from cover to cover. While very highly recommended to all members of the Christian community regardless of denominational affiliation, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "When Jesus Was a Green-Eyed Brunette" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.93).

Julie Summers

Katherine's Bookshelf

The Button Box
Janet Sever Hull
Walk Down the Lane Publishing
9781495101991, $19.95

As I read Janet Sever Hull's book, The Button Box, I went through many personal emotions, including, but not limited to, love, laughter, nostalgia and sadness. Yes, I had to wipe away tears to finish this amazing book as I thought of my own mother and grandmother saving buttons. My mother's first button box was a famous antiseptic throat lozenge tin like ones that had also been used to house some of Queen Elizabeth II jewels while they were being reset and the Boy Scouts developed a survival kit that would fit in one. There was a myriad of other little things in it that fascinated me, including her "lucky nickel" that I used one time to buy ice cream. I still have some of the buttons and have saved some of my own, but alas, the original button box has disappeared.

I had to tell about my "button box" story to, hopefully, convey how important something like a button box is in personal family history and the significance it held for the young girl in Janet's charming story. Janet Sever Hull has captured the love that goes with this all important representation of family history.

As you read through the story of the mother and her daughter and then the grandmother and granddaughter pouring through the memories signified by the button box and the family treasures held in there, you will think back to your own family history. Let the memories come and continue (or start) your own tradition with your button box. Just be sure to read and share The Button Box by Janet Sever Hull.

At the end of the book, the author gives us a short history of buttons. You will want to explore this history in more detail. I did.

The beautiful illustrations in the book done with, I am sure, love by Vicki Killion Guess can be considered representative of our own "button box" stories. You will picture you and your daughter or granddaughter going through your box.

Janet Sever Hull grew up in Elkhart, Indiana and graduated from Purdue University. She has been writing since the age of 16 and is the author of many stories. She lives in Corinth, Texas with her husband, Jeff. The Button Box is a Children's Book Hardcover Non-Fiction Finalist in the 2016 Best Book Awards.

Daisy: A Life Cycle Series
Laura W. Eckroat
Outlaw Kids
9781683010838, $11.99

Laura W. Eckroat has written another book that will inform her readers about nature in Daisy: A Life Cycle Series. She tells in her own special way about what happens as a plant goes through the phases of rebirth and growth. A child can comprehend this amazing life cycle through the authors tender words that describe the death, life and birth that comprises all life.

As the reader goes through Daisy's life, they meet butterflies and bees and other items that are a part of the proliferation of plant life, as well as those who get to enjoy her sunshiny beauty. The wonderful illustrations by Greg White depict all of Mrs. Eckroat's words in bright, bold colors. This is another not to be missed book by Laura W Eckroat. It will become a family favorite.

Her book, The Life of Bud was the winner of the 2010 NTBF Book Awards and A Simpler Time was a 2011 NTBF Book Award Honorable Mention. Went Out To Get a Donut - Came Home With a Muffin was the 2013 Texas Association of Authors Best 7 and Under Children's Book and Red Goes To Kindergarten, won the Texas Association of Authors BEST Children's Book Ages 7 and Under for 2016.

Born and raised in Whiting, Indiana, Laura W. Eckroat lives in Wisconsin with her husband, her biggest supporter, Steven, and her two pups, Muffin and Shadow, who keep her head filled with ideas for new books. She has lived in Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts and Texas. She has a daughter, Ashley. Although she has left Texas for the cold of Wisconsin, she has kept her ties with Texas by signing with a new Texas publisher, Outlaw Kids, a subsidiary of Outlaw Publishers, LLC.

Katherine Boyer

Kaye's Bookshelf

Recollections - A Personal Journey
Norman R. French
Starbright Press
9781520525853, $12.00, 87 pp

Genre: Memoir

Rating: Average

"Norm French, with a life-long love of animals, had a career as a nature photographer, ornithologist, radiation ecologist, computer modeler and international grassland biologist. This is the story of a sincere animal lover. Along the way, he was privileged to work with other scientists in several U.S and foreign institutions - a stimulating and joyful journey."

Recollections is a memoir written by an 89-year-old man who lived an extraordinary life. It is written primarily as a record for his family, but if you enjoy autobiographies, you may also find it of interest.

Dr. French is an educated man, a retired professor and his memoir is well written and edited. The cover and interior were designed by Helena's Publishing Services, LLC.

Again, if you enjoy autobiographies and memoirs, you may enjoy Recollections.

An Eclectic Collection - Short Stories
Victoria Rose
Starbright Press
9781520571577, $5.00, 146 pp.

Genre: Fiction - Short Stories

Rating: Very Good

Quoting from the back cover:

"An Eclectic Collection - Short Stories is an anthology of four short stories:

Nefertiti, a pulp fiction mystery introducing Archer "Ace" Hart, the best PI in Los Angeles City; Freedom, a story about two men in prison and a metaphysical journey; Blade, life as lived from the perspective of a blade of grass; and Choices, a story about a young woman who must make a difficult choice and the life she lived as a result of the choice she made."

An Eclectic Collection is a most appropriate title for this collection of short stories, as they are all quite different and unique.

Nefertiti is a mystery about stolen statues, counterfeit money, dead bodies and colorful characters. It takes place in Los Angeles around 1960 and is the first in the Archer Hart - Private Eye series. A fun and fast-paced read.

Freedom is written in an unusual style, similar to Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig, with no narrative or description, just dialogue between two men in a prison cell. Anciano is an old man who has recently been tortured, and Blade, the younger man, tells him stories to distract him from his pain. But, in the end, it is Anciano who helps Blade in his metaphysical journey to freedom.

If you like unusual writing styles with a metaphysical twist, you'll enjoy this story.

Blade is also quite unusual and from a unique perspective, with a dominant metaphysical element, somewhat like a fairy tale or parable by Einstein. You may or may not like or understand it.

Choices is about the life, or rather lives, Rebecca Rose lived as the result of her choice at a difficult time in her life. Each chapter (8) is the life Rebecca lived as a result of eight different choices.

No metaphysical element here, just a provocative reminder of the importance of "choices" in our lives.

Victoria Rose is an eclectic writer of fiction and nonfiction with fifteen books to her credit, all of which can be found on Amazon. Any proceeds from her books go to the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs, CO, and the Fund for Animals, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States.

Overall, I consider An Eclectic Collection - Short Stories to be well written, imaginative and an enjoyable read which I can highly recommend to all age groups, and the price is right.

Kaye Trout

Lawson's Bookshelf

Why Wall Street Matters
William D. Cohan
Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10106
9780399590696, $25.00, 192pp,

A funny thing happened whilst I was reading WHY WALL STREET MATTERS. I was partway through a chapter when I suddenly realized, "Hmm, this guy seems to know what he's talking about." I stopped reading, and read the author's bio. At this point, I realized why the story seemed so vivid - it's because the author has played a "hands-on" role in the industry. As I read more, it became clear that William D. Cohan is an expert in this field. (And of course, a best-selling author as well.) Of course, that doesn't mean that the reader will agree with everything Cohan writes - but the man knows what he is talking about, and writes with authority.

The theme of this book is the big bank bailout--why it happened, and what we should do to fix it. Here's the essence of Cohan's argument: The meltdown was due to a problem in INCENTIVES. In years past, investment bankers had a personal stake in their firm's investments. So, if the firm made a dumb bet, they would personally pay the price: "The risk taking was designed by its partners to be prudent."

In recent years, investment banks drastically changed. This led to perverse incentives and risk-taking that would never have occurred before. Now, the bankers began to take huge risks with OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY. The author likens this to "Swinging for the fences." Here's one nefarious example: "in 2015 alone - thanks to Milken - nearly $372 billion was raised globally for companies with less-than-stellar credit ratings."

So, yes, Cohan argues, we need to make changes in banking regulations, but not just more rules - we need to change the INCENTIVES so that bankers have more "skin in the game." Here's how Cohan sums it up: "The overarching necessity is to regulate Wall Street in such a way that preserves the things that it does right while also making sure that the people who work there have the correct incentives. . . " We should be careful, the author argues, before wrecking the world's most envied banking system, by applying a "fix" that has nothing to do with the crisis.

A really fascinating part of the book is the history of New York banking, and even the "Wall." I had no idea that Wall Street came from a real wall, "composed of twelve-foot-high wooden logs - that the Dutch inhabitants started building in April 1653, with the help of African slaves." It was a massive wall-almost half a mile.

To my dismay, I also learned that the New Amsterdam (later renamed New York) colony was "the largest 'slave-holding city' in the northern colonies. For fifty-one years, between 1711 and 1762, "Wall Street housed the colony's well-established slave market. . . At any one time, fifty slaves could be found being bought and sold in the structure."

Alas, what a tragic part of New York history that we should know about. I wish it wasn't true, but it is.

The author spends much time explaining how and why the "bailouts" of 2008 happened. Cohan reminds us that the government made money out of the bailout - to the tune of $15.3 billion. I confess I didn't know that. "The banks that received the billions of dollars in cash infusions from the government not only paid the loans back with interest but also paid billions more to the government. . . "

WHY WALL STREET MATTERS is a well-organized book, and a fairly easy read. You don't have to be an economist to appreciate this book. My favorite part is the history of Wall Street - especially the infamous "Wall." I learned a lot about the history of our stock exchange, the U.S. banking system - and even the history of slave trading.

I think Mr. Cohan makes a lot of good points. The author writes very clearly, and makes a strong case for changing the incentives for Wall Street investment banks, to remove the crazy incentives to "swing for the fences." I'm afraid, however, that the public animus against Wall Street is currently so strong, that the author's arguments might well be overlooked. I thought this one sentence summed up the author's theme: "The fix for Wall Street should be directed at its compensation system, not at the functioning of Wall Street itself. It's really as simple as that."

An Advance Review Copy was provided, courtesy of the publisher.

Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less -and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined
Scott Sonenshein
195 Broadway, New York, NY 10007
9780062457226, $28.99, 304pp,

In STRETCH, Professor Scott Sonenshein argues that we overvalue new resources, and undervalue the resources we have. Our instincts are to "follow a basic rule: Having More Resources = Getting Better Results." Once we shift our mind-set to using resources better, we will realize that what we do with what we've got matters more than what we have at hand - making it much easier to just say no and expand the value of what's already there.

The author calls those constantly trying to get more "Chasers." We become a chaser because we think that's the only good choice.

But stretching is more than just being clever - it's "an outlook on life that influences not just how we solve problems but also how we regularly obtain success and live better." It's a fulfilling choice leading to satisfaction: "Stretchers find beauty and richness in places where others struggle to see anything of value."

One starts down this road by rejectioning the notion that getting more stuff leads to better results. Instead, consider that a better use of resources gets better results.

Much of the book presents inspiring stories of successful people who decided (or were forced) to just make do with the resources they have. We hear of creative (but poor) business people who transformed their businesses without adding new resources. Perhaps the oddest story is of the "Van Man," Daniel Norris, professional baseball player (and millionaire) who decided to live in the back of a Walmart.

STRETCH presents quite a few practical tips on becoming more creative. Chapter 4: "Get Outside" argues for learning skills outside your particular expertise. He notes that prize-winning scientists are actually fond of the arts - far more than the general public. "As intimidating as it might seem to pursue deep and diverse experiences, some experts naturally pursue both."

In "Pick New Neighbors" the author suggests changing your environment. For example, find a "stretcher" you like and learn from that person.

If you read nothing else, be sure to read Chapter 9, "Workout: Exercises to Strengthen a Stretch." In particular, the section, "Go Explore" is priceless. The author quotes Steve Jobs on the importance of varied experience: "The difference between you and your dumb friend is the bag of experiences you carry around with you." So, make a new "bag of experiences. Try new things, go to conferences, read different books. Deliberately walk away from "comfortable territory."

In Chapter 8, "Avoid Injuries How to Get the Right Stretch," the author warns of falling into some traps. For example, don't turn into a cheapskate, obsessed with never spending money. He gives the example of Edward Wedbush, the multimillionaire financier who insisted on living on a run-down house which he refuses to repair. (His wife lived across the street.)

The professor warns of another pitfall, which he calls, "Leaping without Learning." One can be so headstrong in your own gut feeling that you refuse to learn from other experiences. He cites the example of Ron Johnson, the new CEO called to "rescue" JC Penney. Instead, Johnson just about destroyed the company: "Only seventeen months would go by before JC Penney was on the verge of financial collapse. During Johnson's brief tenure, JC Penney lost about half of its market value and saw sales decline roughly 30 percent. It posted close to a billion dollars in losses."

Perhaps the best example of "stretching" is the singular case of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss.) In 1957, he wrote a brief book as a result of a bet with this editor. His editor bet $50 that "Geisel couldn't write a book using only fifty unique words." Of course, this resulted in the world famous book, "Green Eggs and Ham."

So all in all, I found STRETCH" to be a fun, inspiring read. I especially like the professor's tips on personal growth. And I absolutely love that Steve Jobs quote. The book is generally easy to follow, but I wish each chapter included bullet points summarizing the key points.

On a practical note on reading this book, I recommend you read the Conclusion of the book first. That's right, start at the very end. The reason is, the Conclusion concisely sums up the theme of the book. Then, when you read the main body, you will more easily follow the author's ideas.

I thought this one phrase summed up the book nicely: "Imagine how liberating it would be to stop worrying about what you don't have and instead appreciate what you do have."

If you like STRETCHING, I can recommend related books. For another great read on personal development, I recommend Cal Newport's, "So Good They Can't Ignore You." One of the most creative books on career choices I have read. Innovative, fun read.

The whole idea of "Stretching" with your available resources reminds me of the classic book by Amy Dacyczyn, "The Tightwad Gazette." Of course, Amy's books centers on saving money, but it's also filled with ideas on being creative with your resources. If you like the idea of being creative with your resources, I think you will love her book.

Chris Lawson, Reviewer

Logan's Bookshelf

Richard F. Lack: Catalogue Raisonne
Gary B. Christensen & Stephen A. Gjertson
Afton Press
165 Western Avenue North, Suite 15, St. Paul, MN 55102
9781890434908, $85.00, HC, 472pp,

Synopsis: Richard F. Lack (1928-2009) was one of the most important and distinguished American artists of the last half of the twentieth century. Over the span of sixty-three years he completed more than 1,300 paintings, drawings, sketches, studies, etchings, woodcuts, and watercolors. Early on in his career he received thirty-four Gold Medals, Best of Show, People's Choice awards, and several scholarships for his atelier.

During the twenty-four years he ran Atelier Lack he taught ninety-nine students, many of them now with successful careers. He wrote more than thirty articles about painting, was the editor of Realism in Revolution: The Art of the Boston School, and the author of On The Training of Painters, which has been reprinted in eight editions. He participated in over eighty-seven exhibitions throughout the United States, and eighty-eight articles have been written about him in fine arts publications, magazines, and newspapers.

While the prolific number of works he completed in all genres places him in the upper echelons of twentieth century artists, his research and preservation of the atelier method of training aspiring painters underscores his historical significance and sets him apart. Today there are countless numbers of ateliers in the United States and around the world. One can make a case that this would not be so if Atelier Lack had never existed.

In 1982 Lack focused on the term Classical Realism to differentiate this traditional manner of painting from all of the other isms of our time: Photo Realism, Modernism, Surrealism, etc. Today the term Classical Realism has been successfully absorbed into the American art culture. Lack's contributions to the reemergence of traditional painting and its current public appeal is without question.

The "Richard F. Lack: Catalogue Raisonne documents his achievements in the best way possible, by showcasing his work and his views about painting its past, its future, and the training of painters.

Critique: Profusely and beautifully illustrated throughout, "Richard F. Lack: Catalogue Raisonne" is principally comprised of two major sections: Richard F. Flack Catalogue Raisonne: 1943-1998 by Gary B. Christensen (who worked in close association for many years with Flack) and The Life and Works of Richard f. Lack: Biography by Stephen A. Gertson (who studied at Atelier Lack from 1971 to 1975 where he was in the first cohesive group of students. He went on to teach at Atelier Lack from 1973 to 1988). Comprehensive and thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, making it unreservedly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American Art History collections in general, and Robert F. Lack supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

The Art and Science of Staff Fighting
Joe Varady
YMAA Publications
PO Box 480, Wolfeboro, NH 03894-0480
9781594394119, $22.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: "The Art and Science of Staff Fighting" by Joe Varady (a fifth-degree black belt with over thirty years of experience in Eastern and Western martial arts traditions) stands quite apart from other staff training manuals because of its emphasis on the dynamics of combat.

"The Art and Science of Staff Fighting" lays out a comprehensive course of study in nine levels, from beginner to expert as it guides readers through such fundamentals as stances, striking, blocking, and footwork. In advanced lessons, martial arts students will learn disarming techniques, groundwork, and facing multiple opponents. But "The Art and Science of Staff Fighting" is not just for staff enthusiasts. Even those unfamiliar with martial arts can adapt these techniques, increasing their skill and confidence in defending themselves.

"The Art and Science of Staff Fighting features: Nine levels of instruction, progressing from easy to expert; Over 600 photos with motion arrows; A "nondenominational" approach to staff, utilizing the best of Eastern and Western arts; A comprehensive, methodical approach to building staff skills. Equipped with this knowledge imparted by "The Art and Science of Staff Fighting", readers will begin to realize that, in one way or another, they are nearly always armed and capable of defending themselves.

For those who are already a student of the staff, these lessons comprising "The Art and Science of Staff Fighting" will not conflict with their katas or current styles. Instead, they will augment their techniques, broadening their options.

Critique: Thoroughly 'user friendly' in organization and presentation, "The Art and Science of Staff Fighting" is a complete course of step-by-step illustrated instruction and unreservedly recommended for personal, dojo, community, and academic library Martial Arts instructional reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Art and Science of Staff Fighting" is also available in a Kindle format ($9.99).

The Saga Of Hodge
Jerry Labriola, M.D.
Strong Books
PO Box 1194, Middlebury, CT 06762
9781928782902, $24.95, HC, 312pp,

Synopsis: Hodge is a crazed master villain who, from his Land of the Recovered, shapes lives, influences the destiny of nations, determines how the people of the planet Earth should live and how they should die. Hodge targets people on Earth, claiming their souls and then, later on, returning them to Earth as different people -- firmly under his control as part of his Army of Drones.

But when Hodge experiences the meaning of love, he undergoes a transformation as dramatic and unexpected as those had ordered for others for thousands of years. Now the question is -- who is responsible for this radical change, Hodge or someone (or something) else?

Critique: A deftly crafted fantasy mystery, "The Saga Of Hodge" showcases author Jerry Labriola's genuine flair for originality and style as a novelist. An inherently fascinating, consistently compelling, and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end, "The Saga Of Hodge" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community library Science Fiction/Fantasy collections and personal reading lists.

Paul Goble, Storyteller
Gregory Bryah
South Dakota Historical Society Press
900 Governors Drive, Pierre, SC 57501-2217
9781941813102, $29.95, PB, 200pp,

Synopsis: Cutting-edge and sometimes controversial, the stunning art of Paul Goble (b. 1933) evokes many emotions.

Known internationally for his award-winning children's books, Goble began his career in design, crafting furniture that was produced throughout the United Kingdom. This early work foreshadowed his use of clean, crisp lines in his later illustrations depicting the natural world and American Indian themes.

Throughout his life, Goble has steeped himself in nature, honing his craft among the pine trees of South Dakota's Black Hills for the past forty years. Starting in 1969, Goble used his art to relate little-known stories of the Lakota Sioux and other tribes to a wider audience. He received the Caldecott Medal for The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses in 1979.

In "Paul Goble, Storyteller", author Gregory Bryan (Professor of Education at the University of Manitoba) interviewed Goble, his family, friends, and those whose work he influenced to tell the artist's story. Professor Bryan captures an intriguing life that few Americans are familiar with, including Goble's childhood in wartime England.

Building on this foundation, Professor Bryan's narrative follows Goble as a young boy with a penchant for learning that would lead him to a lifelong fascination with the lives and cultures of American Indians on the Great Plains.

Professor Bryan delivers an insightful, behind-the-scenes look at this well-known illustrator and writer, whose artwork is located in collections and institutions throughout the country, including the Library of Congress and the South Dakota Art Museum.

Showcasing someone who has written and illustrated more than forty books for children, "Paul Goble, Storyteller" features sketches and stories about Goble's creative process in writing, designing, and illustrating his best-selling works.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, illustrated, organized and presented, "Paul Goble, Storyteller" is an impressively informed and informative biographical study that is very highly recommended, especially for academic library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and Paul Goble supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Autism's Stepchild: A Mother's Story
Phyllis Grilikhes
Regent Press
2747 Regent St., Berkeley, CA 94705
9781587903731, $18.00, PB, 172pp,

Synopsis: "Autism's Stepchild" is the story of a mother's unfailing struggle over two decades to find adequate care for her daughter Jean. Misdiagnosed and misunderstood Jean had a condition that today would be understood to be autism.

Erik Erikson became interested in her and counseled her family. She became the chapter "Early Ego Failure" in his classic book, Childhood and Society.

Phyllis D. Grilikhes, the author of "Autism's Stepchild: A Mother's Story", personally worked with Jean after Erikson left and followed her through adolescence into adulthood to the present day.

Critique: Impressively informed and informative, thoughtful and thought provoking, and told with absolute candor and exceptional insight, "Autism's Stepchild: A Mother's Story" is a compelling read from beginning to end, making it unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as community and academic library Psychology/Psychotherapy collections in general, and Autism supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

I Am A Woman: Hope, Beauty, Inspiration
Mary Sue Englund
Afton Press
165 Western Avenue North, Suite 15, St. Paul, MN 55102
9780997629606, $24.95, HC, 112pp,

Synopsis: In the pages of "I Am a Woman", Mary Sue Englund fully captures the beautiful breadth of the female experience, with all its cluttered, clouded magic. Striking photographs are deftly matched with quotes of courageous women from all walks of life. For anyone fighting an illness, struggling through loss, making a life change, or watching their children grow and wondering where life is leading them, "I Am a Woman" will effectively remind them of their own grace and courage.

Readers will want to turn to the back of the book and listen to the included CD as they browse through the pages. The lyrics to the song are the pages of the book.

Critique: Mary Sue Englund is a Nashville songwriter, artist, author and graphic designer who is passionate about her music and art. She is also a passionate advocate for women and their plight against the devastation of breast cancer. She also tours with Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan as a musician and back-up vocalist. In "I Am A Woman: Hope, Beauty, Inspiration" she showcases a truly original talent for pairing inspiring lyrics with engaging photographic images. The result is a work that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book and its accompanying CD have been finished and set back upon the shelf. Thoughtful and thought-provoking, inspired and inspiring, "I Am A Woman: Hope, Beauty, Inspiration" is unreservedly recommended for personal and community library collections.

What Birds Teach Us
Bonnie Louise Kuchler
Willow Creek Press
PO Box 147, Minocqua, WA 54548
9781682347331, $14.95, HC, 96pp,

Synopsis: Nature has many lessons to offer, and some of her teachers wear feathers. The curiosities, cleverness, and cuteness of birds are showcased in "What Birds Teach Us: Life's Lessons Learned from Our Feathered Friends" by Bonnie Louise Kuchler.

Enhanced throughout with exceptional images that are handpicked from the portfolios of professional wildlife photographers, "What Birds Teach Us" ranges from baby birds breaking out of a shell, to leaving the nest, to finding mates, to migrating, to surviving and thriving.

In the pages of "What Birds Teach Us" our feathered friends share bird seeds of wisdom, dipped in the nectar of fun. Of special note are the insightful and humorous tips.

Critique: A delight to simply browse through, "What Birds Teach Us" is very highly recommended, especially for community library collections and the personal reading lists of any and all bird lover enthusiasts.

Balinese Painting and Sculpture
Adrian Vickers
Tuttle Publishing
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
9788361785538, $30.00, PB, 168pp,

Synopsis: Collections usually grow out of interests, ones that come to border on obsession. Collecting art from Bali often begins with a love of the island itself, but can take different directions depending on the experiences we have there. The Krzysztof Musial Collection is one clearly based on encounters with the island and its culture, and from that basis the collector has accumulated works that are both new and old, representative of the known history of Balinese art, but also of the most recent developments in the style of Bali.

The older styles of art were focused around areas of power, palaces and temples. Art was consumed by the competing Balinese kings, who strove to make their palaces the most beautiful and ornate on the island. Likewise these many kings, queens, lords and ladies dressed in the most lavish textiles, from imported Indian cloths to local home-spun products, many of which were woven in the palaces.

Kings and priests were meant to be practiced in the arts themselves, and did their own carving and painting, but they also cultivated and supported great artists and craftsmen so that they would become their dependents. Most of the sculptors and painters were men, while women produced beautiful textiles and elaborate offerings.

Since all Balinese communities are so closely tied to religious practice, temples are the focus of Balinese spiritual life, and the most important art should be there, for the gods to appreciate.

Compiled with descriptive commentary by Adrian Vickers (Professor of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Sydney, Australia), "Balinese Painting and Sculpture: From the Krzysztof Musial Collection" is a visual compendium of Balinese art work.

Critique: An extraordinary and flawlessly reproduced coffee-table paperback formatted volume, "Balinese Painting and Sculpture: From the Krzysztof Musial Collection" is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, community, and academic library World Art History collections in general, and Balinese Art History supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World
Anne Ellegood
Prestel Publishing
900 Broadway, Suite 603, New York, NY 10003
9783791355689, $60.00, HC, 320pp,

Synopsis: Published in conjunction with the first North American survey of the work of Jimmie Durham, this beautifully illustrated catalogue compiled by Anne Ellegood (Senior Curator at the Hammer Museum) explores Durham's vital contributions to contemporary art since the 1970s, both in the US and internationally.

Born of Cherokee descent, in 1940s Arkansas, Jimmie Durham is an artist who took up such issues as the politics of representation, histories of genocide, and citizenship and exile.

"Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World" collects and showcases an array of Durham's sculptures, drawings, photography, video, and performance. It includes essays about Durham's material choices and their metaphoric potential; his participation in the NYC art scene in the 1980s; his use of language; and his ties to Mexico after living in Cuernavaca.

Of special note is an interview with Durham tracing his involvement with the American Indian Movement and his self-exile from the US, which along with his essays and poetry, illuminating his life and work, offering the reader with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of Durham, arguably one of the most important contemporary American artists working today.

Critique: A showcase for 374 beautifully reproduced images of Jimmie Durham's art, and enhanced with erudite, insightful, and informative commentaries by Jennifer A. Gonzalez (Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, UC, Santa Cruz), Fred Moten (Professor of English at UC, Riverside), Jessica L. Horton (Assistant Professor of Native American, Modern, and Contemporary Art at the University of Delaware), Paul Chaat Smith (Associate Curator at the National Museum of the American Indian), Mackenzie Stevens (Curatorial Assistant at the Hammer Museum), Elisabeth Sussman (Curator at the Whitney Museum), as well as art critic and curator Jessica Berlanga Taylor, "Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World" is unreservedly recommended for personal, community and academic library American Art History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Integrated Chinese, fourth edition
Yuehua Liu, et al.
Cheng & Tsui Company
25 West Street, Boston, MA 02111-1213 USA
9781622911356, $59.99, PB, 348pp,

Synopsis: Now in a fully updated and expanded fourth edition, "Integrated Chinese" is an acclaimed Mandarin Chinese language course that delivers a cohesive system of print and digital resources for highly effective teaching and learning. It is the leading Chinese language textbook series in the United States.

This time-tested Integrated Chinese series has been fully revised to align with the needs of today's learners. This new edition features: Grammar that now includes exercises to consolidate the language forms just learned; Language Practice across interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational activities; Get Real with Chinese situates language learning in a real-life context; Chinese Chat models how language is used on social media; Characterize It! encourages students to approach the learning of characters analytically; How About You? now includes visual cues to promote vocabulary expansion and retention; Compare & Contrast activities further enhance the updated Cultural Literacy resources; Lesson Wrap-Up includes context-based tasks to help assimilate and produce language; Make It Flow! scaffolds development of continuous discourse in written and spoken forms; Interactive content provides a truly blended teaching and learning experience.

The new Integrated Chinese 4th Edition is also available as a fully integrated online digital product on the ChengTsui Web App, available to purchase at

Critique: An excellent, user-friendly resource for refining one's command of Mandarin Chinese, "Integrated Chinese: 4th Edition" teaches both simplified and traditional versions of Chinese characters and comes with a textbook, workbook, character workbook, and teacher's resources. Simply stated, "Integrated Chinese: 4th Edition" is ideal for college students and unreservedly recommended for Chinese Language instructional curriculums.

Reading Into a New China: Volume 1
Duanduan Li & Irene Liu
Cheng & Tsui Company
25 West Street, Boston, MA 02111-1213 USA
9781622911257, $54.99, PB, 264pp,

Synopsis: The collaborative work of Duanduan Li (Associate Professor of Chinese Applied Linguistics at the University of British Columbia) and Irene Liu (who was the Director of the Chinese Language Program in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University, New York for ten years), "Reading into a New China" is now in an updated and revised second edition and a the first volume of a pedagogically innovative two-volume course specifically designed to build advanced level reading and writing proficiency through deep comprehension of China's rich and rapidly changing social and cultural landscape.

Critique: Exceptionally well written and organized, "Reading Into a New China: Volume 1" is thoroughly 'student friendly' in its bilingual presentation. This core, advanced-level Chinese text is very highly recommended, especially for college and university Chinese Language instructional collections.

The Holocaust Across Generations
Janet Jacobs
New York University Press
838 Broadway, 3rd floor, New York, NY 10003
9781479833566, $89.00, HC, 184pp,

Synopsis: Over the last two decades, the cross-generational transmission of trauma has become an important area of research within both Holocaust studies and the more broad study of genocide. The overall findings of the research suggest that the Holocaust informs both the psychological and social development of the children of survivors who, like their parents, suffer from nightmares, guilt, fear, and sadness.

The impact of social memory on the construction of survivor identities among succeeding generations has not yet been adequately explained. Moreover, the importance of gender to the intergenerational transmission of trauma has, for the most part, been overlooked.

"The Holocaust Across Generations: Trauma and its Inheritance Among Descendants of Survivors" by Janet Jacobs ( Professor of Sociology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Colorado) fills these significant gaps in the study of traumatic transference.

"The Holocaust Across Generations" brings together the study of post-Holocaust family culture with the study of collective memory. Through an in-depth study of 75 children and grandchildren of survivors, Professor Jacobs examines the social mechanisms through which the trauma of the Holocaust is conveyed by survivors to succeeding generations.

"The Holocaust Across Generations" explores the social structures including narratives, rituals, belief systems, and memorial sites through which the collective memory of trauma is transmitted within families. Professor Jacobs also examines the social relations of traumatic inheritance among children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.

Within this analytic framework, feminist theory and the importance of gender are brought to bear on the study of traumatic inheritance and the formation of trauma-based identities among Holocaust carrier groups.

Critique: An extraordinary and seminal work of original scholarship, "The Holocaust Across Generations: Trauma and its Inheritance Among Descendants of Survivors" is exceptionally well researched, written, organized and presented. While unreservedly recommended for college and university library Holocaust collections and supplemental studies reading lists, it should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Holocaust Across Generations" is also available in a paperback edition (9781479839292, $24.00) and in a Kindle format ($9.99).

Margaret Lane

Mason's Bookshelf

Smoke over Oklahoma
Augustus J. Veenendaal Jr.
University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, OK 73069
9780806155685, $29.95, HC, 208pp,

Synopsis: Oklahoma was in the throes of the Great Depression when Preston George acquired a cheap Kodak folding camera and took his first photographs of steam locomotives. As depression gave way to world war, George kept taking pictures, now with a Graflex camera that could capture moving trains. "Smoke over Oklahoma: The Railroad Photographs of Preston George", his black-and-white photographs constitute a striking visual documentary of steam-driven railroading in its brief but glorious heyday in the American Southwest. The pictures also form a remarkable artistic accomplishment in their own right.

Prominent among the magnificent action images collected here are the engines that were George's passion -- steam locomotives pulling long freights or strings of gleaming passenger cars through open country. But along with the fireworks of the heavier steam engines slogging through the mountains near the Arkansas border on the Kansas City Southern or climbing Raton Pass in New Mexico on the Santa Fe, George's photographs also record humbler fare, such as the short trains of the Frisco and Katy piloted by ancient light steamers, and the final years of that state's interurban lines.

The brief history of railroads in the Sooner State by Augustus J. Veenendaal Jr. (Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City) puts these images into perspective, as does a reminiscence by George's daughter Burnis on his life and his pursuit of railroad photography. With over 150 images and a wealth of historical and biographical information, "Smoke over Oklahoma" makes accessible to an audience beyond the most avid railfans the extent of Preston George's extraordinary achievement.

Critique: Profusely illustrated and exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Smoke over Oklahoma: The Railroad Photographs of Preston George" is an extraordinary photographic compendium that is unreservedly recommended for personal, community, and academic library American Photography collections, as well as being of immense and special interest to railroad history buffs.

Maine On Glass
W. H. Bunting, Kevin Johnson, Earle G. Shettleworth Jr.
Tilbury House, Publishers
12 Starr Street, Thomaston, ME 04861
9780884483786, $29.95, PB, 224pp,

Synopsis: Postcards were the Instagrams of the early twentieth century. On one day in September 1906, 200,000 postcards were mailed from Coney Island. In 1913 some 968,000,000 postcards were sent in the U.S., more than seven per person.

The majority of postcards made at the turn of the twentieth century were mass-produced lithograph or letterpress half-tones, but the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company produced "real photo postcards" in the form of silver gelatin prints made by exposing the negative onto photo paper card stock and developing it in a traditional wet darkroom. Eastern was the largest U.S. manufacturer of what it called "genuine" photo postcards.

The 190 duotone photos comprising "Maine On Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography" were selected from 22,000 glass plate negatives created by the Eastern company between 1909 and World War II. As an archive of early twentieth-century Maine architectural photography, the Eastern collection (now housed at the Penobscot Marine Museum) has no equal, and it gives us many unexpected glimpses of Maine life.

Maine residents, expatriates, and visitors will enjoy hours of pleasure in this journey through Maine's countryside, villages, and towns, guided by three historians who can bring a vista to life with a few well-chosen comments.

Critique: A uniquely informed and informative compendium, "Maine On Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography" is a seminal work that is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library American Photography History collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Lynched: The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror
Angela D. Sims
Baylor University Press
One Bear Place, #97363, Waco, TX 76798-7363
9781602582668, $29.95, HC, 213pp,

Synopsis: In "Lynched: The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror", Angela D. Sims ( Dean of Academic Programs, Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Chair in Church and Society, and Associate Professor of Ethics and Black Church Studies at Saint Paul School of Theology" chronicles the history and aftermath of lynching in America. By rooting her work in oral histories, Professor Sims gives voice to the memories of African American elders who remember lynching not only as individual acts but as a culture of violence, domination, and fear.

"Lynched" preserves memory even while it provides an analysis of the meaning of those memories. Professor Sims examines the relationship between lynching and the interconnected realities of race, gender, class, and other social fragmentation that ultimately shape a person's (and a community's) religious self-understanding. Through this understanding, she explores how the narrators reconcile their personal and communal memory of lynching with their lived Christian experience. Moreover, Professor Sims unearths the community's truth that this is sometimes a story of words and at other times a story of silence.

Revealing the bond between memory and moral formation, Professor Sims discovers the courage and hope inherent in the power of recall. By tending to the words of these witnesses, "Lynched" exposes not only a culture of fear and violence but the practice of story and memory, as well as the narrative of hope within a renewed possibility for justice.

Critique: Exhaustively researched, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Lynched: The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror" is impressively informed and informative. A seminal work of outstanding scholarship, "Lynched" is unreservedly recommended, especially for community and academic library American History collections in general, and Black History supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Lynched" is also available in a Kindle edition ($28.45).

Rethinking Revolution: Socialist Register 2017
Leo Panitch & Greg Albo, editors
Monthly Review Press
134 W. 29th Street, Suite 706, New York, NY 10001
9781583676332, $29.00, PB, 369pp,

Synopsis: One hundred years ago, "October 1917" galvanized leftists and oppressed peoples around the globe, and became the lodestar for 20th century politics. Today, the left needs to reckon with this legacy and go on to transcend it. Social change, as it was understood in the 20th century, appears now to be as impossible as revolution, leaving the left to rethink the relationship between capitalist crises, as well as the conceptual tension between revolution and reform.

Comprised of contributions by an impressive array of passionate thinkers and thoughtful activists, "Rethinking Revolution: Socialist Register 2017" reappraises the historical effects of the Russian revolution, both positive and negative, on political, intellectual, and cultural life, and looks at consequent revolutions after 1917.

Change needs to be understood in relation to the distinct trajectories of radical politics in different regions. But the main purpose of this Socialist Register edition (one century after "Red October") is to look forward, to what might happen next.

Compiled and co-edited by Leo Panitch (Professor of Political Science, York University, Toronto, Canada) and Greg Albo (Professor, Department of Political Science at York University, Toronto, Canada) the eighteen articles anthologized in "Rethinking Revolution: Socialist Register 2017" interrogate and explore compelling issues, including: Greg Albo: New socialist strategies - or detours?; Jodi Dean: Are the multitudes communing? Revolutionary agency and political forms today; Adolph Reed: Are racial minorities revolutionary agents?; Zillah Eisenstein: Revolutionary feminisms today; Nina Power: Accelerated technology, decelerated revolution; David Schwartzman: Beyond global warming: Is solar communism possible?; and Andrea Malm: Revolution and counter-revolution in an era of climate change.

Critique: An erudite body of original and seminal scholarship, "Rethinking Revolution: Socialist Register 2017" is an exceptionally timely and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and academic library Political Science collections in general, and Contemporary Socialism supplemental studies reading lists in particular. For students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject, it should be noted that "Rethinking Revolution: Socialist Register 2017" is also available in a Kindle format ($14.54).

Jack Mason

Moore's Bookshelf

Ron Paul Speakes
Amazon Digital Services LLC
B01DHHW5RS,113 pp; $2.99/$0.00 on Kindle Unlimited, digital,

There is poetry that warms and seduces. That is not the sort of charm you will find in Ron Paul Speakes' SnowPoems. These poems do not coddle. They cut through consciousness with cool logic. The absence of romanticized embellishment might lead a reader to miss the depth of feeling behind the thought. Beware. Feeling will surprise the unsuspecting, with the searing intensity of burning snow, as in

.........................................blossom by
Blossom, the alba-like world will flutter
To earth to be gathered in history's
Urns for the rites that can cut the ties
To Jack's scattered memory
To Ronnie's abandoned memory

Speakes explains in his preface that SnowPoems is about the post-WWII era and that the events described are intertwined with snow imagery. But this poetry is about more than snow, and a specific period in history. It is about time and human destiny.

The collection is bracketed by a poem at the beginning that references the dawning of the human race, with

Visas to the Levant, to India, China and the
Icy North, to the latent Americas
and another poem at the end that hints of a journey, which continues
...on the slit streets of the Internet.....
Googling, as memory looks at us from the screen
With organs swollen with the longing of antiquity
As they wander through time and space, love and loss, wanderers ponder and ask an oracle
What will become of us? What will become of us?

Snow binds the separate pieces of this collection. And the pieces are harmonized by another overriding element: sympathy. It may be a perplexing, even indifferent universe that hosts the human race, but our guide in SnowPoems leads us gently. His mission is not to describe a destination for our journey. His goal is to open our eyes and help us see more clearly the path we travel. In that purpose, Ron Paul Speakes succeeds brilliantly.

I highly recommend Ron Paul Speakes' SnowPoems.

The City That Does Not Age: The History of Sofia
Bistra Johnson
Privately Published
978095568753, $11.95, PB, 242pp,

In the early twentieth century, travelers could take a train, the Orient Express, from the heart of Europe to the very threshold of the Middle East. The train stopped at strategic cities along the way. One of these was Sofia, Bulgaria. It is the history of this city that Bistra Johnson describes in her delightful book, The City the Does Not Age: A History of Sofia.

Since antiquity, Sofia has been at the crossroads of East and West, North and South. Its significance was recognized over the centuries by ambitious leaders, who invaded and conquered the city. Dramatic stories about these leaders fill the pages of The City that Does Not Age. The book takes us on a journey through time.

Sofia was an administrative center during the reign of Trajan (Roman Empire). It was ravaged by Attila the Hun and rebuilt by the Emperor Justinian (Byzantine Empire). The city accommodated Germans in WWII and the Soviet Union after the war. Today, Sofia's population reflects its variegated past. Three of the largest minorities are Turks, Russians and Roma. Though most of Bulgaria's Jewish population emigrated after WWII, the city of Sofia is home to the largest synagogue in Southeastern Europe.

Over the centuries, Sofia has suffered floods, plagues and earthquakes. Each of these is described by Ms. Johnson with scrupulous attention to the historic record. The author quotes liberally from sources. These will serve, for any student of history, as a trove for future reference. Ms. Johnson's presentation of the material is enlivened by asides about personalities that helped to shape the destiny of Sofia. The book is extremely well-organized and this organization enhances its readability.

For me, one welcome addition would have been maps. That's a personal preference. I find it easier to visualize events when I study a map.

People who are interested in history will love this book. This is especially true for those who want to learn about the history of.

I highly recommend Bistra Johnson's The City the Does not Age: A History of Sofia.

A. G. Moore

Peggy's Bookshelf

Mighty Melvin the Magnificent Mouse
Trevor Newland
Mosaic Press
9781771611800, $15.95, September 2016, 64 pages

In a world full of Biggies and Smallies, Melvin the be-spectacled mouse is a Smally who thinks he's a Biggy because he isn't afraid of anything. Melvin decides to take his magnificence to the circus in order to find the Biggest Biggy. After an exhaustive, yet thoroughly entertaining, search of all things circus Melvin decides that he is the Biggest of the Biggies. That is, until he comes face-to-face with Elias the Elephant. Everyone knows that elephants are afraid of mice - except Melvin. Hilarious pandemonium ensues in the delightful circular style reminiscent of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." Newland uses his trademark exaggerated facial features and contorted torsos to introduce lovable Melvin the mouse in all his humorous hubris. Likewise Newland's comedic artistry showcases the outlandish oddities and freakishness of the circus that are just too funny for words. "Mighty Melvin the Magnificent Mouse" sends up a new twist on a familiar formula that will have readers rolling on the floor with laughter.

Race to Pisa
Trevor Newland
Mosaic Press
9781771612043, $15.95, 64 pages

Newland introduced readers to the Scallywags in "The Scallywag Solution," as salty sailors saving their ship from Blackbeard's pirates. In their latest exploit "Race to Pisa," the four motley misfits are landlubbers toiling for King Nedward. Lazy-Eyed Liam does the laundry. Peggy Legs is the "professional polisher of all things dirty." And Roger is the royal tailor, along with his apprentice the odiferous Gassy Jack. King Nedward is a small man who thinks big. He wears big shoes and lives in a big palace where he throws big parties. He rules his kingdom with big ships and big armies. Until one day someone points out that next to Roger, who's a giant, King Nedward looks quite small. In his royal outrage the king embarks on a nasty plan to blast poor Roger out of the sky. But first he enlists the help of Belarius the Notorious to persuade the Scallywags to enter the Grand Balloon Race. And nobody argues with Belarius, especially the Scallywags. Before they know it they're soaring through the sky in a hot air balloon dodging cannonballs. And it's up to Roger to bare it all and save his sidekicks. Newland's cartoon illustrations feature his signature exaggerated facial features and contorted torsos that make his stories so engaging and fun to read. In "Race to Pisa" action and comedy collide in this farcical misadventure that exposes the foibles of an egomaniacal monarch.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Polk's Bookshelf

Juggling Kittens
Matt Coleman
Pandamoon Publishing
9780997135138, $14.99, paperback, 226 pages
ASIN: B01LWCQ1FD, $4.99, Kindle

Spencer disappeared. That may not seem too important to the world as a whole, but to Ellis Mazer, a first year seventh grade English teacher, having one of his students go missing was a natural disaster.

What follows is a bitter-sweet, even darkly humorous, trek into trailer-trash hell along the Texas/Arkansas border. Juggling Kittens has a cast of characters who are products of an impoverished culture with few expectations, other than those driven by drug or alcohol addiction; except a driving desire to live their lives, right or wrong, in their own way without interference. Mess with it at your own risk, Mr. Mazer! These characters recognize common social bonds such as growing up in the same geographic area, going to school and, sometimes, to church together and tend to protect each other despite the law or any value represented by an outsider such as Mazer.

Enter Shane Charbeau and Daniel Mallory. Mallory is a manipulator who is likely to do anything just to avoid boredom. Charbeau, unlike Mallory, has a conscience. Brad, the deputy sheriff, needs a bad guy to blame for a suspected murder and an excuse to rid the county of a drug dealer. Reverend Mallory will protect his son, Danny, at the expense of everyone in Ruddy Creek. And, oh, incidentally...what do you suppose Spencer wrote about in his English essay that caused him to disappear?

Matt Coleman has produced an engaging piece of rural Americana spiced with humor, well written in a style all his own and 'drop dead' entertaining. I was afraid for Spencer's life throughout the book; you will be too! Many teachers are likely to identify with this story and mystery, detective and crime/action readers should like it as well. 5-Stars

Weeia on My Mind
Elle Boca
Poyeen Publishing
2901 Clint Moore Road #265, Boca Raton, FL 33496
9781932534146, $12.99, paperback, 320 pages
B01I8TZN42, $5.99, Kindle

When we last joined Danni Metreaux, a third level Weeia marshal assigned to Paris in Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia, she had just finished dealing with a threat from a band of Gypsies with the grudging assistance of her boss, Francois. In the course of the earlier Gypsy investigation, she met a young Weeia man named Iaen and now the beginning of a romantic relationship begins to bloom through Danni's confusion about her job and her life in Paris.

She is beginning to feel more comfortable as she meets more people and she begins to feel a little less isolated, but only a little since Francois is more remote than ever and Madame Marmotte continues to trash her behind her back. Now, she's faced with training a new level 1 marshal, Sebastien, whom she was neither expecting nor prepared for. Worse, he is Madame Marmotte's nephew, has Francois' approval and comes from an influential Parisian family. To top it off, Sebastien appears just in time to save her from getting her ass kicked by a gang of Serbian-Croatian mobsters. How embarrassing!

Despite that, they are soon deep into a case involving one of a kind art pieces apparently stolen from a private collection, and case in which a Weeia exhibiting a particularly strong gift of mental manipulation is allegedly manipulating humans to commit theft.

Like Gypsies, Tramps and Weeia, Weeia on My Mind is entertaining and the reader finds themselves rooting for Danni to overcome her challenges in Paris. There are hints about why Francois is not supportive, but his real story remains to be told. This book introduces Sebastien as Danni's junior partner and the route through which she can begin to interact with some the Parisian elite. It likewise identifies Iaen squarely in the role of Danni's boyfriend. Ho hum, I guess action and intrigue aren't enough; there must be some romance somewhere I suppose.

Oh...the story? If you want to know about it, buy the book. Those who love cozy mysteries, light fantasy and intrigue with occasional intense action should love it! 4-Stars

Clabe Polk, Reviewer

Sloan's Bookshelf

Reverence (Volume 1)
Joshua Aaron Landeros
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
1517726131, $12.25 pbk
9781517726133; B01D2A51YY, $2.99, 334 pages, Kindle,

It's April 4, 2065. Much of what formerly was the United States is in smoking ruins, the victim not of intercontinental war, but of extreme, bloody civil unrest.

In the Oval Office, now just a museum piece, Chancellor Carl Venloran is remembering a speech he delivered before thousands of frenzied supporters twenty years before at the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke of restoring America's dignity and the perils of corporate outsourcing and the terrible price paid by wounded war veterans.

If all this sounds disturbingly familiar, it's through the brilliant efforts of first-time author Joshua Aaron Landeros, who has penned a grisly but compelling portrait of a nation -- and a world -- transformed by a lust for absolute power and control.

Venloran's United Nation Republic, now the ruling entity that has absorbed many formerly free nations, keeps an uneasy peace in place with brute force, delivered by superhuman cyborg enforcers who carry swashbuckling 1860s-style sabres. They think nothing of dismembering anyone who is an active -- and threatening -- member of the self-styled rebellion movement.

This dynamite foray into post-apocalyptic fiction is spun with a deft authorial hand that reads at times like a movie script or a vivid, ultra-violent video game. And through much of the mayhem, two amiable but very dangerous androids -- Will and Luis -- wisecrack their way through insurrections and assassination attempts.

Indeed, most of the novel is liberally laced with combat terms and military lingo that should readily appeal to anyone who loves to read -- or watch -- a Ramboesque series of terribly realistic action sequences. Seriously, they're very, very good.

But at the heart of the story lies the futuristic conflict of man versus man -- or, perhaps, cyborg versus man -- in scenarios where you'll wonder who the bad guys are. Will and Luis, for all their superior strength and android implants, still come across as sympathetic, vulnerable -- yet very deadly -- characters. And no less sympathetic are the members of the resistance -- Gabby, Neal, Jacob, and others.

The skillful development of these players in the overarching plotline gives this novel incredible depth and breadth that carries it far above others in its genre. And the central story that drives the book provides a worthy backdrop for unlimited action and suspense.

The final action sequence is epic. Here's a little passage to whet your appetite:

"Our battle is at last at hand. You will be the greatest opponent I have ever faced. After you, life once again becomes dull."

Five stars to Reverence. Readers will come away exhausted by the nonstop explosive action and satisfied by the climactic conclusion.

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England
James W. George
Amazon Digital Publishing
B01MS5OQP8, $2.99, 169 pages, Kindle,

It's the year 1671, and the hordes of English settlers arriving every day in the New World must strike an uneasy balance between their need for land and resources and their need to live harmoniously with the proud Native Americans who now fear the loss of their heritage and customs to these often demanding newcomers.

This is the stirring story of how one young Native American, thrust reluctantly into the role of leadership, must come to terms with his tribal duties and his troubled past to find a clear -- and peaceful -- way forward.

Young Linto and his devoted lover Wawetseka are trying to ease the mind of their friend Metacomet (or Philip, as the English call him). Metacomet is Sachem of the Wampanoag people and he is still incensed by the unfortunate demise of his predecessor Wamsutta while visiting a disreputable descendant of the earliest English settlers. Poison is suspected, but no proof is forthcoming. Still, Metacomet seethes and makes dark plans.

Meanwhile, the widowed young Rev. Israel Brewster, minder of a faithful flock in Middleborough, spends his days either adroitly dodging matchmaking mothers or counseling distraught newlyweds on their inability to produce offspring. He feels a bit restless for bigger deeds to do and more recognition than his humble posting can afford. So, when he is summoned for consultation with the famed clergyman Increase Mather in faraway Boston, he bolts at the chance to prove himself worthy of a grander stage.

This is high historical drama handled wonderfully by first-time author James W. George. His imaginative interplay between actual historical figures and fictional characters is so seamless you'll soon care little for the literal accuracy of the passages and focus much more on the engaging storyline.

The writing is delightfully old style, making liberal use of every descriptive nuance in the English language, yet never labored or overdone. Here's a sample, painting a vivid picture of the upright Puritan official Jeremiah Barron:

"He bore a passing resemblance to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, but with an even more formidable nose and blemished, pock-marked skin. His hair was also unfortunate, a veritable mess of thin dark blonde strands manipulated to and fro in an inexplicable pattern. Finally, his unique voice was renowned throughout the colony for its high-pitched cacophony, leading the most gossipy of the Plimoth wives, in moments of lapsed Christian decorum, to refer to him as the 'screech owl.'"

Events take an unexpected turn when Brewster returns from Boston and meets with Linto and Wawetseka. To say the results are momentous would be an understatement.

Tormented visions, Puritanical plots, and lost love all figure into the spirited narrative that brings the book's players alive -- fully-fleshed human beings instead of mere footnotes in a dry, dusty history tome.

This is a tale that will fully engage you on every level, as well as educate you on many of the details that undoubtedly made life in colonial times trying. But the story is solid and the characters deeply drawn, remaining true to their sometimes tormented motivations as events unfold.

Five stars to My Father's Kingdom. It's a rare read full of stunning turns of fate and unforeseen consequences that carry this satisfying saga through to its historically accurate conclusion -- the long, bloody conflict between settlers and Indians that was "King Philip's War."

When Things Go Bang
Clive Warner
Amazon Digital Publishing
B01NC38XQH, $2.99, Kindle, 214 pages,

It's 1959, and very late at Jim's house on the North Liverpool coast, England, when a dead man steps out of the wallpaper. It's Jim's Uncle Buddy, killed in World War I, and he's come to take the boy back with him to the ghostly front lines.

This is the hair-raising start to an absolutely first-rate read by standout author Clive Warner. If you liked Stephen King's Stand By Me, about four young friends coming of age too soon, you'll love Warner's economical yet highly descriptive style.

Jim's problematic relationship with his parents leads him, like so many kids, to roam far afield in the coastal countryside with just his trusty bike and his preteen buds with him, in search of adventure -- or, at least something to break the boredom of his totally average daily routine.

Average, that is, if you don't count the nocturnal visits from dead Uncle Buddy, or the occasional glimpse of Old Beardy, the Hightown Hermit. Or Jim's ever-present adolescent angst that leads inevitably to poor choices and catastrophic circumstances.

It is, in fact, just such an unfortunate accident that suddenly throws a pall over Jim's household. His Mom moves out for a week because of the miscue, and lays the blame squarely at his mud-caked feet. However, the boy continues to pelt from one bad decision to another in the time-honored tradition of youth everywhere.

For example, he discovers that fireworks-making can be really fun -- though deadly -- and his fascination with chemicals leads to creation of a toxic cocktail that his dad inadvertently consumes. And then there's the insistent specter of deceased Uncle Buddy, who keeps dragging him back every night to the front line foxholes.

These scenes from The Great War really are first-rate, as we can feel the damp earthen parapets and smell the high explosives as they crump over our heads. And Jim, well, he's going a bit nutters from lack of sleep and outright fatigue from his nightmarish sojourns to war-torn El Alamein, in Egypt.

Of particular note is a passage in which the town hermit, himself a war veteran, recounts a ghastly recollection from the war's brutal combat. It's the chill hour before dawn, near Ypres, and the recluse, then a frightened young soldier like so many others, comes upon one of his prewar friends crouched behind some sandbags. The man is firing his rifle in short bursts into the darkness in front of him.

"'Do you hear them crying?'" the soldier asks. "He meant the sound of the wounded men, lying out there in No Man's Land. Then he laughed. It was a crazy-sounding laugh, shrill, like a woman's laugh. He said, 'I shoot at those until they leave off.' Then he laughed again. It made me shiver."

The soldier is shooting the defenseless men where they lie moaning in the night -- killing them, both Brit and German alike, just to shut them up. But as macabre as that vignette is, it's the end of this dreadful remembrance that will make your eyes widen in sudden horror.

As Jim jumps from one crisis to another, his incredible ability to forget his last bad choice in eager expectation of a better one just ahead propels him like a pinball toward personal purgatory and exile from all he holds dear. The whole village is pursuing him, but it's his own troubled tendencies that keep dragging him down.

This five-star work of fiction is pure literary gold, and will hold you spellbound for hours as you wonder what Jim will be up to in the next chapter. And if you were ever thirteen years old, you'll relate most uncomfortably to the ever-present uncertainty that seems to pervade that period of one's youthful existence.

Don Sloan

Susan's Bookshelf

My First Home: A Step-by-step Guide to Achieving the Ultimate American Dream
Shashank Shekhar
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
9781542570121, $14.00, 220 Pages

Genre: Personal Finance

"There's security in bricks and mortar," my Dad said to me when I was buying my first house, many years ago, and the phrase is still as true today. As was pointed out to me, if you rent forever the place is never your own, and the owner of the property continues to be paid, however the money on a mortgage will decline, and seem easier as the years go by, until your home is 100% your own.

The author of this excellent book has a wealth of experience in this field and offers a tremendous amount of unbiased advice to the reader. Not only does he take you through the whole process, from the moment you decide you might like to own your own home, till completion and even afterwards, but he also looks at each step objectively with you in mind.

Whether you are unsure as to if your credit score is good enough, if there are tax benefits, how much money you would have to put down, if any, the answers are there.

Are you even sure you are ready to take this huge step?

Or are you not sure, do you want to know more?

Do you need qualification of what will be involved, and how it will affect your life in the future?

Look no further, all the answers lie within these pages.

If your current status is not as you wish, there are plenty of options, on all steps of the path to home ownership, which will help you steer round the obstacles, or at least know what you have to do to overcome them.

Can you save easily, or do you have difficulty in putting money aside for one reason or the other, well advice is offered on how to do this, and where to put the money you are saving.

Then finally, when you are ready the author takes you through the whole process. The attention to detail, each step of the way can help you decide what to do. The author explains to you the pros and cons of working with a Realtor, Mortgage Broker, Bank Loan Officer, and if you chose to do so, how to choose one.

Then he takes you through the search for your dream home, pointing out that location, an urban or rural setting for example, is the prime thing, after all as he says "you can remodel the house and pretty much change everything; but you can't change the location."

You may have fixed ideas, but even if this is so, it is worth reading the comparisons between different types of homes and also consider as he says, the things which you would like to have versus the things you must have. This is perhaps especially important if you are buying a property with your partner/spouse, as you may find you have different ideas, such as, your wife may want secretly to have another baby and so that extra room which you think of as a 'like to have,' may be a 'must have,' to her.

Once you have found your perfect home the author will help you through the mine field of purchasing it, in detail, from making the offer to closing the transaction, explaining what things such as appraisals, home Inspections, insurance, and warranties are, why you should or should not have them.

Until, finally you are set to move into in your new home, where he advises you who you must tell you are moving in.

Of course, once settled, you will have other things to think about, perhaps you may be considering changing the style of decor, or even paying off the mortgage sooner...

I found My First Home incredibly comprehensive, and anyone looking to buy their first home would find it priceless.

Stories of Music, Volume 2
Holly E. Tripp
Timbre Press LLC
9780996932745, $29.00

Genre: Music

The powerful effect of music on us is universally recognized, just a few notes from a certain peace can instantly evoke memories which transport us back to another time, event, or place.

Raised in a musical family, the author, Holly Tripp has fond memories of listening to her grandmother's reminiscences of a childhood dancing to fiddlers' music. However, it was the tragic death of her brother Brandon, and their shared love of music, which reawakened her love of song writing, and subsequently, the realization of the special place in our lives, and memories, certain pieces of music hold.

I thoroughly enjoyed the author's first book, 'Stories of Music' Volume 1, and have been looking forward to Volume 2. As with its predecessor, this book enables you to, by visiting the free companion web edition, use the QR and short URLs throughout the book, to enjoy the original music and videos which accompany some of the stories.

The book is divided into sections, Origins, Interconnection, Exploration, Against All Odds, Transcendence, and Ghosts. The stories, poems, and essays within each section are personal accounts, from authors, and artists, throughout the world. All wanted to share with others how music has changed and affected their lives.

There are so many wonderful recollections to enjoy, however one I particularly like is called "The Magic of the Mouth." In this story, newly arrived in Goa, India, Mukta Patil recalls being invited to a curtain raiser for World Mouth Harp Festival of India.

He recounts his confusion, as he imagines a full sized harp, and cannot see how one will fit in a mouth. However, as the story progresses all is revealed, and we learn about this fascinating musical instrument, thought to be one of the earliest known to man. There are wonderful pictures included, and the opportunity to listen to one being played by Neptune Chapotin.

They say that music breeches all boundaries and this book does just that, demonstrating clearly how music can inspire, create and heal. The icing on the cake for me, however are the QR's and URL's which provided me with the opportunity to enjoy the full sensory experience.

As a foot note I would like to add, that following through with her belief that music heals, the author is donating 10% of all of the proceeds to the non-profit organisations, Hungry for Music, and Music & Memory.

Tau Bada: The Quest and Memoir of a Vulnerable Man
John E Quinlan
MCP Books
9781634139564, $16.93 pbk / $9.99 Kindle, 348 Pages,

Genre: Memoir

Ever dreamed of doing something different, going to exotic places, stepping right out of your safety zone and taking the bull by the horns?

Do you wonder if people really do just change direction, start new businesses in different countries, juggle their lives, just like that? Is it possible?

Well, in this incredible biography the author takes the reader on his remarkable journey. After the end of his marriage he gets on his motorbike, leaves Grosse Point (a suburb of Detroit) and begins an adventure which takes him from the American West, through to Australia/Papua New Guinea.

An established CEO- entrepreneur, the author is not afraid of taking risks, and going with the flow. This bravery takes him on travels to amazing places, where he forges forward with the courage of a true entrepreneur.

On his odyssey, he finds new love and is never afraid to go with the moment, something I truly admire.

The book is beautifully descriptive and I especially loved his account of his life whilst he was running his South Pacific fishing business, which gave some fascinating insights into what life is really about living on-board ship. His first impressions and dealings with the South Pacific island natives and his business dealings with them are interesting, and the great thing is, that whatever the outcome he brushes himself off and starts again.

Juggling life between his business interests in Grosse Point and other part of the world is difficult at times, emotionally and financially draining, however, he copes with everything and is an inspiration to those of us who would love (or imagine they would love) to walk in his shoes.

He was known as Tau Bada, 'big white man' by the native farmers of Papua New Guinea where he worked hard to build them a sustainable living through the selling of coffee and chilies.

Travel lovers will thoroughly enjoy his accounts of his visits to different places, and wish they were a fly on the wall watching him meet people from many nations. It is an exciting way to really learn what it is like to live amongst various peoples and learn their customs.

This book is truly an awe-inspiring quest of discovery for one man, re-evaluating his life, taking on challenges, dealing with the consequences and all the time living life to the full. Whatever your dreams and ambitions, I would highly recommend this book, it is inspirational, informative and very thought provoking.

Terry John Barto
9781944878276, $6.99, 60 Pages

Genre: Children's

This is a simply wonderful story about a dragon called Nickerbacher, whose job is to guard the Princess Gwendolyn who lives in a tall, tall tower. However the princess and Nickerbacher are friends and their favorite thing is staying up watching the live performances on The Late Knight Show every evening.

Soon we discover that Nickerbacher isn't your ordinary dragon, oh he knows his job is to guard the princess, fight the knights who try to rescue her and generally be a big bad dragon, but that's not what he wants to do the rest of his life - he has a dream. Nickerbacher wants to become a stand-up comedian! He hates the stereotyping of dragons and wants to show the world a different side, a caring, funny dragon, so dragons can be acceptable members of the community, not third rate citizens.

So, when Prince Happenstance arrives, fresh from the Prince Guild, with a mission to rescue the princess, he soon discovers that Gwendolyn is no ordinary princess, and Nickerbacher no ordinary dragon. Before he knows it he finds himself agreeing to take part in a plan cooked up between them to get Nickerbacher to La La Land so he can audition for The Late Knight Show, and make his impact on the world!

La La Land they discover is quite amazing, full of many sorts of wonderful creatures, all living with the humans, but there are no dragons, so Nicerbacher arrival causes quite a stir, and everyone wants to know why he is there.

However being there is only the beginning, can he get an audition with Johnny Kingston, and if he does, how will it go?

Find out if Nickerbacher's dreams come true, will he star on The Late Knight Show?

Can he wow the audience with his jokes, and change their perception of dragons?

Discover the answer to these questions, and much more in this exciting children's story full of magic and surprises, written by Terry John Barto, and beautifully illustrated by Kim Sponaugle.

Fearne Fairy and the Landing Lesson
Sarah Hill
Abela Publishing
9781910882795, $7.99

Genre: Children's

In this delightful children's book we join Fearne Fairy as she is wakened by the dawn chorus in Whimsy Wood on a marvellous May morning.

Fearne is a lovely kind fairy, but she has a terrible voice, so when she asks to join in the chorus the woodland birds don't want to hurt her feelings, after all why make someone unhappy if it isn't necessary? Instead, they divert her thoughts by asking how her best friend Mustard the Magpie Moth Caterpillar is.

Racing down stairs she finds Mustard happily sleeping soundly in his little leaf basket by the stove. Fearne loves her friend so much that she decides to make him a special breakfast, and sets off for the Woodland Store. However, although like other fairies Fearne can fly, her landings are not so good, and on her return she crashes. Startled awake, Mustard suggests that she needs to get some help perfecting her landings, and she agrees.

Thus begins a magical adventure, as we join Fearne and Mustard in their search for Bristle Bumblebee and Dewberry Dragonfly, flying experts who Mustard thinks will be able to help her.

After breakfast, with picnic packed, they set off on their quest to find Bristle and Dewberry.

The woods are wonderful, and most of the creatures are having fun, and enjoying the lovely May weather, but then they come across Bromley the Badger, and his friend, who is a very sad Hedgehog called Humbug.

However, when Fearne discovers the cause of Humbugs unhappiness she realises that it is within her powers to make him happy again, and so she waves her magic wand, and says a special spell, making things right.

Pleased to see his friend happy again, Bromley tells them that Bristle and Dewberry have opened a Flying School down by the purple orchid patch, to help the May bugs and stag beetles who are having problems learning to fly. So off Fearne and Mustard go in search of Bristle and Dewberry's Flying School.

But will they find it?

And, if they do, will Bristle and Dewberry be able to help Fearne improve her landing, after all, she isn't a May bug or stag beetle?

Well you will have to read the story to find out the answers to these questions, but the only thing I can say is that practice really does make perfect...

The wonderful way this magical children's story is told, and the way its beautiful illustrations compliment the story makes this not just a book, but a prized possession, the type of book which will be handed down from child to child, through generation.

I would liken it to the famous The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, and think it definitely deserves a place on every child's bookshelf.

Susan Keefe, Reviewer

Suzie's Bookshelf

The Price of the Past
Kristel Ralston
Amazon Digital Services LLC
Kindle Edition
B01NCTZ0DO, $2.99, 156 pages

Contemporary Romance

"There is an opportunity for us to renew ourselves. There's an opportunity for us to leave the past behind and present something different for the future".

-Jay Weatherill

To the outside world C.J. Bostworth presents a cool facade for she is known for being ruthless in her quest for corporate success. She refuses to bend to anyone; to work in a man's world there is no room to show a moment of weakness. For such a self-destructive emotion could cost her the hard earned reputation as being one of the top lead business leaders in Nashville, Tennessee.

C.J.'s past is one that she wishes to remain hidden. For once she trusted in a man enough to marry him. She dreamed of having a Fairy Tale romance with him. Unfortunately, the Fairy Tale turned into one where she was taken used and thrown aside. This life lesson resulted in her faith to trust men.

Architect, Xander Zhurov is the son of a Russian immigrant. When he meets C.J. he does not allow her cold exterior scare him away. Instead he finds that her cold heart is in need of some much needed attention. Will he be the man to thaw out her hardened heart? Or will he find himself a helpless pawn in her corporate world?

THE PRICE OF THE PAST is an exceptionally written novel. It was so interesting to see how C.J. and Xander discovered each other. I was impressed at how Zander was able to knock down the walls to find C.J's damaged heart. These are the type of characters that you find so deserving of love.

Kristel Ralston has a true writer's voice. Through her descriptive words I could feel a wealth of emotions as I watched this story unfold. It is evident that Ms. Ralston possesses the ability to write a book that will long stay embedded in your memory. The literary world celebrated the day that it was introduced to this talented author.

Magical Eyes: Dawn of the Sand
Jessica D'Agostini
9781460297193, $2.99, Kindle,


Princess Martina has magical powers she must keep hidden. For she lives in a land where if her skills were to surface, it would mean they would not be accepted. She discovers a true friend in Enzo who is a peasant boy.

Then her world is turned upside down when tragedy strikes Brightalia. Overnight her calm and peaceful world is torn to pieces. She feels that if she and her brother could set aside their differences they could help save the land from the destruction that is assured to follow.

Will Martina try to work with her brother to save Brightalia? Or will she decide that her friend is the better choice? In trying to save the kingdom, will she find that she is putting herself in a path of destruction?

MAGICAL EYES: DAWN OF THE SAND is one spectacular adventure. From page one, you find yourself caught up in the high action drama. The setting and characters are so artfully created. Each one offers their own special blend to an unforgettable and delightful fantasy.

Jessica D'Agostini should be commended for writing such an outstanding book. From the richly illustrated cover of the book, you find yourself drawn into a world where magical mystery exists. You discover a world that is in turmoil. What makes this book so unique is that it will appeal to both young adults and adults. I can see it easily be read by a parent to her child and know that both of them will enjoy the adventure. This book ranks right up there with the beloved Disney movies that I grew up with and loved.

Hell Above Me (The Vicheu Chronicles Book 1)
Autumn Warren
9781312459762 $12.99 pbk / $0.99 Kindle, 248 pages,

Science Fiction

Nikolas and his brother's lives changed when their mother left them to fend for themselves in an orphanage. Unknown to them, Nikolas possessed special powers. There were those that wanted to use his power to their advantage.

With the Vicheuen government being corrupt, and telepathics and telekinetics all around him, will Nikolas be able to survive? Will he be strong enough to protect his family? Or will he find that he will destroy himself in the process.

HELL ABOVE ME is an outstanding novel! It takes you into an uncharted world where danger is present at every corner. The characters are well developed, with each one of them adding their own futuristic charm.

It is evident that Autumn Warren has a true talent for writing such a magnificent Science Fiction novel. Through her descriptive words I was able to be projected deeper into the turmoil her characters were experiencing. This is the type of book that the reader can savor every word, for it is presented with a realistic feel that makes a person crave the next installment.

Books in the The Vicheu Chronicles include "Anastasis (Book 2)" and "Lachesis (The Vicheu Chronicle Book 3)".

Anastasis (The Vicheu Chronicles Book 2)
Autumn Warren
9781329665835 $14.36 pbk / $0.99 Kindle, 289 pages,

Science Fiction

Nikolas and Marco have escaped Chiraiyn. They felt they were leaving behind all the danger that had been their constant companion for as long time as they could remember. They were ready to put their troubled past behind them and start rebuilding their lives.

But their world is once again traumatized when Nikolas finds himself being captured by an even worse enemy.

Marco cannot stand by and abandon his brother. He knows that he is Nikolas's only hope for survival. He will do whatever it takes to save his brother from the clutches of the evil that has captured him. Will he be strong enough to beat the enemy? Or will his attempt destroy both of them?

Anatasis is a title that called out to me; it is one that projects a sense of having to know what this book contains. From the first book in this series I grew close to Nikolas and Marco. There was no way I could keep from knowing how their story continued. This series is one that offers a refreshing look at a well-structured science fiction novel.

Autumn Warren is a talented author for whom I have the highest regard. I feel that her writing is a wonderful addition to the literary world. It takes a true gift as an author to write a Science Fiction series. Often, Science Fiction is one of the most difficult to write. You could never guess this by the two books I have read by her. I predict this author is destined for great things to come in her writing career.

Books in the The Vicheu Chronicles include "Hell Above Me (Book 1)" and "Lachesis (Book 3)".

Lachesis (The Vicheu Chronicle Book 3)
Autumn Warren
9781365151941 $16.16 pbk / $2.99 Kindle, 304 pages,

Science Fiction

Rade devised a plan with the siblings to disguise themselves as Earthlings. They felt if they could walk amongst the Earthling with the secret about their true identities hidden, they could save themselves from the evil forces intent on destroying them.

Evil is watching their every move and they are powerless to hide from its destructive clutches. Will this malicious force break down the safe walls they have tried to build around themselves? Or will it destroy everything in its path?

LACHESIS is another outstanding addition to the highly addictive THE VICHEU CHRONICLES SERIES. All throughout these three books I have felt the heart stopping action that surrounds these wonderful characters. This book is a fast and furious ride that is assured to leave you breathless.

Autumn Warren is an award winning author in the fact that she has written one of the best Science Fiction books I have read in 2017. This series is so compelling and unforgettable I hate to see it end. This author has convinced me that she is a master storyteller that excels in the genre of Science Fiction. I highly recommend that you take the time to discover her talent.

Books in the The Vicheu Chronicles include "Hell Above Me (Book 1)" and "Anastasis (Book 2)".

Girl with Broken Umbrella
Davor Banovic
Privately Published
Amazon Digital Services, LLC.
9789535926504 $9.80 pbk / $2.99 Kindle, 74 pages,


Every footstep that you take leads you to your final destiny . . .

Take a literary journey to meet four intriguing characters. Each one of their stories has their own special meaning that will wrap their way around your heart.

You will be introduced to Ana who is a journalist. She never anticipated the manuscript she discovered would lead her to a cartoonist whose life was in danger.

David is a man who has seen a large amount of the world. He pours his thoughts into a book that is centered on the war in Bosnia.

Fabian and Pierre offer this own special blend that makes for a magical moment. These two friends will allow you to see the world in a fresh new prospective.

GIRL WITH BROKEN UMBRELLA is a book that overflows with a treasure chest of characters and eye opening experiences. Each one of these characters has their own voice that illuminates a ray of sunshine. Each one of their stories will capture your attention. In discovering how they are all blended together in one book is a work of art.

Davor Banovic offers a fresh voice in the literary world. He has proven to me that he is an author who is able to write with a robust meaning and has a strong commitment to his fans to offering a refreshing perspective work of literary art. I highly recommend this author, for I feel that this is just the beginning for great things are assured to be written in future novels.

Timed to Perfection (The Time Series Book 1)
Nicholas A. Price
Demy Books
B01N7WJF1H, $2.99 Kindle, 16 pages,

Young Adult - Ages five to 10 years old

One of the most valuable appliances in the Brown family is their egg timer. All members of the family use it each day for different things. This little gadget allows them to have perfect eggs, clean teeth, and the perfect exercise timed program.

Unfortunately The Sand Tribe is in an uproar! They are rebelling against being interrupted from their peaceful sleep just to allow someone to have a perfect breakfast. They decide to retaliate by offering false time to their owners.

Will The Sand Tribe be successful in their plot to defeat the Brown family from interrupting their life? Or will they be forced to endure more of the family's unannounced timing requests?

TIMED TO PERFECTION is one delightful book! I was so impressed by the beautifully illustrated characters that helped the story flow smoothly. The story is one that will appeal to both the adult and a child. I can easily see this being read as a bedtime story.

Nicholas A. Price is a very talented author. I fell in love with his writing style and how he was able to create a story that appealed to my inner child. His words really stuck with me for after I finished the book I looked at my own egg timer and fondly remembered his beloved book. I highly recommend this book as one that is everyone that takes the time to read.

Ruby in the Water: A Coming-of-age Novel about Life, Decisions, and Family
J.P. Sterling
Amazon Digital Services LLC
9780998442105 $14.00 pbk / $0.99 Kindle, 199 pages


Seventeen year old Peter Arnold was a gifted musician. He felt all of his hard work was about to pay off when he landed his first headline tour to promote his classical piano album, Ruby in the Water. What should have been the best night of his life turned into his worst nightmare as horrific pains in his back sent him collapsing to the floor right before his fans eyes.

Peter was rushed to the hospital and found himself in a deep coma. Dreams of people he knows comes to him as his body fights to be healed. What will he learn when is awakes from his dreamlike state? Will he be able to continue with his successful career? Or will he receive news that will change his life forever?

RUBY IN THE WATER: A COMING-OF-AGE NOVEL ABOUT LIFE, DECISIONS, AND FAMILY is an exceptional novel. From the first page I made an instant connection with Peter. In learning how he had used his piano practice to combat the pain he suffered from cerebral palsy I found myself growing close to his story.

J.P. Sterling is an exceptional author. His descriptive words allowed me to make an instantaneous connection to his main character. I felt even though this book was presented as a fiction novel I felt that Peter was real and the struggles he encountered had actually happened. I feel this book is one that will make a strong impact on the literary world. I look forward to discovering more of this authorís future works.

Suzie Housley

Teri's Bookshelf

Carter Lake: A Slice of Iowa in Nebraska
John Schreier
The History Press
9781467118583, $21.99, 120 pages

Why is a small section of Iowa surrounded by Omaha, Nebraska?

Imagine a person arrives at Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, and as they drive into the city, they see a sign stating, "Welcome to Iowa." As they continue down the road, they quickly see another sign, welcoming them to the city of Omaha, Nebraska. Confused? For many travelers, this is a problem many encounter.

Carter Lake, Iowa is in this situation.

With the Missouri River being the dividing line between Iowa and Nebraska, the land east of the river belongs to Iowa, west to Nebraska.

What happens when the river changes its path moving east a mile?

Years ago, Dr. Thomas Jefferis purchased thirty acres of swampy land near the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa along with other land parcels throughout the area.

However, in 1877, the Missouri River flooded. When the waters finally receded the pathway of the river had changed. Dr. Jefferis' land was now west of the river with deposits of new land. Who owns the land now? Who is the owner of the additional new land forced into place by the river? With a new crescent-shaped lake surrounding much of this land, this Cut-Off Island quickly became in dispute between the previous owner and the two neighboring states.

Carter Lake, formerly known as Cut-Off Island has a unique history while trying to alternately be independent while maintaining its relationship with its birth-state, Iowa.

Being separated from Council Bluffs has caused a multitude of problems for this community. From schools for their children, police and fire protection, to taxation, and being a refuge for criminals, Carter Lake maintains its individuality while sometimes being assisted by its mother city, an eight-mile drive, Council Bluffs.

John Schreier, the author, bases his interest in Carter Lake from growing up in Omaha, Nebraska and graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a double major in history and journalism. While managing editor of the Daily Nonpareil, he still finds time to contribute articles to Sports Illustrated, the Denver Post, and the Omaha World-Herald.

Carter Lake is a short book for anyone enjoys history. What is unique about this book is that Carter Lake, while a small city, becomes a character fighting to maintain its individuality. Between bullied by Omaha at times and not being protected by either its big brother, Council Bluffs or its parent, Iowa, Schreier successfully demonstrates the success of this community in achieving their dreams.

Law and Disorder: A Legal Thriller
Mike Papantonio
SelectBooks, Inc.
87 Walker Street, Suite B1, New York City, NY 10013
9781590793671, $26.95, Hardcover, 338 pages

Nicholas "Deke" Deketomis is a passionate attorney. He believes in those he represents and will fight for his clients. He is persistent and will not give up always keeping the clients first. Deke is the type of attorney everyone dreams of on their side.

Deke specializes in torts. He is currently representing Annika Phillips.

Her life seemed perfect being an honor student and an athlete but all that changed after she used the drug, Ranidol. Now, paralysis is part of her life. Annika suffered a drug-induced stroke. Deke is representing Annika against the pharmaceutical company which makes this birth-control drug. Unfortunately, she suffered one of side effects permanently changing her life forever. Deke is not fearful of being the David going up against the Goliath pharmaceutical company. He thrives on knocking down establishments who believe rules and laws are for other people, not them.

Underlying his motivation for winning this case is the realization that his daughter, Cara, has also admitted to using this particular drug. Will she also have an adverse side-effect?

Additionally, Deke has been invited to take on a case where a large oil company, S. I. Oil in Texas, is indirectly poisoning those who live in the community. Smoke-stacks every day regularly spews out toxic chemicals in the air while also destroying the local water supply through the aquifer with a multitude of toxic chemicals causing a variety of health problems, including cancers.

While considering these two cases, Deke accidentally puts himself in a situation where he kills a man. Deke's temper took over in this split-second confrontation, and the attack happened as a reaction, but it still resulted in someone dying. Could this be entrapment? Can someone force anyone into a situation where they end up killing another person?

How can Deke defend others when he has to be defended?

Law and Disorder is a fast-paced page turner that reminds me of the early John Grisham novels. It is well-organized and enthralling as it throws readers into a thriller with non-stop action while maintaining a strong narrative voice with the character, Deke.

Author Mike Papantonio obviously bases his protagonist Deke on his life. He is a senior partner in a law firm specializing in mass tort cases throughout the country. He is one of the youngest attorneys to be inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He was elected president of the Trial Lawyers Association in 2012 as well as receiving a variety of award by the Public Justice Foundation, The American Association for Justice, and the National Trial Lawyers Association. He is a host of the radio show and on the Free Speech TV Network, "Ring of Fire" along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.

Law and Disorder is a phenomenal novel for those who enjoy legal thrillers and anyone who likes fast-paced realistic stories.

The Meddlers of Moonshine Book Two: Moonfall Mayhem
A. E. Decker
World Weaver Press
9780997788839, $14.95 pbk, 318 pages

"Rags-n-Bones wished he were a rat. If would make dealing with guilt much easier."

Anytime anyone travels to a new place, fitting in with the community is usually a challenge. For Miss Ascot Abberdoff from Shadowvale and her motley crew, this is very true. Sir Dmitri, the Captain, Rags-n-Bones, and her Vicardi car, Widget, everything seems strange. With Ascot's red eyes and fangs, Dmitri's command of the language and love of literature even though he is a wolf, and Widget who is a bat-winged cat, fitting into anywhere in difficult.

In this adventure of this Wizard-of-Oz-themed book, the challenge is to rid the city of ghosts. Since they had previously defeated unearthly spirits with Ascot's silverware, shouldn't their experience give them an advantage? Even knowing that the only competition will be from Professor Smothers, who will somehow cheat to ensure his success, Ascot feels confident that they will win.

A prerequisite for reading The Meddlers of Moonshine is to read the first novel of Decker's Moonfall Mayhem, The Falling of the Moon. To understand this book is essential in understanding the characters and their relationships to each other.

In the first book, Ascot is in search of true love. For the particular one, the purpose is a competition to rid the town of ghosts. Fortunately, there are numerous adventures as they prepare for their challenge. These accidental discoveries greatly assist in preparation for the big day.

Adding to the mystery is a ghost who is searching for his sister, a girl with curly, yellow hair while conversing with the group. Why would anyone want to get rid of this sad ghost?

The author, Pennsylvania native, A. E. Decker who feels fortunate to be owned by three cats. She earned her master's degree in history and valued learning how to turn stories upside-down. She has been an ESL tutor and a doll-maker before discovering the world of writing.
The Meddlers of Moonshine is a fast-paced fantasy interlaced with a variety of life-lessons of problem-solving situations with slightly eccentric characters who seem to have various human qualities is aimed at young adult readers. However, as an adult, I have thoroughly enjoyed both books.

For a slightly eccentric but fun read, read both books in A. E. Decker's Moonfall Mayhem.

If You Were Me and Lived in Poland
If You Were Me and Lived in Brazil
If You Were Me and Lived in Israel
Carole P. Roman, author
Kelsea Wieranga, illustrator
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
ISBN: 9781537045108 - Poland
ISBN: 9781532877988 - Brazil
ISBN: 97815372611997 - Israel
$10.99 each, 32 pages, Paperback

How do you prepare yourself to travel abroad? Do you research your destinations to be certain to visit those places that interest you or do you just wander aimlessly to embrace the culture of the country?

It seems logical to know a little about a foreign country you plan to visit and to have a little introduction to the culture and to learn a little of the language.

Even those Carole Roman's books appear to have an audience of children; these are an excellent introduction to the basic knowledge needed to enjoy traveling to any country.
Each book perfectly parallels the text with the pictures giving the reader an expectation of the sites of each country.

Beginning each book is a geography lesson explaining the shape of each country and its placement regarding its continent and other countries surrounding it. Also, a little history is included as well as what the people are called while the illustrations allow any tourist to see how the people are dressed and what is acceptable in their public areas.

For each country, their capital city is the focus including a unique tourist attraction nearby. Depending on each, discussion about a nearby river and the common religion is included.
Each book also has pages about the common proper names used in each country and the terms for brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, and father.

For everyone's benefit, shopping along with the money system and the everyday terms is a focus along with the illustration of their money. Also are the typical foods of the country with the pictures showing how they are usually eaten.

While visiting each country, the favorite tourist sites and celebrations are included along with the usual hobbies, toys, events, and sports.

Most important are the last pages which are the vocabulary for the book along with the definitions and most importantly, the pronunciations.

If You Were Me and Lived in Poland, I find it surprising that as you walk around Warsaw and sit on a black stone bench to rest, you can press a button on it and listen to the beautiful music of their native son, Frederick Chopin.

I would love to visit the Wieclicza Salt Mine near Krakow. This salt mine has been used since the thirteenth century. Supposedly in the chapel, yes there is a chapel inside the salt mine, the acoustics are the best in Europe.

If You Were Me and Lived in Brazil, visiting the Amazon Rain Forest is almost a requirement for visiting the country. Imagine this place that has the most diversity of life with thousands of plants, insects, fishes, and birds as well as monkeys, parrots, toucans, and turtles.

The Annual Carnival of Brazil is a delight to see and experience with colorful costumes and parades filled with dancing and singing.

If You Were Me and Lived in Israel, I loved the section about the history of the walled city of Jerusalem and how Suleiman split the city into four section with each having its unique identity. The idea of floating in the Dead Sea is exciting. I can't imagine being at the lowest place on Earth, or perhaps inside the planet since it is 1371 feet below sea level. Being salty, supposedly it is very easy to float even in a sitting position.

Carole Roman's books are for those who enjoy traveling whether they visit through these excellent books or for those who get to see these special places of Poland, Brazil and Israel.

That's Not Normal!
Mar Pavon, author
Laure du Fay, illustrator
Martin Hyams, translator
Consortium Book Sales and Distribution
9788494431883, $15.95, Hardcover, Second Edition, 44 pages

Have you ever been teased about something that you could not change?

Do you have a big nose, red hair, large ears, or big feet? At some time in your life, you probably have been teased about some feature that distinguished you. It is a fine line between having a distinguished, unique gift or an embarrassment which you cannot easily or quickly change. Why can some people accept their physical differences as gifts while others see these attributes in humiliation?

Elephant has an abnormally long trunk. Fortunately, he is friendly and helpful to all the animals. He uses it to help others and even himself. Whether using it to shower and blow dry his baby, helping Old Monkey to climb a tree, using it as a sling to rock Little Antelope to sleep, hanging Zebra's stripes to drive, assisting ants in crossing the river, being a neck warmer for Giraffe, or drawing hearts in the sand, Elephant looks for ways to be a friend and using his natural ability to help others.

"Only Hippopotamus made sure to remind everyone that elephant's long nose...WASN'T NORMAL."

Unfortunately, children can be cruel, especially in groups. Teasing evolves in bullying with just a few words on playgrounds around the world.

That's Not Normal addressed these issues with simple word choices reinforced by parallel and supporting illustrations. With the repetitive phrase on each page, "That's not normal," the reader discovers themselves being drawn into the teasing of the elephant. The repetition is perfect for early readers and as a read aloud story for classrooms.

The intended audience is for Kindergarten through 2nd-grade. I would revise this to preschool through adults, many of who need a refresher about tolerance.

The author, Mar Pavon is a poet and storyteller living in Spain.

The story is well-plotted, beautifully illustrated with a beautiful message about embracing our differences. With the support of friends, Elephant learns to have the courage to be unique and to show our individual best by sharing the gifts we each possess.

That's Not Normal has a lesson that every person, young or not-so-young needs to constantly hear to by happy in our everyday life.

Last Night in the OR: A Transplant Surgeon's Odyssey
Bud Shaw, M.D.
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780147515339, $16.00, 291 pages, Trade Paperback

How does someone become a transplant surgeon?

Bud Shaw became a physician because his father was a surgeon. When his mother died of lung cancer, Bud became the son of a single-parent who had difficulty balancing raising three children with the demands of surgery.

Naturally, Bud graduated from college, then medical school. Becoming a surgeon is challenging and demanding as well as humbling.

1981, in Pittsburgh, a young doctor was introduced into the world of liver transplantation. Shaw's first experience was in the transplant world was in Pittsburgh during 1981. Ironically, the patient was a liver transplant surgeon from Texas who suffered from a congenital liver disease. He had traveled to Pittsburgh to for the procedure by the most respected liver transplant surgeon of the time. The donor's liver had just arrived from Virginia.

For Shaw, who had just graduated from the University of Utah as a surgery resident, he was an excited thirty-one-year-old thrilled with being allowed to train with this transplant team. For a prospective world-class surgeon, this is the opportunity of his life.

His first day was already a disaster. He received a phone call while driving across the country. Apparently, he was expected in the operating room last week. So much for leaving messages with the head surgeon's secretary.

Two days later, Bud and his wife made it to Pittsburgh. As they moved into a new home, the refrigerator broke along with his car being vandalized.

Strangely, the nurse on the team wanted him to sign a petition stating that transplants were unethical. With the six procedures in six months resulted in six deaths.

His first time on the team was disastrous with the surgeon completely humiliating him.

"This was my initiation to the operating room of Dr. Thomas Starzl, and although I didn't know it at the time, these were but a few of the phrases I would learn to hate and mock and, in the distance of time and place, yearn to hear again."

How does Bud Shaw become a leading liver transplant surgeon in the country at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska? How does his move to this midwestern metropolitan area turn this facility into one of the most respected hospitals in the country?

Last Night in the O.R. is a fascinating journey into a life that prioritizes medicine over a personal life. The jury is out whether that is ethical or not, but I certainly want a physician that places my health above all else.

This novel is his life, his experiences, his impressions. Sometimes I found myself in awe of the man and the next wondering what is wrong with him. The book is well-written, at times jumping through his memories that are not always sequential, but it works. The reflections are his personality and how he thinks.

For a compelling memoir of an unusual person who has achieved phenomenal accomplishments in medicine, read Bud Shaw's Last Night in the O.R.

Candy Pink
Egalite Series
Adela Turin
Nella Bosnia, illustrator
Martin Hyams, translator
c/o Consortium Book Sales and Distribution
9788494431890, $15.95, hardcover, 40 pages

Imagine a herd of elephants. Visualize the multitude of sizes inside the mass of gray. In this particular herd, all the females have skin the color of candy pink with exceptionally bright eyes. What an obvious way to distinguish girls from boys?

Apparently, this color difference occurs from eating only anemones and peonies in an enclosed garden. Although not exactly nutritious, these plants are not obviously harmful. Everyone is so proud of this uniqueness; the females even add pink clothing and accessories to intensify their pinkish beauty.

All the girls are expected to stay within the confines of the garden. Why would they want to leave? Isn't being pink and dressed in pink collar bibs, pink bows on their tails, and pink shoes a perfectly pink life?

The pink elephants observe their brothers and cousins freely eating green grass, wallowing in the water and mud, as well as napping under trees.

Unfortunately, Daisy is not a pink elephant. Yes, she eats her anemones and peonies with the other girls, but she stays gray.

Daisy's parents are ashamed of her. Feeling full of guilt, Daisy forces herself to eat more of the anemones and peonies. Still, she does not turn pink. What is wrong with her?

Naturally when she tries to be like everyone else and there is no change, what does anyone do?
She leaves the garden while all her friends are still munching on the flowers. At first, the pink elephants are upset, then worried, curious, and finally jealous.

What will happen when the other girl elephants observe Daisy eating fresh grass and enjoying life outside the fences garden of anemones and peonies?

Candy Pink was written forty years ago to promote gender equality. Adela Turin is an art historian living in Paris. She founded a publishing house in Milan strictly for children's books. Candy Pink is a beautifully illustrated story with parallel words perfectly matching the illustrations on each page.

Observing the pink female elephants doing as they should staying within the confines of the garden to remain pink is the perfect parallel line for differing rules for boys and girls. Do boys and girls have different rules for growing up?

The book is colorful and brilliantly contrasts between the grays, the boys, and the pinks, girls. This book is now republished and translated into English.

Candy Pink is an excellent children's book with a message for every person.

Notorious RBG
The Life and Time of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Dey Street Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062415837, $19.99 pbk / $12.99 Kindle, 227 pages, Hardcover,

Like or dislike her, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a woman who daily continues to defy stereotypes. She's eighty-three-years-old and stands five foot and one inch. No one questions her intelligence.

This dynamo is a legendary force fighting for injustices to make our country a better place. As being a Supreme Court Justice, her diminutive size is completely opposed to her immense influence of society today.

Ginsberg always has defined life with her rules.

She excelled in school. Unfortunately, her mother died of cancer the day before she graduated high school. Attending Cornell in the early 1950s as a woman who married with a degree in government.

Following her husband to Oklahoma while he served in the Army Reserve, Ruth worked for the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, when she became pregnant, she experienced being demoted.

Her next life challenge was enrolling at Harvard Law School being only one of nine women in the class of around five hundred. Her husband position was in New York City, so she transferred to Columbia Law School. She has earned the distinction of being on both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review while tieing for first in her graduating class. Now she suffered the challenge of being a wife, mother of a five-year-old daughter, Jewish, and in need of a job as a lawyer when women were not accepted in that career.

Facing rejections, she finally was accepted for a position as a clerk for a U. S. District Court. Ruth Bader Ginsberg's life changed when she was chosen to co-author a book about gender equality and completing the research in Sweden where changes in women's roles were changing that country.

Finally, in 1963, she accepted a position as a professor at Rutgers Law School, and she would be paid less than her male coworkers since she was married and her husband was earning a good salary.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg views life through the eyes of the oppressed. She asks questions that reveal the truths of the situations and the personal beliefs of defendants and prosecutors in interpreting the laws as stated in the Constitution.

Notorious RBG is complete with her background, her challenges, her work-out routine, her inspirations, and even her favorite recipe. Also included is an index, references, and pictures from throughout her life.

Whether you agree or disagree with her, Notorious RBG is an engaging and inspirational book for all readers of both genders.

Teri Davis

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design