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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 23, Number 11 November 2023 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Ann Skea's Bookshelf Arthur Turfa's Bookshelf C.A. Gray's Bookshelf
Carl Logan's Bookshelf Clint Travis' Bookshelf Israel Drazin's Bookshelf
Jack Mason's Bookshelf James Rollins' Bookshelf John Burroughs' Bookshelf
Julie Summers' Bookshelf Kate Michaelson's Bookshelf Kristina Darling's Bookshelf
Margaret Lane's Bookshelf Mark Walker's Bookshelf Matthew McCarty's Bookshelf
Michael Carson's Bookshelf Morgan St. James' Bookshelf Robin Friedman's Bookshelf
Suanne Schafer's Bookshelf Susan Bethany's Bookshelf Tom Dutta's Bookshelf
Willis Buhle's Bookshelf    

Ann Skea's Bookshelf

Eta Draconis
Brendan Ritchie
UWA Publishing
9781760802615, A$32.99 PB / $14.99 Kindle 250pp.

Elora closed her eyes and waited for the flashes of light to dissolve. It took longer these days. Hours sometimes. They were phosphenes, but since Draconis, people had started calling them phantom streaks.

Draco, an important constellation in the northern skies, is known for the meteor showers which happen when the Earth passes through its cometary debris stream. Usually, meteors look like falling stars and burn out in Earth's atmosphere but occasionally one survives and hits the ground as a meteorite.

In Eta Draconis however, the storms have intensified and meteorites are raining down on Earth and causing destruction and terror throughout the world. Elora and her older sister, Vivienne, are driving from Esperance in Western Australia to Perth, where Elora is about to start a Drama course at university and Vivienne will continue her studies. The journey would normally take just a couple of days with an overnight stop halfway at Ghost Lake, but nothing, now, is normal.

Elora has been counting the seconds between the flashes of 'crisp white light that made the sun seem oddly vague and mellow', waiting for the noise and the shockwave of a meteorite's impact. Cars pull over by the roadside, caravans, too.

Suddenly their speed dropped and the car seemed to buckle downward. As if they had veered into a great headwind.

'Put your hand on the windscreen,' said Vivienne.

'What?' said Elora, abandoning the count.

'Like this'. Now,' said Vivienne.

Elora followed her lead and lay her palm flat against the glass....

They hurtled forward into the abyss of the graveyard highway. Sky flashing on both sides of them now.

This time, their windscreen survives, but it is not the only hazard they have to endure. There are impact craters, trees felled and destroyed by shockwaves, streams of traffic, nose-to-tail, leaving the city and heading towards them on their side of the road, and the constant threatening activity in the sky.

Elora remembers her family leaving the city when she was nine, after her mother had experienced shockwave blast injuries at work. That was early in the storms, when people thought they would soon pass. She grew up in their new home near the sea, went to school, made friends, and surfed and partied with them. No-one seemed concerned about the future. Vivienne, however, never adapted to the move. She became silent, withdrawn, prone to sudden rages, and determined to return to the city as soon as she could. University solved this problem for her, but Elora no longer feels close to her and struggles to understand her.

It had been like that the whole summer. And the one before that. Clipped and strained conversations loaded with the pressure of something larger that neither of them fully understood.

Thrown together on this journey, their awkwardness with each other is made worse by Vivienne's determination to get back to her city life, and Elora's sudden and unexpected homesickness as she remember the life she is leaving, and worries that she will miss her university orientation.

Halfway to Perth, Vivienne stops at a motel, telling Elora there will be a party. 'Halfers'. 'The halfway thing isn't literal', Vivienne tells her. For most students it is a detour, but it 'started one summer, then people kept going'. Elora is unprepared for the whole experience: the firepits; the students milling round trestle tables loaded with food; troughs of ice full of cans and bottle; the rituals, and the burning of paper planes made from school graduation certificates. She is puzzled when everyone treks into the bush to wade into the great salt lake but she joins them:

Stepping into the water felt like entering Draconis proper. She was within the chaos now. Lights zipped across her legs and torso. Fires burned along her forehead and cheekbones. The movement was rapid. Cellular. It felt like creation as well as destruction. Elora stretched out her arms and swam her fingers through the thickness of it all, and realised that others were doing the same beside her.

So, there are moments of beauty amid the devastation of blackened craters, deserted and damaged land, and families fleeing in the vain hope of finding somewhere safe. In a few places Elora and Vivienne come across those who have decided to stay and trying to carry on until, as they hope, things get back to normal. The girls make friends, briefly, and live through the delays and disasters that threaten to end their journey. But Draconis continues to rain meteorites: and the wolves that the 'Arabic tribes' used to talk of 'in the battle of Draco', still stalk and hunt the tiny star, Alruba, which lies between Eta and Zeta Draconis, while the legendary Mother Camels (other small stars in Draco) try to protect it.

Communication towers cease to function, phone connections fail, and eventually the girls do not know whether their parents are safe or not. They arrive at the city and Elora leaves Vivienne at the airport, where Vivienne plans to take one of the rare, still-flying, planes to Sydney so that she can work and study in a new satellite programme. Elora, discovers an Inn which is still open and beside it an old theatre which has miraculously survived and is still offering performances.

Elora sat central in the upper stalls amid the soft gather of voices. Not a full house, but still there were others like her with their heads turned to a stage pooled in light. The curtains were drawn and beyond them lay the thickness of the present, coiled and ready. Existing once only and never again.... Elora knew that the wolves had no agency in this place of fiction and fantasy.

Brendan Ritchie has woven a gripping tale around this journey made by two young women in a time of change and uncertainty. We may not be suffering the depredations of a long-lasting meteor shower but our own world is endangered by other things which often seem beyond our control. Driving through the Wheatbelt and seeing farmland affected 'by the relentless heat of a warming planet', 'Elora couldn't help but think that Eta Draconis masked the real crisis gripping her tiny battered Earth'.

Dr. Ann Skea, Reviewer

Arthur Turfa's Bookshelf

Ae Hee Lee
Tupelo Press, Inc.
9781961209015, $21.95

Lee has woven together a collection of variously-styled poems into a work spanning continents, countries, and languages. Born in South Korea, raised in Peru, and then immigrating to the United States, she is not conflicted; rather she synthesizing languages, cultures, and experiences into not only her life, but her poetry. and makes them all accessible to the reader. Certainly that is no small task

From the introductory poem, SELF-PORTRAIT AS PORTRAIT:

"Together we are
unhyphenated, indefinite, country
not culture not skin, clumsy
geese of three
wings: one for ourselves, one for the world
one for strangeness
Surely, some will continue to call us

we won't forget
all beautiful things are." p. 3

There are times either in Korea itself or in the culture, its distinct food and landscape, then in Trujillo, Peru, with friends and family, and several poems relating to the experience of the bureaucratic maze leading to life in the United States. The latter conveys bemusement at the process.

Lee deftly describes the complexities of learning English:

"I understood speech as a matter of wind.
Voice could be voiceless, place nestled inside palate." p.27

She writes how the same letters and clusters of letters could sound so different.

These are but a few examples of exquisite, precise wording appear throughout this entire work. Too often ethnicity, language and culture are used to divide people, to be used to assert superiority or importance. None of this is the case here. Lee invites the reader into all that she herself is, and allows the reader to experience and exult in it as she herself does.

Arthur Turfa

C.A. Gray's Bookshelf

How Emotions are Made
Lisa Feldman Barrett
William Morrow
c/o Harpercollins
9781328915436, $18.99 pbk / $13.49 Kindle

The author seemed to believe that the premise of this book was more revolutionary than I thought it was, to the point where I wondered if maybe I missed something.

Her main premise seems to be that there are no universal emotional pathways in the brain for things like happiness, sadness, fear, anger, etc. Rather, the body has only a very few possible physiologic states that can be mentally attributed to a given emotion, depending upon the person's thoughts about their cause, and the context. An example that stuck out to me was when she was in school and a colleague to whom she didn't think she was particularly attracted asked her for a date. She went, and felt various strange things in her gut, and assumed during the date that perhaps she was attracted to him after all... only to later learn that she actually had the early stages of gastroenteritis. It makes the vivid point that we can misattribute physical symptoms for emotions, because there are only so many possible physical manifestations of emotion, so the same ones have to get used over and over. Then it's up to us to interpret what they mean.

Barrett then references a number of studies with which I was familiar, regarding the universality of emotion in various cultures that have had no contact with the Western world. She makes the point that these studies all essentially "stacked the deck," teaching the people about Western emotional concepts and then showing them the facial expressions that were affiliated with them. But she makes the point that we are literally incapable of perceiving or even feeling a given emotion until we become culturally aware of it. The examples she gives to back this argument are very unique situations in which a particular complex emotion arises -- situations which some cultures define by a single word. I don't know if I'm convinced that other cultures can't *experience* that emotion, though I certainly agree that we become far more emotionally intelligent when we possess the breadth of language to define it. I certainly have had the experience in my life of hearing someone describe an emotion, and saying to myself, "Ah-ha! So that's what I was feeling (and why)!"

What to me was most revolutionary about this book was the author's concept of the "body budget," which affects the physical manifestations of emotions which we then have to use our language to define and context to interpret. Our body budgets can be affected by things like our sleep deficits, our blood sugar levels, cortisol levels, etc. Essentially it all goes back to the basic naturopathic building blocks of eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep, spending time with those we love and doing things we love, and balancing our time between work and play. This isn't exactly new, but it's a new twist on the concept that the more depleted we are, the more emotional we can become... but then it's still up to interpret what we are feeling.

My rating: ****

Language: none

Sexual content: none

Violence: none

Political content: none

C.A. Gray, Reviewer

Carl Logan's Bookshelf

North Country: Essays on the Upper Midwest and Regional Identity
Jon K. Lauck, editor
Gleaves Whitney, editor
University of Oklahoma Press
9780806191881, $75.00, HC, 252pp

Synopsis: Travel north from the upper Midwest's metropolises, and before long you're "Up North" -- a region that's hard to define but unmistakable to any resident or tourist. Crops give way to forests, mines (or their remains) mark the landscape, and lakes multiply, becoming ever clearer until you reach the vastness of the Great Lakes. How to characterize this region, as distinct from the agrarian Midwest, is the question "North Country: Essays on the Upper Midwest and Regional Identity" seeks to answer, as a congenial group of scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals explores the distinctive landscape, culture, and history that define the northern margins of the American Midwest.

From the glacial past to the present day, these essays range across the histories of the Dakota and Ojibwe people, colonial imperial rivalries and immigration, and conflicts between the economic imperatives of resource extraction and the stewardship of nature. The book also considers literary treatments of the area - and arguably makes its own contributions to that literature, as some of the authors search for the North Country through personal essays, while others highlight individuals who are identified with the area, like Sigurd Olson, John Barlow Martin, and Russell Kirk.

From the fur trade to tourism, fisheries to supper clubs, Finnish settlers to Native treaty rights, the nature of the North Country emerges here in all its variety and particularity: as clearly distinct from the greater Midwest as it is part of the American heartland.

Critique: Collaborative compiled and co-edited by Jon K. Lauck and Gleaves Whitney, "North Country: Essays on the Upper Midwest and Regional Identity" is comprised of thirteen eloquent, erudite, and informative essays by contributors who are listed along with their credentials. Further enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an Introduction (Finding the Northern Borderlands of the American Midwest) and a nine page Index, "North Country: Essays on the Upper Midwest and Regional Identity" will have a very special value for readers with an interest in Immigrant and Native American History in the upper Midwest. While highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library American History collections, it should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "North Country: Essays on the Upper Midwest and Regional Identity" is also available in a paperback edition (9780806191898, $24.950 and in a digital book format (Kindle, $21.95).

Editorial Note #1: Jon K. Lauck ( is the past president of the Midwestern History Association, teaches history and political science at the University of South Dakota, and is Editor-in-Chief of Middle West Review. He has authored or edited several books, including The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History; Daschle vs. Thune; Finding a New Midwestern History; and three volumes of The Plains Political Tradition.

Editorial Note: Gleaves Whitney ( is Executive Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and the author or editor of 17 books on presidential and midwestern history.

FORGED: Making a Knife with Traditional Blacksmith Skills
Paul White
Artisan Ideas
c/o Artisan North American Inc.
9781733325028, $29.95, HC, 132pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "FORGED: Making a Knife with Traditional Blacksmith Skills", blacksmithing expert Paul White will teach you, step-by-step, how to hand build a knife using the traditional method of blacksmiths of old.

Traditional forging of a knife blade is a process which uses the ancient techniques of moving hot steel with hammer and anvil alone into a knife-form that is ready for filing, heat treating and sharpening with no or very minimal electric grinding.

"FORGED" teaches traditional fit-and-finish skills using only hand tools and also explains an ancient riveted full-tang handle construction system that surpasses modern methods.

In the author's words; "In my early blacksmithing years, I was lucky to get to know some old smiths who wrangled hot iron every day just to make a living. They unselfishly taught me traditional blacksmithing skills and knife forging methods. Every time I use those skills and methods, I honor their friendships, and by teaching you, the reader, we keep alive the memory of those old-time iron pounders."

Critique: Effectively and profusely illustrated with full color photography throughout, "FORGED: Making a Knife with Traditional Blacksmith Skills" offers a complete course of DIY instruction that is fully 'user friendly' in organization and presentation. Of special appeal and value to readers with an interest in weapon smithing, metal working and folkcrafts, "FORGED: Making a Knife with Traditional Blacksmith Skills" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Blacksmithing collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for aspiring or professional metalworkers and blacksmiths that "FORGED: Making a Knife with Traditional Blacksmith Skills" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Paul White has been a blacksmith for over forty years. The smith who taught Paul to make his frontier style blade was Gus Marie of Brownsville, Illinois. Gus was the last of an unbroken chain of blacksmiths, originally from France, who came to the Colonies before the American Revolution. Relocating to Northern Illinois in 1978 Paul was instrumental in establishing, equipping, teaching and demonstrating at the smith shop at Midway Village Museum in Rockford, Illinois. For many years he taught classes in general blacksmithing, Colonial hardware and, of course, knife making. He now limits his teaching to individual smiths seeking that traditional approach to blacksmithing passed-on to him from those legendary smiths of the last century.

Carl Logan

Clint Travis' Bookshelf

Crimson Scimitar: Attack on America - 2001-2027
S. P. Grogan
Addison & Highsmith
c/o Histria Books
9781592113316, $39.99, HC, 620pp

Synopsis: A fast-paced epic of suspense, mysterious clue solving, political intrigue, terrorist plots of bombings and nuclear poisonings, romantic entanglements of strong women, a legal adventure of The Trial of the Century: "Crimson Scimitar: Attack on America - 2001-2027" by S. P. Grogan is an historical thriller of a novel that is intertwined with actual events of 2011 and a no-holds barred critical commentary on Hollywood culture and social media.

This 'What if?' epic novel poses such questions as:

What if, in 2011, Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda jihadist terrorist, was captured instead of killed? How would a trial in the U.S. judicial system look like?

And what if the ones who captured him were stars of a reality TV show trying to boost their ratings.

And what if when bin Laden was captured al Qaeda was planning an attack on the United States, worse than 9/11? Who do you think will come to the rescue?

Finally, would you cheer for a young al Qaeda jihadist who might bring peace to the Mideast?

Critique: A simply brilliant extrapolation from current events and very recent history, "Crimson Scimitar: Attack on America - 2001-2027" offers the reader a deft blending of dystopian alternative history science fiction and action/adventure suspense thriller. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Crimson Scimitar: Attack on America - 2001-2027" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: S. P. Grogan ( is also the author of "Lafayette: Courtier to Crown Fugitive" and "Vegas Die: A Quest Mystery", and "Captain Cooked", which won a Best In The World Gourmand Award.

Atomic Dreams at the Red Tiki Lounge
S. P. Grogan, author
Brad Parker, illustrator
Addison & Highsmith Publishers
c/o Histria Books
9781592112937, $19.99, PB, 314pp

Synopsis: The modern Battle of the Gods with epic fights against mutated demons starts when this pig wanders into a bar; well, not quite, but in 1946 Hawai'i, the goddess Pele is in need a hero.

But why did she choose an alcoholic, war wounded ex-U.S. naval commander, Hunter Hopewell, to battle fire-breathing dragons and evil gods and save the world? Maybe, because he's changing -- but changing into what?

Meanwhile, attractive, young Tommi Chen, once a Japanese student and spy, is now successful in the black market, but she is not what she seems. She is seeking revenge and has decided to steal an atomic bomb -- before it explodes.

Critique: Originally published in hardcover in 2014, and now newly available in a paperback edition and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99), "Atomic Dreams at the Red Tiki Lounge" is unreservedly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Fantasy Fiction collections as a fast-paced historical thriller of a fantasy read that features a transoceanic chase, a race against the countdown, battles against war gods and Godzilla-like sea creatures for control over earth and the heavens.

Additionally, the award-winning author S.P. Grogan introduces his readers to a post-World War II watering hole called the Red Tiki Lounge and Bar, a Pacific oasis of dreams and visions, located in Honolulu, Hawai'I, American territory. All while famed island pop surrealist artist Brad 'Tiki Shark' Parker offers up a colorful collection of his best-known works that captures the exotic world of tiki culture, and helps to bridge within Atomic Dreams a truly believable alternate reality.

Editorial Note: Author S.P. Grogan is a best-selling author specializing in historical fiction. Brad 'Tiki Shark' Parker is a highly acclaimed surrealist artist. His work can be seen at

The Tuttle Twins and the 12 Rules Boot Camp
Connor Boyak, author
Elijah Stanfield, illustrator
Libertas Press
9798886880069, $9.99, PB, 63pp

Synopsis: What are some steps for success in life? Life doesn't come with a manual, but there are some helpful rules that one can follow in their life to be set up for success.

That's something that the Tuttle twins have been taught by their parents -- and something they teach to their Uncle Brock in their new adventure, "The Tuttle Twins and the 12 Rules Boot Camp".

Inspired by the popular 12 Rules for Life written by Jordan Peterson, "The Tuttle Twins and the 12 Rules Boot Camp" sees the twins organize a boot camp for Brock to help him see the power of these ideas -- and how each of the ideas is like an ingredient that, when mixed together, can lead to great results!

Critique: With its theme of achieving success in one's personal life, "The Tuttle Twins and the 12 Rules Boot Camp" is an original and fun read from start to finish. Written to present traditional, conservative values in a format appealing to readers age 9-14, "The Tuttle Twins and the 12 Rules Boot Camp" is also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.95).

Editorial Note: Connor Boyack ( is the author of 42 books, founder and president of Libertas Institute, and the executive producer of the Tuttle Twins Show.

Clint Travis

Israel Drazin's Bookshelf

Vashti's Daughter
Raven West
Independently Published
9798854270816, $24.95 Hardcover / $9.99 Kindle, 269 pages

Raven West's novel "Vashti's Daughter" is brilliant. I enjoyed it. Every page. I would call it a fantasy, with the best meaning of the word. It is somewhat akin to J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" books, but better. The plot is excellent and moves at a delightful speed. It is very creative and thoughtful. It contains time travel, reincarnation, romance, a curse, abusive male power, and justice. It is a gripping tale with a blend of history, Bible, fantasy, magic, rationalism, past and present.

It is about a female abused and divorced publisher who mysteriously receives a book manuscript claiming to be factual that Vashti, mentioned briefly in the biblical book Esther, had a daughter. She discards the manuscript, but it strangely reappears. After discarding it several times and failing to destroy it, she begins to read it. But before she gets far into the book, she is transported back to 366 BCE. Upon returning to the present, she thinks she had a dream. She realizes it is no dream when the time travel repeats several times.

When she arrives in the past, she appears as Vashti's daughter about to be proclaimed a queen. She meets Queen Esther, King Darius, Alexander the Great, and others. She seeks to show the world the justice in Vashti's behavior when her husband, the king, mistreated her. She also needs to find a way to annul the curse placed upon Vashti's descendants, which includes her, that they will never have a good marriage. It has been working for centuries.

Vashti, her daughter, and their descendants become heroes and role models for women today.

Israel Drazin, Reviewer

Jack Mason's Bookshelf

Corporate Bullsh*t
Nick Hanauer, et al.
The New Press
9781620977514, $25.99, HC, 176pp

Synopsis: From praising the health benefits of cigarettes to moralizing on the character-building qualities of child labor, rich corporate overlords have gone to astonishing, often morally indefensible lengths to defend their profits.

Since the dawn of capitalism, corporate executives told the same lies over and over to explain why their bottom line is always more important than the greater good: You say you want to raise the federal minimum wage? Why, you'll only make things worse for the very people you want to help! Should we hold polluters accountable for the toxins they're dumping in our air and water? No, the free market will save us! Can we raise taxes on the rich to pay for universal healthcare? Of course not -- that will kill jobs! Affordable childcare? Socialism! It's always the same tired threats and finger-pointing, in a concentrated campaign to keep wealth and power in the hands of the wealthy and powerful.

With the publication of "Corporate Bullsh*t: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths That Protect Profit, Power, and Wealth in America", the team of co-authors Nick Hanauer, Joan Walsh, Donald Cohen, and Zachary Roth will help you identify this pernicious propaganda for the wealthiest 1 percent, and teach you how to fight back.

Structured around some of the most egregious statements ever made by the rich and powerful, the book identifies six categories of falsehoods that repeatedly thwart progress on issues including civil rights, wealth inequality, climate change, voting rights, gun responsibility, and more. With amazing illustrations and a sharp sense of humor, "Corporate Bullsh*t" teaches readers how to never get conned, bamboozled, or ripped off ever again.

Critique: Of special and informative value to readers with an interest in Economic Policy & Development, Human Rights, Income Inequality, Corporate Greed/Political Corruption, "Corporate Bullsh*t: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths That Protect Profit, Power, and Wealth in America" is impressively organized and presented, making it an ideal pick for personal, professional, community, corporate, and college/university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, economists, political activists, governmental policy makers, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Corporate Bullsh*t: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths That Protect Profit, Power, and Wealth in America" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.33).

Editorial Note #1: Nick Hanauer is an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist, the founder of the public policy incubator Civic Ventures, and the host of the podcast Pitchfork Economics.

Editorial Note #2: Joan Walsh is national affairs correspondent for The Nation, the co-producer of the Emmy-nominated documentary The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show, and the author of What's the Matter with White People?

Editorial Note #3: Donald Cohen is the founder and executive director of the research and policy center In the Public Interest and the co-author (with Allen Mikaelian) of The Privatization of Everything.

Editorial Note #4: Zachary Roth is a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice and a former national reporter at MSNBC. He is the author of The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy and the co-author (with Nick Hanauer, Joan Walsh, and Donald Cohen) of It's Never Our Fault And Other Shameless Excuses (The New Press).

The Globemakers: The Curious Story of an Ancient Craft
Peter Bellerby
Bloomsbury Press
9781639731565, $30.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Many of us encounter a globe as children. We find a grown-up and ask, "Where are we?" They spin the globe and point to a minuscule dot amidst a massive expanse of sea and land. Thousands of questions follow. A profound convergence of art and science, a globe is the ultimate visualization of our place in our galaxy and universe. To be a globemaker requires a knowledge of geography, skilled engineering, drawing, and painting, and only a few people in history have ever really mastered the craft.

When Peter Bellerby set out to make a globe for his father's eightieth birthday, after failing to find a suitable one to purchase, he had no idea where the process would lead. He went on to establish Bellerby & Co, one of the only artisan globemakers in the world.

"The Globemakers: The Curious Story of an Ancient Craft" brings us inside Bellerby's gorgeous studio to learn how he and his team of cartographers and artists bring these stunning celestial, terrestrial, and planetary objects to life. Along the way he tells stories of his adventure and the luck along the way that shaped the company.

A full-color photographic portrait of a lost art, "The Globemakers" is an enlightening exploration of globes, or "earth apples," as they were first known, and their ability to show us ourselves and our place in an infinite universe.

Critique: As fascinating as it is informative, "The Globemakers: The Curious Story of an Ancient Craft" is beautifully and profusely illustrated in full color throughout. Of particular relevance and value for readers with an interest in cartography, the history of geography, and the world globe as art, "The Globemakers: The Curious Story of an Ancient Craft" is especially and particularly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library collections. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "The Globemakers: The Curious Story of an Ancient Craft" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.60).

Editorial Note: Peter Bellerby ( is a world-renowned globemaker and founder of artisan globemakers Bellerby & Co, which won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in 2018 and 2021. Their studio has shipped globes to over sixty countries, and its work has been featured in books, on television, and in countless publications around the world. Peter lives in London with his partner Jade, who helps him run the company. @globemakers

Jack Mason

James Rollins' Bookshelf

Lusitania Gold
Fred Rayworth
New Link Publishing
9781941271346, $18.95, PB, 372pp

Fred Rayworth's Lusitania Gold is everything I love packed into one globe-hopping story. An historical mystery, a conspiracy dating back decades, lost treasure, a rollercoaster of a ride of an adventure, all topped off with a character I'd be happy to follow on another trip. It reminded me of the early work of Clive Cussler but with its own unique voice and style. I can't wait to see what the author writes next!

James Rollins

John Burroughs' Bookshelf

Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain: Washington's Olympic Peninsula
Tim McNulty, author
David Guterson, introduction
Braided River
c/o Mountaineers Books
9781680515299, $32.95, HC, 208pp

Synopsis: In the Pacific Northwest, many of us delight in Olympic National Park, a unique and magical UNESCO natural World Heritage Site, located right in our own backyard. Yet the famed park is just the center of a much larger ecosystem, a wild circle of rivers that encompasses ancient old-growth forests, pristine coastal expanses, and jagged alpine peaks, all possessed of a rich biodiversity. For tens of thousands of years, humans have thrived and strived alongside this natural world.

With the publication of "Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain: Washington's Olympic Peninsula, author Tim McNulty explores the Olympic Peninsula's complex (and ongoing) story of development, conservation, restoration, and cultural heritage, while contributing writers from the Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Makah Tribe, and Quinault Indian Nation share some of their own history, stories, and perspectives.

Perhaps no other region in the Northwest offers a history of such depth, nor a future ripe with so much potential. Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain is a rich and vivid exploration of both Olympic National Park and its surrounding peninsula.

Critique: Visually enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of some 150 stunning full-color photographs of the region, the contributors to "Salmon, Cedar, Rock & Rain: Washington's Olympic Peninsula" include Wendy Sampson, Loni Greninger, Gary Morishima, Maria Pascua, Jamie Valadez, Lynda V. Mapes, and others. This large format (10.25 x 0.75 x 9 inches; 2.28 Pounds) hardcover edition is a highly recommended pick for personal, professional, community, and academic library Pacific Northwest Environmentalism & Nature collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note #1: Tim McNulty ( is a poet, essayist, and nature writer and recipient of the Washington State Book Award and National Outdoor Book Award.

Editorial Note #2: David Guterson ( is a novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist, and journalist. He is best known for his award-winning debut novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, which won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award. It has sold more than four million copies and was adapted as a major motion picture. He can be followed on Facebook @davidgutersonauthor

We Are Not Alone
Marc Hartzman
Quirk Books
9781683693352, $23.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: After decades of cover-ups and denials, in a June 2021 report, the US government finally admitted what many people already knew: yes, UFOs are real, and no, we don't know what (or who) they are. With the publication of "We Are Not Alone: The Extraordinary History of UFOs and Aliens Invading Our Hopes, Fears, and Fantasies", writer and historian Marc Hartzman separates fact from fiction and provides a comprehensive tour through the skies

Included in "We Are Not Along" are: UFO sightings, from the famous to the obscure; Alien abductions, including the Betty and Barney Hill abduction and the Pascagoula abduction; Ancient aliens, from Biblical astronauts to the alien architects behind the pyramids; Scientific evidence, including the "Wow!" radio signal and the interstellar 'Oumuamua object; Cover-ups and conspiracies, including the Roswell Incident and Area 51; Governmental and military findings, from Project Blue Book to reports of UFOs at nuclear weapons sites.

Deeply researched and highly entertaining, "We Are Not Alone" will inform and enchant anyone who's ever doubted that we are really alone in the universe.

Critique: A seminal, ground-breaking, and up-to-date study of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), or as they have now been re-labeled by the US military as Unidentified Arial Phenomena (UAPs), "We Are Not Alone: The Extraordinary History of UFOs and Aliens Invading Our Hopes, Fears, and Fantasies" is a simply fascinating and impressively detailed history that will have a very special appeal and value for readers with an interest in the UFO/UAP impact on contemporary culture, politics, and military responses, past and present. Also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99), "We Are Not Alone" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Marc Hartzman ( is "one of America's leading connoisseurs of the bizarre" ( and the author of several books, including The Big Book of Mars (Quirk, 2020) and Chasing Ghosts (Quirk, 2021).

John Burroughs

Julie Summers' Bookshelf

Ask Abundantly
Sylvia C. Kelsey
SCK Enterprises
9781088009215, $49.00, HC, 50pp

Synopsis: "Ask Abundantly: Daily Inspiration To Help You Create The Life You Desire" was written when Sylvia Kelsey was navigating through life divorced and trying desperately to put the pieces back together.

"As Abundantly" is specifically designed to help you remember to always look for the good and never give energy to what you might consider the bad stuff. Unexpected events come up in life to get your attention. How you handle those circumstances can leave you broken or stronger. Are you paying attention to the signs?

When you are focused on growing and expanding how you think, you will begin to see that everything is always working out for you. All things are working together for your good. When you read and journal daily you are reconditioning your mind. That is where true change takes place. It starts with how you think.

Sylvia is a firm believer that whatever you ask you can have. But there is work to be done inside and out. "Ask Abundantly" will help you on your way.

Critique: An impressive compendium of common sense advice and insights for dealing with life in general, and your response to other people in particular, "Ask Abundantly: Daily Inspiration To Help You Create The Life You Desire" is inspired, inspiring, life changing, and life celebrating. While also available for personal reading lists in a paperback edition (9781088097342, $39.99), "Ask Abundantly is especially and unreservedly recommended to community libraries and the attention of readers with an interest in mental/spiritual health and healing, self-esteem issues, and DIY motivational self- help.

Sign Language for Kids Activity Book
Tony R. Smith
Independently Published
9798387138843, $10.99, PB, 147pp

Synopsis: Tony R, Smith is the author of "Sign Language for Kids: Learn to Sign the Quick and Easy Way". Now, with the follow-up publication of the "Sign Language for Kids Activity Book" he provides great activities to aid his first book.

If, as a parent, caregiver, or teacher, you are looking for a fun and educational way to introduce a child to sign language the "Sign Language for Kids Activity Book is an ideal option. This engaging American Sign Language book is designed to help kids learn the basics of sign language through a variety of fun activities, including coloring pages, mazes, word searches, and more.

Critique: With easy-to-follow instructions and clear illustrations, this activity book is perfect for kids of all ages and skill levels. Whether the child is a complete beginner or already has some experience with sign language, they will enjoy the chance to learn and practice new signs in a fun and interactive way. So why wait? While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $4.99), this large format (8.5 x 0.34 x 11 inches) paperback edition of "Sign Language for Kids Activity Book" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, family, schoold district, community, and college/university library ASL Sign Language collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.

What We Remember Will Be Saved
Stephanie Saldana
Broadleaf Books
9781506484211, $28.99, HC, 280pp

Synopsis: In an era of mass migration in which more than 100 million people are displaced comes "What We Remember Will Be Saved: A Story of Refugees and the Things They Carry" by journalist and scholar Stephanie Saldana. A lyrical portrait of Syrian and Iraqi refugees and the belongings they carry with them. Essentially, "What We Remember Will Be Saved" is a book of hope, home, and the stories we hold within us when everything else has been lost.

Saldana, who lived in Syria before the war, sets out on a journey across nine countries to meet refugees and learn what they salvaged from the ruins when they escaped. Now, in the narratives of six extraordinary women and men, from Mt. Sinjar to Aleppo to Lesvos to Amsterdam, we discover that the little things matter a great deal.

Saldana introduces us to a woman who saved her city in a dress, a musician who saved his stories in songs, and a couple who rebuilt their destroyed pharmacy even as the city around them fell apart. Together they provide a window into a religiously diverse corner of the Middle East on the edge of unraveling, and the people keeping it alive with their stories.

Born of years of friendship and reporting, "What We Remember Will Be Saved" is an elegiac odyssey into the heart of the largest refugee crisis in modern history. It reminds us that refugees are storytellers and speakers of vanishing languages, and of how much history can be distilled into a piece of fabric, or eggplant seeds. What we salvage tells our story. What we remember will be saved.

Critique: Inherently fascinating, memorable, informative, thought-provoking, and a seminal study of human resiliency in the face of unimaginable tragedy, "What We Remember Will Be Saved: A Story of Refugees and the Things They Carry" is especially and unreservedly recommended to readers and librarians with an interest in Contemporary Middle East Poltics/History collections, and supplemental Emigration/Immigration curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for personal, professional, community, college/university library collections that "What We Remember Will Be Saved" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.49).

Editorial Note: Stephanie Saldana ( is a journalist and religion scholar from San Antonio, Texas, who has spent most of the last twenty years living in the Middle East. Saldana studied religion at Harvard Divinity School and is the author of A Country Between and The Bread of Angels, hailed by Geraldine Brooks as "a remarkable, wise, and lovely book." Her work has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, America Magazine, and Plough, and she has been featured on National Public Radio. Saldana and her family split their time between Bethlehem and France.

Sensory Processing Solutions
Sally Fryer Dietz, PT, DPT, CLC, CST-D
Healing Arts Press
c/o Inner Traditions International, Ltd.
9781644117903, $16.99, PB, 192pp

Synopsis: Every person (whether baby, child, teenager, or adult) interacts with the world in their own unique way. Yet some have a harder time than others due to a variety of sensory processing issues, which can lead to motor delays, learning differences, frustration, anxiety, and emotional, behavioral, and social challenges as well as diagnoses like ADHD and "autism spectrum". As sensory integration expert Sally Fryer Dietz reveals, these children are not "broken."

Speaking from both her decades of professional experience as well as her own journey to help her oldest son, with the publication of "Sensory Processing Solutions: Drug-Free Therapies to Realize Your Child's Potential", Dietz shares in-depth guidance to help you find the right therapeutic support for your child.

Detailing common red flags at each developmental stage, from infancy to grade school, she explains how children with sensory processing "glitches" are often misunderstood and put on medication rather than in therapies that can help them succeed naturally. Sharing how difficult it was to hear from her son's teachers that he was having more challenges in school than his peers, she presents success stories from her family and from her sensory integration therapy clinic.

She also outlines therapies and treatments for body and mind that can help improve your child's sensory motor development and function, such as sensory integration-based occupational, physical, and CranioSacral therapy.

No matter where your child is on the spectrum of sensory motor integration, this guide showcases effective solutions beyond medication and can help you figure out what options are available to help children grow into happy and productive adults.

Critique: Impressively informative, exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "Sensory Processing Solutions: Drug-Free Therapies to Realize Your Child's Potential" is an ideal resource for the non-specialist general reader concerned with parenting a child with a learning disorder or cognitive disability without a sole reliance on prescribed medications. Featuring seven pages of answers to Questions Parents Often Ask, a twelve page Glossary, and a six page Index, "Sensory Processing Solutions" is unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Parenting Children with Disabilities book collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "Sensory Processing Solutions" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $11.99).

Editorial Note: Sally Fryer Dietz ( is a doctor of physical therapy, developmental specialist, sensory integration expert, lactation counselor, and Upledger CranioSacral Therapy Diplomate therapist and presenter. As a leading authority in therapeutic pediatrics (and the mother of two boys who learned in entirely different ways) she has helped thousands of children reach their fullest potential. She has taught her innovative therapy methods nationally and internationally.

Julie Summers

Kate Michaelson's Bookshelf

The Death of Us
Lori Rader-Day
William Morrow
9780063293335, $18.99 pbk / $11.99 Kindle

Synopsis: This suspense novel follows Liss Kehoe, who is raising her stepson, Callan, while her marriage to his father is falling apart. Although Liss thinks of Callan as her own son, her connection to him is tenuous in the eyes of the law. When Callan was still a baby, his mother Ashley left him with Liss and disappeared without a trace. The story begins fifteen years later, when a car containing skeletal remains is found in a quarry on property belonging to Liss's in-laws. The body is assumed to belong to Callan's mother, and before long, residents of their small town have pinned the blame on Liss and her husband. To keep her family together, Liss begins working to protect her son and prove her husband's innocence, only to uncover more secrets about the people she loves.

Critique: Rader-Day perfectly captures her characters' inner lives and the nuances of small-town life, where everyone knows everyone else's business, and an exchanged look between friends can convey a lifetime of judgment. Rader-Day's portrayal of motherhood is particularly poignant. The Death of Us will appeal to readers who enjoy suspense novels with the kind of twists that cast previous scenes in a whole new light.

Editorial note: Rader-Day is the Edgar Award - nominated and Anthony, Agatha, and Mary Higgins Clark Award - winning author of seven novels.

The Finalist
Joan Long
Level Best Books
9781685120597, $16.95 pbk / $5.99 Kindle

Synopsis: This traditional mystery follows a group of crime writers who travel to a secluded tropical island to complete a famous novelist's final unfinished manuscript. Whoever comes up with the best conclusion to the book will win a million dollars and the rights to continue the bestselling series. The main character, Risa, is a single mom who has suffered her own recent tragedies over the past year. After less than twenty-four hours on the island, one of the authors is dead and the writers realize that they might have a real-life mystery on their hands.

Critique: From the premise and plot to the setting and characters, this debut mystery offers a lot to like. The small cast of characters and the remote setting give the novel the feel of a classic locked room mystery but on a lush, tropical island. Risa comes across as a capable, sympathetic protagonist, and there are plenty of twists and red herrings to keep readers guessing throughout the book.

Editorial note: The Finalist is Joan Long's debut novel and was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Mystery.

The End of the Road
Andrew Welsh-Huggins
Mysterious Press
9781613163825, $26.95 pbk / $15.73 Kindle

Synopsis: Set in Columbus, Ohio, The End of the Road by Andrew Welsh-Huggins is a crime novel that offers three intriguing point-of-view characters. However, the star of the novel is Penny, a woman whose husband is released from prison and shot the next day by the crime boss he testified against. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the only way Penny can stop this merciless crime boss, Pryor, is by going after him herself. Her quest to track down Pryor takes Penny on a frenetic overnight journey all around Columbus and rural Ohio. Upon the way, she meets rural sheriff's deputy J.P, who joins her on her journey toward a final showdown.

Critique: There's a lot to enjoy in this novel, but the propulsive forward momentum is particularly notable. Readers might want to clear their schedules, because once they start reading The End of the Road, it's hard to put down. Part of this is due to Penny, a tenacious yet vulnerable protagonist determined to find justice in an unjust situation.

Editorial note: Welsh-Huggins has been nominated for the International Thriller Writers, Shamus, and Derringer Awards. He also writes the Andy Hayes series, which follows a former Ohio State and Cleveland Browns quarterback turned private investigator.

Kate Michaelson, Reviewer

Kristina Darling's Bookshelf

What Start Bad a Mornin'
Carol Mitchell
Central Avenue Publishing
c/o Independent Publishers Group
9781771683548, $28.00

At first glance, Amaya Lin is a living American success story. A legal immigrant from Jamaican, she successfully manages her husband's law firm in Northern Virginia. Their young adult son is steadily making his way in the world. Her aunt's dementia is under control for now. the law firm is on the verge of a major deal with a Swedish firm that will make them financially secure.

When a disheveled woman comes up to Amaya in a parking lot and announces that they are sisters, Amaya suddenly finds herself confronting a past she has managed to forget- most of it, at any rate. Like peeling layers of an onion, Amaya begins to discover what she has suppressed all these years.

The result is a story that has well-constructed characters, several unexpected twists, and keeps readers attention. The Jamaican patois does not cause problems for readers unfamiliar with it.

Stelios Mormoris
Leapfolio LLC
9781946507082, $19.95

If readers look at the titles of the three sections (and readers really should look at such things rather than head first for the poems themselves), they might think they are in for a depressing read. Lamentations- Flora Mortis-Perishable. However, that is not what awaits them in Mormoris' second poetry book.

Perishable carries no "sophomore curse" that affliction common to so many second books of whatever genre, second albums or movies, etc. Nor is there the sense that these poems are leftovers in that they contain themes and styles from the first book.

Two poems stand out which are in different sections (and there is stiff competition). Both are about grandparents. Yia Yia relates a day with the poet's grandmother, a gift of bottled fireflies from a grandson "starved for a cookie or powdered kiss." They "swam inside the swirls of fish/silver as her bracelets". The poem ends with a whispered to her son and a silent veneration an icon |its shining almond eyes eking resinous tears/bathed in red votive."

Perishable, the final poem in the book and which shares the name of the final section, is different in style. Here the poet accompanies his gardener grandfather on his rounds on a late spring morning. heading for "This land of estates and privilege, of smiles and patronage-"

The other poems in this fine collection take readers to Paris, New York, and Baltimore, to the landmarks and the people who live there.

Party at the Mercer tells about an event one wishes to have attended, given the description. "I was bored with your antics,"

It is My Revolution opens the final section of the book.
"And I wonder if it is possible to be
reborn with grace, and erase the old
tables we carry on our backs
as we migrate here into this cauldron
of love..."

The Neo-Prufrock vibe from this poem is intriguing; I wish the poet would record it somewhere that is accessible.

To sum up, Perishable is well worth the readers' time and its poems deserve to be reread.

Kristina Marie Darling

Margaret Lane's Bookshelf

The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution
Diana Licalzi, author
Jose Tejero, author
Blue Star Press
9781958803196, $24.95, HC, 262pp

Synopsis: If you have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, this approach presented in "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution: A Cookbook and Complete Guide to Managing Type 2 Diabetes" by co-authors Diana Licalzi and Jose Tejero can help you achieve non-diabetic blood sugar within weeks. The simple lifestyle changes outlined in this instructive guide focus on the reversal of insulin resistance -- the root cause of high blood sugar.

Developed by a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist, "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution" uses a revolutionary, science-based program to provide: Daily meal plans for 4 weeks, designed to minimize your time in the kitchen; Simple grocery shopping lists for every week of the meal plan and tips for meal prep; 100+ high-fiber, plant-based recipes that keep your blood sugar balanced; Advice on how to create a balanced diet that includes whole, plant-based foods and meat, if desired; Tips for grocery shopping and how to read nutritional labels; Guidance on stocking your pantry and knowing which foods to always have on hand; Useful lessons and tips on how nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress impact your diabetes health

Start reversing the root cause of type 2 diabetes, eliminate or reduce your need for medication, and lower your blood sugar with The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution.

Critique: Individuals and their loved ones can, with "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution: A Cookbook and Complete Guide to Managing Type 2 Diabetes", discover how to reverse the root cause of type 2 diabetes with this innovative, easy-to-follow and 'user friendly' guide, which includes a 4-week meal plan and over 100 delicious, high-fiber, plant-based recipes. While especially recommended for personal, professional, community, and college/university library Diabetes Health/Medicine collections, it should be noted that "The Type 2 Diabetes Revolution" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99) and in a Spanish translation (ISBN: 9781958803622 ) which will be available in Spring 2024.

Editorial Note #1: Diana Licalzi, MS, RD, CDCES, is a nationally-recognized Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist and holds her Master's in Nutrition Science & Policy. In 2019, Diana co-founded Reversing T2D, a digital health platform that helps individuals reverse, manage, and prevent pre- and type 2 diabetes. Reversing T2D uses an integrative approach to tackle diabetes focusing on plant-based nutrition, exercise, and mindset. Diana's previous books include Drinking for Two and Mocktail Party.

Editorial Note #2: Jose Tejero is an exercise physiologist with a degree in Exercise Science and is the co-founder of Reversing T2D. He has worked alongside nutrition experts and plant-based physicians who treat chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes. He observed the positive impact that plant-based diets had on the health of their patients and decided that he would dedicate his career to promoting the benefits of this diet. Jose is passionate about guiding people on the path of developing a healthy lifestyle.

On Community
Casey Plett
9781771965774, $15.95, PB, 184pp

Synopsis: As individual human beings and throughout history, we have always needed community in order to live. But what does community look like? And why does it often feel like it's slipping away in these modern times?

We are all hinged to some definition of a community, be it as simple as where we live, or as complex as the beliefs we share, or as intentional as those we call family.

"On Community" is an episodic personal essay in which Casey Plett draws on a range of firsthand experiences to start a conversation about the larger implications of community as a word, an idea, and a symbol. With each thread a cumulative definition of community, and what it has come to mean to Plett, emerges.

Looking at phenomena from transgender literature, to Mennonite history, to hacker houses of Silicon Valley, and the rise of nationalism in North America, Plett delves into the thorny intractability of community's boons and faults. Deeply personal, authoritative in its illuminations, "On Community" is an essential contribution to the larger cultural discourse that asks how, and to what socio-political ends, we form bonds with one another.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought-provoking, "On Community" by Casey Plett is the 9th titles in the Biblioasis 'Field Notes' series. Of particular value to readers with an interest in LGBTQ issues, memoirs, and essays, "On Community" is a highly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, and college/university library sociology collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "On Community" is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Casey Plett ( is the author of A Dream of a Woman, Little Fish, and A Safe Girl to Love, the co-editor of Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy From Transgender Writers, and the publisher at LittlePuss Press. She has written for the New York Times, Harper's Bazaar, the Guardian, Globe and Mail, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, the Winnipeg Free Press, and other publications. A winner of the Amazon First Novel Award and the Firecracker Award for Fiction, and a two-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award, her work has also been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

How Work Works
Michelle P. King
Harper Business
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
Blackstone Audiobooks
9780063224575, $32.00, HC, 240pp

Synopsis: Holding a Ph.D and with two decades of researching organizations, Michelle King has discovered that people who succeed possess a particularly unique skill: They know how workplaces work.

More specifically, to get ahead, they do not rely on the often generic and outdated written formal rules that for a century have defined the workplace. Instead, they have learned to gauge how they should behave and perform by becoming aware of informal (and unspoken) rules that exist just below the surface, rather than "formal" organizational guidelines.

With her publication of this one-of-a-kind guide, "How Work Works: The Subtle Science of Getting Ahead Without Losing Yourself", King offers her proprietary framework based on over ten years of research and hundreds of employees who reached leadership positions. By focusing on five key areas -- navigating informal networks; developing self-awareness and awareness of others; learning the skills you need to be adaptive to changing conditions; getting support for your next promotion; and finding meaning and fulfillment at work -- King teaches every professional how to understand and make these systems work for them and achieve their career ambitions.

The new world of work requires a new way of working. With more people vying for top positions, a volatile unpredictable global workplace, and an ever-evolving landscape, it is increasingly important for employees to understand how to negotiate the unspoken and intangible elements of workplace culture.. With "How Work Works", King dispels old myths and provides keen observations about what it means to find belonging, build networks, manage the informal and ultimately thrive at work.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "How Work Works: The Subtle Science of Getting Ahead Without Losing Yourself" is effective, iconoclastic, inspirational, and essential reading for all MBA students, corporate executives, and business employees seeking to advance their careers. Of special relevance to readers with an interest in workplace culture, interpersonal relationships in a business environment, and income based personal finance, "How Work Works is a strongly commended pick for personal, professional, community, corporate, and college/university library Business/Career Management collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that "How Work Works" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $15.99) and as a complete and unabridged audio book (Blackstone Audio, $36.99, CD).

Editorial Note: Dr. Michelle P. King ( is a globally recognized gender equality and organizational culture expert. She is also the host of the popular podcast The Fix and a LinkedIn Top Voice on equity in the workplace. King has been featured in the Economist, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Time, Business Insider, the Times, and the Daily Mail, and on CNBC and CNN Business. She regularly speaks at major conferences and events, such as Ellevate's Network Conference, the S.H.E. Summit, and SXSW, and presented a TEDx Chelsea Park talk, It's Not You, It's Your Workplace. She is the founder of the Culture Practice, a global consultancy, and is a senior adviser to the UN Foundation's Girl Up Campaign. She currently resides in London.

How to Chat with Archangels
Debra Schildhouse
Waterside Productions
9781960583567, $16.95, PB, 236pp

Synopsis: With the publication of "How to Chat with Archangels: Inviting Your Divine Best Friends into Your Life", Debra Schildhouse reveals that you really can chat with Archangels!

Schildhouse is delighted and honored to introduce you to her (and your) Divine Best Friends -- the Archangels. She shows you, step by step, her simple method for connecting and having incredible conversations with them. And she shares personal conversations that she's enjoyed with the Archangels over the past twelve years.

Communicating with Archangels doesn't take any special "powers" -- it is a natural experience for human souls, available through our sixth sense, although it hasn't been talked about or taught very often.

God created the Archangels to help humanity through all trials and challenges. Once you invite the Archangels into your life, you'll be amazed at the love, support, and guidance you will receive. And you will receive all of this, and more, no matter your religious beliefs. -- All that's required is your open heart and gratitude.

Debra explains how her relationship with the Archangels began, and introduces you to the eleven Archangels she most regularly chats with, including Michael, Uriel, Metatron, Gabriel, and Raphael. You'll discover each Archangel's particular area of expertise and when to call on each for help, healing, protection, and for their deep wisdom and devotion.

When Debra experiences a temporary loss of faith during her husband's health crisis and her own severe back injury, the Archangels are there, patient and loving. And with their surprising sense of humor, they make her laugh whenever they send her obvious and extraordinary signs, often in front of her once-skeptical husband.

Debra also shares what she calls "Archangelisms", which are loving, divine messages she has received over the years -- messages that will inspire you and touch your heart. The Archangels want you to know how much they love you.

Critique: Thoughtful and thought provoking, inspired and inspiring, "How to Chat with Archangels: Inviting Your Divine Best Friends into Your Life" will hold a very special appeal and value to readers with an interest in Angels & Spirit Guides, Mental/Spiritual Healing, Personal/Spiritual Transformation. While also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95), "How to Chat with Archangels: Inviting Your Divine Best Friends into Your Life" is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Metaphysical Studies collections.

Editorial Note: Debra Schildhouse ( have been enjoying incredible conversations with eleven Archangels, including Angel Michael, Angel Gabriel, and Angel Raphael, since 2011. Her first book, "Bio-Touch: Healing With The Power In Our Fingertips", describes how Bio-Touch is a gentle and effective touch-healing technique that anyone can learn and use to alleviate pain and stress, and ease inflammation and symptoms of disease. He is also a Certified Practitioner at the Bio-Touch Center in Tucson, Arizona.

Margaret Lane

Mark Walker's Bookshelf

Coronado's Quest: The Discovery of the American Southwest
John M. Hutchins
Westholme Publishing
9781594162084, $29.95

I share a fascination with Arthur Grove Day, for the Southwest, with its mix of Native American and Spanish cultures in the desert's spectacular but harsh environment. He begins this spectacular history with, The American southwest, that region of sunlit mesas and deep-shadowed canyons, of snow-topped continental rooftrees of rock, of sandy flats and high piney parks, is a land that has never been conquered. It is called the Coronado Country.

He published this book in May 1940 when he was at Stanford University to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Coronado's journey, explored many years before the English colonies were settled on the Atlantic, yet it was still a frontier. "One can best understand the present and future development of the Southwest by comprehending its beginnings when the forces making its destiny first germinated. The modern history of the American Southwest opens with the epic of Francisco Vasquez Coronado."

This is a thorough and reliable account of Frances Vasquez de Coronado, the Spanish protege of the Mexican viceroy, who was the first white explorer of the Southwest in 1540. Four hundred years ago, he led a band through parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas and became the pathfinder for future exploration.

This pageant of exploration included not only Hispanic adventurers and valiant Indians of a dozen tribes but also the gray-robed friars like Marcos de Niza, one of the missionaries who would represent the advance agents of the conquest - "an economic combination of spiritual and worldly aims." It would become the chief method of extending Spanish dominion into unknown territories. One of the most exciting figures in this history was Esteban, the black Moorish enslaved person who was a famous figure among the Indians, could speak many of their tribal tongues, and was an expert in the sign language of the prairie. And was "by a whim of destiny to become the undisputed discoverer of the states of New Mexico and Arizona, the black ambassador of the white race and the red men of the walled pueblos. He would live to prance arrogantly, plumed rattle in hand, into the Seven Cities to meet a curious doom that is recounted beside tribal campfires in the heart of the American Southwest." He'd be slain among the Zuni pueblos he discovered before Coronado's arrival.

The hero of the story was a young hidalgo by the name of Francisco Vasquez Coronado. Eventually, he led the most significant and best-equipped exploration ever to set foot on the soil of what is now the United States, penetrating the heart of the American continent in search of the legendary gold that Fray Marcos de Niza would make famous, claiming to have seen the "Seven Cities of Gold."

Tragically, many of the cradles of Puebloan peoples, like Mesa Verde, had ceased to exist as of 1250 when a combination of a thirty-year drought and persistent ravaging nomads resulted in a significant exodus southward. This included Chaco, Canon del Muerto, and Canon de Chelly - only 100 miles from Zuni and Coronado came two hundred and fifty years later and didn't even learn of the legend of the Great Houses.

Some of the communities Coronado's men entered resisted, especially when Captain Cardenas interpreted his orders to mean that not a man of a village should be left alive. Those who resisted were burnt alive. "The tumult summoned all the Spaniards to the spot. The Indians were ringed about by the musketeers and the infantry with their swords, but still, they fought, almost barehanded, against their butchers. It was one of the most terrible and cold-blooded massacres of southwest Indians in all history, a horrible shamble..."

After three years of wandering, Coronado "had to kiss the hand of the viceroy and to confess that the venture was lost. "Sixty thousand golden ducats had been spent by Mendosa and another fifty thousand by Coronado himself, with nothing to redeem the sums except a much-battered suit of gilded mail." (Antonio de Mendoza was Viceroy.)

The author ends his story with, "A last glint of sunset touches the gilded, plumed helmet of the leader - Francisco Vasquez Coronado, crusader, gold-hunter, legend-chaser, finder of the American Southwest but still a fascinating history.

The author's writing style was engaging. It sometimes reads like a historical novel like "Marcos could hardly believe his ears." The book has been reprinted multiple times, and the notes are written in a more scholarly language. Unfortunately, I had the mass-market paperback edition, which omitted "Notes, chronology, Bibliography, and Index."

"A thorough and reliable account...very readable. The author...consulted all the known Spanish sources and retraced the greater part of his hero's march...even scholars will glean new information from his book." Christian Science Monitor

The Author

Arthur Grove Day (1904 in Philadelphia - March 26, 1994 in Hawaii) wrote or edited over fifty books. He was a writer, teacher, and authority on the history of Hawaii.

He earned his bachelor's and graduate degrees from Stanford University, where he befriended John Steinbeck. He moved to Hawaii in 1944 and was a professor in the English department of the University of Hawaii. He chaired the English department from 1948 to 1953. In 1979, he won the Hawaii Award for Literature. He co-wrote Rascals in Paradise with James Michener.

End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration
Peter Turchin
Penguin Press
9780593490501, $28.00

I am a history buff, but Peter Urchin is unlike most historians. His background is as an evolutionary biologist studying lemmings and mice. Analyzing the complexities of the natural world allows him to understand the most complex systems of human society.

He predicted the turbulence of 2020, which included outbreaks of political violence that the U.S. hadn't experienced in years, and most interestingly, he's expecting another crisis in 2024. He identifies several harbingers of societal crisis, including "elite overproduction," and analyzes examples of this phenomenon throughout history. One example was the 2016 Presidential primary, which included 17 major candidates, and due to the intense competition, many incentives existed for people to start breaking the rules.

The title of his book includes the term "counter-elites," which are dissident elites who usually use violence or propose violent solutions. He predicts that 2024 will be especially problematic because neither party will accept the win of the other party, leading to a high probability of reaching a breaking point. His model predicts that extra wealth will flow to the 1.5% of the population with even more to the top 0.01%, creating trouble for the power holders themselves as the social pyramid in the U.S. has grown top-heavy.

He describes the American Plutocracy today as dominated by the corporate community, "the owners and managers of large income-producing assets" like the military-industrial complex, FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) energy like oil, Silicon Valley, Big Food, Big Parma, and the medical-industrial complex. "In 2021, twelve thousand lobbyists spent $3.7 billion influencing policy at the federal level" in the top three industries.

I found Turchin's insight eye-opening, as he offered a fresh perspective on contemporary issues, including rising inequality, political polarization, and the erosion of social trust. According to Turchin, the greatest threat to the status quo today is the non-college-educated white Americans. An illegitimacy crisis is underway, according to Turchin, as one study indicates that by 2040, 30% of the population will control 68% of the Senate, and eight states will contain half the population. He says that white supremacists are not a marginal force; "they are inside its institutions."

Based on this scenario, "Republicans are making a transition to becoming a truly revolutionary party," And Tucker Carlson, rather than Donald Trump, may be a seed crystal around which a new radical party forms." He names J.D. Vance and McMaster as the "counter elite figures" in the U.S. He also calls whistleblowers Julian Assange and Edward Snowden as being "essential for a sociologist of power (due to the vast amount of previously unpublished/unknown information).

Turchin does more than extrapolate on a vast amount of data and analysis, he weaves a narrative that captivates the reader. He grounds his theories in real-world events and historical examples from the fall of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution, drawing parallels with the challenges of our society today.

Turchin includes a one-hundred-page "Appendix," which consists of a chapter on "a New Science of History" and how his "historical macroscope" works, which was too academic for my taste. He includes extensive notes and a bibliography with an index.

Through his impressive research and multi-disciplinary approach, Turchin comprehensively understands the dynamics underpinning societal collapse. Although his conclusions are sometimes unsettling, they serve as a wake-up call to the urgent need for systemic change. He suggests that addressing inequality is crucial to preventing societal collapse, and the book has sparked discussions, as evidenced by various reviews and interviews.

...Peter Turchin has pioneered a new science of making history predictable - by applying methods that had already succeeded in other complex fields. You'll want to know what he sees lying ahead and what we can do about it." Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize - winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel.

The Author

Peter Turchin is a complexity scientist and one of the founders of the new field of historical social science, Cliodynamics ( His research interests lie at the intersection of social and cultural evolution, historical macro sociology, economic history and cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases.

Peter Turchin is Project Leader of Social Complexity and Collapse at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna, Emeritus Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut, and Research Associate in the School of Anthropology at the University of Oxford.
More information is available at

Guatemalan Journey
Stephen Connely Benz
University of Texas Press
9780292708402, $25.00

I was introduced to the author by his agent, who sent me another book of his, Topographies, to review. A stellar collection of travel essays that take the reader through places as diverse as rural Wyoming, the Florida Everglades, and a train ride across the border from Romania to the former Soviet Union.

While researching my forthcoming book, The Guatemala Reader, I was delighted to learn that he'd written a book similar to this entitled Guatemalan Journey. Identical to my Peace Corps experience there, he spent two years as a Fulbright Scholar doing the day-to-day activities and dealing with the same bureaucracy ordinary Guatemalans have to do. Unlike my memoir, Different Latitudes, he doesn't mention his family, although he brought them along for this impressive trek. Always the consummate observer, Benz starts the book grappling with critical issues facing the country, like the influx of foreign missionaries, mass killings, the strangling bureaucracy, and cultural appropriation.

He starts the book by contrasting two unrelated events that sum up the complexity and ambiguity of Guatemala's social reality. On the one hand, a massive new mall, the "Megacentro," featuring 70 stores, which would have been the envy of any mall in the U.S., is hogging all the publicity and focus of Guatemala City's population.

The very next day, a massacre occurred in a small village near Chimaltenango, El Aguacate, where 22 men were dragged from their homes and murdered. After the typical government pronouncements that the guerrillas were to blame, it became apparent that the military was the source of the violence. The author follows the funeral procession to the cemetery, which is like "a scene from a Latin American novel. Twenty coffins were carried up a hill of rocks. The wind whipped up dust and swirled it everywhere." He ends with, "for me, it was the beginning of a difficult struggle to better understand a place where malls and massacres could be so strangely juxtaposed."

He analyzes some underlying conditions behind this juxtaposition - the fundamental disrespect of the Mayan rural population, starting with travel writers. Guidebooks from the 1920s and 1930s barely mentioned them, although they're close to 50% of the people, other than to say they were "primitive but Christianized." Their distant past was considered much more interesting than their degraded present; even intelligent and appreciative travelers of the time, such as archaeologist Alfred Maudsley and the novelist Aldous Huxley, were dismayed by the "primitive" culture of the descendants of the great Maya..."

In recent times, the elite in the late twentieth century were more concerned with progress than the survival of indigenous culture. They were amazed that the world seemed to embrace the Indians and wished to protect them. "Rigoberta Mench£, an untutored Indian woman, for a prestigious award like the Nobel Peace Prize? Had the world gone mad?"

Later in the book, the author marvels at the weavings that made up each Maya group's clothing. "Walking around Nebaj, I saw each 'huipil' as a fragment of a huge, unending hieroglyphic text - one that for me must remain elusive and mysterious, though I felt certain the Ixil could read these texts and could see in each individual weaving what my untrained eye could not."

The book's second part focuses on the places he visited, most of which I've lived in, or worked around, over the years. One of my favorites is his description of The "Biotopo," not far from where I met my Guatemalan wife. The "Biotopo" is over 2,800 acres and is a bold attempt to save one of Guatemala's most symbolic creatures, the quetzal. It's revered because it can't be held in captivity, and its glowing green/red plumage sets it apart from anything in the cloud forest. Unfortunately, many predicted that the quetzal would not survive the first decade of the twenty-first century, which reflects the extreme deforestation and effects of climate control.
It has a unique environment where it can rain all night and still be drizzling in the morning. Benz describes such a morning when he saw the guard in the visitor's center waving him over. "Somehow, he'd gotten a fire going in this dampness - a skill one had better develop in the land of the 'chipi-chipi' - and had boiled some coffee."

Benz sums up his experience by listing some of the names he was called over two years in Guatemala. Everything from "illustrious doctor" and "eminent critic" to "gringo jodido." But after two years in Guatemala, one term stood out, "I remained a stranger."

I'd agree with The Publisher's Weekly, when it observed, "Unfortunately, the book comes to a rather abrupt end, leaving readers searching for a missing chapter." But I will definitely add this to the bibliography of my forthcoming book.

The Author

Stephen Benz is a Fulbright Scholar and an award-winning writer whose previous travel narratives include the Guatemalan Journey and Green Dreams. His essays have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Miami Herald, and TriQuarterly. He teaches professional writing at the University of New Mexico. You can learn more about him at

Mark D. Walker, Reviewer

Matthew McCarty's Bookshelf

24 Hours in Charlottesville
Nora Neus
Beacon Press
9780807011928, $27.95 HC, $12.99 Kindle, 242pgs.

Hate and extremism are dangerous to a healthy society. In America, since 2015, hate and extremism have become an unfortunate part of the national conversation. These trends came to a boiling point in Charlottesville, Virginia in the late summer of 2017.

"24 Hours in Charlottesville: An Oral History of the Stand Against White Supremacy" is a fast-paced look into the efforts by white supremacists and other alt-right activists to intimidate Charlottesville and her citizens during a fight to remove Confederate statues and icons. Author Nora Neus has compiled first person accounts of the difficult days experienced by community leaders, activists, and others as they attempted to defeat the efforts of the alt-right and their benefactors. "24 Hours in Charlottesville" is a manual for home-grown resistance and a foundational piece of efforts to unite a country that many consider to be broken beyond repair.

24 Hours in Charlottesville is a great read. It gives the reader a sense of following up to the minute news reports. Neus draws on her time working as a news reporter in Charlottesville and her knowledge of the geography of Charlottesville to sketch a riveting portrait of the efforts of individuals to turn back the bullying and intimidation of the alt-right activists parading through their town carrying tiki torches reminiscent of a rally at Nuremberg. Neus draws first-person accounts from citizens and activists who are working in Charlottesville to create a more inclusive and culturally sensitive society. Neus weaves these accounts into a narrative that is both engaging and informative.

Current events seem to spawn a huge crop of varied media. Books about events like what happened in Charlottesville are much needed and appreciated. 24 Hours in Charlottesville can be considered a foundational piece of current events literature with a healthy dose of emotion thrown in for good measure. It should also be required reading for anyone seeking to understand why our country is experiencing both a cultural renaissance and a racial reckoning. I encourage anyone with a desire to understand these issues to read "24 Hours in Charlottesville".

Matthew W. McCarty

Michael Carson's Bookshelf

Hanging the Devil
Tim Maleeny
Poisoned Pen Press
c/o Sourcebooks Inc.
9781728279169. $16.99, PB, 416pp

Synopsis: It was supposed to be a simple job: steal the paintings, leave the forgeries. But when a helicopter crashes through the skylight of the Asian Art Museum, an audacious heist turns into a tragedy.

The only witness to the crash is eleven-year-old Grace, who watches in horror as her uncle is killed and a priceless statue stolen by two men and a -- ghost? At least that's how the eerie, smoke-like figure with parchment skin and floating hair appears to Grace. Scared almost to death, she flees into the night and seeks refuge in the back alleys of San Francisco's Chinatown.

Grace is found by Sally Mei, self-appointed guardian of Chinatown. While Sally trains Grace in basic survival skills, her erstwhile partner Cape Weathers, private detective and public nuisance, searches for the mysterious crew behind the robbery before they strike the museum a second time.

As the clock winds down, Cape enlists aid from some unlikely allies to lay a trap for a ghost who has no intention of being caught -- nor of leaving any witnesses alive to tell the tale.

Critique: Original, deftly crafted, and a compelling read from start to finish, "Hanging the Devil" by author Tim Maleeny will have a very special interest for fans of Private Eye detective novels and heist thrillers. A fun and highly recommended pick for community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hanging the Devil" is also readily available from Poisoned Pen Press in a digital book format (Kindle, $7.99).

Editorial Note: Tim Maleeny ( is the bestselling author of the Cape Weathers mysteries and the comedic thriller "Jump". His short fiction appears in several major anthologies and he has won the prestigious Macavity Award for best story of the year.

Evil Intentions Come
Timothy J. Lockhart
Stark House Press
9798886010244, $15.95, PB, 222pp

Synopsis: When Pete Scarcelli agrees to represent sultry Justine Kingman in divorcing her husband Ben (the richest man in town) he has no idea what he's getting into. But he soon finds out that Justine has more plans than just divorce for her husband! When Pete initially refuses to go along with her deadly plan, Justine reveals a secret from her past that changes his mind.

As he begins to plot with Justine, Pete also has to navigate around Sally Carruthers, a prosecutor and Pete's foe in the courtroom, but a potential lover outside of it. Her father, the chief of police, doesn't want Pete anywhere near his daughter. And then there's Jack Greese, a hard-boiled private eye who's not above working both sides of the street.

As Pete is drawn deeper and deeper into blackmail and murder, he learns the hard way that only the devil stands between him and Justine. And the devil is a slippery fellow indeed.

Critique: Stark House Press is a premier publisher of suspense thriller crime fiction. Timothy J. Lockhart demonstrates with the publication of "Evil Intentions Come" by Stark House Press that is has a natural and genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven and descriptive storytelling style that will keep readers with an interest in Hard-Boiled Detective crime fiction compulsively engaged from start to finish. While available for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $5.99), "Evil Intentions Come" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Editorial Note: Timothy J. Lockhart ( is a lawyer and former U.S. Navy officer who worked with the CIA, DIA, and Office of Naval Intelligence. In addition to his novels Smith, Pirates, A Certain Man's Daughter and Unlucky Money (all from Stark House Press), he has written articles and book reviews for a variety of publications, including Naval Intelligence Quarterly, Naval War College Review, and The Virginian-Pilot.

Michael J. Carson

Morgan St. James' Bookshelf

Spanish Gold
Fred Rayworth
New Link Publishing
9781948266178, $17.95, PB, 294pp

This book will keep you turning the pages. The clock is ticking as Rayworth skillfully layers the hunt for a long lost treasure by Joseph "Detach" Datchuk and his team with their covert government mission to stop what could be worldwide disaster."

Morgan St. James

Robin Friedman's Bookshelf

John Dewey's Democracy and Education: A Centennial Handbook
Leonard Waks, editor, Andrea English, editor
Cambridge University Press
9781316506004, $29.99, paperback

A Guide To Dewey's Democracy And Education

The works of the American philosopher John Dewey (1859 -- 1952) were crucial in the development of the philosophy of pragmatism, and his writings are still studied today. Published in 1916, "Democracy and Education" is one of Dewey's major works. The book is broad in scope and combines a study of philosophical questions with issues of education and of the nature of learning. Dewey endeavored to find the ways in which education could realize and enhance the values of a democratic society or, as he wrote in the Preface to "detect and state the ideas implicit in a democratic society and to apply these ideas to the problems of the enterprise of education." Over the years the book has been much studied by both philosophers and educators.

"Democracy and Education" received a great deal of attention from scholars in 2016, the 100th anniversary of its publication. The book's centennial led to this outstanding book: "John Dewey's Democracy and Education: A Centennial Handbook" by Dewey scholars Leonard Waks, Professor Emeritus at Temple University, and Andrea English, Chancellor's Fellow in Philosophy of Education at the Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh. Dewey's thought is difficult and his writing often is dense. This Centennial Handbook is an excellent way for readers of "Democracy and Education" to understand and engage with the book in the company of many noted scholars.

Waks and English write in the Introduction to the volume that "Democracy and Education illuminates how philosophy in intimately intertwined with education and this is seen in how the book sets out to define what education is and culminates with a definition of philosophy as a 'general theory of education'. Sidney Hook write in his Introduction to Democracy and Education that it is 'the one book that no student concerned with philosophy of education today should leave unread.'"

The book is in two Parts. The first part "Companion Chapters" begins with an Introduction by Waks which offers a "Roadmap" to the confusing organizational structure of "Democracy and Education". Waks's Introduction is followed by 26 companion chapters, one for each of the 26 chapters in Dewey's book. Each chapter is a commentary which aims to elucidate Dewey's text and to place it in context. The chapters may be read together with a study of the cognate chapter in Dewey or separately for readers already familiar with the book. Readers interested in a particular chapter in Dewey may turn directly to the companion chapter in this Handbook.

The companion chapters are difficult in their own right. They will enhance the readers understanding of the book. Waks wrote two of the companion chapters, for Dewey's chapter 1, "Education as a Necessity of Life" and for chapter 8, "Aims in Education". English also wrote two companion chapters, for chapter 6, "Education as Conservative and Progressive" and for chapter 11, "Experience and Thinking". I found interesting the two companion chapters by Christopher Winch, for Dewey's chapter 15, "Play and Work in the Curriculum" and chapter 23, "Vocational Aspects of Education", both of which draw insightful comparisons between Dewey and German thought. Overall the 26 companion chapters in Part I offer a useful, thoughtful guide to Dewey.

Part II of the book, "Democracy and Education in Context" consists of nine essays placing "Democracy and Education" into historical, philosophical, and practical contexts. These nine essays might best be read by those with some familiarity with the book. In her Introduction to Part II, English offers an overview of the essays and groups them into three sections: the relationship between Dewey's thought and other educational and philosophical thought before and during his time; the bearing of Dewey's philosophy of education on subsequent thought; and the implication of Dewey's thought for present and future discussion on education.

Of the essays in this Part, I learned a great deal from the first two, by Thomas Alexander, "The Dialogue of Death and Life" and by Dietrich Benner, "John Dewey, A Modern Thinker". I was able to incorporate many insights from these essays, together with several of the companion chapters in part I, into my own essay about Dewey's educational thought for an upcoming conference on Dewey's continued importance for education. I also learned from Richard Pring's concluding essay, "John Dewey: Philosopher of Education for Out Time. Pring also wrote an essay for Part I of the book on Dewey's chapter 24, "Philosophy of Education" which I used in my own work.

David Hansen aptly states in his Foreword that "so long as humanity cares about education, and so long as it keeps alive the idea of democracy as a way of life, Dewey's book will remain a great companion." The book includes valuable references for further reading following each chapter together with short biographical information about the contributors to the volume. Readers could approach this book, and Dewey, from a philosophical standpoint or from an educational standpoint, while recognizing that Dewey's goal was to combine the two. I approached the book from the former perspective. This Centennial Handbook is a challenging, valuable work for readers with a serious interest in Dewey.

Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917 -- 1947
Bruce Hoffman, author
9780307741615, $21.00, paperback

A Study Of Terrorism In The Establishment Of Israel

Bruce Hoffman's book, "Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917 -- 1947" (2015) examines the role of terrorism during the British Mandate for Palestine and explores how terrorism contributed to Britain's decision to abandon the mandate and to the subsequent formation of the State of Israel. The book's title derives from a song composed by the terrorist Abraham Stern which became the anthem of Jewish terrorist groups in Palestine. Here is the refrain of the song:

"In the red days of riots and blood,
In the dark nights of despair,
In the cities and villages our flag we will raise,
And on it: defense and conquest!

We are not conscripted by the whip like multitudes of slaves,
In order to spill our blood in foreign lands.
Our desire: to be forever free men!
Our dream: to die for our nation."

Hoffman is the director of the Center for Security Studies and director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, and he works with the United States military in advising how to combat terrorism. "Anonymous Soldiers" examines the circumstances in which terrorism is effective in achieving its goals and in influencing the policy of a larger state. There are wide-ranging views on this complex question. The focus of Hoffman's book is on Jewish terrorist activities primarily during the latter part of Britain's Mandate following WW II and on how these activities played a role in convincing Britain to leave Palestine. Hoffman's concludes that terrorism has frequently proved to be an effective instrument. His book is a study of history and, perhaps, includes some lessons for decision makers on how terrorism may be most effectively fought in specific instances.

Hoffman's book relies in part on many documents from Britain, Israel, and elsewhere that have only recently been made public. The book begins with the Balfour Declaration, Britain's 1918 conquest of Palestine, and the mandate the League of Nation gave to Britain in 1922. The book explores a complex multi-faceted history while focusing on terrorism. As Hoffman summarizes his study, the early chapters of the book cover the years 1917 through the early years of WW II. It discusses the fighting almost from the outset between Jews and Arabs, early Arab terrorist outbreaks such as the Arab Rebellion of the late 1930s, and the beginning of Jewish terrorist organizations.

The second part of the book discusses the WW II years. During this time, one of the two primary Jewish terrorist organizations suspended its activities in order to support Britain while the other group continued its efforts at isolated terrorist acts, often directed at individual figures. Hoffman discusses the split between these two groups and the reaction of the mainstream Jewish governing authority in Palestine.

The third and most detailed part of the book examines Jewish terrorist activities post WW II as the press to end Britain's mandate intensified. The ultimate result of the terrorism during this period was to make the continuation of the mandate untenable. The book discusses the terrorists and their techniques at length. Many incidents large and small are discussed closely. The book discusses the assassination of British Lord Moyne, the Minister of State for the Middle East, the bombing of the King David Hotel and many other incidents. The book concludes with an excellent extensive epilogue which summarizes the results of the lengthy study and places the discussion of terrorism in a broader perspective.

Much of the book studies Britain's response to terrorism and the reasons why its varied responses failed. Hoffman points to factors such as the lack of an effective police force, the tendency to rely too heavily on military as opposed to political solutions, conflict between the police, the military, and the British Government over the administration of the mandate and the proper response to terrorism, inflexibility and misunderstanding the situation on the ground, the support rendered by the United States, Britain's increasingly perilous financial situation following WW II and more. Hoffman sensibly identifies the primary problems with Britain's response: its lack of a sense of what it was to do in Palestine and why and its inability to address the seemingly intractable conflict between Arabs and Jews that still persists and shows little signs of abating.

The book is well-written, thoroughly researched and thoughtful. It tends to get bogged down in detail in places. Hoffman carefully points out that his book is not a broad history of Palestine under the British Mandate but focuses instead on the specific subject of terrorism. Thus the book should not be read as a full history of the British mandate, or of the Arab-Jewish conflict in the years predating the establishment of Israel. The book has much to say about its limited subject even for readers without a strong background in the Arab-Jewish-British conflict as long as the specific issue the book addresses is kept in mind. Within its subject, Hoffman's book focuses much more on Jewish terrorism rather than on the earlier Arab terrorism, presumably because it played a large role in the abandonment of the mandate and, hence, was more successful in achieving its aims. Besides the study of terrorism, I learned a great deal from this book. I had never focused entirely on the broad conflict between Arabs and Jews from the outset -- beginning no later than 1922. It made it harder to take a strong, moralizing stance in this matter for one side or the other. The conflict has long historical roots and, unfortunately, remains to be resolved. This book allows the reader to get one aspect of the conflict through its focus on terrorism during the years of the British mandate.

Specimen Days & Collect
Walt Whitman, author
Dover Publications
9780486286419, $19.95 paperback

Whitman's Specimen Days

Walt Whitman's "Specimen Days" is an unusual work consisting of many short paragraphs, diary entries, or memorandums of moments in the poet's life, beginning with some vignettes about his ancestors and about his early life in Long Island and Brooklyn. Each of the many sections of the book opens with a heading describing its theme. In '"Specimen Days" opening paragraph, "A Happy Hour's Command", Whitman described the book as "incongruous and full of skips and jumps", moving from his Civil War memorandums to nature notes, to observations of Canada and the West "all bundled up and tied by a big string." With his customary hype, Whitman described "Specimen Days" as "the most wayward, spontaneous, fragmentary book ever penned."

In the book's concluding paragraph, Whitman looked back at the work and summarized its purpose in a beautiful passage about the diversity of the United States. "I have wanted, before departure, to bear special testimony to a very old lesson and requisite. American Democracy, in its myriad personalities, in factories, work-shops, stores, offices, -- through the dense streets and houses of cities, and all their manifold sophisticated life -- must either be fibred, vitalized by regular contact with out-door light and air and growths, farm-scenes, animals, fields, trees, birds, sun-warmth and free skies or it will certainly dwindle and pale." Whitman combined this broad picture of American democracy with the intimate, momentary character of the moments he described in order to suggest the value of living in and cherishing one's daily experiences. Thus "Specimen Days" concludes: "Perhaps indeed the efforts of the true poets, founders, religions, literatures, all ages, have been and ever will be, our time and times to come, essentially the same -- to bring people back from their persistent strayings and sickly abstractions, to the costless average, divine, original concrete".

In the best-known and longest part of "Specimen Days" Whitman describes his experiences from 1862 -- 1865 mostly in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. Whitman spent much time as a volunteer in military hospitals offering comfort to wounded, sick, and dying soldiers. The book is poignant in its many brief depictions of individual heroic soldiers and of Whitman's ministrations. The book also offers Whitman's thoughts on the issues of the War. It shows a close observation of the Washington, D.C. of the Civil War, naming streets and places and offering many glimpses of Abraham Lincoln. As a resident of Washington, D.C. I enjoyed the immediacy of Whitman's account and of his depiction of particular places and streets I have come to know. Whitman has a unique vision of the War and he describes what he knows as a witness. Among many other things, he describes Lincoln's assassination. The Civil War section of "Specimen Days" is invaluable for students of the Civil War. In his final paragraph on the Civil War, Whitman observed that "The Real War Will Never Get In the Books." He amplified his thought as it related to his experience with the wounded.

"Such was the war. It was not a quadrille in a ball-room. Its interior history will not only never be written -- its practicality, minutae of deeds and passions, will never be even suggested. The actual soldier of 1862 -- '65, North and South, with all his ways, his incredible dauntlessness, habits, practices, tastes, language, his fierce friendship, his appetite, rankness, his superb strength and animality, lawless gait, and a hundred unnamed lights and shades of camp, I say, will never be written -- perhaps must not and should not be."

Following the depiction of his Civil War experiences, Whitman skips over the years from 1867 -- 1873 when he worked for the Office of the Attorney General. In 1873, Whitman suffered a stroke which left him bedridden for several years. When "Specimen Days" resumes, Whitman is living in Camden, New Jersey, and he is able with difficulty to move around. In exquisite detail, Whitman describes incidents of his life when he communes with nature, in fields, forests, and near the river. The Civil War section of "Specimen Days" describes life in a busy city at a hectic time. The following section is a dramatic about-face as Whitman communes with nature in solitude. Whitman offers many word-paintings of nature, birds, fish, insects, flowers, trees, in his many quiet moments during his recovery from illness.

In the following sections of "Specimen Days" Whitman again becomes more active. He takes several trips to New York City and Brooklyn, Canada, and Denver and the prairies of the West. Whitman describes with great enthusiasm his train trips, the people he knows and meets, and the places he visits. He is enamored of the West and of its people and of the promise he finds in it for the United States. He is also moved by change in the New York City he knew when young. With all the depictions of nature and of solitude in "Specimen Days", Whitman's heart remains with the city, with wandering, and with new places.

Whitman discusses in the final sections of "Specimen Days" his feelings about his contemporaries. He discusses Lincoln and lectures he delivered on Lincoln's assassination. He also discusses philosophy, including some highly complimentary and insightful observations about Hegel. But most of the people he discusses are literary figures, Whitman's predecessors and contemporaries including Longfellow, Bryant, Poe, Carlyle, and most of all Emerson. Whitman discusses the influence of these writers upon him, his meetings with them, and their deaths. He offers absorbing comments on his predecessors and on his hopes for a broad-based American literature to come based on Democracy and unity.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, and it will interest readers who know Whitman only as a poet. Whitman has a vision for America and a vision for himself, in enjoying the specimen moments of his life and in being present spontaneously and immediately for his experiences, which he combines somehow and shares with the reader. The book is available in several editions as well as in the Library of America volume "Walt Whitman: Complete Poetry and Collected Prose".

The Better Angel: Walt Whitman In The Civil War
Roy Morris, author
Oxford University Press
9780195147094, $43.99, paperback

Walt Whitman's Civil War

The Better Angel" is a study of Walt Whitman's activities during the American Civil War. Prior to the War, Whitman had already written most of the poetry that would ultimately establish his reputation as the greatest and most quintessentially American poet. With the publication of his Civil War poems, "Drum -Taps" and works in commemoration of President Lincoln (primarily, "When Lilacs Last in Dooryard Bloomed", Whitman had a second flowering as a poet. These works bear eloquent testimony to the trials that the United States had undergone and to Whitman's vision of America.

Morris's book begins with Whitman in New York City at the outbreak of the War with the poet living a rootless, somewhat purposeless life focused on the bohemian taverns of New York City. With the thought that his brother George might be wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg, Whitman visited the site, viewed the carnage of the War, and returned changed.

The book details how Whitman worked as a nurse in Washington D.C. visiting and tending the sick and wounded. Morris presents graphic descriptions of Civil War Era illnesses and wounds and of the relatively primitive state of American medicine for treating the endless ranks of the sick and wounded.

Whitman made the rounds of the hospitals, brought cheer and comfort to the sick, wrote letters for them home and made them small gifts of food, tobacco, and necessaries. He received the gratitude of many a young man and his family. Morris establishes the distinguished character of Whitman's war service.

In some instances, Whitman became emotionally and perhaps homoerotically attached to the young men in his charge. Morris's descriptions of these relationships are models of restraint and judgment.

Throughout the study, Morris amplifies his discussion of Whitman's war activities by quotations from his great collection of Civil War poetry, "Drum Taps". Little is known about the precise dates of composition of the poems in this collection. They represent, however, a major literary legacy of the Civil War era. I turned to and reread the poems with renewed understanding after completing Morris's biography.

The Civil War was a watershed for the United States both politically and culturally. Whitman and his contemporary, Herman Melville, were among the few writers whose work encompasses both sides of the Civil War divide. Both wrote memorable books of poetry about the War. (Melville's book is titled "Battle-Pieces".)

In their poignancy, variety, and sweep, Whitman's poetry can illuminate the meaning of the Civil War and the promise of the United States. This book, in turn, illuminates Whitman, his work and his life.

Dennis McFarland, author
9780345804600, $16.95, paperback

A Novel Of The Civil War, Walt Whitman, And Redemption

Dennis McFarland's "Nostalgia" (2013) is a deeply textured historical novel of the Civil War, a portrayal of America, and a coming of age story. The portions of the book that describe combat are set in the horrific Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. Ulysses Grant had assumed his role of commander of all the Union Armies and had assumed immediate command of the Army of the Potomac. The Battle of the Wilderness began Grant's Overland Campaign which, with terrible slaughter, led the following year to Appomattox.

The book tells the story of Summerfield Hayes, 19. Hayes lives in Brooklyn with his sister, Sarah, 21 in a comfortable home with two servants. Hayes is devoted to playing the new game of baseball ("base ball"), described and praised exhaustively throughout the book. Summerfield's and Sarah's parents had died in 1860, three years before the story begins, leaving the brother and sister emotionally dependent on one another. Late in 1863, young Hayes becomes increasingly alarmed at his feelings for his sister. He enlists, leaving his sister alone, and receives his first combat experience in the slaughter of the Wilderness. McFarland describes the slaughter of the battle and the troop movements in detail and with fury. Hayes suffers wounding and shock. He loses his hearing. He is left behind as his comrades press forward after the battle.

The Union forces eventually find Hayes and take him to a military hospital in Washington, D.C. McFarland again has done his research and offers a convincing, realistic portrayal of the fetid hospitals which killed as often as they healed. The nature of Hayes' condition baffles the staff. Hayes cannot speak or write and his physical wounds, if any, appear superficial. Some of the military personnel on hand accuse him of malingering. McFarland makes clear at the outset that he is describing what today is called post-traumatic stress disorder. But the book is no mere clinical account, as McFarland tells the story with dramatic tension and develops a series of characters, including the doctors, nurses, aides, and other severely wounded men in the hospital. Walt Whitman becomes the most captivating figure in the novel as he visits and comforts the soldiers and takes a particular interest in Hayes. Whitman brings life to the novel in a way that McFarland did not initially foresee. In a brief afterward, he writes of Whitman:

"Fiction writers are often chagrined by how characters, given any kind of a decent chance, appear to evolve on their own terms; they refuse to bend to our will and turn out very different from how we conceived them. Never have I felt so controlled by a character as I did by Walt Whitman. ... [H]is spirit, intent on being cast in the best possible light, seemed to elude my every effort to darken him."

McFarland develops his story is an evocative, episodic way that captures Hayes' condition. The shifts in time and place in the several chapters takes some getting used to. Particularly early in the book, extensive scenes take place in Hayes' mind as he lies on the forest floor of the Wilderness with events of his life in Brooklyn and in combat running through his mind.

The book is beautifully thought through and tightly written. Each of the three basic settings of the story, Brooklyn, the hospital, and the Wilderness get well developed with a group of accompanying characters. Through the person of Whitman, McFarland offers a tough mindedly optimistic picture of the United States. Whitman's vision and love, the novel suggests, offers a path to the redemption of both Summerfield Hayes and of the United States following the Civil War.

Robin Friedman

Suanne Schafer's Bookshelf

In the Time of Our History
Susanne Pari
9781496739261, $16.99

In the Time of Our History is a thought-provoking book that delves into family ties, alliances within families, subjugation and independence. Mitra Jahani is an Iranian-American woman who has moved to San Francisco after being disowned by her father. A year earlier, Anahita, Mitra's younger sister, niece, and nephew are killed in an automobile accident. Mitra returns to the family home in New Jersey for the "One Year" custom of reuniting to mourn the deaths.

Ana is the compliant daughter who chooses marriage and children in contrast to Mitra's strident rebelliousness and choice of a career. The father is a stern man, a builder, trapped in the culture and norms of an older Iran, who becomes the patriarch of his family by means of his wealth and ability to bring his family from Iran during the collapse of the Shah's regime. Shireen, the mother, has always been loyal to her spouse, allowing herself to be defined by his expectations.

Author Pari ties ancient traditions with more modern views of woman in a lovely way. There is enough political commentary to tie historical Iran with the contemporary America. The discordance between the two is the crux of the story. The novel reveals much about how we create alliances within our own families and how far we go to protect ourselves and them.

In the Time of Our History develops realistic family situations made more complex by cultural context, and historical settings.

Fencing with the King
Diana Abu-Jaber
W. W. Norton & Company
9781324050315, $17.95

Fencing with the King is a fascinating story of Amani, a young Jordanian-American poet exploring her Jordanian roots. She has found a poem that appears to have been written by her paternal grandmother in one of her father's book. On the occasion of King Hussein's sixtieth birthday, Amani's father, a cabinetmaker in the US, is invited to return to Jordan after nearly four decades away so he and the King can fence as they did in their youth. Amani accompanies her father and becomes fascinated with her family history and the mystery of the poem. In Jordan, she encounters family secrets and relatives she's never met before - who may not wish the best for her. This is a book that balances greed, corruption, and deceit with self discovery amidst a royal birthday celebration. I enjoyed the overlay of political and cultural events, just enough to enhance the flavor of the story.

In neat, lyrical prose, Abu-Jaber details the rituals of inheritance, the trauma of refugees and other displaced individuals, and letting go of the past to move forward. There are shades of Arthurian legend in that the family's heirloom knife, Il Saif, reported to be a knife used by Mohammed, is one of those inheritance rituals that went astray.

House of Odysseus (Songs of Penelope Book 2)
Claire North
9780316444002, $29.99

House of Odysseus is an interesting retelling of the Odyssey, but centered on Odysseus's wife, Penelope, who he left behind when he went to fight the Trojan War. This is the second in author Claire North's Penelopiad. Nearly twenty years after the fall of Troy, Penelope is still alone. Her son Telemachus has gone off to seek his father or some proof of his death. Her kingdom is considered up for grabs since everyone thinks Odysseus is dead, including his old friend Menelaus, who appears on Ithaca ostensibly in search of his nephew Orestes who is presumably going mad with grief and guilt after killing his mother. In truth, Menelaus plans to usurp both kingdoms. Orestes' sister, Electra, brings him to Ithaca seeking a place to hide from Menelaus who, she is certain, will steal her brother's throne. Penelope walks a fine line trying to keep her kingdom from being conquered, trying to rule without being so unwomanly her allies turn against her.

The narrator of the first book, Ithaca, is Hera, the goddess wife of Zeus, a woman of a certain age with a unique voice. The narrator here is Aphrodite, who also has an interesting, if unabashedly sexual voice (what else for the goddess of love)? She, Artemis, and Athena all have chosen sides in this conflict and do their best to support the women of Ithaca without catching the attention of Zeus and all the "manly" gods of Olympus. While the prose never reaches the epic quality that Madeline Miller does in The Song of Achilles and Circe, I enjoyed Aphrodite's wit and found her an interesting narrator.

The Rule of Thirds (#3 in the Annie Hawkins Green series)
Jeannee Sacken
Ten16 Press
9781645385592, $29.99

In The Rule of Thirds, the third (and, alas, the final) book in the Annie Hawkins series, author Jeannee Sacken again draws upon her experience as an international photojournalist to heighten the reality she creates. Annie is a veteran photojournalist who's been embedded during wars around the world. She returns to Afghanistan with a crew from TNN to document the Taliban's takeover of the country after the US and its allies precipitously bail out. Phinneas Cerelli, with whom she now has a well-established relationship, is angry at her hard-headedness and his own inability to adequately protect her, but long ago he promised he'd never interfere with her professional decisions. Annie continues to suppress her PTSD. Though in therapy, none of the treatments have "taken." Her daughter, now in her twenties, is as strong-willed as her mother, and plans a trip to Kabul as a gofer for another news team. Knowing the dangers that lie in Kabul, Annie advises Mel to stay home - which results in the complete disintegration of their relationship at a time when each could have used the other's support as they face the dangers in Afghanistan.

Like Sacken's Behind the Lens and Double Exposure, I could not put The Rule of Threes down, though, knowing it is the last in this series, I tried to stretch it out. Having spent time in Afghanistan during my own stint as an international travel photographer, I identified strongly with Annie. Sacken's vivid descriptions of people, places, foods, and the experience of taking photographs are authentic. She is true to the customs and religion of Afghans, sympathetic to their plight but wary of the effects of the Taliban and ISIS on the country. Annie herself is an extraordinarily strong female protagonist, one to be reckoned with by those who underestimate her drive and stamina. The other characters are convincing, multifaceted, and evolve over time, revealing layers that must be peeled away to reveal the truth. I confess I found an unexpected new "book boyfriend" - Finn Cerelli - and enjoyed Annie and Cerelli's slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance. I am disappointed that this series has ended.

The Other Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria's Goddaughter
Denny S. Bryce
William Morrow Paperbacks
9780063144125, $19.99

The Other Princess opens with a girl's birth and with her mother naming her Aina (difficult) due to the difficulty with her birth. Aina is the daughter of a local king in Yoruba. Their village is attacked and she is torn from her family, most of whom were slaughtered. Her fate is to either be sold as a slave or be presented in sacrifice by the people who stole her. When the decision is made to sacrifice her, an Englishman present at the ceremony asks the king of the tribe for Aina. The Englishman, in turn, presents her to Queen Victoria, and the girl is raised in close companionship with Victoria's children and renamed Princess Sarah Bonetta Forbes.

The book does a great job in capturing Aina's feelings on seeing a White person for the first time, at experiencing racism, the ravages of war and the many losses she endures along the way. She comes to love Queen Victoria - until the queen decides it's time for Aina/Sarah to marry the man Victoria has chosen for her. Then, Sarah becomes rebellious and is exiled to live with a staid family far from the throne. The novel deals well with Sarah's appetite for learning, her love of music, the complexities of life she must deal with while dealing with her own losses - especially since her marriage returns her to Africa, a place that launches dread in her heart.

The voice the novel starts in is appropriate for a child, but the voice doesn't seem to age in a manner consistent with Sarah's intellectual growth. Also, the ending seems a bit abrupt. Overall, Bryce does a great job filling in the details of a life about which little is truly known.

Those People Behind Us
Mary Camarillo
She Writes Press
9781647425654, $16.95

In Those People Behind Us, author Mary Camarillo writes of Wellington Beach, California, a beachside community that's caught in the crossfire between liberals and Trumpsters during the summer of 2017, but the story could be set in any American town. She builds multiple strong characters that interact in a realistic manner.

Lisa Kensington, a real estate agent, is juggling career, family, and a live-in mother-in-law. She thinks she knows what's best for her community and works hard to keep it on the straight and narrow. A NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) person, she opposes the low-income housing the city planners are building nearby, worrying it will lower the property values in Wellington. One of the best parts of this novel are Lisa's newsletters that she distributes to the entire neighborhood. They show her preoccupation with her life there and her attempts to preserve it. Keith Nelson, a juvenile delinquent turned ex-con, lives in his car since leaving his parents' home. He's employed but barely getting by. Ray Gorman is a live-in son, a Viet Nam vet caring for his aging mother. Josh Kowalski is a teenaged drummer, reeling from being abandoned by his father. Jeannette Larsen is an aerobics instruction grieving for her nineteen-year-old son who died in a traffic accident and seeking solace in sex with strangers. These characters all know one another and interact in their neighborhood, but do they really know each other.

Camarillo's plot juggles so many aspects of American life: racism, economic insecurity, politics (liberals and Trumpsters inhabit these pages), MAGA (Make America Great Again), loss, grief, geriatric relatives, and rebellious teenagers. A great look not just at individual characters, but their complete milieu.

String of Lies
Carol Potenza
Tiny Mammoth Press
Digital only ASIN B0CG295GML, $4.99

I enjoyed reading Carol Potenza's newest mystery, String of Lies. Potenza writes of strong female protagonists who don't need to be rescued - my kind of women. Myrna (pronounced as in meerkat) P. Lee is smart, hard-headed, and has plenty of angst in her backstory. She has all but wrecked her career as an Ice Age paleontologist with a special expertise in poisons and needs to redeem herself ASAP. Throw in a hunky cowboy and an adorable dog named William Tell into the story, and you have a great, fun read.

Potenza does a great job building suspense on multiple levels: there's a murder mystery from the past, a treasure that's been searched for over decades, a dog with a secret talent, a backpack filled with treasures of its own, and a bizarre backstory for Myrna, all flawlessly bound together to keep the reader reading. I also liked the retro look of the cover as it reminded me of the old Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon mysteries. This is a read-it-in-one-sitting book.

Sydney Rose Parnell Mystery Series
Barbara Nickless
Thomas & Mercer
9781503936867, $15.95

This is a review of the four volume (so far) Sydney Rose Parnell Mystery Series by Barbara Nickless, including Blood on the Tracks (#1), Dead Stop (#2), Ambush (#3) and Gone to Darkness (#4). I read these because I enjoyed the first two of Nickless's Evan Wilding series. I found Sydney Parnell to be a tough-as-nails heroine. A Marine veteran of Iraq, she is now discharged and has started to work with a Denver train company as a policewoman along with her dog, Clyde, also retired military - a K9. Sydney is dealing with PTSD and working to deal with it and other emotional problems. Through the course of these books, she and Clyde move on to Major Crimes Unit in the Denver police department. Time and again, she encounters serial killers, mass murderers, and bizarre crimes which she - with the help of Clyde and Sidney's new lover, Cohen, another cop - handily solves after much personal danger.

These are police procedurals written with phenomenal attention to detail and unexpected twists and turns. I enjoyed the Evan Wilding series partially because he deals with semiotics which fascinate me. It was great fun to have him feature in the fourth book, Gone to Darkness, as Cohen's cousin. Definitely good, intellectually stimulating reading.

Suanne Schafer, Reviewer

Susan Bethany's Bookshelf

The National Parks: A Century of Grace
Karla K. Morton, author
Alan Birkelbach, author
Texas Christian University Press
9780875657639, $54.95, HC, 320pp

Synopsis: Two poets, Karla K. Morton and Alan Birkelbach, began a journey to celebrate our national parks' one hundredth anniversary, but for these two poets the sojourns quickly became something greater than that.

In their words, "As humans we have this tendency to look at a piece of land and see real estate. [But] when concrete covers all our natural spaces, not only do we lose earth's creatures, we also lose the great teacher of our souls. You cannot sit beneath trees taller than the Statue of Liberty, or gaze upon vistas untouched since their creation, without feeling the awe and wonder of what the natural world has to offer. You cannot experience such beauty without being wholly changed. Our great-great-great-grandchildren deserve these untouched gifts."

With the publication of "The National Parks: A Century of Grace" they now share their journey, illustrated verbally with poetry and visually with gorgeous color photos of all of America's grand national parks, is a feast for the eyes and heart. In the end, it is a plea for us to save these wonders for all future generations.

Critique: An impressive blending of poetry, photography, and our national parks, this large format (8.75 x 0.75 x 11.75 inches, 3.15 pounds) hardcover edition of "The National Parks: A Century of Grace" from Texas Christian University Press is an armchair traveler's delight and features all of our national parks beginning with Yellowstone National Park and ending with White Sands National Park. Inspired and inspiring, informative and memorable, and of particular appeal to readers with an interest in landscape photography, nature poetry, and travel pictorial reference books, "The National Parks: A Century of Grace" is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library National Park & American Travel Guide collections.

Editorial Note 31: Award-winning 2010 Texas Poet Laureate Karla K. Morton has twelve poetry collections. A national Wrangler Award winner, twice an Indie National Book Award winner, a Betsy Colquitt Award winner, and an E2C Grant recipient, Morton is widely published. She is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and Academy of American Poets.

Editorial Note #2: Alan Birkel Bach is a Texas native and author of eleven poetry books, and the 2005 Texas Poet Laureate. He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and Academy of American Poets. Twice an Indie Book Award finalist, he is also a winner of a Spur Award for Best Western Poem from the prestigious Western Writers of America.

Every Wish Way
Shannon Bright
Alcove Press
9781639104598, $19.99, PB, 336pp

Synopsis: Raised by a mother whose ironclad motto is "men are trash", Iza longs to prove her wrong, ideally with a kind, steady boyfriend who will free her from the exhausting treadmill that is dating. Although she's willing to try (almost) anything to find love, accidentally summoning a wish-granting stranger out of thin air was never part of the plan.

Unfortunately, Beckett, her personal wish-granter, isn't exactly the sage and generous being she would expect. Instead, he loves to party, has attitude to spare, and boasts an uncanny ability to point out Iza's worst flaws. Iza decides to use one of her three wishes to create her dream man -- a modern Mr. Darcy. If that esteemed gentleman can't impress her overbearing mother, no one can. Using Pride and Prejudice as the handbook to Darcy's heart, Iza plays the part of Elizabeth Bennet and sets out to create her epic love story.

Making wishes and winning Darcy over becomes more complicated than Iza expects, especially with Beckett's adorably dimpled grin and unexpected kindness in the equation. Soon enough, she's glimpsing the truth of the man behind the flippant persona, and each moment in his company makes her question everything she thought she wanted from love.

Critique: An original and fun read from cover to cover, "Every Wish Way" by author Shannon Bright will have a very particular and special appeal for fans of fantasy, romance, comedy, and the paranormal. Certain to be an immediate and enduringly popular pick for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Every Wish Way" is also readily available in digital book format (Kindle, $13.99).

Editorial Note: Shannon Bright ( has been writing stories since she was a child and is honored she now gets to share her daydreams with eager readers. When she's not writing, she works as an auto body technician, which complements writing romance; day or night, getting motors running is her passion!

Gods of the Blue Mountains: Meleena's Adventures
Fred Rayworth
New Link Publishing
c/o Mystic Publishers, Inc.
9781941271490, $21.95, PB, 462pp

Synopsis: When a friend in need of a special ingredient to save his life asks Meleena for help she answers his call. But, as it happens when she volunteers, there's always a catch. To find this ingredient, she must risk her life by sneaking into the realm of the Gods Of The Blue Mountains. Nobody has ever done that -- and returned. Can she help her friend even after she hooks up with others who have a more sinister agenda? Will she survive this journey and save her friend?

Critique: As an author, Fred Rayworth has a vivid imagination and a flair for originality that enables him to connect directly with appreciative readers with an interest in suspense, action, and fantasy. A fun read from cover to cover, "Gods of the Blue Mountains: Meleena's Adventures" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community library Fantasy Fiction collections and is also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $2.99).

Editorial Note: Fred Rayworth found his passion for writing in 1995. He's so far completed twelve full-length novels and is currently working on number thirteen, in genres including science fiction, icky bug (horror), adventure/thriller and fantasy. Over a dozen of his short stories have made it to print in not only those genres, but non-fiction as well. He has also published numerous non-fiction articles on amateur astronomy including co-founding and editing the original Observer's Challenge for the Las Vegas Astronomical Society. He published a series of autobiographical articles between 2014 and 2016 with the now defunct web site, Let's Talk Nevada. You can read his writing tips and adventures at

Cinnamon Girl
Trish MacEnulty
Livingston Press
9781604893564, $19.95, PB, 316pp

Synopsis: When her step-grandmother, a retired opera singer, dies of cancer in 1970, 15-year-old Eli Burnes runs away with a draft-dodger, thinking she's on the road to adventure and romance. Instead she's embroiled in a world of underground Weathermen, Black Power revolutionaries, snitches and shoot-first police. Eventually Eli is rescued by her father, who turns out both more responsible and more revolutionary than she'd imagined. But when he gets in trouble with the law, she finds herself on the road again, searching for the allies who will help her learn how to save herself.

Critique: "Cinnamon Girl" clearly demonstrate's author Trish MacEnulty's impressively genuine flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling that will keep her reader total and compulsive attention from start to finish. Original, eloquent, riveting, memorable, and a novel that will linger in the mind of the reader long after the book has been finished and set back upon the shelf, "Cinnamon Girl" is especially and unreservedly recommended for community and college/university library Literary Fiction collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Cinnamon Girl" is also readily available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.95).

Editorial Note: Trish MacEnulty ( was a Professor of English at Johnson & Wales University, teaching writing and film classes. She now lives in Florida and teaches journalism. In addition to her historical novels, she has written novels, stories, plays, and a memoir under the name "Pat MacEnulty." She currently writes book reviews and features for The Historical Novel Review.

Quantum Living: Moving at the Speed of Life
Darylle Virginia Dennis
Quantum Publishers LLC
9798988549512, $27.99, HC, 304pp

Synopsis: Intuitive Intelligence, creativity and "a new genius" are all accessible in our own consciousness, changing all lives to one of love, bliss, unity and inner peace.

"Quantum Living: Moving at the Speed of Life" was written by Darylle Dennis for people in an effort to awaken the quantum consciousness within them so that they can begin viewing their own true selves from higher perspectives.

Einstein said that consciousness creates reality and described how "You cannot solve problems with the same consciousness that created them." Nikola Tesla said, "If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration."

Quantum consciousness is that energy, frequency and vibration, and Darylle Dennis shows how we can effortlessly access these higher-state life conditions.

"Quantum Living" reveals the simplicity of aligning with quantum frequencies and how the collective power of consciousness can solve humanity's problems in quantum leaps.

Critique: Offering a new perspective and an original approach, "Quantum Living: Moving at the Speed of Life" will have a very special and particular appeal to readers with an interest in Quantum Theory as it would apply to motivational and daily life oriented transformative self-help strategies. Extraordinarily and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections, it should be noted that "Quantum Living: Moving at the Speed of Life" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9798988549505, $17.45) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).

Editorial Note: Darylle Virginia Dennis ( innovative, new approaches to business development, management and growth caused her to create an effective, productive business philosophy and practice called Value Exchange Dynamics(TM). These practices have saved companies from collapse, turned around businesses with high turnover and minimal growth and rejuvenated business professionals discouraged from volumes of efforts and unsatisfactory results. Her innovative approach for new business, management and growth has recently been confirmed and now taught by the most prestigious business schools across the country; referred to as Conscious Business and Conscious Capitalism.

Susan Bethany

Tom Dutta's Bookshelf

Lisa Wilkes
eXtasy Books
9781487436513, $13.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle, 276pp

Author Lisa Wilkes' protagonist Lexi Brennan stepped into a journey that explored the jagged edges of her inner demons, coming forward in a time and place that unlocked deep emotional thoughts. This book is well-written, with twists and turns that are unexpected. I loved the social themes that author Lisa Wilkes weaves throughout the storyline, which is universally relatable to the reader. The most compelling aspect of Wilkes' novel is her own experiences as a social worker, flight attendant, and beginnings... Get this book, review it, and pass it on to any seeker."

"Mid-Flight" is an exquisite exploration of the multilayered evisceration of grief and the sheer courage and determination that it takes to manage life every day with the cannonball of loss and heartache swinging through your memories. The combination artificial intelligence and holographic technology that helps these characters process grief left me breathless. Wilkes beautifully illustrates its possibilities and implications with regard to our relationships, identity, and memories, handling painful and intriguing topics responsibly while maintaining a captivating rhythm to the story."

Tom Dutta, Reviewer
Independent Book Review

Willis Buhle's Bookshelf

Unanswered Questions
Ray McGinnis
Northernstar Publications
9781773740812, $32.95, HC, 454pp

Synopsis: After the attacks of September Eleventh, the Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission lobbied for a credible account of what happened without preconceptions about its ultimate finding.

The federal government stonewalled for 14 months, then created the 9/11 Commission. Its senior staff produced an outline of the inquiry's Report, prescribing what it would conclude prior to the investigation. The families presented over a thousand questions for the inquiry to investigate. Yet only nine percent were addressed, others glimpsed, and seventy percent ignored.

With the publication of "Unanswered Questions: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored" Ray McGinnis introduces readers to behind-the-scenes struggles of the families to keep the inquiry on track. By delving into their press releases and drawing from mainstream sources, McGinnis explores some of the unanswered questions the Commission omitted in its Report.

While there is no consensus among the families regarding the Report, McGinnis shows readers why the Commission's findings, instead of being definitive, are dubious. There were myriad oddities in the conduct of its investigation. And the Commission's Report, by what it ignores, raises more disturbing questions. Two decades after the attacks, McGinnis agrees that the way to honor those who died is to become acquainted with the September Eleventh families' unanswered questions - - and why they still matter.

Critique: One of the most persevering threats to the survival of our democracy is the chronic lack of transparency and honest by the men and women trusted with federal leadership responsibilities including House members, Senators, the Generals, their staff members, and even Presidents in their Oval Office along with their advisors. "Unanswered Questions: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored" is just the latest expose to reveal the failings of extremely important inquiries into catastrophic events threatening the very survival of our American Democracy as we have known it. The focus of this impressively detailed study is on 9/11 and its aftermath. It is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, governmental, college, and university library Political Corruption/Misconduct, Political Science, and 21st Century American History collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted for students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Unanswered Questions: What the September Eleventh Families Asked and the 9/11 Commission Ignored" is also available in a paperback edition (9781773740805, $24.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Editorial Note: Ray McGinnis ( is also the author of "Writing the Sacred: A Psalm-inspired Path to Appreciating and Writing Sacred Poetry". He is interested in the power of stories, the stories we choose to tell, and the difference they make in shaping our world view.

Learning to Feel
Kris Girrell
MSI Press
9781957354262, $24.95, PB, 170pp

Synopsis: Understanding the complexities of human behavior and emotional response is no real help when it comes to experiencing feelings. This is the conclusion reached by psychologist Kris Girrell who studied psychology and emotions while finding that the distractions of a career got in his way.

In order to reconnect to his feelings (or what might be called the experience of the emotional experience) Kris had to peel back layer upon layer to unlock the many places where his emotive process had been stuck.

"Learning to Feel: One Man's Path of Reconnecting to the Heart of Emotions" may be one person's journey in emotional discovery, but it also well serves as a set of trail blazes through the dark forest of discovery for others to follow. Each individual chapter concludes with provocative questions for the reader's own self-exploration.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Learning to Feel: One Man's Path of Reconnecting to the Heart of Emotions" by Kris Girrell will prove of special and particular value to readers with an interest in emotional/mental health, interpersonal relations, and personality development. While also available for personal reading lists in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99), "Learning to Feel" is especially and unreservedly recommended for professional, community and college/university library Popular Psychology collections and supplemental Psychology/Mental Health curriculum studies lists.

Editorial Note: Kris Girrell ( is a retired psychologist, executive coach and strategic consultant who has turned to his life-long passion of writing. Drawing from nearly four decades of training and consulting across the globe, Kris brings practical knowledge to bear on his many books. He has published on such topics as marriage (A Married Man's Survival Guide, Kindle Direct Publishing), spiritual (Wrestling the Angel, KDP) and personal transformation (Typhoon Honey: the only way out is through, MSI Press) and emotional intelligence (Learning to Feel, MSI Press).

Willis M. Buhle

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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